A habit is a regular tendency or practice. You likely have many habits that you are regularly practicing. Many of these habits you perform on a daily basis, maybe unconsciously and a part of your regular routine. Unfortunately, these types of unconscious habits that you have built up over time are typically not the best types of habits.
Good habits, in particular, need to be developed and developed intentionally. Developing good habits can create a new, fresh, and better you. Here is why you should reinvent yourself by starting good habits today.
The Benefits Of A Good Habits
Habits are small activities that define or create who you are over time. The benefit of developing good habits is that it creates and define good attributes in you over an extended period of time. A good habit is like interest building in a bank. Over time, the interest continues to grow without much effort on your part. Likewise, a good habit continues to develop character and attributes in you, without much concentrated effort.
Developing good habits also takes the “work” out of doing the things that you want to do. When something becomes routine or automatic, it no longer becomes work. It is just something you do. Being able to routinely perform activity or tasks without much effort allows you to put your energy and focus into other areas of life. Developing good habits gives you the benefit for accomplishing more with less effort.
Repetition And Time Is The Key To Good Habit Forming
Developing a good habit may take longer than you think. When developing a new habit, the general rule of thumb has been about 21 days. This time frame was developed from Dr. Maxwell Maltz work in the 1960’s with amputees adjusting to the loss of a limb.
However, a more recent study from Lally et al, entitled How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world, indicates that it takes an average of 66 days for an activity to become “automatic”. The study also indicated that missing a day did not lead to negative effects to developing your habit, but that the more repetitions earlier in your development produced larger effects.
Developing good habits is both a marathon and a sprint. Start your habit forming strong with consistent repetitions in those first few weeks. Then turn your eyes to the horizon and settle in for the time that it will take to develop your habit.
Good Habits You Should Consider
There are lots of good habits that you should develop for yourself. Here are few to consider:
1. Exercise: This is the obvious good habit that you should be developing. The American Heart Association states that you can significantly improve your cardiovascular health with just 30 min of exercises a day. Even if this 30 min is broken into 10 min periods. Developing a habit of a daily walk can significantly impact your health. If you are into dancing, check out Zumba online or in your community.
2. Saving: This habit is not flashy, or exciting, or particularly fun. But it’s absolutely necessary. Start small and save a specific amount each week. Then build to a particular amount each month or a certain percentage each year. Building this habit can have lasting rewards for years to come.
3. Reading: Developing the habit of reading 15 min each day can lead to all kinds of benefits for you. Daily reading can increase memory and vocabulary or decrease stress and anxiety. With only 15 min of reading a day, you can easily read 1-2 books a month or 12-24 books a year. Imagine the benefit of learning new skills for recreations and work, or understanding a new topic, or developing a better imagination, all from 15 min a day.
4. Waking up early: Getting up early in the morning is not natural for everyone, but is a habit that can be developed. Start by setting your alarm 15 min earlier than usual. Every 1-2 weeks move your alarm back another 15 min until you reach your desired wake up time. Waking up early can benefit your health, energy, productivity and motivation.
Pay Attention To Your Habits
Whatever good habits you decide to develop will be worth the invested time. The important part is to pay attention to the habits that you are developing.
Start today, and make a note of all the habits that you find yourself routinely doing throughout the day. Is this habit something you want to keep? If not, start a better habit and begin the process of reinventing yourself.
Do you ever wonder how people who are at the top of their field are able to maintain their high level of achievement? One of the keys to their success is that they are not afraid to reinvent themselves.
Reinvention can take many forms. It can be the refinement of habits or characteristics that should remain in your life but need fine-tuning.
Reinvention can also take the form of letting go. Specifically, letting go of bad habits that hinder your success. John Maxwell, an American writer in the field of Leadership, says, “I can predict the long-term outcomes of your success if you show me your daily habits.”
Habits matter, and bad habits can cause lack of success and even failure.
This is particularly true when it comes to your health. Letting go of bad habits must be a top priority if you want to reinvent yourself.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It isn’t as simple as “just letting go of a bad habit.”
When you let go of a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good habit. So today is the day. No more excuses. No more tomorrow.
