Careers Answers

How do you stop worrying about the future?

Hello AK,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do you stop worrying about the future? I am glad that you reached out with what you are struggling at the moment.  Worrying about our future can be normal - depending on why and what your choices are and so on but if you are overwhelmed with worry and it is causing you anxiety then it is time to take some action to master this. I will share some information about anxiety.   I will also share some tools on what you can do to help you overcome your anxiety and worry about your future.  I would encourage you to reach out for porfessional support from a mental health professional counselor.  Talking with someone can be very beneficial for overcoming stress and worry about such matters.  A counselor can support and teach you some effective coping skills with your anxiety. Anxiety is diagnosed by a trained professional, a psychologist or psychiatrist, but there are specific symptoms shared by most people with anxiety. Anxiety causes symptoms that are both mental and physical. These symptoms vary from person to person, and it is best to see a professional for diagnosis, but it never hurts to learn all you can in the meantime. Mental symptoms include excessive worry, apprehensive thoughts that disrupt your daily life, feelings of dread and fear that do not have a logical explanation, and exaggerated thoughts that make it difficult to focus and be productive. Physical symptoms include excessive sweating, blotchy skin, hives or rashes, racing heart, vomiting, headache, hyperventilation, numbness in the extremities, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness and in some cases chest pain and heart palpitations. For people with anxiety, the apprehension of "what if" leads to behaviors that are disruptive to their life. The distraction caused by anxious thoughts is only one piece of the puzzle. When anxiety goes unchecked, the anxious thoughts and behaviors begin to take their toll physically. Techniques for Dealing with Anxiety Dealing with anxiety can seem overwhelming and for some, dealing means avoiding situations that trigger anxious feelings and behaviors. There are many ways people try to deal with anxiety, and most of them hurt rather than help. It is important to understand that anxiety cannot be "cured", but it does not have to take over your life. You can learn to deal with anxiety in a constructive way that will help you control your reactions and behavior, when you are faced with anxiety. Anxiety begins with anxious thoughts; these thoughts can take on a life of their own. Social anxiety and panic attacks can accompany general anxiety or GAD. The techniques below will also help you deal with GAD and social anxiety too. When you notice anxiety beginning to take hold, use these proven techniques to learn how to deal with it in a constructive way: Control anxiety with thought recognition and behavioral modification Overcome social anxiety by challenging your negative thoughts Calm anxiety by practicing mindfulness and meditation Treat panic attacks with breathing exercises and physical exercise Talk to someone about your anxiety. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand, and they can help relieve anxiety by listening and providing more personalized techniques Reduce anxiety with diet and exercise Learn to Control Anxiety Dealing with anxiety requires some understanding and a few proven tools to help you deal with it. Learning to control anxiety isn't about stopping anxiety or fighting anxiety, it is all about regulating your reactions and modifying your behaviors. You can learn to control your reactions to anxiety and modify your behaviors if you learn to identify the situations that trigger anxiety and learn to recognize anxious thoughts when they arise. Once you know your anxiety triggers, you can actively modify your behavior. The following proven techniques will help you identify your triggers, modify your behavior, and work to control your anxiety before it controls you. Recognize Rumination ·          Rumination is the act of overthinking and mulling over thoughts that worry you and distract you from the present. During rumination, you will notice that your thoughts may be exaggerated and your decision making and problem solving is diminished. Once you recognize you are ruminating, you will be able to calm yourself by accepting the rumination as a symptom of anxiety and not something you need to act on. Recognize distortions in thought Once you recognize rumination, you will learn to recognize distortions in those ruminating thoughts. Thoughts that are stressful and worrisome cannot be ignored, that will just make things worse. If you learn to recognize these distorted thoughts you will have the ability to let them pass without acting on them. These feelings and thoughts are real because they trigger anxiety, but you can learn to let them pass without acting once you recognize them for what they are. Sometimes these techniques are not enough to help you control your anxiety and admitting that is ok; as a matter of fact, admitting you cannot control everything is another technique for controlling anxiety! Everyone is different, so don't be harsh or judgmental with yourself. A professional therapist can help you use these techniques and others to help you control your anxiety. Overcoming Social Anxiety Social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear of social situations. For some, it may only surface during certain situations such as public speaking or attending a party; for others, it disrupts everyday living. Social anxiety has many facets and only a professional can diagnose this condition, but if you have symptoms of social anxiety, working on what you can is a step in the right direction. The most important thing to remember about social anxiety is that you are not alone, many people experience social anxiety and many of them have very public careers. Do not judge yourself for feeling the way you do, just accept that you cannot change everything and work on what you can change. The best way to change what you can is diffuse your negative thoughts and feelings. Examples of how to diffuse negative thoughts: When you think, others are thinking bad things about you, diffuse this thought by asking yourself "Why would this person or people think bad about me?" and/or "They don't even know me, they can't possibly be thinking bad things about me," or "They have enough going on in their lives, too much to be overly concerned with thinking critically about me." If you are thinking, "I know I am going to embarrass myself if I go to that party, I always embarrass myself." Diffuse this thought by asking yourself why you believe you will embarrass yourself, "always" is a strong word, are you sure you "always" embarrass yourself? Diffusing negative thoughts by questioning the reasoning behind the thought works quite well for easing social anxiety. Once you begin to question yourself and ask why you think or feel the way you do, you are forced to rationalize your thoughts and feelings. Rationalizing and anxiety don't mix, and in time as you practice, you will be able to classify your thoughts as rational or not and then decide about action based on that rather than the thoughts themselves. Calming Anxiety with Mindfulness and Meditation Mindfulness and meditation are both calming techniques that work by relaxing the mind and allowing it to release stress. Anxiety will not disappear because you practice mindfulness and meditation, but it will lessen, and you will gain a sense of calm that is hard to achieve without these techniques. Mindfulness and regular meditation can provide stability when anxiety threatens to take over. Mindfulness is the act of being present, in the moment, and aware of what is around you. Mindfulness is awesome in its simplicity, and with practice you will be able to calm your racing thoughts by tuning out and tuning in to something grounding in the moment. There are many free and helpful apps available to help you begin a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness should be cultivated daily to strengthen it as a skill, not just when anxiety is present. Note the things in your environment and really let them absorb you as you describe each one to yourself mentally. Meditation takes many forms, and it does not matter which one you choose. Meditation teaches us to be in control of our breathing and to clear our thoughts. Meditation helps put us in touch with our autonomic nervous system, and this has the potential to put us in control of lowering anxiety. Treating Panic Attacks with Exercise Panic attacks are sudden intense episodes of anxiety and fear that trigger physical reactions when there is no obvious danger or cause. Panic attacks can be disabling and completely disruptive to daily activity. Those who suffer from panic attacks know that the stress experienced earlier in the week can trigger a panic attack days later. If you think you suffer from panic attacks, it is important that you seek professional help for them, but it never hurts to do what you can to ease your symptoms. Exercise and breathing exercises can and do help those who suffer from panic attacks. Regular exercise can reduce the amount of adrenaline in your system because the body will work to regulate the adrenaline during and after exercise. Exercise changes the body's chemistry, and these chemical changes can lessen the occurrence and severity of panic attacks. Breathing exercises during a panic attack can lessen the duration of the attack itself. Breathing exercises can be as simple as counting the number of breaths you are taking, to focusing on regulating your breathing. Many times, panic attacks include hyperventilation or shortness of breath, so practicing breathing exercises will make it easier for you to focus on these exercises during an attack. Practice inhaling deeply for several seconds, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then taking several seconds longer than you inhaled to release that breath. This helps signal your body that your sympathetic nervous system can relax and that you aren't in danger. Although breathing exercises and physical exercises can and do help to treat panic attacks, you should still seek a professional diagnosis. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can provide more diverse forms of treatment for panic attacks including support during or after an episode. Reducing Anxiety with Diet and Exercise If you suffer from anxiety, your diet and exercise patterns can affect the severity of your anxiety. What we eat has a huge impact on how our body and mind reacts to stress. Without the proper nutrition, we are vulnerable to the effects of anxiety in ways we don't even realize. The chemistry of our body changes depending on the food we eat, and this chemistry has a lot to do with anxiety. Sugar and caffeine should be avoided as both are stimulants. Stimulants can irritate the nervous system and place it on alert, making you more likely to experience anxiety or panic. Alcohol is a commonly used self-medication for anxiety, but with poor results. Alcohol should be avoided. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make everything seem brighter and better. The chemical changes that take place during and immediately after exercise work wonders for stress and anxiety. Stress levels lower the more you exercise and regular exercise eases and reduces anxiety because the mind and body are focused on the activity and the endorphins will make sure you feel good about yourself. Talk to Someone These tips and techniques are meant to help you deal with anxiety, but nothing beats the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. Talking to someone who is a knowledgeable, trained professional, is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety. A therapist can provide insight, and help you develop a strategy for dealing with your anxiety. Talking to someone can ease your fears, keep you positive, and provide the support you need to continue moving forward.   There is hope and there is help for you.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindest, Gaynor     
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

