from the heart
a blog designed to promote help, hope, healing
A few years back - I found myself stuck in a mental rut. Years of deep rooted family issues came to a peak - job insecurities and financial roller coasters, striving for perfection in a life of constant failures as a parent - balancing marriage, work, and community - internal pressures I placed on myself.
As a result, my mind was in a constant state of noise - without peace or passion - not living only surviving. I knew I was not walking in the freedom God so desires for us as His children. Physically I was healthy - strong - active - however, my mental health was dwindling. I kept asking myself ( and my community)- why can’t I get over it? Where is this coming from?
I truly gave a good effort with all of MY power - which only caused more frustration. I needed more - I deserved more - my family deserved more - I wanted LIFE- Joy - healing - hope.
I made the call. I reached out. At first, I felt as if counseling couldn’t possibly help me - it was not for me - it was a label I did not want. However, I wanted to move forward, and this step was my next.
After only one hour - one session- I was more aware than ever of all that I was constantly processing and how it was affecting my spiritual and mental outlook. I was stuck. God had brought me to a place where in order to move forward I had to go back to allow healing and to process.
Years of suppressed hurt from a divorced family and unhealthy boundaries within family had brought me to a point of exhaustion, failure, anxiety - I had to learn - to retrain - to work new brain muscles to fight these tendencies. Through counseling I was led through healing prayers - God’s truths and love were spoken over me in new, life-changing ways. His constant presence revealed. Healing began. I could see freedom - Hope was renewed.
Your story may not be my story. Your needs not the same as my needs. But without a doubt - I know your mental health is as important to you as my mental health is to me. Our thoughts affect our lives - our families’ lives. God desires for us is to live in His freedom - in His constant peace and love.
Counseling is a journey from which I have been able to see constant growth in myself. I am encouraged along the path God has laid out for me to live my best life. I am proud to say I see a counselor. I urge my friends to do the same. I have placed my middle school son in counseling before his first crisis. Why?
Because our mental health is crucial. It gives us life over destruction - joy over hopelessness - love over fear.
Thank you to Ivey Broxton for sharing your story with us.
Finals week is here! Do you feel stressed? Overwhelmed? Like you don’t have enough time to do all the things you need to do?
Did you know that high amounts of prolonged stress (hello, finals week!) can cause headaches, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, fatigue, sleep problems, feeling overwhelmed, social withdrawal and irritability?
It feels impossible to study for finals without experiencing high levels of stress. But there are ways that you can decrease your stress that will ultimately help you be more productive as you study. Here are eleven things you can do while studying to help decrease stress symptoms so that you can be healthier and more balanced as you study:
We are offering an opportunity for college students to take a study break for an hour or two at our college de-stress night. On May 2nd from 6-8 we will be having yoga, snacks and mental health tips to help you de-stress and be even more energized to study for finals. Come join us at Athens Church and take some time to recharge!
We have a ton of talented people at Bethel Haven who are working hard to make sure that the Athens and Watkinsville area communities can receive high quality counseling services. We want to give you the opportunity to get to know our staff better with our monthly Staff Spotlight!
Today you will have the opportunity to learn more about our Executive Director, Jackie Jones.
How long have you been involved at Bethel Haven?
I have been involved with Bethel Haven for three and a half years.
What was it like getting involved at Bethel Haven?
Well, the same place that I sat to do my interview is the place where I did hours and hours of personal counseling. It seemed amazing that God would allow me to be a part of helping others experience the same growth that I was able to experience through counseling.
What do you love about counseling?
Counseling has been a game changer for me personally. When clients come to counseling they often feel overwhelmed, are lacking hope, and some of them are in true despair. After experiencing time with a great counselor there is a complete shift for our clients. It changes how they feel about themselves, their family dynamics, their work dynamics - it can really change us from the inside out
What do you love specifically about Bethel Haven?
I love that Bethel Haven makes counseling a possibility and not a luxury. We are able to step in and help regardless of what financial situation you are coming from. There are many people who call our office who have reached out to other places for help and have not been able to afford the session fees. A lot of times when people call and we share our price point they are overwhelmed with tears and gratitude. And I believe that we have the best counselors in town!
What do you love about being part of the Athens and Watkinsville community?
Our community has the deep desire to reach out and serve the less fortunate. Being part of a non-profit I have gotten to experience that in a new way. We have so many leaders with the focus of: “how do we help?” I love the fact that it really is a small town. Going out in the community I see people that we are getting to help all the time. That is exciting to me because I see that as we are helping them we are having influence with children, in marriages, and in many other areas.