Below are three bad habits you need to finally let go of if you want to be healthy.
You have probably heard this admonition countless times throughout your life: Sit up straight and stop slouching! Well, as unpleasant at this feedback usually is, it’s right. Poor posture is nothing but a bad habit that has developed over time.
Slouching (which is typically defined as a forward head posture and rounded shoulders) causes poor joint alignment, especially in the neck and back. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, poor posture of the spine can contribute to muscle tightness, loss of range of motion, and even pain.
It’s very difficult to just “stop slouching.” You can reinvent yourself, however, by replacing the bad habit of slouching with the good habit of setting postural reminders for yourself. For example, if you are a desk worker, you can place a small mirror at the top of your computer screen. When you are in the correct posture, you should see the top of your head in the mirror. Seeing this continuous visual cue as you work will remind you to correct your posture.
You can also start the habit of checking your posture each time you send an email or start up your car.
These habits ensure that you continually assess and correct your posture, thus breaking you of bad postural habits.
Stop Drinking Sugary Drinks
Soft drinks and energy drinks are loaded with high amounts of sugar. Such drinks can have between 15-60 grams (or more!) of sugar per serving.
The American Heart Association reports that men should limit their intake to 36 grams of sugar per day while women should limit their intake to 25 grams of sugar per day.
You can easily consume the entire amount of your day’s allotted sugar with one soft or energy drink. This bad habit can create big problems.
The American Diabetic Association states that sugary drinks have been linked to type 2 diabetes. This disease, the ADA states, causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. That is a serious consequence to a bad habit!
Reinvent yourself by kicking your sugary drink habit. Replace it with a water drinking habit. Here are a couple of simple tricks to assist you in breaking this habit.
Set several reminders on your phone or computer at various points in the day to alert you to drink a glass of water.
A non-technological way to start this new habit is to keep 6-8 coins in your right pocket and to move a coin to your left pocket every time you drink a glass of water. Whenever you reach into your pocket, you will notice the coins. This will cue you to drink another glass of water.
Stop Going to Bed Late
Th bad habit of going to bed late can be the result of many other bad habits. For instance, it can result from the habit of lying in bed while scrolling through social media—which can make it more difficulty to fall asleep. Or it can result from the habit of falling asleep on a couch or in a recliner, which can make it more difficult to initiate sleep in bed.
Many other habits can contribute to the bad habit of going to bed late. This, in turn, can lead to sleep deprivation.
The National Institute of Health states that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. All of a sudden, we can see how this little habit can have big consequences.
Reinvent yourself by discontinuing your bad habit of going to bed late. Replace late nights with a routine that leads to a full night of sleep.
Here are some helpful nightly routines that can help to break the bad habit of going to bed late:
Letting go of bad habits is a challenging and yet simple way to reinvent yourself. It’s the old adage of “addition by subtraction.” Or better yet, its “addition by subtraction…with a new addition.”
Take a walk into any bookstore and you will quickly get lost in the sea of self-help books at your disposal. You may suddenly find yourself struggling to tread water in this vast body of knowledge attempting to impart the newest and most useful skills to you. Where do you start and where does it end?
Well, what better place to start developing life skills than in the arena of… you! There are some skills that every person should acquire and other skill that everyone needs to have. Life skills that are all about you fall into the need category. Instead of just keeping your head above water, ride the wave of these 5 key life skills that are all about you.
1. Stress Relief
Everyone is intimately acquainted with stress. Stress seems to collect as naturally as dust and likewise has an accumulating effect. The National Institute of Health states that chronic stress can lead to suppressed sleep, decreased immune response, headaches, muscle pain, and much more. Stress can have a significant toll on you both physically and mentally. While stress is unavoidable, relieving stress is a skill that can be developed.
Identifying what opens the valve of your stress hose is the first step. Stress can be relieved a variety of ways and figuring out what your stress relieving methods are can be fun and exciting. Some stress relieving methods to try can include: exercise, social interaction, reading, music, sleeping, or meditation. Whatever form your stress relief comes in, the key is to understand how that functions in your daily life.
