Dr. Morgan Francis is a trusted advocate for mental health and is seeking ways to support individuals. She is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and a Licensed Mental Health Therapist. She is the owner of Scottsdale Premier Counseling, in Scottsdale, Arizona. One of her specialties has been sending out mindful messages via text, and let me tell you, as a recipient of those messages, they are impacting!
In our conversation, Dr. Morgan shared her experience and insight into how we can reduce our anxiety with mindfulness.
The Idea Behind Mindful Messages
The idea of mindful messages came before COVID and quarantine but ended up being used throughout this time as a reminder for us to be mindful. Dr. Morgan shared that “there were so many times when I would go onto Instagram, and share these messages on my story, and it turns out that people really loved them.”
Dr. Morgan shared that “the purpose behind these mindful messages was to bring conscious awareness out of the auto-pilot, day-to-day grind that we are in, depending on where we are, and just allow ourselves to know that we are all connected and that we can move into our conscious healing through mindfulness.”
If you want to sign up to receive these messages, simply Text “Hello” to (202) 759-6205 and you will receive a response back from Dr. Morgan where you can input your name, email and birthday. To avoid overwhelming you, these one to two sentence messages will only come every two to three days!
The Power of Information
Here is the truth, “Information reduces anxiety, so the more we know, the better off we are”. Dr. Morgan continued sharing that, “this is something I often teach my patients, to find the information that is going to keep you grounded, or have a sense of control.”
This is abundantly true, sometimes we just focus on the feelings and we don’t really know how to get out of it. Dr. Morgan confirmed this by sharing that “anxiety starts in our thoughts. It is a thinking pattern that becomes irrational and we tend to think things that are not logical, and again we are not realizing it, because we are stuck in this irrational thinking.”
The pattern begins where “our thoughts influence our feelings, then our feelings influence our behavior or what we are going to do.” I believe this is often where we can feel stuck, because of the pattern that our thoughts initiate.
Continuing on, Dr. Morgan shared that, “in order to work through your anxiety, you have to identify what you are telling yourself or what you are thinking about”. Oftentimes what we are thinking about stems from things that we are looking at, and can predominantly be social media.
Social Media as a Leading Effect of Anxiety
With the prevalence of social media increasing by the day, I asked Dr. Morgan if social media has become a leading factor for anxiety. Her immediate answer was yes, with research to support as well.
Dr. Morgan provided this research by, “comparing 2010 to now, with the most recent research being 2018 or 2019, there has been a significant increase especially for adolescents when it comes to depression and anxiety, so much so that we are also seeing an increase in suicide”. She validated that, “it is directly related to the usage of social media and the access to it”.
Dr. Morgan shared more into our thought processes when we use social media, saying that, “there is no question about it that the more time we spend on social media, and is not just the time, it is what you are looking at and what you tell yourself about what you are looking at.” She continued with, “focusing specifically on the narrative, what meaning you are attaching to the stimuli, is going to affect your mental health.”
Now that we have identified part of the source of our anxiety, Dr. Morgan shared how we can implement boundaries to ensure that our time, thoughts, and overall health are not being compromised.
Implementing Boundaries on Social Media
When I asked Dr. Morgan if she encourages others to develop boundaries around social media, she shared two ways we can do so. First, “having boundaries around the time you spend” is critically important and can be monitored by “setting it up in your phone, so that it will just turn off.”
Second is “having boundaries around what you are seeking and what you are looking at”. She continued with a few examples, “if you are looking at people that you are comparing yourself too, for example, look at how successful she is, I could never be like her, or look how great she looks, I could never look like that”. Also with parents, “they will see moms parenting or looking organized on top of parenthood, and the viewer will feel ashamed about their lack of parenting or the fact that they do not feel like they are a good enough mother”.
The solution to reducing comparison is, “to unfollow that person, which doesn’t mean you do not care for that person, just right now it’s not safe for you to be consuming that content and makes you think that you are not doing a good enough job”.
The root of it is, “that comparison is really the thief of joy. Having boundaries around your social media is really going to be important, and will reduce your anxiety.”
