Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
Talk therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy, offers a more satisfying life by helping people with emotional growth.
During therapy sessions, a person is free to discuss their experiences and feelings with a trained therapist, who, without judgment, supplies respected opinions and options about how the person can make helpful changes.
Why would someone commit to examining and
discussing their life this way?
By resolving psychological issues with guidance and support, a person can improve their quality of life and alleviate physical, mental, and emotional suffering.
According to researchers, there are six excellent benefits available through talk therapy:
Improved Physical Health and Management
of Chronic Conditions
Emotional issues often result in physical symptoms. Resolving emotional issues with talk therapy can help alleviate physical symptoms of stress like:
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, talk therapy can also help people manage chronic medical conditions for a better quality of life. Because these conditions affect a person’s emotional, mental, and physical health, talk therapy can offer ways to improve a person’s quality of life.
Talk therapy is recommended for:
Measurable Changes in the Brain
Forbes Magazine reported on studies that map brain activity showing measurable changes with talk therapy. Scientists understand that some emotional issues are the result of imbalances in the brain. Drug therapy is often used to restore the brain’s chemical balance. When the balance is corrected, symptoms from physiological and physical problems are lessened or resolved.
Studies show that talk therapy alters brain activity in these areas:
These brain areas affect learning, memory, and emotions associated with the anxiety and depression that can be caused by stress. Talk therapy offers the benefit of helping to manage and reduce psychological stress and affects brain activity in these areas.
Have you ever confided in a friend or family member but doubted the wisdom of the advice they gave you? Do you feel dependent on others when looking for solutions to life’s challenges? Although ideas and support from others can be helpful, your decisions should be based on what you need and the answers that will be best for you.
Because talk therapy is non-judgmental and offers respected opinions and advice, therapists help you discover the answers you need in your own way. By examining your life and emotions, therapists guide you to a better understanding of what works best for you and how to stop doing things that don’t help you. Talk therapy teaches you to use other peoples’ advice as part of, but not all of it, finding your answers.
Reduced Psychological Problems and Behaviors
As talk therapy helps reduce your psychological problems, it also helps change negative behaviors you may engage in because of these issues. According to Healthline, an online clearinghouse for medical information, talk therapy can help change negative behaviors associated with:
Because talk therapy helps people learn effective ways to cope with stress, one of the benefits is the long-term effect these changes can have on their lives. The stress management and coping skills a person learns can be used in multiple situations and with various problems. When a person faces a new challenge in life, they can draw on their coping skills to overcome new obstacles without added emotional, mental, or physical stress.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, one in six adults in the United States will suffer from a mental health issue during their lives. Mental health issues can arise from any life disruption, including loss, unexpected change, and other traumas.
Successful people understand the need to resolve psychological problems to improve their lives and achieve their goals. Many people turn to talk therapy for this benefit.
Click on the link below and get started today!
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It can be challenging to know when to seek professional help. While it may be obvious when to do it for medical ailments, mental health concerns can feel more ambiguous.
So, how can you best determine if you need the help of a mental health counselor?
One great tip is when you are experiencing emotional distress, it is the right time to consider seeking help. But, what if you are too used to the “distress” that you don’t consider it as a problem? How can you tell yourself, “Hey, you need help!”
Mental health awareness is important, and it’s something not to be taken lightly. Here are five common signs that emotionally distressed people experience. Any of these can be your light bulb to go ahead and see a mental health counselor.
A Feeling of Excessive Sadness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests that while there are several warning signs linked to mental health-related issues, feeling excessively sad for extended periods indicates a problem. While you may not have clinical depression, sadness can become an issue when it is not recognized and appropriately managed. Feeling overwhelmed and too tired to leave bed are also possible indications that you are experiencing excessive sadness. One thing you have to remember, though, is that sadness does not necessarily mean excessive crying.
Family Members or Friends Noticed a Significant Personality Change
Mental health issues, especially depression, can happen in the most subtle ways and can continue for long periods. This- the manner by which the problem is being manifested- is precisely why cases happen without treatment. More often than not, people in this circumstance don’t recognize the problem because they have become accustomed to the emotion. A number of reasons can trigger the gradual onset of depression and many other mental health issues, but friends and family notice everyday habits such as avoidance, a change in sleeping patterns, and either a significant increase or decrease in energy.
Expressions of Distress in Many Forms
Change that stems from not-so-pleasant circumstances can be a significant reason people seek mental health counseling each year. Distress can include ruminating on either the past or possible future outcomes. Shame or guilt also may occur from an unpleasant event from the past, especially if it has not been resolved. Distress consumes the mind in anticipation of a probable fear, embarrassment, and anxiety that may never happen even happen at all.
