Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
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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At some point in our lives, we all deal with painful and negative emotions. Whether those emotions are fear, anxiety, resentment, or other fear-based emotions, if we do not learn to manage those emotions properly, they can get the best of us and destroy us.
Identify the Emotion
You cannot correctly address something you cannot first identify. It requires a level of self-awareness. It allows you to sit with your feelings, genuinely get to the root of what is going on. The act of identifying what is triggering the negative feelings eases the burden of trying to ignore or mask the sense while allowing room for what was determined to be addressed in the right way. The ultimate benefits of this can include reduced stress and anxiety (Partnership Staff, 2017).
Once you know what you’re feeling, you can begin to identify what causes you to feel that way. Determining actionable strides, you can take the situation or trigger causing that particular emotion to remove or reduce the impacts of those triggers.
Or you can take steps to help you learn how to manage those triggers so they no longer produce the intense negative pain or fear-based emotion moving forward (Brown, 2019).
Redirecting the negative emotions you feel into positive activities can be a healthy way to release those negative emotions. Redirection is about channeling negative emotions and energy into an action that allows for emotional release without causing harm. Activities can include physical activity, breathing, journaling, or meditation, among others. Each of these outlets provides an opportunity to help you feel less overwhelmed, thus reducing stress, tension, and anxiety (Scott, 2020).
Getting help from outside sources can be one of the best ways to get help with painful and fear-based emotions. Whether that support is in the form of friends and family or a licensed professional, sometimes having an additional person to talk things through with can help bring relief mentally and emotionally.
Others can offer advice, tools, resources, and even just a listening ear to help you process what you’re feeling and develop healthy coping strategies to manage those negative emotions you feel (Scott, 2020).
Being thankful is a strategy that can act as a grounding force when faced with painful and fear-based emotions. Gratitude first draws us into the present moment by taking our focus off of the negative stimuli and causing us to find those good things that exist presently in our lives right now.
Then it replaces the negativity with positivity by causing us to deviate from the negative emotions towards the happiness and joy connected with gratitude in creating. Taking a few moments to either write down all that you are grateful for or even simply think about them helps counter these negative emotions.
We do not have to live indefinitely with painful and fear-based emotions. We can take action to help ourselves overcome negative feelings and thrive in our lives. Whether you adopt one of these strategies or several, these are great ways first to understand how you feel; address the cause of what you’re feeling. Develop coping strategies for situations where you find yourself encountering these negative emotions at any point in the future.
Brown, L. (2019, October 22). How to deal with negative emotions: 10 things you need to remember. Hack Spirit. https://hackspirit.com/negative-emotions/
Partnership Staff. (2017, May 28). Coping with fear, anger, and other negative emotions. Partnership to End Addiction | Where Families Find Answers. https://drugfree.org/article/coping-fear-anger/#
Scott, E. (2020). How to deal with negative emotions and stress. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-should-i-deal-with-negative-emotions-3144603
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The most common conversations that we have around depression and anxiety revolve around scientific literature. We look at how anxiety and depression can be relieved or solved through pharmacological responses or cognitive-behavioral solutions.
This is all helpful, and it's all true, but sometimes that isn't enough. Some people spend a lifetime on pharmacological products and still deal with symptoms of anxiety and depression. While some people go the route of ketamine infusions to get relief from treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, that is not the only option.
There is something to be said for hope and faith. How on earth can hope and faith have any effect whatsoever on depression and anxiety? Let's talk about it.
A big part of any spiritual framework is a belief in something greater than yourself. That can help you maintain hope even on the longest of roads. When you have faith in something, you believe that it's more than wishful thinking that positive change can and will come by holding onto it.
It's important to expect that things will get better. If that isn't present, what point is there to follow through? Life can be difficult, it can be challenging, and hope is key to getting through that relatively unscathed.
When you are filled with hope, you are more open-minded to new and different ways of handling anxiety and depression. Sometimes, the people who need the most help are the people who have found traditional treatment partially or entirely ineffective. So, what comes next? If you have tried CBT, you have attempted medication, then what's left? The open-mindedness of hope ensures that you never give up. Hope fills you with the power to do everything possible to move away from depression and anxiety.
For some, that means more prayer. Prayer, like meditation, offers stress relief and helps us feel more in control of our lives. Prayer doesn't have to be the traditional idea of prayer. It could also include journaling, meditation, sitting in peace, spending time in nature, or otherwise. While prayer isn't always practical, it can help.
