There is no simple answer to this question. Mental health therapy is different for every person, and if you do treatment two separate times, those times could be completely different.
So how does mental health therapy work? Is it awkward sitting in a chair talking to a stranger? Do you even need a therapist? For all this and more, read on!
How It Works
There are several approaches to psychotherapy, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). These include cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, psychodynamic therapy, and other kinds of talk therapy. No matter which method turns out to be best for you, the conversation is the crux of treatment.
Therapy for your mental health aims to teach you how your mind and emotions work. Therapy’s goal is to change things within yourself that are causing issues in your life or can even be as simple as starting a personal growth journey. Mental health therapy takes a lot of work and involvement on your part, a good therapist is a guide that can give you tools, but they can’t change anything for you; that is up to you.
You and your therapist build a relationship in which you can openly communicate with a neutral, non-judgmental party. As this relationship develops, you and your psychologist will work together to identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that keep you from feeling your best.
When most people think of mental health therapy, they go right to counseling. Counseling is when you talk with a therapist about what is bothering you, and they ask you questions to try and dig deeper into the real reason you feel that way. It can help you better understand what you think and why you think it, enabling you to identify your issues, develop better coping skills, and grow as a person.
According to Psychology Today, different types of therapies work towards various goals, be it PTSD, depression, anxiety, or working through personal issues of any kind.
• For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to treat various issues, including panic attacks and eating disorders.
• Exposure therapy is a more niche-oriented therapy generally used to treat OCD, PTSD, or a range of phobias. Exposure therapy is just what it sounds like, exposing yourself to something that may be a trigger for you.
Do You Need Mental Health Therapy?
Any time your quality of life doesn’t want you to want it to be, therapy can help. Perhaps you have depression or anxiety issues, and treatment can help. Many people have problems from their childhoods that interfere with their adult life, and therapy can help.
According to the APA, signs that you could benefit from therapy include:
• Prolonged sadness or helplessness
• Chronic anxious feelings or worried thoughts
• Your problems haven’t gotten better despite your efforts
• Difficulty concentrating at work or in your personal life
• Drug or alcohol problems that are harming you or others
• You have problems with your relationships
• Self-esteem issues
• Problems with life skills, like confidence or motivation
• Marriage or relationship issues that require couples counseling
It is also important to note that you do not have to have any urgent issues. You may just want to learn about yourself, who you are, and work on developing a better you. In this case, therapy can help.
Types of Therapists
Different levels of education qualify and license a therapist, including but not limited to:
• MFT (marriage, family counselors)
• LCSW (licensed clinical social worker)
• MD Psychiatrists (medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry and can prescribe medications)
A great place to start is asking your primary care doctor. He or she will be able to refer you to a skilled psychologist they trust. This psychologist will often be covered under your insurance since they are associated with your primate care doctor. There will likely be a waiting period before you can see your new doctor, so be prepared for that. Your primary care doctor can often prescribe you medication to hold you over if your situation is dire. Be honest with them, and they can help.
If you do not have health insurance, consult the nearest university or mental health center. They often provide low-cost treatment and information that will help you find the therapy you need.
Psychology Today offers an online search tool to find a therapist in your area - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
What If It Isn’t Working?
If you’ve been in therapy a while and it doesn’t seem adequate, you should consider your psychologist and your treatment plan. You also need to keep in mind that as treatment progresses, repressed negative emotions may bubble up to the surface of your mind.
If you don’t feel like you can be open with your psychologist, you might want to find a new one. If your treatment plan doesn’t seem logical for you, bring that up with your psychologist and discuss making changes.
The journey to better mental health is just that, a trip, and no one should go on a long journey alone. Therapy can be a great asset, and your therapist can be a trusted confidant that can guide you towards a better you and a better life.
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Growing up, it seemed like your parents were always telling you to go outside and play. But, now that you’re older, you have more important things to worry about. You have a 40-hour workweek and a family to take care of. What you might not know is that nature can be healing. And, you don’t have to do anything more than to go outside to experience these effects.
