Optimism Answers

Would therapy be right for me or is this something I can work through myself?

I commend you first for taking the step to inquire about whether therapeutic support could be helpful to address concerns that are affecting functionality for you. I understand that recognizing disruptions and how they impact life satisfaction while considering options for help involves several factors. What, if any aspects of life currently are working well for you including any examples of positive coping? Of the things you want to change or to make different what could be a starting point for you? Identifying a small, realistic goal for a change that you are motivated to make can be motivating for other changes and reinforcing positive aspects of life currently. Redirecting your focus on what is positive or meaningful can also be encouraging to you and lessen negative thoughts. As you think about current thought patterns and emotions, and areas that you you want to be more successful in, how much of the influence of those thoughts is comparing yourself to others? Failures and areas that are less satisfying can be primary thoughts making it challenging to identify thoughts or factors that may be going well. Additionally, comparing yourself to others could be less helpful when expectations are unrealistic and misaligned with what would be satisfying to you. There is also the consideration that comparisons to others can be based on snapshots of others’ lives without knowing challenges that can be present for others. Having compassion for self and recognizing those glimmers from your life can help towards identifying what you are accomplishing and how you can approach other areas that you want to improve.  With thinking about the value of therapeutic support, it could also be helpful to think about what would be beneficial to you and aid in making changes that you are ready to make. Motivation is a key factor to consider. Therapy can be a part of what helps, along with active steps you are willing to take and put into practice for you to achieve the level of wellness that aligns with your goals for healthy functionality and life satisfaction. Have you considered what would help you make changes without therapy and also how you would make changes with engaging in therapy? Would you consider that you would be investing in an opportunity to help yourself along with a professional who can facilitate that process along with you, similar to other areas of life that you may seek help from others?  If you can think of benefits and you are ready to make changes, including a small one that would improve things, you may find therapy to be helpful with gaining effective coping skills and increasing life satisfaction for you. 
Answered on 01/07/2023

How long does it take for things to become better?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out here and I'll give you some more clarity on motivation, when things become difficult or redundant. I can understand wanting to push for more on being a good person or a great person (which I'm sure you are currently and it sounds like you want to do even more). The first question you asked was how long does it often take for things to become better. I would say things can become better today. When we decide to be intentional, we can make a 1 percent improvement. An example might be prepping lunch for work before leaving or making sure I speak to people I don't typically do or text a close friend or relative I haven't reached out to. Most habits will start to fully develop around 60 days, so consistency is king with developing habits or creating a new pathway in your brain here. I'd like to ask this for you to answer on your own- how do you want to be a good or great person? What are the tangibles of being a good person? If you can write it out on a sheet of paper- where do I see myself going this next year to be a great person or develop a life I want, what does that look like? It can include areas in relationships, career/school, mental and physical health, hobbies, finances and spirituality. They might not all apply and it can give you more specifics.  Once you have those areas here, then you double check that those ideas resonate, seem to fit your own values or goals (things you cherish in life) and are specific enough that it feels tangible within the next year. Once you've done that- choose one to work on this week. An example might be I want to manage my anxiety or stretch 3 times this week or call a friend and setup a time to hangout. As long as these are steps or building blocks towards your large goal, it counts! i.e. I want to be more physically active this next year to alleviate my chronic pain goal this week- I'm going to focus on stretching during my lunch break more often than not. Also, another component to this is called contingency management or asking what makes you tick as a person. I know myself that if I read new psychological articles or books, I tend to get excited for my work. I also know if I set out my clothing in the morning, I tend to follow through with going for a walk, etc. The important piece here is finding what makes you follow through on things in general or get from point a to b. The other odd one I have is frustration works well for me. If I get frustrated, it often gives me a burst of energy to get the task done. Lastly, to help with redundancy, I do recommend changing up your routine, even slightly. An example might be eating your lunch with chopsticks or talking to someone new. The goal here is you don't need to rearrange your entire life to enjoy it- often times we have to participate in it differently. Sometimes we can make small goals or have secrets to achieve- like complimenting 3 people at work or school today. I hope this all helps give a brief idea on how to start working on all of this, Take Care, Mitchell Daas, MA, LPCC
Answered on 12/29/2022

How can I survive 2 more months at work?

