One of the most profound moments in literature is in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice is walking and comes to a fork in the road. She’s not sure which way she should go, so she asks the Cheshire Cat, “Which road should I take?”
The cat asks her in return, “Well where are you going?”
“I don’t know” Alice replies.
“Then it does not really matter,” the cat tells her, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
An indispensable part of life is to know where you are going. If you don’t, you will find yourself wandering down any road that presents itself to you.
When you have no clear destination, the decisions along the way don’t matter. This is why the fastest way to reinvent yourself is to establish a destination—or, in other words, to establish a list of personal goals.
Personal Goals Give You Direction
Moving forward is good; moving in a specific direction is better. Personal goals put a clear direction to your movement. This is why personal goals are vital to any personal reinvention. Most of us are familiar with feeling constantly busy, on the move, and booked with appointments—yet nothing seems to get accomplished.
Personal goals give you a way to organize and direct all your movement into a specific direction so that you can accomplish what you want.
Personal Goals Put You in The Driver’s Seat
The essence of reinventing yourself is taking control of your life. Personal goals allow you to be in the driver’s seat. Goals allow you to take control of your time, energy and effort. Instead of just reacting to things that happen into your life, you take control. You decide where your energy is spent.
Nothing will help you reinvent your life like taking ownership of it via your personal goals.
Goals Inspire During the Mundane
Life is not a movie. We don’t experience a continual stream of magical experiences, one after another. There is a lot of dullness stuffed in-between the highlights of life. That’s OK. This is where our personal goals rise to assist us.
Personal goals can inspire us by reminding us of the bigger picture in life. We can compare that to what we are currently engaged in at any point in time. In other words, personal goals help frame how the smaller aspects of life play into the larger mosaic. Reflecting on how your day-to-day life fits in with your overall goals can thereby give you daily inspiration. Having this is pivotal in reinventing yourself
Goals Help Organize What Is Important
On a day-to-day basis everyone is bombarded with choices. How do you decided when to say yes and when to say no? With personal goals, that decision becomes easy. You can ask yourself: Does this activity align with my personal goals? Does this help me achieve my personal goals? The answer to those questions can help you decide what to invest your time in. It gives you a way to identify what is important to you.
Goals Allow Us to Enjoy Life
Ultimately, life is to be enjoyed, and nothing is more enjoyable than success. Personal goals not only define what success will look like for you, but also will give you the road map to achieving it.
What many people fail to realize is that personal goals will also allow you to enjoy life even when the goals are not accomplished. The ability to learn, progress, and develop yourself when you have not accomplished your goals will bring you an enjoyable personal maturity. These are the many ways that personal goals can bring a greater degree of purpose and fulfillment to your life.
Personal goals are a non-negotiable ingredient in any personal reinvention project. Thankfully you can start with something simple. Start your journey by making your first personal goal: A goal to develop a complete list of personal goals. And now you off!
A habit is a regular tendency or practice. You likely have many habits that you are regularly practicing. Many of these habits you perform on a daily basis, maybe unconsciously and a part of your regular routine. Unfortunately, these types of unconscious habits that you have built up over time are typically not the best types of habits.
Good habits, in particular, need to be developed and developed intentionally. Developing good habits can create a new, fresh, and better you. Here is why you should reinvent yourself by starting good habits today.
The Benefits Of A Good Habits
Habits are small activities that define or create who you are over time. The benefit of developing good habits is that it creates and define good attributes in you over an extended period of time. A good habit is like interest building in a bank. Over time, the interest continues to grow without much effort on your part. Likewise, a good habit continues to develop character and attributes in you, without much concentrated effort.
Developing good habits also takes the “work” out of doing the things that you want to do. When something becomes routine or automatic, it no longer becomes work. It is just something you do. Being able to routinely perform activity or tasks without much effort allows you to put your energy and focus into other areas of life. Developing good habits gives you the benefit for accomplishing more with less effort.
Repetition And Time Is The Key To Good Habit Forming
Developing a good habit may take longer than you think. When developing a new habit, the general rule of thumb has been about 21 days. This time frame was developed from Dr. Maxwell Maltz work in the 1960’s with amputees adjusting to the loss of a limb.
