Guest Post: How to Stay in Shape During the Lockdown

Two simple workout programs for the home; no gym required!

By Kevin Mangelschots

Crazy things are happening all around the world at the moment. The pandemic, lockdowns, riots… In times like these, it’s crucial that you keep your mind sharp and healthy. But in many places, gyms have not reopened. And not everyone has the luxury of owning a home gym.

If you lack access to a gym (home or otherwise), fear not! You will be amazed at how fit you can get with little (or no) equipment if you put your mind to it! This article reviews ways you can workout at home (minus the weights and fitness machines).

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Beginner Workout Program 

Warmup: 

2-3 minutes of walking or riding the bike

Use this time to start your day off right. Go outside (weather permitting) and walk or ride your bike to warm up. If staying inside is your only option, walk in place or walk around your home.

Workout: 
  • > 30 seconds squats – 30 seconds rest
  • > 30 seconds planks – 30 seconds rest
  • > 30 seconds pushups – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30 seconds lunges – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30 seconds sit-ups – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30 seconds Superman – 30 seconds rest 

–> Repeat this routine 2x. 

Cooldown:

2-3 minutes of walking or slow biking 

Intermediate Workout Program 

Warmup: 

2-3 minutes of walking or biking

Workout: 
  • > 20 burpees – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30 close-grip pushups – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 20 Bulgarian lunges (10 left, 10 right) – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30-second plank – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 40-second side plank (20 seconds left, 20 seconds right) – 30 seconds rest
  • > 30 seconds mountain climbers – 30 seconds rest 
  • > 30 seconds Superman – 30 seconds rest

–> Repeat this routine 2x.

Cooldown: 

2-3 minutes of walking or slow biking 

Adjusting Your Workout Program 

Both of the above workout programs can be easily modified to be less difficult or more challenging. Below, I will explain how you can experiment to adjust the difficulty of your workout program and ways you can experiment if you are getting bored. Sometimes, changing things up is necessary to maintain motivation.

Reduce or increase rest times. Reducing or increasing rest times will make the workout harder or easier. 
 
Increase or decrease the reps and sets. The amount of reps refers to how many times you repeat the same motion for one set. For example, bench pressing 100 kg (220.5 lbs) five times in a row counts as five reps. The amount of sets refers to how many times you repeat a number of reps. For example, bench pressing 100 kg (220.5 lbs) five times in a row counts as one set. You can do multiple sets of the same exercise after you take a short rest.
 
Increasing the amount of reps and sets makes the workout harder while decreasing makes it easier.  

Adjust the way you do certain exercises. Most exercises can be made harder or easier. For example, pushups can be done on hands and toes, the traditional way, but can also be performed on hands and knees. Alternatively, they can be done with your feet raised on a bench, making them harder.

Squats can be done with or without weights. If regular squats are too easy, you can perform single-leg squats to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Image by Keifit from Pixabay

Add or decrease the number of exercises. You can also add or remove exercises from your routine to alter the level of difficulty. Exercises should be added as your level of training advances.

Consider adding the following exercises to a workout program:

The exercises listed above are just a few examples to add to your workout in order to make things trickier or for a nice change of pace if things get boring. Don’t hesitate to add your own exercises; get creative! Just be sure to perform any exercise with the correct form in order to prevent injuries.

Why Are These Workouts Effective?

The workout programs in this article are compound exercises. Compound exercises are exercises or movements that target multiple large muscle groups at the same time. (For example, squats are compound exercises that target the legs in addition to the back and abdominal muscles, among others.) With compound exercises, you get more “bang for your buck.” The core of any training program should always consist of compound exercises.

High-intensity interval training. This means your heartrate increases and stays elevated for prolonged periods of time. We accomplish this with exercises of a certain level of intensity and by keeping rest periods between the exercises relatively short.

Strength, endurance, and mobility combined into one workout. With these workouts you will become stronger because you use your own body weight as resistance and your endurance will increase because your heartrate goes up with this high-intensity interval training style. Your mobility will increase as well because you will be utilizing a full range of motion.

Easy, even for individuals lacking prior experience.

Easily adjustable workout routines. Multiple ways to adjust the templates to make your own workout more challenging or less difficult.  

Convenience and value. No equipment or gym memberships required; a cheap and easy path to fitness. Both exercise programs require little time and can be performed at home. No drive to the gym. What’s not to like?

Additional Home Workout Ideas

  • > Dumbbell workout
  • > Cardio kickboxing
  • > Jumping rope
  • > Home trainer
  • > Treadmill
  • > Walking up and down the stairs
  • > Resistance bands workout
  • > Kettlebell workout
Image by Rattakarn_ from Pixabay

Closing Thoughts 

In comparing the workouts, the biggest differences between the beginner and intermediate programs are the amount of exercises, the difficulty level, and the overall volume. Rest times are initially the same because everyone’s cardiovascular health is different, but should be adjusted for each individual.

Keep in mind that the workout programs are templates only; they provide general guidelines that can be adjusted for fitness and training level as well as individual differences. For example, one person may struggle with pushups while another has difficulty with squats. Prior experience and recent injury or illness should be taken into account. You can reduce or increase reps/sets or perform alternate versions of an exercise, such as performing pushups on hands and knees if the traditional pushup is too hard.

The common stigma that you need a lot of fancy equipment or heavy lifting to stay in shape is not necessarily true. While exercises that utilize body weight only may not lead to bulging muscles, they will lead to fitness and you being in great shape as you lose fat and gain strength.

Getting in a quality workout with the current lockdown regulations is challenging, but with some knowledge and determination it can certainly be done!


About the Author:

Kevin Mangelschots is a writer and occupational therapist with seven years of experience in the field of physical rehabilitation. He is a long-time fitness enthusiast. Kevin lives in Belgium and writes about general health with a specific focus on mental health and self-improvement on his blog, healthybodyathome.com

 

Daily Self-Inventory for Mental Health Professionals

Regular self-evaluation is essential for mental health professionals. Use this daily assessment tool (downloadable PDF) to evaluate your ethical and self-care practices.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

The 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggests taking daily inventory: “A continuous look at our assets and liabilities, and a real desire to learn and grow.” The founders of AA recommend that a person in recovery both “spot check” throughout the day in addition to taking a full inventory every evening, preferably a written one. An honest self-evaluation can assess for resentment, anger, fear, jealousy, etc. According to the principles of AA, self-inventory promotes self-restraint and a sense of justice; it allows one to carefully examine their motives. Furthermore, it allows one to recognize unhealthy or ineffective speech/actions in order to visualize how they could have done better.

Similarly, for best practice, self-evaluation is essential for anyone who works in the mental health (MH) field. It doesn’t have to take place daily, or even weekly, but it’s a necessary measure for any active MH worker. If we don’t regularly examine our motives, professional interactions, and level of burnout, we could potentially cause harm to those we serve.

“As important as it is to have a plan for doing work, it is perhaps more important to have a plan for rest, relaxation, self-care, and sleep.”

Akiroq Brost

Much of the self-inventory I created is based on the 2014 ACA (American Counseling Association) Code of Ethics and related issues. According to the code, the fundamental principles of ethical behavior include the following:

Autonomy (self-sufficiency), or fostering the right to control the direction of one’s life;

Nonmaleficence, or avoiding actions that cause harm;

Beneficence, or working for the good of the individual and society by promoting mental health and well-being;

Justice (remaining just and impartial), or treating individuals equitably and fostering fairness and equality;

Fidelity (integrity), or honoring commitments and keeping promises, including fulfilling one’s responsibilities of trust in professional relationships; and

Veracity (genuineness), or dealing truthfully with individuals with whom counselors come into professional contact


The following is a format for MH professionals to evaluate both ethical and self-care practices. It’s meant to be used as a daily assessment tool.

Daily Self-Inventory for Mental Health Professionals

1. Did I cause harm (physical or emotional) today, intentionally or unintentionally, to self or others?

Yes                         No

2. If so, how, and what can I do to make amends and prevent reoccurrence?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Have I treated everyone I’ve come across with dignity and respect?

Yes                         No

4. If no, how did I mistreat others? What were my underlying thoughts/feelings/beliefs? How can I act differently in the future?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Have I imposed my personal values on a client (or clients) today?

Yes                         No

6. If so, which values, and what steps can I take to prevent this? (Note: professional counselors are to respect diversity and seek training when at risk of imposing personal values, especially when they’re inconsistent with the client’s goals.)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. Currently, what are my personal biases and how can I overcome (or manage) them?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Have I done anything today that has not been in effort to foster client welfare (i.e. self-disclosure for self-fulfilling reasons)?

Yes                         No

9. If so, what were my motives and how can I improve on this?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 the greatest), how genuine have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________

11. On a scale from 1-10, how transparent have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________

12. What specific, evidence-based counseling skills, tools, and techniques did I use today? Am I certain there is empirical evidence to support my practice? (If no, how will I remedy this?)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

13. Have I practiced outside the boundaries of my professional competence (based on education, training, supervision, and experience) today?

Yes                         No

14. What have I done today to advance my knowledge of the counseling profession, including current issues, evidence-based practices, relevant research, etc.?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

15. What have I done today to promote social justice?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

16. Have I maintained professional boundaries with both colleagues and clients today?

Yes                         No

17. Did I protect client confidentially to my best ability today?

Yes                         No

18. To my best knowledge, am I adhering to my professional (and agency’s, if applicable) code of ethics?

Yes                         No

19. On a scale from 1-10, what is my level of “burnout”? ________

20. What have I done for self-care today?

  • Self-Care Activities I’ve Engaged In:
    • Exercise
    • Healthy snacks/meals
    • Meditation
    • Adequate rest
    • Adequate water intake
    • Regular breaks throughout the workday
    • Positive self-talk
    • Consultation
    • Therapy
    • Other: ________________
    • Other: ________________
    • Other: ________________

Areas for Improvement:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Areas in Which I Excel:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Download a PDF version (free) of the self-evaluation below. This assessment can be printed, copied, and shared without the author’s permission, providing it’s not used for monetary gain. Please modify as needed.