how can I deal with stress and anxiety about my future and not being able to control everything?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How can I deal with stress and anxiety about my future and not being able to control everything? I am glad you have reached out for some support and guidance on how best to manage your stress and anxiety about all that is going on for you.  It certainly sounds like it is a lot for you to cope with on your own.   I will share some information about anxiety related matters and some self-help tools you can begin to try by yourself.  I will also discuss how with some professional mental health support you can make some positive changes in your life to manage these uncomfortable issues.   I would recommend you consider talking with your medical provider and how to reach out for professional support and guidance from a mental health counselor.  Someone who can teach you some effective coping skills.         Managing And Learning How To Deal With Anxiety     Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone.   three theories as the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America:   1.    Poor community ties and poor social skills; 2.    Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame and image; and 3.    High expectations from oneself, evidently leading to anxiety disorders and depression.   Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the social side of our development is stunted by the overuse of technology, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche.   However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are once again leaning on forms of natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and lead to faster healing and recovery.   Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms:   Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Often, the first things we do when we wake up are to check our emails on our phone/laptop or switch on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day.      In order to break this cycle of anxiety and stress, start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges.   Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people are trying to juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.   To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety.   Waking up early will give you some time for yourself and will help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace and quiet will greatly help you fight off anxiety.   Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies.   Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease.     Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. People who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast.  Low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. In order to overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline.     Music: Listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy not only helped people cope with their troubles but also greatly helped to reduce their body pain.   Aromatherapy: Smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.   Socializing: Spending time with people whom you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety.  Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety according to this This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development.   People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were found to be sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression.   Laughter Therapy:  I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children and relatives can be very therapeutic.   Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is known to be an effective psychiatric medicine as it reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being.   Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate, and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking.   Reframe your Thinking: Negative thinking.  Constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety.   Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking:   If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam" and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy and I am going to pass with flying colors." If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen today. Something good is in store for me."     Avoid over scheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly.  In order to combat over scheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not a superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time.   Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat, powers up your system mentally and physically so you can make an informed decision.   Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness.   Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, it is important that your thoughts are positive and optimistic. The technique of visualization teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you are having anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you and the tropical air blowing across your face.   Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure and heart rate.   Hot baths: A hot water bath not only is soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bathwater can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly calm symptoms of anxiety and depression.   Sunlight: Exposing yourself for sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas where there is little or less sunlight, try getting a light box and expose yourself to its light for a few minutes each day.   Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket and purchase some chamomile tea and start enjoying its calming benefits.   Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural, anxiety-fighting food, which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus and almonds are "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression.   Sleep: Getting a proper eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.    Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people.  A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity.  Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things you don’t need can be redeeming and therapeutic.   Work and anxiety.   Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity.   Nature: Spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you are able to breathe in fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and healthy mind.   Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.   Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or in an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. It is very important that you express these negative emotions.   Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression and more.   Practicing these suggestions will help you to manage your symptoms in a way that is tailored to you and your personality and allow you to push through all of your current stressors.   There is hope, recovery is possible and there is help available for you.   I wish you much luck with your next step in managing your anxiety and living a happier life.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Purpose,career path and decision making

