Emphasize the giving, and the thanks will follow: how to foster generosity this holiday season


For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time for family, reflection and giving thanks. However, emerging research suggests that the spirit of giving—helping others, being thoughtful, practicing generosity—can generate a sense of gratitude that spans beyond a single day of gratefulness. That’s because gratitude and generosity are part of a cycle that we may be able to harness in order to create a kinder, more generous society.

Here are three ways to help the generosity flow this holiday season and beyond: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_put_giving_into_thanksgiving

Posted on November 19, 2018 .

Research suggests that engaging in aesthetically pleasurable experiences can be a healthy way to combat addictive tendencies.

Did you know that the psychological reward derived from over-indulging in your favorite food or engaging in other addictive behaviors can be replicated by visiting a museum or listening to a compelling piece of music? Research shows that engaging in aesthetically pleasurable experiences can help satiate addictive cravings.

The next time you feel at the mercy of an unsavory craving, try immersing yourself in an aesthetically stimulating experience instead.

Read more here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201810/can-aesthetic-pleasure-be-antidote-addiction

Posted on November 16, 2018 .

Increase Your Brain’s Resilience By Building ‘Psychological Body Armor’ (PBA)

While anxiety and excessive stress are the two most significant factors that prevent a person from realizing happiness, the good news is that neural pathways in the brain are—and remain—malleable.  


This means that while we may feel helpless to the stressors in our lives, a psychological phenomenon known as neuroplasticity allows us to fortify ourselves against the things that threaten to emotionally destabilize us. 

Find out how to protect yourself against anxiety and excessive stress by creating “psychological body armor’ (PBA) here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-disaster-strikes-inside-disaster-psychology/201811/immunize-yourself-against-anxiety-and

(Photo by Indian Yogi (Yogi Madhav) on Unsplash)

Posted on November 16, 2018 .

Want to feel calmer, less impulsive and more connected? The answer may be as simple as a good night’s sleep.

All of us are familiar with the ways that a lack of good, restful sleep can negatively impact our waking hours. But the effects of sleep deprivation reach beyond the individual. In addition to diminished mental function and increased emotional reactivity, sleep deprivation can also take a toll on our relationships with others.

Learn more about sleep’s relationship to our emotional health by clicking here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201811/4-ways-sleep-deprivation-can-harm-your-emotional-health

Posted on November 16, 2018 .

Program Successfully Treats Binge Eating Disorder with Mindful Eating

Laurene Larson, M.S., L.P.C with Vista Counseling is running an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating group for teens and adults with eating disorders.

Laurene Larson, M.S., L.P.C , a therapist at Eugene's Vista Counseling, is a nationally recognized co-facilitator at Dr. May's BED retreats, and has over 25 years of experience working with individuals who struggle with their relationship to food.  

Visit www.vistapsych.com/amihungry call 541-517-9733, or email welcome@vistapsych.com for more details.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED), which affects 3% of the general population and up to 40% of those seeking weight loss, can be treated successfully with an intensive program using mindfulness-based strategies. The new program, called the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating, was created by Michelle May M.D and Kari Anderson, DBH, LPC, experts in mindful eating and eating disorder treatment. In a recent study, participants in the program went from severe binge eating to a non-bingeing level in just ten weeks; preliminary analysis of the one-year follow-up data shows that the results were sustained for the majority of participants.  

Those who experience the symptoms of BED understand the seriousness of the disorder, but feel powerless to stop it. Fortunately, with the right professional help, the disorder is treatable. “Mindfulness-based strategies aimed at self-regulating emotional and physical states have shown promise in the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder,” explains Michelle May, M.D., the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program (http://www.amihungry.com/) and co-author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating (Am I Hungry? Publishing, January 2014).



Posted on October 28, 2016 .

Vista's 2nd Eugene location opening soon!