Spiritual practices, whether meditation or prayer, communing with nature, or with fellow believers in service, may provide you with a boost in attitude and behavior. These positive boosts help you fight anxiety and depression. Prayer or meditation can help you recognize your emotional reactions more clearly, thus preventing the typical knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes the best thing you can do is accept the present and just do nothing. It’s a lesson that you can learn through the positive evolution of hope, faith, and practice of your spirituality.
When you look at your life through the lens of being on a spiritual journey, then you no longer view problems as obstacles. Instead, you recognize problems as opportunities to learn and grow. You get the sense that, at any given moment, you are where you are supposed to be.
I want to be clear; hope and faith won't necessarily leave you jumping with joy as though no harm can befall you. It's more about understanding that with difficulty comes growth and every setback is an opportunity.
Often, depression and anxiety stem from stress which comes from our inability to control everything. If you tend to react with disappointment, anger, sadness, or any other negative emotions, I want you to take it as an opportunity.
Take a step back and ask yourself what hope and faith can teach you at this moment and what this problem or obstacle may uncover opportunity.
You deserve to be happy.
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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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Many people will say, “Money isn’t everything.” That’s true in a sense. Life is more about contributing to society, being happy, and living a life worth remembering. The problem is that it’s impossible to live life in 2020 without the money to pay your bills and buy what you need to survive. Low funds can lead to money worries, which can then impact your mental health.
Money Worries Statistics
Even if you’re not precisely “struggling” financially, there’s still a chance that you have money worries. The topic is a huge social problem in America, with a 2019 Gallup Poll showing:
Though these statistics aren’t exactly comforting when it comes to the state of America’s economy, it might be relieving to know that you’re not the only one worrying about money.
How It Impacts Mental Health
Whether you’re worried about putting food on the table, avoiding foreclosure on your home, or keeping the lights on in your apartment, excessive money worries will eventually begin to take a toll on your mental health.
In some cases, you might experience intense anxiety or depression.
The constant money worries might keep you awake at night, unable to sleep, wondering whether you’ll have the funds to fill your gas tank to get to work in the morning. You might be afraid that your credit card will be declined when you go to buy groceries to feed your family.
Other times, you may begin to feel as if you’re in a hole that you’re unable to dig yourself out of, as you don’t have a college degree to get a higher-paying job. You might stop paying your bills entirely, knowing that you’re hardly making a dent in your student loans.
Reducing & Coping With Your Money Worries
The good news is that there are some things that you can do to cope with your money worries successfully. For example, you can:
There’s no quick fix when it comes to money worries. You can’t avoid paying your bills, and your rent has to be paid each month. Since there’s only so much you can do overnight regarding your financial situation, spend more time healing your mental health instead.
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Money worries are widespread, even when the economy seems to be booming. However, when they get severe, money worries can be extremely dangerous to your mental health. The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. It also helps to educate yourself on financial planning and strategies.
Do you have money worries?
Money is a source of stress for many people. It can be difficult to know how to deal with your money worries. You may feel like you're drowning in debt, or that the bills are piling up and
there's no way out. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are ways to cope with
your financial stresses so they don't take over your life.
The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. Setting up a budget, talking to a counselor, life coach or financial advisor are all healthy ways to deal with money stress.
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Fear is an entirely normal part of life. Maybe you’re afraid of spiders or other critters. Perhaps you’re fearful of losing your loved ones to illness. Or it’s possible you’re terrified of what you don’t know, the unknown.
Regardless of your fears or where they come from, one thing is for sure: The antidote to fear is education and preparation. So, let’s talk about what that means and how you can make that a reality in your life.
Why We Have Fears
There are plenty of reasons that we as humans develop fears.
In some cases, we’re fearful because we know something is potentially dangerous to our safety and well-being. For example, you may be afraid of heights because you know that losing your balance can cause severe injury or death.
Sometimes, fear is something that we learn. For example, growing up in a household where your family members are deathly afraid of snakes may lead you to develop this fear as well. That may be the case, even if you’ve never encountered a snake in person.
Then, you also have the fear that comes from the unknown.
The Importance of Education
Often, what we see as the “unknown” comes down to a lack of education on our part. It’s not that the information isn’t readily available to us. It’s that we haven’t learned about it or haven’t been exposed to it.
Education is critical, especially if you have irrational fears.