It sounds like you are in a really stressful situation right now. It seems like you may be checked out of your job as you are feeling really burnt out. Feeling stuck or tied to a job where you are no longer feeling motivation can be tough to manage especially because you may have one foot out the door. And although, you may not be able to obtain full motivation at your current job, but it doesn't mean that the remainder of your time there has to be extreme torture. Being burnt out at a job can definitely take a toll on our well-being and mood. I can imagine it has been a lot to navigate the toll that it may be taking on you overall. Depending on the type of work that you do or schedule, it may be helpful to take care of yourself at work as needed. For example, taking breaks, which includes meal and other breaks, may seem very obvious, but not something all people do. So making the time to do this can be quite helpful.  One of the many benefits of taking breaks while at work consist of being able to catch your breath especially in high paced jobs. When we are able to remove ourselves (even if it's just for 10-15 minutes) from stressful situations, it can help us clear our heads and also recharge. And when we are able to remove ourselves for a bit, it can provide us with the energy to keep going. If you do have support from coworkers or others at work, you can always turn to them during these times as well. But sometimes we may not and it's important for us to then take care of ourselves in whatever way feels best for us. Another thing to consider is what things are you doing to take care of yourself when you are not at work. Self-care can seem like another time that we have to throw in the mix of things, but it can make all the difference of how we are feeling in our lives...especially if we are not feeling supported a work. Taking charge of our self-care time is really important as it can help with the burnout. Sometimes it may feel like our work and personal life are too occupied to fit it in, but again, this can definitely take a toll on how we feel and our energy level. And we don't necessarily have to go out of way too much either. For example, taking a bath or shower as we do a mindfulness exercise can help us feel grounded and relaxed. Using your senses to be present and enjoy the water as it hits your face can be quite grounding. Many times we go about life very quickly that we forget to pay attention to the smaller or daily tasks that we complete. Being present even during those essential tasks can make all the difference and would encourage you to see how it impacts your mood. Our mood and level of motivation are very much connected so it is important that we continue to be in tune with it. See worksheet below to refer to Five Senses mindfulness activity referenced above. https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/mindfulness-exercises At the end of the day, it's good that you are aware that this job has an expiration date. And sometimes the hope that we won't be in this situation forever can be very helpful. It's okay and valid to feel checked out of a job where we don't feel supported. But sometimes we cannot leave a job as quickly as we would like, and we need to remind ourselves of that. Even if the only motivator right now is that you are getting that paycheck during your pay period, I would encourage you to remember that...especially on those days that feel extra intense at work.  There are a few self-help books out there that can be helpful with motivation, which may be helpful as you are trying to hang in there. But also, these feelings can sometimes follow us even after we leave a stressful job as it can take some time to process everything. Here are some that I would check out: 1) Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Self-Help Workbook) by Steven C. Hayes 2) 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson 3) Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully by Jane McGonigal 4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson If you still feel like you need additional support, you are welcome to seek therapy services for yourself. I would continue to focus on February is coming up and that you are hanging in until then. But there is a time frame to get out of this stressful situation and that can definitely instill hope that this situation isn't forever. Best of luck to you with everything.
Answered on 12/14/2022

How can I stop self sabotaging my life goals and relationships with others?

Hi Su,  Thank you so much for reaching out and asking this important question. Recognizing that you may be sabotaging yourself is an important first step in making changes to help you move forward in achieving your goals and interrupting negative behaviors. The initial aspect of yourself to identify is the motivation that is driving your behavior. Every person’s behavior is supported by motivation even if that behavior is self-sabotage. This may seem counterproductive because, like you say, you have life goals that you truly want to achieve. Keep in mind that our motives are driven by our subconscious. This creates a difficult challenge because our subconscious is not readily retrievable; we do not have a way to directly know what's in the subconscious area of our mind. There are, however, tools you can implement in order to bring your motives to your conscious mind. Once you become conscious of your motives you will be able to change the sabotaging behavior.  One of the goals of our subconscious system is to try to keep us alive. To keep us alive the subconscious will ignite the fear center to direct us away from actual or perceived danger in our environment. What danger does a romantic relationship create for you; what danger do you feel is present if you were to achieve your goals? Another way to ask those questions: what causes you fear about being in a committed relationship; what causes you fear about achieving your goals? I recommend taking some time to journal about the fears you identify, the origin of those fears, and detaching from any self-judgment about those fears. Sit down and journal from your head to your heart to your hand.  Once you have identified your fears, you can begin addressing those fears and increasing motivation to achieve your goals. Of course, engaging in therapy will help you identify and address your fears. The aid of a therapist will help you dig into your subconscious drives and develop skills to address your fears. You can also engage in mindfulness techniques on your own or in a group setting that help you maintain a physiological balance and reduce the possibility of reacting to situations in an unhealthy sabotaging manner. There are a number of mindfulness techniques you can practice: meditation, balanced breathing, focus in the moment using your senses.  Mindfulness techniques can also teach you to identify problems as either “in your face problems” or “time to think problems”. Unless you are actually in life-threatening situations, every problem is a “time to think problem”. Lastly, creating a vision board to illustrate your goals will enhance your visualization of the desired outcome of your life. Studies have shown that visualization increases our motivation, performance and confidence. This website is an excellent resource in describing how to create and utilize your own vision board: https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a29959841/how-to-make-a-vision-board/ Whichever technique or techniques you implement to reduce any sabotaging behaviors it is helpful to choose the one or ones that feel authentic to you. Be true to yourself, give yourself the gift of learning how your subconscious is driving your behavior, and allow yourself to create the life that brings you the most joy. 
Answered on 12/02/2022

How can I find meaning in the work I do as a highly sensitive person?