List Of Hobbies

Discover your next greatest hobby with this diverse list of assorted leisure activities, which range from beekeeping to Kombucha brewing to knife throwing to ghost hunting.

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

I developed this list (with the help of Wikipedia, and Google, of course) as part of a project I was working on and thought it would be worth sharing. (Click below for a PDF version of this list.)

Hobby Categories

Animals & Nature | Arts & Crafts | Collections | Cooking & Baking | Entertainment | Home Improvement & DIY | Literature, Music, & Dance | Outdoor & Adventure | Self-Improvement & Social | Sports | Travel | Miscellaneous

Read and be inspired!

Animals & Nature

  • Attend pet shows (or horse shows)
  • Beekeeping
  • Berry or apple picking
  • Bird watching
  • Butterfly garden (Visit one or create your own!)
  • Butterfly watching
  • Be a plant parent; nurture and care for indoor plants
  • Composting
  • Dog training
  • Dog walking
  • Fossil hunting
  • Grow and tend to a fruit tree
  • Grow an indoor herb garden
  • Grow plants from seedlings (and plant outside when in-season)
  • Hang humming bird feeders and then sit back and enjoy the company!
  • Horseback riding
  • Become an expert at identifying various plants
  • Mushroom hunting
  • Nature walks
  • Adopt a pet
  • Pet fostering
  • Pet sitting
  • Plant a flower bed
  • Go on a swamp tour
  • Tend to a vegetable garden
  • Topiary
  • Visit a farm
  • Visit an aquarium
  • Go to zoos and/or nature centers
  • Watch wildlife on Animal Planet
  • Go whale watching

Arts & Crafts

  • Drawing
  • Candle making
  • Collages – Use whatever materials you desire!
  • Coloring
  • Crocheting
  • Design your own greeting cards or stationary
  • Flower arranging
  • Glassblowing
  • Jewelry making
  • Knitting
  • Lettering/calligraphy
  • Mixed media art
  • Mosaic making
  • Origami
  • Painting (watercolor, oils, acrylics, etc.)
  • Paper crafts (including paper mache)
  • Photography
  • Pressed flower craft
  • Pottery
  • Quilting
  • Scrapbooking
  • Sculpting
  • Sewing
  • Sketching
  • Soap making
  • Weaving
  • Wood carving

Collections

  • Action figures
  • Antiques
  • Autographs
  • Barbies
  • Books (classics, signed copies, etc.)
  • Christmas tree ornaments
  • Comics
  • Fun socks
  • Hot sauce from around the world
  • Movie or music memorabilia
  • Obsolete tech (i.e. outdated cell phones, tape players, etc.)
  • Original artwork
  • Plates
  • Purses, shoes, and other accessories
  • Recipes
  • Records
  • Retro video games
  • Rocks and/or crystals
  • Shells
  • Souvenirs
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Stickers
  • Ticket stubs
  • Toys
  • Vases
  • Vintage items

Cooking & Baking

  • Braising
  • Bread making
  • Cake decorating
  • Canning
  • Cheese making
  • Coffee roasting
  • Cookie decorating
  • Grilling and BBQ
  • Hosting dinner parties
  • Kombucha brewing
  • Learn ethnic and regional recipes
  • Learn recipes from cooking shows
  • Make “fun foods” for kids
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Make jam or jelly
  • Make your own beef (or vegan!) jerky
  • Participate in competitive food festivals (or just go and enjoy the food!)
  • Pasta making
  • Pastry and confection making
  • Pickling
  • Pie making
  • Raw diet meals
  • Recreate menu items from your favorite restaurants
  • Reduced fat cooking
  • Sautéing
  • Slow cooker meals
  • Smoothie making
  • Soup, sauce, and stock making
  • Sushi making
  • Take a cooking class
  • Tea brewing
  • Try new recipes on a regular basis
  • Use an air fryer
  • Use a dehydrator
  • Use Pinterest for inspiration
  • Vegan cooking
  • Watch Food Network for inspiration

Entertainment

  • Attend movies, operas, plays, and musicals
  • Bingo
  • Board games and/or party games
  • Card games
  • Chess
  • Strategy games
  • Dine out at new restaurants
  • Escape rooms
  • Gaming
  • Go to museums
  • Go to poetry slams or open mic nights
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Karaoke
  • Murder mystery shows
  • Read entertainment/celebrity magazines
  • See your favorite bands/artists perform live
  • Standup comedy
  • Theme parks
  • Watch your favorite Netflix series, but make sure you become overly invested (borderline obsessed) with the story line and characters in order for this to qualify as a legit hobby

Home Improvement & DIY

  • Add a backsplash to your kitchen
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Build a shed
  • Build furniture
  • Design a meditation room, home office, “man cave,” or “she shed”
  • DIY headboard
  • Fireplace makeover
  • Hanging shelves
  • Home organization
  • Install smart home technology
  • Kitchen remodel
  • Paint an accent wall or update your entire home
  • Paint old cabinets
  • Redecorate a room
  • Stencil or wallpaper
  • Update a closet
  • Update furniture
  • Update lighting
  • Use chalk paint or metallic spray paint

Literature, Music, & Dance

  • Acting
  • Attend art galleries
  • Attend literary fests
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Belly dancing
  • Blogging/guest blogging
  • Break dancing
  • Editing
  • Go to book signings
  • Go to the library
  • Join a book club (either in-person or online, i.e. Goodreads)
  • Listen to music
  • Play/learn an instrument
  • Puppeteering
  • Rapping
  • Reading
  • Sell your art on etsy.com
  • Singing
  • Song-writing
  • Submit articles/opinion pieces/essays to magazines and newspapers
  • Swing dancing
  • Take a dance class (swing, hip hop, ballroom, etc.)
  • Take a drama or improv class
  • Take voice lessons
  • Wikipedia editing
  • Write a book
  • Write poetry
  • Write short stories

Outdoor & Adventure

  • Backpacking
  • Boating
  • Bungee jumping
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Caving
  • Fishing
  • Geocaching
  • Go-Karting
  • Hiking
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Laser tag
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Paintball
  • Parasailing
  • Rocking climbing
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Snowboarding
  • Snorkeling
  • Waterskiing
  • White water rafting
  • Wilderness survival

Self-Improvement & Social

  • Advocate
  • Attend support groups/meetings
  • Attend workshops
  • Bullet journaling
  • Daily positive affirmations and/or self-reflection
  • Join a club
  • Join a gym
  • Join a Meetup group
  • Join a political campaign
  • Journaling
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Make a vision board and update it regularly
  • Meditation
  • Read research
  • Read self-improvement books
  • Social media
  • Stretching
  • Take a class (i.e. self-defense, a foreign language, etc.)
  • Use a habit tracker app
  • Volunteer
  • Watch documentaries
  • Watch inspirational Ted Talks
  • Wear a fitness tracker
  • Yoga

Sports

  • Archery
  • Badminton 
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Biking
  • Body building
  • Bowling
  • Boxing
  • Cricket
  • Darts
  • Disc golf/frisbee
  • Fencing
  • Football/flag football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hockey
  • Ice skating
  • Jogging/running
  • Knife throwing
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial arts
  • Poker
  • Racquetball
  • Racing
  • Riding a unicycle
  • Roller derby
  • Rugby
  • Skateboarding
  • Soccer
  • Surfing/body boarding
  • Swimming
  • Table football
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Thai Chi
  • Volleyball
  • Weight training
  • Wrestling

Travel

  • Alaskan cruise
  • All-inclusive resorts
  • Beach vacations
  • Caribbean cruise
  • Cross country train trip
  • Explore your home town and other nearby place as though you’re a tourist
  • Guided group tours
  • Mediterranean cruise
  • Road trip
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Travel to all the continents in the world
  • Travel to all the states in America
  • Trip to Las Vegas
  • Visit the Grand Canyon
  • Visit the New Seven Wonders of the World
  • Visit the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World
  • Go on city walking tours

Miscellaneous Hobbies

  • Astrology/astronomy
  • Billiards
  • Couponing
  • Creating DIY home products
  • Fantasy sports
  • Genealogy
  • Ghost hunting
  • Hair styling/braiding
  • Hula hooping
  • Juggling
  • Keeping up with the latest fashions
  • Kite flying
  • Learning magic tricks
  • Makeup application
  • Metal detecting
  • Model building
  • People watching
  • Storage unit auctions
  • Sunbathing
  • Yard sale shopping/thrifting

Note: The Wikipedia webpage, “List of Hobbies” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies), was utilized as a reference for this list.

Professional Development for Mental Health Practitioners

20 professional development ideas for counselors, social workers, and other mental health clinicians

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Professional development encompasses all activities that provide or strengthen professional knowledge/skills. Ongoing professional development is a requirement for mental health practitioners in order to maintain competency and for keeping up-to-date on the latest research and evidence-based practices in an ever-changing field.

Listed below are several ideas for counselor professional development.

1 Find a mentor (and meet with them at least once a month).

2 Sign up for relevant e-mail lists. A few I find the most helpful/informative: Brain & Behavior Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and SAMHSA.

3 Become a member of a professional organization (i.e. American Counseling Association).

4 Keep up-to-date on the latest research. If you are a member of a professional organization, take advantage of your member benefits; you likely have access to a professional journal. You can also browse sites like ScienceDaily or use an app like Researcher.

5 Facilitate professional trainings or manage a booth at a conference.

6 Read counseling and psychology books (such as On Being a Therapist by Kottler or Mindsight by Siegel).

7 Practice awareness. Know your values, limitations, and personal biases.

8 Become familiar with local resources in your community.

9 Volunteer.

10 Join a professional counseling forum and participate in discussions. The ACA has several. You could also go the reddit route (i.e. r/psychotherapy).

