On Mental Wellness, Work, Religion, and Balance w/ Tiffany Jenkins, LCADC, LPC

To celebrate Black History Month while cultivating my commitment to mental wellness and self-love on this blog, I invited colleague and mentor, Tiffany Jenkins,LCADC,LPC to help me share some tips on work/life harmony and mental wellness.

Tiffany breaks down the 8 dimensions of wellness. We also discuss making time for self-care in midst of our busy lives. And finally we talk about how Black faith communities and mental health advocates can meet each other half way to save lives.

Tiffany will be giving a virtual workshop about self-care strategies to help prevent burn out. Sign up on the Love Yourself Love Your Business community list to get first to know updates about this workshop.

You can listen to the recording by clicking here.

About Tiffany

Tiffany Jenkins, LCADC CCS LPC is the Chief Executive Officer and Lead Change Agent of Awakening Change Counseling Services, LLC. With over 20 years of experience in the mental health field, Tiffany has developed a unique approach to coaching and counseling that empowers, motivates, and evokes change. She firmly believes in a collaborative approach to therapy and positions herself as not only a therapist, but a coach urging her clients to achieve their goals with love and support.

As a Doctoral Candidate of Organizational Leadership, Tiffany uses her expertise to also provide professional development and executive coaching to corporate clients, teaching them the art of freely giving to others.

As a founding board member of Love Yourself Love Your Business, Tiffany hopes to use her professional training and passion for helping others to help destigmatize mental illness amongst professionals, and be a positive force for change in her local community.

Learn more about Tiffany here: www.awakeningchange.org

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Breathe: Getting a Handle On Your Monday Morning Anxiety

anxious thoughts

In the past, I’ve shared that I actually like Mondays. It’s the start of my work week, so I like the idea of a fresh start; the excitement of the week before me is full of hope, and with it, the chance to do better, learn new things, make progress, and grow. 

I wish that’s where I could finish my thoughts about Monday but there’s a flip side to this. Because I also struggle with anxiety, the proceeding thoughts surrounding the idea of being overwhelmed and incapable, often paralyze me to the point of robotic automation which hinders my creative energy, and therefore deters my more natural productivity flow. What I mean is, unless it’s a default habit or a patterned task, I end up analyzing the mess out of stuff. I want to know how stuff works, where there’s connections, how to do something without making mistakes, picking apart and putting back together… (I may have been an engineer in my previous life.) While there is a time for analyzing, too much of it has gotten me stuck in the muck.  

When I became of aware of my tendency to self-sabotage, I was determined to turn it on its head and find the gifts and strength in my personalty traits.

Ease into the day

So, I start by easing into my day with an intentional habit of a morning practice. Yes, it does mean waking up earlier. But your morning practice is determined by you and what works best for mental health and sanity. I know I need breakfast, and I need to journal my thoughts and dreams. It’s something I’ve learned about myself over the years. As I’ve mentioned, my thoughts are all over the place and if I do my version of morning pages, I tend to calm some of the worries by writing them out. By reviewing previous journal entries, I also have proof that I was able to overcome perceived obstacles that at the time I didn’t think I would be able to. 

Write a brain dump list

I pray to my Higher Power and then proceed to write a list of things I’d like to get done for the week. I reference my Life in a Notebook monthly goals and projects. This helps me focus on what’s before me rather than the possibilities of everything that my imagination conjures that causes me fear and paralyzation. If I’m coming into my day grounded, I have less of a chance freaking out about the bajillion emails in my multiple inboxes, the to-do lists I left off on from last week, the new set of meetings I need to have and schedule and the countless follow ups I need to do for myself and my clients. 

Start with small quick wins

The next thing I do is take advantage of my “robot mode”. I always feel better if something is literally crossed off my list. Meaning, I am an old school notepad and pen person. I need to literally write down my to-do list and have the gratification of checking things off. As I explained, robot mode is about default habits and tasks I can do without a 2nd thought (no over analyzing). So, I start with something that is a quick and easy win. Email is usually not a quick and easy win. So, I don’t start with it. If you know that checking that inbox first and opening that one email  (you know the one) will mess your head up for the entire morning, it’s best you work on a few other things first. I’ve found that a lot of people in Western societies operate as if everything about their life is an emergency, and therefore in a sense of trying to have gain control, they will both intentionally and unintentional pull you into their chaos and call it being results oriented. I call it fanning flames. Beware of the raging fire that comes later on! 

Prioritize your tasks

If you want to get things done and still be in integrity with yourself, prioritizing is something you work towards doing and doing as well as possible. There are plenty of great methods for prioritizing, my training at AssistU introduced me to the Eisenhower method. I sucked at it and concluded that I sucked at prioritizing. It wasn’t until I worked one-on-one with my coach that I discovered I mentally prioritize so quickly and instinctually that I didn’t ever realize I had a method to my madness. Now, I’m trying to train myself to slow down enough so I can actually capture and document how I do what I do, so I can optimize my energy and time. Not for the sake of perfection, but for the sake of my peace of mind. I need to prioritize my mental health recovery work and leisurely reading time just as much as I need to prioritize my work habits.