We are very excited to announce that we are opening our second Eugene location Dec 1.  We are adding new terrific staff, and are very excited about our new space.  Warm and welcoming, we think you'll love it.  More details coming soon!

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Posted on November 19, 2015 .

The 2014 Block Party was a great success

Thanks to all of you who joined us this year at the 2014 Eugene Pearl District Block Party.  We at Vista had a great time meeting all of you.  We had 123 participants go through our scavenger hunt to win an iPad Mini.  The face painting was a big hit with the children. She is with Legendary Faces, and is quite an artist! Vanilla Jill's offerings went fast, we'll have him bring reinforcements next year.  Ari Gold's musical accompaniment was wonderful as well. There are rumors he is going to bring a dance party next year!

Yet, we heard from so many of you that one of the best parts of the block party was learning and meeting our therapists and hearing their Five Tips for living a better life.  Did you miss it, or want to share it with others?  Here's a link.  You can find all our tips from this year here, and years past.  

Thanks to everyone who participated.  We just love this opportunity to contribute and share positive psychology with our community.  See you next year! 

Posted on September 17, 2014 .

Five Tips: Laughter is the Best Medicine. Here Is Why.


By Laurene Larson, MS, LPC

1. Laughter releases endorphins, which promote a feeling of well being and pain reduction.

2. Laughter decreases stress hormones to help fight infection and disease.

3. Laughter increases blood flow, and improves overall cardiovascular health

4. Laughter reduces tension and leaves muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

5. Laughing with others creates a positive bond with them.

  So, in summary, these five tips about laughter being GREAT "medicine" are free and easy to incorporate into your life. Remember, laughing is contagious, and fun to share. Laughing with people can enhance your life, as well as the lives of those with whom you  live and work.

  It's important to remember that laughing with people is not the same as laughing AT people, which, when feeling down, is sometimes the easier thing to do. Easier, but with none of the mentioned benefits.

   Sometimes life presents tragic and depressing situations to work through. They are not laughing matters per se, but remembering the benefits of laughter, even as processing the tragedies of life will shorten your recovery time, and get you back to living life with purpose and joy. Good luck!

More great information can be found here!

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Five Tips for Promoting Your Child's Mental Health

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1. Love Unconditionally. Teach the values of apology, cooperation, patience, forgiveness, and consideration of others.

2. Look at your own problem-solving and coping skills. Model healthy coping and maintain awareness about the example you are setting. An adult who copes in healthy ways provides a sense of safety and stability for kids. Seek individual help if you have difficulty managing your stress.

3. Promote mutual respect and trust. Keep your voice calm. Keep communication channels open and listen to your child. Encourage questions and be honest (in a developmentally appropriate way). Encourage your child to express his or her feelings. Focus on the positives and provide reassurance.

 Abby Tuttle-Shamblin, LMFT

4. Discipline constructively and consistently. Always view discipline as a form of teaching. Learn what approach is most effective for your child; no physical punishment. Pay attention to positive behaviors. Help your child learn from his or her mistakes.

5. Demonstrate and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle. Participate in regular, physical activities as individuals and as a family. Limit TV and electronics. Provide healthy food choices. Go for a walk after dinner. Encourage extracurricular activities that your child will   enjoy. Make healthy living a part of daily life.

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Five Tips for Parenting

by Michele Markstrom, LMFT

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1. Be proactive. Plan ahead to avoid common problem situations. Recognize them and change how you handle them. 

2. Encourage and support the behavior that you want to see in your child. Use verbal praise to highlight when your child listens or makes a good effort. 


3. Act more/talk less. Limit the number of times that you repeat a direction to 2-3 times. If your child isn’t listening, take action. Use a time out or remove a privilege. 

4. Find support for yourself. Ask family or friends for help with your child.

5. Take time for yourself and your partner. Plan time to spend together as a couple and/or individual time to do something for yourself.