Hello Emmy, As a fellow empath, I'm happy to answer this question for you.  To begin, have you ever taken a career test?  They are usually available to college campus students, but you can probably take one online these days.There are many amazing jobs that will allow you to be an empath, but let's decide which type resonates with you.  To begin, empaths use animals, natural, etc. to feel recharged.   Do you have a close connection to animals?   If so, it would be good for you to venture in their route such as a vet, vet assistant, or even boarding and taking care of animals.   I have a friend that tends to animals and started her own business for people who have older animals and need to be loved when their owners are at work.   You can also take it a step up and be a park ranger if you are drawn to earth energy for healing and there are many places that rescue wild animals that need workers.You can also venture into spiritual healing arts such as:  reiki healer, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc.  that helps you heal people.  To take it a step further- a social worker, therapist, etc.  There are many jobs that will fit an empath, but be careful, some jobs may be draining too so you need to assess which area makes you feel good and not drained after.You can always volunteer and do community work to see if that resonates with you.  Many fire departments take volunteers if you have a desire for a little danger.  If you need more help deciding, it might be good for you to work with a therapist to help you decide would work best with your energy.  There are a lot of seasonal jobs that are available if you still are not sure and you want to venture out and see what is out there.  My best advise is pay attention to your energy and see what you are drawn to doing.  Do something you love and money will come next.  Whatever you put your time and attention in that makes you happy and it's something you love doing, is a good start. So maybe asses what you like to do on your off-time, as a hobby, etc.I wish you the best and hope this helps :)
Answered on 11/10/2022

How can I regain motivation and focus?

I'm sorry to hear of such struggles that you are experiencing.  First of all, thank you for sharing this with me, as it must have been really hard to bring it to reality, other than just thinking about it.  It sounds like, from what you have mentioned that you may benefit from some target setting by perhaps creating a plan, to help boost your motivation. Maybe start with one single thing that feels challenging but also manageable. Once that feels okay, challenging yourself to take each piece of your life back, one thing after another. Not flooding yourself with things that you can't manage, always being mindful of what you can do. Allow fear to be with you and don't push it away, as fear is a normal emotion, that we feel as human beings. Avoiding things in our life makes us feel overwhelmed with anxiety, so if there is something that you want to do and it makes you feel a little scared, do it as often as possible. As your body will habituate to your own environment and makes it feel less 'scary'. The more you repeat a behavior that makes you anxious, it becomes a part of your comfort zone.I'm wondering from what you have said, about the bad thoughts and the fear of failing taking over, what is the worst that could happen? Another solution could be thinking of the pro's and cons of difficult situations, thinking through if and how it will affect you, if it will - within, a week, a month, a year. I can't imagine how you're feeling to be in this predicament. But if you are willing to help yourself through it, there is no harm in trying. And if, after trying and it doesn't help, we are here to help, even more by communicating with you, to try and help you, help yourself. As you are the master of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You know best! Thank you for your time and I wish you all the best in your life, moving forward in a more positive way of living. 
Answered on 10/30/2022

Can I see a therapist every other week?

Hello! The short answer to your questions is yes, you can see a therapist every other week. However please allow me to explain this answer a little more in detail. You and your therapist will work together to determine how often you should be checking in for therapy. Some of the reasons for variations of frequency is because of the severity of your symptoms, or because of the type of treatment you are participating in with your therapist. For example- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) requires learning skill sets and this may take a longer time to learn these skills. If you are currently in a crisis situation you may find yourself seeing a therapist more frequently to help you process some of these emotions. In general, you may be seeing your therapist more frequently at the beginning of your therapy experience. This is because your therapist may be interested in learning about your history and background so that they are better able to understand exactly whom they are working with! It also helps you to better know your therapist and helps build a trusting rapport with that individual. Another reason for regular sessions is to keep the momentum going-especially if you have had a great session with your therapist and are ready to hit the ground running! It is also important to remember that it is important to not go too long between sessions, as you may find your progress being stalled. A therapist may often give you things to think about during your time between sessions- and it is important to know how well your new coping skills are working. There are times when life events and responsibilities occur and you may find yourself in therapy every other week. If this is the situation, then your therapist may suggest "homework" such as worksheets or readings to help you continue to work on your care even when you are not actively meeting with your therapist.  I know a person can have a lot of commitments in their life- but remember one of the most important commitments is for you to maintain your own well-being!
Answered on 10/27/2022

I'm feeling unmotivated and pressured these past few weeks.