However, a more recent study from Lally et al, entitled How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world, indicates that it takes an average of 66 days for an activity to become “automatic”. The study also indicated that missing a day did not lead to negative effects to developing your habit, but that the more repetitions earlier in your development produced larger effects.
Developing good habits is both a marathon and a sprint. Start your habit forming strong with consistent repetitions in those first few weeks. Then turn your eyes to the horizon and settle in for the time that it will take to develop your habit.
Good Habits You Should Consider
There are lots of good habits that you should develop for yourself. Here are few to consider:
1. Exercise: This is the obvious good habit that you should be developing. The American Heart Association states that you can significantly improve your cardiovascular health with just 30 min of exercises a day. Even if this 30 min is broken into 10 min periods. Developing a habit of a daily walk can significantly impact your health. If you are into dancing, check out Zumba online or in your community.
2. Saving: This habit is not flashy, or exciting, or particularly fun. But it’s absolutely necessary. Start small and save a specific amount each week. Then build to a particular amount each month or a certain percentage each year. Building this habit can have lasting rewards for years to come.
3. Reading: Developing the habit of reading 15 min each day can lead to all kinds of benefits for you. Daily reading can increase memory and vocabulary or decrease stress and anxiety. With only 15 min of reading a day, you can easily read 1-2 books a month or 12-24 books a year. Imagine the benefit of learning new skills for recreations and work, or understanding a new topic, or developing a better imagination, all from 15 min a day.
4. Waking up early: Getting up early in the morning is not natural for everyone, but is a habit that can be developed. Start by setting your alarm 15 min earlier than usual. Every 1-2 weeks move your alarm back another 15 min until you reach your desired wake up time. Waking up early can benefit your health, energy, productivity and motivation.
Pay Attention To Your Habits
Whatever good habits you decide to develop will be worth the invested time. The important part is to pay attention to the habits that you are developing.
Start today, and make a note of all the habits that you find yourself routinely doing throughout the day. Is this habit something you want to keep? If not, start a better habit and begin the process of reinventing yourself.
Do you ever wonder how people who are at the top of their field are able to maintain their high level of achievement? One of the keys to their success is that they are not afraid to reinvent themselves.
Reinvention can take many forms. It can be the refinement of habits or characteristics that should remain in your life but need fine-tuning.
Reinvention can also take the form of letting go. Specifically, letting go of bad habits that hinder your success. John Maxwell, an American writer in the field of Leadership, says, “I can predict the long-term outcomes of your success if you show me your daily habits.”
Habits matter, and bad habits can cause lack of success and even failure.
This is particularly true when it comes to your health. Letting go of bad habits must be a top priority if you want to reinvent yourself.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It isn’t as simple as “just letting go of a bad habit.”
When you let go of a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good habit. So today is the day. No more excuses. No more tomorrow.
Below are three bad habits you need to finally let go of if you want to be healthy.
You have probably heard this admonition countless times throughout your life: Sit up straight and stop slouching! Well, as unpleasant at this feedback usually is, it’s right. Poor posture is nothing but a bad habit that has developed over time.
Slouching (which is typically defined as a forward head posture and rounded shoulders) causes poor joint alignment, especially in the neck and back. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, poor posture of the spine can contribute to muscle tightness, loss of range of motion, and even pain.
It’s very difficult to just “stop slouching.” You can reinvent yourself, however, by replacing the bad habit of slouching with the good habit of setting postural reminders for yourself. For example, if you are a desk worker, you can place a small mirror at the top of your computer screen. When you are in the correct posture, you should see the top of your head in the mirror. Seeing this continuous visual cue as you work will remind you to correct your posture.
You can also start the habit of checking your posture each time you send an email or start up your car.
These habits ensure that you continually assess and correct your posture, thus breaking you of bad postural habits.
Stop Drinking Sugary Drinks
Soft drinks and energy drinks are loaded with high amounts of sugar. Such drinks can have between 15-60 grams (or more!) of sugar per serving.
