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Op/Ed

10 mental health apps for active maintenance and mindfulness

(EDITORIAL) There are virtually hundreds of apps available to help you deal with mental health problems. Here are 10 good services which can help you monitor your mental health and help you learn to reduce stress.

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talkspace mental health

Let’s face it, making an appointment with your doctor isn’t always easy. When it comes to mental health clinicians, it can take three to four weeks to get an appointment. Most clinicians only see patients during the day, and if you need prolonged therapy, it can be difficult to get away for a couple of hours each week to see someone.

Fortunately, the internet has some answers. There are virtually hundreds of apps available to help you deal with mental health problems. Here are 10 good services which can help you monitor your mental health and help you learn to reduce stress.

**Please note** – If you’re in a crisis, you should seek professional help immediately. Call 911, or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1‑800‑273‑TALK.

Below are 10 wonderful mental health apps to choose from:

1. Breathe2Relax
iOS, Android
Free

Breathe2Relax walks you through belly breathing, which is supposed to decrease the body’s fight-or-flight response. Before you do the exercise, you measure your stress. When finished, you report how you feel. This is a good reminder to practice healthy breathing techniques and to slow down when stressed or angry.

2. Lantern
Web-based with iOS supplemental app for users
Monthly fee

With Lantern , you take an assessment to test to find your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to work on. You’re matched with one of their customized plans and a professional coach who is an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. It is a subscription based service, but the price per month might be less than a weekly appointment with a professional therapist.

3. Talkspace
Web, iOS, Android
Monthly fee

Talkspace is a subscription therapy service, with therapists available throughout the day. You send a message to your therapist in a private chat room. There are no contracts, and you are charged on a monthly basis. All therapists are carefully selected and have more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience.

4. PTSD Coach
iOS, Android
Free

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD developed PTSD Coach app for veterans, active military personnel and civilians to help deal with the symptoms of PTSD. It’s not a clinical tool, but it can help you track symptoms and find out what works over time. I felt like it was a bit clunky to set up, but it’s very practical in nature.

5. Optimism
Web, iOS, Android
Free with in-app purchases to send data to a clinician

Optimism is an app that focuses on self-tracking your mood and other triggers to your mental health. Not only can you get a better understanding of your mental health and find methods that work in reducing stress, you can also set up a wellness plan. The fee-based aspect of the app lets you send information to your clinician. Your family members can also use the app to help give you information about your behavior.

6. SAM: Self Help for Anxiety Management
iOS, Android
Free

Cope with anxiety using SAM. The app offers 25 self-help options that can be personalized to your own worries. You record your anxiety levels and identify triggers, then you get ideas on how to manage you stress. There is an anonymous social cloud feature where you can talk to others who are using the app. The iPhone says that the app might slow down your phone.

7. Pacifica
Web, iOS, Android
Free

With Pacifica, you have the ability to track moods and your health to better understand your patterns. You check in daily with your mood and other health habits, then complete mindfulness and therapy-based activities. Pacifica sends an email to you each week with a report. You also have the option to connect with other Pacifica users. It has many more options to help you reach your goals and to change your thought patterns.

8. Headspace Web, iOS, Android
Free for the first 10 days

Headspace helps you learn mindfulness and meditation. It’s recommended to be used in conjunction with a health provider, but if you’re trying to get better with concentration or breathing, this app has some great content. It’s easy to use, and the techniques have been shown to reduce your overall stress.

9. Panic Relief
iOS, Android
Free, upgrade to get more help with the paid version

Panic Relief helps you through progressive muscle relaxation of the arm when you’re experiencing stress and panic. It was designed by Danish researchers to help clients get over their fears. The upgraded version includes more options, such as deep breathing techniques, to help you find calm when you’re in a crowd, at the dentist, or on an airplane.

10. 7 Cups of Tea
Web
Free, subscription plans available

7 Cups of Tea boasts more than 13 million conversations as I’m writing this article. The gist of 7 Cups is that you can connect with a trained listener any time of the day or night. The caveat is that these listeners are probably not professionals, just laypeople trained to listen to someone. It’s a great option for those times when you want someone to listen without judging the situation. The paid subscriptions include a therapist for online therapy.