I do not believe that any attempt to achieve a goal, even if not fully accomplished is a failure.  Did you try your best to accomplish the coursework and were vigilant in attending your classes?  I'm not sure how could you possibly see that as a failure?  Any challenge that you accept is brave in and of itself.  Many times when we try something that we know that it is going to be difficult, it is a risk.  Why would you try to accomplish it if it were easy?  There would be no challenge.  Applying for college and getting in is an accomplishment.  Signing up for the classes to get a college degree is a planned event working towards the goal of a degree.  Many times when starting coursework, we take classes that we may find interesting.  They are not always what is best for us, but we may pick them because it is popular or it is what we think our parents want us to have a certain career in.  Eventually, you will find out what is meant for you.  You would be very fortunate if you knew what you wanted to do from the beginning.  Going through trial and error is often the way to find your direction.   I'm certain that some of the classes that you have taken can be used for the general education credits.   So you see there is no failure, just learning experiences.  Enjoy every minute of your time in school, because it will go by so quickly.  Take the opportunity to know yourself and find your niche.  Oftentimes we focus on the negative of a situation, when we should focus on the process.  Everything in life is a process.  How could we know success, if we did not know failure.  They are mirrors of themselves. I know that sometimes we are not ready for the challenge, or we do not enjoy what we are doing.  When you enjoy what you are doing, then you know you have found your career and major.  It needs to be somewhat of a challenge and achievable at the same time.  You will find it, keep going.
Answered on 10/26/2022

I've been working through deep feelings of regret

Greetings Ryan, Let me start by saying you did the best you could with the knowledge and resources you had at the time.  Instead of regretting, let's reframe and ask empowerment questions. What did I learn that I did not know at the time? What will I do differently? How can I make this situation work for me now? Are there resources around me to assist me in correcting, if possible? Who can support me as I witness the consequences of this decision? What can I do to improve my situation now? Asking these questions can help you troubleshoot the after-effects and help you work toward a positive outcome or support the weight of experiencing the consequence. There are times when things do not go as planned; therefore, taking extra care of yourself is a must. Utilize positive self-language, for example, use "I am" positive affirmations like, "I am human and sometimes make mistakes, and I find solutions to my problems." Be compassionate and empathic with your thoughts and feelings. Find support, people who listen to you and help support your growth by asking you questions to help you problem solve. I can't stress enough that breathing is essential and the most effective way to reset and start over.   Here is how you can take care of your mind. Use your breath to clear the negative thoughts and reduce the anxiety associated with the feelings. I understand that it is hard to witness the results of your decision. However, it is an opportunity to learn and grow. Self-reflection is an essential part of learning and encourages self-mastery. Continue to trust yourself, take your time and collect all the necessary information, and utilize support when necessary, even when you believe you have made a mistake. Talking out your thoughts and feelings can assist you in understanding and exploring favorable resolutions that you may not have thought of before. You are human and making mistakes is part of the learning process. Breathe, Reflect and Learn. You can also go to www.thetappingsolution.com. They have free tapping meditations to help you work through depression. Peace
Answered on 10/21/2022

Is it possible to need help for something you don't know?

The presenting issue appears to me that there is a belief that somehow you are 'broken' and need fixing. I understand that at times it may feel this way and yet we humans are tremendously resilient. Our traumas & elations, dark & light experiences, flaws and strengths bring diverse beauty to our being; a wonderful gift to the world. I am left wondering what is your measure? How do you view the world and yourself as part of it? We may also experience a sense that something is missing, that we somehow are not having our needs met and we lack fulfillment. The exploration of meaning and purpose in all that you do will help guide and inform which path is more suitable for you to move along. What do I need, what serves me to become the best possible version of myself? Sitting and allowing the felt sense may be a way to getting closer to your truth, I believe C G Jung states, 'Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes'. Where within the body do you notice the angst residing? Does it have a color, shape, smell, taste or name? Acknowledge and face the shadow; 'I see you, I know what you are'.  What would you like to say to this feeling?  We can also reframe and choose to view it as an opportunity to overcome one of life's challenges and transition to a new epoch of existence. Whatever you are experiencing, may be the internal tension created when societal introjects become a barrier to your congruence and authenticity; sometimes we can become stuck and feel a little lost, hindering our growth. Our body, mind and spirit want to achieve a balance and strive towards actualization. Stepping into your power, taking responsibility for who you want to be and what you want to achieve will allow you to thrive and flourish.  Take the time to observe yourself, allow yourself to be curious. What does it look like to be 'fixed'? When you feel you have found a little more clarity to the questions posed, you must act to initiate a shift to change. An ounce of action is worth a ton of theoretical process. Prioritize the things you want to quit and the things you want to do. Keep what is useful and discard what holds you back. Separate yourself from the mob and be extraordinary.
Answered on 10/18/2022

Do you provide mentorship or professional coaching?