Mindful Expectations

Finally, I readjust my expectations. Things change. I change. Mindful awareness of my personal standards, values and boundaries helps me honor that. In a practical and tangible way, I add and subtract items from my brain dump for the week. I take away items that I compete as well as the items that I know good and full well that I won’t make any effort to complete…due circumstances such as illness or loss of internet from bad weather conditions for instance. I started the new year with the flu so guess where my plans to go out in-person networking went? Trash! As far as adding things, I end up writing down what I tend to forget which are usually micro-movements; the small things that build on the momentum it takes to get a thing done. For instance a micro-movement could be how you organize and keep track of a task. Say for example I complete a task to “follow up with Maya” now my micro-movement is that I need to write a note in my CRM. If I don’t write said note, I won’t remember our conversation or if it ever happened, I will forget about the next steps we agreed upon, and the point of the follow up will be mute. 

By slowing down to breathe, prioritize, and readjust I stand a better chance at not running in to a burning building expecting to put out fires with my hope and determination. My hope instead, is my motivation, and my determination is outlined in my concerted and judicious efforts that ask me to tap into tools and plans that emphasize what is working for me and what is not. The more I know about myself, the more I know how to be proactive about managing my mental health. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

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Embracing The Mental Health Warrior in You

This month, I celebrated my 10th year anniversary in mental health recovery. I wrote a reflection post and thought I’d share a slightly tweaked version of it here as well…

10 years ago this month, I had had enough. I wanted to be fixed, I thought that I needed to be shut down and taken in for repairs. In an attempt to finally surrender, a bit of desperation (okay a lot), and with a big piece of humble pie I sat in my first therapy session crying my eyes out. Everything I thought I knew about myself felt like lie. The elaborate mask I wore and unintentionally decorated through my responses to the, “you should be’s” and other social conditioning I projected onto myself, had cracked, and with the newfound awareness that I even wore such a thing came a realization that everything that gave me the identity I had up until that point had fallen away and died. 

I only felt the pain, the anger, the disappointment, and shame that remained and I wasn’t sure what or who would emerge from the darkness that bled out. Could an ice cold heart ever beat again? Could a lost soul ever be found? Could a broken girl ever find peace enough to become a whole woman? Would I ever think my own life was worthy of the fullness of my humanity? Would I ever stop wishing I never existed? Would I ever be enough in my imperfection, my intergenerational trauma, my “other-ness”?

Every week despite not getting a magic pill to make everything “wrong”, “right”, I went back to my therapist. Shoulders slumped, world caving in, struggling, dragging my feet, working on pieces but not being willing to work on others, digging up skeletons I forgot I had, looking myself in the mirror of truth and trying not to smash it so I didn’t have to deal with what I saw in my reflection. 

Healing is hard work ya’ll. 

Slowly but surely trusting that the process worked. Working the process even though it meant never reviving those things in myself that needed to be let go of, yet wanting to cling to because unhappiness, or rather pervasive sadness and discontent was comfortable and familiar. 

Healing asks for you to go beyond the temporary fixtures (such as addiction) or bandaids (like empty relationships because you’re afraid to be alone or that nobody else will want you). 

Healing is growing to the point that you can’t stay in the cocoon anymore. Staying there doesn’t feel right anymore, and you know it. Growth requires that you break out of the trappings of what holds you back from your being more fully who you really are, it asks for you know yourself, to care about yourself, to love yourself and to trust yourself enough to spread your wings and fly. 

And I have found that I see the beauty of life so much clearer now from this different point of view. I fly, I rest, I learn, I fly some more.

I eventually flew into the arms of Infinite Love.

A redemptive love, a healing love, a transformative love, a love that waited for me until I was ready to accept it and therefore all of myself, a love that lifted me, a love that leads me, a love that calls me by my name. No, I have not “arrived”. I don’t think I ever will. That is the beauty of our human experience. I like to believe that my striving, my 2 steps forward and 1 step back, my determination is what makes me even more lovable in the eyes of my Beloved – the Higher Power of my understanding. 

Today, I have found purpose in my life.

Today I have found freedom in my ongoing quest of accepting all of what makes Lynette, Lynette. Today, I learn to like myself more and more. Today, I have joy in my heart. And even when I struggle with anxiety and depressive moods, I want to live. I think deep down most of us do. I want to have life most abundantly and this time, I believe I am worthy of it. I constantly work on my belief I don’t have to earn a worth that is already inherent to me just for being me. I have found that the G-d of my understanding is a G-d of Love, Healing and Justice. I work to embody that. 

