Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
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.
Watch this Video
From Homeless to Landlord, Interview with Atiya Goldsmith
Money worries are widespread, even when the economy seems to be booming. However, when they get severe, money worries can be extremely dangerous to your mental health. The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. It also helps to educate yourself on financial planning and strategies.
Do you have money worries?
Money is a source of stress for many people. It can be difficult to know how to deal with your money worries. You may feel like you're drowning in debt, or that the bills are piling up and
there's no way out. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are ways to cope with
your financial stresses so they don't take over your life.
The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. Setting up a budget, talking to a counselor, life coach or financial advisor are all healthy ways to deal with money stress.
Click the box below and let's get started on reducing that stress!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
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.
Watch this Video
I'm Not Okay And That's Okay!
Most people find that they recover from mental health problems after seeking professional help. While the time frame for everyone is different, an increase in energy is common. Making plans that are designed around small, individual goals can help boost confidence and happiness. Set goals for yourself and be ready to discuss those during your counseling sessions.
Therapy can help with all kinds of life circumstances. Whether you’re adjusting to a new routine or grieving the loss of a loved one, talking through the issues can improve behavior and mood. During a crisis, it is easy to become cognitively overwhelmed and when life feels unmanageable, our coping skills can decline.
Visiting a mental health professional is one way to feel secure and confident in a variety of situations.
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Therapy can help. It's not just for people with mental illnesses. It's for anyone who wants to feel better about themselves and their lives. Therapy is a process of talking through your thoughts and feelings in a safe space with someone who understands what you're going through. You'll learn how to cope with stressors in your life that are causing anxiety or depression so they don't control you anymore.
If therapy sounds like something that could benefit you,
click the box below and start feeling better about yourself right away!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
At some point in our lives, we all deal with painful and negative emotions. Whether those emotions are fear, anxiety, resentment, or other fear-based emotions, if we do not learn to manage those emotions properly, they can get the best of us and destroy us.
Identify the Emotion
You cannot correctly address something you cannot first identify. It requires a level of self-awareness that allows you to sit with your feelings and truly get to the root of what is going on. The act of identifying what is triggering the negative feelings eases the burden of trying to ignore or masking it while allowing room for what was identified to be addressed in the right way.
The ultimate benefits of this can include reduced stress and anxiety (Partnership Staff, 2017).
Once you know what you’re feeling, you can begin to identify what causes you to feel that way. By identifying the situation or the trigger causing that particular emotion, actionable strides can then be taken to remove or reduce the impacts later on.
Or steps can be taken to help you learn how to manage those triggers, so they no longer produce the intense negative pain or fear-based emotion moving forward (Brown, 2019).
Redirecting the negative emotions, you feel into positive activities can be a healthy way to release negative emotions. Redirection is about channeling negative emotions and energy into an action that allows for emotional release without causing harm.
Activities can include physical events, breathing, journaling, or meditation, among others. Each of these outlets provides an opportunity to help you feel less overwhelmed and eventually reduce stress, tension, and anxiety (Scott, 2020).
Getting help from outside sources can be one of the best ways to get help with painful and fear-based emotions. Whether that support is in the form of friends and family or a licensed professional, sometimes having an additional person to talk things through with can help bring relief both mentally and emotionally.
Others can offer advice, tools, resources, and even just a listening ear to help you process what you’re feeling. It can also guide you through developing healthy coping strategies to manage negative emotions (Scott, 2020).
Being thankful is a strategy that can act as a grounding force when faced with painful and fear-based emotions. Gratitude first draws us into the present moment by focusing on the negative stimuli and causing us to find those good things that exist presently in our lives.
Then it replaces the negativity with positivity by causing us to deviate from the negative emotions towards happiness and joy that gratitude is linked with creating. Taking a few moments to either write down all that you are grateful for or even think about them helps counter these negative emotions.
We do not have to live indefinitely with painful and fear-based emotions. We can take action to help ourselves overcome negative feelings and thrive in our lives.
Whether you adopt one of these strategies or a combination of several, these are great ways to first understand how you feel, address the cause of what you’re feeling, and then develop coping strategies for situations where you find yourself encountering these negative emotions.
Brown, L. (2019, October 22). How to deal with negative emotions: 10 things you need to remember. Hack Spirit. https://hackspirit.com/negative-emotions/
Partnership Staff. (2017, May 28). Coping with fear, anger and other negative emotions. Partnership to End Addiction | Where Families Find Answers. https://drugfree.org/article/coping-fear-anger/#
Scott, E. (2020). How to deal with negative emotions and stress. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-should-i-deal-with-negative-emotions-3144603
When as a society, we think of health, we typically think of physical aspects. We think of losing weight, gaining muscle, and looking athletic. What most of us fail to remember is that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Mental health disorders are "real," but often treatable. Mental health issues can be either minor and short-term or life-long. Some others are more severe and require help from a professional.
Today, amid a pandemic, political and civil turmoil, the mental health of millions of people is at risk.
According to Mental Health America, "as the number of cases of COVID-19 increases, so does the associated anxiety. For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as essential to address as are the physical health effects. And for the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – we need to take personal, professional, and policy measures now to address them."
If you need the help of a mental health professional, here are some tips to follow.
Where To Find Help?
One of the best places to start would be your family physician, who can refer you to a specialist. Which type of specialist you go for help will depend on the nature of the problem and symptoms. Your family physician can do an assessment and determine where to refer you. A local health department, mental health facility, or a crisis center are also other available options.
Try getting a few contact names, so you can research about more than one facility before choosing a provider. Also, if you have health insurance, they may provide a list of mental health providers who are covered in your plan. Your local health department or community mental health center, however, may provide free or low-cost care.
One supplemental program is peer support groups. They can serve as an essential addition to the help you receive from professional mental health providers.
Support groups can be a valuable resource, for sure. A layperson usually leads these groups. They are designed to bring individuals together- those who have similar mental health or substance abuse illnesses. Other organized types of support groups are drop-in centers, warmlines, and training courses in mental health wellness and recovery.
