What do my Counseling Space clients and defense attorneys have in common?
The heightened ability to cross-examine!
In order to achieve competency in the self-management of stress, we encourage our clients to think of themselves as defense attorneys. Oftentimes, defense attorneys challenge negative thoughts, beliefs, habits, and conditioning and also highlight strengths, accomplishments, and possibilities in order to preserve freedom. We encourage our clients to be their own advocate and defend their strengths and abilities when confronted by self-doubt. After exploring their current values to more fully align them with their personal and entrepreneurial goals, we then generate “I CAN” lists of all the changes they are able to make physically, mentally, and spiritually.
These changes are to go beyond the temporary and superficial remedies of food and retail therapy. Getting a new Louis Vuitton bag provides fleeting satisfaction until the credit card bill arrives later that month! We frequently remind clients that we must all be more intentional about the decisions we make concerning our health and self-care.
Here are a few of my suggestions for physical, mental, and spiritual nourishment.
A Prayer Routine
The tangible effect of prayer has been the subject of scientific research in recent years. Findings from a study conducted by The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, show that prayer has an energizing effect on the mind that results in enhanced creativity, self-esteem, optimism, and emotional stability. Additionally, a study conducted by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that prayer lowers aggression, while other reports confirm that prayer reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Prayer also increases trust when done in a group setting. In sum, a prayer routine effectively offsets the negative health effects of stress.
A Meditation & Stillness Practice
As with prayer, meditation activates the calm left frontal cortex instead of the frequently active right frontal cortex where stress originates. The feeling of relaxation that is stimulated through stillness and mindful focus on positive images and word affirmations slows breathing and can improve cardiovascular health. According to a study in the journal Health Psychology, meditation offers many of the same benefits of prayer with the added bonus of reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation also develops our ability to be self-aware and body-aware and makes us more compassionate as demonstrated in various studies conducted by the Psychological Science journal.
Volunteer for a Cause
It is a well-known fact that we often receive more than we give when volunteering, and this is supported by a review of research compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service. For one, feeling socially connected wards off loneliness and depression. Moreover, time spent giving and focusing on something or someone other than ourselves leads to improved self-esteem and emotional stability while reducing stress and blood pressure. This, in turn, lengthens our lifespan according to another Health Psychology
Regular Medical Care
As I mentioned earlier, optimal health involves the mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of our being! So, in addition to practicing prayer and meditation and volunteering, one must add regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and yearly check-ups to the regimen. The results of regular health screenings can also assist your mental health provider in creating the best mental wellness program for you.
BONUS: Aroma Lavender
Lavender has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, alleviate headaches, balance blood sugar and provide anti-oxidant protection. You may use lavender oil as a perfume, air freshener, or as added flavor to your meals — only a small dash is needed!
Remember, good health ONLY stems from consistently making good choices. And many of these good choices come without price tags yet promote major growth!
So, DO cross-examine your life like a defense lawyer, create your CAN DO lists, build self-awareness and a self-care mindset and — NOURISH YOU!