Hello Waylon, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your query: Purpose, career path and decision making. I am glad you reached out for support.  I am sorry you are struggling at this time. I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you when you find yourself overthinking and also to help you find your happiness during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Sometimes, when you feel stressed or even overwhelmed, it isn't easy to stay focused. I just wanted to give a few tips on what may be causing this distraction. I am giving you these strategies so you can begin to implement them and consider the triggers/stressors impacting your thoughts, how you feel, and your behaviors (energy, motivation, etc.).High-stress levels - When you have a lot going on and face high levels of stress, it is more likely that your attention span will be shorter and that you'll have trouble focusing on the task at hand. Are there certain things you can recognize that may be causing you to feel stressed out? Have you been ruminating about it and playing this thought in your head over and over again? Let me give you an example of how stress can be distracting and cause negative thoughts. Imagine going to a picnic on a beautiful warm summer day. The wind is light, the sun is shining, and the food is delicious. You are sitting in a grassy field and just daydreaming of this beautiful moment. All of a sudden, these feisty little ants show up and start to ruin the moment. They are crawling all over the blanket, one got on your sandwich, and now your beautiful moment is ruined by these little ants. When you are trying to enjoy the day and focus on being in the moment, sometimes these Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) ruin the moment. If you find that ANTS continues to destroy your peace, we can work on that more in the session. Your environment - Is your workspace or home cluttered with things? Do you have trouble finding what you need when you need it? This could be why you cannot focus and concentrate. Sometimes your environment is a major stressor that contributes to why you are distracted. What right now in your environment might be causing you to feel discomfort? Poor diet - Eating a lot of junk food or not eating enough can cause irritability, and even overeating can be the root cause of distraction. Your brain needs a certain amount of essential nutrients to focus and stop thinking, so depriving yourself of that changes your productivity. That's why it's critical to eat well if you want to focus. Social Media - Do you often find yourself checking your phone, Facebook, or personal emails while you are supposed to be working or spending quality time with loved ones? The constant stream of information coming from technology is a common cause of distraction. Not to mention, it is an easy trigger and could leave you vulnerable to comparisons. How much time do you spend on social media? Lack of sleep - If you're not getting enough rest and sleep at night, you are more likely to concentrate effectively during the day. Have a healthy nighttime routine and give yourself a lI am talking about negative self-talk and reminding you to T.H.I.N.K. Sometimes when you are triggered by something, you will ruminate on it for a while. Rumination can convince you of things that can make you feel anxious and worried about yourself or the things that are happening in your life. Ruminating happens when you try to figure out a solution to a problem and keep getting stuck. Sometimes you may feel guilt, resentment, anger, embarrassment, and even sadness. This may cause a lot of negative self-talk. You may overexplain yourself (emotional vomiting) and obsessive attention to overanalyzing decisions in some cases. You may also tend to overvalue your relationships with other people so much that you'll make large personal sacrifices to maintain these relationships, even if they're not working for you. This can leave you feeling unimportant, devalued, and unappreciated. This is when negative thinking errors and negative self-talk begins. This creates core beliefs about yourself that may not be true. The more you ruminate and think, the more your negative self-talk creates beliefs. Core beliefs are central beliefs that you have about yourself, others, and the world. Many of your beliefs have been created at an early age. These beliefs and negative self-talk are present in messages such as, "I am unlovable," or "people can't be trusted," "I am not good enough," "the whole world is bad," etc. When you start to ruminate and have negative thoughts that start to create beliefs, I want you to remember this acronym T.H.I.N.K!!Is it Truthful?·          When you start to have certain beliefs that are ANTS (automatic negative thoughts), you do not have to accept this belief as to the truth about yourself and life. So other than your thoughts, are there other factual things that would contradict (go against) your beliefs? For example, o     Core Belief: "I am a loser; I never do anything right." Accepting this belief would be: I missed a deadline at work (confirming your negative thought/belief) Rejecting this belief would be: Although I missed this one deadline, I am always on time and mostly turn in all of my work on time. Modifying that belief (to change it, so it confirms your negative belief): §   The boss says, "Great job on meeting the deadline." Modified thought: They are just saying that they do not mean it! Is it Helpful?·          If you realize your thoughts are only reaping havoc, do not lay down and take it. Stop getting beat up by your thoughts, even if it is difficult for you to see past your own beliefs about yourself. If the thought is not helpful, just let it go. Try taking action and doing something else. Is it Insightful? Is this thought helping you solve the problem? Or is this thought about creating new problems? Try to find the smallest solution that you can resolve. Try to find out something you can do at the moment while you are ruminating. If all you are coming up with are problems, then this is all you will see. Is it Necessary? What you are thinking about at the moment. Is it something that actually has to be resolved right now? Is this a current problem that needs resolution, or did something already occur in the past, and you cannot let it go? Try to stay present...if it is not a problem RIGHT NOW, then stay connected to things you can do today. Is it Kind? If you realize that most of your thoughts are negative, you know maybe it's just your beliefs. Are you being kind to yourself and treating yourself with respect? Sometimes, when you are in a low mood, you are not even kind to yourself. You self-criticize, self-judge, and self-blame. Sometimes this is suppressed and then projects as resentments to other people and how you view the world. Try to be a bit nicer to yourself! Please find the skills on helping you find happiness. Happiness and emotional fulfillment are within your grasp. Happiness is and will always be the most cherished, yet most elusive, of all human desires. Day in and day out, many search for happiness, but end the day empty-handed.Happiness isn’t something that someone gives us, nor is it something that we have to have permission for. Happiness is a state of mind that is created from within. We all want to feel happy, and each of us has different ways of getting there.  Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let them rub off on you. Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to feel as happy as the person next to you? Do you ever feel that you are on the sidelines looking in on a party you were never invited to? Maybe you seemingly have everything you could possibly want materialistically, but still can’t quite feel that elusive internal contentment?Maybe you wish you had more, and are not satisfied with your current life circumstances and believe that if you just get that ‘perfect job’ you can then be happy. Or maybe you’ve lost a love…maybe you’ve never had one… and feel that your life is not complete without a significant other to bring you the happiness that is so rightfully yours, but seems to be just out of reach. Regardless of your personal circumstances, it is possible to find internal happiness, that form of happiness that feeds on nothing, except your own desire to find it.PIES is a common acronym for the complete package to ensure happiness. P – physical exercise, I – intellectual stimulation, E – emotional stimulation, S – spiritual stimulation. And with this in mind, I have completed a list of things that we all can do to bring out our own internal happiness that is non-reliant on any other person. 1.   Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.2.   Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.3.   Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.4.   Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.5.   Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.6.   Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.7.   Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.8.   Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. The change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.9.   Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.10.            State your achievements“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry FordIt’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and never take the time to reflect on the things we have accomplished. Each of us has done plenty of awesome things in our lives.So what if life isn’t perfect at this exact moment. It’s okay that it’s taking a tad bit longer with your fitness goals. Don’t worry that you haven’t reached the pinnacle of your career just yet.The most important thing is that you are moving forward and you’re in a better position today than you were yesterday.Start a journal listing accomplishments, milestones, and breakthroughs you’ve experienced. After writing this list, take a moment or two to reflect on all you’ve done.11.   Include the little things you love into your day-to-day life“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert BraultI’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” The little things are the small and often underappreciated aspects of life that truly make us happy. Rather, it’s your favorite cup of Joe, your morning walk along the beach, attending your favorite yoga class, or wearing that outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.Schedule your life around the small details that bring you happiness.12.  Do what you loveAs Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”People who do what they love for a living tend to live a happier and more productive life, have higher self-esteem, and better health. 13.  Paint your perfect day“To accomplish great things, we must first dream, then visualize, then plan…believe…act!” – Alfred A. MontapertEveryone has the power to live each day exactly the way they want to. We all have the same 24 hours to work with. It’s up to you to decide how to fill up those minutes.Ask yourself, are you wasting time watching reality TV, sleeping late, complaining about your job, and wishing for a better life? Or are you going after your goals and dreams, and doing whatever it takes to reach them?Take these 3 steps to achieve your perfect day:Realize you have the power to achieve anything you’ve ever wanted and no one else can do the work for you. Figure out what your perfect day looks like. You must believe 100% that your perfect day will become a reality.14.  Put yourself above everything else“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world.” – Lucille BallIt’s time you put yourself first and become selfish. While it’s admirable to help others, don’t forget to show yourself some love. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a weekend trip where you can disconnect from the noisy world you live in.Block out your time and let no one cut in.15.  Tell yourself today will be awesome“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce BrothersHappiness comes from within. Happiness starts with reshaping your mindset to be positive and eliminating all negative thoughts.Be positive and believe in yourself, no matter the obstacles that might stand in your way.16.             Forget being perfect and accept yourself as is“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo TolstoyPeople often act confident and secure around others but deep down, they’re insecure.Realize we live in an imperfect world and stop comparing ourselves to others (it’s not worth it to play ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, life becomes simpler and more peaceful.17.              Surround yourself with the right company“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higherYour friends should bring out the best version of you and help you strive to new levels in life. Think of your company in terms of quality instead of quantity.It’s more important to have a few quality friends who inspire you, than tons of friends who leave you in a negative state of mind.18.             Stop worrying and keep it moving“Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain.” – Author unknownLife is full of what-ifs and endless possibilities. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, whether you worry or not.So, why waste time worrying when some things you have no control over?If what you are worried about isn’t within your means to be solved, then move on and don’t let it put a damper on your parade. Embrace the uncertainty that life brings us and get to enjoying life.  19. Get out of your comfort zone and become bold“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian TracyWe cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DepreeNothing worth having comes with a 100% guarantee of success, nor should it. Being willing to take risks is what life is all about.Living in your comfort zone shrinks your world and gives you tunnel vision. Instead of thinking, “If only I had…,” take a leap of faith, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover the life you always wanted.20.             Have a feel-good song“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip HarburgEveryone needs a go-to song when they need to brighten up their day. It’s been proven that music can make us happy even on our worst days.21.             Eat HealthyThe first step one should take in making internal improvements is acknowledging your food choices. I know you’ve heard the cliche ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, a corny cliche that it is, but there is an element of truth to this age-old saying!Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals to energize your body throughout the day, providing your various body systems with oxygen and energy that can greatly impact your overall mood and sense of well-being. Junk food will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling sluggish for the bulk of the day.So often when we’re busy we forget to eat, and will then grab the quickest snack available without thinking of the impending effects of unhealthy eating. Snacking on a bowl of grapes, or some refreshing watermelon can bring an amazing boost to your morale and energy level. And don’t forget…along with all this healthy eating, keeping hydrated is also very important.22.             ExerciseAlong with healthy eating comes exercise. It needn’t be strenuous, this post isn’t about improving one’s bicep ratio!  A simple increase in heart rate will increase your endorphins giving you a natural feeling of happiness, and I do believe it’s the endorphins that give many avid exercise enthusiasts their momentum for endurance. Physical exercise and the increase in those endorphins can naturally increase mood positivity. Just 20 to 30 minutes each day should keep your spirits right at par with your endorphin level!  23.  Treat Yourself WellSo now that the technical stuff is out of the way, ie healthy eating and exercise…it’s time to work on the internal stuff.  I was once told by someone during a very difficult time to wrap myself in a comfortable blanket, make myself a hot tea, or hot chocolate, (I guess wine could work too…. but only in moderation, as there is no happiness in a hangover!) and keep that blanket wrapped around you and treat yourself as you would treat someone else who seems to be under the weather.  Maybe when you were young, someone would make you homemade / or store-bought Chicken Soup?Well, this is similar, the comfort of the soup or hot tea and blanket provides warmth and will put your body into a relaxing mode, and therefore release certain chemicals in your brain that will give you that comfort that you once believed could only be received from a significant other. We’ve all heard of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’..well this collection of ‘good-feeling books is similar in nature to sitting back and treating yourself well. This was honestly my first step to internal happiness.  And it was a small piece of advice that I’ve carried with me for quite some time now, and it always works during times of unsettlement.24. Take a Break from Social MediaAs you’re relaxing, you may think to yourself that it is the perfect time to check in on social media, but you might want to try and resist, and depending on your cohort, this may prove to be more difficult for some than for others!  Remember, this time is about yourself and really not about your friends. It’s time you dedicated solely for yourself!When you’re not at your happiest moment, seeing other’s perfectly portrayed lives on social media is enough to bring even the happiest person into a non-showering, non-hair brushing, stay in bed all day slump. If you are feeling depressed or down.. avoid, avoid, avoid..social media and watch a comedy or an intriguing drama instead!25. Set that Movie Date Night for YourselfSpeaking of movies…. I have found that a dedicated night to just yourself and a really good movie can do wonders to your morale. Prepare some healthy snacks..and okay….maybe some popcorn too, and settle in for the night with one of your all-time favorite ‘turn-to’ movies when feeling down, or a movie you’ve been just dying to see and never did.With the digital age, the way it is now, thousands of movies are right at your fingertips, and these movies can sometimes give you a greatly needed boost that can actually carry onto the next day. I personally find movies can be incredibly therapeutic and motivational, depending on genre.26. Go out and ExploreThis is my favorite tip of all, probably because it has always worked for me during times when I was feeling down. I have a few places that I like to walk to, and these walks lead me to places that are serene, peaceful, and just downright relaxing. If you have a waterfront, seawall, beach, or just a favorite park, I recommend bringing a blanket, a well-loved book, or magazine and just submit to the inner peace and happiness that is lurking from deep inside. Don’t allow negative thoughts or external problems to enter your mind.Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, be it nature, trees, the sea, or an urban paradise, and treat yourself like you are dating yourself. Enjoy this time, and enjoy the fact that this is YOUR life, and you are in charge of allowing yourself to be happy. And if you don’t have a time issue, then take your time there, pretend that you are taking a child or a pet to the park, you would do it for them right? Then take this time and do it for yourself. This is one of the most sure-fire ways of finding happiness.27. Take Pictures of Beautiful ThingsSo you’re taking in the beauty around you, and taking advantage of all this free enjoyment, so why don’t you pull out the phone, or camera and snap a few photos? You never know…. you could find joy or even a hidden talent that you never knew you had! I personally love buildings, I take photos of them all the time…perhaps a little too many photos!Maybe you like the rainfall, or puddles, flowers, landscape, or focus on your creative side and take some unique photos of whatever you fancy from various angles, and see what you come up with. Creativity is in all of us, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to remind us to go find it. If drawing is more your thing…then draw and draw some more… really lets your creativity just take over.28. Write it all outSpeaking of creativity, have you ever thought of keeping a personal journal, or even a not-so personal journal, say your own blog perhaps? Writing can be cathartic, it can be a vessel to release pent-up emotions or frustration. If you write out all that is bothering you, it keeps your mind more organized and transfers your negative thoughts onto that paper, providing you the freedom to focus on positivity.While you’re at it, if you have problems that need solutions, this is also a good time to brainstorm and throw ideas onto that paper that can offer a solution. I’ve often felt that my alone time and list writing have relieved ill feelings leaving more room for my new ventures into that space for internal happiness.29. Declutter and PurgeLastly, if you’ve made it this far, then you are ready to make some serious progress. And this progress starts with completely decluttering and cleaning your home, donating or recycling anything that you don’t need. A clean and clutter-free home is a clean and clutter-free mind. At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sorry…yes another cliché! Be warned though… this may prove to be more challenging than it appears because if you are still feeling unhappy, and low on energy, then this step may be difficult to overcome.But can you imagine how simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing a clean home can be? Pump up on those fruits, drink some water, juice, or splurge on a beverage of your choice…turn on the tunes, and get cleaning!  You will feel better once you start, and even better once you’ve finished!ConclusionSo now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I found it. These are the steps I took, and I hope you can find the happiness you deserve as well. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.  
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

¿How do I accept new changes?

