To Your Health Blog

This page contains articles and information that can help you improve your mental health.

I hope this proves meaningful to you.

If you need further assistance, Buttonwood Counseling is here for you.

Confidential Email:      Confidential Phone: 561-866-9066

January 2019 JOY (Just Older Youth)

Wednesday, January 23

100390 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, south of the Urgent Care Clinic

Come Learn and Have Fun at the JOY Center
the “Teen Center” for people over 50…or so!

9 am Community Garden – new plants, new crops! AND…
Culinary Delights: Juicing Class
10:00 Gentle Flow Yoga w/Jenny O
11:00 Conversational Spanish for Beginners
AND…Tech 101: Playing with Pictures
12 Noon: Lunch-BYOLunch or RSVP to join the JOY Thai Lunch Club (MUST be on social media to join)
12:30 Chair Dancing w/Diane Chandler
1:00 Mah-Jongg until…
1:30 Learn to play Ukulele w/Sharon bring your own instrument (limited number for sale)
2:30 Beginning A Book Club


I know knitting helps me relax…

and now Jane Brody of the New York Times confirms my experience!

Several months ago, Buttonwood Counseling offered a depression support group that incorporated knitting a bear for a child in Africa as part of the curriculum. The theory was that as the group members worked on their knitting, they would begin to relax and become more open about sharing the roots of their depression and turning to each other for support. 

Now a recent article from the NYT explains the benefits of knitting, both individually and as part of a group! Please click this link From The New York Times: The Health Benefits of Knitting to read more, and Happy Knitting!


And if you want to learn more about the amazing program that has sent more than 100,000 bears to African children, click here: Mother Bear Project



The power of a positive attitude cannot be underestimated. It may not change the outcome of whatever challenges we face, but it can certainly make facing them a better experience for us.

The following article illustrates this beautifully, and I hope you find it helpful.

Do You Have Recurrent or Persistent Pain? 

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Chronic pain can affect our mental health, and vice versa. Learn more about the connection between pain and mental health by clicking on this link to an entertaining and educational video. Contact Buttonwood Counseling for help managing your pain and its mental health side effects!

A Good Prescription: A Nature Walk!

Just about everyone who lives in a city can say there are times when it becomes emotionally taxing. Long commutes, tight living spaces, and unpleasant interactions with others are only some of the reasons so many people can’t wait to get out of the city for vacation — many times ending up in areas surrounded by nature. Whether these vacationers know it or not,they’re improving their mental health, as a growing body of evidence shows green spaces can dramatically improve a person’s sense of wellbeing. But how? A new study may have the answer.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that nature walks reduce a person’s chances of ruminating, which in turn lessens their chances of developing depression and other mental illnesses. People who ruminate mull over particular issues in their life continuously, regardless of how much power they have over them, according to the American Psychological Association. Most of the time, these issues are also negative.

Over time, rumination can cause a downward spiral of negative thinking, which in turn impairs thinking and problem-solving, and may even lead to the loss of social support — once friends have become frustrated with the lack of an improved outlook on life. With everything that happens in a city, it’s easy to see how someone can get caught up in the negative thoughts that accompany their stress. This is why spending time in nature is all the more important.

“It’s really the blink of an eye that we’ve been living in urban areas. It’s not what we’re evolutionarily adapted to do,” Greg Bratman, a PhD candidate in conservation biology and lead author of the study, told Healthline.

For their study, the Stanford University researchers had 38 men and women fill out questionnaires that asked about their tendencies to ruminate. Then, they underwent brain scans to measure activity in a part of their brains associated with “self-focused behavioral withdrawal” — rumination — called the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC). Once done, they were told to either go on a 90-minute walk in a nature setting or an urban one. The results: Those who took part in the nature walk reported ruminating less often during their walk, and subsequent brain scans showed the sgPFC was less active as well.

“This study reveals a pathway by which nature experience may improve mental wellbeing, and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” the researchers wrote, noting that more than 50 percent of people now live in urban areas. By 2050, that percentage is expected to grow to 70 percent.

The World Health Organization estimates as many as 350 million people across the world live with depression. Though only a fraction of these people live in urban areas, adding more public green spaces may help lower depression rates. Many cities in the United States, such as Chicago and New York City, have already begun. “It’s important to incorporate these ‘psychological ecosystem services’ into urban design, to help bring nature to the city, and to improve easy access to these landscapes and nature experience,” Bratman told the Huffington Post.