I have the battle scars, accountability sisters, and G-d’s side eye to keep me in check. And it is my honor as someone who has looked my own proverbial Grendel in the eye, and lived to tell you about it that I use my own life, (even as my own hero’s journey still unfolds) as a witness and testimony of Divine Grace, Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness, Redemption, and Transformation. 

I will be human, I will be messy, I will goof up and have to find my center again, I will get tired, I will punk out, I will be slow to the uptake (laughably so), I will struggle with the growth, and yet still, I will press on. That’s what we do. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Money and Suicide: When “Fake it until you make it” goes too far

This blog post is part of the 4th Annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741

It doesn’t come as a big surprise that there’s a link between struggling with money and struggling with mental health. Depression, especially clinical depression, causes many missed days at work. But if you do manage to go into work, you face mental check-outs. You can’t focus, so you’re not productive.  

Couple this with having more bills than money in the bank, not only is this stressful but also it’s demoralizing. This is especially true when you are constantly surrounded by or reading about people who have become millionaires in their 20s or 30s, and then they retired. 

(It’s called the FIRE Movement. You can read more about it here)

When you’re an entrepreneur and a business owner, you feel even more of an obligation to live up to the hype. You may have to impress and capture the interest of investors. You may have employees relying on you. You may have a small team of independent contractors helping you do more than you normally would in your “technically” one-person shop. 

Now imagine you have a family who relies on you. You have to pay for two mortgages, childcare expenses, and medical expenses. The debt just keeps accumulating. You’re one financial crisis, one lost client gig away from ruin.  

What’s really going on behind our professional smiles and firm handshakes?

Everything inside you wants to cry out & tell someone that you are struggling, but you can’t because you are trying to save face. You’re embracing that tired entrepreneurial cliche, “Fake it until you make it.”

All this is, is a recipe for Passive Suicidal Ideation. It’s the desire to die. It’s not accompanied by a plan to end your life. But the thoughts are real and intense. And they can lead to Active Suicidal Ideation with an actual plan to end your life if you don’t take them seriously. 

According to Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, if you’ve had a “major financial crisis” within the past six months, (which can happen quite frequently as an entrepreneur) you are nearly eight times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts. And while you might never intend to act on those thoughts, it can and has happened. On the flip side of that, common symptoms of mental health problems, such as increased impulsivity and memory problems, can make it harder to keep on top of financial management. Impulsivity is also a trait often attributed to entrepreneurs

One of the main reasons I was motivated to write my book, “Success to Die for” is that I wanted to advocate for mental wellness amongst business leaders to prevent entrepreneur suicides. Whenever I thought about business owners, CEOs, and entrepreneurs I will be the 1st to admit I assumed they were “go-getters,” “super strong,” “ultra productive,” and “has it all together.” That was until I became a business owner myself that I quickly learned whatever load you’re carrying around in your life comes right along with you into whatever business venture you’re embarking on in some form or another. And that includes mental health issues. 

How can we Be The Change…for real?

Too many of us are suffering in silence, faking as if everything is awesome. It’s time for leaders to stand up and have real conversations about mental health for suicide prevention. And these conversations need to take place more than once a month.

Now I pose some questions to you: how can you help support suicide prevention? How can you overcome Suicidal Ideation? How can you help someone you know overcome Suicidal Ideation? 

Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Take mental health first aid to know the signs, so you can assist a loved one in need. 

2) Walk to fight suicide and raise funds for more research.

3) Join an online mental health peer support community like Love Yourself Love Your Business.  

4) Maybe most important of all: talk to someone you see struggling. Reach out to someone when you are struggling. You’d be amazed how much a simple conversation might help. Not sure how to reach out? Learn more by clicking here.

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Lynette Davis

The Series Finale of the Be The Change Interview Series

Featuring: Lynette Davis, Mental Health Advocate and Nonprofit Founder

Here’s the direct link to the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/UOG8Nr3bn8Y

Flashback to the very first video of the Be The Change interview series: http://lynettedavis.com/2014/07/30/be-the-change-2014/ 

About

Lynette Davis is a mental health advocate and peer support specialist trained by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and in Mental Health First Aid. She is the author of “Success To Die For”, blogger, speaker and the founding Executive Director of Love Yourself Love Your Business, Inc. a mental health peer-support community for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Visit our website: http://loveselflovebiz.com/ for additional information and resources.

How You Can Help

Support Love Yourself Love Your Business with seed funding so we can expand our projects to provide low-cost to free services for small business owners and aspiring young entrepreneurs dealing with mental health issues. 

Resources mentioned

Lynette’s book “Success To Die For” 

PowerMatch: https://www.powermatchonline.com/

Eat, Play, Love Monthly Meetup

The League of Extraordinary Love Agents (a private mental health support community for business leaders) https://www.facebook.com/groups/leagueofloveagents 

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

Nikki Giovanni

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.