Let’s say that, as a child, you watched a special on television about shark attacks on humans. Ever since you saw those haunting scenes of shark bite injuries and shark attacks, you’ve refused to go to the beach and get in the water.
Now, let’s say you choose to investigate your fear a little further.
Doing your research and looking at the topic in-depth might end up easing your fears. Instead of believing that all sharks will attack humans while they’re in the ocean, you’ll learn that this rarely occurs in this day and age.
Will this suddenly cure your fear? Maybe not. But it may just help you to work toward overcoming your fear in the future.
The Importance of Preparation
Sometimes, we have fears that come from what we know might happen. Though these instances may be rare, we intentionally avoid certain people, environments, or thoughts to protect ourselves from these fears.
You end up living your life in a bubble.
Let’s say that you grew up in a home where you witnessed emotional and verbal abuse. They told you that your parents truly loved each other, leading your younger self to believe that love comes with pain and abuse.
You choose to avoid relationships altogether as you get older.
Instead of letting your fear of bad relationships consume your life and deprive you of healthy relationships, it’s a better idea to prepare yourself for the “what-ifs.” That may mean figuring out where your boundaries are and knowing when to leave a relationship.
You’d be less afraid of what triggers your fear because you know how to cope with it and handle it if it were to happen.
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Nobody ever said that overcoming fear is simple, significantly if these fears date back years or even decades. The best thing you can do is learn about what you’re afraid of to determine whether your anxiety is rational and warranted. Otherwise, continue to live your life and simply be prepared to protect yourself if you ever come face-to-face with your fears.
Do you feel like your fear is getting in the way of you enjoying life?
You’re not alone. We all experience fear from time to time and can be debilitating if not dealt with.
But there are ways to manage it, so don’t let it get the best of you!
Let me help you find peace with yourself and live a happier life. I specialize in helping people overcome their fears by teaching them how to understand themselves better through counseling sessions, workshops, or one-on-one coaching. I offer free consultations for those who want to learn more about my services before committing.
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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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Are you thinking about getting therapy?
If you’ve never been to a therapist before, you may be wondering what to expect and how exactly a stranger can help you with your problems. These are very common and fair concerns!
Good therapists offer you a large arsenal of therapeutic methods and research-based treatments. In fact, according to a study called Enduring Effects for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety by Steven D. Hollon et al. “cognitive and behavioral interventions have enduring effects that reduce the risk for subsequent symptom return following treatment termination.”
In other words, therapy has shown to continue benefiting you even after you’ve stopped going! Finding a good therapist is often the first step in your mental health journey, besides deciding to seek help.
Read on for five ways a good therapist can help you resolve your issues.
Finding the Root of the Issue
Often, the issue you are dealing with has a much deeper root that you may not even be aware of. Sitting at home trying to find the source alone doesn’t work for many people. We don’t have an outside view of ourselves and our issues, but therapists do.
Upon talking to them about what is bothering you, they may catch onto something you've probably not noticed, at all. From there, you could attempt to fix the root of the problem rather than just struggling with its effects.
Deal With Depression
One of the most prevalent mental illnesses in our society is depression. Depression can wreak havoc on your life and greatly diminish your wellbeing. Because depression is so relevant, therapists have developed many different ways to help people deal with it. Sometimes a mindset change is all someone needs to begin the journey out of depression, and a qualified therapist is the first step to recovery.
Dismantle Your Fears
Fear is something many struggle with, and it can hold you back from living life to its full potential. A good therapist can help you deal with your fears and phobias in constructive ways.
Bringing Out Repressed Emotions
Yes, the thought of bringing up repressed memories and emotions is horrifying. Still, if you leave let them fester you; they will affect your wellbeing, quality of life, and relationships. Talk therapy provides an efficient venue for dealing with repressed emotions for a better and healthier you.
Life Skill Tools
While you and your therapist work through your issues, they will give you exercises and advice to get you through your problems and tough times, as well as help you build efficient life skills. All these will enrich your personal growth journey making you emotionally healthier, stronger, and better able to cope with life.
A Place Of Trust
The ultimate crux of therapy is your relationship with your therapist. Therapy is a place of trust, and the therapist is your best confidant. Remember that everything that takes place in therapy is 100% confidential (by law), and the therapist can not divulge anything you tell them (unless you disclose that you are planning to hurt someone).
In this place of trust, you can be yourself, and talk about the most personal issues, no matter how scary, shameful or difficult. The trust relationship facilitates your ability to be honest and therefore provide the best forum for dealing with and overcoming any issues you may have.