The Benefits of Going Out Into Nature
There are plenty of benefits that come with going out into nature and truly experiencing the planet’s natural beauty. According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, here’s a look at some of the possible benefits of exposing yourself to the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
What’s even better is that some of these effects are produced immediately. You may feel apprehensive or stressed out before visiting a local park and feel a sense of relief as soon as you hear the chirping of the birds.
How To Get Into Nature
Though America is very much a developed country, there are plenty of locations throughout the nation that give you the chance to explore nature. America is currently home to 62 National Parks, nearly 7,000 state parks, and countless local parks that you can visit. Let’s go over what you can do to get into nature to reap the benefits.
Figure Out What Calms You
Some things in nature will be much more calming to you than others. The first thing you want to do is figure out what calms you personally.
Whatever you love about nature that calms you the most, find somewhere that allows you to experience those specific things.
Turn Off Your Devices
According to the American Psychological Association, about 86% of Americans will check their phone constantly. So, to truly get the most out of your journey into nature, you’ll want to turn off your phone or tuck it away into your backpack. It allows you to truly focus on the world around you and escape the fear, worry, and pain that’s currently overwhelming you.
You are just going to the park, and hearing the birds chirping might be enough for you to calm you down and bring you back to the present moment. But, to truly experience nature as it was meant to be shared, you need to give yourself time to enjoy it.
That means make your trips into nature on days where you don’t have other obligations. Set aside a few hours for a 5-mile hike or an entire day to explore a state park. That way, you don’t have to rush around to see everything or look back in regret thinking you missed something.
Nature is something that very few people genuinely appreciate fully. But it’s known to produce healing effects and can improve your mental state indefinitely. When you get out into the forest, on top of a mountain, or along the shoreline, take the time to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells. You’ll never feel as calm or free as you will when you’re out in the real world.
Do you want to improve your mental state?
Nature is something that very few people genuinely appreciate fully. But it’s known to produce healing effects and can improve your mental state indefinitely. It’s a great way for you to spend time with yourself, as well as find peace in the world around you.
If you are interested in improving your mental health, try spending some time outside today and see how much better life becomes when we take care of ourselves. You deserve it!
Go outside today and enjoy nature for all its worth!
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5 Natural Ways To Calm Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18% of the American population struggle with some form of anxiety at any given time. Coping with stress can be complicated, especially since there’s no single treatment that works for everyone. So, let’s talk about five completely natural ways that you can calm your anxiety today.
1. Meditation & Deep Breathing
Anxiety attacks and persistent anxiety typically come with the same few symptoms. You may notice that your heart rate is twice as fast as expected, that your blood pressure has skyrocketed, and that thoughts are racing through your mind at lightning speed.
Meditation and deep breathing techniques can help you to relieve both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Concentrating on your breathing will bring you back to the present moment and slow your thoughts. And, according to Harvard Health, meditation can also reduce your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and improve your heart health.
So, start with a brief 2-minute deep breathing meditation session and begin lengthening your sessions as you become accustomed to meditation.
The essential oils industry in America is booming these days, but these oils might be able to do a little more than make your home smell pleasant. Simply smelling these essential oils through aromatherapy can potentially reduce your symptoms of stress and anxiety.
And, research has revealed that essential oils like lemon, lavender, and rose are most effective for anxious people. All you have to do is squeeze a few drops of your favorite into an essential oil diffuser or in the bathtub and give yourself some time to relax and enjoy the scents!
Note: Carrier oils must mix with some essential oils must be combined if you’re planning to use them on your skin. Be sure to read the label before using your essential oil.
3. Intense Exercise
The last thing you want to do when you’re anxious is strap on your running shoes and go for a run, but it might just be the best thing for relieving your anxiety during the moment. That’s because exercise can help you naturally improve your mood, get rid of pent-up energy, and help you sleep much better at night (great if you have insomnia).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that just about any exercise style can be successful when it comes to calming anxiety. Go for long walks along the canal, lift weights in your living room, follow along with a yoga video, or even play with your dog.
Exercise is excellent for treating and preventing anxiety, so do your best to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.