Change can be uncomfortable for many of us.  There are many factors that can contribute to not liking change , but I think many of these have to do with fear of the unknown and letting go  of what is familiar to us,  and the  change in our routines. That causes pressure.   We all have to deal with change.  Going to school for the first time, changing teachers  remember how strange that felt?  We didn't know the school or how to react to the teacher.  It is inevitable that change occurs in our life.  I think there are a lot of stratergies  we can ultilize as  we deal with change;  like maintaining some normalcy  in your life.  Have your morning coffee, or watch TV at the same time.  Maintain what self care routines you do have.    Realize with change that its going to be uncomfortable for a bit.  Ask yourself what is making you uncomfortable about the changes that are going on.  It could be about  accepting  or not wanting to accept a new normal.  I think the pandemic has placed us all in that situation and we had to adapt in our own  ways.  I would recommed to find ways to comfort yourself  as you are adapting.  Whether it be a brief  period of relaxation, listening to music or taking a walk  outside.  Nature tells us everything changes, so we prepare  in winter;  we wear warmer clothing and in summer we put in air conditioners. LIfe is constantly asking us to accept changes,   We can also reframe change as a positve event and something that can be challenging but also exciting;  like moving away from home into the first place on your own.  If we reframe the situation ever so slightly  we can think of change as something that can  make us stronger.  Challenge your thinking to see if there are some positives in the changes that you are making.    Every one of us  has walked into a grocery store where they change the shelves and we do adapt. We retrain our minds in that case.  Sometimes  we have to make small baby steps in regards to becoming comfortable again like when we find a new job.  Any change, even a change for the better can often be unsettling.  Above all  go easy on yourself!
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I stop being anxious about the future?

Hello,   Thanks for reaching out on The Better Help Platform with your question: How do I stop being anxious about the future? The first thing to know is that anxiety is more common than you may even realize. Anxiety is leading far ahead of depression as the most common health issue. Worrying about your future can be overwhelming but it is normal for many of us but it seems it is causing you much discomfort at the moment.  It sounds as though you are having difficulty making decisions about your future, perhaps you are worried about making the wrong choice in life!   That in iteself can be an overwhelming worry! I will share some information and tips on what you can do to reduce your anxiety and perhaps you can add some of these practices into your daily life so that you can begin to have more space in your mind to think without getting that overwheming sense of anxiety. The good news is that anxiety is also highly treatable.   The Basics of Anxiety So what exactly is anxiety? At its core, anxiety is fear of something, real or imagined. Specifically, anxiety comes from fear-based thoughts about things that are not necessarily occurring in the present moment or that may never occur. Anxiety is intrinsically linked to our physiology. You may have a physical pain or sensation that then generates a fear-based thought or memory. Or you may have a fear-based thought that generates a physical sensation. Anxiety is a feeling of dread or foreboding. Anxiety can be as simple as a general sense of uneasiness, a feeling that all is not right, or it can be as specific as worrying that you have cancer or that the plane you are flying in will crash. Anxiety comes from the Latin word anxious, which means a state of agitation and distress. This distress is often felt on a deep level, in both the mind and the body. It is the sense of danger but not always a specific one that you can identify.   Anxiety is also a practical and useful emotion. We actually need anxiety in certain situations. Anxiety helps us prepare for an exam or think about all the things we might need to pack for a trip. Anxiety helps us stay alert and present to our well-being.   But when anxiety goes beyond these practicalities and we begin to worry all the time, it can become problematic. Worry is the mind’s expression of anxiety. When we find ourselves worrying incessantly about things beyond our control, that is when we need to take steps to calm the mind.    Anxiety can also perpetuate itself. I can’t tell you how many clients confess that what they are most anxious about is experiencing more anxiety. Once they have had one panic attack or one truly anxious spell, they often find themselves worrying that they will have another. They worry that they will be at an event, at work, or on a plane and that they will suddenly get hit with a bout of anxiety and be unable to cope with it. Thus, the fear-based thoughts become simply about having more of them. It’s a tricky cycle, one that can last far beyond the actual loss, but it is one that can be brought under control.   What Does Anxiety Look Like? Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes. While it can look different for different people, it also has a lot of common symptoms, many I’m sure you’ll recognize. Above all, the most complicated aspect of anxiety is that it can manifest in very real physical symptoms. These symptoms, ranging from heart palpitations to nausea, can deceive you into thinking there is something physically wrong with you, when really there is a deeper, underlying, psychological issue that must be addressed in order to alleviate the physical symptoms.   Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks Irregular heartbeat Dizziness and lightheadedness Shortness of breath Choking sensations and nausea Shaking and sweating Fatigue and weakness Chest pain and heartburn Muscle spasms Hot flashes or sudden chills Tingling sensations in your extremities A fear that you’re going crazy A fear that you might die or be seriously ill At its most basic, anxiety is the sense of fear. These fears can be real or imagined. Your fears can be about something in the past, the present, or the future.   Here are some tips on attending to both your anxiety:   Managing Anxiety Disorder Symptoms   These tips may help you control or lessen your symptoms of anxiety:   Learn about your disorder. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to manage symptoms and roadblocks along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions you might have. Remember, you are a key part of your health care team.  Reach out for help from a mental health therapist who specializes in teaching coping strategies to reduce your symptoms.  They are very effective! Stick to your treatment plan. Suddenly stopping your meds can cause unpleasant side effects and can even trigger anxiety symptoms.  Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. Don’t use alcohol and recreational street drugs. Substance abuse increases your risk of anxiety disorders. Eat right and exercise. Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood. Get better sleep. Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping. Learn to relax. Stress management is an important part of your anxiety disorder treatment plan. Things like meditation, or mindfulness, can help you unwind after a stressful day and may make your treatment work better. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts before the day is down may help you relax so you’re not tossing and turning with anxious thoughts all night.  Manage your negative thoughts. Thinking positive thoughts instead of worrisome ones can help reduce anxiety. This can be challenging if you have certain types of anxiety, however. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to redirect your thoughts.  Get together with friends. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, or the computer, social connections help people thrive and stay healthy. People who have a close group of friends that support and chat with them have lower levels of social anxiety.  Seek support. Some people find it helpful and uplifting to talk to others who are experiencing the same symptoms and emotions. Self-help or support groups let you share your concerns and achievements with others who are or who have been there.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter meds or herbal remedies. Many have chemicals that can make anxiety symptoms worse.     There is hope, and there is support for you! I wish you much luck with your next step in overcoming your anxiety.  Reach out for support from a professional mental health therapist if you continue to struggle.  A therapist can help you with teaching you effective coping skills to better manage your anxiety.   Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I am an elementary teacher and have severe depression because my students are not understanding me.

Hello! I am glad that you reached out. Teaching can be a very stressful and overwhelming job, especially in the beginning. I commend you for taking this career and I am sorry that you are feeling this way. Therapy can assist you with managing your anxiety and depression symptoms. It can also provide you with more clarity on how to move forward. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can often make you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help. While it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members, sometimes you need help that the people around you aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as a divorce. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you become stronger and more self-aware. Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. As you start to resolve your past and current issues you are more likely to feel less anxious and less depressed and be on a path to a healthier future. I wish you luck as you move ahead with seeking support! Hello! I am glad that you reached out. Teaching can be a very stressful and overwhelming job, especially in the beginning. I commend you for taking this career and I am sorry that you are feeling this way. Therapy can assist you with managing your anxiety and depression symptoms. It can also provide you with more clarity on how to move forward. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can often make you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help. While it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members, sometimes you need help that the people around you aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as a divorce. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you become stronger and more self-aware. Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. As you start to resolve your past and current issues you are more likely to feel less anxious and less depressed and be on a path to a healthier future. I wish you luck as you move ahead with seeking support!
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I deal with my massive anxiety.

