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Ways to Improve Your Mental & Emotional Health| 1.10.2024

In this episode, Kristen explores strategies for improving mental and emotional well-being. Join her on a journey towards self-discovery and healing for a fulfilling start to the new year.


  • The power of a single question in enhancing mental well-being.
  • Practical tools like journaling and self-reflection to enhance emotional health.
  • The importance of downtime and rediscovery for personal growth.
  • Strategies for breaking generational cycles and fostering self compassion.The transformative power of sobriety and its positive effects on relationships and brain health.


For counseling services near Indianapolis, IN, visit www.pathwaystohealingcounseling.com.

Subscribe and Get a free 5-day journal at www.kristendboice.com/freeresources to begin closing the chapter on what doesn’t serve you and open the door to the real you.

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This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Kristen Boice

Welcome to the Close the Chapter podcast. I am Kristen Boice, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counseling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode, so be sure to subscribe.

Kristen Boice

Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast, I am so incredibly grateful that you are here with me listening to this episode, and wanting to come back to your authentic self, and really start finding the freedom of being who you are. So thank you for joining me for today's episode. Happy New Year, I hope you've had a good start to your new year. And you're starting to just reflect on this past year what you want more of what you want less of if you want to listen to the questions to get you to explore or help you explore and reflect you can listen to last week's episode. And you can also grab the journal and to be talking about a lot of impactful helpful practices for your emotional and mental well being today, I made a huge list and journaling is at the top. And we're going to give you the number one reflection question that's made the biggest difference in my life. So if you're saying I'm not a journaler, I don't really want a journal. It doesn't work for me. I really am begging you are inviting you into trying this one question being with it. And I'm going to share that today. So it's the one question I'm going to need you to write down and each day, ask yourself this question throughout all of 2024. And maybe you don't need to do it every day. But maybe you commit to doing it often enough. Because I really believe it's going to have a profound impact on how you feel about yourself. The feeling of not feeling good enough shame, feeling depressed, maybe anxious, it's going to help relieve and hopefully free yourself to be yourself. So stay tuned for that. Meantime, grab the journal, it's absolutely free. And then you're gonna get on my mailing list to get my weekly blogs and helpful information. kristendboice.com/free resources. And so you're gonna get on the mailing list, you'll get the free journal, you can use it over and over, it does not have this question in it. This is an additional question that you're gonna want to write down. So I spent a lot of time really sitting with being with and researching what works, what best practices work. These are things I do in my own life. And not just teaching and preaching, which doesn't really help anyone. I'm walking the walk, I'm living this out. And I want to say the end of 2023 I spent a lot of downtime doing nothing. For me, it was welcomed. It was a reset. It helped me create space to recharge, and really recenter and refocus. It was what I needed. And sometimes we need to do nothing to get to the place where we can do something. Does that make sense? And so me doing nothing. I didn't do nothing. But for me, I really did nothing. One of my daughter's had her wisdom teeth pulled so we were literally at home, I did so many puzzles, I can tell you, if I girls like you really liked these puzzles, I was like I do I really enjoy these puzzles. So it was rediscovering things I really liked. I did a lot of puzzles, I got back out my practices that I had been doing previously. And with getting so busy in life, I really just stopped doing a lot of them. And it made a huge impact on how I felt emotionally. And I was scrolling on social media rather than focusing inward and getting quiet and listening. And it's made a profound difference. And since I've been re resurrecting these practices, and I want to share them with you, it's what I teach clients. And sometimes we have seasons where we get away from things. And I promise you it will make a difference in how you feel because it sure made a difference in how I felt. And getting back on track is like a renewing a recharging or re centering or re grounding that I think we're all wanting and craving and searching for. And we don't even have to search for it because it lies within us all the time. It's there. We just don't create space to access it. So I am sending you so much love as you're embarking on this journey. Let me tell you what I encourage you to get a notebook can be a journal or notebook. Either one, it doesn't need to be anything fancy, it can be a spiral bound book. People know me know, I love journals. So I've been gifted several journals that I cherish and are precious. So I use those and I put the dates. And some people are afraid that somebody's going to read their journal, you can do online journaling, you can do where you're going to write and tear it