I am a firm believer in therapy and medication to manage depression, anxiety, or any other treatable mental health disorder. Check your insurance for access to virtual doctors and experts. I have Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Oklahoma) and I have that option through the portal.

There’s no shame in needing treatment for mental health issues.

Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Op/Ed

10 small things you can do for your business while Netflixing

We know the holidays are a time to relax, but before normal working hours have returned, you can still do things for your business in between episodes on Netflix. Here’s 10 simple things that won’t cut into your holiday.

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For many real estate agents, the holidays can slow business down. It’s time for some #ProductivityAndChill.

Instead of spending all day binge-watching Hulu or Netflix, in between every episode take 10 to 15 minutes to do something for your business. Here are some great ideas for things that don’t take long, but provide some long-lasting benefits.

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Productivity and chill

1. Get inspired by your favorite websites. Where do you like to shop or get your news information? Browse through their site with one purpose in mind, to see why it draws you in and how you can implement their methods into your own business.

2. Catch up on the news. Read some articles here or at The American Genius that you might have overlooked or passed by because you thought they didn’t pertain to you. Keeping up with various industries can benefit you.

3. Use your social media tools to set up posts on Twitter or Facebook.

4. Improve your webpages by writing new product descriptions or to optimize images for SEO.

5. Go through the App Store to find new apps which can help make your life easier.

6. Learn to use a new social media platform to reach out to new customers.

7. Go through your social media feed. See what people are talking about and what’s trending. Make notes when you get inspiration.

8. Clean up the documents in your laptop. Organize them more effectively so you can always find what you need.

9. Clean up your email. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t ever look at. Delete messages that are old. Set up folders to save information that you may need at a later date.

10. Customize your email. Set it up to pre-sort emails into different folders to allow you to work more productively when you get back to work after the New Year.

These little tasks can eat away at your time when you’re busy trying to get things done, but when you’re relaxed and just want to feel more productive, take a few minutes to do something that won’t overtask your brain, but needs to be done to keep you more organized throughout your week.

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Op/Ed

How calendars can stop your procrastination, boost productivity

(PRODUCTIVITY) As the old method of pen-to-paper planning comes back in style, see how its use can help with time management.

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writing pen paper productivity

My favorite part of writing for this publication, by far, is the fact that it always has me keeping my eyes and ears open for inspiration. The simplest comment from a friend can snowball into an idea that becomes beneficial to others.

Such was the case this past weekend when my best friend, Haley, stopped by to help me unpack my new house. Haley is a graduate student, pursuing a master’s in interpersonal communication, and is a much smarter version of myself.

We got to talking about what was on tap for Haley’s final semester and she told me about a workshop she’s creating for the graduate school on the topic of how using planners/calendars helps with time management. The girl has an affinity for pen-to-paper planners, and has created an organizational structure for her daily life through their use.

Naturally, I thought, “hey, sometimes I attempt to give people advice on time management and planning, let’s bounce some ideas off of each other.” Haley then gave me a rundown of the bullet points she’s planning on covering for her interactive workshop.

1) Take everything as it comes. As a new task pops up, put it down on your calendar (whether paper or electronic) so that you don’t forget to do it later.

2) With these tasks, schedule deadlines for yourself. It can be tough to be self-motivate and have tasks completed by your own assignment. However, putting them down in writing will help you stick to them.

Only work on something if you’re being productive. If you stop being productive, you should take a step back and work on something else for a while,” says Haley. “This is why my personal deadlines help because it makes me work harder but I still have my own time.”

3) Schedule out your week starting with events that you cannot change. Start by writing down your work schedule, then appointments, meetings, etc. Then schedule in tasks that have more flexibility in time.

4) After doing this, take all of these tasks and prioritize what must be completed first and assess how much time each task will take. Be sure to give yourself an appropriate amount of time for each task.

5) For bigger projects, considering breaking them down a bit. “For bigger projects I break it down into steps, normally using a concept map to understand the core aspects of my task and what needs to be accomplished within each of those to make it more digestible,” says Haley. “Once I have the pieces, I place the pieces into my weekly schedule of events I cannot change.”

All of the pieces of this puzzle come together to create a calendar that will help you juggle every aspect of your life and boost your productivity. By implementing these ideas in my own planning, it has definitely helped me to become more of a self-starter.