Next, develop the ability to detect when your stress levels are reaching their maximum. Being able to sense when the stress tank is getting full and emptying it before it overflows will help you avoid many unnecessary struggles and hardships. This seemingly little, but actually significant skill, will allow you to avoid a lot of clean up.
TED Talks are brief 10-20 min videos of expert speakers discussing a variety of topics from a wide range of industries. These videos are extremely popular due to their motivational and inspiring themes, but these extremal mediums are typically only catalyst for a brief time, while self-motivation is a skill that can be developed and has a substantially longer lasting effect.
Self-motivation is a skill that can be developed by identify your strengths and areas of passion. Focusing and putting your efforts into the areas that you are naturally good at and enjoy creates an environment for consistent success. Nothing increases self-motivation like consistent success. And knowing that you have the ability to put yourself in a position to have consistent success increases the self-motivating cycle.
3. Receiving Feedback
Feedback is typically from an external source and comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes the feedback is sought, many times it isn’t. Yet the way we receive feedback is a skill that is all about you. There are certain characteristics that come with receiving feedback and it’s these characteristics that can be developed. Characteristics like: being prepared to receive and expecting to receive feedback. Also, being open to and interested in receiving feedback all enhance your ability to benefit from it.
Likewise, our perspective on feedback, is a skill that can be further developed. Feedback is simply information. Information that is processed and sorted into helpful or unhelpful categories. Perspective allows us to properly view both the good and the bad. Feedback ultimately is like a pair of shoes. If you think the shoe fits, then wear it. If it doesn’t fit, then don’t wear them.
“I am sorry,” might be the 3 most difficult words that you will ever have to say. Yet, apologizing is a skill that is all about you. Yes, apologizing helps rectify the situation with the other person, but it not just about them. Apologizing releases you from any emotional burdens you may be holding onto. Developing this skill can have a greater impact on yourself than those around you.
5. Living A Life Of Gratitude
This last skill might possibly be the most difficult and yet the most critical life skill that is all about you. This is due to the fact that the soil that gratitude works is internal more than external. In order to develop this skill, it requires that you practice it daily and with intention.
Develop this skill by identify 3 specific things that you are thankful for each day. The key here is to be specific. For example, you might be thankful for your job, but what specifically about your job. Maybe it’s the flexible hours, or the type of work that you do, or a specific person that you work with. Being specific about your gratitude makes it real and tangible. Performing it every day makes it a lifestyle.
It’s All About You!
At times, it may feel uncomfortable to talk about and develop skills that are about you. But there should be no hesitation and difficulty with this because no one is going to put in the work on yourself more than you. So, don’t be hesitant or afraid. But dig-in, achieve, and master the 5 skills that are all about you.
You probably know someone with amazing self-discipline. They’re that person that manages to choke down a kale shake every morning after they went on a 5-mile run before your first alarm went off. They are incredibly efficient, they work hard, and seem to have endless amounts of energy. Then, there’s you.
You play games on your phone and look up at the television in between levels. Somehow, you have successfully managed to scoop snacks into your mouth at the same time. You’re not lazy, you are busy so when you have downtime you want to relax.
What about your dreams, though? How will you accomplish them if you have no self-discipline? You can build that self-discipline. It’s crucial to your success, that goes for both your personal and professional life. Here’s how!
1. Acknowledge Weakness
You should never let your weaknesses stand in your way, however, you should acknowledge them. It could be that social media is why you procrastinate or that pretzels are your biggest diet weakness. Either way, to improve your self-discipline you need to acknowledge what is most likely to derail you.
You don’t wake up and magically find yourself possessed by self-discipline. You need to build a strategy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to build new and good habits or eradicate bad habits. The key is that you create a plan that will outline exactly what steps you need to take to achieve the goal.
3. Remove Temptation
It would be nice if we were disciplined enough to resist our greatest temptations. However, if you know you’ve never met a bag of pretzels you didn’t love, then don’t keep them in the house. If it’s social media that messes with your day, remove the app from your phone or tablet. There are plenty of ways you can remove temptation, no matter what it is. Don’t be afraid to turn off the router and go without the internet until you achieve what you need to.