up, I really recommend that you give yourself permission to be real, because when you are driven by fear, rather than kind of this faith in this trust, that this is for your highest evolution, and expansion, you're gonna bring that energy into journaling, I've done that you can hide your journal, you can get a safe and lock it up if you feel better that way. So get a journal. The second thing I recommend, and I use it all the time is a planner, and a planner that speaks to you. So I like players that don't have a calendar on it, I don't really need the calendar because I have I use my online calendar, but have a to do list have gratitude practice. So they have like three to five lines for daily gratitude. They might have friendly reminders of what you're focusing on what you want more of in your life. I've used the soul work planner, the mantra company makes it and I love it. I did order a different planner just to try it out. Because I love my planners, and we'll I'll let you know how it goes. And I'll share that with you if I really like it. And how are you feeling? Like are you feeling anxious, tired, grateful, joyful, like what are you feeling? And that's a daily practice. I do that when I get up. So I get up, I feed the dogs, I let them out. And then I do my practice. And then the third thing I do, I never write out. I hate the word goals. But what I my intentions are, what are my intentions, I put 10 intentions. And I write those out every single day. And those are my three practices. I journal, I do my planner. So my to do list, I kind of write what I need to get done that day, what are my top three priorities. And I'd like a planner with a note section two, I love writing notes. If I need to take notes from a meeting, or I have an idea, I write that down there. And then the third thing is I have a separate goals like these are my 10 goals. You could combine these, this is just what works for me. And then I also sometimes I don't do this every day, it depends on how much time I have. I have what I call kind of meditations. You could do daily devotions, you could do daily things that inspire you, maybe it's whatever works for you. But I like Journey to the heart by Melody Beatty, and his daily meditations on the path to free in your soul, you can get it on Amazon. It's called Journey to the heart by Melody, Beatty. And each day has a prompt. So for example, like I just happen to open the book real quick. And on the 17th of April, it says listen to the voice of your heart. And then she goes into an experience or something to think about. And then she ends it with be patient. Be gentle. Let yourself learn to hear the gentle and trustworthy words of your heart. So I recommend getting one of those that works. You're going to explore what works for you. This is one I really, really like I recommend this one to most every client and my therapists at pathways to healing counseling. So again, it's called Journey to the heart melody Beatty, you can get it on Amazon highly recommend that. Okay, let's talk about I have many suggestions that are really helpful. Let's talk about the number one question. I've been doing this for years. But I actually heard Elizabeth Gilbert she wrote, Eat, Pray Love. She wrote Big Magic. Those are two books that were bestsellers. And of course, Eat Pray. Love became a movie. She has just a peaceful energy. And she's on a journey of being more authentic. She recently shaved her head, I was like, You are so brave, because she's like, I'm unattach into what the world has put in front of us in terms of beauty. Like we've put so much emphasis and time into beauty, whether it's going to the salon, it's just like it's not bad. I'm not making it good or bad. I just am choosing to work through those beauty standards. That is incredibly brave. I am not there. And she has a prompt that she has used for years and it's a similar prompt that I have used for years. I just phrase it a different way. She actually asks unconditional love. You can call it God you can call it universe but she calls it unconditional love. You ask she says dear love. What do you want me to know today? This is the journal prompt. I need you to write this question down. Now how I ask it is I say Dear God, dear love you can say that as well. I say Dear God, what do you want me to know or see today but based on where you are what you believe? Just be open to the practice. Please be it is so powerful, and there's no right or wrong good or bad. Just listen to what comes through and it will be things that will surprise you. And that reminds me, I'm going to go and get my response. So I can read it to you today, I wanted to read you my entry today. And there's no right or wrong way to do this. Again, I'm going to emphasize that this is a practice of accessing a space, an opening and expanded space within you to cultivate listening to this voice, rather than your inner critic. This is the practice that can be life changing. So let me read you my entry. Dear God, what do you want me to know or see today, this is what came through the beauty that is always around you and the peace you can immediately find in it. It can calm you right down, and you can find me and gratitude quickly. You have to pay attention and pause, look, see and feel. I am always with you. Talk to me, seek me. Listen, in trust, I am here. Don't listen to the doubt and the fear. Listen to me, I am the voice of love, calm, centeredness and nurturing. I am the voice you want to hear. That is so true. It is the voice I want to hear. Not because you have to do anything. But because I'm the truth, which is love.