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Five Tips for a Healthy Relationship

by Stephanie Steele, PhD, LMFT

1. Establish trust every day. 

    Communicating to your partner comments of security creates stability in long-term relationships. Sentiments such as "I just love spending time with you," "You are my favorite person," or "I love this life we are creating together."

2. Be curious about your partner's world, thoughts, feelings, etc.

    Instead of the typical "how was your day?" question, ask more in-depth questions such as "What happened at work today?" or "When was the last time you spoke with your sister?" Being curious about your partner's world in a way that expresses that you have a desire to understand them on a deeper level keeps couples connected.

3. Have an activity that only you two do, i.e. read a book together

    We all have our rituals or things that we do with only that one person. If you don't have that with your spouse - create it! Whether that is taking 10 minutes every morning to share a cup of coffee or tea, start a new workout regimen together or play cards every Saturday afternoon.

4. Encourage your partner daily

    When your spouse talks about work or their day, encourage them with uplifting phrases. Letting them know that they work very hard and they have every right to feel the way they feel is extremely validating. These encouraging remarks make a couples feel they are on the same team and it is always okay to share thoughts and feelings amongst each other.

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5. Treat yourself well

    You've heard the phrase, "take care of yourself so you can take care of others." This is especially true when it comes to relationships. Make sure you are fulfilled in all areas of your life - without expecting your partner to fulfill you. Eating well, sleeping well and enjoying your life will make your relationship that much more rewarding.

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Five Mindfulness Practices to Share with Your Partner or Child

1. Share a mindful commute.  Take a moment to silently notice three sights while taking a familiar route together.  Next, share what you noticed before reaching your destination (e.g., a mural on a building; a majestic oak tree; a mailbox that has been painted your favorite color; the way the shade makes the car dark while going down a certain street; a nest next to a power line)


2. Practice the appreciation exercise daily.  Create a routine of taking 5 minutes at the end of each day to point out three things that you appreciated about your partner or child during the past 24 hours.  The more specifically tied to a behavior the better!


3. Ask three new questions.  Power down the cell phone. Turn off the screen.  Take out the ear buds.  Attune to your partner or child and learn something new. Take turns asking each other questions about your past, present, or future that you have never asked.  Make it a game you regularly play over dinner, while doing chores, or while in the car.


4. Notice, name, and share your thoughts and feelings.  Take time to share your internal experiences with your child or partner.  Practice using statements such as:  “I am having the thought that _______”; “I notice that I feel _______ when I have the thought that ______.”  This will grow your child’s emotional intelligence and increase intimacy with your partner.


5. Locate your emotions.  Talk about where you experience emotions in your body.  You could use the formula: “When I am (insert emotion), I feel (insert sensation) in my (insert region of body)”.  As an example: “When I am anxious, I feel tension in my forehead.”


Posted on September 11, 2014 .

Five Tips for Practicing Positive Self-Care

1.     Make plans that you can look forward to. Dedicate time for enjoyable activities. Occasionally treat yourself to something special.

2.     Celebrate your achievements. Recognize and allow time to feel good about your accomplishments, personal milestones, and contributions.

3.     Be protective of your time. Make conscious choices about commitments – make room for those you find meaningful or enjoyable; decline or minimize those that do not reflect your personal priorities or values.

4.     Soothe yourself. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, find comfort in favorite places and activities.

5.     Reach out. Ask important people in your life for support. Allow others to help you. Tell them what you need.

Posted on September 11, 2014 .

The 6th Annual Eugene Pearl District Block Party is here!

Join us for a scavenger hunt to win an iPad Mini, frozen yogurt from Vanilla Jill's, fun kid activities like face painting (with awesome Legendary Faces) and chalk art, as well as live music with Ari Gold and Friends. All free, all fun, we hope to see you there!  This Thursday, Sept. 11th, 4-7.30pm.  We are at 1531 Pearl St, but there are many different businesses participating and offering lots of fun.  See www.eugenepearldistrict.com for full details!
Posted on September 5, 2014 .

Ask a therapist!