Types of Mental Health Professional
How to Choose the Right Mental Health Professional?
Talk with the professional on the phone. Ask questions about their approach, philosophy, specialty, or concentration. Once you have selected and feel comfortable with a specific counselor or doctor, the next step is to schedule an office visit.
Your first visit will involve talking with the therapist or doctor to allow them to get to know you and your circumstances for a visit. They will ask you what you think the problem is. They will ask about your life, job, living arrangements, family, and friends. Even though you may feel this information is personal, it will help the professional assess your situation and develop a treatment plan.
As you start working through your treatment plan, you should begin to feel improvement. You should feel you trust your therapist and feel better about whatever circumstances you are there to face.
It would help if you start to be more comfortable in your relationships because your treatment plan may be painful and uncomfortable at times. The more you actively participate in the treatment plans, the better you will be able to cope with your feelings more effectively.
Related Blog Posts
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.
It can be challenging to know when to seek professional help. While it may be obvious when to do it for medical ailments, mental health concerns can feel more ambiguous.
So, how can you best determine if you need the help of a mental health counselor?
One great tip is when you are experiencing emotional distress, it is the right time to consider seeking help. But, what if you are too used to the “distress” that you don’t consider it as a problem? How can you tell yourself, “Hey, you need help!”
Mental health awareness is important, and it’s something not to be taken lightly. Here are five common signs that emotionally distressed people experience. Any of these can be your light bulb to go ahead and see a mental health counselor.
A Feeling of Excessive Sadness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests that while there are several warning signs linked to mental health-related issues, feeling excessively sad for extended periods indicates a problem. While you may not have clinical depression, sadness can become an issue when it is not recognized and appropriately managed. Feeling overwhelmed and too tired to leave bed are also possible indications that you are experiencing excessive sadness. One thing you have to remember, though, is that sadness does not necessarily mean excessive crying.
Family Members or Friends Noticed a Significant Personality Change
Mental health issues, especially depression, can happen in the most subtle ways and can continue for long periods. This- the manner by which the problem is being manifested- is precisely why cases happen without treatment. More often than not, people in this circumstance don’t recognize the problem because they have become accustomed to the emotion. A number of reasons can trigger the gradual onset of depression and many other mental health issues, but friends and family notice everyday habits such as avoidance, a change in sleeping patterns, and either a significant increase or decrease in energy.
Expressions of Distress in Many Forms
Change that stems from not-so-pleasant circumstances can be a significant reason people seek mental health counseling each year. Distress can include ruminating on either the past or possible future outcomes. Shame or guilt also may occur from an unpleasant event from the past, especially if it has not been resolved. Distress consumes the mind in anticipation of a probable fear, embarrassment, and anxiety that may never happen even happen at all.
Human beings are wired to be social creatures, and most of us need to form relationships to feel that we are not alone. Many issues can get in the way of finding and maintaining healthy relationships. With the right mental health counselor, you will adapt to the “norm” of the relationship and eventually learn to deal with the more challenging days calmly and compassionately. The sooner you are in mental health counseling, the sooner you’ll get the idea of where you’d like to go with the situation you are in now.
Watch this Video
Turn Mental Illness to Mental Wellness
From Mental Illness to Mental Wellness with Author Jeanne Cesena
Physical Ailments that Medical Doctors Can’t Address
The mind and body work together in unison that when one feels pain, the other does too. Multiple, unexplained physical pain or conditions can be the result of an underlying mental health issue. Frequent physical pain from a mental health side effect may include a queasy stomach, migraines, and even general aches. These physical ailments can distract or, worse, prevent us from living a “full” life if not properly managed.
Many symptoms can stem from mental health issues. Some may involve more abstract problems like staying in bed for days for reasons you can’t seem to figure out or concrete issues as multiple failed relationships.
While some may find it difficult to understand that their problems are “bad enough” to see a counselor, one thing is sure- mental health needs professional management. Feeling perpetually sad, tired, fearful, or ashamed for any reason, needs prompt attention.
If you are emotionally distressed, we are here for you. Reach out today!
I’d like to help you unpack, process, and start recovering from those distressing emotions.
Click the link below and let's get you started today!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
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.
You know that feeling when you’re so worried about everything,
it feels like your mind is racing?
It can be hard to get out of this cycle. But there are ways to stop the worry and
start living a life worth celebrating. I help people just like you find peace in their lives
with my coaching services.
Let me show you how I can help you live a life without constant worry and anxiety
through coaching sessions, workshops, or one-on-one work.
All it takes is one session for us to see if we're a good fit for each other!
Schedule your free consultation today by clicking here!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
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/
Are you feeling stuck in the past or worried about the uncertainties of the future?
Life can be tough. Sometimes it feels like we're just going through the motions, and that's okay. But if you want to live a life of meaning, then it's time to start living in the present moment. That way, no matter what happens next, you'll know that your life
was lived fully and with intention.
I am here for people who want to live their lives more intentionally - whether they're looking for guidance on how to handle an uncertain future or need help dealing with difficult emotions from the past. I will work with you one-on-one so that together we can create a plan of action tailored specifically for your needs and goals. You deserve this! Let’s get started today!
Click either of the boxes below!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
"It's so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who's never been there because it's not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it's that cold absence of feeling—that hollowed-out feeling.” - J.K. Rowling.
Have you ever felt that way? Under normal circumstances, those who are struggling with depression might face this frustrating reality every day for long periods.
But our current circumstances are anything but ordinary.
Is there any hope of managing or preventing depression while facing a global pandemic, the resulting economic challenges, and political unrest? The short answer is YES. There are many tools to help you manage your depression. We've included a few strategies that you can do on your own.
Quick Tip: Finding the right tools for you might involve trial and error, so don't forget to be patient with yourself.
Depression - What is it?