There are many assessment tests a therapist can employ to evaluate your mental health. If you think you may have a generalized anxiety disorder, for instance, your therapist can give you a test to diagnose it. Your therapist should also be able to draw upon their education and years of experience to test you for things you may have never thought to ask for. These tests are critical for forming a treatment plan.
In therapy, you get to enjoy sharing with a bright, neutral, and non-judgmental person. Maybe all you need are some resources and a push in the right direction. Your therapist can help you with struggles in personal relationships, painful issues, any defects you want to overcome and can even help you with your career concerns.
It is also fine if you need to vent. There are no wrong answers! Wanting to talk with a professional is a valid reason to go into therapy. You may even find that checking in every month or every other week is helpful.
Therapists have an arsenal of scientific knowledge and treatments at their disposal. They will first work with you to identify specific problems you want to address. You may walk in feeling a general dissatisfaction about your life. Your therapist will help you determine what, specifically, is making you less satisfied.
Once problems are identified, your therapist can suggest treatments. However, unlike at your primary care doctor’s office, you will need to be an active participant in these treatments. You will need to be an active participant in finding what to treat as well! You will only get from therapy what you put into it.
Therapy is not a must for everyone, but it is not a bad idea. Therapists are trained to help others process their issues. Even if you need only to vent or gain self-awareness, therapy is worth the time.
Ultimately, the goal of personal growth can get a considerable boost when you find a partner in the person of your therapist to help you through that journey.
When was the last time you had a free moment to breathe simply? If it’s been a long time and you’re riddled with worry and racing thoughts, then you might be experiencing some anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 18 million Americans experience stress in any given year. The good news is that there are some positive actions that you can take to relieve the intensity of the constant worry.
Practice Meditation or Deep Breathing
Some of the more popular methods for treating anxiety are categorized as mindfulness. It is any relaxation technique designed to bring you back to the present moment and become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling. It can be monumental for anxiety in particular, as most of your worries are probably centered around the future.
Many people who practice mindfulness do so via meditation or deep breathing sessions. By focusing on counting your breaths and listening to the voice on the meditation track, you can bring yourself back to the here and now and minimize the anxiety you’re currently feeling. In just a few short minutes, you’ll feel more focused and ready to take on the next task.
Figure Out a Healthy “Escape”
Anxiety on its own can be debilitating and ruin your quality of life. Unfortunately, anxiety might feel even worse if you don’t have a physical location to deal with it best. After all, you might not feel comfortable doing your yoga stretches or screaming into a pillow while you’re at your work desk.
If you have severe constant worry, you want to designate a location that you can cope best. Nature lovers might prefer to walk a particular trail at the local park. Fitness gurus might instead go to the gym and sweat out their anxiety in a metaphorical sense. Or maybe you want to dedicate a specific room in your house with a comfortable chair and no distracting stimuli.
Create a Gratitude Journal
When worry and anxiety are overwhelming, it’s challenging to focus on anything else in life. Your mind immediately goes toward what’s wrong or what will go wrong instead of what’s going right in your life. You know how aggravating it can be for somebody to tell you that it “could be worse” when you’re struggling more than usual.
What you can do is create a gratitude journal. It can be written on a loose-leaf sheet of paper or even on a Word document on your computer. The goal of this is to create a list of the things you’re thankful for in life. So instead of focusing on how you didn’t get that job, you can write about how grateful you are for your sizeable caring family or your physical health.
A Few Extra Tips
There are more than enough positive actions you can take for your worry to go around. If you’d instead do something different, here’s a more comprehensive list of what your options are.
Figure out what works best for you, and stick to it!
If you live with constant worry, you probably know that you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to relieve this worry and improve your quality of life. If you notice that your constant concern is making it hard to do regular tasks and routines, you might want to pursue professional intervention instead.
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We all face seasons of life filled with uncertainty. It’s a feeling of being unsure or having doubt regarding a specific situation or set of circumstances. While not inherently wrong, when times of uncertainty are prolonged and go unmanaged, they can send us into a downward spiral very quickly. Thus, it is essential to find ways to manage uncertainty, and a great way to go about that process is by making a conscious choice to stay in the present.
One thing uncertainty does is cause us to focus on the unknown. We begin to develop fears, and it can even lead to paranoia if we allow it to go on for a prolonged period. One benefit of staying in the present is enhanced awareness.
