Your Toolbelt Blog

Welcome to My Blog – What’s On Your Tool Belt

Hello and welcome to my new blog, “What’s on Your Tool Belt,”—a Holistic Guide to Excellent Mental Health.  This blog is for any and everyone who is either struggling, tired of struggling, and/or just wants an extra nudge in the direction of feeling better mentally and physically. Kudos to you for taking the time to read this, as you are part of a growing, but still minority of people who are actively taking charge of their mental health and seeking ways to feel better without psychotropic medication (see note on psychotropic medication at end of this blog).

This blog is about using all the other marvelous tools out there to feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. While it is intended for people more  mildly to moderately affected by issues related to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress, even those of you with more severe challenges such as bipolar, severe depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can benefit from the ideas I will be laying forth over the weeks and months to come. Each week, I will blog on a different aspect of whole body wellness. Hopefully, you’ll find something there beneficial to you or someone you love.  I also invite comments and questions, as ideally, I would like this blog to become a dialogue as well.

A bit of background on me to establish a modicum of credibility so that you know I’m not some quack: I have been a licensed marriage and family therapist for well over a decade now, mainly in private practice, but some non-profit work as well with children, teens, and families. In 2013, I founded OptimalLife Wellness Center, in Bellevue, Washington. The mission of OptimalLife Wellness Center is to provide holistic therapy for individuals, couples, and families. What, you might ask, is holistic therapy? From my definition, it’s attending to all aspects of a person, couple, or family, both inner and outer…so, systemically, we consider the environments –home, work, environmental, and spiritual. Inwardly, we consider mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical as equal essential components comprising the package of the self. If one part is in imbalance or is unhealthy, then all the other parts suffer as well.  In order to best facilitate growth and wellness, then, we focus on all aspects of the individual, couple, or the family with whom we work.

toolbeltSo, why the title, “What’s on Your Tool Belt?” The analogy I most often use with clients in discussing a self-care plan for them to gain better control over their anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, etc., is that we need to carry a “tool belt” with us at all times with a variety of tools and tricks to assist in any situation that arises that triggers our symptoms. Just as with a real tool belt,  not one tool will work in all situations, so a variety is needed to have the right tool at the ready at the right time.  Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to offer all my readers tools to add to their tool belts to assist in moments of anxiety, depression, and trauma-related triggers. Some of these tools are my own invention; others have been borrowed from many amazing minds in my field. Where I know to, I will give credit for the idea. If I fail to, please be aware, that this is not an indication that I am claiming to have invented something, but because it is not always possible to source the originator.

The first part of my series will be an invention of mine that I call “The Anxiety Management Diet,” which is comprised of many different components, many of which are not my invention, but as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and I trust, when all the parts come together eventually, you will agree.

Now, a word on psychotropic medication: as a mental health professional, I have seen medication help people when nothing else was working fast enough and well enough. I have also seen that medication can be the easier answer when, in our typically overbooked, hectic lives, we just can’t (or choose not to) find the time to invest in the self-care time necessary to relieve anxiety, depression, and the like. It is a tool that has become necessary in today’s time and culture.  In addition, I’m not advocating for anyone currently on medication to stop taking their medication without the approval and direct supervision of either their physician or psychiatrist. Also, medication is usually a necessary component of mental wellness for those with serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, severe, chronic depression, and schizophrenia, among others. Furthermore, this blog is not intended to replace the advice of your therapist, physician, or psychiatrist.

The first part of my series, to be posted by next Sunday, the 13th, will be on triggers.

Until then, “don’t forget to breathe.” (Alexi Murdoch).

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