11 Review your professional code of ethics on a regular basis. (Link to the ACA Code.)

12 Attend webinars, trainings, and conferences. Stay informed by subscribing to email lists, participating in professional forums, and searching Eventbrite for local events; search “mental health.” PESI is another source, but the seminars can be costly.

13 Network/consult.

14 Subscribe to psychology magazines like Psychology Today or Psychotherapy Networker.

15 Further your education by taking classes or earning a certificate.

16 Pick a different counseling skill to strengthen each week. (You can even use flashcards to pick a new skill or simply review!)

17 Write an article or book (or book review!)

18 Take free online courses.

19 Listen to podcasts (like Therapy Chat or Counselor Toolbox).

20 Practice self-care on a regular basis to prevent burnout. Why is self-care included in a post on professional development? Because self-care is crucial for counselor wellness; a counselor experiencing burnout puts his/her clients at risk.

Boundaries: Thoughts on Building & Maintaining “Good Fences”

Why is it important to set and adhere to healthy boundaries? How can you tell if yours are weak?

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Robert Frost

When I picture a boundary, I imagine drawing a circle with a stick in the dirt… with me in the middle. I stay in; everyone else stays out. Boundaries are protective; they keep us safe. Without boundaries, you have no limits, no sense of direction. Without boundaries, you open yourself up… anyone can come in, with good or bad intentions.

If you have poor boundaries in a dating relationship, you could end up doing things you’re not comfortable with. Or, another example might be with your boss; if you don’t set firm limits, you could end up taking one extra tasks.

I once worked with a client who regularly violated his partner’s boundaries by yelling, “Phone check!” whenever he wanted to check his girlfriend’s cell. She’d hand it over and he’d review her calls/read her texts. It was a boundary violation for sure. Everyone has a right to privacy. (That being said, your partner never has the right to go through your phone, read your journal, request your social media passwords, etc. Those are all boundary violations; they could also indicate that the relationship is in trouble.)

Another way to conceptualize a boundary is to picture mosquito netting. It keeps the mosquitoes out, but it’s flexible and lightweight. It lets in air, sunlight, a cool breeze… A mosquito net is a healthy boundary. If you were to instead build a brick structure, you’d be doing a lot of unnecessary work and you’d probably still get bit.  

It’s best to be up front and honest about the boundaries you set (which requires assertiveness). With your boss, the first time he asks if you can stay late on a Friday, you might end up saying yes. (It’s probably just a onetime thing, right?) Seeing that you don’t say no the first time, he may continue to ask you to stay late or take on extra work. The alternative (boundary-setting) option would be to say (when he first asks), “I’m sorry, although I’d love to be able to, I have a policy against being away from home on Fridays. It’s family night at my house.” It’s unlikely he’ll ask you again because you very firmly (and politely) set a boundary.

On the other hand, if you’re passionate about your career, you could be flexible and stay late (especially if you’re hoping for a promotion or a raise) without feeling as though your boundaries have been violated. The important thing is to know where you stand (i.e. what your boundary is).

Equally important to setting boundaries is adhering to them once they’re established. There are people out there who love to test boundaries. A boundary is useless without follow through. Your boundary becomes meaningless if you say you’re not going to do something and then you do it anyway. If you tell your child “no candy before dinner,” but then finally give in after several bouts of dramatic tears, you’re sending a message. The message is “When I say no, I don’t mean it.” It’s important to be consistent with boundaries.

Signs of Weak Boundaries

  • A lack of assertiveness
  • Altering your personal values for someone (especially in a romantic relationship)
  • Having a sexual relationship with someone when you’re not ready
  • Not being able to say “no”
  • Trusting others quickly (when it’s not warranted)
  • Falling in love quickly or believing an acquaintance is your best friend when you only met the day before

Rigid boundaries, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of the spectrum. A person with rigid boundaries doesn’t trust easily or let others in. It would be difficult to be in an intimate relationship with a person with rigid boundaries.

How to Develop Healthy Boundaries

Firstly, know that it will take time. Be patient with yourself and don’t criticize yourself if you fall back into old habits.

Recognize (and accept) your right to establish and adhere to personal boundaries. Read one of Dr. Cloud’s books on boundaries or Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More. Personally, I like Co-dependents Anonymous’ recovery literature. It’s an easy read (four pages) and you can access it for free.

If you haven’t already, take time to clarify your values. You can do a values sort – there are plenty of free resources online. It’s something I frequently do with my clients. What’s most important to you? Family? Integrity? Kindness? Have unhealthy boundaries affected this value in the past? (If kindness is most important to you, and you identify as a “people pleaser,” consider all the times you’ve been unkind to yourself. Explore ideas for practicing kindness to both others and self.)

Also, deliberate on the behaviors you find unacceptable (in terms of how you’re treated). Looking back on past relationships, I dated men who cheated on me, called me names, were mean to my friends, and yes, even checked my phone. Completely unacceptable. At this point in my life, I have a zero tolerance policy.

When you establish boundaries, especially with those who don’t expect it (i.e. your mother-in-law or the neighbor who regularly lets his dog romp through your garden), anticipate some push back. It probably won’t feel good in the moment.

Practice assertiveness. Don’t back down. If someone is particularly resistant, don’t engage in an argument.  You don’t owe an explanation. You don’t even have to respond. Remain calm; walk away if needed. If it helps, pre-plan your exact wording. (“I’m sorry, but I’m no longer able to stay till 9 on Fridays. Unexpected circumstances at home won’t allow it.”) Be concise. Don’t be overly apologetic.

If the person you’re setting boundaries with is a significant other or family member, I’d recommend transparency. Let them know that you’re going to make some changes. Share how unhealthy boundaries have negatively impacted you. (Give specific examples if you can.) Don’t place blame. Talk about how healthy boundaries will positively impact not just you,but the relationship. It may still be difficult. There may be some tension; the relationship might feel strained. (And it’s okay.)

If you set boundaries and find them repeatedly violated; firstly, take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Have you been clear and consistent? If so, you may want to consider spending less time with this person or even ending the relationships. Unfortunately, while you can set boundaries, you can’t force someone to respect them.


In sum, boundaries are imperative. Skin is a boundary that keeps other organs in place; it shields our body systems from toxins, viruses, and bacteria that would otherwise be deadly. It keeps the bad stuff out (and the good stuff in). Healthy boundaries are our emotional skin. If you need a boundaries tune up, it could take some effort, but is well worth it. You’ll experience increased satisfaction in your relationships and will feel more confidence.Your overall well-being will improve; boundaries are freeing – by communicating your needs, it’s less likely you’ll feel angry or resentful. And lastly, you’ll find that others have a greater level of respect for you. “Good fences,” it would seem, are not limited to neighbors!

Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides

(Updated 5/22/20) A resource list for mental health professionals and consumers. Free PDF manuals/workbooks/guides for group and individual therapy or self-help purposes.

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

The following list is comprised of links to over 200 PDF workbooks, manuals, and guidebooks that are published online and free to use with clients and/or for self-help purposes. Some of the manuals, including Individual Resiliency Training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms, are evidence-based.

For youth and family resources, see Free Printable PDF Manuals, Workbooks, & Toolkits for Providers Who Work with Children, Adolescents, & Youth.

For additional resources, see Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts and Worksheets, Activities, & Guides for Individual or Group Therapy.


Substance Use Disorders & Addiction

12 Step Workbooks (A list of PDF workbooks by Al Kohalek)

Alcohol and You: An NHS Self-Help Guide (25 pages)

Alcohol Problems in Intimate Relationships: Identification and Intervention (A Guide for Marriage and Family Therapists) (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 83 pages)

ASI-MV Worksheets & Handouts (47 pages)

Brief Counseling for Marijuana Dependence: A Manual for Treating Adults (Source: SAMHSA, 208 pages)

Client Workbook (Source: Substance Use | Brain Injury Bridging Project, 144 pages)

A Cognitive Behavioral Approach: Treating Cocaine Addiction (Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 137 pages)

Community Reinforcement and Family Training Support and Prevention (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 103 pages)

Co-occurring Disorders Problem Gambling Integrated Treatment Manual (138 pages)

Co-occurring Disorders Problem Gambling Integrated Treatment Workbook (135 pages)

Co-occurring Disorders Treatment Manual (123 pages)

Co-occurring Disorders Treatment Workbook (122 pages)

Empowering Your Sober Self: The LifeRing Approach to Addiction Recovery (274 pages)

A Family Guide to Concurrent Disorders (Source: CAMH, 222 pages)

Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Toolkit (23 pages)

Mapping Your Recovery: A Peer-Based Model to Help You Through the Recovery Process (60 pages)

Mapping Your Reentry Plan: Heading Home (Special Version for Criminal Justice Populations) (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 72 pages) 2007

Mapping Your Steps: “Twelve Step” Guide Maps (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 140 pages) 2000

Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Client’s Handbook (Source: SAMHSA, 114 pages)

Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Client’s Treatment Companion (Source: SAMHSA, 36 pages)

Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Counselor’s Family Education Manual (Source: SAMHSA, 176 pages)

Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorder): Counselor’s Treatment Manual (Source: SAMHSA, 268 pages)

Matrix Series: Using Matrix with Women Clients (Source: SAMHSA, 92 pages)

The MISSION Consumer Workbook (Source: SAMHSA, 160 pages)

My Action Plan for Relapse Prevention (42 pages)

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (Source: SAMHSA, 24 pages)

Project MATCH Volume 1: TWELVE STEP FACILITATION THERAPY MANUAL A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 140 pages)

Project MATCH Volume 2: MOTIVATIONAL ENHANCEMENT THERAPY MANUAL A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 138 pages)

Project MATCH Volume 3: COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL COPING SKILLS THERAPY MANUAL A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 116 pages)

A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals (Source: SAMHSA, 228 pages)

Quit Smoking Guide (16 pages)

Reaching out to a Hurting World: Christ-Centered Workbook on Recovery and Coordinating Twelve-Step Meetings (Source: Recovery in Christ Ministries, 78 pages)

Recovery Maintenance Workbook (Source: Pamela Garber, LMHC, 21 pages)

Relapse Prevention Workbook (Click link to download, Source: Mid-Ohio Psychological Services, Inc.)