What is your best mental health tip?
Mental health is just as important as physical and spiritual health. They are all tied together and to have a whole heart each of those things are just as important. I would love for our community to see that mental, physical and spiritual health are all tied together and equally important.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to dance and love friends and connecting. Those are things that give life!
What is coming up at Bethel Haven that you are excited about?
Mental health month is coming up in May. It is our desire to show the community how important mental health is. We have a few events coming up!
May 2nd we are having a College Mental Health Night. On May 3rd Empire South will be partnering with us for fundraising. On May 4th is the Pounds Coffee Open House for mental health month.
Follow us on Instagram at @bethelhavencounseling or like our Facebook page to keep up to date on these and other exciting events!
It is at the point in the school year where high school seniors are experiencing the peak of senioritis and all they can think about is what is next. Many high school seniors are looking ahead with great anticipation of starting their college experience.
For many students, college is the “best four years of your life.” The reality is that the college transition can be a difficult one for many students. One of the best ways to prepare for this transition is to set realistic expectations for what this will be like.
As a first year college student, you will have new responsibilities.
Some of these responsibilities include maintaining a schedule, getting yourself to class, meal preparation and/or planning, managing your finances or a budget and creating new community.
Remember: Your responsibility will increase, but God's responsibility will stay the same. This means that you will need Him in new ways, and He will meet you in new ways.
2. As a first year college student, you will have more choices.
These choices will include your classes, your major, your career, who you hang out with, and how you spend your time.
Remember: Watch out for the comparison trap or sacrificing your values in order to "fit in". For example: Your friends may have their "life planned out" but this does not matter. Embrace the path God has for you.
3. As a first year college student, you will experience rejection and failure (in new ways).
You may experience failure in the classroom. You may experience failure in attempts to make friends and meet new people. You may experiencing failure in managing new responsibilities.
Remember: This happens to everyone. How you learn from failure and respond matters most. These moments are an opportunity to turn to God and see Him work in your life.
4. As a first year college student, you will experience a transition.
Regardless of how prepared you are, everyone must transition to college life. There is no way that you can anticipate all of the changes to come. What you can do is prepare for these transitions by managing expectations and setting up a support system.
Remember: Be prepared to experience some difficulty in your transition. It will most likely be challenging and that is okay. Who can support you?
College looks different for everyone. What is challenging for some seems easy for others. Some college freshman feel at home immediately while others need time to adapt. If you are a college freshman experiencing some of these challenges or a high school senior who would like to prepare for the transition, our counselors at Bethel Haven can help. Call our office at 706.310.9046 to make an appointment with a counselor.
"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough." - Brene Brown
One of the most common things my clients hear me say: you are not a machine. You need rest. And sleeping during the night doesn't count as true rest. You can't just plug yourself in to charge at the end of the day like an iPhone or a computer. We truly find rest when we are able to sit quietly in the satisfaction who we are - regardless of what we accomplish.
It is tempting to live life as if our daily "output" determines our worthiness. To live as if finishing a to-do list is the most meaningful thing about us.
What if you woke up every morning and said to yourself: "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough?"
If we ascribe to Christianity and to being Christ-followers, we know that God did not design us to be little machines that output: "1 laundry, 4 errands, 3 bills paid." How many laundry and errands and paid bills does it take before we can accept our worthiness?
We must accept that God does not see us the same way we see ourselves. At times, we only see all of the things we have failed to accomplish. We see all the ways we don't measure up. God sees as as worthy, as new creations in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). He offers us new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Cultivate your courage, your compassion and your connection so that you can wake up every morning satisfied with the person you already are and have been created to be. True growth will come - not from the things that you accomplish but instead from the ways that you engage with worthiness from the person you already are.
Transitions within the family can be tough. Significant life changes can bring conflict, confusion, and uncertainty to a family system, uprooting consistency and stability. Family counseling is a great resource to process difficult circumstances as a unit. Seeking family therapy has proven itself to be helpful during difficult transitions including divorce, a move, grief and loss, adding new family members (birth of a sibling, grandparent moving in, etc.), and a new diagnosis for an individual. Fostering healthy family relationships during difficult transitions can help family members adjust to their new norm as a system. Changes in behaviors can often be seen most prominently within the context of the family. Family therapy can be helpful in navigating these life changes.
Some of the benefits of family counseling are as follows:
In addition to individual therapy, we offer family therapy at Bethel Haven. We would love to help you and your family build healthy relationship dynamics with one another through family therapy.
