Mental Health

Sophie Peterson: An Artist’s Journey Toward Radical Acceptance

Sophie Peterson, a 24-year-old from Long Grove, Illinois, can pinpoint the exact moment she knew she wanted to become an artist. It was after she won a drawing contest in third grade. After that, she would frequently attend the Art Institute of Chicago with her parents and try to recreate the paintings in her notebook. At eight years old she was no Picasso (she says the drawings were “terrible”) but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the art. 

Through her Radical Acceptance series, Sophie faces her feelings of anxiety and depression

Over the years, Sophie admits she temporarily left behind her artwork for fear it would lead to an unprofitable career. She majored in international studies at Colorado State University but it wasn’t until she briefly left college that she rediscovered her love for art and used it to help cope with PTSD, anxiety and her decade-long battle with bulimia nervosa. 

“For the entirety of my recovery journey, art has been the one thing to keep me stable and has led me to have these revelations to see where I am in my mental health and where I am in my recovery,” she says. 

Sophie hopes that her work will encourage others to talk about their mental health

“I remember when I was in art therapy, sitting with a ball of clay trying to mold it and I burst into tears because I couldn’t get it. That was the moment I recognized that I had problems that needed to be resolved.” 

Through her Radical Acceptance series, she faces these issues head on and encourages others to do the same. The inspiration came at the end of her college career, a time when she was unsure of the path ahead and anxious about her future. So, she took her stress, fear and anxiety and channeled it into a series of abstract paintings that are a direct representation of anxiousness and obsession through repetitive details and mark making. 

“My goal is to talk about my own experiences and let people in on the fact I was really not okay for a period of time and I figured out a way to work through that without using fun, self-care tactics,” she says. “I want people to know they aren’t the only ones going through this.” 

Sophie has always tried to be as authentic as possible with her work, which speaks to the experiences she has gone through with her mental health journey and what it’s like to feel “in your own head” all the time. 

Radical Acceptance is a series of abstract paintings that are a direct representation of anxiousness and obsession

As someone who suffered from an eating disorder for an extended period in her life, Sophie says she that her work also focuses on depression and the inability to see yourself the way other people see you. 

“My experiences are really definitive of what my art stands for,” she says. “I want people to look at the work and put their own thoughts onto it. But once they hear the story behind it, they seem to open up and talk about their own experiences, which has been extremely gratifying.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 Americans experience some form of mental illness a year. Despite the common nature of mental illnesses occurrence, sharing individuals’ experiences with it remain a stigmatized topic.

Sophie and her boyfriend

Sophie and her boyfriend

With her art, Sophie is able to give people, who may not have the words to describe how they’re feeling, the tools for them to express themselves or identify why they may be feeling a certain way, which was the first step on Sophie’s road to recovery.

It’s been a long journey, but one Sophie says she wouldn’t change. “In general, there are time when I look back and think, ‘I wish I would have done this differently,’ but when I reframe thinking in terms of where I was at mentally and the trajectory that I’ve been on, I don’t think I have any regrets – life is what it is.” 

She laughs knowing how cliché it sounds, but also realizing how true it is, especially for her and so many others around the world. 

“The best part is when the audience kind of falls into a piece and puts their own interpretation on the artwork,” she says. “It might lead them to think about certain memories or experiences, which can help start a conversation about how they’re feeling. I don’t care if people love my work or not, but if people are talking about their mental health, then that means I’ve done something for them.”

To find out more about Sophie Peterson, follow her on Instagram.

Offering Mental Health Benefits at Work Is Good Business

In the 24/7 economy, more and more full-time employees are reporting feeling burned out at work. Workplace alienation, unreasonable expectations, ubiquitous hours, unmanageable task-load, workplace politics, and the overwhelming necessity of having to be available via email and text at all hours are all key contributors as to why the modern workforce is feeling burned out.

According to a Gallup study, 23 percent of full-time employees report feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. This burnout can be translated into stress that interrupts interpersonal relationships, to physical ailments in its extremes like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45. All of this healthcare spending adds up to around $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year.

Stress and burnout are very real problems that the modern day workforce are dealing with, and when that stress and burnout couples with undiagnosed, untreated, or inaccessible mental health issues, the complications can be even more severe. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness, ranging in severity, with 40% of adults with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder not receiving treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, untreated mental illnesses cost about $100 billion a year in lost productivity due to hospitalization, loss of employment, impacted productivity, and shortened life spans.

Treatment for mental health is currently out of reach for many people. It takes time, money, and access to be able to begin treatment- that is why so many go untreated. There is also a stigma involved with mental illness, and for some that stigma is a barrier to health. If employers were to begin incorporating mental health access into their benefits, for all employees regardless of company status, such a move could be the groundswell of destigmatization that the mental health crisis facing us needs.

Companies at the top are already trying this approach to employee benefits to great success. The Silicon Valley juggernaut, Netflix, already sees this as a necessity in the modern workplace, and offers their employees the ability to take time for themselves when they need in addition to access to mental health services and parental leave. American Express offers employees on-site counseling, something that goes a long way for the destigmatization of therapy.

