We use our phones and hand held devices for so many things! So why not mental health and wellness? Here are 5 great apps that offer help for a variety of afflictions and issues. Check them out, give them a try, and please share so we can all spread good mental health together!

1. Stop, Breathe & Think–This is a great, free app that has a 5 star rating and is a Webby Award Winner. I love this app and use it myself for relaxation and meditation. I also have many of my counseling and coaching clients use this app with great success.

The app is a simple tool to guide one through a variety of basic mindfulness meditations. Users can also check in with how they’re feeling and even notify their counselor or friend once a meditation has been completed.

 

2. Balanced–This is another free, 5 star rated app. Balanced helps users stay focused and motivated on their priorities. This app allows users to set a variety of goals each week, and helps one feel rewarded, in control, and focused on what to do next for success.

I personally use this app to remind me of weekly goals such as watching a TED Talk, meditating, and being thankful.

 

3. Mindshift–This app is specifically designed for those struggling with anxiety. Although not as highly rated as the above apps, my experience is that counselors love what this app does for their clients as a tool for managing and working through anxiety. The app includes a section on situations that trigger anxiety and how to have healing, as well as some great “chill out” tools and Twitter-worthy inspirational quotes.

 

4. PTSD Coach–This is a great app that was developed by the Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD. Although originally intended for use by vets with PTSD, a quick read through the reviews shows that many civilians have been helped by this app as well.

I am passionate about serving our military, treating PTSD, and preventing military suicide, so naturally I am a big fan of this app and hope readers of this blog will share so all our military families learn about PTSD Coach.

 

5. Optimism–This is a 4 star rated app that helps users with self-tracking as a tool for coping with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD. The app allows users to create a custom wellness plan and is particularly useful when the user is working with a mental health professional.

Give these apps a try if you could use some support and coaching right at your fingertips. And if you know of a great app that you recommend, please share in the comments section.

And please help spread good mental health by sharing this blog post. Thank you!

Feel free to email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or call me at 949-303-8264 for more info about this topic or my counseling, coaching or intervention services. Find me on the web at www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)
Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

It’s so hard to be your best when you’re stressed! Hard to focus, hard to see the big picture, and really hard to be productive. Productivity isn’t just about time management and work–it’s also about having fun, time with family and time to pursue your dreams.

Here are 5 Easy Tips To Be Happier and More Productive that I often share with my clients.

1. The “Top 3 Priorities” Rule: Throw out to-do lists that are miles long! They will just create anxiety and leave you feeling like a failure when you fail to cross everything off the list. Instead, make a list everyday of your Top 3 Priorities–the 3 most important things for you to accomplish that day. The 3 things that move you closer to your work or life goals. Then make sure you do those three things!

Side note–it’s also wise to have a list of your Top 3 Priorities for life in general!

2. Be 10 Minutes Early for All Meetings: Make it a habit to plan on arriving 10 minutes early for all of your meetings or appointments. If you encounter a delay, you will still be on time. If you arrive early use the extra time wisely–pray, meditate, send a note to a friend or loved one, or even write your Top 3 Priorities for the next day!

3. Delegate: One of my favorite sayings is “Only do what only you can do!“. Find one task at home or work that you can delegate to someone else. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Sometimes when we fail to delegate, we rob others of the opportunity to serve, grow or learn.

4. Take a 5 Minute Fun Break When Feeling Stressed: If you find yourself on the verge of getting stressed out, then take 5 minutes to do something fun like play with your pet, watch a funny video on Youtube (only 5 minutes! Be careful–Youtube is where time goes to die!), go for a walk, or do some deep breathing. The point is that your mind-shift will get you back on track and give you a productivity boost.

5. Manage Your Transitions: When you have short gaps of time between meetings and tasks avoid distractions that have no payoff. Instead of wasting time on social media, keep a list of 15 minute or less “filler tasks” (like online banking, returning emails, etc.) and get something done instead!

Challenge: pick one of the above and implement it tomorrow!