Hello and nice to meet you! I understand that you are looking for someone that can be a mentor or a coach to you.  Therapy focuses on healing the past while coaching helps clients to build a future. Imagine you are getting ready to climb a huge mountain. You could either hire an expert guide (coach) for your expedition or a doctor (therapist). Which would you choose? If you are in fragile health and would be in physical danger if you attempted the climb, a guide wouldn’t make the situation better. But a doctor would help you get back into shape before attempting the challenging feat. However, if you are already healthy and just need someone to help you with climbing strategy, carrying the load of supplies and finding the best path, the guide would be the better choice for you. A therapist supports someone to get into excellent mental and emotional health before they attempt to achieve ambitious goals, while a coach leads them over the mountain. It is very common for people wanting to make changes in their lives to invest in therapy first to work through past trauma, and then hire a business or life coach. A therapist is a licensed healthcare professional trained to diagnose and resolve destructive beliefs, behaviours, relationship issues and responses. They focus on helping their client: Recover from past setbacks and become aware of behavioural patterns. Explore why past relationships (business or personal) have been destructive Work through depression or anxiety Move forward after grief or loss etc. A coach, on the other hand, offers dynamic guidance for the client on: Clarifying personal and professional desires and goals Creating business plans or starting a business Designing systems to support performance, productivity and wellbeing Working to improve communication or marketing skills Increasing financial stability Depending on the depth of the trauma and pain to overcome, therapy is often conducted until the client feels they do not need it anymore, which could be anything from a matter of months to many years. Whether in groups or in one on one settings, coaching usually takes place over a shorter period (1 month to 1 year) and is a lot more goal-oriented, often with specific results in mind to reach during the coaching program. While I am a licensed clinical social worker, I have worked with clients in the past to coach them and motivate them to be the best versions of themselves. I am very solutions based and utilizing that approach is all I do. Let me know if you are interested in working together! Best, Hannah
Answered on 09/05/2022

How do you recover the feeling that life makes sense when you feel you lost a lot?

Good morning there Mary, My name is Joanna and I am a counsellor here at BetterHelp, Welcome and thank you for your question which I have read closely. I thought I would begin by addressing your title question around recovery from a lot of loss. I am so sorry that you have experienced this loss. I do believe we can experience all different types of loss from bereavement to the loss of our youth and time. All of these issues really do leave their mark on us. I wonder if in order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain you are experiencing. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and depression only prolongs the process. It would be good if you could work together with a counsellor here to explore these feelings of disappointment and depression so you have a good idea of the situation that is affecting you. I have also had a look at the main body of your question around the fact that you have worked and studied hard but are still finding survival really challenging. I wonder if through sessions we could have a look at if there are any ways to make the work you have already put into yourself more productive. Sometimes just beginning to discuss these issues with another person who is objective can help to identify areas that could be helped, it's almost a little bit like life coaching which we all find useful at differing points in our lives. I would hope that having a safe space to discuss these big life questions could help to address your motivation and energy levels. Just taking the first step to acknowledge there is a problem can be tricky and reaching out for help even more tricky but you have already started this recovery process! I think through sessions we could have a look at your motivation levels and where you feel you are. I think it is useful to understand that we do not always need super high motivation to be productive and there are some days where we may have to rely on structure and a solid routine to achieve what is necessary. Could we have a look together at your structure and routine and see if it needs some changes so that you feel more excited about it? I think it could be also useful to look at the people who you are feeling disappointed in. It can be hard to realize that some people may not be beneficial for us at different times in our lives and how do we manage that? I do hope that this has gone a small way to answering your question? I hope to chat soon if you feel able to. Warm wishes Joanna
(Degree, in, Integral, Therapeutic, Counselling, Foundation, Degree, in, Mental, Health, Science)
Answered on 06/15/2022

How can I better focus and become more motivated? How can I build self-esteem?

Hi Kara! Thank you so much for taking the time to ask this important question on the BetterHelp "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! It sounds like you have been having some issues with concentration, focus and time management. You mentioned that you are currently working three jobs. I can imagine how challenging it must be for you to manage your time and stay focused with just the three jobs alone!In addition, you mentioned that you have been learning some new language skills. It is very impressive that you have been able to stay focused enough to learn some new languages. What languages have you been learning? Are you able to incorporate the languages that you have been studying into your work? Based on this information, it appears that you are naturally and intrinsically motivated! That sounds like a wonderful strength of yours! What are some of your other strengths? Regarding your goal to improve your overall focus and concentration, you mentioned that you would like to build up your self esteem. Self concept is essentially the lens in which you view yourself. Exploring more about factors that motivate you may be helpful in the process of discerning your current level of self esteem. Here are some preliminary questions that you may choose to ask yourself: How have you motivated yourself to achieve your goals in the past? What are some of your talents, skills, hobbies and interests? In what ways would you like to make improvements for your self esteem to rise? How would you rate your overall self confidence? I would advise utilizing the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale as a means to assess your current level of self esteem. This ten question self report questionnaire can be a helpful tool to utilize over the course of time in order to accurately rate your self esteem. The Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale is a reliable and validated research tool that can be found for free online! As an art therapist in the making, I always recommend building self esteem through art making. Do you enjoy arts and crafts or drawing activities? Drawing a person is a standardized drawing assessment that you can try as a means to assist you in assessing your self esteem. Another idea is to create simple scribble drawings as a means to note your energy level each day. If you want to try to schedule some time for a creative project, such as making a bird house or a self love themed collage or poster, that is another way you can build self confidence! I appreciate you taking the time to provide me with more information about your medical condition. How long have you known that issue? Do you notice a trend or a pattern regarding the mood swings that you have been experiencing? Is the fluctuation in your energy level the only challenging aspect? I would be interested in hearing more about this. In the mental health field, it is always important to rule out and consider all medical conditions, as some symptoms can overlap with a mental health diagnosis. In addition to time management, I wonder what you think about trying to work on energy management. For example, it may be useful for you to keep track of your energy level in relation to your time. One idea is that you could create a mood chart that organizes your mood and energy level and document the tasks that you are able to complete. It is completely up to you but you may want to consider scaling your energy back a bit by working on and completing one task at a time from start to finish. Maybe that way you can focus on the task at hand and be able conserve your energy level. Perhaps you may benefit from creating a white board or bulletin board in which you can organize your tasks in a visual way. Starting with a simple to do list and check off the tasks which you have completed might be beneficial for you, as well! Do what you can to complete simple tasks at first and then systematically move on to the bigger tasks. Lastly, I would advise you to practice mindfulness techniques. Have you utilized mindfulness meditation in the past? Mindfulness is akin to self awareness and consciously recognizing the space in which you are in. You may want to practice various sensory grounding exercises before and in between the tasks that you need to complete. An example of this could be noticing five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell and one thing you taste. It is completely up to you how you choose to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine! Do you consider yourself to be generally optimistic? If you can, try to remain optimistic. You can utilize positive quotes as a means to incorporate optimism into your daily life. One self affirming quote that might fit your situation is: "I can stay focused on the tasks at hand. Today will be a productive and fulfilling day!" Essentially, optimism can be a vital tool in conquering loss of focus and concentration, sustaining intrinsic motivation, and building self esteem! Thank you again, Kara, for taking the time to reach out for support on the BetterHelp platform! I truly appreciate you opening up on the forum. I hope that my response is helpful for you and I wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey!
Answered on 06/04/2022