This awareness can be critical in quickly identifying the root of any uncertainty you might be feeling so you can address it promptly before it mounts into anything more substantial. When you can figure out what situations or circumstances might lead you down a path of uncertainty and fear, you are better equipped to handle them as they arise (Raptitude, 2014).
We are remaining in the present stops overthinking in its tracks. When faced with uncertainty, we often spend a lot of time figuring out what comes next. In trying to figure out how to solve the issue or come out with more answers, we spend a significant amount of time thinking, sometimes to the point of obsessing. Being present is an excellent release from this pattern. Being in the present can allow you to stop worrying about what may happen and just take some time to enjoy what is happening (Edberg, 2020).
A focus on the present is a powerful way to combat uncertainty because it acts as an anchor. They live in the present means staying in a place of focus on what is within one’s immediate realm of control and influence. It establishes or re-establishes an element of power that can help people feel grounded and calm, even in scenarios where there is uncertainty. This state of being grounded ensures stability and evenness that helps people make level-headed decisions even when things are going on that they don’t understand (Raptitude, 2014).
Living in the present also provides a sense of inner calm and centeredness. Focus, all the stress of what might or could happen begins to fade on what is happening right now away. This, in turn, reduces any pressure one might be feeling. It then becomes a cycle of wellness, as the reduced stress then helps one cope with uncertainty more calmly and reasonably (Edberg, 2020).
A focus on the present can also enhance feelings of thankfulness. Uncertainty can often make you think about so many things of the future that are far out of reach. Focus on the present reminds you of those things that exist in the here and now.
That focus can help you reflect on the many blessings and positives that presently exist, rather than focusing on the uncertainty of the future. You begin to notice more of the world’s beauty and goodness, enhancing your feelings of thankfulness. Thus, gratitude is elevated and indirectly due to the reduced gratitude stress levels (Edberg, 2020).
Ultimately, choosing to live in the present can be a huge benefit when dealing with uncertainty. It helps bring us to a calm place by increasing our awareness, reducing our stress, decreasing our tendency to overthink while also enhancing our gratitude.
Edberg. (2020, May 19). Seven great reasons to be present and how to do it. The Positivity Blog. https://www.positivityblog.com/7-awesome-reasons-to-be-present-and-how-to-do-it/
Raptitude. (2014, June 23). Fifteen unexpected side-benefits to living in the present moment. Raptitude.com. https://www.raptitude.com/2014/03/present-moment-benefits/
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Why does mental health matter? It influences your feelings, thoughts, and behavior daily. It affects your ability to overcome challenges, recover from hardships or setbacks, cope with stress, and build relationships. Having good mental health is more than simply the absence of a mental health illness or issue.
When you are emotionally and mentally well, it is far more profound than simply being free of anxiety, depression, or any other psychological issue. Instead of discussing mental health in terms of the absence of mental illness, we have to discuss the present's positive characteristics instead.
The Truth of Mental Health
If you are mentally healthy, you will feel content, you will laugh, have fun, feel a zest for life, cope with stress, bounce back after hardship, have a sense of purpose, be flexible, find the balance between work and play, and you will be able to build strong relationships. Moreover, you will have a measure of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Having positive mental health does not mean you won't experience difficulty. Life comes with disappointment, regardless of who you are. We all experience change and loss that can lead to stress, sadness, and anxiety. Just as a healthy person bounces back from a cold, a mentally healthy person will bounce back from stress and adversity. That's resilience.
There are coping tools to deal with difficult situations, and mentally healthy people can remain focused during the good and the bad.
So, why does it matter if you check in with yourself regularly? Regular check-ins allow you the opportunity to take notice of minor changes within you that may result in more significant issues down the line. When you are mentally healthy during good times, you will be able to stand up stronger when faced with bad circumstances.
Throughout a lifetime, most of us will experience hiccups in both our physical and mental well-being. Often, these are at their worst when we fail to check in to hear the messages our body is sending.
Your body is telling you that something is amiss. Instead of listening, you seek relief through emotional eating, drinking to excess, abusing substances, or indulging in any manner of self-destructive behaviors. You bottle it up and hope no one else notices. Or you give up and give in.
Instead, it would be best if you learned to read your red flags, recognize your triggers, and know how to manage the inevitable negativity that will come your way. You might feel great right now, even in the face of adversity, but the reality is the stronger you are now, the easier handling adversity will become.