Hello Dillion, Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How do I deal with my massive anxiety? I will share some information with you and some tips on making some adjustments here and there.  I will then send you some further tips on what you can do manage your anxiety. I can tell you you it is more common than you would perhaps think. I will share some information on what you might be going through with this experience of relocating or perhaps I should say dislocating from your 'home town.'  I will share some practical tips and practical resources you might want to further explore.  I see you are trying some of those ideas already so let's see if we can build on those to make this a little easier on you.   Moving to a new city can be exhilarating you have endless opportunities, millions of new people to meet, and endless enthusiasm. Until, that is, the nerves set in. Yes, moving to a new city is exciting, but it’s also terrifying if you don’t know anyone. Even if you’ve been relocated for work or have a job lined up, adjusting to life when moving to a new city is a task that’s easier said than done.   You still carry the moving inertia during the first few days after moving into your new home. In the beginning, the excitement of living in a brand-new city and the thought of making new friends will be filling you up and won’t leave much room for any negative emotions. Combine that vacation-like thrill with the pressing post-move tasks you’ll be forced to deal with right away and you get the perfect remedy against any depressing thoughts after your cross-country move.   Still feeling blue or anxious after your move?    Once the adrenaline-filled moving day hecticness is behind your back, the new home excitement wears off and your mind realizes that this “vacation” will last for years to come, you may start to feel one of the strongest side effects of moving – depression. The depression due to relocation is not something that can be touched, or smelled, or seen, but it surely is a powerful force to be reckoned with. This unwelcoming physiological state comes as a direct result from leaving your old life behind – a life where you enjoyed the highly familiar and comforting daily routine, the unforgettable moments with good and loyal friends, the unquestionable support of your family and maybe even a greatly satisfying job you loved.   In other words, the post-relocation depression is your mourning period of the life you no longer have and could never bring back. Thankfully, this is the 21st Century, so you can explore your new home virtually before you get there and learn tips and tricks to do it safely once you’ve arrived. There are entire websites dedicated to tiny neighborhoods, apps built to introduce you to potential friends, and nifty tools that will make sure you don’t get lost on the way home from work. And there are plenty of non-tech resources for learning your surroundings the old-fashioned way, too. If the new city nerves are setting in, check out these resources and tips to help you along the way:   Resources for Meeting People One of the hardest parts of moving to a new city? You don’t have your trusty group of friends by your side. In fact, it’s common that you’ll have no friends by your side–how could you, when you don’t know anyone here?  Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to meet people in your new city.   Meetup (not sure if there is an equivalent in Germany??) Meetup lets you find a group that meets up near you for just about anything. Join a group that’s training for the local marathon together, make friends with the neighborhood geeks during their weekly TV trivia nights, learn a new language with fellow linguists, or hit up some game bars with other new to town techies. If you’re interested in it, chances are, a meetup group for it exists in your city, and it’s the perfect way to make new friends.   BumbleBFF (again locate the equivalent for Germany). Making new friends is hard, but making a new best friend? That’s even harder. Thankfully, BumbleBFF aims to make it as simple as online dating. Their app works just like any dating app, but with a focus on friendship: fill out a profile, let the algorithm present you with matches, and get to know similar people through a messaging system that doesn’t involve giving out your phone number. The difference is the focus is on friendship, and everyone in here is interested in a genuine friendly connection. And in some cities, BumbleBFF host meetups to help connect you to your new online friends–an easy way to meet other new folks, just like you.   Make New Friends by Volunteering Locally What issues are you passionate about? Politics? Animals? Homelessness? Religion? No matter what it is, there’s an opportunity to volunteer for it. Look up your local animal shelter, or aquarium, or temple, and see what they need help with. Not only will you meet people, but you’ll also find your schedule occupied with plenty of activities, fighting back the homesickness blues. To find tons of volunteer opportunities in one place, check out United Way.   Resources for Getting Around Want to let everyone know you’re new to town? Pull out a map. Navigating your way in a new city can be tricky–especially if you’ll be using public transit–but getting to know your way around will be worth the effort.   Resources for Getting to Know Your Neighborhood Getting to know your new city is a big project, so start small by focusing in on your neighborhood. It’s 2021, right in the middle of a pandemic so your neighbors likely won’t bring you fresh baked goods or a casserole to say hi, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce yourself in other ways, both in-person and virtually.   Niche If you haven’t decided where to live yet, start researching with Niche. This site compiles all the data you need not just about the city as a whole, but about each potential neighborhood, including reviews from residents, population density statistics, percentage breakdowns of how many people rent and how many people own homes, and crime statistics, arming you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which neighborhood you should call home.   The Neighborhood Farmer’s Market If you’re interested in local ecology or sustainable practices, your local farmer’s market is the best place to meet people who care about that, too. It’s also worth visiting if you want to learn about the local geography and weather. Just talking to the vendors will open your eyes to what you can expect–in terms of food and the elements–during your first year in a new place. And it’s not a bad place to get some delicious, eco-friendly food, either.   Read Your Local Blog If it exists, there’s probably a blog for it–and if it’s a popular neighborhood, there’s a blog for it. Your local neighborhood, town or city blog will get you caught up on the local politics (and the local drama). If there’s a forum, that’s also a great place to announce you’re new to town, and you’ll be sure to meet some friends that have their pulse on the neighborhood culture.   Resources for Making Professional Connections Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job lined up in your new city (in which case, you should see if you can deduct your relocation expenses from your taxes, professional connections are still going to be key down the road. Building them before you even arrive can give you a head start on the job hunt, whether you’re conducting it now or two years from now.   Linkedin Perhaps you are already on LinkedIn, so taking the moment to post a quick professional message along the lines of, “I’m relocating to ___, does anyone have any connections in the ___ industry there?” can start the process of building meaningful connections in your new city. If your connections don’t know anyone in the area, do some LinkedIn searching around companies you admire near your new home, and ask folks in relevant roles who work there if they’d like to grab coffee sometime.   Join Your Local Industry Group These can be a bit more challenging to find, but local business clubs or networking groups can be a great place to identify folks working in your specific industry. Make sure to attend their events, and you’ll find that many of the companies with a presence there are always hiring–and it doesn’t hurt to start building that connection early.   Join Your Local Alumni Chapter You poured a lot of time and energy (not to mention student loans) into your college degree, and though you may be moving away from the city where your alma mater is based, you can still use that college experience to your advantage. Check with your school’s alumni association to see if a local chapter exists in your new city, and if it doesn’t, consider starting one.   Resources for Making Your Move Easy When you’re moving locally, it’s easy to get help moving from your family and friends who are willing to do some heavy lifting in exchange for beer and pizza. But in a city where you don’t know anyone? Not so much. And on top of the move itself, there’s finding your new place, changing all your billing addresses so your credit cards don’t get declined the day you’re putting down your security deposit, and keeping track of all the moving madness. Thankfully, there are services to help.   Walkscore What started as a tool to let you know how walkable a neighborhood is (and if you can survive without a car there) has become the perfect place to find great spots in your neighborhood for…well, just about anything within walking distance. They also offer commute tips to help you decide between biking, walking, taking public transit, or driving (or some combination), helping you survive those first few days at your new job and beyond.   People obviously cope differently with different challenges as they arise, and there's a myriad of other ways to deal with loneliness. Volunteering in your local community is also a good way to feel part of a community through an activity that's meaningful to you. Managing Anxiety Disorder SymptomsThese tips may help you control or lessen your symptoms:Learn about your disorder. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to manage symptoms and roadblocks along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions you might have. Remember, you are a key part of your health care team.     Stick to your treatment plan. Suddenly stopping your meds can cause unpleasant side effects and can even trigger anxiety symptoms.     Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. Don’t use alcohol and recreational street drugs.    Substance abuse increases your risk of anxiety disorders. Eat right and exercise.    Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood. Get better sleep. Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand.    Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping.  Learn to relax.    Stress management is an important part of your anxiety disorder treatment plan. Things like meditation, or mindfulness, can help you unwind after a stressful day and may make your treatment work better.    Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts before the day is down may help you relax so you’re not tossing and turning with anxious thoughts all night.  Manage your negative thoughts. Thinking positive thoughts instead of worrisome ones can help reduce anxiety. This can be challenging if you have certain types of anxiety, however. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to redirect your thoughts.     Get together with friends. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, or the computer, social connections help people thrive and stay healthy. People who have a close group of friends that support and chat with them have lower levels of social anxiety.     Seek support. Some people find it helpful and uplifting to talk to others who are experiencing the same symptoms and emotions.  Self-help or support groups let you share your concerns and achievements with others who are or who have been there.     But remember, feeling a  heavy or lonely after making a big change is completely natural. And you are definitely not alone in feeling lonely.   If you are still struggling with adjusting to your move there is help out there – try reaching out to a professional mental health therapist for support.   There is hope!  You don't have to do this on your own.   I wish you luck with your transition in your new country! In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I figure out what I want to do with my life, career wise?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How can I figure out what I want to do with my life, career wise? I will share some information and tips on help guide how you can consider how to make a decsion reagarding your career. Before we start delving into that topic I wanted to mention how I think your anxiety might be causing some of the issues with you figuring out your career path.  You mention that you are not feeling comfortable with your social interactions.  I would urge you to reach out to a professional mental health therapist for some support and guidance with helping you manage your anxiety. You have most likely made many major decisions throughout the years regarding your career. The decisions that occur in your career path may be uncomfortable but with some tools, you can confidently make decisions. In this article, we will discuss how to make decisions with tips and examples of career decisions you may be faced with.   What is decision-making? Decision-making at its core is the process you use to reach important choices. Many decisions occur on a routine basis and you don’t give them much thought. Honing your decision-making skills will help you with  tougher decisions that involve: Uncertainty: There isn’t enough information provided or the facts are unknown.  Complexity: There are many interrelated factors to consider.  Various alternatives: Each alternative has all of the complexities and consequences involved. High-risk consequences: The decision’s impact is significant. Examples of difficult career decisions Here are some common decisions that may come up during your career path: Which career to pursue Accepting a promotion Taking one job over the other Moving to a new city for a job opportunity Changing careers Traveling for a job Quitting a job to pursue a passion   How to make a decision Here are some steps you can take to help you make a decision that involves your career: Identify and investigate the decision. Set aside time to think. Consider your options. Remember your values. Ask for a different perspective. Evaluate your plan. 1. Identify and investigate the decision Define the decision by making sure you understand its aspects. Gather all the necessary information about the decision. Ask clarifying questions about what the decision entails to parties involved. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself: What am I doing this for? The best decisions you make for yourself are the ones that keep your overall life goals in mind. When you figure out what you want out of your career and how it matches with your life goals, it will be easier to eliminate options that you don’t want for your life.  Who am I doing this for? It is important to ask yourself this question to gain perspective if the choice is something you truly want to make or if someone else is influencing you to pursue a course that may not be right for you. The opinions of others can be valuable, but you should keep them in their proper place and not let their ideas take over your own.  How will this choice change me? Anyone can make a decision using a laid-out process and produce a solution. However, you may want to consider the way it will impact you as a person. For instance, if you make a decision that is callous or harsh, you might not like who you’ve become. Or if you make a decision that is weak-willed, you may experience a drop in self-esteem. 2. Set aside time to think Set aside time to think about the decision you’re facing. Explore options when you’re feeling positive and rested. You may want to try selecting a time of day when you have minimal distractions and your brain is functioning at its best. 3. Consider your options Once you set aside time to think about the decision, you will likely have a better idea of what your options are. Try to creatively brainstorm possible options that work for your situation. You may want to list all of them and cross them off using a process of elimination.  4. Remember your values Values are the fundamental beliefs that you think are important. Your values are the measure you likely use to evaluate if your life is going the way you want it to. Remembering what’s important to you will assist you with the decision-making process and help you to gain clarity on what it is you want out of your career and life. For instance, if you value time to be home with your children or pets, then you may not want to take a job that requires a lot of travel.  5. Ask for a different perspective After you have thoroughly eliminated the options you won’t consider and have come to a general consensus about the choice you will make, it can be helpful to ask for the perspective of a trusted friend, colleague or family member. Try asking for perspective from someone that is not directly affected by your decision to avoid bias. Sometimes other people see things that you don’t and they can provide valuable insight into your decisions. 6. Evaluate your plan This step may help you notice any errors or missteps when you’re planning out your decision-making process. Try reviewing the facts and research you collected during your process and objectively assess all of the information.  You may also want to take the time during your evaluation to listen to your intuition and methodically test your assumptions and decisions against past experiences.   If you are not able to adopt these tips and ideas on how to nudge foward with your decision and your anxiety consider reaching out for support from a professional.  In the meantime here are a few ideas to try on on your own to help you manage your anxiety: Coping Strategies Try these when you're feeling anxious or stressed: Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head. Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below. Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary. Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get. Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way. Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress. Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern. Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.   I wish you much luck with your next steps in managing your situation.  Remember you don't have to do this on your own, there is support available for you.   In Kindness, Gaynor   
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Can someone help me with my past issues and anxiety i have of my future? Please