Screening and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System (Source: CMHS National GAINS Center, 133 pages)

SMART Recovery Toolbox

Steps by the Big Book (122 pages)

Straight Ahead: Transition Skills for Recovery (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 218 pages)

Substance Misuse Workbook (Source: Get Self-Help UK, 46 pages)

Substance Use Disorder Curriculum Modules (Source: California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions, 114 pages)

TCU Brief Intervention Manuals

TCU Brief Intervention: Getting Motivated to Change (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 63 pages) 2005

TCU Brief Intervention: Understanding and Reducing Angry Feelings (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 42 pages) 2005

TCU Brief Intervention: Ideas for Better Communication (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 39 pages) 2005

TCU Brief Intervention: Unlock Your Thinking, Open Your Mind (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 55 pages) 2005

TCU Brief Intervention: Building Social Networks (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research, 36 pages) 2005

Therapeutic Community Curriculum: Trainer Manual (Source: SAMHSA, 292 pages)

Tobacco Cessation: An Abbreviated Mini-Workbook (A Resource for Veterans) (27 pages)

Treatment Readiness and Induction Program (TRIP) (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 193 pages)

Anxiety, Stress, & Mood Disorders

Always Embarrassed: Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 12 pages)

Antidepressant Skills Workbook (Sources: Simon Fraser University & BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 72 pages)

Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 68 pages)

Anxiety and Panic Attacks (Source: Mind UK, 21 pages)

Anxiety and Panic Disorder: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 92 pages)

Anxiety: An NHS Self-Help Guide (24 pages)

Anxiety: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (34 pages)

Anxiety Disorders (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 26 pages)

Anxiety Toolbox: Student Workbook (42 pages)

Back from the Bluez (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Bipolar Disorder (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 31 pages)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression in Veterans and Military Servicemembers: Therapist Manual (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 227 pages)

Comprehensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Social Phobia: A Treatment Manual (102 pages)

Coping With Anxiety (Source: NHS, 40 pages)

Coping with Anxiety During Pregnancy and Following the Birth: A Cognitive Therapy-Based Self-Management Guide for Women and Health Care Providers (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 178 pages)

Coping with Depression During Pregnancy and Following the Birth: A Cognitive Therapy-Based Self-Management Guide for Women (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 118 pages)

Coping with Panic Attacks (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Dealing With Distress (Source: Get Self-Help UK, 42 pages)

Depression (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 26 pages)

Depression (Source: Mind UK, 19 pages)

Depression and Low Mood: An NHS Self-Help Guide (24 pages)

Depression And Men (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institutute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 36 pages)

Depression And Women (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 31 pages)

Depression Management Tool Kit (For clinicians, includes assessments and patient handouts, Source: SAMHSA, 44 pages)

Depression Self-Help Guide (Source: NHS)

Depression Self-Management Toolkit (Source: SunCountry Health Region, 88 pages)

Facing Your Feelings (Distress Tolerance Workbook) (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Transforming Anxious Suffering Into a More Vital Life – Forms, Exercises, & Worksheets (Source: A 2-Day Workshop with John P. Forsyth and Jamie R. Forsyth, University at Albany, SUNY & Union College, 67 pages)

Gaining Control of Your Life After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Workbook for Post-natal Depression (Source: Maternal Mental Health Alliance, 38 pages)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 72 pages)

Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder (Source: University of Pittsburgh Bipolar Spectrum Services, 172 pages)

Helping Health Anxiety (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression in Veterans: Therapist Guide (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 116 pages)

ISLAMIC INTEGRATED COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY: 10 Sessions Treatment Manual for Depression in Clients with Chronic Physical Illness (Therapist Manual Workbook) (Source: Psychological Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia, 63 pages)

Keeping Your Balance (Workbook for Bipolar Disorder) (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Living Successfully with Mood Disorder: My Living Successfully Plan (Source: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 12 pages)

Managing Depression: A Self-Help Skills Resource for Women Living with Depression During Pregnancy, After Delivery and Beyond (Source: Best Start, 57 pages)

Managing Depression: A Facilitator’s Guide for Working with Groups of Women Living with Depression During Pregnancy, After Delivery and Beyond (Source: Best Start, 42 pages)

Managing Your Worries: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Evidence-Based Approach to Help You Overcome Your Generalised Anxiety Disorder (Source: University of Exeter, 52 pages) 2019

Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Group Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Treatment Manual (Source: ACT on Social Anxiety, 199 pages)

The Mindful Path Through Shyness (Source: Mindful Living Programs, 77 pages)

Overcoming Depression Series Workbook 1: Understanding Depression (Source: Dr. Chris Williams, 40 pages)

Overcoming Depression Series Workbook 2: Practical Problem Solving (Source: Dr. Chris Williams, 19 pages)

Panic: An NHS Self-Help Guide (24 pages)

The Panic Attack Workbook: A Workbook of Therapeutic Assignments (Source: Between Sessions Resources, 73 pages) 2017

Panic: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (25 pages)

Postnatal Depression and Perinatal Mental Health (Source: Mind UK, 31 pages)

REBT Depression Manual: Managing Depression Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (Source: Babes-Bolyai University – International Institute for the Advanced Study of Psychotherapy and Applied Mental Health, 33 pages)

Self-Help STOP Worry: A Tool for Older Veterans (Self-Help Workbook: Calming Tools to Manage Anxiety) (Source: South Central Veterans Affairs Mental Illness, Research and Clinical Centers, 51 pages)

Shyness & Social Anxiety: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (22 pages)

Shy No Longer (Source Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Social Anxiety: An NHS Self-Help Guide (22 pages)

Social Anxiety Group: Participant Workbook (Source: Hamilton Family Health Team, 102 pages)

Social Phobia: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 64 pages)

Specific Phobias: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 46 pages)

STABLE Resource Toolkit (STAndards for BipoLar Excellence) (Source: SAMHSA, 67 pages)

Understanding Bipolar Disorder (Source: Mind UK, 32 pages)

What? Me Worry? (Workbook for Generalized Anxiety Disorder) (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

When Fear Overwhelms: Panic Disorder (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 12 pages)

When Worry Gets Out of Control: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 12 pages)

Worry Management (Source: Talk Plus, 12 pages)

Your Best You: Improving Your Mood (Source: Queen’s University, 103 pages)

Your Best You: Managing Your Anxiety (Source: Queen’s University, 169 pages)

Schizophrenia & Psychotic Disorders

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms: A Therapist’s Manual (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions, 149 pages)

Dealing with Psychosis: A Toolkit for Moving Forward with Your Life (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 115 pages)

Hearing Voices and Disturbing Beliefs: An NHS Self-Help Guide (19 pages)

Hearing Voices (Source: Mind UK, 13 pages)

Illness Management and Recovery: Practitioner Guides and Handbooks (Source: SAMHSA, 361 pages)

Patient & Family Guide to Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 44 pages)

Social Anxiety in Schizophrenia: A Cognitive Behavioural Group Programme (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions, 142 pages)

Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder (Source: Mind UK, 24 pages)

Understanding Schizophrenia (Source: Mind UK, 24 pages)

Trauma & PTSD

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for PTSD: Group Manual (Source: Trauma and Deployment Recovery Services Clinic at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, 93 pages)

Cognitive Processing Therapy – Sexual Abuse (CPT-SA): Individual Treatment Manual 2012 (Source: Kathleen M. Chard, Ph.D., 82 pages) Additional CPT Resources

Domestic Violence: An NHS Self-Help Guide (18 pages)

Engaging Women in Trauma-Informed Peer Support: A Guidebook (Source: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, 93 pages)

Guidebook on Vicarious Trauma: Recommended Solutions for Anti-Violence Workers (Source: Health Canada, 113 pages)

Post-Traumatic Stress: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (28 pages)

Post-Traumatic Stress: An NHS Self-Help Guide (21 pages)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 54 pages)

Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery (Source: Adults Surviving Child Abuse [ASCA], 154 pages, 2012)

PTSD Recovery Program: Treatment Manual (for Veterans) (Source: Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC, 75 pages)

Self-Help Guide (For survivors of rape or sexual abuse who want to understand and process their own personal reactions to their experience) (Source: Somerset & Avon, 36 pages)

Survivor to Thriver: Manual and Workbook for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Who Want to Move on with Life | Co-facilitator Training Manual (Source: The Norma J. Morris Center, 115 pages)

Trauma-Informed Practice Guide (Source: BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 102 pages)

The Trauma-Informed Supervisor, 3rd Edition (Source: Fairfax County Trauma-Informed Community Network, 84 pages)

Triad’s Women Project: Group Treatment Manual (168 pages) | Triad Girls’ Group Treatment Manual (201 pages) (Source: The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida) (More information on the Triad Project here)

Women Healing from Trauma: A Facilitator’s Guide (Source: Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, 109 pages)

Eating Disorders

Binge Eating: Breaking the Cycle (A Self-Help Guide Towards Recovery) (Source: Bodywhys, 27 pages)

Eating Disorders (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 26 pages)

Eating Disorders: An NHS Self-Help Guide (18 pages)

Eating Disorders Anonymous Step Workbook (Source: Eating Disorders Anonymous, 64 pages)

Eating Disorders Toolkit for Primary Care and Adult Mental Health Services (Source: Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust/Sheffield Eating Disorders Service, 30 pages) 2014

Eating Problems (Source: Mind UK, 24 pages)

Educator Toolkit (Source: National Eating Disorders Association, 44 pages)

Overcoming Disordered Eating (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Self-Help Manual for Bulimia Nervosa (Source: The Cullen Centre, 92 pages)