When fighting a relentless enemy like depression, it’s essential to know what it looks like. Though each person is different, some common signs of depression might help you recognize it when it’s happening to you or a loved one.
How do we fight an invisible enemy? The best thing we can do is a plan. You probably have a first aid kit in your home or car to deal with possible physical injuries. For those suffering from depression, strategies to help you cope with unexpected mental health emergencies should be on hand at all times.
According to the CDC, 1 out of every six adults will experience depression at some point in their lives. It means that you probably know several other people who are experiencing depression. So, you are not alone!
Even though many are facing this challenge, depression is a unique experience for each person. You should customize your mental health strategies to your needs and what works for you.
Here are some ideas of what you might include:
"I like to use gratitude journals and affirmation journals with my clients. It's like retraining your brain." - Charlynn Ruan, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Therapist.
For many fighting depression, there are particular situations, people, or places that act as triggers. If you know what triggers your depression, WebMD recommends you ask your physician or therapist to help you brainstorm effective strategies that will specifically address those triggers.
For those with moderate to severe depression, following the treatment plan provided by your physician is vital.
But what happens when the game changes and we’re suddenly faced with a whole new set of anxieties?
Depression During High-Stress Times
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we face even more stressors than before. Some have gotten sick, lost their jobs, or simply dealt with the stress of living in a more isolated world.
What can help us manage our depression in these circumstances?
When Depression Knocks on Your Door
If we take the time to prepare now, we’ll be ready when depression knocks on our door. Though there’s no magical cure, we’re well equipped with strategies to weaken its hold on our lives. And we have the support of our loved ones, doctors, and other medical professionals. We are not alone.
Depression can be a tough thing to deal with.
It’s important that we take the time to prepare for when it
does come knocking on our door.
We need to make sure that we have all of the tools and knowledge necessary so that when depression does knock, we are ready for it. You will be able to learn how to cope
with depression before it becomes too much for you.
Get a free consultation now!
Watch this Video
Related Blog Posts
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.
Watch this Video
COVID and PTSD
Mental health is an important part of life – it affects how you feel about yourself, how well you do at work or school, and even how much fun you have in your free time. It’s also something that many people struggle with on their own without getting any help or support.
That’s why I'm here, because we believe everyone deserves access to mental health resources they need for themselves and their family members. I am here for anyone who needs help!
Click the box below if you're interested in learning more about
how I can help you achieve your mental wellness goals!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
Mindfulness is a practice that emphasizes awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations as a means of gaining more insight, increasing attention, improving concentration, and enhancing self-control, among many other benefits. The ultimate idea is that positive changes can be made to influence our attitudes and behaviors for the better via mindfulness producing improvements in these areas.
When it comes to situations and stimuli that can trigger fear and uncertainty, mindfulness can be a powerful tool in one’s arsenal to combat it. There are several specific ways mindfulness can promote mental health during times of fear and uncertainty, ultimately promoting overall wellness too.
Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness can reduce stress. Since increased stress affects both short-term and long-term exposure to fear, reduction of stress is a valuable benefit. A 2010 study explored this by randomly assigning participants to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group and comparing this group against controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and psychopathology, and on neural reactivity as measured by fMRI after watching sad films.
Researchers concluded that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression, and somatic distress than the control group. Thus, this demonstrated that mindfulness meditation increased positive affect and decreased anxiety and negative affect (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Mindfulness is also known to improve attention over time. This can be hugely beneficial when trying to cope with fear and uncertainty because one can use mindfulness to shift focus away from the source of the anxiety and towards something healthier and more positive. A 2009 study by Moore and Malinowski explored how mindfulness affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information.
In the study, a group of experienced mindfulness meditators was compared with a control group with no meditation experience. The conclusion was that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were directly related to attentional functioning and cognitive flexibility (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Less Emotionally Reactive
Often, fear causes panic, poor judgment, and poor reasoning. This can cause people to respond to fear and uncertainty very emotionally without adequately thinking things through.
However, research on mindfulness meditation shows that it decreases emotional reactivity. In a study that looked at people with experience in mindfulness meditation, evidence revealed that mindfulness meditation helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting circumstance. It also allowed them to focus on cognitive tasks better than people who saw the same images but did not practice mindfulness meditation (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
The final conclusion was that the meditation helped participants respond more appropriately emotionally (i.e. calmly) when presented with an image that should have created an adverse emotional reaction like fear or stress.
Watch this Video
What I Do When The World Overwhelms Me
Rumination can be defined as deep or considered thought about something. While not necessarily bad, when faced with fear and uncertainty, ruminating on the situation or the issue can lead to mental and emotional distress. However, several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. In one study by Chamber et. al. in 2008, participants who were new to meditation were asked to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat.
Following the retreat, the meditation group reported significantly higher mindfulness and a decreased negative affect than a control group. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Ultimately, each of these positive impacts promotes mental health, especially during times of fear and uncertainty. When we are less stressed, less emotionally reactive, have better attention, and spend less time ruminating on fearful situations/stimuli, we are better positioned to make decisions, engage with others, and navigate through life with positivity.
Thus, finding ways to practice mindfulness via meditation and similar practices can prove to be a strong strategy for improving and maintaining mental health during times of fear and uncertainty.
Davis, & Hayes. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness? https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
Are you feeling stressed?
Mindfulness can be achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It's been shown to reduce stress levels and anxiety.
With mindfulness techniques such as meditation, you can learn how to live in the now - without regretting what happened yesterday or worrying about what will happen tomorrow. You'll be able to better cope with life's inevitable difficulties when they arise. And it doesn't cost anything!
All you need is a few minutes to get started.
If you need guidance on how to practice mindfulness and learn all of its benefits,
click the box below!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
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.
Watch this Video
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.
Mental health is a priority for most of us, but it's not always easy to
find the resources to take care of yourself.
That’s where I come in! As a certified counselor and life coach, I can help!
Whether you need someone to talk to or want some tools to help you deal with stress,
I'm here for you.
