Daily Gratitude Practices to Promote Mental Health

The benefits of practicing and living in gratitude are well-documented. People who are living in a state of gratitude are likely to experience increased positive emotions, sleep better, feel more alive and have stronger immune symptoms. It might take work and a shift in perspective at first, but the more we practice gratitude through daily exercises, the easier it will be for it to come naturally. Plus, gratitude tends to be contagious, so you may even help those around you through your shift in perspective.

Other benefits to practicing gratitude include:

  • Easier time making friends: Thanking new acquaintances makes them more likely to seek out a lasting relationship with you. Positive, meaningful relationships are a great source of gratitude.
  • Improved physical health: People who practice gratitude tend to have fewer aches and pains, are compelled to exercise more often and have better overall health.
  • Enhanced empathy: People who are thankful are less likely to show aggression, less likely to hold onto anger and are more likely to show empathy towards others.
  • Increase in mental strength and self-esteem: Gratitude allows people to have over-all higher self-esteem, mental strength, and resilience to rebound from stressful situations.

With so many positive effects, it is worth it to give daily gratitude practices a try; even a tiny change in perspective can make a big difference! If these ideas are overwhelming, let our Chico behavioral health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions support you in making a plan of action to increase your wellness.

Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily

Below are 5 ways to incorporate gratitude practices into your daily routine. Choose the options that feel most interesting or relatable to you, or think of your own ways to incorporate a deliberate mindset of gratitude daily.

  1. Start a gratitude journal: Journaling is a proven way to improve mental health, so a gratitude journal has multiple benefits. Start by writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for each day. Don’t worry about structure, complete sentences or how it looks. As you ease into this practice, you can expand on your thoughts if you would like. It helps to choose a time each day and make writing in your journal a priority. Setting a reminder on your phone or calendar can help establish a routine.
  2. Carry a gratitude rock or memento: The idea of a gratitude rock or memento is to have a physical reminder of a mental “task” that can help you to live in a state of gratitude throughout the day. Each time you feel the item in your hand or pocket, think of one thing you are thankful for at that moment. When you take it out of your pocket or put it down for the night before bed, reflect on all the things you were grateful for throughout the day.
  3. Go for a gratitude walk: Walking has benefits all on its own, but if you incorporate thoughts of gratitude into your physical activity, it takes on a whole new meaning. As you walk, observe the world around you and think about the things you are grateful for. Examples can be “I am thankful for the sky above, the feet that are carrying me, the air I am breathing, the wind in the trees.” Become aware of everything around you from the trees, to the feeling of air on your face, from the smell of the flowers you pass by to the sounds of the city around you. Multiply the effect by sharing this walk with a friend.
  4. Meditate on gratitude: There are many ways to meditate, either with music, silence or with a guided message. It is easy to find gratitude meditations online if you prefer some direction or facilitation. If you do not have access to a guided meditation, you can create one yourself. Sit or lay down in a quiet, comfortable place, close your eyes and focus on the things you are grateful for as you slow your breath and remain still. Calming your actions and your senses while zeroing in on gratitude creates a mindfulness exercise that has major mood-boosting effects.
  5. Send a message of gratitude: Take a moment each day to send a friend, family member or loved one a message of gratitude. It can be a phone call, email, text message, social media message or even a handwritten letter. This will spread the joy and help you to stay in the mindset of being grateful for the things and people that make your life better.

Chico Mental Health Services

At Therapeutic Solutions, we approach behavioral care with a personal and comprehensive touch because we know that a “one size fits all” approach does not address each patient’s needs and goals. Our team understands that your mental health concerns are unique to your personality, your history and your behavioral tendencies. We will work with you to find treatment options that will best fit your timeline for recovery and the struggles you are facing. Let our team of Chico behavioral health professionals help you to see a brighter future.

Contact our team to discuss how we can help you today at (530) 899-3150.


Family Mealtime & Disordered Eating

When family mealtimes are a source of stress and anxiety for someone suffering from an eating disorder, it creates tension and discomfort for those involved, including family members. If your loved one is suffering from disordered eating, it is critical to be aware of the behaviors that may present themselves, as well as ways to make family meals comfortable and healing.