Kristen Boice

I need you to tell the girls this information, which is very powerful to me. I

Kristen Boice

was like, Okay, I need you to seek Me, which is love. Every single day. You can access me anytime, anyplace anywhere. Me meaning love. That's how I experienced it, you are on the right track, you are gaining clarity, I am going to help you. I love you, Kristen. So it's a powerful practice. And that was just today, I've done it other days. And each day is a new prompt. Each day is a new shed of awareness and awakening and truth that I already knew. That is just more prominent than the inner critic, that inner critic wants to take us into comparison, tell us how we're falling short, tell us how we're not good enough or bad or defective. Or tell us that we're not lovable, or worthy or likable, or pretty enough or handsome enough or successful enough. It wants to tell us things are not true and unconditional love wants to tell us that I am here for you. That's what comes through all the time, I am here for you, and you're not alone. So please know that this can be a practice of just writing to unconditional love. This can be a love letter to yourself, instead of listening to the voice in your head. So it's really about accessing an opening, getting out of your own way, getting out of your own fear and skepticism, and allowing flow to come through you, which is love. Love is what heals. And I know I sound may be out there. But I believe this is the greatest truth. It is the greatest truth in my life. And if we can teach ourselves to love ourselves, we can teach our children to have that voice or our grandchildren or friendships, to have that voice in our head. When we are in pain. When we are in fear. When we feel lost and alone rather than the inner critic, we will find healing we will find support, we will be a have a felt sense of support. When I say God, I don't feel like this is about a religion. This is about love. And I think that is what it's all about. So those are my practices. I write in my journal every day, I plan out my day. So I feel more centered, I feel more grounded. I try to set my intentions. And then this is the thing I'm working on for this year is reaching out to those people that makes such a difference in my life and to pour into my family and show up, show up and be present. Let go of distractions like social media, or my to do list job to get done. And I can wait I can wait until I'm pregnant with my children and they're off to school, or someone makes a phone call to you and they need you. Like all those distractions. Maybe it's TV, maybe it's binge watching Netflix, maybe it's a distraction of busyness, cleaning projects at home achievement really kind of taken inventory. And I really think if you get really intentional about this, I want to hear how this works for you. I want to hear how the prompt, dear love, what are you wanting me to know today? You can ask different questions. But let's focus on that one. And throughout the year. I'll give you different questions or different prompts. And I think this writing a letter to yourself is not only changing kind of processing, what's going on? What it's changing is the generational cycle of passing down shame and criticism and contempt and critical illness and really replacing it with tenderness love and kindness we do not heal when we are judged or in shame. We heal through compassion, tenderness and kindness. It doesn't mean I don't hold myself accountable. That's part of love. Love is accountability. Love is truth. Love has integrity. So what I say and what I do match up, and that is a practice that is good for your mental health. So if I say something, I don't follow through with it, guess what, and I feel guilt, then I feel shame. And then it takes me that down the dark abyss. But if I'm very clear, upfront, I take a pause before I commit to something, before the words come out of my mouth about making a commitment or saying yes to something, when I really my body is screaming No, to sit with that discomfort of saying no upfront, those are integral to being able to live out an emotional wellness in your life. And we weren't taught that we weren't allowed to say no, when we were kids, we were not allowed to really say how you truly felt about something without being shamed without being perhaps punished in some way. And so we have hidden parts of ourselves, or maybe our truth. And so part of a practice is telling the truth with love and grace directly. And clearly, that is a practice that will set you free. And it's sitting in the discomfort. And I'm not saying be mean or nasty, I'm saying thank you so much for the invitation. And unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to make it or I'm going to have to pass whatever that looks like for you to stay in integrity with yourself. That's accountability. It's not for somebody else, these practices are not for other people, or you're not going to do them just like exercise as if I'm doing it for somebody else a sack, can I really be sustainable, a snack gonna work because I don't have the internal motivation. I'm looking for something externally, rather than internally. So one thing that is also important for mental health and emotional wellness is whatever, you're physically able to do some sort of movement. And I didn't grow up with my parents moving, it just wasn't part of how we grew up. Now my dad does. Now as an adult, he was an adult when I was a kid, as a later adult, I think he really saw that his health matters. But really, my parents didn't, I didn't witness them exercising. And I really can notice a difference. If I'm walking on a regular basis, and what I'm not, or doing some sort of exercise, it makes a difference in how I