Human beings are wired to be social creatures, and most of us need to form relationships to feel that we are not alone. Many issues can get in the way of finding and maintaining healthy relationships. With the right mental health counselor, you will adapt to the “norm” of the relationship and eventually learn to deal with the more challenging days calmly and compassionately. The sooner you are in mental health counseling, the sooner you’ll get the idea of where you’d like to go with the situation you are in now.
Watch this Video
Turn Mental Illness to Mental Wellness
From Mental Illness to Mental Wellness with Author Jeanne Cesena
Physical Ailments that Medical Doctors Can’t Address
The mind and body work together in unison that when one feels pain, the other does too. Multiple, unexplained physical pain or conditions can be the result of an underlying mental health issue. Frequent physical pain from a mental health side effect may include a queasy stomach, migraines, and even general aches. These physical ailments can distract or, worse, prevent us from living a “full” life if not properly managed.
Many symptoms can stem from mental health issues. Some may involve more abstract problems like staying in bed for days for reasons you can’t seem to figure out or concrete issues as multiple failed relationships.
While some may find it difficult to understand that their problems are “bad enough” to see a counselor, one thing is sure- mental health needs professional management. Feeling perpetually sad, tired, fearful, or ashamed for any reason, needs prompt attention.
If you are emotionally distressed, we are here for you. Reach out today!
I’d like to help you unpack, process, and start recovering from those distressing emotions.
Click the link below and let's get you started today!
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Our world has been one of chaos in the last few months, and it can become draining. Social media has taken a turn for the worse, but with social distancing, some of the only ways we have to communicate with each other.
Even though the world is in turmoil, it doesn’t mean you should feel the pressures of the things outside your control. You are allowed to take a step back, turn your phone off, and distract yourself from resting your mind.
Keeping up your mental health is one of the best ways to stay overall healthy. It can be challenging with what is happening, but it is crucial to distract yourself once. If you let things you cannot control overwhelm you, there can be nasty mental health side effects. Here are some of the best tips that will help you promote inner peace and a happier mind.
There are many ways to promote peace and mental health. There may be some experimenting involved to try and figure out what works best for your lifestyle. Many people find their ways to take mental health breaks and keep distracted. This list is a good starting point to find what you love to do.
This may seem cliché, but there is beauty in distracting your mind by using your body. If you are not someone who works out, taking the time to go on a long walk every day may benefit you. After two weeks of 30-minute walks every day, you will notice that you feel happier, you can appreciate the outdoors, and your waist is slimmer!
All the great benefits of walking outside. Suppose you want to take it to the next level by walking outside without electronic devices.
There are times you need to be distracted but also want to feel productive. Now is the time to start meal prepping for the rest of the week. This will help you feel accomplished, but it will help you stay ahead of the week and be health-conscious. This tip helps your mind stay focused, but it also helps you physically when you work on your nutrition. Believe it or not, diet plays a huge role in mental health.
Each morning or evening, set aside five minutes of your time to sit and breathe. Focus on your body, your emotions, and acknowledge how you feel when you’re meditating. Then let it all go. Still, your body, still your mind, and breathe in and out as deeply as you can.
Each exhale lets go of a stressor. Each inhale brings in positive energy from the universe.
This is a fantastic way to set an intention at the beginning of the day and a great way to end a day on a positive note no matter what has happened.
Play with Your Kids Outside
If everyone is at home, put away the screens and get outside. This is the best time to stay distracted and promote everyone’s mental health by playing out in the sun! You will feel the fresh air, get vitamin D, and spend quality time with your kids. This is an excellent way to ensure your children are staying mentally healthy as well.
Journaling Inspires Freedom
If you are feeling angry or sad or overwhelmed, writing can be a great outlet. It helps you get any negative energy you have out and allows you to feel free of those draining thoughts. Journaling can be done anywhere at any time.
Learning to express your ideas for what they are is a skill that will get better over time. Journaling can promote communication skills. You will learn how to articulate precisely the problem instead of blaming other things that are not the root cause of mental unhappiness.
Focusing on Mental Health is Just as Important as Focusing on Physical Health
Finding ways to distract yourself to promote mental peace can seem like a daunting task, especially when things get overwhelming. It would help if you learned to step back and acknowledge a situation without getting worked up.
Learn to let things go, do not let negative energy build up in your body. Life is about growth; part of growing is learning to distract yourself healthily and then accepting certain situations
The COVID-19 pandemic has been brutal on the state of mental health in Americans. You’ve been limited to how you can celebrate birthdays, graduations, and weddings. You’ve seen loved ones hooked up to a ventilator fighting for their lives. You’ve got an entire hygienic routine every time you leave the house: Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, and repeat. Here’s what you can do to protect your mental health during this ongoing pandemic.
Get Some Exercise
You don’t have to go to the gym to stay in shape. There are plenty of exercises and routines that you can do from the comfort of your living room. That includes activities like push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, and even going for a nice jog around the block.
