how to cultivate mental health and joy

There’s been a lot of conversation about mental health recently given the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Like many of you, I was heartbroken to hear they took their own lives.

Although I have never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I committed to living a life from a place of health when I started writing a little more than two years ago. I was burned out and probably dealing with some postpartum issues after I had my son. But aside from sharing it with you – the reader –  I didn’t seek help.

I didn’t even know I needed help (so it’s taken me awhile to get to this point).  

When I started blogging and writing about working bigger, I knew that mental health and wellness and inner peace needed to be integrated into the mission.

It’s why we say “Do Work You Love & Make a Difference in the World (without burning out).”

Because without inner peace, it’s a lot harder to reach your goals.

To go deeper with my own wellbeing and tap into sustainable personal transformation, I’ve been exploring several modalities.

The goal has been to improve my own mental state, and to also bring these learnings to you.

All of the modalities I’m exploring are focused on increasing self awareness (because that’s where real sustainable change starts) and tapping into our own inner voice.

Here are six modalities and/or tools I’ve experimented with.

After you review them, let us know – which one resonates with you the most? And is there anything else that you’ve experimented with that you’d add to this list?

Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)

RTT is a new therapy method that includes hypnosis. The idea is that during hypnosis you identify periods of trauma in your life where you picked up a certain belief (i.e. the belief that we’re not worthy of success or love is a common one).

As you identify where these beliefs stemmed from (likely from your childhood), you work to change them.

I worked 1:1 with Master Coach Jessica Geist for a 30-day intensive. This work was the catalyst to leaving my gig at the AP to run Work Bigger full time.  

Theta Healing

Theta healing is another modality that allows you to go into a deeper state of meditation where you can tap into your intuition. I feel strongly that we don’t listen enough to our intuitions and instead rely too much on external sources for answers.

I participated in a meditation session at Theta Healing NYC. After the meditation, we broke up into smaller groups and talked about what came up for us in terms of anything that was holding us back.

What came up for me?

My belief around motherhood and work and that I can’t be successful at both.

I’ve talked a lot about this in the Work Bigger Community – my struggles with marrying the two in our society when for me personally, they are completely connected.

Having the space to identify this roadblock and then talking about it openly with a small group, was healing in and of itself.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT is a form of counseling intervention that draws on acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT).

I did a session with Simrit Kaur, a healer and Kundalini Yoga teacher, and it was focused on releasing money blocks. During this session, we reflected on our views around money and then through EFT worked to change those beliefs.

It was another opportunity to dig deep and think through what holds us back. What beliefs do we carry about money? And where do those beliefs stem from?

Law of Attraction (LoA)

If you’re not familiar, the LoA is the belief that positive thoughts bring on positive things and negative thoughts bring on negative things. (It’s not as simple as this, and I actually feel this meaning does the LoA a disservice.)

And if you’re thinking “oh this is some woo woo BS” – hang on.

I’ve been understanding LoA more and more as I’ve been following Jess Lively.

She breaks down the LoA so that it’s really practical. 

My biggest takeaway is to learn to tap into joy and happiness – and that’s it.

Life is easier this way, and for me – I’ve been able to shift my day from “I need to achieve X goal” to “I’d like to feel at peace today – and what will help me do that?” In turn, I focus on activities that bring me more peace.

Yoga

I’m new to yoga. I dabbled a little with Bikram in my twenties and didn’t get it. Then when I got pregnant, I thought some exercise would do the body good. So once a week I’d take a prenatal yoga class. I still didn’t get it.

This year, I said I’d give yoga one final try. You can’t work on the mind without tapping into the body.

It was hard in the beginning of the year. It’s now June and after only 10 or so classes, it’s starting to click.

Today during yoga, I realized how uncomfortable I get when I’m in class.

When will it end?
Is the hour almost up?

What’s that about anyway? I realized I’m doing the comparison thing. My poses are far from perfect, and being imperfect sucks.

Does this comparison thing show up in other areas of my day to day?

Yup…obviously.

Which brings me to…

Leadership Training with Coach Dominique Mas

Last week, a group of women and I gathered in Central Park for a workshop on changing habits.

During some journaling and identifying which habit I want to change (mine is negative thinking), I identified that my negative thinking is triggered when I compare myself to others.

Damn, that person is way ahead of me.

I felt embarrassed sharing this at first. But our strength lies in sharing and opening up, not in hiding.

The group of women I was with helped me to find ways that I could track my thinking around this, and create ways to move past it.  

Now I journal it, I name it, I move on.

In Conclusion: To Cultivate Mental Health

Mental wellness (for me) has been a process. It takes practice and patience. I’m grateful for all of these tools exist to help me learn and grow and better understand myself.

Which ones resonate with you the most? And are there any other tools that you use that you recommend we check out? Share with us in the comments.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Leah Suzette says:

    “our strength lies in sharing and opening up, not in hiding.” <<< THIS is everything <3

    Also, I love the Yoga dharma too – I have been doing my best to practice mindfulness in uncomfortable moments – finding the space between stimulus(trigger) and response and actually pausing to sit in the space, feel the feelings, and choose a response.

    Not choosing the responses that my ego wants me to choose is the absolute hardest part.

    Not giving in to emotional eating, or self-shaming/negative self-talk, or lashing out angrily to bring others into my misery… THIS IS HARD. Because those are the easy paths out of discomfort. The ones that have negative long term effects. I pause to tell her (her being my ego, essentially) that I hear her, I feel her, but I don't think that her choice of response is the best one right now. (Morgan's talk on Facebook Live also had a huge impact on me in starting this practice).

    And every time I succeed I feel powerful, and I'm proud of myself :]

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      You are so powerful Leah! Thank you for sharing this. What you share is so important – “Not choosing the responses that my ego wants me to choose is the absolute hardest part.” – this is hard for sure. Our brains like the chaos. You’re not alone <3 Big hugs!!!

  • Belma, good on you for tapping into tools available to know yourself and live a better, bigger life! It sounds like RTT was a major game changer. All these modalities empower awareness and truth. That’s what we all need!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thank you Simrit! I couldn’t agree more that we need these tools to help us dig deeper. Thank YOU for doing this amazing work.

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