TUNING IN TO YOUR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING Mind Maintenance
In addition to being the month of Halloween and all things spooky, October is also Emotional Wellness Month. It’s something we’re passionate about at Bruce Law because of our clients’ experiences. Since Chris opened this firm, he’s made it a point to connect with mental health professionals in the area. He’s gotten to know them and each of their practices, meeting with them and exploring the best mental health options available to our clients, because we know how important it is to have emotional support. One of the first things we ask people when they come to our office is if they’ve thought about counseling. It may sound surprising, but the first thing on our minds when we talk to a client isn’t divorce; we’re assessing the current state of a person or marriage. Is the marriage mendable? Is it healthy or unhealthy? Only after we’ve raised these questions do we think about moving on to the next phase of the process. Ending a marriage is an emotionally traumatic process, and we often encourage our clients to seek therapy throughout the divorce.
Therapy is often stigmatized in our culture as being necessary only when something is seriously wrong or needs fixing. Rather than signifying that something is in crisis mode, though, seeking counseling is about maintenance. Just like you go to the gym to work out for your physical well-being, your mental well-being also requires intentional upkeep. In therapy, you get to talk to someone about your experiences without judgement. A therapist or counselor is simply there to listen and help you discover underlying thoughts, feelings, and patterns. Practices like meditation and mindfulness that take judgement out of the equation can also be helpful in keeping you emotionally healthy. About a year ago, Chris and I started practicing mindfulness and meditation. We read a book called “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World” and began following the plan laid out in its pages. We also started using the Calm app to direct our practice. For 10 minutes a day, we meditate, focusing on nothing but the present, and accept the noise in our heads without letting it overwhelm us. We’ve found doing our mindfulness practice before bedtime to be best, as the day is winding down and the kids are already in bed. Chris will sometimes opt to meditate first thing in the morning, and it’s a great way to start the day. Since we started this practice, we’ve both noticed how helpful it’s been for, well, every aspect of life. It helps us be more present with each other, our kids, and our clients, and it helps us tune in to how we’re feeling, checking in with ourselves before letting a thought or emotion overwhelm us. As the Mount Sinai website defines it, “Mindfulness is the practice of judgment- free reflection, being in the moment, and being aware of your surroundings, thoughts, and physical sensations.” Our society doesn’t provide us many tools for tuning in to and processing our emotions. That makes it all the more important to become your own best advocate for your emotional well-being and seek out support. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own. There are many resources to turn to. Inside this newsletter, we include some of the resources you can utilize for support. You don’t have to go it alone. – Ashley and Chris Bruce
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Finding a Mental Health Provider Who’s There For You
You’re Not Alone
Going through a big change in your life, like a divorce, can leave you feeling like you’re on unsteady ground. Having an impartial person to listen can be life changing. A mental health professional, like a counselor or therapist, will help you digest and assess your feelings and experiences to get to the root of what you’re going through so you can ultimately move on and heal. Having someone who is trained in this process is key. You need a professional who can help you see aspects of your situation that a friend, family member, or even you may not have been able to see before. Know that this is a personal process, and you deserve to find a professional who you feel is truly listening and helping you. You may meet with a few mental health providers before you find the right fit, but taking the time to do this is worth it. While they may ask tough questions that make you reflect on difficult moments, your therapist or counselor should also help you feel heard and supported. Put in the time to find someone who is willing to put in the time for you. Mental health providers range a variety of categories and specialties. You can choose among psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors, who typically specialize in a particular area like adolescent services or postdivorce counseling. A little research to find the right fit will help you locate a trusted professional who can address your specific concerns. In the Palm Beach area and beyond, many resources and mental health providers are available, meaning it can be overwhelming to navigate on your own. That’s why Chris’ dedicated website, StayMarriedFlorida.com, has an extensive, vetted directory of mental health professionals in Florida, conveniently listed by city and region. Chris has connected with each of these professionals to ensure they are the right fit for our clients.
HALLOWEEN COSTUMES TO THINK TWICE ABOUT HOW TO STEER CLEAR OF LOOKS THAT MIGHT OFFEND If you’ve ever taken your kids trick-or-treating for Halloween, then there’s a good chance you’ve seen a costume that made you feel a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps it was something too sexual or gory for your 4-year-old’s eyes or a satirization of a political figure you admire. Odds are you didn’t say anything, but such encounters can be unsettling, even for the most laid-back among us. This Halloween, help others avoid that discomfort by thinking twice about the costumes you and your family choose. When dressing for Halloween, remember that it’s important to consider your audience. A skimpy Jessica Rabbit or Poison Ivy costume might be fun for an adults- only party, but it’s inappropriate for a family gathering. Similarly, you might not want to go the political route for an office party, where putting your opinions front and center could cause friction with your coworkers or boss. Instead, opt for a fictional character or a classic Halloween monster. No one is going to argue with you about your support or disdain for werewolves. While some costumes have their time and place, others are off-putting in any setting, and it’s never too early to explain that to your kids. Consider the case of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who came under fire earlier this year for a 1981 yearbook photo that appeared under his name and showed two costumed figures, one wearing a KKK uniform and the other in blackface. Northam’s role in the photo was never clarified, but it caused permanent damage to his reputation and friendships. Make sure your family avoids similar strife this Halloween by steering clear of costumes associated with racist, sexist, or politically divisive groups. Teach your kids that it’s best to rule out costumes imitating another race or culture, particularly if they promote stereotypes, to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings — famous sports teams facing criticism for their Native American mascots are canaries in the coal mine on that point. Finally, encourage your kids to avoid hamming up symptoms of mental illness or addiction in their costumes. Dressing like a “mental patient” can hit too close to home for real-life sufferers, some of whom you likely know and love.