“We’re in a unique moment in human history,” he said. “Never before have so many people lived in cities, and never before have people been so disconnected with the natural world.”

Source: Bratman G, Hamilton JP, Hahn K, Daily G, Gross J. Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. PNAS. 2015


May is Mental Health Month

…and there have been many excellent articles on the subject throughout the month. One of the best, from Huffington Post, addresses the stigma still associated with having a mental health issue. Here’s a table answering the question: “Should You Be Ashamed of Your Mental Illness?” There’s a link at the end of the table to the rest of the article.

The Benefits of Writing

For years, I have encouraged clients to journal their thoughts and feelings to help them gain clarity and healing. I’ve also personally experienced the power of writing about my own experiences and how they have affected me. Journaling has made a profound difference in my own life and in the lives of so many clients. Now , there is research that validates the multiplebenefits of writing. To learn more, click the link and read the article from the New York Times. And, keep writing!

A Change of Scene

As beautiful as the Florida Keys are, there is the danger of taking that beauty for granted, not truly seeing it. This is true wherever we may live. We may get so caught up in our daily routine that we don’t take, or make, time to appreciate the natural beauty around us.

Today I am in the North Carolina mountains, enjoying tall trees, lush greenery, and cool weather, even though it’s July! Since I don’t live here full-time, it’s easy for me to be grateful for everything here. But what a lesson–I need to work on being grateful for everything at home, too.

There is a saying from my faith tradition that says “Help me to see wherever I gaze that the bush burns unconsumed.” There are miracles all around us; it’s our job to be mindful of them.

Fighting Codependence…or 

What I Am Reminded When I Fly

We’ve all been there. Sitting on the plane, waiting to taxi, listening to the pre-flight announcements. Safety features, exit doors, keep your seat belt buckled, no smoking…blah blah blah. Many of us could recite the script ourselves and we tend to just tune it out.

BUT–there’s one part that always strikes me with its wisdom, and its application beyond flying on airplanes. When the flight attendant talks about the oxygen masks, s/he says: “Always put your own mask on first before helping others.”

Many of us would have a knee-jerk reaction of rebellion to this bit of advice: “What do you mean? What about the importance of always helping others, especially children we may be travelling with? How can you tell me not to think of them first? I can’t be that selfish!”

Let’s look at this  from a practical, not emotional, point of view. The reason for putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others is that if you don’t, you might be unable to help anyone else! And then you, and the person you care about, are in real trouble. If we don’t take care of ourselves, in all aspects of our lives, we will be unable to take care of anyone else. There is nothing selfish, or cold, about putting your needs first. Indeed, this is the only way you will be any good to those you love.

Call Buttonwood Counseling today to learn how to take better care of yourself. You’ll appreciate the change!

Confidential Email:      Confidential Phone: 561-866-9066

Giving Thanks & the Power of Gratitude

from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, UC, Davis:

  • Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions and optimism and lower levels of depression and stress
  • People who keep gratitude lists are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals than people who don’t keep gratitude lists

Other research links cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety, higher long-term satisfaction with life, and kinder behavior toward others.

Developing your gratitude will help you keep your problems in perspective and will help you break out of a “pity party” that can lead to all sorts of emotional and relational problems. Gratitude helps you keep your resentments under control; we all have resentments, but we need to work to not let them rule our feelings and behaviors. Gratitude also helps you connect with your Higher Power, however you understand Him or Her, in a way other than asking for something.

Some additional points of gratitude:

  • Spend at least as much energy being grateful for what is right and present in your life as you spend worrying about what is wrong or missing.
  • Gratitude is a behavior as well as an attitude. Keep a daily gratitude list in your journal and voice your gratitude out loud!
  • Helping someone else can help you develop your attitude of gratitude.
  • As your sense of gratitude grows stronger, your resentments grow weaker, enabling you to cope with them appropriately.
  • Let go of the old habit of comparing yourself and your possessions to others and their possessions.
  • Expressing gratitude keeps you in touch with your Higher Power, and will help you turn more naturally toward your Higher Power when you need extra support.

I am grateful that you read this message, and wish you a life filled with gratitude.

Thank you!

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