Suicide & Self-Harm

After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Yourself After Your Treatment in the Emergency Department (10 pages) | Spanish Version (12 pages) (Source: SAMHSA)

After an Attempt A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member after Treatment in the Emergency Department (12 pages) | Spanish Version (14 pages) (Source: SAMHSA)

A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide (Source: American Association of Suicidology, 36 pages)

How to Support Someone Who Feels Suicidal (Source: Mind UK, 20 pages)

The ‘Hurt Yourself Less’ Workbook (Source: The National Self-Harm Network, 78 pages)

A Journey Toward Health & Hope: Your Handbook for Recovery After a Suicide Attempt (Source: SAMHSA, 40 pages)

Self-Harm (Source: Mind UK, 17 pages)

Self-Harm: An NHS Self-Help Guide (18 pages)

Suicide Prevention for Behavioral Health Providers (Source: Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc., 26 pages)

Suicide Prevention for Consumers and Family Members (Source: Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc., 26 pages)

Working Through Self-Harm: A Workbook (Source: Harmless, 54 pages)

Working with the Client Who Is Suicidal: A Tool for Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services (Sources: Simon Fraser University & BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, 120 pages)

Grief

After a Loved One Dies – How Children Grieve and How Parents and Other Adults Can support Them (Source: New York Life, 24 pages)

Back to Life: Your Personal Guidebook to Grief Recovery (Source: Recover From Grief, 71 pages)

Bereavement: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (13 pages)

Bereavement: An NHS Self-Help Guide (16 pages)

Complicated Grief (Source: The Hospice Support Fund, 19 pages)

A LifeCare Guide to Helping Others Cope With Grief (Source: LifeCare, 23 pages) 2001

On the Wings of Grief: A Bereavement Journal for Adults (Source: Simpler Times, 32 pages)

Remembering for Good: Wholehearted Living After Loss (Source: Remembering For Good, 35 pages)

Treatment of Individuals with Prolonged and Complicated Grief and Traumatic Bereavement (Source: The Melissa Institute, 59 pages)

Understanding Death, Grief, & Mourning: A Resource Manual (Source: Cornerstone of Hope: A Center for Children, Teens, and Adults, 48 pages)

When Grief Comes to Work: Managing Grief and Loss in the Workplace (A Handbook for Managers and Supervisors) (Source: AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Program of Ontario, 220 pages) 2011

Anger

Anger (Source: Mind UK, 18 pages)

Anger: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (28 pages)

Anger Management for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Clients: Participant Workbook (54 pages) | (Spanish Version) (73 pages) | (Provider Manual) (68 pages) (Source: SAMHSA)

Anger Management Workbook (Source: Seasons Therapy, 38 pages)

Anger Management Workbook: To Address Anger Management (Source: Community and Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) across England and Wales, 48 pages)

Controlling Anger: An NHS Self-Help Guide (24 pages)

Meditation & Mindfulness

Adult Coloring Book for Mindfulness and Relaxation (Source: Healing From Burnout, 51 pages)

The Fundamentals of Meditation Practice (Source: Buddha Dharma Education Association, 182 pages)

How to Meditate: A Guide to Formal Sitting Practices (Source: Tara Brach, 16 pages)

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Authorized Curriculum Guide (Source: Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, 65 pages)

Self-Compassion and Mindfulness (Source: The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, 42 pages)

Your Guide to Meditation (Source: Mindful, 26 pages)

Wellness, Resiliency, & Personal Development

Assert Yourself! (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

The Bouncing Back Workbook: Building Skills that Strengthen Resilience (Source: South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, 36 pages)

Building Self-Compassion (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness (22 pages) | (Spanish Version) (22 pages) (Source: SAMHSA)

DIY Workbook Series from the Positive Psychology Research Group at Virginia Commonwealth University (All workbooks can be accessed through link)

The Path to Humility: Six Practical Sections for Becoming a More Humble Person (84 pages) | The Path to Forgiveness: Six Practical Sections for Becoming a More Forgiving Person (83 pages) | Your Path to REACH Forgiveness: Become a More Forgiving Person in Less Than Two Hours | Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past (70 pages) | Experiencing Forgiveness: Six Practical Sections for Becoming a More Forgiving Christian: 6-7 hour DIY Workbook for Christians Hurt by Other Christians | The Path to Patience: Six Practical Sections for Becoming a More Patient Person: 6-7 hour DIY Workbook | The Path to Positivity: Six Practical Sections for Becoming a More Positive Person: 6-7 hour DIY Workbook

Food and Mood (Source: Mind UK, 11 pages)

Getting to the CORE of Conflict and Communications (Sources: U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution and Partnership and Community Collaboration Academy, 45 pages)

Happiness 101 Workbook (Source: Patricia Thompson, PhD, 22 pages)

Happy for No Reason Workbook (Source: Happy for No Reason, 28 pages)

HERO: Healthy Emotions and ImpRoving Health Behavior Outcomes (Veteran Workbook) (110 pages)

Hope Focused Self-Help Workbook (Source: The Hope Couples Project, 34 pages)

How to be Mentally Healthy at Work (Source: Mind UK, 17 pages)

Improve Your Sleep: A Self-Guided Approach for Veterans with Insomnia (Self-Help Workbook) (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 90 pages)

Individual Resiliency Trainer (IRT) Manual (Source: Navigate, 974 pages)

Interpersonal Effectiveness: Building Better Boundaries (Source: The Self-Help Alliance, 62 pages)

Journaling: A Wellness Tool (Source: Institute for Wellness and Recovery Initiatives, 18 pages)

Manage Stress Workbook (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 pages)

Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself (Self-Directed Learning Workbook), 2nd Ed. (Source: Virginia Commonwealth University/ForgiveSelf.com, 69 pages) 2015

Nutrition and Exercise for Wellness and Recovery Leader Manual (42 pages) and Participant Manual (70 pages) (Source: Center on Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery)

Overcoming Procrastination (Source: Wikibooks, 45 pages)

Personal Brand Workbook (42 pages)

Physical Activity and Your Mental Health (Source: Mind UK, 17 pages)

The Procrastination Workbook: Kick the Habit! (Source: Mind Tools, 14 pages)

Put Off Procrastinating (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Refine Your Life: Participant Guide (Source: Experience L!fe, 59 pages)

Relaxation (Source: Mind UK, 9 pages)

Resilience Toolkit (Source: NHS, 52 pages)

Self-Care Guide (Source: Mind Peace, 21 pages) 2018

Self-Care Toolkit (Source: Developed by SHAWN GOLDBERG, 44 pages)

Self-Determination Series: Express Yourself! Assessing Self-Determination in Your Life (Source: Center on Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery, 11 pages)

Self-Determination Series: This Is Your Life! Creating Your Self-Directed Life Plan (Source: Center on Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery, 58 pages)

Sleep Problems: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (16 pages)

Stress (Source: Mind UK, 15 pages)

Stress: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (24 pages)

Stress: An NHS Self-Help Guide (19 pages)

Time Out! For Me: An Assertiveness and Sexuality Workshop for Women (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 224 pages)

Time Out! For Men: A Communication Skills and Sexuality Workshop for Men (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 251 pages)

Wellness in Eight Dimensions (Source: CSPNJ, 30 pages)

Wellness Self-Management Personal Workbook, 3rd Edition (Source: New York State Office of Mental Health, 210 pages)

Wellness Worksheets, 12th Edition (Source: SAMHSA, 295 pages)

“What Do You Want to Do with Your Life?” Your Life Plan to Find Your Answer (Source: Self-Help Starts Here, 136 pages)

Working Minds UK: Developing Resiliency Exercises (Source: Working Minds UK Dovey Wilday Consultancy, 30 pages)

Healthy Relationships

Couplets (from #ThatsNotLove Discussion Guide Series)

Healthy Relationships Resource Kit

Healthy Relationships Toolkit

PREPARE/ENRICH Workbook for Couples

Promoting Healthy Relationships

The Stages of Divorce

Self-Esteem

Building Body Acceptance (Workbook for Body Dysmorphic Disorder) (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Building Your Self-Confidence

Caring Less About Your Looks (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

How to Increase Your Self-Esteem (Source: Mind UK)

Improving Self-Esteem (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Just as I Am Workbook: A Guided Journal to Free Yourself from Self-Criticism and Feelings of Low Self-Worth (Source: Queen’s University, 56 pages)

Preparation for Change: The Tower of Strengths and the Weekly Planner (Source: Texas Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, 84 pages)

Self-Esteem Self-Help Booklet

CBT Manuals & Workbooks

CBT Worksheet Packet, 2017 Edition (Beck Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Changing the Way You Feel by Changing the Way You Think (Source: A Routledge and Guilford FreeBook, 125 pages)

Cognitive Behavioural Interpersonal Skills Manual

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi): Treatment Manual

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills Training Workbook

Cognitive Processing Therapy Veteran/Military Version: THERAPIST AND PATIENT MATERIALS MANUAL

Cognitive Psychotherapy Workbook

RAND Healthcare CBT Manuals

Simple CBT Worksheets (from Autism Teaching Strategies)

A Therapist’s Guide to Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Think CBT Workbook

Thinking for a Change: Integrated Cognitive Behavior Change Program

DBT Manuals & Workbooks

Making Sense of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (Booklet)

A Modified DBT Group Therapy Manual

Open-Minded Thinking (DBT Workbook)

Motivational Interviewing

A Brief Guide to Motivational Interviewing

MIA: Step (Motivational Interviewing Assessment: Supervisory Tools for Enhancing Proficiency)

Motivational Interviewing Worksheets/Activities from MINT

Selected MI Practice Activities and Tools

Additional Guides, Manuals, & Workbooks

100 Ways to Support Recovery: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals (Source: Rethink Mental Illness, 40 pages)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 28 pages)

Best Practice Toolkit (For clinicians working with women who have had or are at risk of having their children removed)

