health

Texting and Consequences

Steve and I are in our in our office today in Holliston, MA! It's a very exciting day because we finally have a location geotag on Instagram! Woohoo! 

We were talking about the current Massachusetts case with the young girl who was convicted of manslaughter, and then we decided to write a blog post on it. There was no way this was going to be an easy case. Steve made a vlog (above) about his thoughts on the case, and I am having a difficult time coming around to a specific viewpoint on it. The fact that there are consequences even when you're texting is something to think about for adults AND teenagers. Steve thinks the court made the absolute right decision because in the future, there shouldn't ever be a situation where a teen girl can get away with telling someone to kill himself. She encouraged him to kill himself. 

Parents; if you have a teen who is suicidal; you need to get involved. You're responsible for monitoring them. Don't think that it's just the schools job. For teens; the power of words and what you say to others can have very negative consequences. If you know someone who needs help, sometimes you have to reach out to them and not wait for them to reach out on their own.

We'd love to hear your thoughts- leave them below! 

Social Media Vacation

One of the misconceptions we find with M.I.N.T is that people think we are going to advise them to get rid of social media altogether. While we know the pitfalls of social media, we also know and understand the importance of social media for personal connection, as well as businesses. I think of Alexa as the poster child of the use of social media in order to develop her business and more importantly, her message and her dream.

But have you ever taken a vacation from social media? What I mean by that is to not deal with social media for a full day or week or month. 2 years ago, I did not deal with social media as a practice of mindfulness, as well as a spiritual connection to my belief system. While difficult, there was several benefits, most importantly my connection to my children. I also called people and chatted about them and not happenings.

As I prepare for a week off to be with my children, I want to remain in the moment with them. So for the next week, I will get on social media a maximum of 5 times. My goal is to make those interactions related to my business or to connect to friends who have messaged me, not to check the happenings, the pictures, etc. I really want to stay in the moment and realize how beautiful life is.

I also want to realize that in life, we don’t have much else but the moment. Social media makes us look at the past or the future but it keeps us from the moment we are living right now. I want to be with my kids, not “Jane” and her pictures from her shoot. I want to discuss the last thing we saw together with my kids and have fun with it, not disagree at length with someone I barely know.

So for the next week, you want to connect, send me a personal message at stevebissonlmhc@gmail.com and let’s talk about you, me but not others, situations, or your work. All we have is today. Live it!

Internet vs. Real Life

When we speak at a school, many people ask us if we think they should stop using social media altogether. Some of our technique may come across that way, but rarely do we ever suggest people stop using social media. For Steve and I, social media has helped grow our businesses drastically. Without the power of the Internet, we wouldn't be where we are today. We also wouldn't have our own experiences with social media and mental health.

Much of what you see on the web isn't real. From photoshopped images in magazines and media, to people altering their bodies using apps like FaceTune, how can you figure out what is real and what's not real nowadays? We try hard to show teens the difference between one of the pictures above compared to what they see on a magazine cover. The difference is shocking, and disappointing, for many young adults who are learning to love who they are. 

When you try to compare yourself to someone else, you simply stop yourself from accepting who you are. Instead of trying to look like a girl on a magazine cover, realize that that girl has her own struggles, too. Everyone has something- but you usually won't know what someone else is struggling with unless they tell you. 

Our suggestion? Use the Internet wisely, and don't get too obsessed with the image that you might feel like you have to portray.

Be yourself- you're always good enough.

 

Q&A with Libby Vilner

Libby Vilner is one of the coolest girls around the blog. Alexa met her at a Boston fashion event last year, and they reconnected earlier this year when Libby heard about M.I.N.T., and wanted to be a part of the magic.

Libby is passionate, dedicated and driven. She runs her website, Life with Libby, while attending grad school at BC. She's into health and wellness, which makes her a fantastic addition to our team. With her own spout of domestic violence, she brings in a new perspective to teens and mental health.

Welcome to the team, Libby!

What inspired you to start your blog, Life with Libby?