On top of building your endurance and strength, exercise can trigger the release of endorphins in your system. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are known as the “feel-good” hormone and will naturally boost a low mood during such trying times.
Stay in Contact With Loved Ones
Not being able to meet with those you care about can be detrimental to your mental health. Prolonged loneliness and social isolation can increase your risk of certain mental health disorders, substance abuse issues, or even suicide.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that loneliness in older adults increases the risk of dementia and other serious health disorders. The best way to avoid these consequences is by staying in touch with loved ones via daily or weekly phone calls, video calls, or text messages.
Leave the House
Most states still have limitations regarding where you can go, what you can do, and who you can see. Yet, at this point in the pandemic, you realize that your mood declines, and you feel fatigued the longer you stay put in the house.
In a study published in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vitamin D, which the body can absorb from sunlight, is a great mood booster and is used to treat depression. So, if you’re feeling down and lonely in the house, spend some time in the backyard or go for a walk at the park before your fellow citizens get there.
Reach Out to a Therapist
If you were already struggling with your mental health before the pandemic, there’s a good chance that your situation has worsened as the months continued. Luckily, most mental health facilities' forced closure doesn’t mean that you currently have no access to care. Many counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists have moved to telemedicine for the time being. Scheduling an appointment with a therapist via video call is a great way to process your emotions and learn how to cope.
Get a Pet
Most people would appreciate coming home from work every day to be greeted by a friendly dog or cat. But when loneliness and sadness become excessive during quarantine, a pet may be exactly what you need to feel better.
Even better, you may be able to help empty your local animal shelter. The connection between pet ownership and mental health has been long studied. In fact, a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, mental health improvements were seen in about 74% of pet owners.
During a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, you must prioritize your mental health. Not only will this make you feel less lonely and like you have a greater purpose, but it’ll also save you from a ton of emotional turmoil that you’ll have to sort through once COVID-19 is gone for good.
By Karima Leslie
In times of crisis and transition, we long for our previous normal. We gravitate towards what is familiar, even when what is familiar and "normal" is killing us. We crave fast food and long for the job back that was burning us out and running us into the ground. And none of that is bad. Seeking comfort in familiarity is completely normal. But this season of life is calling us to create a new normal. A better one. When all of this is done, we could have dancing in the streets, we could get to know our neighbors and be active in our community. We could come together, united because of this shared hardship and love like we never have before.
Top 5 tips to Coping through COVID-19
#1: Pay Attention to How You Feel
Pay attention to the warning signs your body & mind may be giving you. Are you finding yourself easily irritated? Overly emotional? Going back to bad habits? Having a hard time concentrating? Experiencing unexplained headaches or body pain?
These are all signs that your mind & body are asking for an intervention.
#2: Dealing with Isolation
When finding yourself in a new environment or working within new parameters, such as lockdowns or self-isolation due to the pandemic, it is important to give yourself a clear sense of purpose. Decide how you want to use this time. Will you be working from home or have time-off? How do you want to schedule your days?
To avoid boredom, discover new activities to enjoy, forgotten hobbies, or pastimes that you had previously gotten too busy for. Learn something new. There is a plethora of free classes on design, marketing, art, languages, music, etc. Learning something new can help you level-up in your current career, bring peace to your spirit, or excitement to your life.
You get to decide what you use this time for and do not feel guilty if what you need during this time is simply to rest. We all require breaks, that is what makes us human.
#3: Take Care of Your Body
It is easy to lie awake worrying about all the things going wrong in the world and in our lives. Choose a time one hour earlier than when you would like to go to bed, say 9pm, to start winding down your day. Find activities that are truly calming and that put your mind at ease (not just a distract you). Turn down the lights, put on some calming music, turn off any screens or devices and do something relaxing before bed.
Try and get your nutrients. This one I know is tough for lots of us since many of us have had to change our budgets as work dynamics shift. Usually common grocery items may also be sold out from time to time. But our mindset has everything to do with our ability to adjust and cope. Take this as an opportunity to cook with new ingredients and learn new recipes.
#4: Take Breaks from the News
The constant barrage of breaking news, especially when it is presented in the most pessimistic light, can cause overwhelm and trigger anxiety. Humans do not have the capacity to absorb everything that is going in the world at all times. Every breaking news story does not equally deserve your attention and there is a line where informing ourselves turns into obsessing over things we cannot control.
It is important that we do our part to be loving, contributing citizens of planet earth. Educate yourself about the facts, the many ways to stay safe and help others, and then take a break from the covid, police brutality, and world disaster news. As a mental health & chronic illness advocate, I may bring up covid from time to time on my platforms, but I do so with a purpose to provide resources, skills, & activities on How to Cope, how to still have fun, how to find peace, be social, laugh, & enjoy life in this new context. I am here to kick fear to the curb and help you deal with this thing.