Borderline Personality Disorder

Chronic Pain: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (19 pages)

A Collection of Icebreakers and Connection Activities (33 pages)

The Complete Set of Client Handouts and Worksheets from ACT books by Russ Harris

Coping With Loneliness: A Life Effectiveness Guide (Source: J & S Garrett Pty Ltd/Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, 39 pages)

Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions in the Treatment of Mental Disorders: A Literature Review (Source: Australian Psychological Society, 175 pages)

Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Shared Decision-Making Toolkit for Mental Health Providers (For clinicians treating veterans, 234 pages)

Forgiveness Workbook: A Step by Step Guide

Guidebook for Psychologists: Working with Clients with Traumatic Brain Injury (122 pages)

Hoarding Self-Help Manual

How to Cope When Supporting Someone Else (Source: Mind UK)

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Manual (Source: National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 78 pages)

I’ve got to be perfect! Helping yourself to… Overcome Perfectionism

Living with Alzheimer’s: Taking Action Workbook (Source: Alzheimer’s Association, 52 pages) 2017

Mental Health Medications (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 30 pages)

Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency (33 pages)

Obsessions & Compulsions: Moodjuice Self-Help Guide (22 pages)

Obsessions and Compulsions: An NHS Self-Help Guide

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Patient Treatment Manual (Source: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety & Depression, 20 pages)

Perfectionism In Perspective (Source: Centre for Clinical Interventions)

Positive Coping with Health Conditions (Source: Vancouver Psych Safety Consulting Incorporated, 112 pages) 2009

Recognition | Insight | Openness Workbook

A Roadmap to Behavioral Health: A Guide to Using Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services (For consumers, 25 pages)

Seeking Help for a Mental Health Problem (Source: Mind UK)

Social Emotional Activities Workbook

Social Skills Training for Severe Mental Disorders: A Therapist Manual

Solution Focused Therapy: A Manual for Working with Individuals

Spiritual Self-Schema Development Program (Individual & group manuals/workbooks for providers/consumers) (Source: Yale School of Medicine)

STEP AHEAD Workbook: Career Planning for People with Criminal Convictions

Understanding Your Illness

When Unwanted Thoughts Take Over: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Information Booklet) (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Hosford Clinic, 11 pages)


Please comment with links to additional PDF resources for therapy or self-help!

4 Strategies for Better Decision-Making

Individuals with “big picture” styles of reasoning make better decisions. Learn four strategies for “big picture” thinking to get optimal results.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

A recent study found that individuals with a “big picture” style of thinking made better decisions. (“Better” decisions were defined as those resulting in maximum benefits.)

If you took the Myers-Briggs (a personality assessment), and fell on the “Intuition” side of the spectrum (like me!), it’s likely you’re already a “big picture” thinker. If you’re on the “Sensing” side, you’re more apt to examine individual facts before considering the sum of all parts.

“Big picture” thinking is a practical and balanced method of reasoning. It suggests taking a step back (zoom out!)… and looking to see how all pieces fit together.

The following strategies promote “big picture” thinking:

1. Get a good night’s rest

Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that sleep is essential for “relational memory” (or the ability to make inferences, i.e. “big picture” thinking).

Before making a tough decision, sleep on it; you’ll wake up with a new perspective! In addition to healthy sleep hygiene, the following strategies have been found to improve sleep:

2. Don’t deliberate for long

Research indicates that when weighing out options, it’s ideal to take small breaks. Don’t deliberate for long periods of time or you’ll start to lose focus. If things become fuzzy, you won’t see the big picture.

3. Bay day = bad decision

One study found that a positive mood is related to a “big picture” thinking style. Good moods are associated with broader and more flexible thinking. A positive mood enables someone to step back emotionally, psychologically distancing themselves from the decision at hand.

If you’re feeling salty, hold off on making that decision. Instead, try one (or all!) of the following research-based techniques for boosting your mood:

4. Get a second opinion

Ask around to learn how others’ view your situation. Every perspective you collect is another piece of the “big picture” puzzle.

Seek opinions from those you trust (only those who have your best interests in mind). Make sure you ask a variety of people (especially those with whom you typically disagree). The end result is a broader and more comprehensive awareness of what you’re facing.

Employ all four strategies to optimize your thinking style and decision-making skills!


References

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2010, April 4). Maintaining regular daily routines is associated with better sleep quality in older adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100401085336.htm

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2008, June 12). Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611071129.htm

American Chemical Society (ACS). (2012, August 19). Good mood foods: Some flavors in some foods resemble a prescription mood stabilizer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 10, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120819153457.htm

American Psychological Association. (2018, April 23). Let it go: Mental breaks after work improve sleep: Repetitive thoughts on rude behavior at work results in insomnia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423110828.htm

Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. (2012, May 14). A walk in the park gives mental boost to people with depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134303.htm

Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., Kaplan, S., Sherdell, L., Gotlib, I. H., & Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.012

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (2007, April 21). To Understand The Big Picture, Give It Time – And Sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 17, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070420104732.htm

Black, D. S., O’Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances. JAMA Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081

Curry, O., Rowland, L., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2016). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Open Science Framework

Demsky, C. A. et al. (2018). Workplace incivility and employee sleep: The role of rumination and recovery experiences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, DOI: 10.1037/ocp0000116

The JAMA Network Journals. (2015, February 16). Mindfulness meditation appears to help improve sleep quality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150216131115.htm

Labroo, A., Patrick, V., & Deighton, J. served as editor and Luce, M. F. served as associate editor for this article. (2009). Psychological distancing: Why happiness helps you see the big picture. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(5), 800-809. doi:10.1086/593683

Northwestern University. (2017, July 10). Purpose in life by day linked to better sleep at night: Older adults whose lives have meaning enjoy better sleep quality, less sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170710091734.htm

Ohio State University. (2018, July 13). How looking at the big picture can lead to better decisions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180713111931.htm

Spira, A. P. (2015). Being mindful of later-life sleep quality and its potential role in prevention. JAMA Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8093

Stillman, P. E., Fujita, K., Sheldon, O., & Trope, Y. (2018). From “me” to “we”: The role of construal level in promoting maximized joint outcomes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 147(16), DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.05.004

Turner, A. D., Smith, C. E., & Ong, J. C. (2017). Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults? Sleep Science and Practice, 1(1), DOI: 10.1186/s41606-017-0015-6

University of Michigan. (2009, June 3). Feeling Close To a Friend Increases Progesterone, Boosts Well-being and Reduces Anxiety and Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090602171941.htm

University of Oxford. (2016, October 5). Being kind to others does make you ‘slightly happier’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161005102254.htm

Zisberg, A., Gur-Yaish, N., & Shochat, T. (2010). Contribution of routine to sleep quality in community elderly. Sleep, 33(4), 509-514.

3 Reasons We Keep Toxic People in Our Lives

Why do we keep toxic people in our lives? Despite the emotional costs, many people chose to remain in toxic relationships. This post explores the emotional reasoning behind not letting go.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Recently, an acquaintance told me about breaking up with his girlfriend. Listening to his story, I both cringed and laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of it. (Think The Break-Up meets Fatal Attraction.) His humorously-told narrative left me wondering, how on earth did it get to that?

It began when his at-the-time girlfriend “secretly” moved in with him. At first, she’d stay for a night or two, which eventually turned into weeks at a time, until all her stuff was there and my friend found himself with a live-in girlfriend. (It’s worth mentioning he’d seen a few “red flags” early on, but chose to ignore them… as we often do under the spell of infatuation.) Now living with her, he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the fact that she had some serious mental health and interpersonal issues. Furthermore, the relationship had taken a turn for the worse; they were constantly fighting.

So, my friend (wisely) broke up with her and told her to get out. And… she refused. (Really??) She claimed there was a law permitting her to stay since she’d been there for X amount of time. (Note: This is also when he found out she was homeless.)

He kicked her out of the bedroom (and she slept on the couch). To “encourage” her to leave, he took her parking pass, along with her new iPhone (which he undoubtedly bought in a more amiable era). To further “motivate,” he even shut off her cell service.

Despite his efforts, weeks stretched on; she continued to live (rent-free) on his couch.

To make a long story short… she eventually left. (Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post) … but not until the apartment manager and police got involved. (It turned out her tenant rights claim, while valid, was not actually applicable to her situation.)

My initial reaction to the whole fiasco was incredulity – Seriously, how could he let it go that far? – but after reflecting on past relationships… it was suddenly very easy to understand. (I’ve made my fair share of relationship mistakes.)

The reality is, it’s never as simple as “it’s over, get out.” Relationships require a certain level of emotional investment and commitment. Plus, there are multiple factors (such as debt, illness, or infidelity) that contribute to a relationship’s complexity.

Back to my friend… to be fair, the reason he remained in a toxic relationship was her refusal to vacate the apartment; his options were limited… but, instead of allowing it drag on, he could have taken action earlier.  Anyway, the story has a happy(ish) ending (for my friend, probably not his ex). He has his place back (hopefully a lesson learned) and got free blog inspiration. This post is 100% inspired by my friend’s toxic relationship. (Thank you for letting me share!)

(Apart from “tenant rights”) what are reasons we allow toxic or difficult people (friends, family, and/or romantic partners) to remain in our lives? Why is it so hard to let go?

  1. Either you need them (or you can’t ignore them)

A recent study suggests we keep toxic people around simply because their lives are intertwined with ours. For example, your aging mother-in-law, who degrades and insults you, lives at your home, despite the negative impact this has on your life. Your options are limited because your husband is unwilling to put her in a nursing home (and you may also depend on her for things, like childcare or help with the bills).

Another example would be toxic co-workers; you don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to your boss or colleagues, and you can’t entirely avoid them or refuse to talk about work-related stuff (unless you’re okay with losing your job). If pursing a new position isn’t practical, your next best option is to find a way to effectively deal with workplace toxicity.