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with anxiety around your future and feeling lonely.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have about your future.      Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of anxiety and loneliness.    As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why do I have this urge to be alone? I’m not sure if it’s my personal insecurities that tiggers this

Hello Rudy,    Thank you for your question. Isolation can be tough because humans need connection with others. When a person isolates for a long period of time, they may become lonely and sad. This leads to more problems that make it harder to stop isolating. I can’t say specifically what is happening for you without knowing what you are going through right now, but I can review some factors that lead to isolation. A few things that can lead people to isolate include long-term illness, disabilities, transportation issues, unemployment, or exposure to domestic or community violence. These factors make it hard to socialize. Mental health problems like depression or anxiety can also lead a person to isolate. When a person is depressed, they experience many problems and symptoms. Isolation is one of them. For some people it may not affect them too much, but others isolate to the point that they feel sad and lonely making it harder to cope with depression and leading them to isolate even more. The factors I mentioned above can lead to isolation and also cause depression, but they are not the only things that can trigger depression. Being insecure creates a lot of negative and anxious thoughts that can trigger depression too. When a person is insecure their thinking may be negative, pessimistic, and/or anxious, so they focus on the difficult parts of their life and those same thoughts make the person believe that he or she is better off alone. Is this your process?    You may lose desire to be with others or it feels like too much work, so you isolate. It would help for you to work with a professional that can help you work through the fear of failing. This fear in itself can cause a lot of problems for you. You also say you are obsessed with your future which tells me you focus on this a lot and may not take care of other parts of your life. This can also be another contributor to isolating because your belief is that all your time should be spent focusing on your future and the things you need to succeed versus enjoying life right now. Working with a professional can help you work through the fear, obsession, and worry. You can talk through these fears to help you understand them better and also learn skills that can help you be more social and avoid isolating yourself.
Answered on 01/20/2022

I don't know how to handle my anxiety and my life

Great Evening Sihwa,   Thank you for reaching out for assistance. First, let me say that being overwhelmed is natural, but how we handle the feeling is what determines the outcome. It does sound like you have busy schedule. However, I feel like daily preparation is a starting ingredient for overcoming the challenge. A suggestion would be to begin your days with a morning routine, to balance your mind and body. Some techniques that you could utilize would be deep breathing/meditation for about 10-15 minutes, exercise, and making positive statements that your day wil be great.  Self-care is also important. Self-care can aide in improving your physical, emotional, and mental health. Self-care can include getting a proper amount of sleeep, eating well-balanced meals, and exercise. I congratulate you in advance because even by asking for help regarding your anxiety, you have taken the first step to self-care.   When you begin to feel your anxiety elevating, take a "timeout" to breathe and get your thoughts together. We sometimes have to encourage ourselves and believe that everything will be fine and that uncomfortable feelings are only temporary.  I will go ahead and put into the universe that you will no longer experience panic attacks. However, if the feeling returns, take a minute to explore what is taking place, practice positive self-talk (ex. "I will make it through this...") and counting from 10 down to 1 to deescalate.   We sometimes downplay our ability to handle our assigned "life load", but you would not have been placed in the position you are in, if you couldn't handle it. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you can do all that you are tasked to do, and that you will not allow doubt in your mind to overpower your mission.   Although it may feel like all hope is lost, it is actually just the beginning. As you begin your days, start with a moment of gratitude, that you are moving in the direction that you have chosen. As you move through your days, speak nicely to self, assuring that you can accomplish anything. Remember, life is 5% situational and 95% response.  Keep pushing forward "Dr." Sihwa.   Blessings. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can i avoid getting anxiety about my exams and my future