Check out my page at www.ariseandthrive.ca for more resources on getting motivated, organized, and back on track!
A chronic illness warrior herself, Karima Leslie has battled with debilitating chronic conditions as well as anxiety & depression that came along with them.
Now a champion for mental, spiritual, & emotional health care, Karima Leslie practices as a Spiritual Life & Business Coach providing virtual wellness sessions and business coaching to help women kill overwhelm, boost confidence, & conquer fear. She is currently accepting new clients looking to gain more energy, simplify recovery, find new joy in forgotten passions, and healing for the mind, body, & soul. She is also working on a group program for women entrepreneurs struggling with chronic illness.
Founder of Arise and Thrive Co., check out her services & resources on her:
or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in on a free session and find out your next step to making 2020 a better year!
By Holly Miller
“Are you ready for the new school year?” is a question I hear every year earlier and earlier into my summer break. It always makes me squirm with anxiety in a regular year. This year, when the questions started coming in July, I answered with “I can’t even get my head around that yet!” I spent the good portion of August ignoring it. Even as I woke to attend my first in-service, I was still in denial that the new school year was starting. To say the start of this year has been challenging is an understatement. Teaching always presents new challenges from year-to-year, but with all of the Covid restrictions, seeing my classes for only 88 minutes once a week and coming up with digital lessons for the rest of the week for them, managing students in-person as well as live on Zoom, ensuring I am covering all of the high school math curriculum at the same pace in this platform, and trying my best to keep my students and myself safe with sanitizing, social distancing, and mask-wearing, I do not recognize what I am doing this year as teaching. And I have 100% NOT been ok mentally. I have sobbed every day after work for at least an hour when I got home up until last week. I wrote this social media post in the height of my anxiety:
I’ve had 5 panic attacks in the last 5 days. I am 100% convinced I cannot do my job. The only way I could convince myself to leave my house today was to mobile order a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks. Something good waiting for me outside of my house. I picked my drink up and headed to work. Except I didn’t. I went the complete opposite way. Trying to get myself turned around and heading in the right direction, I drive by the place where we found Murdoch after 3 weeks of hopeless hell. I am taking this as a sign that there are things I was convinced were impossible but they came to be and it can happen again. I’m completely lost. But I’m going to do the next right thing.
"I've seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I'm ready to succumb
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don't know any more what is true
I can't find my direction, I'm all alone.
How to rise from the floor?
But it's not you I'm rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing"
- The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Murdoch in this story was our beloved dog my husband and I had before we were married. A friend was watching him in 2012 when we went to New York City for the day. He was a very anxious dog and when she went to let him out, he snapped his leash and ran off. Murdoch was lost for 3 entire weeks. 21 days. Over Christmas. We did absolutely everything we could to bring him home. We barely slept, barely ate, and were out in the cold and snow non-stop posting flyers, talking to people to ask if they saw him, checking out reported sightings, trekking through wooded areas, streams, and fields to find him. While we felt so hopeless, we never gave up. I never prayed for something harder in my life. 21 days later, down to the hour he escaped, we got a call that he was sighted near a housing development in a field. We were able to secure him. We got him back 6 miles from our house. It was an unbelievable miracle that came true. I always look to this as my personal miracle and proof that with God, all things are possible.
I bring up this story because often when I read in the Bible of Jesus performing miracles and his disciples doubting him, I always get kind of frustrated with his disciples at first. “Um, He is JESUS! You’ve witnessed this man do miracle after miracle! How can you doubt him?!” And then I realize I do the same in my own life. When I got lost on my way to work (seriously, how do you get lost on your way to a place you have driven to over and over again for years) and drove by the spot where God granted me the biggest miracle of my life, I knew it was no mistake. I was being reminded of who is in control when I feel out of control. Despite how terrible I am feeling mentally, how difficult I am finding it to do my job and even just function as a human being, despite my fears, doubts, and worries, I know I have already won this mental battle.
“No, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8:37-38
I sometimes get so caught up in drowning that I forget to look up to see that I’ve been rescued all along. While starting the school year has been tough on all of us, teachers, students, and parents, I am trying my best to remember that this battle I am trying so hard to fight has already been fought and won. Not only will we get through this rough patch, we will more than conquer it.
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 email@example.com
2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. I have seen memes about canceling this year because it has been “so bad”. Well, this year has been nothing like any of expected. We have been dealing with a global pandemic for over about half of this year and the racial injustice current is taking its toll. All of this generates emotions in us that we often refer to as negative (I like the term uncomfortable emotions better). We can feel powerless in the midst of all the emotions generated by these events. But, if we learn to bounce back, we become stronger in the long run.