That being said, you don’t have the power to change anyone else. To manage your reactions and interactions with toxic people, acknowledge the need for self-adjustment, including attitude and role. Examine your personal views. Lower expectations for others; accept that people will do and say things you don’t agree with… and it’s not something you can control. Once you’ve reached the point of radical acceptance, follow guidelines for effective communication (i.e. active listening, avoiding blame, being aware of tone and body language, reflecting for clarity, etc.) in conversations with toxic people, whether it’s your mother-in-law or your boss. By being proactive, you’re doing your part to avoid getting caught up in others’ toxicity.

In the face of unavoidable toxicity, I find switching to a “counselor role” to be a tremendous asset; I set aside my personal viewpoint, opening myself to alternative views, while seeking to understand (not judge) behavior. (You don’t have to be a counselor to do this!) I view individuals in terms of “what happened to you?” instead of assuming they’re malicious or intentional. (People act the way they do for some reason.) I don’t know what’s happening in a “toxic” person’s life or what they’ve been through. (Maybe that snarky co-worker is in an abusive relationship and lives in fear. Or maybe her son is in the hospital with brain cancer. Or, it’s possible she grew up in a home where her parents yelled and disrespected each other, shaping her view of relationships. The snarky attitude makes sense when viewed through different lenses.) While it’s never okay to be an asshole, I can understand why people are jerks. Somehow, this knowledge serves as an immunity when encountering a toxic person. Their behavior is the result of something bad that happened to them; it has nothing to do with me and I can choose whether or not to engage. They don’t have power to negatively impact me unless I give it up.

  1. It feels better to stay

When Joe Strummer of the Clash sang the question, “Should I stay or should I go now?”; he knew the answer. (Note: Firm boundaries and healthy decisions aren’t the stuff of chart-topping hits.) We stay in unhealthy relationships or continue to hang out with toxic friends because it feels good (at times, at least). The boyfriend who yells at you can also be incredibly sweet and caring. Or your gossipy friend who talks about you behind your back also happens to be the most fun person you know. Despite the sense that it’s unhealthy, you (like Strummer) can’t resist. And like my friend, you ignore the red flags because you crave the rush or the intensity… or maybe what you desire most is the feeling of being wanted. (Despite the toxicity, it’s worth it, just to feel wanted… or is it?)

Beyond just feeling good, it’s entirely possible to deeply love a toxic person (no matter how wrong they are for you). You don’t want to give up on the person they could be; maybe you’re in love with their potential (or an idea of what the relationship could be). You believe it’s better to sacrifice your happiness (your dignity, your well-being, your independence) than to be without the person you love.

On the flip side, some people stay in toxic relationships because deep down, they believe they can’t do any better and/or the abuse is a preferable alternative to being alone. It could also mean they believe they deserve to be punished (which sometimes happens when a person remains in an abusive relationship for a long time). Or, they may reason that it’s better to hang out with a “mean girl” than sit and stare at the walls on a Friday night (with only the cat for company).

If you can relate to staying in a toxic relationship because it feels good or are afraid of being alone, carefully consider and weigh out the long-term costs of a toxic relationship. There are far worse and more damaging things than being alone. If the idea of being alone terrifies you, maybe it’s an indication that something’s not right… that you’re not okay. It could be a sign of low self-worth or could point to an intense fear of abandonment. It may also signify a lack of understanding of what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Lastly, an intense fear of being alone is associated with some of the personality disorders and/or could be the result of trauma.

  1. It’s (So Much) easier to stay

Breaking up is messy and uncomfortable. In my experience, most people avoid conflict when possible. Despite conflict being a natural, everyday occurrence, it can feel unpleasant, even for those with expert conflict resolution skills. However, avoiding conflict in relationships does more harm than good. In a healthy relationship, it’s necessary to address problems in order to resolve them, thereby strengthening the relationship.

In a toxic relationship, conflict should not be avoided, but for different reasons. It may be easier to ignore the reality of your situation than to get honest, but this is detrimental (not only to you, but to your partner, who will never have the opportunity to change so long as you enable the toxicity to continue).

You may wish to avoid the emotional drain that accompanies confrontation, but in the long run, you’ll lose more emotional energy if you remain in a toxic relationship. (A steep, one-time payment is preferable to the ongoing, daily emotional sacrifices/abuses associated with toxicity; you’re slowly poisoned as time goes on.)

If you choose to end a toxic relationship, be realistic; it’s not going to be easy… and it’s going to hurt. A lot. You may love this person a great deal (and maybe you’ve long held on to the hope they’d change). Go into it with low (or no) expectations. When things feel unbearable, remember that the easy things in life matter little; the difficult stuff is what leads to personal growth, success, and resilience.

In closing, I’m sure there are multitudes of reasons people have for staying in toxic relationships; this post is by no means comprehensive. I’m also certain, whatever the reason, it seems justifiable to them. People don’t choose toxicity without some sort of justification (if not for others, than at least for themselves). Unfortunately, rationalizations don’t offer protection from harm. No matter the reason for remaining in a toxic relationship, it’s not worth the cost.

What are other reasons people have for staying in a toxic relationship? Why is letting go so hard? Share your thoughts in a comment!


References

Bar-Ilan University. (2018, January 17). Why we keep difficult people in our lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2018 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180117152513.htm

Offer, S., & Fischer, C.S. (2017). Difficult people: Who is perceived to be demanding in personal networks and why are they there? American Sociological Review, 000312241773795, DOI: 10.1177/0003122417737951

11 Self-Care Ideas You May Not Have Considered

(Updated 1/13/20) Self-care is a vital piece of the wellness puzzle. This post is intended for the well-informed “self-carer,” who already knows about (and maybe even practices) deep breathing, massage, aromatherapy, etc. and wants to expand their horizons. This is also for people (like me) who don’t get much from your typical self-care practices (i.e. lighting a scented candle).

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Self-care is a vital piece of the wellness puzzle. As a mental health professional, I practice self-care to prevent burnout. (Once a counselor reaches burnout, he/she is no longer able to fully meet a client’s needs; if you’re not taking care of yourself, how are you going to help someone else?)

To illustrate the importance of self-care, consider a vehicle; it requires ongoing maintenance for optimal performance and safety. Similarly, we require self-care. It’s a concept that encompasses a variety of needs, including health, solitude, human connection, self-love, spiritualty, and more.

I’ve read many articles, posts, and books on self-care; there’s a wealth of information out there. Commonplace self-care tips, such as taking a bubble bath or meditating, make up the majority of posts on the topic; but unoriginal content has no place here. And to be honest, some (okay, a lot!) of the ideas make me want to roll my eyes. (Lighting a scented candle? Nope, not gonna do it for me.)

This post is intended for the well-informed “self-carer,” who already knows about (and maybe even practices) deep breathing, massage, aromatherapy, etc. and wants to expand their horizons. This is also for people (like me) who don’t get much from your typical self-care practices.

Here are 11 unique ideas:

1. Create an inspirational scrapbook or a “bliss book” 

Any time you happen upon something that makes you smile, inspires you, or motivates you, add it to your scrapbook (or journal or binder). Maybe it’s a photo, a happy thought you jot down, or a magazine article. Alternatively, you could create a “bliss board” on Pinterest.

Creating a bliss book (or board) has the potential to generate positivity and compassion. Whenever you need an emotional pick-me-up, flip through your scrapbook. Share it with others to generate a double dose of cheer!

2. Plan a trip 

If you can’t take a vacation, you can at least plan! Preparation is half the fun (for me, at least)! Look up places you’d like to travel and research things to do there. Create an itinerary. Set a tentative travel date (even if it’s years from now) so you have something to look forward to.

3. Poop in public bathrooms (without shame)! 

If you’re one of those people who avoid going number 2 in public bathrooms, stop. Holding in your poop is uncomfortable and may result in constipation. If you’re embarrassed about the smell, carry a travel-sized container of Poo-Pourri. If it’s the sound that makes you anxious, run the water or flush as you go. When your body tells you it’s time to go, listen! 

4. Treat yourself to a monthly subscription box 

I love getting mystery packages in the mail! It’s akin to receiving a care package when you’re a kid at summer camp. And when it comes to subscription boxes, there are many to choose from. Currently, I subscribe to four: Ispy (5 makeup samples in a cute makeup bag for $10), PLAY! by Sephora (5-6 makeup samples for $10), Trendsend (5-8 clothing items and no styling fee!), and StitchFix (a mix of 5 clothing items, shoes, and accessories with a $20 styling fee – fee is deducted from total).

Subscription boxes are fun and a great way for me to build a professional wardrobe and to try new makeup products. (Disclaimer: I receive a referral bonus if you sign up for a subscription service via one of my links.)

5. Sort through childhood toys or photos

Allow yourself time to reminisce. My sister and I recently went through a box of old dolls and stuffed animals; it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It released a flood of happy memories and it felt great to laugh. (We chuckled over my Barbie dolls, which all had short, spiky hair; I was a very literal child, so when my sister declared “Barbie haircut day,” I took it to heart. My sister, on the other hand, only pretended to snip her Barbies’ hair. I cried rivers that day.)

I also enjoy looking at old family photos. See below for a pic from the year my mom went on a mission to create the perfect Christmas photo letter (the kind moms send out to impress relatives and old friends). “Fred the Christmas Goose” didn’t make the cut.

6. Create something

Practicing holistic self-care means stretching your mind; you benefit from the challenge. Avoid stagnation by stepping outside your comfort zone. Feed your creative side by building a chair, writing a song, painting a picture, knitting a scarf, or putting together a model.

Personally, I enjoy creating art; while not entirely lacking in talent, I’m no Picasso. Most of my projects are equivalent to the work one would accredit to a moderately talented 8-year old. Every once in awhile, I’m pleasantly surprised. (See below for a sketch I posted on Instagram.) Drawing or painting elicits a sense of accomplishment; it’s something I feel good about. Acknowledging your contributions builds self-esteem and confidence.

