Navigating the Intersection of Work and Mental Health
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Working Better and Stressing Less

Ideas on work and mental health

What do mindfulness and values have to do with anxiety?

"Mindfulness therapy" sounds a bit new-ageish. "Values work" might feel a bit religious. "Cognitive-behavioral therapy" feels kind of threatening as a description of counseling. We mental health people have perhaps not had the best marketing firms working on naming our therapies. 

What the heck are you signing up for when you visit a therapist who practices these approaches to mental health, particularly with anxiety? Different mental health professionals will use these approaches in different ways so I will simply share how I use them and provide some links to other sources that might be helpful. 

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Mindfulness is basically paying attention on purpose to your experience and trying not to judge anything during the process. Our attention is split in so many ways today: Email, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, cell phone, iPhone, iPad, television, game consoles, and a bunch of other things I'm too behind on technology to even know about.  Our brains are tired. They have to go a million miles an hour every day. Mindfulness is like stretching and strengthening for the mind. I help my clients begin to practice it formally so they can be more intentional about their experiences. 

Values work is about identifying what your life is supposed to be about and finding ways to live in that direction, now. This isn't about goals, planned accomplishments, or "bucket lists." Funny stories that people tell at your funeral are probably the result of bucket list accomplishments. Values are the things about you that make everyone's hearts ache when you're gone. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a group of techniques therapists use to help you think, feel, and behave differently so that you can be present in your experiences as you develop into the person you aim to be. 

What I hope to do for my clients, is to help them slow down, pay attention, and spend as much of their energy as they can on building the kind of life they want to live and being the person they want to be and less energy on things that aren't helpful.

Here are some links to other people who have recently talked about mindfulness:

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2163560,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/breathing-in-vs-spacing-out.html?_r=0

http://portlandmindful.com/therapy-and-psychotherapies/on-bullshit-psychology/

http://contextualscience.org/

Katie Playfair