If you're looking for someone who will be there when things get tough,
then click the box below for free consultation!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
In current times life is full of fear and uncertainty. You may not know when things will get back to normal, whether you’ll get your job back when businesses start opening back up, or if you’ll stay healthy for the remainder of the year.
It can be straightforward to lose hope, but that’s perhaps the most essential thing you can hold onto during this crisis. So, let’s talk about why that is.
The Belief that Things Will Get Better
After so many months in lockdown during this pandemic, it’s easy to believe that things will never get better. You may assume that if things were going to get better, they would’ve by now. By holding onto hope, you can hold onto the belief that things will get better in time.
Think about the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life that you thought you’d never survive. You did stay, and now you know that even the most traumatic events in your life will turn around eventually. Hold onto hope and trust that something better is coming in the future.
Holding onto hope doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t see the world for how it truly is. You’re not turning a blind eye to the problems in today’s society and acting as if they don’t exist…. because you know that they do.
Instead, hope involves recognizing the negatives that are happening but understanding that every situation also comes with positives. Having a positive outlook on every situation can help you to naturally improve your mood and find happiness and joy in even the worst cases.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
If you’re like just about everyone else in America, you’re afraid of what may happen today, a week from now, or even a year from now. This can be draining for the average person in the mental and emotional sense, unsure of what the future holds.
Most people who hold onto hope can implement the idea known as “fake it till you make it.” This is a theory that states that acting as if something is true will eventually make it true. You may remind yourself that you’re happy, that things will get better, and that you’ll survive this.
The Spread of Hope
The great thing about hope is that it tends to be contagious. Just by remaining hopeful around your family members or friends, it might start rubbing off on them. This can help to improve the mood and the outlook of those around you.
On the other hand, helping those around you can also end up helping you in the long run. If you happen to lose hope temporarily, it may just be those you’ve built up that come to bring you back up with them. It’s all about creating a positive support system in your circle.
Not Letting Fear Consume You
Have you ever felt extreme fear about something in your life?
If so, then there’s a chance that you experienced racing thoughts and extreme anxiety wondering what might happen. That’s precisely how many people are feeling in the current environment.
The thing about hope is that it somewhat reverses your fears. So instead of having every single thought in your mind focused on your worries and recent events, you can return your ideas to other things in your life. Less focus on fear can help you to focus on the good stuff.
Watch this Video
Finding PEACE in Christ
Hope is necessary if you want to make it through the current pandemic and state of the world with your mental health intact. To maintain hope and preserve your mental health, it’s a great idea to stay positive, surround yourself with good people, and limit your fears.
You deserve to feel better.
Life coaching is a process of self-discovery that helps you identify your values and goals, create achievable plans for change, and take the necessary steps to make those changes happen. It’s an investment in yourself—in your mental health and well-being.
Let me help you find hope again with life coaching sessions tailored specifically for you! I will work with you one on one or in groups to provide support, encouragement, guidance, and accountability. Together we can get through this difficult time with hope and peace!
Click the box below to schedule a free consultation today!
Book features this week:
Related Blog Posts
By Karima Leslie
In times of crisis and transition, we long for our previous normal. We gravitate towards what is familiar, even when what is familiar and "normal" is killing us. We crave fast food and long for the job back that was burning us out and running us into the ground. And none of that is bad. Seeking comfort in familiarity is completely normal. But this season of life is calling us to create a new normal. A better one. When all of this is done, we could have dancing in the streets, we could get to know our neighbors and be active in our community. We could come together, united because of this shared hardship and love like we never have before.
Top 5 tips to Coping through COVID-19
#1: Pay Attention to How You Feel
Pay attention to the warning signs your body & mind may be giving you. Are you finding yourself easily irritated? Overly emotional? Going back to bad habits? Having a hard time concentrating? Experiencing unexplained headaches or body pain?
These are all signs that your mind & body are asking for an intervention.
#2: Dealing with Isolation
When finding yourself in a new environment or working within new parameters, such as lockdowns or self-isolation due to the pandemic, it is important to give yourself a clear sense of purpose. Decide how you want to use this time. Will you be working from home or have time-off? How do you want to schedule your days?
To avoid boredom, discover new activities to enjoy, forgotten hobbies, or pastimes that you had previously gotten too busy for. Learn something new. There is a plethora of free classes on design, marketing, art, languages, music, etc. Learning something new can help you level-up in your current career, bring peace to your spirit, or excitement to your life.
You get to decide what you use this time for and do not feel guilty if what you need during this time is simply to rest. We all require breaks, that is what makes us human.
#3: Take Care of Your Body
It is easy to lie awake worrying about all the things going wrong in the world and in our lives. Choose a time one hour earlier than when you would like to go to bed, say 9pm, to start winding down your day. Find activities that are truly calming and that put your mind at ease (not just a distract you). Turn down the lights, put on some calming music, turn off any screens or devices and do something relaxing before bed.
Try and get your nutrients. This one I know is tough for lots of us since many of us have had to change our budgets as work dynamics shift. Usually common grocery items may also be sold out from time to time. But our mindset has everything to do with our ability to adjust and cope. Take this as an opportunity to cook with new ingredients and learn new recipes.
#4: Take Breaks from the News
The constant barrage of breaking news, especially when it is presented in the most pessimistic light, can cause overwhelm and trigger anxiety. Humans do not have the capacity to absorb everything that is going in the world at all times. Every breaking news story does not equally deserve your attention and there is a line where informing ourselves turns into obsessing over things we cannot control.
It is important that we do our part to be loving, contributing citizens of planet earth. Educate yourself about the facts, the many ways to stay safe and help others, and then take a break from the covid, police brutality, and world disaster news. As a mental health & chronic illness advocate, I may bring up covid from time to time on my platforms, but I do so with a purpose to provide resources, skills, & activities on How to Cope, how to still have fun, how to find peace, be social, laugh, & enjoy life in this new context. I am here to kick fear to the curb and help you deal with this thing.