You do not have to do all 5 tips right away, but doing at least some of the tips will lead to increased happiness and productivity. You may also find that it’s easier for you to leave your work at work and enjoy more of your home life!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Email me at randy@randymoraitis.com to share your thoughts or for info on counseling or coaching. Find me on the web at www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)
Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Are you in a role where you care for others? If so, you may experience burn out, compassion fatigue, or even vicarious trauma (if you haven’t already!). I believe that if you are a caregiver, then you must have a self-care plan in place to prevent or repair burn out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma!

The goal of this blog post is to raise awareness of the need for self-care, and to encourage everyone, especially caregivers, to have an effective self-care plan in place.

Caregivers are so important to society and take many forms:

  • Counselors/Therapists/Psychologists
  • Physicians/Nurses
  • First Responders–police, fire, paramedics, EMT’s
  • Social Workers
  • Pastors/Ministry Workers

If you are in one of the above roles, then a good self-care plan is vital to your long term health, your future success, and your personal relationships.
Compassion Fatigue is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is a common occurrence in most of the roles listed above. Compassion fatigue is also known as secondary traumatic stress. Ask yourself if you may have some compassion fatigue.

Vicarious Trauma is defined as “a transformation in the helper’s inner sense of identity and existence that results from utilizing controlled empathy when listening to clients’ trauma-content narratives. In other words, Vicarious Trauma is what happens to your neurological (or cognitive), physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health when you listen to traumatic stories day after day or respond to traumatic situations while having to control your reaction.” (Vicarious Trauma Institute http://www.vicarioustrauma.com/). Ask yourself if you may have experienced vicarious trauma.

Start Self-Care Now!

One of the most important aspects of an effective self-care plan is consistency. Below are suggestions for self-care. Whichever options you choose–be consistent and put these activities on your calendar to ensure they happen!

Self-Care Activities:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Exercise/Fitness Activities
  • Martial Arts
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Church
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Nutrition

I recommend choosing at least two to three items from the above list. As someone who has been a caregiver for many years and has heard and experienced many traumatic experiences, I have done all of the above, over time, to help me stay healthy.

Additionally, caregivers must have a healthy support network of several friends, and/or mentors, that can be counted on for conversation and support when needed.

Finally, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the caregivers out there! You are loved, appreciated, and worthy of good care!

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on this topic. You can comment below or contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com or 949-303-8264. Visit my website www.randymoraitis.com for info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation at www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

Here are the Top 5 Wisdom on the Way Blog Posts of 2014

What was your favorite blog post of 2014?  I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org.

Websites:
www.carepossible.org
www.thecrossing.com
www.randymoraitis.com

liar

Do you ever wish you were better at spotting a liar?  Do you have trouble trusting your teen, spouse, or employee? Here’s some info that will help you be a better lie detector!

It takes a lot more mental effort to lie than it does to tell the truth because it’s hard work to remember all the details of the lies. This fact can help us catch a lie if we know what to look for.

Psychologist Jacqueline Evans of the University of Texas and her colleagues developed a set of lie-detecting guidelines that anyone can use.  Here are six cues that, when combined, signal a lie.

  1. Missing Details–A person honestly recounting an event might mention the kind of music playing in the background or the color of the flowers on the table. A liar skips many little details because they are difficult to reconstruct or remember in later renditions.
  2. Claims of Faulty Memory–Liars may claim to have a poor memory, when the truth is that they can’t remember their own lies!
  3. Corrections or Contradictions–Liars often heavily edit their stories as they are retelling them. So pay attention–if this happens frequently enough, you may be hearing a lie.
  4. Effortful Thinking–If it appears the person is putting a lot of effort into coming up with their story, then that is a good indication that you may be hearing a lie.
  5. Nerves or Tension–It takes a great liar, or a psychopath, to pull off a string of falsehoods without looking at least somewhat anxious.
  6. Unusually Slow Speed–Liars often need to take quite a bit longer to tell their stories because they need to self-edit and try to be consistent.