You are probably saying, “bounce back from a pandemic, from racism? These big things are out of my control!” And in some ways you are right but there is so much we can do to take care of ourselves emotionally so that we can build resilience. While you are in the grasp of uncomfortable emotions, it may seem difficult to build any resilience to life’s less pleasurable experiences. It is possible, and I encourage you to keep that in mind. You can build resilience even during the toughest times!
How come some people give up and cry into a bottle, while others just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on as if nothing happened? They’re called coping skills, and anyone can develop them.
Flexibility and adaptation are undoubtedly two outlooks that help people recover from bad situations. Whereas someone who may feel entrenched in their uncomfortable feelings finds it harder to remove themselves from those feelings and change direction, those who are willing to understand how to let go and change direction quickly, come out on top.
In a way, emotions are like quicksand. By seeing negative events in your life as flexible, short term situations, you can more easily move on. Let’s imagine someone who sees these negative events as a fixed point in space and time. To them, that disappointment they felt with themselves or that failure they felt, is a fixed point in their life. It’s always there. Nothing they can do will change the fact that there are failure and disappointment in their lives. Those who view situations as being temporary will be more likely to see the same situation as a speed bump in life’s rearview mirror.
So what can you do to help you adopt this outlook?
Ever poured paint or bleach into a bucket of water? The same thing happens to people who see their situations as a fixed point in life. If you only focus on what is going wrong, it starts to spread and color everything else. Try seeing new challenges as crayons that can be laid side-by-side with each other. One crayon might be missing the wrapper, the other might have been used so much that you can barely grasp it between your fingers. Some colors are more enjoyable and pleasant, compared to others. But all these crayons are useful.
To build emotional resilience, change the way you see things. But also change the way you see yourself during the crisis. If you think that you won’t make it or this is the end of you, then you will feel doomed. Your perspective is important. And then when you feel that your emotions are being highjacked, do some emotional self-care. Be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself. You can read more about emotional self-care in this article.
How would you handle these challenging events and any other hardship differently if you remembered that nothing lasts forever?
How would you feel emotionally if you focused on what you are learning through these times?
What would you conquer if examined the usefulness of every hurdle in your life?
If you want to build more resilience so you can bounce from hardships faster and always on the winning side, check out this worksheet on Resilience Traits.
By Chou Hallegra
No matter how much we deny this – we all have a desire to be loved. Often, it's a romantic love that we crave. We are caught up in our loneliness and it's normal to have a want for companionship. Although romance isn't everyone's struggle or desire – it may be a familial want, as is platonic friendships. And maybe you want and/or need both, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
For most of us, rejection and hurt leave us feeling unfulfilled and disillusioned with how we expect relationships to play out. When they don't go as we want them to, we often blame ourselves and wonder where we went wrong... that's not what it's about.
This is where learning to love yourself comes in. As much as it is nice to be loved by others, unless you learn to love who you are, you will continue to chase after the wrong thing or people. When you learn to love yourself, then you feel whole no matter who is in your life - and that comes with some incredible benefits, here are six.
1. You'll Be In Charge
Instead of making bad choices because you're being led by shame, guilt or fear – you will be empowered to make choices that truly make sense for who you are – meaning you will be living your authentic life. You will no longer be caught up with people pleasing, instead you will live a life that brings you satisfaction. Self-love means trying to honor yourself because you know your needs are just as important as others.
2. You Set Boundaries & Stick To Them
Once you get the hang of honoring your needs, you start to feel more confident; which helps you become more assertive as well. Of course, this results in a more purposeful attitude, especially when it comes to dating. You start to see who is wasting your time and you're strong enough to move forward without them. More importantly, you are strong enough to set clear boundaries with people and stick to them.
3. The Approval Seeking Will Stop
When you truly love yourself, you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks about you – which means you're a less defensive person and more confident about living a life that is authentic for you. Why would you need acceptance from everyone else when you truly accept yourself? For those of who are Christians, we find our true value from our identity in Christ. We love ourselves because we are already loved by God and what people think of us does not change how we see ourselves.
4. You Will Be A Conscious Decision Maker
Loving yourself gives you the courage to cut things from your life that don't truly bring you joy or provide you with ample space to grow. It's easy to make courageous decisions when you value yourself and actively make choices that are intended to honor you, rather than risk harming you.
5. You Will Enjoy Alone Time
A lot of people get caught up in keeping busy schedules simply because they're terrified of feeling or being alone. You surround yourself with people, throw yourself into work, and make decisions that help you avoid that loneliness. Why would you do all of the things that you don't love? You could be filling that time with things that you actually enjoy doing – whether it’s meditation, swimming, writing or watching a movie. It doesn't need to feel scary to spend time alone, you should enjoy time with yourself. Self-love brings more comfort when you're spending time in your own company.