feel. I'm also breaking generational cycles for myself, Yes, I want that for my children, but really for myself. So when we look at practices, they have to be for you and not somebody else. And I think that's an important distinction. So let's continue on this may have to be a part two, because I have a lot of I would say practices or encouraging ways of being that are going to really make a difference for your mental health. Okay, the other thing is, this can be controversial. And I'm going to say, been in this field and doing therapy for over 20 years, I don't even know we're past 20 years now, maybe 23 years, I have not seen any positive. And this is hard to say if you've listened to this podcast for a long time, you know that I haven't seen a lot of positive from alcohol. I wish that weren't the case in some ways, because man, it would be fun for alcohol to not have detrimental effects on relationships, family systems, it does a tremendous impact on brain development, because it impacts it kills brain cells. But definitely for brain health. It has a tremendous impact for memory. And people that have drank quite a bit for years and years don't remember a lot because it's impacted that part of the brain. I've seen it negatively impact relationships to such a detrimental degree. And we think, Oh, I have to be like this drinking all day, every day to be an alcoholic. No, it's a dependency on alcohol. And that's going to be another episode for the year to talk about this in more detail. But eliminating alcohol and whether you need to go to a detox facility, a 12 step program, get a sponsor have accountability, I encourage you to do it, it will change your life. And you got to do the deeper work that drove you to alcoholism in the first place. So we know the younger you drink, the more likely you are to develop a dependency on it. But I know this is controversial, but I'm really going to say one of the most important practices is sobriety, meaning you're going to have fun without the alcohol. And I've talked to my daughters about this because I've got one who has more of an addictive personality. We've known that since she was little. And we've shared that with her. She actually did brain mapping. It's you can type in Indiana brain mapping. And you could have your brain cut you put on this. I've talked about it before but this cap and you can scan your brain anyways, it showed that she does have more of an addictive brain, if you will. And we told her that very early on. We gave her the brain scan images, we've had many conversations, and now she's getting ready to go to college and we know that drink thing is prevalent in college. And we don't want to say it's bad, we want to say, here's the impact that alcohol can have in your life. And we've talked about how you going to handle the peer pressure and belonging without the alcohol. And that's a deep conversation. It's a deep dive. And we've talked about my history with alcohol, and how alcohol me really don't mix. Literally, I think I'm allergic to it. And in college, I just pushed through that and was like, yeah, it wasn't Oh, and that really didn't serve me. I really didn't. And so I don't drink anymore. And I feel like they have seen that. And they've asked me questions about it. And we've talked about, really the process of working through how she'll work through that in college. And that's going to be an ongoing conversation. Because once she gets there, she'll have different things to face. And I can only tell you that it will be hard to give up, it will be a challenge. And most people, not everyone, a few that have been able to do it. But most everyone needs support, because it's so culturally acceptable. I mean, it is prevalent. And this may be tapping into some shame for you. And let's hold tender space for that, let's see, was there alcoholism in your family was there maybe more alcohol use, that was normalized in your life, culturally, in your family, maybe you hit it, maybe it's a hidden thing. And I want to just hold all the tenor and love and space for that. But that would be another practice is eliminating that, to have clarity of mind, it brings so much more clarity, and then you can actually emotionally develop because when you drink, you're stunting your emotional growth, you're literally pushing it back down into your body, and you're stunting your emotional growth. So as part of this practice that I'm recommending, it's an elimination of that. And again, you need to consult your physician, if they're dependency, I highly recommend you get support for that, or medical attention if need be. Okay, now, this leads me to several other practices, I'm going to go through two more, and then we're going to do a part two, because I have so much more on my list. That may surprise you. Because we don't talk about this as much. And a lot of these we don't. So I'm going to pull in a couple more things. One is, this one isn't surprising, listening to a podcast that inspires you, whether that's this one, I feel so grateful if it is so you can listen to it multiple times, share it with friends, or other podcasts that really speak to you. I have learned so much from podcasts have grown so much from the experts on my podcast and other podcasts. And it helps me look at things in a different way and expand my thought. And when we expand our thought we expand our minds, we expand our emotions, and we feel less alone. And then reading I have gotten away from reading. Honestly, I listened to books on column books on tape, but audiobooks. And it, I read and I'm going to get back into reading. So I can get away from social media, I can get away from the other things that are distracting me and grow. And it doesn't have to be a self help book.