The American Heart Association reports that men should limit their intake to 36 grams of sugar per day while women should limit their intake to 25 grams of sugar per day.
You can easily consume the entire amount of your day’s allotted sugar with one soft or energy drink. This bad habit can create big problems.
The American Diabetic Association states that sugary drinks have been linked to type 2 diabetes. This disease, the ADA states, causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. That is a serious consequence to a bad habit!
Reinvent yourself by kicking your sugary drink habit. Replace it with a water drinking habit. Here are a couple of simple tricks to assist you in breaking this habit.
Set several reminders on your phone or computer at various points in the day to alert you to drink a glass of water.
A non-technological way to start this new habit is to keep 6-8 coins in your right pocket and to move a coin to your left pocket every time you drink a glass of water. Whenever you reach into your pocket, you will notice the coins. This will cue you to drink another glass of water.
Stop Going to Bed Late
Th bad habit of going to bed late can be the result of many other bad habits. For instance, it can result from the habit of lying in bed while scrolling through social media—which can make it more difficulty to fall asleep. Or it can result from the habit of falling asleep on a couch or in a recliner, which can make it more difficult to initiate sleep in bed.
Many other habits can contribute to the bad habit of going to bed late. This, in turn, can lead to sleep deprivation.
The National Institute of Health states that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. All of a sudden, we can see how this little habit can have big consequences.
Reinvent yourself by discontinuing your bad habit of going to bed late. Replace late nights with a routine that leads to a full night of sleep.
Here are some helpful nightly routines that can help to break the bad habit of going to bed late:
Letting go of bad habits is a challenging and yet simple way to reinvent yourself. It’s the old adage of “addition by subtraction.” Or better yet, its “addition by subtraction…with a new addition.”
Take a walk into any bookstore and you will quickly get lost in the sea of self-help books at your disposal. You may suddenly find yourself struggling to tread water in this vast body of knowledge attempting to impart the newest and most useful skills to you. Where do you start and where does it end?
Well, what better place to start developing life skills than in the arena of… you! There are some skills that every person should acquire and other skill that everyone needs to have. Life skills that are all about you fall into the need category. Instead of just keeping your head above water, ride the wave of these 5 key life skills that are all about you.
1. Stress Relief
Everyone is intimately acquainted with stress. Stress seems to collect as naturally as dust and likewise has an accumulating effect. The National Institute of Health states that chronic stress can lead to suppressed sleep, decreased immune response, headaches, muscle pain, and much more. Stress can have a significant toll on you both physically and mentally. While stress is unavoidable, relieving stress is a skill that can be developed.
Identifying what opens the valve of your stress hose is the first step. Stress can be relieved a variety of ways and figuring out what your stress relieving methods are can be fun and exciting. Some stress relieving methods to try can include: exercise, social interaction, reading, music, sleeping, or meditation. Whatever form your stress relief comes in, the key is to understand how that functions in your daily life.
Next, develop the ability to detect when your stress levels are reaching their maximum. Being able to sense when the stress tank is getting full and emptying it before it overflows will help you avoid many unnecessary struggles and hardships. This seemingly little, but actually significant skill, will allow you to avoid a lot of clean up.
TED Talks are brief 10-20 min videos of expert speakers discussing a variety of topics from a wide range of industries. These videos are extremely popular due to their motivational and inspiring themes, but these extremal mediums are typically only catalyst for a brief time, while self-motivation is a skill that can be developed and has a substantially longer lasting effect.
Self-motivation is a skill that can be developed by identify your strengths and areas of passion. Focusing and putting your efforts into the areas that you are naturally good at and enjoy creates an environment for consistent success. Nothing increases self-motivation like consistent success. And knowing that you have the ability to put yourself in a position to have consistent success increases the self-motivating cycle.
3. Receiving Feedback
Feedback is typically from an external source and comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes the feedback is sought, many times it isn’t. Yet the way we receive feedback is a skill that is all about you. There are certain characteristics that come with receiving feedback and it’s these characteristics that can be developed. Characteristics like: being prepared to receive and expecting to receive feedback. Also, being open to and interested in receiving feedback all enhance your ability to benefit from it.
