Your Strengths for Recovery


Knowing your strengths can help you be more confident with a more positive attitude.  Strength-based recovery uses your goals and talents to help you get through rough times.

This tiny kitten does not look like he has many strengths, but he did. He grew up to be a large healthy cat named Duke.  He stayed playful and sweet, but he has developed into being strong and wise.

As we grow in age, we also have the chance to develop and improve.  Focusing on your strengths instead of weaknesses can help you toward recovery.

What strengths do you have?

See some common ones listed below (and you may add others). Also think about which ones you would like to improve on:

  • Curiosity, or love of learning
  • Persistence
  • Kindness
  • Social intelligence
  • Humility
  • Self-control
  • Gratitude
  • Hopefulness
  • Able to adapt
  • Able to cope well
  • Able to express emotions well
  • Assertive
  • Courageous
  • Creative
  • Energetic or active
  • Having faith or spirituality
  • Future or goal oriented
  • Being a good citizen or team player
  • Good sense of humor
  • Intelligent or wise
  • Motivated
  • Open-minded
  • Polite or kind
  • Realistic
  • Resourceful
  • Responsible or trustworthy
  • Self-reliant
  • Sensitive
  • Strong support system
  • Thoughtful
  • Having zest for life

Strength-based Recovery promote resilience and self-acceptance for recovery and empowerment. It challenges situations that may seem hopeless or helpless.

Build hope from within. Look at past successes and promote change by asking:

  • What has worked before?
  • What has not worked?

Remember that you are unique – Your strengths and weaknesses are not the same as anyone else’s .  By looking at your own set of strengths, a realistic, specific plan can be made to develop them. Your strengths will help you and your situation as you recover.


Blog # 7 written 12-6-15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Emotional Eating

red geranium

I have the urge to taste almost any food that is around, and to eat too much of the “comfort foods” that I love. Sometimes when I am upset, I have been known to have a “binge” by eating way too much of something. In the past, I have eaten several servings at a time of cereal, chips, pizza, candy, or cookies. I used to take a bag of chocolate chips, out of the freezer to eat.

But I can control it better now that I recognize what is happening and I cope with the problems that are making me feel like binging.  I also avoid keeping “trigger foods” in the house.  Those strategies  helped me to lose weight and to stay at a healthier weight for several years.

This handout describes what I learned about how your mood can affect what you eat.

Food and feelings go together

  • We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing
  • Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones
  • Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us
  • Some people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger
  • If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you

Mind Skills can develop ways to cope without using food:

  • Cope better with the daily ups and downs of daily life
  • Recognize and avoid black-and-white thinking (where things and actions are looked at as being good or bad, right or wrong)
  • Avoid thinking that things should be perfect
  • Use coping skills for self-control when dealing with food temptations and relapses
  • Get the help you need for problem-solving

Mood and Weight

  • Food choices affect mood in positive or negative ways
  • Learn how to eat healthier to improve your mood
  • Hormones affect mood – Examples are cortisol (from adrenal glands) or estrogen (a female sex hormone)

Eating “triggers”

  • Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have
  • A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is – Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips
  • Trigger foods are not the same as favorite foods, comfort foods, or food cravings
  • A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that leads to overeating – Any available food will do
  • A trigger environment is a specific place or setting that leads to overeating – Examples include movie theaters, buffet restaurants, sporting events or social gatherings
  • Eating triggers do happen – They are a sign to stop and think about how you can avoid them from happening in the future

Understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining a healthy weight

Weight Watchers Research Department. (2009). Emotional eating, Mind skills for lasting weight loss, Mood and weight, and Eating triggers retrieved from

Mindful Eating

People tend to eat mindlessly most of the time. When “chowing down,” we are usually thinking about other things and not really tasting our food.

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry.

We miss the subtle feelings of fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite

It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, the color and light on the food, the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.

In mindfulness retreats, the meals are usually served in silence. That way, you can think about the food and the efforts that went into growing and preparing it.

You may feel satisfied without eating as much food as you have been eating. You can practice mindful eating when you eat alone or in silence.