What’s your favorite way to spot a liar?  I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org

Websites:
www.carepossible.org
www.thecrossing.com
www.randymoraitis.com

Special thanks to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PH.D., and Psychology Today 12/14 for this info.

Temper Tantrum

I’ve noticed that adults rarely think in terms of maturity with each other. In fact, we grown ups tend to expect maturity from other grown ups, right? And that often leads to disappointment.

Here are 7 Signs of Emotional Maturity. Take a moment to honestly assess how you are doing in each of these areas.

1. The ability to deal constructively with reality.

2. The capacity to adapt to change.

3. A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties.

4. The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving.

5. The ability to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness.

6. The capacity to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets.

7. The capacity to love.

If you find yourself lacking in one or more of the above criteria, you are not alone. Many of us grew up in homes where these traits were not modeled or taught. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to grow up! Ask a trusted friend or mentor to help you grow in the areas needed, or seek a coach or counselor for expert guidance.

I would love to hear your comments! You can email me at randy@carepossible.org

Websites: www.carepossible.orgwww.thecrossing.comwww.randymoraitis.com

Observations from The Gathering on Mental Health and The Church held at Saddleback Church on March 28, 2014:

  • This was not a churchy pray away the problem type of event. It was very scientifically sound and included teaching from some top mental health professionals including Daniel Amen, MD, Tom Okamoto, MD and Aaron Kheriaty, MD (Professor of Psychiatry at UC Irvine).
  • The goal was to prepare church leaders to effectively deal with mental health issues because 26% of adults will have these issues and one third of these folks seek help from the local church first.
  • Another goal of the event was to reduce the stigma and reduce the fear of mental illness.
  • Science and religion should be in dialogue–not contradict each other.
  • Research shows prayer and meditation are very helpful to those with some mental health issues.
  • We’re all mentally ill on some level–it’s just a continuum–so don’t judge others!
  • Family, faith and community support are huge factors in successfully treating those with mental illness.

Conclusion–this was an amazing, much needed and much overdue event! Lives will be changed and even saved from the seeds planted at this event. Personally, I am very grateful to work at a church that is on the forefront of providing quality mental health care to our community.

You can watch a webcast of the event and download the accompanying workbook here: http://mentalhealthandthechurch.com/Webcast. The workbook is an incredible compilation of helpful resources and next steps in helping those struggling with mental health issues.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com

Websites: www.thecrossing.com, www.thecrossing.com, www.randymoraitis.com


Those who know me well know that I am a huge fan of healthy boundaries. So when I came across these tips on Finding Your Voice to say No by psychologist Judith Sills, Ph.D., I just had to share. If you are new to saying no and setting boundaries, give these tips a try– you will be empowered!

Finding Your Voice

1. Replace your automatic Yes with “I’ll think about it.” This puts you in control, softens the ground for a NO and gives you time to think things through to make a healthy choice.

2. Soften your language. Try “I’m not comfortable with that”, or “I’d rather not”, or “let’s agree to disagree”. You are still delivering a clear “no”, but softening your language may make it go down better.

3. Contain your feelings. Even though you may not feel like it, No is best delivered pleasantly with an air of calm. Outward calm quiets your inner turmoil and reduces the negative impact of your No on your audience.

4. Refer to your commitment to others. Say No without appearing selfish by stating how you would love to help, but must keep your prior commitment to your mother, child, etc., and you can’t let them down.

5. Realize you represent others. When you realize it is not just your own interest at stake, but that of your family’s, you will feel more assertive in giving a No to a low-ball offer or intrusion on your time.

6. Rehearse. This strategy is best for ongoing situations such as a demanding boss or recurring relational conflict with a spouse, friend, or family member. By rehearsing, you are prepared to respond with a calm, respectful No.

With some regular practice finding your voice, you just may get to the place where you can respond to any inappropriate, uncomfortable, excessive request with a firm one-word, no explanation verdict–No.