You don't need to find happiness in relationships, whether they're romantic or not. When you start taking responsibility for it and stop giving your power away to everyone else, you will naturally feel happier. If you're not in a romantic relationship you will find that you aren't as desperate to be in one as you once were. When the right person shows up, you will be ready for that love.
Now that you know loving yourself will benefit you, check out my course that will get you started on that:
By Holly Miller
As a rule, when I am on Summer Break, I put up personal barriers so I can relax. I do not allow myself to dwell on the past school year or worry about the upcoming one. The 2020-2021 school year, however, causes more anxiety than usual. “Are we going back to in-person instruction? How will social distancing work? Are we really expected to enforce mask wearing for students of all ages? If we go to a hybrid schedule, how will I have time to teach in person and online all in one day? Students are going to be eating lunch in my room?! How do I space 30 desks 6 feet apart in a 20 by 20 room?” All of these thoughts and more started seeping into my relaxation time once summer break began. I threw up my barriers again because, as a teacher, I have no say in what this upcoming school year will be like, so why stress about it? I do want to write this month’s blog to frame this upcoming school year in hopes of insight and easing some worry.
If you are a parent of a student, I know you have so many questions. I know there was so much that you would like to see improved upon if we are doing online education again. I realize what a hard choice it will be to send a student to school or continue distance education if you are given that option. But here is the number one thing you can do to help your student. Have a positive attitude. Children are VERY perceptive. They can instantly pick up on how you are reacting to hard news. When schools closed in the Spring, did you huff and puff and complain? Then I guarantee your children did the same. If you tried to give it your best effort and tackle what you could with what you had, I bet your children were willing to at least TRY to follow your example.
So no matter what is decided for the upcoming school year, realize those decisions are pretty much out of parents’, students’, and teachers’ hands. What we CAN control is how we react to these tough decisions. We can change our attitudes to meet challenges head-on. Will this upcoming school year be all rainbows and smiles? Probably not. Be willing to roll with the punches, expect the unexpected, and be ready to adapt to multiple changes. Children learn by example, so we must lead by example. I’m not saying we can’t be sad or disappointed if things don’t go how we would want, but we have to meet this school year with a ‘can-do’ attitude and I know it will go much better than those who find something to complain about at every twist and turn. If I hear the word ‘unprecedented’ one more time, I might scream, however, these times are truly unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I NEVER would have imagined my school year would have ended the way it did. We all must realize that while we are all in the same storm, we may not be all in the same boat. So have a great summer break, do things that make you and your family happy, and be ready to return to school rested and ready to rise to the challenges we will be facing. We can do this if we BELIEVE we can do this!
By Holly Miller
Our brains are amazingly powerful. That brain power can do some astonishing things to our bodies. It has caused me to shake uncontrollably for weeks, make me feel dizzy for days on end, overwhelm my body to the point of passing out, and pack on weight. When harnessed for good, my brain helped me to calm myself, clear my skin, and lose weight. There is this chemical in our brain called cortisol that can change your life for better or worse. If you want to read more about it, here is a quick guide: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol
If you don’t believe in what our brains can do to our bodies, take a look at the picture that accompanies this blog post. That picture is of the same woman, in the same classroom, 4 years apart. Look at the lady on the left. Blotchy red skin, round face, glassy eyes, defeated expression. She looks nothing like the lady on the right who looks bright, happy, and ready to tackle life! But both are me! After I got some medical help from my doctor, I began to re-evaluate how I let my brain speak to me. “You are worthless.” “You always fail at everything you do.” “You will never truly feel happy.” Would you let anyone say these things to your best friend? No? Then why do we say them to ourselves?! The way we speak to ourselves (self-talk) can affect our cortisol levels. Your brain has that kind of power. Look at that photo again! The woman on the left was not kind to herself in the least. The woman on the right looks like someone I would want to give me a pep-talk. We cannot allow ourselves to speak in a way that we NEVER would to someone else.
I was struggling to write a blog this month. I realized it was because I was slipping back into negative self-talk. I think so many of us don’t even realize we are doing it. We need to be more aware of how we talk to ourselves. Our brains can be re-wired for our benefit. I love this article: https://brainspeak.com/how-negative-self-talk-sabotages-your-health-happiness/ It talks about how we can literally change our brains to affect our bodies for good health. It seems so cliché to hear, “Just think positive!”, but our brains depend on it for our health, mentally AND physically.
Next time you have a negative thought about yourself, I challenge you to change it. Whenever I find a bad thought coming into my head, I picture a loved one in my mind and make myself say that thought aloud to that person. I immediately come to that person’s defense. “You can’t talk to her like that!” “She is an AMAZING person.” “BACK OFF! Why are you being so mean?!” Why do we not champion ourselves like that? YOU are the most influential person in your life. It’s time to take back that powerful brain of yours and use it for good!