Siegel, R. (2010). The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems, p. 261-264. New York: Guilford Press

Being mindful and aware of emotional eating can really help you make healthier habits. Call a friend when you feel like binging. If there is something upsetting you, figure out what to do and write it down (or do it). Take a walk or do some exercises. Take a bath or shower. Get busy doing something that takes your mind off your cravings.

You can get past it if you resist for a few minutes. The urges will weaken and go away.  You are more in control than you think!

Blog #6  By Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc.

Inspirational Music

Musical notes 2

This is a list of old and new songs from many different kinds of music. Some of these songs and their lyrics could be helpful for coping during recovery.

Try to find all of these songs on and chose the versions that have lyrics on the screen so you can follow the words. Avoid any that have upsetting images (if you watch the music videos).Play them as often as you want to, as one of your ways of coping.

  • A Little Bit Stronger – by Sara Evans
  • Alive Again – by Matt Maher
  • Anyway – by Martina McBride
  • Breakaway – by Kelly Clarkson
  • Coming Out of the Dark – by Gloria Estefan
  • Count on Me – by Default
  • Dare You to Move – by Switchfoot
  • Dear Prudence – by Beatles
  • Ever Since the World Began – by Survivor
  • Eye of the Tiger – by Survivor
  • Fix You – by Coldplay
  • If You Just Believe (from The Polar Express soundtrack) – by Josh Groban
  • Invincible – by Muse
  • Hero – by Mariah Carey
  • I Believe I Can Fly (from Space Jam soundtrack) – by R. Kelly
  • I Hope You Dance – by Lee Ann Womack
  • I Want to Live – by John Denver
  • I Will Survive – by Gloria Gaynor
  • I Won’t Let Go – by Rascal Flatts
  • Keep Your Mind Wide Open (from Bridge to Teribithia soundtrack) – Anna Sophia Robb
  • It’s My Life – by Bon Jovi
  • Landslide – by Fleetwood Mac
  • Let Me Be Myself – by 3 Doors Down
  • Little Wonders (From Meet the Robinsons soundtrack) – by Rob Thomas
  • Never Surrender – by Corey Hart
  • One Step at a Time – by Jordin Sparks
  • Peace Train – by Cat Stevens
  • Reach – by Gloria Estefan
  • Simple Man – by Lynyrd Skynard
  • The Circle of Life (from The Lion King soundtrack) – by Elton John
  • The Climb – by Miley Cyrus
  • The Rose – by Bette Midler
  • Times Like These – by Foo Fighters
  • Unwritten – by Natasha Bedingfield
  • You Raise Me Up (from Secret Garden soundtrack) – by Brian Kennedy and Josh Grobin
  • Win – by Brian McKnight

What other songs are inspirational or comforting to you? Are there some that you think should be added to this list?  Feel free to contact Mary Knutson to recommend more songs.


The songs were recommended by Mary Knutson RN, Joyce Clark RN, and the following websites or blogs:


Blog #5  10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Inspirational Music for Teens

Musical notes

Music can be very helpful for coping.  Sometimes the music that teen choose to listen too can be edgy or dark and brooding because it matches their mood.  But music with a positive message would be more effective in the long run.  The following songs on were chosen by other teens. Listen to them and write down the ones that are helpful to you. Use them as a way of coping.

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

Breathe by He is We

Fix You by Coldplay

Never Let Go by David Chowder Band

There is a Way by Newworldson

Everything by Lifehouse

Behind These Hazel Eyes by Kelly Clarkson

You Are More by Tenth Avenue North

Blackbird by the Beatles

Stand by Rascal Flatts

I Won’t Let Go by Rascal Flatts

Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

Anyway by Martina McBride

Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

A River Flows in You by Yiruma

Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

K’Naan Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix)

Brand New Me by Alicia Keyes

Hall of Fame by The Script

Enjoy the music!

Blog #4 written 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Videos to Help Teens Cope

shoe garden clip

Sometimes what you need is to do something that distracts you from what is bothering you, especially if the activity has a positive message.  Some of the following videos can help you cope with stress, help you to relax or be mindful. Try to watch them all and see which of them helps you feel better.