Thank you for your question regarding your academic performance.  Sounds like you are experiencing your concerns at a level that is significantly distressing for you.  I would encourage you to examine your academic performance in a problem-solving approach rather than an emotion-focused strategy.  You may want to consider the following: *Use campus resources that are available to you.  This could be in the form of tutoring services, special study areas, student study groups, etc. that could be beneficial. *Find a mentor.  This could be a current or former medical school student who is more experienced and has valuable insights related to the medical school experience.  *Stay present.  Sounds like you are concerned about future failing.  Focus on what you have in front of you currently and exactly where you are at this time as opposed to dwelling on past mistakes or being worried about future miscues.  *Exercise.  I would encourage you to get an exercise routine in place.  This can give you a positive and beneficial outlet and a way to maintain your physical fitness in the process. *Use positive self-talk.  I would encourage you to think about the positive qualities and traits you have to offer in a relationship.  Reassure yourself with positive self-statements about your current role as a medical student. *Take responsibility for your actions.  Acknowledge any mistakes or problems you may have caused.   This can be very liberating. *Take breaks.  If you need time to recharge and restore your energy, strategically schedule free time and/or breaks to allow yourself time to recover from the academic demands you are encountering. *Vent but don’t complain.  It is ok to express your feelings and frustrations in a manner that is referred to as ‘venting.’  I would encourage you to designate a specific period of time to vent and them shift to finding solutions as opposed to simply complaining and feeling helpless to do anything about the things you are complaining about. *Focus on what you can control about your academic performance.  We often place most of our attention on the things that we cannot control and feel powerless.  Focus on what you can control (amount of time spent studying; attending classes regularly; reading supplemental materials; participating in tutoring sessions; reaching out to your instructors if you have questions; etc.). *Practice good self-care.  Take breaks, find a hobby that you enjoy, and take time for yourself on a regular basis. *Have a good support system.  Continue to remain connecting with supportive family and friends as much as possible.  Setting aside time to interact and engage with those who are closest to you can help to boost your morale and feelings about being in medical school as they inspire and encourage you.  You mentioned feeling as though you might let down your parents.  I would suggest that you have an honest conversation with your parents so that you know their expectations and make them aware of your concerns.  I think that you will find them to be more supportive than you imagined and your overall health, happiness, and well-being would be a priority over your forced and uncomfortable performance in medical school.   *Remember why you are in medical school.  Think back to what motivated you to pursue this career path.  What do you enjoy about this profession?  What got you interested in this to begin with?  What is your long-term goal within this discipline?  Reflect on those things that inspire you and focus your effort on taking the small steps that will lead to the big picture goals for you. I appreciate your question and hope that this information helps you in some way. Warm regards,
(M.S., LPP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I learn to trust my gut and make a decision without overwhelming regret?

This is a major decision.  It seems to me that you do not know you should say yes to this job, and I think you should explore why.  When you feel that you should accept the new position that was offered to you because it is better pay and similar benefits, that is not taking in all the realities of the decision.  Your anxiety may be because your body is trying to tell you to think through this decision on a deeper level.  Just because the job was offered to you doesn’t mean that it is your only option.  You know that you are ready for a change, but this job offer may be coming too soon for your needs and your family.  It will also require that you stay in the same area and your desire for a new position also involved a hope to move to a different place.  There are more things to consider than just a more challenging job and better pay.  Your family is especially important to you.  Your current job allows you to have family time during school breaks that other employment will not offer.  I’m not sure if your anxiety is telling you that this is not the right time for a new job, or if it is telling you that you need to see yourself in a better light and realize that you are capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of this new job and moving out of your comfort zone.  You can learn to feel good about your job choices and the decisions you make in life.  Another reason that you may doubt yourself so much could be from past decisions that have not worked out well for which you blame yourself.  When you have anxiety, it is your body telling you that you need to pay attention to something in your life.  It’s helpful to talk to a therapist about the decision so you can explore even how past decisions may be factoring into the issue you are having.  Anxiety is a signal to you that you need to pay deeper attention to what is going on in your life.  There is most likely more to this decision than you can see at face value.  You don’t have direct control over your feelings of anxiety and guilt, but you do have control over how you think.  Exploring the reasons beneath certain emotions can help you resolve the negative feelings by resolving your thinking.  I encourage you to reach out for help in processing this decision more.  To answer your question: How do I learn to trust my gut and make a decision without overwhelming regret?  Pay attention to your guilt and anxiety and let it lead you to the correct thinking about the decision you are being asked to make.  
(D., Phil., LPC, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I lost motivation to study and no longer see the point of it what should i do? thank you

Hello, This is an excellent question. It sounds like you are really struggling with the upcoming exams. Yes, the medical school has to be one of the most challenging, difficult, yet rewarding experiences you will ever go through. But, it is also important to remember that you made it there to that point!    Perspective and attitude are also critical to being successful. When you are going through exams, tell yourself that you are going to be successful. It is so important to have confidence during this time. Thoughts have a very significant effect on our feelings. Thinking that we are not smart enough, will make us feel that we are not smart enough. This then causes feelings of self-doubt, which leads to the physical symptoms of anxiety, including headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, rapid heart rate, etc.    Also, remember, it is the job of the examiners to push you and challenge you during these exams. It is meant to be a learning experience. Take it as that. They are not trying to hurt you or make you feel bad or inadequate.    If we were working together in therapy, I would encourage you to think about your strengths and goals for the future. Something drew you to medical school, you want to help people. Focus on this desire, focus on what your motivation was to go to medical school. Use that desire to push you through this part.    If you are having doubts about continuing on this path, have you ever really sat down and considered all the available options? Have you ever taken a break from academics, took a semester off? If you are unsure about the medical field, is there something else you would want to do?   It sounds like your family is very supportive of you. You say that they tell you how proud that they are of you. Believe them. They are telling you the truth, even you don't agree with or believe them, they have no reason to lie or otherwise be dishonest with you.    I wish you all the best in moving forward in this journey and in your future.
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I work on my self-esteem and confidence when I'm very insecure about my appearance?

Dear Chili,   Thank you for your message and sharing your thoughts regarding your insecurity. I can hear the pain behind your words of constantly battling these insecurities.   Through your words, I think we have built a common understanding that we have this insecurity about ourselves that we are not good enough. We tend to overly focus on our weaknesses and mistakes, as a result, we feel inferior compare to others and we never give ourselves the validations that we deserve.   Meanwhile, it seems that we look for validations through us being needed/wanted by others, does that mean that we don't know our values if we are not getting feedback from others?   Despite being extremely difficult, admitting your weaknesses can pay dividends in the end. Once you admit to your lack of confidence and overcome these insecurities, these aspects of your life will turn from monsters in your closet to facts that you’ve acknowledged and beaten.   Overcoming insecurities is no easy battle, as there are many factors that cause them, and they’re constantly reinforced by daily events. However the more we challenge these core beliefs that we have and the thoughts that generated from it, the more our self-image will change.   Here are some thoughts I have about how to approach insecurity and things that we don't like about ourselves. Please let me know if they make sense to you.    I'll try to be as practical as I can, maybe this approach can help us put something into practice and begin making some changes.   1- Find the root Think about where you are lacking confidence: Do you think you dislike yourself when you look into the mirror? Are you the last to talk to someone because you think you look bad? Do we feel awkward about ourselves because of the response from others after we have said something?   Consider where these thoughts come from. There may have been certain occurrences in your life that made you think less of yourself. Once you’ve found the root of the problem, it’s much easier to get a handle on the insecurity, because it was most likely created by one or two isolated instances that have no real importance on your current life. Recognize where that insecurity started, and it’ll seem more manageable.   2- Invalidate the problem Once you’ve pinpointed the specific incident that created the crater in your self-image, consider why that occurrence doesn’t prove anything about your life as a whole, and think about the times in your life that prove the opposite. We are often too quick to forget the compliments or positive reinforcements that we’ve received from friends or colleagues, dismissing the kind words as pity or politeness.   Don’t focus on your lack of achievement when your cube mate scores a big account at work. Instead, remember when your boss complimented your own work or just how far you’ve come since you were a bottom-feeder at your company. Recognizing your successes will remind you of how great you are and how lucky your company is to have you. This will help you celebrate your coworkers' successes — and remember that it can only be so long before your next big break.   3- Stop comparing yourself to others It’s easy to become insecure when you constantly compare yourself to seemingly strong, flawless people. For example, if you compare yourself to the person who seems to have a grip on socializing with others and appearing confident, you may come out feeling clumsy and awkward in your encounters with others. But, what you’re likely unaware of is that this person has his/her own set of problems that they have to deal with. Maybe they are covering up their fears of being abandoned therefore they need to keep seeking attention? Instead of focusing on how you stack up against them, focus on what you can do and your skills.   If you can’t measure up to your buddy, maybe you should measure up to your own strengths…   It can be equally as treacherous to compare yourself to your friends. For example, when you see your friend — whose downfalls and ineptitude you are familiar with — succeed, you might end up feeling threatened and insecure about your own abilities.    4- Consider your known strengths A lot of your insecurities come from focusing on the things that you have trouble with. The truth is that everybody has strong and weak points, but successful individuals have learned how to play up their good points — a skill that has helped them flourish. Despite your insecurities, you have achieved a certain level of success in your life because you have great qualities. It's your job to pinpoint and foster those qualities and build a successful life.   Take those qualities, learn to focus on them and remember that there are more ways to use your set of skills than you think. Perhaps you’re nervous about giving a presentation to clients because you’re not very good at making anecdotes or using metaphors. What you seem to forget is that you know the project inside and out; focus on that and answer all of your clients' questions before they ask them. Remembering what you can do will give you the confidence not to choke under pressure.   5- Put your insecurities behind you Once you’re aware that your strengths and weaknesses will balance out in the end, forget about what you lack and draw on where you rock the competition. If you fumbled today at the office meeting, remind yourself of your performance for the past three months. You can always enhance your weaker points at a later date.   If you find that you’re focusing on your insecurities, think of the faults that other people have and how they’re able to get around them or just remind yourself of all the things that you’ve achieved in life. The more you focus on your strengths, the more they’ll be visible to others. In the end, you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more successful.   The bottom line for beating your insecurities is this: Everyone has them and the key to success is to identify them, invalidate them and move past them. Focus on your accomplishments and recognize that insecurities are usually irrational fears of inadequacy.   Your faults are no more visible or detrimental to your success than anyone else’s unless you let them get the better of you. Failure tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you worry that you will fail, your performance will lack and turn your ruminations into a reality.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How not to be overwhelmed by everything ?

