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Faith, Hope, and Recovery

– Written by Anna Derrington, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

One day while I was sitting in treatment at The Next Door, a volunteer came to share some hope with my fellow group of residential clients. She read this scripture to us and shared a motivational story about having just the tiniest bit of faith and how it can be life changing to believe in something. When I think about faith the size of a mustard seed, I think about hope. Hope is one of our core values at TND, and it is the one that stood out to me most during my first days, weeks, and months of recovery.

The Next Door has a program for alumni called Aftercare. It is a support group for program graduates, and it was so impactful for me to be able to come back to The Next Door after leaving residential treatment. My first night attending Aftercare, the facilitator asked us to pick a word that meant something to us and to write it decoratively with paint pens on natural rocks. “Hope” is the word I wrote on my rock. I kept that rock with me everywhere I went. When I was asked a couple of months later to come share my story with current clients, I brought my rock in with me and held it while I shared my experience, strength, and “hope” with ladies sitting right where I had just been. That was in 2016. In 2017, I had the honor of being asked to speak at the main fundraising event for The Next Door. My rock was with me then as well. The following year, I was honored to transition from alumni to staff. Also, in 2018, TND’s big fundraising event’s theme was “Lead Me to The Rock.” During the event, all attendees were given rocks with positive and affirming words written on them. “Hope” is the word that was written on the random rock given to me that year. I found hope here at The Next Door, a little over three years ago.

At the beginning of treatment, I did not want to be here. The idea of getting sober seemed as impossible to me as moving mountains. The first two weeks were some of the most difficult of my life, but there is something special about The Next Door. It creates a safe and healing space for women. After I let go and began to trust the process, I found peace here. There came a point in my treatment where a shift happened, and I surrendered. A place I had not honestly wanted to come to became a place I did not want to leave. A lightbulb had turned on. I realized I didn’t have to use anymore. That realization flooded me with relief and freedom. I heard people say that before, but it took me a long time to accept the personal freedom in that truth.

Aftercare gave me an opportunity to keep coming back to the place where my life had changed and where my new life had begun. I came every Wednesday night from 6-7. On Thursdays and Sundays, I volunteered to bring a 12 Step meeting to the residential clients with the help of my sponsor and other women in the fellowship. I was encouraged to go back to school and finish my degree. One of my classes at Belmont asked me to do a service project, and I chose The Next Door. I started volunteering to serve lunch once a week. Sometimes I was asked to facilitate the Aftercare meetings. This was a huge honor! Eventually, a front desk volunteer was needed, and I was offered to start training for that position. I volunteered at the front desk and then applied to work there as an employee. I was hired part time! It was an absolute dream come true. A goal I had set for myself in early recovery had become a reality.

This recovery stuff is magic, I promise you that. When we keep doing the next right thing we are amazed at what transpires. This IS a promise. There are no words for the gratitude I have for this place, the people who work here, and the women who come here for treatment. Shortly after, I was asked to apply to be a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. By staying connected, volunteering, and being asked to participate, I was able to set and achieve goals for myself. This was a huge contributing factor in my recovery.

Consistently coming back and engaging in meaningful participation helped me stay rooted in my recovery. I’ve always been interested in helping and adding to my community. Back in high school, I created a club called Hillsboro Helps to offer volunteer opportunities for the local students as well as Sudanese and Somali exchange students living in Nashville. I lost the desire for being involved with my community in active addiction, but Aftercare provided the opportunity for me to get reconnected and involved in my community. This was a gift. The Next Door, and being in recovery, has given me numerous gifts, including my life. And my life is tremendously wonderful today.

I did not fully realize in the early days of my recovery how important this place had become to me. It is only through reflecting back that I can see how essential The Next Door has been to my journey of finding my true and purposeful self. Being in recovery has given me the chance to figure out who I am. The person I’m turning into doesn’t want or need drugs and alcohol. I used drugs and alcohol as my solution for a long time. Now, I’m even better than I was when I first started using. I do not even slightly resemble the person I was before. That realization happened here, and The Next Door will always hold a very special place in my heart

Recovery can sometimes be hard, but it is far from impossible. Even if you start out with faith the size of a mustard seed—with hope—you can take steps towards healing with love and support.

When Words Fail

Written by Morgan Coyner, Grant Coordinator, and Cindy Birdsong, Art Therapist

Our residential and partial hospitalization clients have weekly art therapy sessions. Cindy Birdsong, TND’s art therapist, curates a safe, nurturing space for women to open their minds and create.

