2016 was a tumultuous year – a lot of highs (like publishing a new book “The Assertiveness Guide for Women”), and a some definite lows (like the circus of the US presidential election). Looking over my blog posts over the past year there is a lot of variety in the topics — transgender bathrooms, U.S. presidential election, the difference between humility and pride, saying no, Mormon burnout, teaching kids about healthy sex, idealizing motherhood…and a lot many of the top posts are related to Mormon culture. Here’s the top 10 for the year 2016
Preparing to be a “good mother” is emphasized in Primary, Young Women’s, and continues as a central thread woven throughout Relief Society lessons and discussions. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of our beliefs about “good mothering” are correlated with poor maternal mental health. When I first read findings from a study published in The Journal of Child and Family Studies that suggest that five specific beliefs about mothering–essentialism, fulfillment, stimulation, challenging, and child-centered–are correlated with poorer mental health among mothers with young children, I thought to myself, “These beliefs align with how we, in America, and in LDS culture define good mothering!”
According to Julie, think of a recent situation where you experienced pain, whether from a physical injury or an emotional one. It might be anything from a fight with a friend to a breakup to someone’s passing. She suggests asking ourselves these questions:
- “What did I tell myself about my pain?
- Was my self-talk nurturing or was it critical?
- Did I validate my suffering or minimize it?
- How did I behave toward myself when I was hurting?
- Was I able to provide nurturing, comfort and validation to myself?”
A recent LDSLiving.com, “What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed at Church,” ended with a simple survey. It asked one question: Have you ever experienced spiritual fatigue or burnout? Over 1,900 people took the online survey, and a whopping 95 percent said that they had experienced burnout.
Ninety-five percent! Houston, we have a problem.
It’s no secret that social media connects us like never before. In an instant, we can snap pictures and post our whereabouts (think that selfie from your backpacking trip in Europe) and also keep tabs on what our friends are up to. I love social media. It has been an integral part of my professional life and is a great way to keep in touch with my loved ones. But it is not without its problems.
In the past few years, there has been public and medical concern about such topics as cyber-bullying and too much screen time (particularly for young people). As a psychotherapist, I’d like to address one more issue as it relates to mental health and social media: that of internet loneliness, depression, and feelings of low self-esteem.
We’ve all faked a smile to get past a rough patch, but there are ways to actually increase our happiness naturally. It’s true that some people may be more prone to having a positive outlook- whether because of their genetics, environment, or upbringing. However, there are still strategies that all people can use in order to train themselves to “look up” a little more. Here are some ways to cultivate optimism in your life:
I offered the keynote this morning at the PEHP Wellness Council Conference on emotional self-care. What a delightful group! Thank you for your warm welcome, and I hope you’re enjoying the rest of your day. I was made aware that some of you requested copies of my powerpoint slides…so here you go!
Also, I mentioned a “Feelings Word List” in my presentation that you can use to identify and name your internal experiences:
Q: How do I open up to my therapist? I am constantly worried that he might think I’m trying to get attention. I have an eating disorder, and I’m slightly overweight (according to my BMI). I’m just not able to be truly open and honest. He really is a great therapist, and I have a deeper connection with him than most others in my life. I have these feelings outside of therapy, but when I go in, I put on a face that everything is ok. How do I work on this to communicate better?
A: Great question! The emotional pattern of guarding your feelings is likely part of the reason you’re in therapy in the first place. I think the first step is to tell you’re therapist that you’re having a hard time opening up! Watch the video for complete answer.
Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW
On the evening of September 27, 2014, the bodies of Springville, Utah couple Kristi and Benjamin Strack were found dead in their beds. Tragically, their three children were also found dead, and investigators determined the cause of all 5 deaths to be an overdose of lethal drugs.
I enjoyed presenting at the UVU Mental Health Symposium yesterday. Thank you to those who attended for your wonderful participation and for UVU’s Dr. Kris Doty for the invitation.
Many of you asked about how to access the slides from my presentation. You can download them in PDF format through the link below:
Read news articles about the symposium below