Check out my page at www.ariseandthrive.ca for more resources on getting motivated, organized, and back on track!
A chronic illness warrior herself, Karima Leslie has battled with debilitating chronic conditions as well as anxiety & depression that came along with them.
Now a champion for mental, spiritual, & emotional health care, Karima Leslie practices as a Spiritual Life & Business Coach providing virtual wellness sessions and business coaching to help women kill overwhelm, boost confidence, & conquer fear. She is currently accepting new clients looking to gain more energy, simplify recovery, find new joy in forgotten passions, and healing for the mind, body, & soul. She is also working on a group program for women entrepreneurs struggling with chronic illness.
Founder of Arise and Thrive Co., check out her services & resources on her:
or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in on a free session and find out your next step to making 2020 a better year!
The world that we are living in today is anything but peaceful and predictable. It seems that every day there is some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention.
These incidences come from every direction and in all shapes and sizes. Whether a personal issue arises that completely disrupts your peace of mind but seems only to affect you personally or a global event transpires that uproots the happiness and joy of millions of people simultaneously, our world can be a very uneasy place to exist.
With everything going on around you, maintaining a sense of security and order in your mental environment and personal life can feel like an ultimately futile effort.
Try as you may; there seems to be something that always comes along for no other reason than to fill you with fear and worry. While you can’t change the dynamic nature of the world you live in, there are thoughts and strategies that, when implemented effectively, can help you stay grounded when life gets hectic.
You Cannot Bear The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to realize and come to terms with the fact that you are a single human being that is tremendously incapable of bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.
At first glance, this may seem like a sign that you should just give up and let the waves toss you of each new tragedy. However, becoming aware of your limitations can serve as one of the most significant sources of peace you could ever hope to find.
The reason for this is that when you take the time to identify the things that are out of your control, the list of things that you actually can influence becomes much more apparent. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at every single problem going on around you, you can focus your efforts on only the issues you can change.
Not only does this give you a much-needed sense of authority over your circumstances, but it also frees you from the burden of trying to manage the problems of the world by yourself. In the raging war that is our world today, you must pick your battles wisely.
Another common issue that many of us have when it comes to all the things going wrong in the world is that we automatically feel as if these things directly affect our personal lives.
While this may seem insensitive, the truth is that not only are most of the issues we notice daily through the media or online things that have little to no effect on our existence, and they are also far out of our hands. Expending your time and energy to solve the problems that affect your immediate environment is a much better investment than worrying about a conflict or issue on the other side of the globe.
Supporting a worldwide cause for the sake of charity is fantastic, but not if doing so means ignoring the conflicts that are staring you in the face.
Maintain A Sense Of Order
Finally, you must maintain a sense of order in your own life, regardless of how messy and cluttered the things around you become.
If you allow your internal state to mimic your external environment, you fall victim to the chaos. Whatever your day-to-day life entails, always strive to develop systems and routines that provide you with a sense of peace and security. If you are looking for these things in places other than your own life, you will not find them.
We're all just trying to live our lives and make the best of what we have.
But it seems like there's always something in the way, some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention. Sometimes it feels like life is one long emergency, with no time to stop and think about how things might be better if we could only take a step back.
That’s where I come in. As your life coach, I will help you find clarity so you can get unstuck from whatever has been holding you back from living a full and happy life. Together we'll work on building skillsets that will allow you to feel more confident in yourself and your abilities - so that when an emergency comes up, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all, you'll know exactly what to do next.
Click the box right now! Schedule a free consultation with me today!
Related Blog Posts
Isn't it incredible to think that just a few months ago, we'd never heard the term COVID-19? While coronaviruses have long existed, this coronavirus did not. That didn't stop it from transforming our entire world, though. Life has now changed beyond recognition, professionally and personally. Some people have been on lockdown all on their own, unable to see their loved ones at all.
While others have been working from home surrounded by their family, regardless of your lockdown state of play, you have likely gone to extra effort to connect with the people you can't see.
You may have stocked up on dry goods, hoping to ride it out without leaving the house. Perhaps you felt comfortable taking regular walks while masked. We have all had our paths to walk during COVID-19. Some people will have had a more challenging time.
1. Your Red Flags
As well as knowing the red flags of cognitive and emotional overwhelm, you should get to know your red flags. Think about past stress you have experienced, whether it's been work or relationship-related. What type of event or situation triggers a feeling of overwhelm, and how can you manage that more efficiently? By getting to know yourself better, you will better understand your red flags and handle the load.
2. Know Your Brain
You know how you react when you're in love. You know how your brain responds to stress. You recognize how your brain acts when you're anxious, fearful, excited, etc. Understanding your brain can help you manage your cognitive and emotional load. Your brain on stress will cloud your judgment. The positive chemicals that come with falling in love are as powerful as the stress chemicals that come with emphasis.
You should know yourself well enough to recognize when even the slightest stress creeps in. Know the physical symptoms you experience when stressed outdo your palms grow sweaty, is there an eye twitch, do you itch, do you get a headache, are you experiencing acne breakouts, or are your bowels off-kilter? We all have our signs of stress, but knowing what they are will help you cope.
3. Abundance > Scarcity
What type of mindset do you have? Do you believe there is enough for everyone or that you have to grab what you can to protect yourself? If you're the former, you likely bought what you need to stock up for COVID-19 lockdown. If you are the latter, you probably have enough toilet paper and bottled water to carry you midway through 2021.
It might not sound like much, but with a scarcity mindset comes the idea that things are okay. Nothing will get better. That's not going to help you cope with a heavy emotional and cognitive load.
4. Listen to Your Body
One of the most effective ways to manage distress is to identify the physical and emotional symptoms, as well as the thoughts you tend to experience before spiraling into overwhelm. If you are confused by whether you're coping with your load, then you have to listen to your body because it holds the clues to your truth.