Observing art therapy is not allowed. Cindy requires everyone to participate. That’s how I found myself in a smock, painting a white canvas turquoise, cutting paper, and gluing it onto the background. I wasn’t sure what I was making, but Cindy kept reminding me, “there’s no mistakes in here.” It surprised me how that simple phrase made me feel like whatever I made would turn out well. It gave me freedom to be patient and see what I needed to express.

As I worked alongside the clients, they talked about their lives outside of treatment. I was with the partial hospitalization group, and they come to treatment five days a week but live at home. As they worked on projects, they shared stories and encouraged each other in their recovery. There was freedom in the air, freedom from judgment or expectations. Each woman was free to be who she was. Her struggles, her flaws, and most importantly, her successes.

Cindy says, “The process of creating art in any form is healing for the heart, soul, and mind.  Clients at The Next Door often share their personal journey with addiction not only verbally but through symbolism in paintings, collages, clay-making, and mixed media activities while they are in treatment.  Each client is encouraged to express themselves without judgement in a non-verbal way that tells a story.  Art Therapy classes allow the clients to be independent thinkers, develop self-esteem and self-worth, and find the person they used to be before their addiction took over. I’ve heard clients say things like this in class: ‘My day has felt meaningless. The opportunity to create something of my own has helped me to process my negative feelings and turn the day around.”

Trauma, the main root cause of addiction for our clients, creates certain neuropathways in the brain that are helpful for survival in that moment, yet these same behaviors end up being harmful when the body is no longer in danger. Art therapy is so effective because it helps a person express feelings that have been so deeply buried that they no longer have words for them. It creates a safe environment to work through pain. As the artist Edward Hopper said, “If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”

Everyday Witness to The Sacraments

Written by Amanda Dunlap, Director of Clinical Services

Let it be known right off the bat that I do not claim to be a theologian or pastor by trade, but a therapist by profession, one who is constantly seeking the Lord’s full purpose in my professional and personal life. Over the last six months, I have had many contemplations and stirrings on the subject and action of the sacraments; particularly the sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing. Most of us experience the need for healing in our lives at some point and it’s through these Sacraments that healing has the potential to happen.

At The Next Door, women enter our doors yearning for reconciliation and healing of self, family, community… and addiction. It’s not always said in those words; however their eyes tell us they desire something different – making promises to themselves and their families and hoping they can change. They seek realness and grace.

As soon as they arrive at our facility, our staff joins them, walking side by side with them to figure out what this desire and a new beginning looks like. We do this by providing sound clinical and medical expertise, solid 12 step recovery knowledge, and a community that is unwavering. We encourage each woman to begin with admitting that she is powerless and that her life has become unmanageable (Step One in the 12 Steps). This, my friends, is a cornerstone that launches change and hope for a woman seeking recovery. In my time at The Next Door (over eleven years!) I have witnessed this time and time again and it never gets old.

Daily, I am reminded by our incredible team just how to live out the Sacraments in our everyday lives. TND’s foundation has been solid from day one. We strive every day to live out God’s purpose in our work and pass that on to every woman and family that enters our care.

You see, that can be seen as a tall order to live up to everyday; however, being grounded in our core values (Love, Faith, Hope, Wholeness, Community, Respect, and Encouragement), we simply share the grace that has been given to us, i.e. the Sacraments. We do this not to worldly or perfectionistic standards, yet to the standards and mission that we were founded on. The Sacraments of healing are seen throughout our care for our women at TND, and to this, I am humbled to be a part of such true and meaningful work. As Mother Teresa said so beautifully, “Wherever God has put you, that is your vocation. It is not what we do but how much love we put into it.”

May we take these words to heart as we live out our lives, professionally and personally. I know I will try to.

Life-Saving Ministry! 

Written by Kate McKinnie, Director of Development

In the world of development, our goal is to effectively tell the story of The Next Door’s services – whether that is one-on-one with donors, through grant funding applications, during special events or marketing efforts.  One “buzz-word” that is often used is that The Next Door is a “life-saving ministry.”  Because I’m not a clinical team member and I’m relatively new to the field of addiction and recovery, I wasn’t sure what this really meant until recently.