Is your friend or client in need of a guide as they prepare for divorce? our divorce strategy book can help! The book can be downloaded for FREE at ControlYourDifficultDivorce.com If your friend or client lives in the South Florida area, we will mail them a hard copy of the book upon request.
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Why We Feel What We Feel
In our society, emotions are typically categorized as negative. We’re often told that showing emotion is bad, and value is placed on being composed and not “overly emotional.” And yet, emotions are part of not just the human experience but also the experience of all mammals who rely on emotional response to guide them in dangerous situations. When a mouse feels threatened by the scent of a cat, it responds to that fear by running away. EMOTIONAL AWARENESS Of course, unlike other mammals, we have the added element of self-consciousness in the mix. Our emotions can influence our behavior, but we also have the ability to reflect on what we’re feeling and respond according to our judgement. We have both a private self that judges our emotions and a public self that considers how others will perceive our actions. At work, for example, we’re aware that throwing a chair out of frustration will not be taken positively. While our awareness of our emotions helps us act in ways that are socially acceptable, it can also lead us to suppress our feelings for fear of how others will judge them. Over time, this suppression can lead to feelings of depression. Understanding Emotional Response
THE ROLE OF MINDFULNESS With mindfulness and the practice of meditation, all that is asked of the mind is to acknowledge feelings and thoughts without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help us become aware of our emotions and learn how to respond to them in healthy ways. Classes available locally through the South Florida Center for Mindfulness or apps like
Calm and Headspace can be great ways to incorporate these practices into your life.
It’s also helpful to remember that emotions aren’t inherently good or bad. They are responses to external and internal situations
that send signals to your brain about how to respond. Emotions are a central part of consciousness, and they can be both positive (a response to opportunities to meet needs and goals) and negative (a response to a threat to needs and goals). Learning how to experience them and respond accordingly is a lifelong journey, one that healthy practices, like meditation and mindfulness, can help you navigate.
have a LAUGH
1 package melting chocolate
Assorted dried fruit, including apricots and mangoes
In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil.
2. Place a large, heatproof mixing bowl on top of saucepan so that no steam can escape. Place melting chocolate in mixing bowl and double boil until melted. 3. Dip half of each piece of fruit in chocolate before transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet to rest. 4. Let cool for 10 minutes until chocolate solidifies. 5. Place in school lunches, serve at parties, and indulge in a few for yourself.
Inspired by Food Network
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Mind Maintenance page 1
Halloween Costumes to Think Twice About Find the Right Mental Health Provider page 2 Understanding Your Emotions page 3 The Meaning of Dia de los Muertos page 4
Dia de los Muertos A Celebration of Life
Despite the common misconception, Dia de los Muertos is not an offshoot of Halloween.While the two holidays often happen simultaneously, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that originated with the indigenous people of Central America, including the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Each year, they gathered and gave offerings to their dead.When the Spaniards came to Mexico, they fused the indigenous celebrations with their traditions of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2). ANCIENT BEGINNINGS Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations viewed death as a beginning rather than an end. This was likely
tied to agricultural practices and the seasons, with crops dying in the winter and being reborn in the spring. Dia de los Muertos evolved from those roots and is now observed throughout Mexico and the United States. It’s a time of remembering your loved ones by celebrating their lives. FULL OF LIFE Though the name might lead you to believe differently, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous time. If you visit Mexico during the holiday, the air is filled with music, and the streets are full of dancing and color. Instead of a sorrowful mourning of the dead, it is a vibrant, joyous celebration of life. Intricate altar displays, called ofrendas, honor the spirits of relatives who’ve passed. Families fill them with photographs and the relatives’ favorite food and drinks. It’s believed that during Dia de los Muertos, the boundary between the living and the dead is lifted, and for one night only, spirits come back to visit and enjoy what their families have set out for them. Today, the multiday celebration takes place throughout Central and North America. As tiny Batmans and Skywalkers add the final adjustments to their costumes, other families clean their homes and prepare to honor the spirits of their loved ones. And in today’s beautiful blend of cultures, many families celebrate both holidays.
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