Humans naturally try to avoid any discomfort or pain. However, this will only make you more unlikely to deal with any distress life throws at you. Resilience is a really important skill to possess and there’s only one way to do this. You can’t dismiss uncomfortable emotions, you have to experience them, whether it’s loneliness, boredom, sadness or frustration. Negative emotions are part of building self-discipline.
Sometimes it’s easier to practice self-discipline when you’re capable of visualizing the long-term rewards that your behavior will bring. If you give in to temptation today you will experience a short-term boost in happiness, but think about the gratification that will come if you resist. Imagine yourself as you meet those goals and gain those rewards. This will help you exercise your self-discipline on a daily basis.
There will be days that you find easier than others. When you experience a slip-up, whether it’s a treat you shouldn’t have had or a workout that you skipped, recovery is key. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Recover from your mistakes and keep going. Acknowledge them, but move on.
Self-discipline is what is standing between you and achieving your goals. You don’t need to steep in jealousy at the people you know who possess self-discipline, though. You can use the tips above to increase your own self-discipline. Keep practicing and you will improve yourself.
When you improve your self-discipline skills you can start to improve your life by pushing hard to achieve your goals. Now all you need to decide is what goals you want to pursue – you’ll need to start with your core values.
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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If you’re considering therapy or even if you’re a few weeks in, you may be wondering if it’s all worth it. Is it working? You may not feel any different. Therapy can be expensive, so wondering about its efficacy is actually valid. If you’re new to treatment and still developing your relationship with your therapist, it may be hard to tell if you’re on the right track.
Therapy effectiveness is measured differently for everyone. Someone might measure its effectiveness by how many days they shower in a week. Someone else might measure it by eating regular meals more than a few times a week. There are endless possibilities; however, there are some general things that are the same for everyone.
Thankfully, there are some criteria you can use to evaluate the efficacy of therapy, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). These criteria, in a nutshell, use current empirical literature to make informed, research, and colleague-backed treatment decisions.
Is It Based On Relevant Empirical Literature?
Empirical means based on observation or experience rather than theory. The relevant empirical literature on psychology would be up to date, peer-reviewed, and based upon reproducible studies, and you can observe the results. You should evaluate if your treatment is based on sound science.
How can you do this without being a psychologist? Today we have the Internet. You can ask your psychologist about the name of your treatment and the studies associated with it. From there, you should have a basis for your research. If it isn’t relevant or up to date, you might want to consider a new psychologist. If it is, however, then stay the course!
Use Only Cutting Edge Research
This criterion will help you evaluate if the empirical literature is relevant. There is good science, and there is bad science. There is also new science that hasn’t been around long enough to be tested extensively. You don’t want to be a guinea pig.
An example of bad science is the science that draws a conclusion that isn’t based on enough evidence. Just because a treatment worked for a few people doesn’t mean it’s effective. Did the experiment account for the placebo effect? Was there a control group? Have the results been replicated? If the answer is no for any of these, be very wary.
A Treatment Must Be Better Than Doing Nothing
Let’s say someone has an extreme fear of spiders. One treatment might be exposing this person to so many spiders that they no longer afraid of is an option. However, this approach could horrify the person and increase their fear if unsuccessful. If this person has heart issues, it could also trigger those. A good therapist will evaluate all of these angles to determine if the treatment is worthwhile or if just letting this person be afraid of spiders is better.
Treatment should help, never harm. If you think the risk of damage is too high in your treatment, voice your concerns to your therapist. Hopefully, they will convince you of the best path, but you should consider finding a new therapist if you don’t trust them.
Guided By Specific Outcomes
You and your therapist should decide upon specific outcomes for your therapy. Maybe you want to be less anxious or become more assertive. Without precise, measurable results, any endeavor is sure to fail. So be specific, not vague.
Don’t aim at something like “I want to be happy.” Instead, work with your therapist to find specific aspects of your thoughts and habits that keep you unhappy. Then work on ways to change those.
According to the ADA, “The strongest recommendations are based on demonstrations that the treatment under consideration is more effective than alternative interventions that are known or believed to be effective.”