I wish you well in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Email: randy@randymoraitis.com

Websites: www.carepossible.com, www.randymoraitis.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Mindfulness is a hot topic today in both psychology and medicine. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness “is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

I first became mindful of mindfulness (sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun) several years ago while spending time with a friend who is a double board certified physician (family medicine and addictionology).

My friend was passionately extoling the virtues of mindfulness meditation in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and more. As a pastor I was leery of the eastern mysticism baggage attached to my idea of mindfulness, but intrigued by the potential for healing. So I decided to do some research.

What I learned was both surprising and interesting. After Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin included a mindfulness treatment protocol (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts for chronic pain, research on mindfulness meditation exploded and today most major medical schools have a mindfulness center as part of their school or hospital.

As my physician friend told me, mindfulness as part of one’s treatment, has indeed helped many patients with addiction, anxiety, depression, attention disorders, and pain management.

And regarding my concerns as a pastor—I found the work of Mark J. Myers, Ph.D. to be reassuring. Dr. Myers conducted a study at Liberty University in 2012 that showed that not only does mindfulness meditation successfully treat anxiety, depression, chronic pain and more, but mindfulness may also improve one’s ability to be present with God. I love a good win-win!

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, anxiety, depression, attention deficit issues, or chronic pain, give mindfulness meditation a try.

Click here for a meditation you can do right now.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.thecrossing.comwww.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

anxiety

Anxiety Disorders affect millions of Americans filling them with dread, fear, and uncertainty. In my last blog I shared a brief history of anxiety in society which you can view here: History of Anxiety

This post is focused on treating anxiety. Those who struggle with anxiety experience physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual symptoms, so it makes sense that treatment for anxiety address these four types of symptoms.

Here are the four areas to focus on when treating anxiety. The most complete treatment program will cover each of the four areas.

1. PHYSICAL–this category looks at how the following impacts one’s anxiety:

  • Medications–some help, while others may increase anxiety.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, drugs–these can greatly increase anxiety.
  • Thyroid, adrenal function, anemia, asthma, etc–be aware that these factors may increase anxiety.
  • Food allergies/sensitivities–may play a role in increasing anxiety.
  • Sufficient sleep–can help reduce anxiety.
  • Supplements–may help reduce anxiety.
  • Physical exercise–very helpful in reducing anxiety.

2. EMOTIONAL–looks at the feeling involved and how to have emotional health:

  • Feelings underlying panic attacks–understanding and examining these feelings can lead to healing.
  • Emotionally tagging events–when the brain stores a memory of an event, it also stores an emotion associated with the event.
  • Evaluate your upbringing–learn to let go of anger, frustration, and control issues from your past.
  • Therapies–there are different types of therapy that can treat the emotional side of anxiety including cognitive-behavioral therapy, EMDR therapy, neurofeedback, Alpha-stim therapy, and more.

3. RELATIONAL–this area examines how we interact with others:

  • Choose to be around uplifting people.
  • Get out of toxic relationships.
  • Know and stay in your stress zone.
  • Do not isolate or shut down.
  • Avoid pushy, high maintenance, or unpredictable people.
  • Learn to say no and have healthy boundaries!

4. SPIRITUAL–feelings of anxiety are so deep, that a spiritual side of treatment is very effective.

  • Community–stay involved and connected in your local church.
  • Prayer–pray regularly, including prayers for a spirit of power and peace.
  • Verse memorization–memorize verses that give you peace and comfort and focus on these verses during times of anxiety.
  • Do not get caught up in the world–riches, fame, power–instead focus on the spiritual side of life.
  • Music–listening to uplifting music, such as praise and worship music, can reduce anxiety.

Anxiety is real and can be devastating. The good news is that there is hope and healing available for those with anxiety disorders. If you struggle with anxiety, contact a physician or mental health care professional right away to get on a path of healing.I have helped many groups and individuals have healing from their anxiety and would love to help you or your loved one. For more info lease email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or call 949-303-8264.

Websites: www.carepossible.comwww.randymoraitis.com.

About Randy Moraitis
Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.