For some reason, we have become convinced that acknowledging emotional or mental health issues is a sign of weakness. The reality of the matter is that it's a sign of strength to recognize that things aren't reasonable, and by doing so, you take the first step in overcoming the issue.
In addition to checking in with yourself often, you should aim to eat well, exercise often, have a consistent sleep pattern, and maintain strong social connections. All of this will feed into positive mental health and make it easier to protect it.
Moreover, maintaining solid social connections provides you with additional eyes who will notice you aren't quite yourself. Be open and honest with your friends and family about mental health, whether yours is strong or not. They will also benefit from open lines of communication as you never know whether they are struggling with their mental health, too.
By regularly checking in with yourself and by maintaining strong ties with others, you improve your mental health and encourage others to check in with themselves, too.
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Mental health is an important part of life – it affects how you feel about yourself, how well you do at work or school, and even how much fun you have in your free time. It’s also something that many people struggle with on their own without getting any help or support.
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Maybe you’re unsure of where your next paycheck is coming from. Perhaps you’re in an at-risk population and know that developing COVID-19 could prove to be fatal. Or there’s a possibility that you’re struggling mentally with the loneliness resulting from social isolation.
The most important thing you can do while living in an uncertain and risky world is prioritizing and caring for your mental health. Let’s talk about six ways that you can do that.
Do things you enjoy
One of the best ways to keep your spirits up during a crisis is to do things that make you genuinely happy. That could mean binge-watching your favorite television sitcom, listening to your favorite songs, or even going for a leisurely drive along a scenic highway. Try to do something you love at least once a day. Then, experiment with new hobbies if you’re feeling adventurous.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol
You may feel bored, lonely, or stressed during the pandemic. That might make you want to turn to drugs and alcohol to either entertain yourself, relax, or escape the negative emotions you’re feeling.
Using substances for any of these reasons and especially at times of great adversity and emotional and mental upset makes you more likely to develop an addiction or an unhealthy coping strategy. For the sake of your mental health, it’s best to avoid drugs and alcohol at this time entirely.
Focus on your physical health
There’s a direct link between your mental health and your physical health, and one does not exist without the other. Therefore, you must prioritize a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and adequate sleep.
Each of these has the potential to improve your mood and reduce your current level of stress. Commit to a workout schedule (perhaps five days a week), eating a balanced diet (add as many colors as possible), and sleeping (try for 7-9 hours).
Find a way to cope
The best way to protect your mental health is by having a healthy coping mechanism to help you work through your emotions. Luckily, this is the perfect time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Be sure to experiment with healthy methods, such as meditation, reading, deep breathing, exercising, or expressing yourself via art. The perfect coping strategy will ease your mind and reduce your stress.
Stick to a routine
At first, having a ton of free time was relieving. But at a certain point, you most likely lost your motivation and desire to stick to a schedule during your day-to-day life. Though a bit of freedom is great, your mental health should stick to some sort of routine schedule, especially during these trying times. Be sure to shower and change your clothes each morning, eat around the exact times each day, and create a work schedule that you can stick to. Consistency is key.
Stay in contact with loved ones
While you’re thankful to be physically healthy during this crisis, your social relationships have been negatively impacted. Not being able to spend time with your family and friends has led you to feel lonely and isolated.
To keep your relationships and improve your mental health, be sure to stay in contact with those most important to you. Schedule video calls with your best friends, and don’t let the physical distance deter your relationships.
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There’s a good chance that this pandemic will take a toll on your mental health in some way. But when your low mood or stress becomes debilitating, you might be better off making an appointment with a therapist or a counselor instead. Try the methods above first and give them time to work but know when to get professional help.
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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
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:
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The world that we are living in today is anything but peaceful and predictable. It seems that every day there is some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention.
These incidences come from every direction and in all shapes and sizes. Whether a personal issue arises that completely disrupts your peace of mind but seems only to affect you personally or a global event transpires that uproots the happiness and joy of millions of people simultaneously, our world can be a very uneasy place to exist.
With everything going on around you, maintaining a sense of security and order in your mental environment and personal life can feel like an ultimately futile effort.
Try as you may; there seems to be something that always comes along for no other reason than to fill you with fear and worry. While you can’t change the dynamic nature of the world you live in, there are thoughts and strategies that, when implemented effectively, can help you stay grounded when life gets hectic.
You Cannot Bear The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to realize and come to terms with the fact that you are a single human being that is tremendously incapable of bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.