Likewise, our perspective on feedback, is a skill that can be further developed. Feedback is simply information. Information that is processed and sorted into helpful or unhelpful categories. Perspective allows us to properly view both the good and the bad. Feedback ultimately is like a pair of shoes. If you think the shoe fits, then wear it. If it doesn’t fit, then don’t wear them.
“I am sorry,” might be the 3 most difficult words that you will ever have to say. Yet, apologizing is a skill that is all about you. Yes, apologizing helps rectify the situation with the other person, but it not just about them. Apologizing releases you from any emotional burdens you may be holding onto. Developing this skill can have a greater impact on yourself than those around you.
5. Living A Life Of Gratitude
This last skill might possibly be the most difficult and yet the most critical life skill that is all about you. This is due to the fact that the soil that gratitude works is internal more than external. In order to develop this skill, it requires that you practice it daily and with intention.
Develop this skill by identify 3 specific things that you are thankful for each day. The key here is to be specific. For example, you might be thankful for your job, but what specifically about your job. Maybe it’s the flexible hours, or the type of work that you do, or a specific person that you work with. Being specific about your gratitude makes it real and tangible. Performing it every day makes it a lifestyle.
It’s All About You!
At times, it may feel uncomfortable to talk about and develop skills that are about you. But there should be no hesitation and difficulty with this because no one is going to put in the work on yourself more than you. So, don’t be hesitant or afraid. But dig-in, achieve, and master the 5 skills that are all about you.
Who doesn’t dream of a better future for themselves? We wish that we could leave our humdrum job and instead sit on a beach to paint. Life would just be better if we could move to the country and live off the land.
The thing is, every one of us has a dream, they’re all different, but one thing many of us share in common is that we bury those dreams. At some point, we decide to take the well-traveled road and put aside our ‘childish dreams.’ We give up a bit of ourselves when we do that.
Think of reinvention as a re-brand. It’s something that major companies do. Coca-Cola has changed up their branding, a couple of times in recent years. Just as Richard Branson has reinvented himself over the years to become the businessman he is today.
Before Jim Carrey made his acting dreams come true, he wrote himself a massive check. He decided that if he could dream it, then he could also do it. One of the biggest things that hold us back from truly pursuing our dreams and reinventing ourselves is fear.
That doesn’t mean that it’s too late to reinvent yourself. The first step in doing that, though, is identifying the fears that have been holding you back and eliminating them. There are three massive fears that often hold us back.
1. The Fear of Failure
There is no one on this planet that enjoys failure. No one is into losing, no one sets out to do less than their best and lose. The problem with that mindset, though, is that we are too scared to take risks. While there are adrenaline junkies who pay people to throw them out of a plane, the idea of failure is paralyzing. Unfortunately, a lot of us really care about what others think about us. Failure is only temporary, though. You should think of it as a stepping stone.
So, how do you eliminate your fear of failure? Look to the lesson in every failure and learn how to use it to your advantage. You can better yourself through failure. So, instead of seeing it as the end of the world – start seeing it as a learning experience. You might fail more than you succeed, but the more you put yourself out there the greater your chance of increasing success is.
2. The Wrong Mindset
What is your inner voice telling you? Is it a positive force in your life? Or, is it whispering negativity in your ear and hating on your every action? That negative voice is fueling the wrong mindset and it’s that mindset that is keeping you tucked safely in your comfort zone. One of the best ways to eliminate this fear is to practice overriding those negative thoughts with positive affirmations. It’s all about drowning out that negativity and replacing it with the right mindset.
3. No Knowledge
Sometimes the biggest fear that holds us back is a lack of knowledge. We don’t know what to do or where to go to make our visions a reality. The best way to deal with this fear is to find yourself a mentor. Look for someone who works in the field that you want to be in or does the thing you want to do. You can learn from them. If it’s a specific thing you want to reinvent about yourself, then find someone who is good at it. You can use social media to find people that are outside of your circle and build your network. Or, find a coaching program.