These efforts aren’t just ideas that sound good, they’re actually having a real and measurable impact on these businesses’ bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, “for every $1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.” Meaning that when companies take their employee’s mental health seriously, they become four times as healthy and productive.

If these policies and programs can be scaled to the point where all employees have access to mental health treatment, then that could completely revolutionize how and who gets access to mental health. Such a change could revitalize not only our workspaces, but also how we relate to one another as a society. It is clear that investing in employee mental health offers numerous benefits personally, interpersonally, and at large. What needs to be clearer is how all employers can get there.

The Hippocratic Oath for the Everyday Person

The Hippocratic Oath is the oath taken by doctors to do no intentional harm to those that they treat. It’s a simple concept, but why reserve it for doctors?

 

Kindness has an immense power to make us feel better about ourselves and lead happier lives. Being on the receiving end of kindness also has its obvious benefits. But kindness takes effort and forethought. Because of this, it’s taken a back seat to other forms of instant gratification like scrolling through social media, taking selfies, and talking negatively about people. These things feel rewarding in the moment, but in the long run, they offer us no tangible benefit. It’s time for a change. We need to be kind to each other again.

Source:  Ritesh Agarwal

As humans, we’re born into kindness in the form of nurturing. Whether this is done by one’s mother, a caretaker, a labor and delivery nurse, or some other positive figure in one’s life, we all learn to grow and function under the kind eye of a nurturing person. We’re the only mammals who aren’t born self-reliant creatures. We need others. This never changes. We never stop needing others, whether we care to admit that or not. 

 

So, if kindness is literally programmed into our DNA, why is it so difficult for us to make a regular habit of?

 

I blame the internet.

 

The internet makes it easy to be unkind because there’s always a veil between you and the person you’re harming. You are causing harm, they just aren’t aware of it. Many people don’t consider the mean things they say to be harmful because the person isn’t aware of it. But they don’t need to be. The act of saying it or thinking it is enough to cause negativity to multiply within yourself. That’s a toxicity that prevents you from growing and meeting your potential for happiness in your own life. Is it worth it? The instant gratification of saying something negative about somebody else to make yourself feel good isn’t worth it in the long-run. But foregoing that instant gratification is what makes kindness so difficult for us.

 

In order to become a kind person, it takes practice. Negativity and cruelty are like any other negative habits. They have to be broken and replaced with positive habits. You have to be able to put your ego and cheap thrills aside and find your own motivation for being more positive. Once you do this, it’s smooth sailing.

Source:  Jojo Nicdao

Source: Jojo Nicdao

When we’re kind by habit, we gain more benefits than just the obvious increase in happiness and positivity. We improve our physical health, as well. It’s true! When we’re kind, we’re less stressed and the body releases less of the stress hormone cortisol. This keeps our heart healthier and helps to slow down the aging process. It also helps us improve our relationships and connections with others. When we’re negative and cruel, the people that overhear us or are in the conversation with us will take that personally. Even if they’re laughing along with you, the subconscious will raise red flags and they won’t be able to trust you as much. After all, if somebody sees what you talk about when somebody isn’t there, they’re going to wonder if you do the same to them when they aren’t there. Plus, it’s said that “your vibe attracts your tribe”. If you’re happy and kind, it stands to reason that you’ll befriend other people along that same wavelength. Happiness begets happiness. There’s more for everybody!

 

When you’re trying to practice kindness more in your own life, it helps to remember the “golden rule”. Remember the one that you probably heard a million and a half times in grade school? The golden rule states that you should only treat others how you’d like to be treated. When you’re learning to be kind, it helps to ask yourself how you’d feel if you were on the receiving end of your statement or action. Doing this will give you a perspective about your behavior and will help you to see what’s right and wrong when you understand how your actions and statements affect people. This is how you learn to take the Hippocratic Oath in your own life. You do no harm. You shall not cause any sadness or pain to others intentionally.

 

From there, you can keep moving forward with kindness. There’s never too much kindness in the world. Try incorporating small acts of kindness into your day every day. Give somebody a compliment, pay for somebody’s coffee in line behind you, catch up with an old friend, offer to help somebody carry their groceries to their car. Whatever you do, spreading kindness in the world will never be a mistake. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

Image source: Flickr

Living a Positive Life: What are the Health Benefits?

Being kind, polite and positive are often some of the most sought-after qualities for anyone. However, living an uplifting light with a radiant attitude is not solely a way to make people like you. A positive outlook on life could indeed enhance your health and help you live longer and better. Can positivity really improve your health? Read on to find out more.

 

Improve your physical health.

 

Being kind and positive often means that you are less prone to getting stressed. As you might know, stress could lower the quality of your life in many ways, causing a variety of physical and mental illnesses. Studies have linked stress to depression and anxiety, as well as to heart disease and high blood pressure. A happier life can help you prevent such problems.

Source:  Evan Blaser

Source: Evan Blaser

Improve your mental health.

 

Being kind and positive often means to be psychologically grounded. In other words, by living life with a positive attitude, you might be able to fight depression, stress, anxiety and other issues that might affect your emotional and mental health. 

 

In conclusion:

 

Living life with a kind and positive attitude can certainly help you with a wide variety of perks and benefits!

 

Image source: Flickr