Have a question?  Answer our two question poll!

Have you ever wondered how to help a struggling friend? Deal with your child's outbursts? Deal with stress better?  Let us know, and we'll give you our best ideas and answers in upcoming blog posts.  

We know many of you worry about your friends, kids, partners, and parents. We'd love to hear from you!

We've put together a short (2 question!) poll to understand what topics you would like us to discuss more. Feel free to share the link to this poll with anyone you think may be interested! (Remember, your questions will be posted publicly....we'll make sure your privacy is protected, but we want you to know that questions and answers will be public).  


Posted on July 28, 2014 .

Do you know a new mom who is struggling? Please pass this on!

Welcome to guest blogger and friend of Vista Tatiana Efremova, the Executive Director of WellMama

Hi mamas -

I've got a few things I want to say to mamas that know what it’s like to have something other than an over-the-moon pregnancy or postpartum time. You may or may not know that our community has an organization dedicated to providing understanding support for those impacted by pregnancy and postpartum stress.


Chances are, even if you know about the support, you’re not getting it.  



With summer schedules, I've been filling in for WellMama volunteers more often lately on the warm line and in support groups. That means I've gotten to talk with more families and hear their feedback. What I hear and see a lot is that WellMama's groups aren't as well attended as folks hope when they push themselves and go. If you pull yourself out to a group and find you're only one of a couple of folks, it's discouraging. Plus, it's hard to get out the door if you're dealing with depression or anxiety - or both. Add a baby, maybe older kids to boot? Pshhhh. Good luck!

But here's the thing I want to reach out with from that personal place. I don't think it's the greatest trait I have, but I think it’s really common - when it comes to doing something "for myself," those are the things that I scratch off the list before anything else. I have to really make an effort to go against that instinct. So groups? I don't have time for that, that sounds like self-care stuff and I have these screaming kids and this work to get done.

But the thing is, when I think about it in terms of showing up for someone else's sake - well, then I can find the motivation. Like I said, not the greatest trait - but there it is. And once I get there and show up for someone else, we all benefit. When I feel my ugly - and it was ugly - experience is bringing some relief to someone else, I experience healing and gratitude.

Saying "I'll come for your sake" is a little mind trick we can all do to get ourselves out the door - and it really will be for their sake, but it will bring us huge relief as well.


So here's my personal appeal to you - every week, almost every day, we hear from new moms who are struggling right now - at this moment. Play that mind trick on yourself - consider upping the ante and getting to more groups "for them." For her, for the one very real mama with very real angst and guilt who needs to her about your very real experience to know she's not alone and she's not crazy (or that maybe we're all a little crazy, but at least we're in it together!)


As a fellow mom who struggled much too long and much too alone, as a WellMama peer support volunteer, and as a staff member who literally lays awake at night trying to figure out how to make this service reach more lives and reach them better - I invite you to play along with this mind trick. 

I feel pretty sure you'll find the experience will be worth the inconvenience.

And if you feel like you're a "veteran" of pregnancy/postpartum depression and/or anxiety and want to become a WellMama volunteer to be part of supporting moms on a regular basis, let me know. It takes about 2-5 hours of your time every month and it’s an act of empowerment & love.


With warmth and love,

Tatiana Efremova


P.S. Find out more about WellMama on our websiteFacebook & Twitter and consider donating to keep our free services going.  


Tatiana Efremova
Executive Director


Posted on July 18, 2014 .

Is self-compassion the cure for procrastination?

You are probably wondering: What does self-compassion have to do with procrastination?  Turns out, quite a lot! 

Most procrastination-fighting techniques focus on ways to change a person’s behavior: just get started, take action, any kind of action. But a recent study suggests a different approach: being kind to yourself.

Read more here at the Greater Good Science Center.

Posted on July 17, 2014 .

Ever wonder why we stress so much?

Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences and a professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. In this clip from his talk for the Science of a Meaningful Life series, Sapolsky explains why the stress response, which evolved for short-term physical crises, can become a long-term, chronic problem for human beings.
Posted on July 16, 2014 .

Coping with Depression: 3 Ways to Get up When You’re Feeling Down


The wonderful summer weather is a welcome sight in Oregon.  The blue skies, warm days, and fun activities in every direction make this a great time of year to be an Oregonian.  Despite these wonders, life can still be a stressful struggle as we juggle trying to be excellent at everything: great employee, wonderful partner, caring parent.  It can just get to us and get us down, on even the nicest of days.


Today we welcome guest blogger Ernest Schmidt, LCSW, founder of  Palo Alto Therapy and the author of Tackling Anxiety: How to Create Your Peace of Mind for some wonderful tips on getting out into this beautiful summer, doing what is truly important to you, rather than getting stuck in the blues.  

Although most therapists (us included) tend to diagnose depression when someone complains of loss of energy, low motivation, sadness, feelings of worthlessness, or even worse, hopelessness, the truth is that all of us can relate to these feelings to some degree. Depression seems to be a common human condition. Sometimes it arises in response to a specific life event, such as a job loss or the end of a relationship, while at other times no specific trigger can be identified. Not everyone experiences depression to the same degree or in an extreme way, but at some point in your life you will know what it’s like to feel down.

When this feeling of being down is severe, it truly can be deadly. Suicide and depression go hand in hand, making it paramount that we get the right help when needed. In less severe cases where you are not feeling hopeless to this degree, there are many self-help techniques that can be rather powerful and effective. There is no shame in getting support through professional counseling or turning to friends and family to help you get back on track, but you may also want to give the following suggestions a try and see what comes of it.

Pleasurable Events

One of the first things we do when we are feeling down is to give up the things that we used to enjoy doing. I understand that when you are depressed you don’t feel like doing these things anymore, but that is exactly why you need to force yourself to do them. Although it sounds too simple to work, there is research that shows the effectiveness of doing just this: requiring yourself to do pleasurable activities every day to improve your mood. Peter M. Lewinsohn, Ph.D., highlighted this idea in his popular book Control Your Depression. I still remember one of my cherished mentors touting the jingle “Four or more pleasurable events a day keeps the blues away.” I have witnessed the power of this technique hundreds of times with my own clients, and it’s still one of my favorites.

Physical Exercise

When you’re depressed, exercise is probably the last thing that you will feel like doing, but this is another powerful method that can be done on a self-help basis. Besides its ability to help bring you out of the blues, physical exercise is known to have many other wonderful effects. In my opinion, exercise is the greatest stress-management tool known to mankind! If you’re anything like me, you’ll love that exercise is like killing three birds with one stone: you get a boost from depression, feel relief from stress, and improve overall weight and health management. I won’t try to tell you that it’s easy to exercise when you are feeling so crummy, but it is a method for relief worth trying.

Social Activities

One of the major themes of treating depression is increasing your daily activities. As we get more and more depressed, we often close off to the outside world, including our friends and family. I realize that not all of us are social butterflies, but often the most uplifting moments are the ones we spend with others. To help lift yourself up, it’s important to seek out social activities and spend time with people you used to enjoy. You can also experiment by engaging in various social events and recording your enjoyment afterwards on a scale of 1 to 10 to see which activities give you the greatest boost. For me it may be spending time playing with my nieces and nephews; for you it may be having coffee with one close friend. Test and find out.

Battling depression is difficult. Not only do you already feel down and completely wiped out both physically and emotionally, but the treatment often requires you to act in direct opposition to your feelings. The good news is that we know what works and there is support for those that choose to get help. Though you may not feel like doing things you once enjoyed, exercising, or spending time with friends or family, these simple activities are all proven in their ability to lift your mood. Give these self-help methods a try or reach out to a therapist for a more complete treatment approach and get the enjoyment back in your life.

Posted on June 27, 2014 .