Anyone with eyes and ears is constantly hearing about the opioid crisis in the news.  Last year, The Nashville Prevention Partnership trained the entire TND staff about how to administer Narcan, which is given to a person who has overdosed on opioids.  As a result of the training, each of us walked away with our own Narcan “kit,” which included a pair of gloves, two doses of Narcan, instructions, and a reporting form to fill out if/when we ever used it.  I remember feeling so empowered leaving the training that I could potentially save someone’s life!  From that day on, that Narcan kit sat in the bottom of my purse – where it stayed for almost a year.

Two months ago, I had just finished what felt like a normal day in the world of fundraising – I had a few meetings, worked on the E-newsletter content, wrote some donor thank you notes, proofread a grant application, etc. That morning, when the TND lot was full, I parked my car on a side street, which required me to drive around to the back of our building, something I rarely do.  As I drove down Clifton Ave on my journey home, I noticed two members of our nursing staff who appeared to be pulling someone out of the bushes behind our facility.  As I slowed down, I noticed it was not a female client they were helping, but a thin male who appeared to be unconscious.  I rolled down my window and yelled, “Emily, do you need Narcan?”  With a panicked look on her face, she said, “Yes – do you have some?”  I jerked my car in park, grabbed the Narcan kit that was in my purse in the passenger seat, and raced over to help.

Because a Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse were the first responders, my only role was to give them the gloves, unwrap the first dose of Narcan, and hand it over.  I watched as Emily talked to the man, telling him that she was about to administer a dose of Narcan and asking him to “stay with me.”  She sprayed the Narcan in his nostrils quickly and there was no response.  I asked her “do you want the second one?” and quickly unwrapped it and handed it to her.  After the second dose, the man’s eyes began to flutter open, right as I heard an ambulance approaching nearby.  Seeing that my non-medical services were no longer needed and that this man was in kind, capable hands, I went back to my car to drive home.

As I got in the car, still shaking, I began to process what had just occurred.  What are the odds that a man experienced a drug overdose directly beside/behind an addiction treatment center?  What are the odds that TND nurses spotted him stumbling outside their office window?  What are the odds that I would be driving by at the exact moment someone’s life needed saving, and that I had Narcan in my purse?  GOD’S PLAN BEATS ALL ODDS!  He was and IS at work in the countless lives needing saving from addiction, which confirms why I choose to work in this life-saving ministry.  At the next stoplight, I took a minute to praise God for using me, Narcan, and TND nurses to save a life that day and to pray that anyone battling opioid or any addiction would seek the help they need to beat the disease of addiction.

On Wednesday, July 24th, The Next Door will offer a FREE Narcan training at our facility from 10-11 am to the first 50 TND supporters who would like to be trained on how to administer this and receive their own life-saving kit.  If you are interested and available that day, please register by emailing:  RSVP@thenextdoor.org.

The Next Door is a TOP Workplace!

We’re proud to announce that we’ve been named a Top Workplace by The Tennessean for the FIFTH year in a row! We are officially in the Hall Of Fame. We ranked 11 out of the 25 finalists in the Mid-size Companies.

This year is particularly special, as we received the “Meaningfulness” Award. This means that our staff believe that the work they do at TND is meaningful.

A big thank you to all of our employees, who helped to make this happen!

You can find more info on the Top Workplaces website!

Impressions Through The Eyes Of A New Employee

By Morgan Coyner, Grant Coordinator

When I came to The Next Door for my final interview, I was surprised to see clients huddled around the front desk. One needed help making a phone call for a ride upon discharge. Another was waiting for her to go get a snack. A few others asked if they got any mail that day, while even more waited for their group facilitator to begin an afternoon session.

The surprise wore off quickly because this shows the heart of The Next Door. Our clients are at the center of everything we do! Typical desk jobs in a treatment facility like ours can make it easy to create a “we” and “they” attitude. We can easily forget the purpose behind the work we do and distance ourselves from the women who seek treatment within our programs. The Next Door eliminates that possibility by the way staff and clients share this beautiful facility. We eat lunch with clients, ride the elevator with them, and through this, we learn their stories. We see them. We know them. We love them. A simple “how are you” can be met with tears after a tough therapy session or any number of responses ranging from joy to gratitude to acceptance.

I’ve only worked here for two weeks, but I can already see the way God moves through this place. After observing parts of the client treatment schedule in my first week, I had the opportunity to pray with a client that her legal circumstances would change, and they did. I prayed with a client that she would find the strength within her to make a better choice than she had planned, and she did.