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 Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
BY Holly Miller
I have prayed for things that have miraculously, against all odds, have come to be. The moment of answered prayer is truly extraordinary. I have experienced overwhelming joy as an impossible prayer has been answered. It affirms your faith and gives you confidence that there is good in this dark world. But has God ever answered a constant prayer with a gentle but firm “no”? What then? I have prayed for many things that God has tenderly turned down. Miracle denied. These moments can rattle your faith to your core. Mourning with loved ones over a miscarriage, watching a dear family member deteriorate and die from a terrible illness, finding out a student lost his battle with depression and having to attend his funeral, saying goodbye to someone who left us far too young. These moments shatter hearts and turn even the most faithful to doubt. How can a supposed ‘loving God’ allow so much suffering, sadness, and, and pain?
One thing I have prayed for most of my life is for God to lift my anxiety and depression. Just completely wipe it from my life. Some days it is such a heavy burden and I would love to set it down for good and never have these disorders show their ugly faces in my life ever again. I have prayed numerous times for this cup to pass from me. And I have been met with an answer to that prayer. It is a definite and heart-breaking “no”. It has been made abundantly clear to me that God intends me to carry my anxiety and depression all of the days of my life. And at one point (and I am sure there will be many similar times to come) I was so sad and angry about it. I even walked completely away from my faith for a few years because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t granted relief from my torturous brain.
When I was younger, under my anxiety ran a river of rage. It was silent, pushed deep down inside my heart. Many people would probably be surprised to know how angry I sometimes got; that I felt the way I did. Even now, my anxiety and depression is sometimes too much to bear. There are days when all I can do is cry and yell “why have you made me this way?!” over and over to God. Sometimes I am too numb and calloused to even argue with Him. I just sit in stunned silence while my brain attacks me. But as I started feeling a gentle nudge to tell my story, my struggles, my triumphs, and my gritty life of living with General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder, I have found encouragement as well. When someone pulls me aside to talk about mental health or sends me a message saying “me too”, the solidarity and love I feel for that person outweighs all of the pain. People who have thanked me for being so open and sharing my story have touched my life more than they know. Many who share their lives with me have given me the strength to carry on; to keep writing my story no matter how ugly or painful it can sometimes be. In sharing my struggle, I have found that I am spreading awareness and saving lives. That alone makes the battle worth it (most days). Being able to reach out and show others that they are not alone in the sometimes-scary thoughts that reside in our heads helps me carry on and fight my fight.
I have always loved the Lord of the Rings series with its themes of bearing burdens. If you are not familiar with the series, a young hobbit named Frodo is tasked with the burden of carrying an evil ring on a long journey to its destruction. The effect the ring has on Frodo often makes it too difficult for him to move forward. He finds encouragement from his friends along the way, one being a wise wizard named Gandalf.
Frodo: 'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.'
Gandalf: 'So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides that of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
I always loved this conversation and it has helped me to carry on as well. While I would never ask for anxiety and depression disorders that often debilitate me, it is encouraging (as strange as that sounds) that I was chosen to bear this load. I was granted this journey, whether I want to take it or not, to show the world that one CAN stand up under these diagnoses. I don’t claim to know the inner-workings of God or understand why the world is sometimes in the sorry state it is. I don’t know your struggle, your pain, your life. I can’t explain away every instance of “why would You let this happen God?” But I do know for me, He will not let this cup pass from me no matter how earnestly and endlessly I ask him to take my mental health struggles away. And I truly believe that is because I am meant to bear this burden, to show others it can be done, and help light the way for those who struggle like I do.
In Matthew 11:28-30, it says “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We are not promised a burden-free life. In this scripture, we are granted rest in the Lord, but if you read it carefully, there is still a burden to bear. “My burden is light”, yes, but it is still a burden. Even light loads can get heavy when you don’t take time to put them down and rest. We all have burdens we carry. Mine is my anxiety and depression. Although I asked God to take them away, He said “no”. And sometimes a “no” to our prayers isn’t a slammed door or an abrupt end to hope. It is a re-direction into a new, albeit still challenging journey.
If we don’t have darkness, we can’t see the light. I was meant to carry this darkness inside of me so I can show my light to the world. And as Gandalf says to Frodo, “that is an encouraging thought.”
By Julia Morrissey
In addition to the normal stressors in life, quarantine also has psychological impacts. This is why it is more important than ever to check in with ourselves. The pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, less productive, and disconnected. Some people may also be experiencing new or increased feelings of anxiety or depression as well as patterns of negative thinking. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to strengthen and improve mental health. It is possible that some of us may even have more time now to spend practicing self-care. This extra time can also be an opportunity to seek out new self-care tools that work well for you. One practice that has been shown to be effective for improving mental health is self-discovery.