Kristen Boice

It can be a fiction book, whatever speaks to you. Okay, and the last one I want to talk about today until we get to the part two. So stay tuned, is a practice that needs to happen. But it might stretch you is no more triangulating other people into a dynamic because you're avoiding talking to the person directly. What I mean by that is you're not going to pull in your kid, when you're upset with your partner and talk about your partner to your kid, you're going to go to your partner, or go to therapy with your partner, you're not going to pull in someone else into a dynamic that has nothing to do with them, because you're avoiding a hard conversation. Now if you need to go to therapy and talk about how to have that heart card conversation, or listen to my podcast about how to have our conversations, I've done many episodes on that can scroll through, and I'll see if we can link in the show notes previous episodes on hard conversations. We weren't taught how to do this, but we have to stop triangulating other people into Dynamics. It's stunts your growth, and it's a practice of getting uncomfortable sitting with the discomfort and talking to that person directly about how you feel and maybe setting a boundary. So we kind of avoid setting boundaries because we're scared we're going to hurt somebody or they're gonna be mad at us or they're gonna reject us or they're gonna abandon us. When we are not going to abandon ourselves. We give up and we have unconditional love voice in our head because we're not alone. We're no longer going to be paralyzed by that fear. We're healing that fear. And so, as a part of a practice, it's pretty Practicing going directly to the person that you have an issue with having that hard conversation and saying something like, this is really hard for me to bring up, I feel scared to have it and I'm working on not, I'm working on having direct hard conversations instead of avoiding them. So hopefully we can give each other grace, we can have compassion for each other as we navigate this hard conversation. But you're gonna break the generational cycle of this practice of going directly to the person rather than pulling in someone else and triangulating people into a dynamic that has nothing to do with not only does it impact the person, that you're triangulating, you're pulling into the dynamic, it impacts the person that you're avoiding the hard conversation with, and an impact you can have avoidance does not help us grow. Avoidance keeps us stuck. Think of not watering a plant, and we're avoiding watering the plant, we're not watering the planet or just not doing it, the plant will wither and die. That's what avoidance does to us inside. It keeps us stuck. Now, if there's people that aren't healthy enough to have conversations with, that's when you go to therapy, that's when you work out writing that person a letter, you know, all my techniques that I love, your writing that personal letter, maybe you're working on your journey of healing, the hurt and pain that they caused you. Some people aren't capable of having that conversation. That's my love letters, because you don't actually have to send the letter, but you're working through the pain. But if you're married, and you're avoiding a conversation with your partner, it's a problem. It's a problem. You might need marital counseling, you might need third party help, you might need to figure out what is going to be healthy enough. But avoidance isn't going to be sustainable or a healthy option long term. And I know that sounds hard, I'm speaking hard truth. And I hope they open you up in some way. If this speaks to you, and know that I'm holding all of the tender compassion and love, because I'm walking the walk. This isn't me just kind of preaching and teaching, which I hate that same. But this isn't me just saying do these things without me doing these things. I have to practice these. It's a practice for a reason. Like I have to work at it too. So I'm so glad you've joined me. Let's do a part two, you can go back and re listen to this if you need some encouragement. Or maybe you need to process some more. And know that I'm so proud of you for facing hard things and sitting with your discomfort and leaning into the heart and not running away hiding or numbing it. You matter. You're important. And I'm so glad you're here and this year, we are going to face things that we experienced that are hard, that are confusing that are scary. We're gonna do it together. I'm right here with you. And I can't wait to hear your letters from love. I'll see you next week. Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoyed this episode, click the subscribe button to be sure to get the updated episodes every week and share with a friend or a family member. For more information about how to get connected visit krisendboice.com. Thanks and have a great day.