You probably know someone with amazing self-discipline. They’re that person that manages to choke down a kale shake every morning after they went on a 5-mile run before your first alarm went off. They are incredibly efficient, they work hard, and seem to have endless amounts of energy. Then, there’s you.
You play games on your phone and look up at the television in between levels. Somehow, you have successfully managed to scoop snacks into your mouth at the same time. You’re not lazy, you are busy so when you have downtime you want to relax.
What about your dreams, though? How will you accomplish them if you have no self-discipline? You can build that self-discipline. It’s crucial to your success, that goes for both your personal and professional life. Here’s how!
1. Acknowledge Weakness
You should never let your weaknesses stand in your way, however, you should acknowledge them. It could be that social media is why you procrastinate or that pretzels are your biggest diet weakness. Either way, to improve your self-discipline you need to acknowledge what is most likely to derail you.
You don’t wake up and magically find yourself possessed by self-discipline. You need to build a strategy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to build new and good habits or eradicate bad habits. The key is that you create a plan that will outline exactly what steps you need to take to achieve the goal.
3. Remove Temptation
It would be nice if we were disciplined enough to resist our greatest temptations. However, if you know you’ve never met a bag of pretzels you didn’t love, then don’t keep them in the house. If it’s social media that messes with your day, remove the app from your phone or tablet. There are plenty of ways you can remove temptation, no matter what it is. Don’t be afraid to turn off the router and go without the internet until you achieve what you need to.
Humans naturally try to avoid any discomfort or pain. However, this will only make you more unlikely to deal with any distress life throws at you. Resilience is a really important skill to possess and there’s only one way to do this. You can’t dismiss uncomfortable emotions, you have to experience them, whether it’s loneliness, boredom, sadness or frustration. Negative emotions are part of building self-discipline.
Sometimes it’s easier to practice self-discipline when you’re capable of visualizing the long-term rewards that your behavior will bring. If you give in to temptation today you will experience a short-term boost in happiness, but think about the gratification that will come if you resist. Imagine yourself as you meet those goals and gain those rewards. This will help you exercise your self-discipline on a daily basis.
There will be days that you find easier than others. When you experience a slip-up, whether it’s a treat you shouldn’t have had or a workout that you skipped, recovery is key. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Recover from your mistakes and keep going. Acknowledge them, but move on.
Self-discipline is what is standing between you and achieving your goals. You don’t need to steep in jealousy at the people you know who possess self-discipline, though. You can use the tips above to increase your own self-discipline. Keep practicing and you will improve yourself.
When you improve your self-discipline skills you can start to improve your life by pushing hard to achieve your goals. Now all you need to decide is what goals you want to pursue – you’ll need to start with your core values.
We often make our way to the idea of reinvention after experiencing frustration and discontentment with our lives.
Sometimes there’s a sense of longing to do something different, to find a new way to live and to be. This kind of reinvention evolves from the human need to grow and to change. Change comes about because there has to be more to human existence than simply existing and most people sense that over time.
Sometimes in the early stages of reinvention, we think about what benefits we might receive from building a new self. Perhaps we just want to be free of a stale, confining and suffocating way of life, but that might not seem enough to us right then.
Other than liberating yourself from a life with no change and no growth, what other benefits does reinvention offer?
Of course, a huge benefit is a more authentic and fulfilling life. After all, that’s the first purpose of going through this transformation process. More importantly, you learn how to be adaptable in the face of new challenges and that is a life skill that is useful in many ways.
You learn how to cope with new problems and new situations. Once you've been through one reinvention cycle, you’ll be ready to do it again when you feel the need.
You may never decide to reinvent yourself again, but that’s a matter of choice. You’ll know how to do it. That’s a life-changing benefit all on its own!
People reinvent themselves for as many different reasons as there are different people. However, reinvention is usually driven by a few prominent emotions: boredom, restlessness, dissatisfaction, even fear. Sometimes reinvention rises out of personal crises. If you’re looking for ways to bring about self-renewal, we can help you find them.