4. Laugh & Smile
When your mind is racing, and negative thoughts have taken over, it’s hard to stay positive and express emotions like happiness or joy. But according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can improve your mood and relieve the physical tension in your body as well.
So, when you’re feeling anxious, do something that makes you smile. That can be anything from watching your favorite TV show clip on YouTube to spending time playing with your young nieces and nephews in the yard.
5. Limit Caffeine Intake
Have you ever had a few too many cups of coffee (or energy drinks) and gotten the jitters? Maybe it felt like your heart was pounding in your chest and like your mind wouldn’t slow down. That’s because high levels of caffeine can mimic the effects of anxiety. That means caffeine and anxiety are a terrible combination for your mental state.
If you’re predisposed to high levels of anxiety, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether. However, caffeine may be okay in moderation, such as a few cups of coffee in the morning each day. Just be sure you’re not drinking it too close to bedtime to avoid sleep difficulties.
Since there’s no “one size fits all” for treating anxiety, you may have to experiment with different coping strategies to see what works best for you. Ensure that the ways you try to calm your anxiety are healthy and don’t involve drugs and alcohol. Understand that pressure is complex, and it could take weeks or months to see significant results.
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At some point in our lives, we all deal with painful and negative emotions. Whether those emotions are fear, anxiety, resentment, or other fear-based emotions, if we do not learn to manage those emotions properly, they can get the best of us and destroy us.
Identify the Emotion
You cannot correctly address something you cannot first identify. It requires a level of self-awareness. It allows you to sit with your feelings, genuinely get to the root of what is going on. The act of identifying what is triggering the negative feelings eases the burden of trying to ignore or mask the sense while allowing room for what was determined to be addressed in the right way. The ultimate benefits of this can include reduced stress and anxiety (Partnership Staff, 2017).
Once you know what you’re feeling, you can begin to identify what causes you to feel that way. Determining actionable strides, you can take the situation or trigger causing that particular emotion to remove or reduce the impacts of those triggers.
Or you can take steps to help you learn how to manage those triggers so they no longer produce the intense negative pain or fear-based emotion moving forward (Brown, 2019).
Redirecting the negative emotions you feel into positive activities can be a healthy way to release those negative emotions. Redirection is about channeling negative emotions and energy into an action that allows for emotional release without causing harm. Activities can include physical activity, breathing, journaling, or meditation, among others. Each of these outlets provides an opportunity to help you feel less overwhelmed, thus reducing stress, tension, and anxiety (Scott, 2020).
Getting help from outside sources can be one of the best ways to get help with painful and fear-based emotions. Whether that support is in the form of friends and family or a licensed professional, sometimes having an additional person to talk things through with can help bring relief mentally and emotionally.
Others can offer advice, tools, resources, and even just a listening ear to help you process what you’re feeling and develop healthy coping strategies to manage those negative emotions you feel (Scott, 2020).
Being thankful is a strategy that can act as a grounding force when faced with painful and fear-based emotions. Gratitude first draws us into the present moment by taking our focus off of the negative stimuli and causing us to find those good things that exist presently in our lives right now.
Then it replaces the negativity with positivity by causing us to deviate from the negative emotions towards the happiness and joy connected with gratitude in creating. Taking a few moments to either write down all that you are grateful for or even simply think about them helps counter these negative emotions.
We do not have to live indefinitely with painful and fear-based emotions. We can take action to help ourselves overcome negative feelings and thrive in our lives. Whether you adopt one of these strategies or several, these are great ways first to understand how you feel; address the cause of what you’re feeling. Develop coping strategies for situations where you find yourself encountering these negative emotions at any point in the future.
Brown, L. (2019, October 22). How to deal with negative emotions: 10 things you need to remember. Hack Spirit. https://hackspirit.com/negative-emotions/
Partnership Staff. (2017, May 28). Coping with fear, anger, and other negative emotions. Partnership to End Addiction | Where Families Find Answers. https://drugfree.org/article/coping-fear-anger/#
Scott, E. (2020). How to deal with negative emotions and stress. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-should-i-deal-with-negative-emotions-3144603
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