View this post on Instagram

@levgrossman

A post shared by Cassie Jewell (@cjewell82) on

7. Engage with a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, or a family member

Establishing meaningful human connection is essential for wellness. To make the most of this tip, try something you normally wouldn’t. (For example, chatting with a stranger is not my norm. To practice this tip, I’d strike up a conversation with my seatmate on a plane [providing, of course, that they’re open to friendly conversation.) Practicing self-care means building (or strengthening) connections. 

8. Go exploring 

As a child, nothing thrilled my soul quite like adventure; I explored by trampling through the woods behind my house, traversing streams and following hidden trails. My adventures often involved the discovery of “treasure,” an odd rock or ruins of some sort. Today, I’m just as adventurous; however, I spend less time crashing through woods and more time traveling the world.

Exploration promotes curiosity, which is essential for growth. If you’re not a fan of outdoor activities like hiking or backpacking, try exploring a city or neighborhood. Consider driving through unfamiliar developments. Explore restaurants or shops in your town. Whatever you decide, pursue it with the enthusiasm of the 6-year old adventurer you once were.

9. Redecorate your office or a room in your home to make it soothing, energizing, or inspiring

Every time you’re in the room, you’ll experience positive vibes. Paint the walls, add plants, declutter, hang a portrait, change the curtains, create a rock garden, etc. – whatever promotes positivity.

10. Change something about yourself

There’s a lot to be said for loving yourself, flaws and all. On the flip side, if there’s something you’re extremely unhappy with, consider changing it. If you’re overweight and have tried every sort of diet, but still can’t shed those pounds, talk to a doctor about weight loss surgery or schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon. If you’re tired of feeling sluggish and lacking energy, adjust your sleep schedule, diet, and exercise routine (and make sure you see a doctor to rule out a medical issue). If you’re constantly broke, get a second job or find another way to bring in income; enroll in financial courses or schedule an appointment with a financial advisor.

Sometimes, self-care involves drastic change. If you’re deeply troubled over some aspect of your life, and it’s something you’re unable to accept, change it (while recognizing it will require work!) This is your life; take action.

Note: This tip is only for things you have control over; recognize what you can and cannot change. For example, I don’t like my flabby arms; if this bothered me enough, I could lift weights to develop muscle tone. I also dislike my neck; it’s not long enough. Unfortunately, short of brass neck coils (which border on self-harm), there’s nothing I can do. It’s not worth brooding over. (That being said, when contemplating any major change, especially ones involving surgery or substantial amounts of money, ask, “Is this change for me alone or am I seeking outside approval?” The essence of self-care is the self; it’s for you and you alone.)

11. Adopt a healthy habit (or quit a bad one) 

This idea embodies delayed-gratification self-care vs. instant-gratification self-care (i.e. sipping a mug of tea or gazing at the stars). And while both types of self-care are important, the rewards associated with a healthy habit are life-changing (vs. “mildly pleasant”).

According to research, there are five lifestyle habits associated with a low risk of illness and longer life expectancy. If you’re serious about self-care (and want more bang for your buck), adopt one (or all) of the following practices:

Eat a healthy diet

Exercise regularly

Maintain a healthy body weight

Drink alcohol in moderation (or not at all)

Don’t smoke

A healthy lifestyle is the foundation of self-care!

Share your favorite strategies for self-care in a comment!


 

What Counseling Has Taught Me (Part Two)

Learn to be more effective in your personal and professional life! This is the second installment of how counseling has led to a better understanding of people. Working with addiction and mental illness has gifted me with the capacity to better recognize why people do what they do, which in turn enhances how I relate to others.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

This is the second installment of how counseling has led me to a better understanding of people. (In Part One, I discussed calmness, silence, active listening, partial truths, and hidden agendas.)

Working with addiction and mental illness has gifted me with the capacity to better recognize why people do what they do, which in turn enhances how I relate to others. As a result, I’m more effective in my personal and professional life. I have a sense of peace and “okayness” in the world.

One thing I hadn’t previously considered was brought up by Quora user and mental health professional, G. Bernard (MA Counseling); he shared that counseling revealed the truth about change. “It has really reinforced that idea that people who want change will work harder to achieve it; those who are forced (legally, by parents, spouse etc.) probably won’t.” I agree with this 100%. People can’t be forced into change; and when they are, their efforts lack fortitude and it doesn’t last. Those who are internally motivated will fight for change, making it worthwhile and enduring.

Here are some additional truths and realizations that I gained through my counseling career.

What counseling has taught me (the second installment):

1. A new perspective

The DSM – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the “Bible” for mental health professionals) – uncovered a whole new world for me. Sure, I was familiar with mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, and anxiety before grad school. I took Abnormal Psych in college and even before that, I’d read books on schizophrenia, eating disorders, and other mental disorders. (Guess who did their middle school science project on schizophrenia? Me!) But my fleeting knowledge was laughable compared to what I found in the DSM; it provided me with information on every single diagnosable mental disorder. When I started working with clients, I was able to see how mental illness manifests in real life.

The more I learned (and saw), the more I was able to make sense of behaviors. Consequently, this led to me looking back on people I’ve encountered throughout the years. I realized how many of them had been struggling with a mental illness. (At the time, I probably just thought they were just a jerk, or acting inconsiderately.)

I also became more aware of the prevalence of severe mental illness and the way it presents in society. This led to increased tolerance and patience regarding behaviors I’d previous found annoying; I learned to recognize them for what they were.

Mental illness can easily be interpreted as something it’s not. By having an awareness, I’m more compassionate. Instead of judging, I observe. Someone who seems snobby may have social anxiety. That coworker who calls out sick every Monday may be struggling with addiction. A friend who never wants to go out anymore could be depressed.

Mental illness is everywhere if you know what to look for. I strive to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, which is better for my mental health.

2. Don’t give money to the homeless

I knew a client at a residential program with a talent for making clever signs. He’d use markers to write his message (“Will dance for food!”) on a piece of cardboard before grabbing his pail to hit the streets. He didn’t need the money; he received government benefits (funded by taxpayers). The money he earned panhandling funded his K2 habit or the occasional beer.

Many of the “homeless” people you meet are not homeless; they’re con men (or women) who make a profit on your sympathy. Most are either addicted to drugs/alcohol and/or severely mentally ill; they need treatment, not the crinkled dollar bill in your pocket. Giving your spare change isn’t helping that person. Instead, offer to buy a meal, give them a pair of socks, or hand them a bottle of water.

3. Telling someone what to do is not helpful

Giving advice rarely leads to lasting change.

There are a few different reasons why advice, no matter how well-meaning, isn’t helpful. Firstly, it doesn’t account for the person’s full experience or struggle; it could seem ignorant or insensitive. (For example, “Why don’t you just get a divorce?” is not helpful to a woman struggling with her husband’s infidelity; the problem is more complex than just getting a divorce. Children could be involved. Maybe she’s financially dependent on her husband. Maybe she’s still in love with him. Or maybe it’s against her religious beliefs.)

Advice also robs a person of the ability to solve their own problem. We need to learn to find solutions in life in order to grow and to be effective. If someone is always told what to do, they’re not going to learn to function independently.

Lastly, if advice is taken, and it works, the credit goes to the advice giver, not the taker. The results are less meaningful. Alternatively, if advice is taken and it doesn’t work, it becomes the advice giver’s fault. Advice deprives a person of being able to take full ownership of their actions.

If you own your decision and fail, the blame falls on you (helping you to grow as a person) or if you succeed, the triumph is yours alone. Either way, you’re better off finding your own solutions; this allows you to feel capable and you’ll become better at solving problems in the future.

4. The value of transparency and honesty

People like to know what’s happening and what to expect. I get better reactions from clients when I explain why I’m doing or saying what I am. I’m honest, and when I can’t be (or believe it would be inappropriate to do so), I tell clients exactly that. For example, if a client asks about my religion, I’d let them know I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal aspects of my life.

Personally, I prefer the company of others who are straightforward. I don’t like having to guess if someone is upset with me. I don’t like it when someone is nice to my face, but gossips when I’m not around. Those types of games are played by people who are insecure or who are attempting to manipulate you. Life is complicated enough. With me, you’ll know if your fly is down, and if you ask for my opinion, you’ll get it. (There’s much to be said for tact though!) Gentle truths are worth more than flattery. 

5. You can’t demand respect

It’s something that’s earned through words and actions, not freely given. Forced respect is not true respect; it’s fear or deception. And while I believe in treating everyone with respect, I don’t truly respect someone until I know what kind of person they are.

Furthermore, I’ve learned that if someone chooses to disrespect me, it’s not a threat. Respect is powerful, but disrespect? Feeble and pathetic. If someone is disrespectful, it won’t harm you or make you less of a person (unless you give it that control).

Throughout my career, I’ve been disrespected on many, many occasions by clients who don’t want to be in treatment (and even by colleagues with differing opinions). But my sense of self-worth is not dependent on how others treat me. As a result, disrespect from angry clients (or rude salespersons or drivers who cut me off, etc.) doesn’t faze me.

In sum, being a counselor is life-changing. I imagine many professions are to a degree, but I can’t picture any other job leading to such a deep understanding of humanity. Entering the mental health field is like having horrible vision and then finally getting glasses (except it happens over the course of years). I have an enhanced awareness of who I am along with an unforeseen sense of serenity. 

Every single client who’s shared a piece of their story has contributed to my awareness (and to my own personal growth), and I owe them each a gratitude. I’m more cautious in life, yes, but I’m also more compassionate. Instead of having high expectations, I have high hopes. I don’t attempt to control things I have no control over; and I don’t get angry over the decisions, views, or actions of others. Instead, I channel my energy into something more productive; I’m passionate and I’m an advocate. My beauty pageant answer to the stereotypical question is not “world peace”; it’s for everyone to have a deeper understanding of each other.

What insights have you gained from your chosen career? Please share in a comment!