How to not feel tired?

A great way to address lack of motivation, is to approach the condition through a multi-layered approach. Step One, we want to try and understand the factors that may be contributing to the lack of motivation, be it family concerns, career indecision, feelings of low energy, nutritional issues, sleep deficit. etc. etc.  Once we have identified the potential root causes, we can proceed to a clinical model which helps us understand how to implement change. Step Two:  We want to utilize the trans-theroretical model of care, which allows us to understand that change happens in stages.  The stages are Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Action and then Maintenance of the change.  Just remember, sometimes we can relapse into old patterns and may need to start the cycle over.  The goal of the model is to set new, achievable goals for ourselves. Step Three:  We want to finalize our change by implementing small to moderate behavioral activation strategies which help us to meet the goals.  If we are having a hard time sleeping, we would work on a healthy sleep regimen, for instance, we would try and practice a relaxation regimen prior to the sleep starting, also we may try and go to sleep at the same time every evening; these are example of behavioral activation. Etc. Etc. When we start the process of change, it can be intimidating, the change may seem insurmountable, like such a task may be outside our reach.  Yet, this is what make changing behavioral so meaningful, so impactful, working through change helps us to become more self-confident, more self-assured, we begin to thrive on it, it makes us more resilient in our lives and when the next big change comes around the corner, we are better prepared to handle the change with ease and skill having already moved through change in instances prior. Change sometimes is a little more within our grasp than we give ourselves credit for, this is something that I always try to help people to understand as a counselor.  We as humans have the ability to accomplish things we never dreamed possible, all it takes is that first step, that first behavioral activation.
(M.A., Ed.D, LPC)
Answered on 05/30/2022

