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Sign up for Mindfulness Training

For many, 2021 is gladly welcomed after enduring such an unexpected, difficult and challenging 2020. A new year is often accompanied by hopes of new beginnings and fresh goals. Do any of the following goals resonate with you?

~Reduce stress, anxiety & depression                                                                                     

~Increase levels of focus & concentration

~Better sleep

~Improve overall health & well-being                             

If you are desiring any (or all!) of the above list, integrating mindfulness into your daily life has been scientifically proven to include these potential benefits (plus many more)! For more details on mindfulness, see our recent post

As you enter 2021, you can choose to spend your energy, thoughts, and time dwelling on this past year or worrying about what lies ahead for this new year. Instead of being stuck in the worlds of  the “back then” of the past or the “what ifs” of the future, what would it be like to learn to live in the NOW? Purposely paying attention and being able to capture and engage the present moment.

This is where mindfulness fits in. Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present and engaged in the moment, free from distraction or judgement. It means being aware and in touch with who you are, what you are feeling and doing, and what is going on around you–in the present moment–being fully alive and engaged.  That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But how does one cultivate mindfulness?

We are excited to announce that LaJuan Humbert, intern at Hurley Counseling, will be leading a 6-week Mindfulness Group on Wednesday evenings at The Well (Hurley Counseling, 1327 Springhill Ave.) from 6-7:30pm beginning  January 27th.

The weekly classes will include 30-minutes of mindfulness education and skills training followed by 45-60 minutes of mindfulness practice. This class is for all levels and all ages. Advanced sign-up and payment are required. Cost is $30 per session. This class will be offered free of charge to veterans. For more information or to sign up, please contact Hurley Counseling at 251-222-8880 or at hurleycounselinginfo@gmail.com.

“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.” ~ Buddha

“The mind is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.” ~ Idowu Koyenikan

Mindfulness

In our fast-paced, technology-driven culture, it’s easy to get caught up in a pattern of swirling thoughts—thinking about our never-ending to-do lists, ruminating on past events, or worrying about the future. What if there was a way to slow down…our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our anxieties…resulting in reduced stress, lower blood pressure, improved brain functioning, and  reduced chronic pain? Mindfulness has been found to have all these benefits and more. It has been scientifically proven to be a key element in improving overall well-being. It sounds too good to be true! Let’s take a closer look.

Mindfulness practices have become internationally popular in the past decade, but their roots reach 2,500 years beginning in Eastern cultures by religious and spiritual institutions.These practices eventually made their way over to the Western world. The popularity here can be traced to particular people and secular institutions.  One of the main people that influenced bringing mindfulness from the East to the West was Jon Kabat-Zinn back in the 1970’s. Kabat-Zinn studied meditation and mindfulness under several Buddhist teachers which gave him an Eastern foundation in mindfulness that he, in turn, integrated with Western science. He founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training where he developed his highly successful Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, an eight-week program aimed at treating patients with chronic pain. Since its conception, the effectiveness of MBSR to lower stress and enhance overall wellbeing has been – and increasingly is – supported by thousands of scientific research studies, thus continuing to prove the effectiveness and many benefits of mindfulness.

From popular press to psychotherapy literature, mindfulness is definitely a hot topic these day. But what is mindfulness? The word mindfulness originally comes from the Pali word “sati”, which means having awareness, attention, and remembering. One definition of mindfulness is “the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it with curiosity, without judgment.” It is the human ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing. It is intentionally acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and emotions in the present moment without becoming overwhelmed by them. Simply put, it is paying attention on purpose. Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

Who can benefit from mindfulness? EVERYONE! It can be practiced by children, young people and adults.  In addition to the many benefits mentioned previously, therapists have also turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Mindfulness can be useful for people from all different walks of life and is being successfully applied not only in mental health settings but also in the workplace, schools, and criminal justice systems.