Proactive Reinvention: Purposefully Forging A New You
There are several kinds of reinvention, but we’re looking at proactive Reinvention. Proactive reinvention can be the toughest of the three. In proactive reinvention, we’re at a place that’s safe and comfortable at that moment.
Major life changes aren’t immediately required. We might even be able to keep on coasting just as we are, but that’s not a satisfying place for us anymore. Even though reinvention can be scary, we still have the desire to do it. Reinvention seems better than where we are.
Maybe we’re simply tired and unfulfilled in our lives, our work, relationships, etc. Sometimes all three categories cry out for change. Proactive reinvention has the advantage of not being urgent in most cases. You can be deliberate in your choices.
1. Ask Yourself “What do I need in my life now? What do I want? What’s missing?”
To answer this question, we must dig deep, and it’s not a quick process in most cases. Proactive reinvention tends to arise out of a sense of dissatisfaction about where we are in life or even who we are. We may only know that we want something different.
2. Identify Your Passions
What do you value? What gets your engine running? If you could make a living at a hobby, what would it be? Getting a handle on what you enjoy and what you love to do, how you love to feel, and whom you love to be around lets you set some big, broad goals. In all cases and steps of reinvention, ask yourself questions like:
3. Explore Your Immediate Options
Immediate options generally include things like your skill set, your finances, your contacts and social links in life. These can be springboards to the new you. Think of these as assets you already must dedicate to your renewal.
4. Get a teacher, mentor or sounding board
If you’ve got a general idea of what you want to do, you can start homing in on sources of information and expertise. Those sources can be people who are knowledgeable or experience with the subject matter, profession, hobby, whatever it is that’s appealing to you. If you know you want to reinvent yourself, but haven’t got a lock on a destination yet, there’s no worry. Many people go through the renewal process without any hint of a fixed destination or end-point in mind when they start off.
That said, it’s good to have someone around who can give you ideas, feedback, and support that’s related to your journey.
5. Consider the Unknown
The unknown is scary, but it can also lead to some great discoveries. There are two big sources of it, too. There’s the unknown out there in the world external to us, and the unknown inside you. When you change your life, there’s bound to be internal changes that you didn’t plan for. If planning were all it took to reinvent one’s life, it’d be much simpler. Let the possibility of change flourish in you. If you try hard to hang on to everything that you’ve got now, that you are now, nothing will change.
6. Learn to live with fear while always going forward
Reinvention requires embracing uncertainty. It means getting comfortable with discomfort. Doing new things, trying new ways to be is scary! Allowing fear to stop us from changing is always the biggest block to proactive reinvention.
Always. Unlike reactive reinvention, when you must make big changes or face even worse situations than self-renewal, proactive reinvention seems optional when we get scared, so we have the option to retreat into safety. Safety is great. However, clinging to the safety of the familiar ensures you will never reinvent yourself.
Regeneration of the self requires living with fear, too. Consider as an example the situation of leaving one career for another, more ideal career. Common wisdom says you must have another job before leaving your current job.
That wisdom in this situation kills any chance of getting that ideal job. It’s very hard, maybe impossible, to prepare for a completely new profession while working a full-time job. A dentist who leaves her job for another job as a dentist has changed locales but has not at all reinvented herself.
Making a jump from the known into the unknown safely, with no risks, doesn’t happen. There is always some element of risk. Learning to live with risk in order to get something you dearly want is one of the biggest rewards of reinventing yourself.
The holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, though, so comes the stress.
The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive types. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season.
With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays. All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.
1.Set A Budget
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. You can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and the Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.
The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, and find time for aerobics. Also, find an accountability partner. I’m working on this step so if you are too and want to link arms, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can do this together.
3. Take It Easy
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.
You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in the family to take on certain tasks.
4. Stay Smart
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but as the Mayo Clinic directs- it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress.
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
5. Choose Your Battles
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural- not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress level. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.
Self-care is a conscious choice and this is even truer during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.
As always, prioritize wellbeing and the rest will flow. Happy Holidays!
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.
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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.
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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
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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?
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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.
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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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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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How to Manage Stress & Anxiety During COVID-19
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.
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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.
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