I’ve heard stories where women get saved and their addiction disappears immediately. I do believe that God is capable of this. However, Scripture often shows God’s people wrestling through hard things to get closer to Him. This is a more accurate picture of treatment at The Next Door. The Israelites wander for 40 years in the wilderness because God knows if they see the struggles that await them when they first leave Egypt, they’ll be afraid. He knows that He has to teach them how to live in community with Him, how to act, how to trust, before leading them into the Promised Land. They have to learn a new way of life. The Next Door is a little like the wilderness, though we’ve got way better living accommodations and a chef who keeps us well-fed on a variety of meals and not just manna. Here, women gain and practice the skills they will need for their Promised Land, a life at home with their families and children, living in recovery.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Exodus 2:24-25, which says, “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”

It’s one thing to know that God hears us. It’s another to watch Him answer prayers in real time, without delay. This has been one of the joys of the past two weeks for me, watching God show up in circumstances that only He can, changing things and moving things so that it is evident that He is in control. My faith is strengthened daily by seeing God answer prayers at The Next Door. I’m excited to continue my career at this incredible Christ-centered ministry.

Recycling is Mindfulness

by Kellie Kroening, TND Intake Specialist and avid baker

Recycling is a mindfulness practice. Maybe you know someone who recycles like it’s their full time job. Maybe you know someone who thinks the whole thing is a joke. Unfortunately, the movement for recycling sometimes get a bad reputation because of the way it’s been presented – for instance, “if you’re not recycling, then you hate animals and the eventual disappearance of the polar ice caps is on you and your empty Dr. Pepper bottles.” (Can we all just agree that harsh and judgmental extremes don’t really help anyone?) If the newest research is true, we have already passed something of a “point of no return” with the climate problems at hand, and it doesn’t just have to do with recycling. There are a myriad of contributing factors. Yet, while we will have to put our heads together in years to come for solutions to this issue, it doesn’t mean we should stop doing what we already know to be important.

The Next Door has recently started a recycling initiative called The Green Team, which I am honored to be involved in. We’re a small group of people who go around the building once weekly to collect recycling and take it to Nashville’s many drop-off centers, in addition to brainstorming ideas of how TND can be more sustainable and focus on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. However for me, there’s a bigger picture to why I recycle. I’m hoping that as TND participates in the Green Team’s new efforts, the conversation can turn toward mindfulness and how recycling aligns with some of our core values. I believe that recycling actually impacts how we interact with other human beings in the world. Let me tell you why.

When I was in 4th Grade I went to a magically special school called School in the Woods. In the middle of the Black Forest on the Eastern slope of the Rockies in Colorado, there exists a haven for fourth graders where you spend 80% of the school year outside, with the goal of learning how to be a naturalist. A naturalist is a type of biologist who studies the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live. So, a troupe of 10-year-olds including myself spent the year walking around this piece of forest observing, notating, drawing, studying, identifying, counting, quantifying, qualifying, and appreciating the ways that all parts of the earth interconnect and impact all other parts of the earth. This experience was extraordinarily formative for me, and I carry that naturalist heart with me into all facets of my life. As an adult, I came to realize that this is why I was drawn to be a counselor; because counseling is really just naturalism. It is observing, listening, identifying, and appreciating all the ways that each part of someone’s life impacts each part of their own “ecosystem.” How, perhaps, someone’s childhood trauma impacts the beliefs about the self, and how those beliefs impact behaviors, creating gaps in emotional regulation, and how maybe, like for our women and many others, it may result in substance abuse or other dysfunctional coping mechanisms. We can study how the family system can be incredibly resilient even through the harshest blizzards and how the most frozen hearts thaw with enough time spent in the glow of a new sun. Or how when the lightning strikes one too many times, it may set someone’s whole life ablaze. The counseling relationship is there to give witness to all the life and death, growth and change, and to mindfully love the system through the process.

One very important lesson that naturalism taught me was that for the whole ecosystem to be healthy, each part must work in healthful cooperation. This is one of the things that brought me to the Next Door – it attracted me originally because it felt like the sort of place that encourages all parts of the whole to be healthy and to give and take, when needed. For instance, the core values encourage that if we want our women to understand values such as love, respect and community, then we need to also demonstrate love, respect, and community. Health begets health. Love begets love. Respect begets respect. You (be)get the idea.

