A seasonal shift from summer into fall can be a time for adjustment for many. As you are are putting away your sandals and getting out your scarves you start to pay closer attention to how you feel now that the sun is rising later, setting earlier, and the air is cooler. Therapist, meditation teacher, and certified neurofeedback trainer, Alison Pepper LCSW, lays out 4 key ways to support yourself and your mental health this fall with radical self-care.
Radical Self-Care: What it is and Why It Is Important
In today's busy modern world it is hard to find time to slow down and do something truly for yourself. The idea behind radical self-care is just that – loving and caring for yourself is indeed a radical act! We are always asked to show up, be on, and do things for others all the time. Therefore, it is equally important balancing the demands of work-life, family-life, and perhaps a social or spiritual life, to also prioritize you!
Everything on the list below is a form of radical self-care, from what we love to eat to going to therapy. Remember, there is not a right way nor a one-way approach for self-care – that's what also makes it a radical act! But if you need some inspiration or need a fresh start for your self-care practice, here are some helpful ideas.
1) Healthy Food for Self-Care: support Your mind and mood
More and more, modern medicine is recognizing the influence of diet on good health. A new research study shows that eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish may result in larger total brain volumes and thereby better long-term brain health. Read this study in Neurology Times. What you eat greatly impacts your energy level and how you feel. Did you know that magnesium rich foods are super great for brain health and brain functioning? Try some out! You don’t need to make major changes to your diet all at once maybe just start by switching up your usual afternoon snack to almonds and a piece of dark chocolate. For other great healthy food tips check out this blog by psychotherapist and neurofeedback trainer Natalie Baker, LMHC.
[ Read Also: What Foods are good for my Brain? ]
“In meditation we are constantly discovering who and what we are.”
– Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
2) Mindfulness Meditation For Self-Care: Why do a daily meditation practice and Where to Start
Mindfulness meditation has been found to help reduce stress. Buddhist meditations like loving kindness have been found to increase empathy, boost resilience and having a sense of over all purpose. More and more people are talking about meditation and trying meditation. So where do you start? For some it is an app like Buddhify or headspace. For others is might be a great book like Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein or When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. Learning to meditate and practicing with others can be a powerful experience and for that there are a number of meditation centers one could attend like: Zen centers, Shambhala Meditation centers, Insight Meditation centers. Like with anything new, starting slowly with an open mind can be very helpful.
[ Read Also: When and How do I Meditate with my Child? ]
3) Neurofeedback For Self-Care: Improve Brain Function with neurofeedback - It Can Cheer You up!
Neurofeedback, NeurOptimal® help promote more focus, sleep and decrease performance anxiety and stress. Watch our video to learn what it is and how it works. The system used at our clinics and available for rent is called NeurOptimal Neurofeedback. It's an advanced brain training technology developed 20 years ago by clinical psychologists. This kind of neurofeedback system works by looking for turbulence in the brain, the software then provides auditory feedback that triggers what is called the orienting response (the orienting response is the brain’s ability to sense change in the environment and take in new information about what is different)
[ Read Also: Who Can Benefit From Neurofeedback? ]
What To Expect When Training With NeurOptimal
Before a session, client fills out a Checklist of Concern which keeps track of ones progress. During a session, sensors are
placed on the head and ears. The client sits in a comfortable chair and listen to audio feedback through a song. It's very relaxing and no counscious effort from clients is needed, sleep is encouraged! How you will see the effects is different for everyone but most feedback we hear from clients are that they feel calmer, feel more focused, sleep better, and have an enhanced sense of their thought patterns and how they get stuck. Perspective and the ability to hold that perspective appears to be an experience of many who do this kind of neurofeedback training; especially those who train in combination with psychotherapy.
“I find it amazing when a client comes in after one session and they can see the results in a very clear way. One of my clients referred to it as subtle, but noticed a distinct change in her stress and reactivity to negative situations”
4) Therapy For Self-Care
Therapy can be a powerful tool for support and self-discovery. Only you will know when the right time for therapy is and what you hope to gain from it. Finding a therapist and getting started can feel like an overwhelming and daunting task. But you can always start with a phone call, trying calling a therapist and simply asking her about how she works. Spend sometime looking at therapist websites and reading about where someone is located and how he practices.
Another great resource if you live in NYC is My Wellbeing, they help match potential therapy clients with therapist in a thorough and creative way online. If you are thinking about therapy know that you are not alone, help is out there, and once you start you can always stop. Like any decision going to therapy is not a binding commitment. Some people need and want to stay in therapy for years gaining support, healing past traumas, and cultivating insight while others might need and want to come for a short period of time during a transfer transition of loss in their life. There is no one way or right way to engage in therapy and it's important to stay open and curious about the process and what might work best for you.
To read more about starting therapy check out this blog by NYC psychotherapist and neurofeedback trainer Heather Coleman, LCSW. If interested in learning more about Group Therapy and learn how it is different from individual therapy, read this article by Alison Pepper LCSW: How Can Group Therapy Help.
Written by Alison Pepper, LCSW & NeurOptimal Neurofeedback Trainer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alison Pepper is an NYC Therapist and a Neurofeedback Trainer working with adults as well as families & children dealing with mental health issues; with an emphasis on trauma-informed work. She's a bilingual therapist for over 6 years of experience (fluent in both English and Spanish), SIFI certified, and a meditation teacher. She recently became a Certified NeurOptimal Neurofeedback Trainer at Neurofeedback Training Co. in New York City.
“I believe all people have the tools to heal ourselves; grow, learn, and reach our full potential. No matter what your age or life circumstances therapy is a safe space to do that work.”