A body scan or check is a great daily tool to check in with yourself and get ahead of any red flags. It's easy. Simply sit quietly for a few moments, practice deep breathing, center yourself, and scan each area of your body. You can also ask specific questions about what you're dealing with to determine whether your body responds. Do you feel fearful? Are you tense or tight?
Are you feeling struggling emotionally?
You’re not alone. We all have our paths to walk during COVID-19, and some people will have had a more challenging time than others. If you are looking for someone to help you navigate the emotional toll of COVID, I can provide the support that you need!
Let me be there for you when life gets tough so that together
we can find new and more peaceful and enjoyable ways of living in this challenging world.
Reach out today!
Watch this Video
Related Blog Posts
By Holly Miller
“Are you ready for the new school year?” is a question I hear every year earlier and earlier into my summer break. It always makes me squirm with anxiety in a regular year. This year, when the questions started coming in July, I answered with “I can’t even get my head around that yet!” I spent the good portion of August ignoring it. Even as I woke to attend my first in-service, I was still in denial that the new school year was starting. To say the start of this year has been challenging is an understatement. Teaching always presents new challenges from year-to-year, but with all of the Covid restrictions, seeing my classes for only 88 minutes once a week and coming up with digital lessons for the rest of the week for them, managing students in-person as well as live on Zoom, ensuring I am covering all of the high school math curriculum at the same pace in this platform, and trying my best to keep my students and myself safe with sanitizing, social distancing, and mask-wearing, I do not recognize what I am doing this year as teaching. And I have 100% NOT been ok mentally. I have sobbed every day after work for at least an hour when I got home up until last week. I wrote this social media post in the height of my anxiety:
I’ve had 5 panic attacks in the last 5 days. I am 100% convinced I cannot do my job. The only way I could convince myself to leave my house today was to mobile order a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks. Something good waiting for me outside of my house. I picked my drink up and headed to work. Except I didn’t. I went the complete opposite way. Trying to get myself turned around and heading in the right direction, I drive by the place where we found Murdoch after 3 weeks of hopeless hell. I am taking this as a sign that there are things I was convinced were impossible but they came to be and it can happen again. I’m completely lost. But I’m going to do the next right thing.
"I've seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I'm ready to succumb
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don't know any more what is true
I can't find my direction, I'm all alone.
How to rise from the floor?
But it's not you I'm rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing"
- The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Murdoch in this story was our beloved dog my husband and I had before we were married. A friend was watching him in 2012 when we went to New York City for the day. He was a very anxious dog and when she went to let him out, he snapped his leash and ran off. Murdoch was lost for 3 entire weeks. 21 days. Over Christmas. We did absolutely everything we could to bring him home. We barely slept, barely ate, and were out in the cold and snow non-stop posting flyers, talking to people to ask if they saw him, checking out reported sightings, trekking through wooded areas, streams, and fields to find him. While we felt so hopeless, we never gave up. I never prayed for something harder in my life. 21 days later, down to the hour he escaped, we got a call that he was sighted near a housing development in a field. We were able to secure him. We got him back 6 miles from our house. It was an unbelievable miracle that came true. I always look to this as my personal miracle and proof that with God, all things are possible.
I bring up this story because often when I read in the Bible of Jesus performing miracles and his disciples doubting him, I always get kind of frustrated with his disciples at first. “Um, He is JESUS! You’ve witnessed this man do miracle after miracle! How can you doubt him?!” And then I realize I do the same in my own life. When I got lost on my way to work (seriously, how do you get lost on your way to a place you have driven to over and over again for years) and drove by the spot where God granted me the biggest miracle of my life, I knew it was no mistake. I was being reminded of who is in control when I feel out of control. Despite how terrible I am feeling mentally, how difficult I am finding it to do my job and even just function as a human being, despite my fears, doubts, and worries, I know I have already won this mental battle.
“No, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8:37-38
I sometimes get so caught up in drowning that I forget to look up to see that I’ve been rescued all along. While starting the school year has been tough on all of us, teachers, students, and parents, I am trying my best to remember that this battle I am trying so hard to fight has already been fought and won. Not only will we get through this rough patch, we will more than conquer it.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life. Holly can be reached email@example.com
By Holly Miller
As a rule, when I am on Summer Break, I put up personal barriers so I can relax. I do not allow myself to dwell on the past school year or worry about the upcoming one. The 2020-2021 school year, however, causes more anxiety than usual. “Are we going back to in-person instruction? How will social distancing work? Are we really expected to enforce mask wearing for students of all ages? If we go to a hybrid schedule, how will I have time to teach in person and online all in one day? Students are going to be eating lunch in my room?! How do I space 30 desks 6 feet apart in a 20 by 20 room?” All of these thoughts and more started seeping into my relaxation time once summer break began. I threw up my barriers again because, as a teacher, I have no say in what this upcoming school year will be like, so why stress about it? I do want to write this month’s blog to frame this upcoming school year in hopes of insight and easing some worry.
If you are a parent of a student, I know you have so many questions. I know there was so much that you would like to see improved upon if we are doing online education again. I realize what a hard choice it will be to send a student to school or continue distance education if you are given that option. But here is the number one thing you can do to help your student. Have a positive attitude. Children are VERY perceptive. They can instantly pick up on how you are reacting to hard news. When schools closed in the Spring, did you huff and puff and complain? Then I guarantee your children did the same. If you tried to give it your best effort and tackle what you could with what you had, I bet your children were willing to at least TRY to follow your example.
So no matter what is decided for the upcoming school year, realize those decisions are pretty much out of parents’, students’, and teachers’ hands. What we CAN control is how we react to these tough decisions. We can change our attitudes to meet challenges head-on. Will this upcoming school year be all rainbows and smiles? Probably not. Be willing to roll with the punches, expect the unexpected, and be ready to adapt to multiple changes. Children learn by example, so we must lead by example. I’m not saying we can’t be sad or disappointed if things don’t go how we would want, but we have to meet this school year with a ‘can-do’ attitude and I know it will go much better than those who find something to complain about at every twist and turn. If I hear the word ‘unprecedented’ one more time, I might scream, however, these times are truly unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I NEVER would have imagined my school year would have ended the way it did. We all must realize that while we are all in the same storm, we may not be all in the same boat. So have a great summer break, do things that make you and your family happy, and be ready to return to school rested and ready to rise to the challenges we will be facing. We can do this if we BELIEVE we can do this!