At first glance, this may seem like a sign that you should just give up and let the waves toss you of each new tragedy. However, becoming aware of your limitations can serve as one of the most significant sources of peace you could ever hope to find.
The reason for this is that when you take the time to identify the things that are out of your control, the list of things that you actually can influence becomes much more apparent. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at every single problem going on around you, you can focus your efforts on only the issues you can change.
Not only does this give you a much-needed sense of authority over your circumstances, but it also frees you from the burden of trying to manage the problems of the world by yourself. In the raging war that is our world today, you must pick your battles wisely.
Another common issue that many of us have when it comes to all the things going wrong in the world is that we automatically feel as if these things directly affect our personal lives.
While this may seem insensitive, the truth is that not only are most of the issues we notice daily through the media or online things that have little to no effect on our existence, and they are also far out of our hands. Expending your time and energy to solve the problems that affect your immediate environment is a much better investment than worrying about a conflict or issue on the other side of the globe.
Supporting a worldwide cause for the sake of charity is fantastic, but not if doing so means ignoring the conflicts that are staring you in the face.
Maintain A Sense Of Order
Finally, you must maintain a sense of order in your own life, regardless of how messy and cluttered the things around you become.
If you allow your internal state to mimic your external environment, you fall victim to the chaos. Whatever your day-to-day life entails, always strive to develop systems and routines that provide you with a sense of peace and security. If you are looking for these things in places other than your own life, you will not find them.
We're all just trying to live our lives and make the best of what we have.
But it seems like there's always something in the way, some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention. Sometimes it feels like life is one long emergency, with no time to stop and think about how things might be better if we could only take a step back.
That’s where I come in. As your life coach, I will help you find clarity so you can get unstuck from whatever has been holding you back from living a full and happy life. Together we'll work on building skillsets that will allow you to feel more confident in yourself and your abilities - so that when an emergency comes up, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all, you'll know exactly what to do next.
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Isn't it incredible to think that just a few months ago, we'd never heard the term COVID-19? While coronaviruses have long existed, this coronavirus did not. That didn't stop it from transforming our entire world, though. Life has now changed beyond recognition, professionally and personally. Some people have been on lockdown all on their own, unable to see their loved ones at all.
While others have been working from home surrounded by their family, regardless of your lockdown state of play, you have likely gone to extra effort to connect with the people you can't see.
You may have stocked up on dry goods, hoping to ride it out without leaving the house. Perhaps you felt comfortable taking regular walks while masked. We have all had our paths to walk during COVID-19. Some people will have had a more challenging time.
1. Your Red Flags
As well as knowing the red flags of cognitive and emotional overwhelm, you should get to know your red flags. Think about past stress you have experienced, whether it's been work or relationship-related. What type of event or situation triggers a feeling of overwhelm, and how can you manage that more efficiently? By getting to know yourself better, you will better understand your red flags and handle the load.
2. Know Your Brain
You know how you react when you're in love. You know how your brain responds to stress. You recognize how your brain acts when you're anxious, fearful, excited, etc. Understanding your brain can help you manage your cognitive and emotional load. Your brain on stress will cloud your judgment. The positive chemicals that come with falling in love are as powerful as the stress chemicals that come with emphasis.
You should know yourself well enough to recognize when even the slightest stress creeps in. Know the physical symptoms you experience when stressed outdo your palms grow sweaty, is there an eye twitch, do you itch, do you get a headache, are you experiencing acne breakouts, or are your bowels off-kilter? We all have our signs of stress, but knowing what they are will help you cope.
3. Abundance > Scarcity
What type of mindset do you have? Do you believe there is enough for everyone or that you have to grab what you can to protect yourself? If you're the former, you likely bought what you need to stock up for COVID-19 lockdown. If you are the latter, you probably have enough toilet paper and bottled water to carry you midway through 2021.
It might not sound like much, but with a scarcity mindset comes the idea that things are okay. Nothing will get better. That's not going to help you cope with a heavy emotional and cognitive load.
4. Listen to Your Body
One of the most effective ways to manage distress is to identify the physical and emotional symptoms, as well as the thoughts you tend to experience before spiraling into overwhelm. If you are confused by whether you're coping with your load, then you have to listen to your body because it holds the clues to your truth.