In addition to eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep, working to improve self-awareness is an important part of self-care. Practicing self-discovery by taking the time to answer specific questions honestly and without judgement can really help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and cope better with stressful situations. This ultimately helps to reduce the mental and physical toll of stress on the body.
By practicing self-discovery we can improve our emotional intelligence, assess our strengths and weaknesses, improve communication, and make better decisions. This practice can also help us create action plans, which will allow us to solve problems and get closer to achieving our goals.
Depending on what you are looking to address in your life, there are specific questions you can ask yourself. These questions can help you find clarification, grow, and ultimately succeed. Below are some sample questions you can use when you are looking to learn more about yourself and your relationship with your family. At the end of this article you can also download printable personal and family self-discovery questions to start practicing now.
Questions like these can help you learn more about your relationship with yourself:
Questions like the following can help you learn more about your relationship with your family:
Julia Morrissey is a content creator for University of St. Augustine Health Sciences and she works to develop helpful guides and compelling stories. Her passion for creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to lifestyle. She calls New York City home and enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, running in Central Park, and finding new vegan dining options around the city.
By Holly Miller
Everywhere you look in the past weeks has been the same coverage in the media. And I struggled whether to acknowledge the same thing on everyone’s mind for this month’s blog. But I feel I have some insight when it comes to anxiety. I know it well. I’ve battled it for years. Anyone who knows me knows I am open about my anxiety, and during this uncertain time, many people checked up on me out of concern, hoping I am dealing ok. Many of these people were very surprised to have found a calm and certain person on the other end of the call. While others have been feeling extreme anxiety for perhaps the first time in their lives, I have found that others like me who have struggled with anxiety most of their lives are actually doing well! I believe this is because I have coping mechanisms in place when experiencing feelings of fear, uncertainty, and stress. There are times where I do feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But I have ways of dealing with these feelings, practiced over years and years of dealing with anxiety, that may be helpful. So if you are new to uncertainty and are struggling right now, here are some ways I have been coping.
1. Get dressed
Yes, even if you are not going anywhere. I promise you will feel better. Even if you change from pajamas to yoga pants, changing your clothes and getting ready for the day can change your whole outlook.
2. Stick to a schedule
You don’t have to have every minute planned out and you can keep it relatively loose, but have a general plan for each day. Chunk off time to eat, clean up, get work done, and also time for leisurely activities. Having a plan will help keep you going.
3. Lower your expectationsI know this sounds negative, but this is more about granting yourself (and others in your household) some grace. This is a stressful time. There is so much unease. It’s ok for things to take longer than normal. Put in a good effort every day to accomplish what you need to get done and then let the rest go for another day.
4. Set and keep boundaries
If you are working from home, have a set time you will start and stop work and hold yourself to that. Have a specific place where you do work and leave the rest of your house for your life outside of work. It is easy to blur the lines between work and leisure when you are stuck at home. Eventually, you will be “on” all of the time and will sacrifice the rest you desperately need (mentally and physically). If you are stopping work at 5 PM, shut down email, close down all work-related tasks, and physically leave your workspace for the rest of the night.
5. Do some type of physical activity / go outside
When I am feeling particularly anxious, taking a quick walk around the block can do wonders. Find a yoga video on Youtube and follow along. Put on your favorite song and dance! It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous, but getting up and moving around every day helps. Some days the weather isn’t great, but getting outside, even for a few minutes, is proven to help your mentality.
6. Keep a list of hobbies and activities that are ‘screen-less’
Most of us are using technology to stay connected and to complete work. When you aren’t working, take a break from your computer, tablet, and phone. I personally like cross-stitch, painting with diamonds (you can order these kits off of Amazon), reading, and puzzles. If you have an ongoing project to work on, you can pick that up when you are feeling restless.
7. Stay connected with loved ones
Call or better yet, video chat with friends and family outside of your house. It raises everyone’s spirits to hear and/or see a friendly face. If you don’t have a lot to talk about because you don’t have a lot going on right now, have a theme night! Make yourself a cocktail or mocktail, make up funny toasts to each other, and have a happy hour. Have everyone paint along with Bob Ross and show your masterpieces when you are done. Read trivia questions to each other. Play charades. Start a book club - agree on a book, and discuss it when everyone finishes it. With video chat, the possibilities are endless! We may be socially distancing, but that doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant.
It’s ok not to be ok right now. It’s ok to feel lost, uneasy, and even disappointed. Acknowledge these feelings and know that you are not alone. So many of us are feeling unease. What we considered normal are now things we can no longer do (for now). And that is hard. And this lifestyle may have to go on longer than we want. But realize that this will eventually end. When life returns to normal, take time to appreciate all of the little things we once took for granted.
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.” - Kitty O’Meara
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at email@example.com