By Cherie Faus Smith
I have always considered myself a strong woman. After all, I’ve survived three abusive relationships involving intimate partners, am a melanoma cancer survivor, and clawed myself out of the trenches of depression and anxiety that left me with dirty fingernails.
Do I feel sorry for myself? NO!
Why don’t I? Because I have a strong woman in my life who has shown me what it takes to be a survivor, I call her mom.
Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my strength came from watching her persevere.
As a teenager, it was a tough transition. I left my friends and moved to a neighborhood full of strangers.
My brother and I made the best of it even though we found trouble or trouble found us (shh…that’s a secret).
There is a saying that my parents often repeated, "If things aren't going your way, punt. It's not the end of the world." That has stuck with me my entire life because life isn’t always easy – there are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
Thanks to her, I’ve grown into a strong and confident woman. But what happens when that woman breaks?
Recently, we said goodbye to our precious dog, Sadie. It was unexpected, and she has left an enormous hole in our hearts.
When I found her, she was standing on the side of the road, eating pebbles. I wasn't supposed to be on that road that day. The path that I usually take was under construction, and there was a large orange detour sign. I was annoyed knowing I was already late, but then I saw her - this beautiful creature with black fur, cream paws, and tan markings above her eyes.
I stopped and opened the van door. She immediately hopped inside, walked to the front, and plopped herself on the passenger seat, looking at me as if to say, "Hey, let's go! Floor it, lady."
We did everything we could to find her owner, but after a month of no luck, we made her part of our family.
She instantly became my shadow and was by my side during my cancer diagnosis and recovery, depression, and anxiety bouts. Most importantly, she was there day in and day out for the last nine years to provide constant companionship. She was the best dog ever, and I miss her every day.
The day after we said goodbye, I sat on the sofa, bawling my eyes out while my body shook. I was inconsolable, and even my husband couldn’t help. I’m sure he felt extremely helpless, watching me fall apart.
I distinctly remember saying, "I'm breaking."
She was going to be my riding partner once I bought that Jeep that I’ve had my eyes on for the past year.
She was going to fill that void when our son moves into his place this fall.
I had so many plans for the two of us. Life isn't fair, and I wanted more time with her.
I’m a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a tough cookie.
But even strong women break.
I have a passion for supporting women and created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
By Holly Miller
Our brains are amazingly powerful. That brain power can do some astonishing things to our bodies. It has caused me to shake uncontrollably for weeks, make me feel dizzy for days on end, overwhelm my body to the point of passing out, and pack on weight. When harnessed for good, my brain helped me to calm myself, clear my skin, and lose weight. There is this chemical in our brain called cortisol that can change your life for better or worse. If you want to read more about it, here is a quick guide: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol
If you don’t believe in what our brains can do to our bodies, take a look at the picture that accompanies this blog post. That picture is of the same woman, in the same classroom, 4 years apart. Look at the lady on the left. Blotchy red skin, round face, glassy eyes, defeated expression. She looks nothing like the lady on the right who looks bright, happy, and ready to tackle life! But both are me! After I got some medical help from my doctor, I began to re-evaluate how I let my brain speak to me. “You are worthless.” “You always fail at everything you do.” “You will never truly feel happy.” Would you let anyone say these things to your best friend? No? Then why do we say them to ourselves?! The way we speak to ourselves (self-talk) can affect our cortisol levels. Your brain has that kind of power. Look at that photo again! The woman on the left was not kind to herself in the least. The woman on the right looks like someone I would want to give me a pep-talk. We cannot allow ourselves to speak in a way that we NEVER would to someone else.
I was struggling to write a blog this month. I realized it was because I was slipping back into negative self-talk. I think so many of us don’t even realize we are doing it. We need to be more aware of how we talk to ourselves. Our brains can be re-wired for our benefit. I love this article: https://brainspeak.com/how-negative-self-talk-sabotages-your-health-happiness/ It talks about how we can literally change our brains to affect our bodies for good health. It seems so cliché to hear, “Just think positive!”, but our brains depend on it for our health, mentally AND physically.
Next time you have a negative thought about yourself, I challenge you to change it. Whenever I find a bad thought coming into my head, I picture a loved one in my mind and make myself say that thought aloud to that person. I immediately come to that person’s defense. “You can’t talk to her like that!” “She is an AMAZING person.” “BACK OFF! Why are you being so mean?!” Why do we not champion ourselves like that? YOU are the most influential person in your life. It’s time to take back that powerful brain of yours and use it for good!
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life. Holly can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and we are all impacted at one level or another. Dealing with the emotional (and other) toll of corona was hard enough and now the issues of social injustice, racism, and safety are front and center. Many have lost their lives in the past week and beyond.
In the past few days, I have had many courageous conversations in diverse circles. I talked with my church small group on what the church can do to be the solution. I have also had friends who asked me what they could do to help. Emotions are high and so is helplessness.
And I understand both but I want to remind each of us that we need to have faith and hold on to hope. We also need to remember thatchange starts with each one of us. In order to change the world around us, we need to first change ourselves.
Furthermore, I want to tell you personally that I see you. I see you wanting to do your best and feeling like it's not enough. I see you having so much to say and not sure if it's the "right" thing to say. I see you wanting to make a difference and not sure where to begin.
I see you being filled with anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and even despair at times. And I see you. I see you because I too, am dealing with similar emotions and I have been working hard at recentering myself.
I see you and I want you to know that you are not alone in what you think and feel.
I see you and I'm only a click away if you need a safe place to be heard.