Creating Comfort, Support and Encouragement

Disordered eating may present itself at family meals in the following ways:

  • Emotional response to eating specific foods, including increased anxiety, dissociation, sadness or rage
  • Food rituals such as excessive cutting of food, pushing food around the plate, or counting food items
  • Avoiding or restricting specific foods; hiding food
  • Binging on a large amount of food in a short period of time
  • Disappearing or spending an excessive amount of time in the restroom after eating
  • Eating only when alone or eating very little during family meals

It is important to understand that there are a range of factors that contribute to disordered eating, and that family members play a pivotal role in healing and recovery. Implement the following practices to create a space of comfort and peace for your loved one:

Allow your loved one to have some control: Offer to involve your loved one in food choices, meal planning, and prepping for the meal if he or she is interested.

Understand the root causes of the disordered eating: Eating disorders are not about food or calories. Symptoms often stem from a complex group of factors including anxiety, depression, trauma, body dysmorphia, etc. Understanding the root of the problem is helpful in supporting your loved one, so that they do not feel judged or blamed for the ways they cope. Acceptance, support, and compassion can help someone to recognize unhealthy behaviors and work toward healing them.

Create a schedule, stick to it, and cultivate calm: Create a calm ambiance by sticking to a schedule, making sure that the meal is not rushed or frantic, and allowing everyone to bring the stress of the day to the table and release it through talking or having a moment of silence together. Focus on talking and sharing positives and negatives of the day, rather than on the food itself. Mealtime rituals can be a source of connection and belonging, which may ease tension and anxiety.

Learn which foods are triggering for your loved one: By learning which foods are high sources of anxiety and avoiding bringing them to mealtime, or by providing alternatives, you can help make the family meal more enjoyable for everyone. Offer healthy, well balanced, nutrient rich meal options. If possible, eliminate unhealthy food choices all together, especially binge triggering foods.

Talk about it: Shame and denial are two factors that perpetuate behavioral health issues. It is important to approach your loved one with empathy, state that you can see they are struggling, and ask them how you can help them heal. While these conversations are not always comfortable, they allow your loved one to know they are seen, valued, and not alone. What’s more: they reinforce that your loved on has options.

Support in Healing from Mental Health Professionals

Disordered eating is a form of control; a way to manage a compartmentalized portion of an often overwhelming and stressful life. By controlling one aspect through either restricting or binging, those who suffer may feel a sense of power and reduction in helplessness.

It is important to understand that Therapeutic Solutions does not provide treatment for eating disorders as a primary behavioral health concern, but we often see symptoms of eating disorders as an extension of other behavioral health issues. Our Chico behavioral health professionals are dedicated to helping our patients find healthy tools to cope with distress and take steps toward wellness. We offer outpatient treatment options, and we are happy to discuss them with you or your loved one to determine the best treatment approach.

Contact our team today at (530) 899-3150.


Balancing Mental Health and Family Obligations

When Family Obligations Are a Source of Stress and Toxicity

The family systems we are raised in have significant impacts on our development and ability to cope with life’s struggles. Many individuals who struggle with mental health issues grew up in unhealthy or abusive families, making family life even more complicated and triggering for them.

If you are suffering from trauma, mental health issues, are recovering from a substance use disorder, or have anxiety and depression triggered by family dynamics, it is important to support your mental health when family issues arise. Even in the midst of feeling obligated to participate in family engagements, there are a series of steps you can take to practice self-care.

Prioritizing Your Mental Health Over Family Obligations

Learning to prioritize yourself over others is something many people have yet to master, especially in a society that encourages and applauds overextending ourselves at the expense of personal self-care. For those who struggle with mental and emotional health, feeling obligated to interact with triggering or toxic family members may present additional overwhelm and stress.

There are ways to minimize stress and focus on your own wellbeing in these situations, including:

Take Time to Evaluate: If you are “supposed to” go to a family event, ask who will be attending, what the expectations are, and the time frame for being there. Will there be people present who have harmed you or caused trauma in your past? Are there certain family members who tend to create drama? Is this an event that you can avoid, or can you stay for a short time? Will there be individuals there that you trust and feel safe with? Considering these questions and planning for how to manage family interaction gives you a sense of personal power and choice in an environment that may otherwise feel helpless.

Keep It Simple: Don’t try to fit visits to multiple houses or events into one day, knowing that with each one comes with its own complicated emotions and experiences. Schedule time to relax and revive between obligations so that your mind can rest and reset before re-engaging with difficult people.

Avoid Toxic People: If you have a family member who caused specific, significant pain as a child (such as abuse), it is your right to decide not to see them. You do not have to converse with or be around a person who caused you harm, and you do not have to explain yourself to those who do not understand. In addition, if a person who exhibits behaviors (such as drug use or heavy drinking) that you are specifically avoiding for your own health is going to attend, you can choose to avoid the event.