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Op/Ed

5 reasons teaching your kid magic could inspire them to become a Realtor

(EDITORIAL) Teaching your child could inspire their career track, perhaps even inviting them to follow in your footsteps!

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magic

There’s nothing quite like a good magic trick. You know there must be a solution, an easy explanation, but putting your finger on exactly what sleight of hand just happened can prove difficult with a seasoned magician. If you are the magician, you know it takes a great deal of practice, confidence, and persistence to keep an audience engaged in your magical wonders.

As captivating as magical skills are, many of the same skills that make a great magician, also make for a great Realtor®!

Here are five amazing ways learning magic as a child (or adult) can actually help someone become a successful real estate professional:

1. Build confidence

To skillfully and successfully pull off any feat of magic, you must have confidence in what you’re doing. No sleight of hand or magical illusion will be effective without the confidence of the magician. By practicing magic, you are in fact, practicing and reinforcing confidence both within yourself and your audience. A confident magician will create a confident audience – an audience that believes the magician is capable of impossible illusions, magical machinations, and captivating concealments.

This same skill set can be applied to real estate. You must have confidence in your ability to find the right home for your client. The ability to foster your clients’ trust is essential, or they will likely go elsewhere because let’s face it, the competition in the real estate world is nothing short of fierce. Starting your children out early in something like magic, builds confidence and having confidence in any industry they choose to venture into is always a good thing.

2. Hone social skills

Again, look at the audience – a good magician will have an audience practically mesmerized. The audience will be so transfixed on what the magician is doing or saying, they miss the sleight of hand. A good magician can read their audience. They know what the audience expects and will deliver appropriately. Many magicians also become well-versed in the art of nonverbal communication as well; reading people’s body language and social cues are an important part of an effective magic illusion.

Not surprising, these skills are also part of being an effective salesperson. A good Realtor will know and understand their clients’ requirements for a home, their budget, and how to effectively get them to their end goal with the fewest obstacles. Interacting with an audience is much the same as interacting with clients daily; be personable, be confident, and know your stuff.

3. Develop an eye for detail

Along with improved dexterity from manipulating cards and coins, magic routines can help improve hand eye coordination, timing, reflexes, as well as develop an eye for details. As new tricks are mastered, the eye becomes more sensitive to details of the objects being used and the magician’s surroundings. The same keen eye can readily be applied to real estate.

An attention to detail can help when staging homes, gauging your clients’ reactions to their surroundings, minimizing errors on contracts, and ensuring your safety when entering a new area. Attention to details means less errors, which in turn means happier clients and more sales completed – a win-win recipe.

4. Research

One area that you may be surprised to learn that magic can help you improve upon is research. Magicians are constantly researching new tricks to add to their routines or watching other magicians perform to see if they can implement any of their gestures or tactics to their own routines. After all, we wouldn’t remember Houdini as the greatest of all time if current magicians weren’t constantly reinventing and revisiting his tricks.

In real estate, you may be researching what your fiercest competitor is doing differently that you might be able to adapt. Are they using a different marketing platform? Are they networking in a different manner? Is there something they’re doing (or not doing) that might make a difference in your sales figures? The ability to research an adapt is another great tool to have in your box of skills.

5. Self-discipline and an ability to take criticism

When you’re first learning any new hobby, you typically “practice” on your family. They give you constructive criticism and you take that criticism and use it to improve. The more you practice, the better you get. After a bit of practice, you’re ready to give another practice run. Through continually trying to improve your skills, you’re learning self-discipline as well as the ability to accept and implement constructive criticism.

These are both skills that are necessary to excel in the professional world. You must continually hone your craft if you want to continue to excel. Continuing education, professional seminars, and workshops all exist so professionals can receive criticism on what they’re currently doing and learn what they might do better to improve themselves and their business. While you’re never too old to learn, beginning to lay the foundation for these skills in your youth with a simple hobby like magic, could be giving you more than just a way to entertain friends and family.

The takeaway:

Magic isn’t just for children; it’s never too late to have another hobby. If you’ve never dabbled in magic before, you might find you really enjoy it. If nothing else, you may find that magic teaches you and/or your children some patience, coordination, or at least a few good laughs. If magic teaches you nothing else, remember what Rumpelstiltskin said, “all magic comes with a price” and so does real estate – so hone your skills with some magical fun; you never know when it’ll come in handy!

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