Dr. Morgan’s final thought, which humanizes the behind the scenes of social media, is “don’t ever think that people are not struggling, we never know what someone is going through, no matter what they are putting on social media, and how pretty it looks, everyone is going through something”.
Visible Effects of Anxiety on Business
As Dr. Morgan shared the visible effects of anxiety through social media on ourselves, I asked her what she thought was the most visible effect of anxiety on our businesses and her simple answer was that our, “creativity gets knocked down”.
Dr. Morgan explained that “we have to acknowledge that there is going to be an eb and flow to entrepreneurism and I know for myself, being a business woman, there have been times where it is just heavy right now, and I have to back away and let go”. Continuing, she shared, “we have to be really in tune to ourselves and our business when we are in that season where we are just not in a creative zone because we are exhausted, overwhelmed, we have anxiety or life is just happening, and then we have to be aware of those seasons where it is coming so naturally, it’s just easy, and there is a flow and is just delivering.”
But, we all have to be mindful that, “everyone is different, everyone’s seasons can be longer or shorter than the next person. But, there is nothing wrong with taking those seasons of breaks or time away to just tap back into yourself”.
In recognizing and being mindful of our different seasons, we can begin implementing mindfulness into our daily habits.
Creating Mindfulness and Daily Habits
I asked Dr. Morgan how we can implement mindfulness through creating daily habits, and she responded with why it is important, “it helps us find a place where we have the window of tolerance.”
She continued by sharing that “when we look at mindfulness, it helps us get into this window of tolerance and above the window is hyper-arousal, where you are constantly stimulated, on-edge, you have shortness of breath, your adrenaline is going and you are in this fight or flight mode.” In addition to the hyper-arousal stage, we also experience, hypo-arousal, where you are sleepy, lethargic, not really feeling yourself and kind of run down.”
Anxiety causes us to experience these two stages, but “mindfulness brings us back to the current place of awareness, with unconditional positive regard for ourselves”
Dr. Morgan continued, “being able to create a routine of somewhere where you are creating that mindfulness for yourself every day is going to help you create that window of tolerance for yourself when things become stressful, and yes you will tap into the hyper-arousal and down into the hypo-arousal, but then you will move right back into the window of tolerance based on your mindfulness skill work”
“There is just an abundance of research that supports us functioning better when we are calm when we are grounded when we are centered when we are present than we do when we are thinking about the future. Time-traveling to the future is anxiety, and time traveling to the past is depression.”
Now that we understand the importance of mindfulness and daily habits, the next step is understanding when we can tap into mindfulness throughout the day.
When to Tap into Mindfulness
I asked Dr. Morgan if we should be checking in with ourselves to incorporate mindfulness and create that productivity sync and her response was “we should always be taking breaks.”
She continued, “you are able to consume greater amounts of information when you allow your brain and your body to have a break, your zone doesn’t just turn off, when you are in your zone, nothing gets in the way of that. We know when we move our bodies, we heighten our creativity.”
By “honoring our hunger, honoring our space, getting outside, tapping into nature, and removing yourself from your electronics is vital to our entrepreneurism”
Your Permission: At the top of the hour, we get to take a little break! Walk to the other room, move around or pick up your laptop to the other room.
Here is why tapping into mindfulness is important, “we know from research that the two biggest things to reduce our anxiety and stabilize our mood in general is movement and playfulness. Playfulness is key, and something we don’t talk about often, it is having fun, being silly, tapping into our younger self, or being creative, those qualities are going to help”
Resources From Dr. Morgan
Loving Yourself Through Loss Course, which taps into a lot of body movement exercises and incorporates mindfulness, along with a workbook that supplements it, along with audio and video resources.
Bye Bye Body Blame Course, because you deserve to love your body without having to lose weight. It is a great course that introduces you into what body image is and the ideology behind it, and also includes a four part formula to help you through overcoming a negative body-image with a full workbook.
Sign Up for her Email Newsletter, where Dr. Morgan provides an abundance of information.
Mindful Messages, simply text HELLO to (202) 759 – 6205 and you will receive a response back from Dr. Morgan where you can input your name, email and birthday. To avoid overwhelming you, these one to two sentence messages will only come every two to three days!