In other words, your therapist should give you a few options to weigh. Your therapist will be the best source of information on these treatments, but feel free to do your research as well. Choose only the treatments and goals that make the most sense to you. In the end, the final say is yours!
Therapist’s Interpersonal Skills
The central part of a therapist’s job is talking to many different people and engaging well with them. If your therapist is not involved or does not feel comfortable in the relationship, this can be an issue. If a therapist has good interpersonal skills, good enough to build a relationship with you, therapy will become much more effective.
Therapist’s Ability to Assess You
Upon going to a therapist, one of the first things they have to do is assess their new patient. If a therapist cannot evaluate their patient correctly, then there is no basis to start. Assessment is critical in creating the proper baseline and foundation for therapy.
Individualized Treatment Plan
Therapists deal with many different people that have various symptoms and issues. That means there is not a one size fits all type of advice or treatment. The ability of a therapist to alter treatment options for each patient based on their needs is a must for effective therapy.
Your Ability to Open Up
If you do not open up to your therapist and let them know what is going on, there is no way for therapy to work. It is not easy, but the honest conversation is a must. When you open up completely, your therapist gets a clear view of what they are dealing with, which will create a much more effective and efficient therapy experience.
Your Willingness to Learn
If you are going to therapy without learning, then treatment will not help you very much. You are opening up your mind to the options set before you is a must.
Your Willingness to Change
After you learn where your issues are coming from and ways you could potentially deal with them or fix them, you must want to change. Learning is one thing, but if you don’t apply it to your life and your issues, it will stall progress. If you are willing to make changes in your life, you are much more likely to work past whatever you are dealing with.
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Therapy can come in many forms. Talk therapy is a practice that you can do differently where one of the most popular therapies available. Psychodynamic therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, and humanistic therapy are just a few popular therapy options.
6 Popular Types of Talk Therapy Currently Used Today
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely practiced form of talk therapy that involves structured sessions. It is usually a short-term mental health treatment that addresses patterns of existing behavior. By understanding unhelpful thought patterns, the therapist can help guide the patient into making healthier choices.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can identify beliefs the patient did not know they had. These beliefs can be about themselves, others, or the world around them, just by addressing current symptoms and not spending as much time on the past, the design of this therapy to work on simple changes.
Psychodynamic therapy stemmed from what was once called psychoanalysis. Like psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy allows the patient to talk about anything that’s on their mind. The subconscious thought is encouraged so that a therapist can uncover thought and behavior patterns that may contribute to distress. Psychodynamic therapy can focus on current events as well as childhood and past events.
Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy, a usual practice that is called psychodynamic therapy is on a long-term basis. It is an intensive form of talk therapy designed to treat depression, eating disorders, somatic symptoms, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
These are designed to help the patient develop self-acceptance. For those who struggle with low esteem and depression, this can be a beneficial form of talk therapy. By focusing on current life, a humanistic approach to counseling is different from psychodynamic treatment.
Possible techniques used in humanistic therapy include role-playing, reenacting, and active listening. Those who are suffering from relationship difficulties, trauma, or depression can all benefit from humanistic treatment.
Dialectic Behavior Therapy
DBT is a form of talk therapy that identifies negative thinking patterns by using favorable behavior modification. It is one of the most popular therapies for those who struggle with impulsive behavior and suicidal ideation or self-destructive behavior.
By accepting the patient’s experience of what is happening, a patient’s trust is at the forefront. Unlike many other talk therapy practices, DBT comprises several components, including individual therapy and group skills training. Many patients who have had little success in other forms of therapy do well with this type of intensive therapy.
Interpersonal therapy mainly focuses on depression and relationship issues. An interpersonal counselor can address relationships and mood cycles that impact one another.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR uses talking and sensation techniques to help those who may be suffering from trauma. Specific eye movements can help reframe memories and situations so that patients no longer have to endure flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. This type of therapy generally lasts between 8 and 12 sessions.
The Efficacy of Talk Therapy
Many people assume all talk therapies are the same. In reality, just as patients are unique, so are their therapies. While cognitive-behavioral therapy may work for some people with depression, it does not necessarily work for all.