How to get better

Hi, and thanks for your question. I'm sorry to hear things are challenging for you right now; reaching out for help when you feel overwhelmed is exactly the right thing to do. Generally speaking, in order to create an effective solution, we need to have a thorough understanding of the scope and history of a particular problem, and what you've written here doesn't necessarily provide the level of detail required to be able to answer your question adequately (and of course, that kind of thing is difficult to achieve in this question/answer format).That being said, there are some things that have a general application to overcoming most of life's difficulties... 1. Clearly define your desired outcome. What exactly does "get better" mean to you? It won't mean the same thing for you as it will someone else, and there's no objective definition of "better." What are the specific criteria involved in your unique understanding of what getting better looks like? If a miracle happened overnight and all of your problems were gone, what would your life look like? 2. Make sure your physical health is in order. Our physical health is like the foundation of a house; if something's "off" with it, many other things in our life tend to follow suit. If you haven't been to your doctor for a general check-up with lab work in the past two years, it's time to go. There are a number of physical health factors that have a profound impact on our mental and behavioral health -- things you might not even suspect...like vitamin and mineral deficiencies, to name just a few. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with minimally-processed foods when possible; drink plenty of water; get an adequate amount of movement (exercise) each day; and get adequate amounts and quality of sleep. If one of these areas is "out of whack," getting at least one of the areas on-point will eventually help the other areas until each aspect of your health is balanced. 3. Identify your own personal values and priorities -- and live them When we know what our own unique values and priorities are in life, we can live our life in accordance with them, and a life that aligns with your values and priorities is a life well-lived, regardless of the storms that may come our way. Conversely, if we're living our lives aimlessly or not in accordance with our values and priorities, we're often plagued with a sense that something just isn't right, or that our lives are lacking meaning. 4. Create and maintain a schedule Having a semi-flexible daily routine helps us make sense of a world that is otherwise chaotic at times; it ensures we're actually living our values and priorities; it helps us maintain momentum toward our goals; it helps us to feel productive and gives us cause to feel good about ourselves and our ability to make things happen in the world; it allows us to know, through experience, that we can trust ourselves to get things done, even when it isn't always easy or fun, which creates the basis upon which we develop an understanding that we can trust ourselves to handle adversity (which is inevitable). It doesn't matter so much *what* your routine/schedule is comprised of as it does that you have one and stick to it. When I refer to a "semi-flexible" schedule, I mean that you're having a general goal, and the means by which you achieve that goal is fluid. Example: "Get up in the morning and exercise by 10am." Perhaps it's usually a walk through the park, but today it's raining. You could skip the workout entirely, but then how would you feel about yourself? Maybe it's a good day to stay indoors and do some yoga. So you modify your goal (get exercise done before 10am) to accommodate the realities of life. 10am happens, you've gotten your exercise done for the day -- you've achieved your goal, and you're able to feel good about yourself for having stayed true to the goals you set that help you get closer to being the person you want to be living the life you want to live. 5. Have a self-care plan Life isn't always easy -- it's full of stressful things, unexpected happenings, and various hiccups. Having a plan to rely on that allows you to care for yourself in ways that are meaningful to you -- a plan that helps you restore yourself to get back "on the horse" (so to speak) and keep getting after your hopes and dreams. 6. Be mindful of negative self-talk Berating yourself for things you've done or things you didn't do won't help. If you've behaved differently than you'd have liked in the past and/or you're not proud of certain decisions you've made, then stop doing those things. Choose differently, and move on. This isn't to say that you need to develop a "Polyanna" outlook where everything is rainbows and unicorns (...because that's not realistic); instead, opt for a more neutral, evidence-based outlook on things. Turn "I really messed that up," into "I'm going to choose differently next time." Turn "I'm a terrible person," into "I keep trying and don't give up." Turn "I'm so stupid," into "I'm learning more each day." Be your own best friend -- even inside your own head -- not your own worst enemy. 7. Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, and other influences Even the most independent of us can benefit from knowing there's at least one person who's in our corner, and we all have times in our life where we need someone to lean on, for just a little bit. Know who those people are, and keep them close. Regularly maintain those connections, even when things are going well in life (especially then!). Be someone like that for them, too. 8. Compile a playlist of songs, videos, lectures, etc. and/or a virtual (or tangible) scrapbook of meaningful quotes, poems, inspirational sayings, mantras, etc. Keep them handy, and consult these things when you need a little boost to your self-confidence, or motivation to keep going. 9. If you're having trouble implementing these, don't be afraid to seek help That's why we're here! Finding a therapist that you feel comfortable with can be immensely valuable in getting back on track and accomplishing the beginning steps toward living your happiest, healthiest, most balanced and value-directed life. Best wishes!
(M.A., LMFT)
Answered on 05/22/2022

How do i keep myself motivated to keep going in hard times in life

It can be very difficult for us to feel motivated when we don't feel like we are the most financially stable. When our basic needs are met, it allows us to focus on everything else that we need to focus on-including our mental health. And during the recent years, the cost of living has gone up tremendously so it is understandable if you feel this way. So us figuring out our budget needs and ways to make adjustments can be helpful so that we can meet our basic needs for survival. Firstly, I would encourage you (if you haven't already) to get familiar with resources in your area. Many counties offer utility and sometimes even rent assistance for people in need. Many times, there are requirements and a certain income needed to qualify, but these can provide much assistance in times of need. In addition, there are many great food bank and clothing resources that may help you obtain some support. It may not feel like much help, but every little bit can help you save money. One of the best ways to find resources in your area is by calling 211 or using their online support database. Many times this can provide you with extra support as you try to save your money for others thing that you may need. Just something to think about or explore. In addition to managing our basic needs, motivation often stems from how we feel about ourselves and our lives. But it can be very discouraging to feel motivated when we don't necessarily see the results that we wanted. When we have a lot of stressors, unhelpful thoughts may get the best of us. Some of these thoughts may consist of us not feeling like we are good enough or worthy of getting our needs met. Thus, it is important that we really think about where these thoughts are coming from. Did someone make us believe that we weren't worthy? Or is this just our interpretation of how things are going? We need to figure this out as it will help us better understand where these thoughts come from. But once we sit with them a bit longer, we may realize that they are inaccurate, but also very unhelpful. So instead, learning to reframe our thoughts into something like, things are not turning out the way that I want right now, but it doesn't mean that things won't improve for me, can help increase motivation as it will allow us to feel hope. And sometimes the way that we feel may not encourage us to feel motivated to work toward our goals. For instance, people who experience depression or sadness may not feel encouraged to work on their goals as their mood is not feeling very great. And having this awareness can come a long way. If we know that we are prone to this, it is important that we identify this so that we can catch ourselves when it happens. By doing this, we can implement a plan to change the behavior so that we feel more motivated to work on our goals. It may take a bit of a push especially if we are more inclined to feel tired, but more the reason that we learn to push against it. Otherwise, there is a risk that we may get stuck and not know how to move forward. Here is a great example of a good worksheet that can help you reflect and identify how to work toward motivation: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/84/ac/9f/84ac9f200638f12dd44d61dc7d4dfca9.jpg It sounds like being a musical artist hasn't provided you with the financial means that you were hoping for just yet. Finding the balance between survival and doing what you love can be a bit of a balance. For some people, they are able to make a living as a musical artist. But others may need to figure out another way to pay the bills as they try to build their musical career. And finding that balance can be an adjustment and can take a bit of time management. But it is possible to figure it out. And also reminding yourself that if your goal is to support yourself as a musical artist, doing your research, finding mentors, and continuing to do it will allow you to continue working toward your goal. In addition, we can always work on self-affirmations and building our self-esteem to keep moving forward. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to feel motivated and want to move forward in our life. Even saying one self-affirmation per day to ourselves can make all the difference. But we need to be consistent with it as we let these compliments that we give ourselves to sink in. It is also important that we have people in our support system that can also encourage us to stay motivated. If you don't feel like you have a lot of people that you can turn to for support, you may want to explore peer support groups. These can be great places to express how you feel and find ways to support one another in times of need. There are some great articles and self-help books that can provide additional support to you as you work on increasing motivation and self-esteem.  You can also look for a case manager at a non-profit agency if you need additional support on finding resources in your area or budgeting assistance. When we feel hope, we are more likely to want to work toward our goals. There are also free or low-cost mental health therapy services that you may find beneficial and that you can explore in your area. I would encourage you to try using 211 to determine which resources or programs would be a good fit for you. Best of luck to you on your journey to figuring things out.
Answered on 05/16/2022