The great news is mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses! It is not something you have to conjure up. Rather, you just have to learn how to access it. While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through scientifically proven techniques such as daily meditation (of varying types and durations), short pauses inserted into everyday life, and learning how to integrate meditation practice in with other activities such as yoga, movement, and sports. There are many ways of learning how to practically implement mindfulness into your daily life on your own just by searching “mindfulness techniques & practices” on the internet or utilizing an easy-to-use meditation app such as Headspace (https://www.headspace.com). Small groups are also a great way to learn mindfulness techniques and practices.  If you are interested in learning more, we will be offering a six-week Mindfulness Group at Hurley Counseling beginning in late January led by our intern, LaJuan Humbert. More information coming soon!

Seven Ways to Have a Stressful Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and we all know that stress is a huge part of that. In fact,
if you aren’t stressed out, chances are you are not appropriately celebrating the holidays. So if you need some advice on how to raise those stress levels read on!

1: Save all of your shopping till the last minute
I know it may seem like a good idea to prepare early, but what is the fun in that? Instead, wait till the last possible minute (I recommend finding out when your local stores close on Christmas Eve and going less than an hour before that time). Nothing will put you in the holiday spirit quite like the rush of not knowing if the doll you promised your daughter will still be there or if you’ll be able to find any hams for dinner. To make it even more fun, dozens of other shoppers will have done the same thing. You can all get in the Christmas spirit together by fighting over the last can of green beans!!

2: Try to insure that everything is perfect
We all know that if a single thing goes wrong everyone’s holidays will be absolutely
ruined. Actually forget the holidays, their whole life. It doesn’t even have to be a major mistake. If the ornaments on your Christmas tree are not arranged exactly symmetrically, it is a problem. Feed off of that stress! You are making your holidays so much better.

3: Take everything your family says personally
Your Aunt Susan asked at dinner if you had a boyfriend yet. Think about that for the next few days (or weeks if you can manage it). Ruminate on it. Try to find exactly where the insult was. Then do the same with every other comment that your family makes that might possibly be an insult. So what if you haven’t seen the relative in question in over a year and they know little to nothing about your current life? They are the best judge of how you are doing and you should absolutely believe every word they say.

4: And speaking of family….bring up politics
Or religion. Or what breed of dog is best. Spend some time before your next holiday
gathering thinking about what would be most likely to start a nice juicy argument. Then, when the moment is right, bring it up. If you’re lucky, someone else will bring it up for you. If they do (now this is the important thing) don’t leave the room. Don’t walk away. Don’t change the subject. Keep everyone talking about it for as long as humanly possible. Then sit back and enjoy those rising stress levels and the increased festivity.

5: Say yes to everything
It’s the holiday season. That means saying yes to going to the office party. And the PTA
party. And to making cookies for the church bake sale. And of course you’ll decorate the tree at the community center! And absolutely host book club this month (even if it isn’t your turn). It’s best not to say no to anything. You want your calendar to be as over booked as possible. If you aren’t being pulled in twelve directions at once, are you really and truly in the holiday spirit? I don’t think so.

6: Make sure to do everything yourself
Don’t ask for help. Don’t accept help. Even if you have one hour to do ten things. Even if
there are two appointments you have to be at that are at the same time. Don’t let anyone help you prepare. Or shop. Or wrap presents. And absolutely don’t let anyone help you prepare food. If you go to a holiday gathering and have any time to spend with the people there, then you are doing it wrong.

7: Finally, have absolutely no fun
This is the holidays! There isn’t any fun allowed. And above all, don’t you dare laugh at
anything. Not the funny stories people are telling. Not the dog when it tries to steal the turkey. Nothing. Absolutely no laughter allowed. Remember people, laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress and we want those stress levels as high as possible this holiday season!

Of course, this list is all in good fun. Please don’t take any of these suggestions seriously! If you notice that you are doing some of these things, take a moment to step back and evaluate your stress levels. Try going for a walk, taking a break, or meditating, whatever works for you. If you find that your stress levels have become unmanageable, don’t hesitate to give our office a call. We have multiple qualified counselors that are available to take on new clients. We will, however, be closed the weeks of Christmas and New Years.

This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett.

Welcome LaJuan Humbert

Hurley Counseling is pleased to announce LaJuan Humbert will be joining us in January! LaJuan is in her final year of her master’s program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Troy University and will be competing her internship with Hurley Counseling. She, in conjunction with Andrew Hurley, will be conducting a six-week mindfulness class beginning in late January/early February.