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min

The Pandas: Belly of the Whale                          5:11 min

20 Words to Change Your Life                           4.29 min

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min

The Interlude Dance (Original)                           3:52 min

The Gratitude Dance (Original)                          3:25 min

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir –Lux Arumque     6:20 min

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                          3:08

Enjoy the videos!


Blog #3  10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.


Videos to Help You Cope

cat windowsill clip

Sometimes a little distraction can help you cope. Especially if the activity has a positive message. The following videos can help you cope with stress. Some can help you relax, and some can build you up or help you be more mindful. Try to watch them all and see which of them helps you feel better.

Ten Tips for Stress Management                       2:14 min

Succeed with a Positive Attitude                       1:00 min

42 Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Life                5:10 min

Believe in Yourself                                                  3:42 min

K’NAAN Wavin’ Flag Celebration Mix               3:75 min

There is Hope (Meditation)                                 3:31 min

What is Mindfulness?                                           1:59 min

Stress – Let Go & Be in Flow of Life                   3:08 min

Forgiveness & Freedom of Letting Go              4:02 min

I Am Grateful                                                           4:11 min

Inspirational Video: Don’t Quit Poem              2:02 min

Relax – Zen Garden Kokin Gumi                                    7:09 min

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir – Lux Arumque     6:20 min

Yiruma – River Flows in You                                  3:08

Enjoy these videos!


Blog #2 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN  of Health Vista, Inc.

(Next  – Blog #3 will be inspirational videos for teens)

Forgiveness and the Heart

A Heart-shaped Surprise

This heart shaped potato was found in my garden
This heart shaped potato was found in my garden

I like to do gardening because it helps me to relax. While digging up some potatoes last week, I found a little heart-shaped one. I was going to show it to my daughter, but I forgot about it with all the hustle and bustle of having her wedding this weekend.

I had to see my ex-husband and his second wife there. I had resented them for over 7 years because of their part in ending our marriage. But during the time of the wedding celebration, I was finally able to forgive them and move on.

The next day, I saw the heart-shaped potato again. It helped me to realize how much lighter my heart felt after forgiving them. I felt healthier and more at peace. The heart-shaped symbol of love is more that – It is also a symbol of healing. You can read more about forgiving and forgetting below:

What does “forgiving” mean?

  • Forgiving means understanding that making mistakes is part of being human. Remember that when you hear people say things that hurt your feelings, often they weren’t meant the way they sounded.
  • Accept an apology – Believe people when they say they’re “sorry.”
  • Forgiving is a way to reopen and heal the channels of communication.
  • It helps calm the fears of rejection, failure, or guilt.
  • Forgiveness can be an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness – It can let someone know that she/he is valued as a person with potential for goodness.
  • But you don’t actually have to tell someone that they are forgiven. You can forgive someone in your heart (to make yourself feel better), without even telling them.
  • Forgiving can be done for your sake rather than for another person. But talking about it can be helpful to mend relationships.

What does “forgetting” mean?

  • You don’t really “forget” what happened, but you can put the issues behind you, and not bring them up again and again.
  • You “clear the air” and let go of anger, hurt, and pain over what happened.
  • Forgetting encourages and helps the other person to rebuild, reconnect, and re-establish caring, healthy relationships.
  • Forgetting doesn’t mean that you return to an abusive or unhealthy relationship. You can continue to avoid people who are toxic to you, while you wish them well in their future without you.
  • Understand that some people do not know how or are not able to love others enough to be in a healthy relationship with you. If you think of it that way, you may be able to feel sorry for them because “it’s their loss.”

What can happen if you don’t forgive?

  • Without forgiveness, the pain and hurt will stay with you.
  • Guilt and sadness continue, along with more problems in relationships.

Which of the following do you do?

  • Seek revenge and payback
  • Become angry and bitter
  • Feel defensive, self-protective, or distant
  • Blame each other
  • Have negative thinking or unhealthy behaviors
  • Feel lost or afraid – Avoid sharing or showing your feelings
  • Have fear of making mistakes, or low self-esteem
  • Have overwhelming fear of failure, rejection, or conflict
  • Have high stress in relationships

What do people think when they refuse to forgive?