Which brings me back to recycling. I believe that recycling is a mindfulness practice because for me, when my body makes that habitual motion toward the trash can with something paper, plastic, metal, cardboard etc. in my hand, I pause, and bring my awareness to the moment, instead of mindlessly letting go my waste into some hypothetical landfill. I could throw it away. No one would know. Would it make a difference? Does this one piece of paper or this one straw really matter in the scheme of things? Maybe not. But did you know that every person produces about 4 pounds of waste a day? (Don’t ask me to do the math on that; as you can imagine, School in the Woods didn’t help much with my math issues.) In that momentary pause, I consider that waste begets waste.

So, I mindfully turn my body instead to the little box where I collect recyclables. Because even though I’ll have to make an extra trip, and even though I’m just one person, recycling begets recycling. It is an act of love, and respect, and community because it says “I know that YOU live here too, and for the ecosystem to be healthy, all parts must work in healthful cooperation.” Maybe we are past a point of no return in climate change or melting ice caps but the naturalist in me urges you to believe that we are not past a point of no return within ourselves. It’s what we ask our clients at The Next Door to do every day: to believe that they are not past the point of no return, but that there is still hope that change can happen and that it does matter. Think about the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live, and how that does start with you, within you, sitting at your desk, or standing in your kitchen, practicing mindfulness, and knowing in the grand scheme of things that whether you recycle something to be repurposed or just throw it away, it does matter.

A Building Filled with Hope

by Rachel Morris, Operations Director of The Next Door

I have been employed by The Next Door for almost 12 years.  During this time, as the Operations Director, my mission and purpose have been to provide a safe, clean, and functional facility to the clients of TND.  When I joined the staff in 2007, we were providing services from a small three-story building in downtown Nashville off 8th Avenue and Demonbreun.  This facility served our purpose well until we began expanding to meet the growing needs of the community. Our goal to serve more clients was coming to fruition, but the reality was that our facility could not keep up.  The staff were literally working on top of one another, and the building was deteriorating faster than it could be repaired.

In 2012, we began dreaming of a new and improved facility that would enhance our services and productivity.  In August of 2014, by the grace of God and generous donations from our beloved donors and vendors, our dreams came true! Staff and clients moved from 8th Avenue to a new state-of-the-art facility off Charlotte Avenue.

As Operations Director, this was more than I could have ever imagined. We went from a 13,000 square foot building housing 40 clients to a 44,000 square foot facility that can house 82 women.  We upgraded to all new equipment, bedding, furniture and beautiful decor. We now have:

  • A commercial kitchen that a restaurant owner would be ecstatic to have
  • Group rooms with comfy chairs and essential oils
  • Computers that actually work
  • Beautiful, professional artwork on the walls displaying our core values
  • Attractive bathrooms with fancy tile
  • Ergonomic chairs and new functional desks

Our hearts have been incredibly grateful since our dream became a reality in 2014.  But speaking as someone that worked in the old facility for 7 years, and the new facility for almost 5 years, I can tell you that it is not the building that makes the real difference in the lives of our clients. It is the professional and dedicated staff who truly care about our clients finding their way out of addiction.  When you walk into our facility you will immediately sense a dedicated team that come to work each day ready to serve with their whole heart.

TND has been providing consistent, compassionate care since we opened our doors in 2004.  On May 4, 2019, we will celebrate 15 years of service.  I am honored to be a part of an organization that is willing to serve our clients in any environment. We are proud of our facility but even more grateful for those who truly make The Next Door a success.  If you know someone that needs treatment – a daughter, sister, or friend – I can guarantee they will be in the hands of providers that truly care at The Next Door.

 

Lost Sheep

by Rev. Ashley McFaul Erwin, Clinical Pastoral Resident at The Next Door

 

So he (Jesus) told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15: 3-7

During my childhood I came across many lost sheep. There were many days that on my walk home from school I would arrive at my house and see three or four sheep in our front yard. They were adventurous sheep and would often push themselves through the hedges behind our house to venture into this new land. Each time they appeared in our yard, I would go into the house, pick up the phone and let the farmer know that his sheep had escaped again. The farmer would arrive at our house with his sheep dog to round them up. There are many differences between 1st century Palestine and modern-day Ireland; however, one big difference between the lost sheep in my yard and the lost sheep in Jesus’ parable is that the owner noticed the sheep were missing in Jesus’ parable.