Welcome to Better Help, Raphael! Well this is actually a lucky problem, to have several workable options to choose from, for your future!  So the first thing to try is a shift in perspective.  Instead of thinking "I NEED to decide!" a better way to look at it is "I GET to decide!"  Your stress and anxiety over this is not actually due to the situation, meaning the number of choices in front of you.  Your stress in actually due to the way you are thinking about the situation, your mindset.  You are thinking "I have to somehow figure out the RIGHT choice for me."  So of course with that mindset in place, you would naturally feel stressed,  confused,  paralyzed.  So try this NEW mindset on for size!  Are you ready for it?   Ok, here you go:  There is actually no "right" path!.... just many different paths, all with benefits and drawbacks. You can make almost any life path work out really well for you Raphael,  with the qualities of initiative, persistence, acceptance, creativity, flexibility, and optimism. And likewise you can make almost any path unhappy, with the opposite of those qualities: inertia, defeatism, being judgemental, refusing to think 'outside the box,' or being rigid or pessimistic.    Once we realize this, we don't need to agonize over "which way to go" or be overwhelmed by the choices... we can just pick a likely path and get on with the business of enjoying life!   Were you looking for a more specific answer?  Well in that case, consider the reasearch on your question!  Research shows that when we make our life choices based on our own VALUES, we have fewer regrets!  In working with a therapist, you can learn how to examine and evaluate your existing values. Perhpas you'll decide to modify some of them or even jettison a few.  Perhaps adopt some shiny new ones!  Then you can determine which of your values are a big priority to you at this point in your life.   You can use those top values of yours as a handy compass to guide your decision making process.     I hope this helps!   Maya 
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I stop overthinking?

Dear NG,   Thank you for your message and sharing.   I understand how difficult it is to try stopping your thoughts. I could imagine how hard you have been trying and how frustrating to feel that nothing is working.    We can't stop our thoughts, but the more we practice being mindful of the present, the better we can catch ourselves with our thoughts and develop an alternative response to them, and learn to let go.   During moments like this I remind myself the teachings regarding worries, it is consisted with a 2 part questions:   1. Is this problem within my control? If so, then this problem will be solved given time and the right intervention. 2. Would worrying about it make any difference? If not, then is it worth it to sacrifice our time and mental health worrying over something that (1. can't be solved anyway / 2. will be solved anyway)?   This is definitely easier said than done, therefore as a fellow human being, I am working with you to pay attention to what is good, what is kind rather than our worries.   Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.   Can you stop obsessive thoughts? - If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it's slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.   So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let's look at this in more detail.   What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?   If you generated the thoughts, you could've controlled them too.   The truth is that you don't generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is on auto-mode most of the time.   You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can't how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?   If you believe that you are your mind, that's a false notion again.   If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.   The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.   So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it's your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.   How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?   If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question - "is this question not another thought? It's a thought about killing thoughts".   All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?   So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.   What gives power to a thought? - Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.   You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don't take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.   Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.   It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows - it's just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?   With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.   You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don't associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.   What Are Thoughts?   Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.   Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past "external" conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind's conditioning.   Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It's like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.   When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.   Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.   The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.   The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.   You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.   This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.   Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don't give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It's really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.   The Practice of Watching the Mind   All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved.   You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or "sadhana" as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.   Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all.   That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do i not worry about future?

Dear Anna,   Thank you for your message and sharing.   Reading your words I am also sensing a great fear that you have towards the unknown future. It is our tendency when we face unknown, that we tend to think of the worst case scenarios in order to protect ourselves from disappointments (and the emotional pain that might come with it). This is a natural defense mechanism that we have developed as humans, however the side-effect is that our thinking and perspectives might not be accurately reflecting the reality. We might have down played all the possible positive opportunities and outcome, because we choose to focus on the risks, the danger and the negative potential outcome.   This fear is something that we need to address, otherwise whatever our decisions maybe, they might back fire at us because we have not properly evaluated the situation when we make them in fear.   I also share with you absolutely on the fear over the unknown. That is something humans will continue to learn to either fight / flow until we leave this world.   Therefore, there’s no rush. Remember that we are all in this together.   Let’s keep floating, walking, and tackle this fear.   Fear of an uncertain future: it can stop us from doing great things, and it can keep us holding onto things that are hurting us.   For example: you might be holding onto clutter for reasons of comfort and security, even if the clutter gives you anxiety and costs a lot of money.   And: you might be staying in a job you don’t like, because you’re afraid of taking the plunge, because you’re afraid of failing.   And again: you might not travel to a country that feels very unfamiliar because you don’t know what will happen — and miss out on an amazing life-changing experience.   Ultimately we all fear about our lives, how and when will it end. What does the process looks like, and by being preoccupied with these thoughts, we miss out the present moment.   If we become comfortable with change, it’s not scary. We can then embrace it, find joy in it. You can see this in people who we call “adventurous” — they seek new experiences, because they know they’ll be fine, and that it can be amazing. (Note that this is different than the “adventure-seeker” types who have turned excitement into their form of comfort — when the excitement is taken away, then they feel the pain and loss of this change.)   So how do we get good at change? Some suggestions that are working for me (I’m still learning):   Try something new, but small and safe. New things can be scary because we’re afraid we’re going to fall on our faces. But if it’s something small — learning to juggle beanbags in our living room, learning to balance on a rope that’s close to the ground, listening to a language-learning podcast, for example — it’s not as scary. There’s no real risk of getting hurt. And the more we do this, in small, non-scary steps, the more confidence we’ll gain that new things are not painful.   When you mess up, don’t see it as painful failure. When you’re doing new things, there will be times when you make mistakes, mess up, “fail”. But these words are associated with negative things, like pain … instead, start to look at mistakes and “messing up” as something positive — it’s the only way to learn. Messing up is a way to get better at something, to grow, to get stronger.   See the wonder and opportunity in change. Change might mean leaving a comfort zone, and losing something (or someone) you love, but there’s much more: it’s the bringing of something new and amazing, a new opportunity to explore and learn and meet new people and reinvent yourself. When change happens, look for the wonder in it, the new doors that have opened.   Ask “what’s the worst-case scenario”? If you’re exposing yourself, getting out of your comfortable environment, leaving behind security … it can be scary, but when you think about what is the worst thing that is likely to happen, usually it’s not that bad. If you lost all your possessions today in a disaster, how bad would that be? How would you cope? What opportunities would there be? What new things could you invent from this blank slate?   Develop a change toolset. Learn how to cope with changes, no matter what they are. Have a fall-back plan if things collapse. Have friends and family you can call on. Develop some skills where you can get a job or start a new business no matter what happens with your current job or the economy. Learn ways of making friends with strangers, finding your way around a strange city, surviving on little. With a toolset like this, you can feel confident that you can handle just about anything that comes.   Become aware of your clinging. Watch yourself clinging to something when you feel fear and pain. What are you clinging to? Often it’s just an idea — the idea of you and a romantic partner, an image of who you are. Become aware of what’s going on.   See the downsides of clinging. Once you see your clinging more clearly, see the pain that results from it. If you’re clinging to your stuff, see the space it takes up, and the extra rent that costs you … see the mental energy it takes to live with all the stuff, the money you’ve spent on it, the lack of space you have to live. Anything you cling to has a downside — we only see the good side of it, and so we want to cling to it.   Experience the joy in the unknown. When something new happens, when you don’t know — we often see this as bad. But can we re-frame it so that it’s something joyful? Not knowing means we are free — the possibilities are limitless. We can invent a new path, a new identity, a new existence. This can be joyful.     Meanwhile one practical tool to practice in tackling this fear, is to challenge our own perspective and see if we are indeed overly focusing on the negatives and the risks, ignoring the positive potential and the opportunities. By doing this we are able to lower our anxiety and probably make decisions that are more logical and sensible as well.   Remember, all of our guts and logics at the moment might be telling us a distorted / exaggerated version of our future, it takes practice to bring our senses back and to focus on the positive possibilities rather than the negative possibilities, because at the end of the day, we just don't know. Since we don't know, might as well give the positive possibilities a chance, shouldn't we?   I'll look forward to talking with you more.   Let’s keep doing this together, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I sweat profusely when I am in social event. I hate the sweat it makes me feel bad.

Dear Guoltyascharged,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I overcome anxiety and depression at work because I can't concentrate to do my daily tasks?

Dear Survivor,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022