  • “You don’t deserve any kindness, concern, or forgiveness for what you did.”
  • “It hurt so much that I’ll never be able to forgive you.”
  • “I’ll never let you forget what you did, no matter how sorry you are.”
  • “People who hurt other people deserve the worst that life has to offer.”
  • “I resent everyone who has hurt me – I will make sure I’m never hurt again.”

What can help us to forgive and forget?

  • Let go of past hurt and pain.
  • Let go and letting [God or your other spiritual beliefs] lead you during hurtful times.
  • Let go of fears for the future and allow yourself to take a risk.
  • Let go of anger, hostility and resentment.
  • Overlook slight relapses or steps backward.
  • Develop an openness to the belief that people can change (but only if they want to) and realize that we can’t make other people change. The only thing we can change is ourselves.
  • Be open and honest with others about how you have been hurt.
  • Seek professional help when necessary for unhealthy, distant or cold relationships.
  • Recognize your part in what happened because “It takes two to fight”.
  • Identify and replace irrational beliefs that make it harder to forgive.

Ask Yourself: How do you forgive others?

List something that you have been unable to forgive someone for.


How much energy, is sapped from you when you think about the hurt you went through?


What do I gain from blaming others for my feelings?


How can you put the past behind you?


How can you look forward, learning to trust again?


Revised from Messina, J. & Messina, C. (2009). Handling forgiving and forgetting. Retrieved from


Blog # 1 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc. 10-26-15

Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning

Scientifically based methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) were developed to improve upon earlier methods. NFP is not the “Rhythm Method” which was based on the calendar and was not very effective.  The modern methods are much better.

Key Benefits

  • Easy to learn
  • Inexpensive when compared to artificial methods
  • Versatile–regular cycles  not necessary
  • Healthy–no medical side effects
  • Increases  awareness and knowledge of  your fertility
  • Highly effective for avoiding or achieving pregnancy
  • Welcome alternative to drugs and devices
  • Side effects include better communication, more marital happiness, and  lower divorce rate!

The Creighton Model Ovulation Method has been proven effective in scientific studies showing up to 99% effectiveness in avoiding pregnancy. It is also very effective for achieving pregnancy as couples are able to identify and use days of fertility.

See Natural Family Planning: A Healthy Alternative [.pptx] [.pdf]. It is an overview of NFP and some of its various methods, with a focus on the Creighton Model.  It can be presented with the worksheets, Family Planning Comparison [.docx] [.pdf] and Which Method is most Healthy [.docx] [.pdf].

Resources for Recovery

These recovery resources were written for psychiatric patients, but they may also be helpful for other kinds of illness, and for general wellness. Resources are organized under the seven elements of recovery used for Recovery Education.

  • Hope
  • Security
  • Support/Managing Symptoms
  • Empowerment
  • Relationships
  • Coping
  • Finding Meaning

The resources include Powerpoints and other links for health education and motivation.

This Finding Hope Pathfinder video is available at to help you toward the first step to recovery.


There are also helpful books on the website, including Managing Pain, Managing Depression, and Managing Anger. The following workbook is available free of charge:

Your Recovery Workbook: Coping and Relaxation
Coping and Relaxation Workbook [.pdf] can be downloaded free and printed for you to use. It is an example of one of the Recovery Workbooks that are available in this website’s online store. More topics will be added in the future.

The Health Vista Website contains many resources such as lessons and handouts you can use, such as Taking Recovery Steps:

  • Ups and downs are to be expected – It is best to handle them as calmly as possible, using help and support to get back on track
  • Take small steps – You will get to where you are going (no matter how long it takes) if you go in the right direction
  • You feel more in control when you take the recovery steps at your own pace
  • In life, there is always hope, but sometimes you have to change what you are hoping for.
  • Be open to learning and change as you start your recovery journey

“I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”  – Charles F. Kettering