Often when we think of this parable we think of the shepherd as God searching for the missing one. AJ Levine, my New Testament professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, suggests that when this parable was initially told 1st century Jews would not have viewed the shepherd as God, because God does not lose us.  I remember the moment she shared this interpretation with us in class. My mouth opened and I thought, “You’re right God doesn’t lose us! God would have known where that sheep was all along.” AJ suggests a new name for this parable, “The Parable of the Initially Oblivious Owner.”  Those who first heard this parable would have heard a personal challenge to become like the shepherd, to notice when someone is missing. God might just be saying to us, “I know where my child is, I am still with them, you have lost them! Go and bring them back into community.”

May we find comfort and challenge in this parable. May we be challenged to become like the shepherd, to notice when someone is missing, to go and search for them, and welcome them home. As we do this work of welcoming people into community, may we be comforted by the knowledge that each of us are known and loved by God wherever we are. There is nowhere we can go where God is not right there with us. God is with us in our moments of deep darkness and of bright light. God does not lose us.

 

(AJ writes more about this and other parables in her book, “Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi”.)

Rev. Ashley McFaul Erwin is a Clinical Pastoral Resident at TND – this means that she is completing her Chaplaincy training. Ashley is a PC (USA) pastor and has been a Nashville resident for 7 years, having moved here from Northern Ireland. Ashley spends her time at TND providing spiritual support for clients and staff.

Spring Fever

by Rebekah Bohannon, LPC-MHSP, Director of Clinical Systems of The Next Door

Temperatures are rising, the sun is coming out and spring fever is among us! With record amounts of rainfall this year we have been trapped inside for far too long. Parking ourselves in front of our favorite binge-watching app and eating everything in sight is the new normal for a good old fashioned American good time. The average American sits 13 hours a day[i]! Aside from the physical effects this prolonged sitting and eating have on us, what are the effects on our mental health?

Making exercise a part of a routine is a struggle for us all. Making false promises and fluctuating commitments are the crux of failure for most new year’s resolutions. Getting up and prepared for the gym, regretting every moment of your decision and looking for ANY reason to change your mind. But, you don’t change your mind, you suck it up and show up! You get a great workout and leave the gym feeling like a champ! Sound familiar? Working out releases endorphins. But what are those?

When we workout, our body releases endorphins that interact with our brain chemistry to produce feelings that help relieve pain and create a sense of euphoria[ii]. To be honest, just walking 20 minutes a day, three days a week can help keep fitness gains and food goals on track. Not to mention the benefits exercise has on our mental wellness. Exercise can help reduce the likelihood of depression and promote overall mental wellness as we get older [iii].

If knowing how good something was for us was all it took; obesity rates would be down, and we would all eat healthy. However, simply knowing the facts is not all it takes. In most cases seeing isn’t even believing. How many times have you knocked some weight off just to get comfortable and gain it back? I think we look at wellness in separate categories and do not spend enough time examining how they overlap. This could be because it is overwhelming to try and overhaul our entire life. However, if we try and make incremental changes in each area perhaps we will be more successful. For example, if you do not exercise at all, walking only a few minutes each day is a great place to start. Likewise, cutting out unhealthy snacks or fast food is a small change you can make today. Making these small changes will greatly impact our mood and overall mental health.

When all else fails, TRACK EVERYTHING! Tracking our eating, as well as our fitness and mental health goals, can yield trends that may be sabotaging our success. Some may enjoy tracking every calorie while others may just write down what they eat in a day, not necessarily the calories in every bite. A small mark in your calendar to indicate what days you exercised and what time you exercised can help determine a routine that works for you. Finally, tracking our mental health. I recommend tracking your overall daily mood on a scale from 1-10; 1 being very sad or low mood and 10 being energized and happy. Hopefully after a week of tracking you can see what types of food and exercise have the greatest positive impact on your mental health. At the end of day enjoy your life! Incremental changes add up to make a big difference without setting yourself up for failure from day one. Get out and enjoy the sunshine, take in the day, get good rest and look forward to tomorrow!

 

[i] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-to-sit-or-stand-almost-70-of-full-time-american-workers-hate-sitting-but-they-do-it-all-day-every-day-215804771.html

[ii] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1

[iii] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-works-and-why/201803/how-your-mental-health-reaps-the-benefits-exercise