A body scan or check is a great daily tool to check in with yourself and get ahead of any red flags. It's easy. Simply sit quietly for a few moments, practice deep breathing, center yourself, and scan each area of your body. You can also ask specific questions about what you're dealing with to determine whether your body responds. Do you feel fearful? Are you tense or tight?
Are you feeling struggling emotionally?
You’re not alone. We all have our paths to walk during COVID-19, and some people will have had a more challenging time than others. If you are looking for someone to help you navigate the emotional toll of COVID, I can provide the support that you need!
Let me be there for you when life gets tough so that together
we can find new and more peaceful and enjoyable ways of living in this challenging world.
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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 Cherie Faus Smith
I have always considered myself a strong woman. After all, I’ve survived three abusive relationships involving intimate partners, am a melanoma cancer survivor, and clawed myself out of the trenches of depression and anxiety that left me with dirty fingernails.
Do I feel sorry for myself? NO!
Why don’t I? Because I have a strong woman in my life who has shown me what it takes to be a survivor, I call her mom.
Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my strength came from watching her persevere.
As a teenager, it was a tough transition. I left my friends and moved to a neighborhood full of strangers.
My brother and I made the best of it even though we found trouble or trouble found us (shh…that’s a secret).
There is a saying that my parents often repeated, "If things aren't going your way, punt. It's not the end of the world." That has stuck with me my entire life because life isn’t always easy – there are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
Thanks to her, I’ve grown into a strong and confident woman. But what happens when that woman breaks?
Recently, we said goodbye to our precious dog, Sadie. It was unexpected, and she has left an enormous hole in our hearts.
When I found her, she was standing on the side of the road, eating pebbles. I wasn't supposed to be on that road that day. The path that I usually take was under construction, and there was a large orange detour sign. I was annoyed knowing I was already late, but then I saw her - this beautiful creature with black fur, cream paws, and tan markings above her eyes.
I stopped and opened the van door. She immediately hopped inside, walked to the front, and plopped herself on the passenger seat, looking at me as if to say, "Hey, let's go! Floor it, lady."
We did everything we could to find her owner, but after a month of no luck, we made her part of our family.
She instantly became my shadow and was by my side during my cancer diagnosis and recovery, depression, and anxiety bouts. Most importantly, she was there day in and day out for the last nine years to provide constant companionship. She was the best dog ever, and I miss her every day.
The day after we said goodbye, I sat on the sofa, bawling my eyes out while my body shook. I was inconsolable, and even my husband couldn’t help. I’m sure he felt extremely helpless, watching me fall apart.
I distinctly remember saying, "I'm breaking."
She was going to be my riding partner once I bought that Jeep that I’ve had my eyes on for the past year.
She was going to fill that void when our son moves into his place this fall.
I had so many plans for the two of us. Life isn't fair, and I wanted more time with her.
I’m a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a tough cookie.
But even strong women break.
I have a passion for supporting women and created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
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.
By Julia Morrissey
Given the current situation, we can likely all see how critical it is to help prepare kids to face challenges. One way to help prepare kids is to encourage a growth mindset. This post discusses what it means to have a growth mindset, the advantages for a growth mindset, and some tips and tricks (including three printables) to help encourage a growth mindset in kids.
What Exactly is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is a mentality where an individual believes that their intelligence and abilities can be developed. This is the opposite of a fixed mindset, where it is thought that you can’t really build on the abilities you are born with. With a growth mindset, kids often feel more encouraged to work hard and strive for personal and academic growth. Kids who believe that working hard is what makes them smarter, are more likely to be interested and engaged in learning.
What Are the Benefits of a Growth Mindset?
There are many benefits of having kids develop a growth mindset. Not only can this mindset help kids enjoy learning and school more, but it can also make them feel more motivated and confident. Additionally, a growth mindset can also help kids:
How to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Kids
The process of developing a growth mindset can be challenging, but there are a number of ways to help kids be successful. Always be sure to check in with kids to make sure you know how they are feeling about the process. The following are additional ways you can help encourage a growth mindset in kids:
Utilizing Printables to Encourage a Growth Mindset
Using printables is a great way to make developing a growth mindset an enjoyable process. Below you can find three printables for helping encourage a growth mindset in kids. You can download them at the end of the post!
2. Goal Setting Worksheet: Assist kids with creating goals and developing plans for achieving them.
3. Growth Mindset Conversation Cube: Help kids open up about how they are feeling.
Download all of these printable activities (courtesy of Tommy John) below to start helping your kids develop a growth mindset.
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