The beginning of the new year brings with it a clean slate and hope for a fresh start. It is often a time of goal-setting, resolutions, and changes. Yet, if you are anything like me, those resolutions sometimes to fall to the wayside around this time of year. Because of this tendency of mine, I have learned to set goals in a practical way that sets me up for success rather than failure. Here are a few tips to help you do the same!
These practical goal-setting tips can be used at any point during the year- not just the beginning! Anytime is a good time to begin moving forward toward healthy lifestyle shifts.
The holidays are upon us, and with the social gatherings, school breaks, and celebrations can often come stress and overwhelming feelings of loneliness. The holidays can often highlight our lack, bringing to the surface difficult emotions including grief, sadness, and anxiety. These emotions can feel as though they are on display in the midst of the expectations that come with the season. Practicing self-care during the holidays is helpful in getting through and enjoying this time of year as much as possible. Below are some tips and strategies to ensure that you are taking care of yourself during this season.
Be intentional this holiday season on what will be beneficial for you! Spend time with those who build you up and encourage you. Participate in activities that bring you joy. It’s important to know that you are not alone if you are feeling sad or anxious during the holiday season. If these feelings are persistent, consider seeking out a counselor for help in overcoming and coping with these emotions.
I will be the first to raise my hand and admit - the holidays bring me a special kind of stress. (Who can relate??)
My parents are divorced and the holidays put me in a mental and emotional place that makes me feel ten years old - stuck in the middle between my parents. Add to the mix that I am newly married and trying to make sure my husband’s family doesn’t get ignored and you have a recipe for disaster.
Not to mention the expectations that are represented in every Christmas commercial, Instagram post or movie - that Christmas is a magical time that brings everyone together.
You know what? Sometimes Christmas kinda sucks. And I have a theory of why that is. It is a simple formula:
Unrealistic and/or unmet expectations
+ unstated and/or disrespected boundaries
= holiday stress
1. Unhook yourself from unrealistic expectations and standards.
Christmas presents, cards, cookies, decorations, family photos - those don’t have to be perfect. It is okay if they are actually kind of terrible, in fact. Because life is not perfect - December 25th rolling around doesn’t somehow change that fact.
2. Connect with feelings of sadness or anger over unmet expectations.
It is okay if you are angry, sad or frustrated because something did not go the way you hoped it would. It is okay to be disappointed that *that* family member disappointed you yet again. Release yourself from the pressure to act like everything is happy and perfect just because it is the holidays.
3. State your boundaries clearly and SOON.
Let others know what they can expect from you. “We would love to host Christmas again but this is not a good year for us.” “We would love to see you on Christmas day but we have to do XYZ instead. We are so sad to miss it.” Be clear and firm. And remind yourself that boundaries are not unkind - but that it is kind to yourself (and others!) to set healthy boundaries.
4. Have a plan for your boundaries that are not respected.
You asked your parents not to give your kids video games and they just unwrapped an Xbox - what are you going to do? You’ve asked your mom not to mention your ex-boyfriend and she brings it up over Christmas dinner. Plan for it! Maybe it means making an appointment with your counselor to prepare or asking a friend for coffee to talk through your options.
Christmas comes around once a year, bringing lights and trees and stress along with it. The good news is, this too shall pass and you’ll have another 365 days to prepare for next year.
The bad news is, this old ‘holiday stress’ news will continue to be news until you take steps to change the cycle. Sometimes you need someone to help talk you through how to set and enforce boundaries. If you think talking with a counselor could be helpful, call Bethel Haven at (706) 310-9046 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.
Routine is part of all of our lives. Whether it is a cup of coffee every morning before work, a daily jog through the neighborhood, or watching a favorite TV show in the evening, we all develop patterns that create consistency in our day-to-day lives. Simple routines make our lives predictable and stable. Furthermore, rituals provide us with a sense of belonging and connection to others. Family rituals are consistent over time, but not necessarily part of the family routine. Rituals can include birthdays, religious celebrations, and other family traditions.
Children specifically thrive on routines and rituals. Creating structure through daily routines can be integral to a child’s development. In fact, the research shows that simple routines like mealtime and reading improve language development, academic skill development, and social skill development in children. Family rituals foster emotional development and trust as children grow and develop. Rituals strengthen the family identity and deepen relationships within the system.
Creating family routines and rituals can be simple, quick, and fun! Here are some routines and rituals you can try incorporating into your family:
Every family will not enjoy the same routines and rituals. It is important to find what fits the personality of you and your family!
A leading researcher in this field is Barbara H. Fiese. You can find more information and research on this topic here.
Written by our counselors to help promote your help, hope, healing