Plan Time for Yourself: Some family events are more important than others and avoiding them would cause pain for you and people that you love. If you can’t avoid a gathering, set aside time throughout the event, even 10 minutes, to step outside or to a quiet room to center and get grounded. Whether it is to take a walk or to meditate, give yourself the space to step away.

One of the biggest things to remember is that with age comes the right to choose. You have the right to choose who you associate with, who is good for your mental and emotional health, who supports and encourages you, and who doesn’t. Keep in mind that friends are the family we choose, and if your biological family is unhealthy for you, do what you need to do to take care of your own wellbeing and surround yourself with people who lift you up.

Chico Mental Health Services: Helping You to Find Peace

It is human nature to desire connection with your family of origin, and it is normal to maintain links with people who may not be healthy. It is also imperative to remember that it is okay to step back if toxicity or unhealthy behaviors exist within your family and are taking a personal toll on your mental health. Our team of compassionate and skillful Chico mental health professionals can work with you to understand and heal from family trauma, learn to set healthy boundaries, and practice self-care.

Contact our team to discuss coping skills and treatment at (530) 899-3150.


5 Ways to Prioritize Wellness in the New Year

At the start of a new year, many people create a list of resolutions or intentions. These can vary from making travel plans, to learning new skills, to going to the gym. However, often when we make these lists, we set lofty goals that can become overwhelming as the months pass. The key to building new habits is not to manage a set of unwieldy expectations, but to start with small, intentional, and tangible shifts that lead to even larger transformations.

This year, Therapeutic Solutions and our team of Chico mental health professionals encourages you to set intentions that place your mental, physical, and emotional health front and center. When wellness is a priority, we are better able to cope with difficult circumstances in our lives. Developing habits that promote wellness has benefits that will last for years to come, which is why we are offering a handful of tips to support your mental health in the new year.

5 Ways to Prioritize Wellness In The New Year

  1. Step Back from Stimulation: Make a commitment to putting down your phone, taking breaks from social media, and allowing yourself to feel and take in the world around you. Being present has a range of mental and emotional health benefits, but it is easy to be overstimulated by technology, media, and advertising. This stimulation can become unhealthy if you do not build in mindful moments to your daily routine. Think about ways to unplug throughout the week, even if it is just for an hour per day.
  2. Schedule Therapy Like a Business Meeting: If you are currently attending therapy sessions or planning to schedule your first one, prioritize making it to your appointments. Treat your mental health appointments like you would your most important business meetings. Add them to your physical or digital calendar and remind yourself that attending therapy is an investment in your long-term wellness. The simple act of honoring your commitment to yourself is an act of self-love and self-care, which is already a step toward improved mental health.
  3. Build in Opportunities to Move Your Body: Whether it is getting outside for a walk, doing yoga or hitting the gym, some amount of physical activity should be a part of your mental health regimen. Exercise boosts feel-good chemicals in your brain, increases brain function and helps to release tension. However, physical health is one new year goal that many set and struggle to honor. Start small and consider how to build in movement to existing routines. Have a walking meeting with a colleague. Pack gym clothes in your car. Stretch on your breaks. Join a gym that’s near your home or workplace. Most of all, invest in a physical activity that you can find enjoyment in, so exercise does not just feel like a chore.
  4. Nurture Meaningful Relationships: Friends and family who support you and encourage you to grow mentally, spiritually and emotionally are key to your mental health. Make a list of all the people who have made a positive impact on your life and reach out to them in the new year. Tell the people who matter to you why you are grateful for them. Small acts of connection and kindness have lasting impacts on the bonds in our lives and help us feel a sense of belonging.
  5. Find Your Purpose: A sense of purpose keeps us connected to our values and helps guide us forward, but many of us struggle to find a path that feels fully aligned with our goals. This year, try committing to breaking your routine and doing something new. This can include volunteering at an animal shelter or soup kitchen, joining a club or organization, or taking a class you’ve never taken. Discovering your purpose and being excited about your contributions to the world will take you outside of yourself and help you see the bigger picture.

Call for a Free Assessment: (530) 899-3150

If you are struggling with mental health and wellbeing, and you don’t know where to start, let our team help. We are prepared to work with you to gain balance in your life and have a variety of treatment options for your mental health care needs. Our professional and caring Chico mental health professionals can help you determine the best course of treatment to help you move forward. Let us help you find happiness and clarity, so that you can live your best life this year and in years to come.