I see you and I want to hold space for you!
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
By Holly Miller
After almost two full weeks off of school and a really nasty upper-respiratory virus, I found myself unmotivated to start a project I so happily signed on for earlier when the world seemed a lot more bright, shiny, and promising; this blog. And every year I have to remind myself that ‘this is just how it is’ this time of year for me. As a teacher who also struggles with anxiety and depression, having my routine shaken up, spending hours of unstructured time alone, and then being thrust back into ‘the real world’ again after winter break can be really tough. And I know it can be so hard on my students too. After the lights are taken down and the cheerful trappings of the season are packed away, the world sometimes looks even darker than it did before the holidays.
And you would think that after over 30 years in academia, I would be used to this – having my routine come to a screeching halt and then having to re-start it again in the new year. But every new year presents the same main issue I always struggle with – starting again. Although it is never easy, I guess I have a good amount of experience in starting again (and getting 150 teenagers to re-start again with me when we return from break). While these are not groundbreaking tips, these are things that are tried and true and always help me struggle less when heading back to school after the winter break or just starting again in general. So whether you or your kids are heading back to school after some time off, here are some things to help.
1. Be prepared.
It always eases my anxiety by picking out my outfit the night before, packing my lunch, and knowing what I’m making for dinner when I come home from school. Having a plan helps push out some unease.
2. Ease back into your routine.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with things I need to accomplish. I allow myself some time just to go to school, put in a solid day, then come home and do nothing else. I try not to overschedule myself. I give myself permission to relax when I get home for the first few days back from break. While things need to be accomplished, giving a little downtime is absolutely necessary.
3. Plan something you look forward to.
One of my colleagues a few years ago started “Taco Night” in our group of teacher friends. Once a month, someone would take a turn to host dinner and we would all gather for a night of food and board games. It was fun to look forward to those dinners after the holidays were over. Something small like a movie night or allowing your student to pick a meal for dinner one night a week goes a long way.
4. Yoke unpleasant tasks with something you enjoy.
Getting back into a routine means getting back to things we don’t always love. I HATE doing dishes. (Yes, our house built in 1955 has never been updated to include a dishwasher). So I set my iPad up above the sink and watch Gilmore Girls while doing a task I dread. Pair something not so great with something enjoyable helps unpleasant tasks go faster.
5. Watch your self-talk.
Somebody once told me “speak to yourself as you would your best friend on their worst day”. I try really hard not to put myself down or beat myself up for things I didn’t accomplish. My mantra for teaching is “you get done what you get done, and whatever didn’t get done wasn’t all that important”. Our to-do lists are never-ending. So recognize good stopping places and congratulate yourself or your student for a job well done.
As we go into 2020, a lot of us may feel overwhelmed at the whole year ahead of us. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I don’t know about you, but looking at the whole staircase raises my blood pressure. But taking the first step, that’s something I’ve done a hundred times and that something I can do again. I am looking forward to a year of blogging about mental health, education, and just being a human. And I just took my first steps into doing so!
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com
It' easy to be grateful when things are going well, but do you keep that gratitude going when things get tough? Here are 3 ways to be grateful for the hard stuff. I also have a gratitude journal to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude no matter what you're going through. Get it at http://bit.ly/gratitudejournal2019
We’ve come to the end of our mini-challenge, and we’ve covered quite a bit of information. You’ve learned why acknowledging, embracing and expressing gratitude is so important. You’ve also learned a few specific ways to begin a practice of gratitude in your own life. I’d like to expand on that as we end our challenge to provide you with a more in-depth list of helpful tips to tap into the power of being grateful. You can use these ideas as you move forward in creating your own routine.
Take a Gratitude Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to relieve stress and gain perspective. It offers a number of advantages. You leave your regular environment, get out in the fresh air and move away from distractions. It’s a form of physical exercise that comes with all sorts of health benefits. Walking can even be considered a form of meditation. It’s a fabulous way to focus on gratitude. During this particular jaunt, pay special attention to the things you encounter along the way. Chances are, you’ll discover plenty to be thankful for during your walk.
Make a Gratitude Collage
A fun way to acknowledge your gratefulness in a visual way is to create a gratitude collage. This process works in a similar way as a vision board. You can cut out pictures from a magazine or add personal photos. Your collage can simply be laid out on a poster board or you can get more creative and decorative. You can even keep your board electronically on Pinterest or some other app. The point is to collect images that move you to consider your good fortune. It’s a good idea to put your board in a place where you can see it or access it daily. You might even want to add to it to keep its momentum going.
Hold a Friendsgiving
Friendsgiving is like Thanksgiving, only with friends and chosen family instead of biological family. This special occasion is often held in place of traditional Thanksgiving for those who don’t have family physically nearby or who aren’t emotionally close with their relatives. Sometimes it takes place near the actual holiday. You can get creative, though, and hold your own special gathering, customized to your needs, any time you wish. A gratitude party or get-together can remind you of the people who are most important in your life and enhance existing bonds.
Look for Gratitude in Challenges
Let’s turn things around a bit. You probably know how easy it is to focus on the bad stuff. Sometimes we get stuck in the negative and allow it to weigh us down. That’s natural, but you can interrupt that cycle by consciously working to find the gratitude in life’s challenges. Look for the lessons or the silver linings. Be sure to write them down in your gratitude journal or make a note of them in some formalized way so that you can look back and remember the good that came from adversity.
One of the most impactful ways to gain perspective and be grateful for what you have is to help others in need. This can be through a formal volunteer effort with a philanthropic organization or it can simply be something like helping a neighbor you see who could use a hand with his lawn. No matter what the effort, you’ll reap the rewards when you pitch in to give to others. Try to do something to help someone else at least once a week, and you’re sure to experience a boost in gratitude.
Give these ideas a try. Research or brainstorm some additional ones on your own. Just get started so you can see just what a difference embracing a mindset of gratitude can have on your entire life.
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org