Finding the right therapy is crucial when treating mental health issues. With a suitable form of treatment and counselor, therapy can help solve relationship and mood issues.
You may have heard about talk or cognitive behavioral therapies before but not know what they entail. They're both great for different reasons and it's important to find
which one will work best for you!
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Counseling can take many different forms. In addition to mental illness, many people seek therapy because of circumstantial issues. Depending on the person, there are a wide variety of treatment options available.
Not everyone who receive mental health treatment are mentally ill. Life provides everyone with certain challenges that may feel overwhelming. Needing professional help to overcome life obstacles is separate from having a mental illness.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a mental illness is a condition that is associated with distress or a problem functioning in social, work, or family environments. A mental illness is diagnosable and occurs when a significant change occurs in the foundation of emotions, communication, self-esteem, or realistic perception.
Examples of diagnosable mental illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, socialized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Although mental illness can be brought on by external factors such as trauma or life circumstance, mental illness can also be rooted in biology. For severe cases of mental illness involving schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, medication is often a necessity.
Mental health does not describe a class of people. Regardless of personal, relational, or mood functioning, everybody has mental health. Because we are an emotional species, understanding and coping with our thoughts and feelings is essential. Visiting a mental health professional can help an individual uncover subconscious thought patterns, change problematic behavior, process grief, and repair relationships.
If you are going through a hard time and thinking of seeking professional help, here are three steps you can take to get ready for this process.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
A great deal of energy can be spent avoiding unwanted feelings and emotions. Whether you’re experiencing marital problems, living through a death in the family, or experiencing a change in routine, it can be second nature to deny your feelings. By masking them through using substances like alcohol or drugs or by avoiding them through long hours at the office, you can actually prolong suffering. The first step to overcoming difficult obstacles is to acknowledge the feelings surrounding them. Once this is done, you can accept the need for help.
If you do not feel particularly hopeful about a situation, let alone the future as a whole, it will be hard to manage whatever it is you are dealing with. By assigning small goals that can be realistically accomplished, you can start to have hope for a better life. This is not an easy step. For those who are feeling depressed or extremely anxious, having hope in the future may involve finding outside help. A mental health professional can guide you through the process of overcoming painful emotions. Many people find comfort knowing they are not alone in their struggles.
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Most people find that they recover from mental health problems after seeking professional help. While the time frame for everyone is different, an increase in energy is common. Making plans that are designed around small, individual goals can help boost confidence and happiness. Set goals for yourself and be ready to discuss those during your counseling sessions.
Therapy can help with all kinds of life circumstances. Whether you’re adjusting to a new routine or grieving the loss of a loved one, talking through the issues can improve behavior and mood. During a crisis, it is easy to become cognitively overwhelmed and when life feels unmanageable, our coping skills can decline.
Visiting a mental health professional is one way to feel secure and confident in a variety of situations.
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Therapy can help. It's not just for people with mental illnesses. It's for anyone who wants to feel better about themselves and their lives. Therapy is a process of talking through your thoughts and feelings in a safe space with someone who understands what you're going through. You'll learn how to cope with stressors in your life that are causing anxiety or depression so they don't control you anymore.
If therapy sounds like something that could benefit you,
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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 that allows you to sit with your feelings and truly 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 masking it while allowing room for what was identified 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. By identifying the situation or the trigger causing that particular emotion, actionable strides can then be taken to remove or reduce the impacts later on.
Or steps can be taken 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 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 events, breathing, journaling, or meditation, among others. Each of these outlets provides an opportunity to help you feel less overwhelmed and eventually reduce 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 both mentally and emotionally.
Others can offer advice, tools, resources, and even just a listening ear to help you process what you’re feeling. It can also guide you through developing healthy coping strategies to manage negative emotions (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 focusing on the negative stimuli and causing us to find those good things that exist presently in our lives.