When I turned 17 I signed with Modeling Agency, and doing photoshoots, fashion shows and events, they put on so much makeup on you all the time and use all of these chemicals. One day my older brother asked me if I know what was truly within those products, and made me aware of how toxic it all is. I began to slowly learn more and therefore exchange my beauty and home products to non-toxic and organic ones. I thought to myself, if I wasn’t aware of how harmful these mainstream products are, so many other probably aren’t as well! I began my blog with a focus on raising awareness about this subject, and organic living in general. Organic living for me doesn’t just end with the products we use, it continues into the people we surround ourselves with and the life that we make for ourselves. Going through a rough childhood and teenage years, I also decided to share my story on my blog in the hopes of helping others who may have gone through similar things such as parental divorce, domestic violence, moving to a new country, and more. This is why I named my blog Life With Libby, because it focuses on wellbeing and life as a whole rather than just a portion.

  Why do you want to work with M.I.N.T.?

Being a social worker, I want to work with MINT because I am looking to make a difference, even the slightest one, in people’s lives. Through sharing my own experiences and using the knowledge I have from my masters in Social Work, I hope to inspire others to take control of their lives, to seek help, or simply to feel as though they are not alone. I wish that in my high school days someone that had gone through what I was going at the time came and spoke to us, it would have given me hope, motivation, and someone to go to for help.

What do you hope to accomplish while working with us?

I hope to connect, help, and inspire teens through my story and my knowledge in the field of social work. I hope to be a resource and safe outlet for teens who need it. I hope to bring awareness to taboo subjects, to clarify societal misunderstandings, and to provide a sense of community within each school we work with.

  What's the best advice you could give to teens who are feeling down about their body image?

I would say to be more skeptical about what they see in magazines, on screen, and social media. These days everyone has access to airbrushing, photo edits, and the famous have stylists, personal trainers, cosmetic surgeries, and other tricks. Also, your body is not everything that you are, we all obtain such talents, personalities, and accomplishments, be proud of those, shine bright like the diamonds that you are! Comparison get tricky, try to focus on being better than you are today rather than better than that person is that you’re comparing yourself to. Truth is, they are probably insecure too!

    Who has been your biggest inspiration? 

My biggest inspiration has been my mother. She always has been my guidance through this life, the person that has pushed my limits, that has set my boundaries, that has trusted me even in my worst, and that has never given up on me. She is a fighter and has gone through so many obstacles in her life as well, yet she still oozes kindness, happiness, and inspiration.

Compassion and Love

 

Do we overshare on social media? It is an interesting question and concept when you think about it.

We tell people how we feel about lots of things: from your Aunt Marie’s new haircut (heart, thumbs up) to the news out of your favorite political party (Yes!) or the opposition (clearly, they don’t get it). We also show indifference to certain people’s news and we then celebrate or vilify the little things of a former acquaintance we haven’t talked to or seen in years.

It helps define our views of others, as well as ourselves and also helps shape the circle of social media friends we have around us. It is a good way to also let others know where we stand and how you are a firm believer of whatever you. Social media lets us express ourselves freely and openly and this can be very rewarding and uplifting. IT is you, it is a voice, a way to let others know who you are and your stance on just about everything.

But is it something we should be doing? I think it is so easy to say what we want but it also brings less understanding of other points of view sometimes. We ignore certain things others may say as to not offend, or hurt or deal with the consequences. Sometimes, we speak up, where we feel it needs to be done and may be beneficial for others to know how you feel. This can cause conflict where we start getting more passionate and entrenched in our beliefs of what we said. But is this a good way to show compassion?

I think that we are allowed to say what we want but we also got to understand not everyone in our circle of friends will like, be pleased, or feel the same way about what we post. And we need to lear that this is OK. There is a place for a great dialogue in our new way of communicating, without name calling or standing so firm in our beliefs that it costs us a very important thing: our humanity.

This is not to say to not disagree or talk to the other person. We need to communicate it in a more compassionate way. Suggestions include:

-avoid all or nothing thinking: we don’t always need to prove our point. Sometimes, others will bring in another point of view. Don’t dig deeper in your trench but be curious about their point of view

-agree to disagree: I am a firm believer that root beer barrels are the best candy ever. Why should I fight with someone who posts a picture of Swedish Fish? I know this example is somewhat trivial but think about just agreeing on disagreeing on the other stuff too. No attacks are needed

-look at it empathically: we lost this skill on social media. Walk a mile in that person’s shoes and see where they are coming from. Maybe, from their point of view, the opposite of your beliefs can ring true for them.

- where is the common ground?: in all disagreements, there could be a common ground. That does not mean we agree on something, but we can find a place where we can all agree.

Show compassion for others and yourself on these platforms, it may just open your eyes. The whole “You are with us or against us” is a fallacy.