Then it replaces the negativity with positivity by causing us to deviate from the negative emotions towards happiness and joy that gratitude is linked with creating. Taking a few moments to either write down all that you are grateful for or even 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 a combination of several, these are great ways to first understand how you feel, address the cause of what you’re feeling, and then develop coping strategies for situations where you find yourself encountering these negative emotions.
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
By Holly Miller
Mrs. Miller, will you be here after school for a while?” In my third year of teaching, one of my tougher students poked her head into my classroom at dismissal. “Yes Maria, what can I do for you?” I said smiling, hiding my own hesitation. Maria and I had a rocky start to the school year. She was defiant, cut class, and often didn’t have her work done. But I tried my best to give her a clean slate every day and be as patient as possible. She asked if she could get some help on the assignment we were working on in class earlier that day and I was pleased to see her actually putting in some effort so I happily obliged. She actually didn’t need a whole lot of help and it seemed like she just needed a place to work and have someone hold her accountable. Maria started coming by after school once a week for extra math help. After a while, she asked if she could come work on any work in my classroom, even if it wasn’t for my class. I had plenty of grading and lesson planning to do, so she came by a few times every week after school and we often chatted and worked, each accomplishing what we needed to do.
After these impromptu work sessions became the norm for us, Maria started to try in class, had her work done, dropped her ‘tough girl’ exterior with me, and stopping missing class. One afternoon, she shared with me that she couldn’t get work done at home. Her mom worked late hours and she was responsible for picking up her younger siblings, making dinner, and ensuring they did their homework. She couldn’t complete homework unless she found a quiet place to work directly after school for the one hour she had to wait for the elementary school to dismiss. After she completed her work in my room, she would walk to the elementary school and basically start a ‘second shift’ taking care of her siblings. Maria shared with me that she felt like no one really cared about her success and well-being and she was too busy helping with her family to worry about herself. But coming to my class after school focused her one hour into time to complete school work and decompress from her day. I saw Maria go from almost failing to an exemplary student. She went from being angry, combative, and evasive to focused, goal-oriented, and even polite. While I heard the old adage “students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”, Maria was my first encounter with how much truth there is in that saying. I tried my best to give her a place where she felt safe, supported, and loved.
I am a firm believer in the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child needs a champion.” If you have never heard her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en
While I haven’t put in the 40 years into education that Rita has, I can affirm that in my 12 years in education and 4 years previous to that in early childhood education, this is true. I have seen first-hand students who are loved, supported, and have safe environments succeed while others who don’t have consistent support, have hard home lives, or simply feel like no one is looking out for them fail. The number one reason students succeed is love. Behind every successful student is at least one person who told them they could do it; one person who consistently was there for them. I have had the pleasure of being one of those people to many students, but I have also lost sleep and cried over students who I couldn’t reach. While I can’t be a champion for every child, I wake up every day trying to do so for as many as possible.
We all have young people in our lives. Our own children, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, or little ones at church or in our community. It is imperative that children know they are seen, that they are important to someone, that they are loved. You can be a champion for any child. There are studies done on non-parent mentors and the positive effects on children. (There is an excellent article about it in Psychology Today, found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/mentoring-youth-matters). As adults, whether you are formally responsible for children or not, we need to be there for the children in our lives and cheer them on. Have conversations. Check in with them. Get to know them. Ask what made them smile today. Ask what their favorite class is this school year. Ask who they sit with at lunch. Find out what makes them laugh. Do anything you can to show that you care. So many students slip through the cracks. I have mourned the suicides of too many of my students. I have felt the blow of students dropping out of school or being arrested and sent to alternative education. Raising successful young people is not a one-person job. All adults need to step up and champion children in their lives. Eventually, if there are enough people who do not give up on them, students will realize someone believes in them. There will be at least one person they can connect with and be inspired by. While many things go into student success, the greatest of these is love.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Chou Hallegra, Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC is now a Certified AutPlay Therapy Provider!
AutPlay Therapy was created by Dr. Robert Jason Grant and is a play therapy and behavioral therapy approach to working with children and parents affected by Autism and other developmental disabilities. It combines the therapeutic powers of play therapy, behavioral therapy, and relationship development approaches together in a collaborative model to assist children and adolescents in gaining needed skills and abilities.
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