How can I find the reasons to create my purpose in life?

Hello AL, thank you for submitting this question! I hope I am able to give a helpful answer. It sounds like you are doing fairly well in life overall, at least relating to some of the more primal needs such as a stable living situation and income. It sounds like you are seeking fulfillment on a higher level, which is commendable. You indicate that your value system includes being able to make a difference in the lives of others, or perhaps the world, which sounds like you care a lot about the value categories of personal relationships as well as community. This might be something to lean into. A great many folks hyper-focus on areas of their lives which bring financial success or other forms of structural stability, but ignore their own more existential values - and who can blame anybody, when this is a direct result of the way our society is set up, for better or for worse. There is a type of therapy called Behavioral Activation, which comes from the school of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is exactly designed to focus on helping people feel better by exploring areas of life which have been under-nourished, and helping develop a plan to explore those areas of life to seek fulfillment in a step-by-step manner. If you are able to find a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and specifically Behavioral Activation, this may help you greatly, but also there are many articles and worksheets about this practice which are available by way of your favorite search engine.   The idea of exploring new challenges can sound overwhelming, but it does not have to be, if you break this down into very small, manageable and attainable steps. You will not necessarily change someone else's life or make an impact on the world on day one, and that is not the goal. The goal is to start by perhaps making a list of possible ventures which meet your values of relationships and community. Then narrow that list down into options that seem the most appealing, and develop a step-by-step plan to start addressing those goals. Count every step you take as an accomplishment, even the first steps of looking into these goals. In fact, even writing this question on here counts as an accomplishment, as far as I am concerned!    You sound like an intelligent person, and you may be interested in stoicism and/or existential philosophy. Victor Frankl and Albert Camus come to mind. Having said that, I really do not think that anything beats the human experience of one-to-one therapy, as reading is great but having a human being to bounce ideas off of, help you process, and work through difficult situations with you is an immensely helpful process, to which many can attest.    I hope this has been helpful, and I hope this is a first of many steps for you seeking greater fulfillment in life, and gaining more full control over your moods and sense of self. I wish you the best!  
Answered on 05/06/2022

How can I perform better in my role as a teacher?

Thank you for this question. Teaching is a difficult job without a pandemic, so it is understandable that things would feel even more difficult trying to teach during COVID! I appreciate that you want to finish the year strong, and it shows your dedication to your craft. As important as that can be, it is also a good reminder that you need to also take care of yourself! There is a self-care assessment your therapist can provide to give you specific ideas about self-care if you do not know where to start.   Now, let’s dive into your question a bit more.   You stated you don’t feel like you are connecting with the kids, and this is affecting your ability to the best version of yourself at work. There are a lot of reasons why this might be occurring, and you have named a few of them, mostly related to the pandemic. These variables are out of your control, and that can be extra frustrating. One thing I would recommend here is to try and return to the things you do have control over. By focusing on things that can you control and letting go of things you don’t control, you have more bandwidth in your brain to work with and that helps you be your best self. This is easier said than done, though. A few things you can try to help with this include grounding and mindfulness techniques. These can be done quickly and free, which makes them perfect for the classroom. The other good thing about these techniques is they are useful for everyone, so you can do them with your students and that can also help foster a connection in the classroom. A few mindfulness techniques include noticing the 5 senses, doing paced breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. Some grounding techniques include naming all the items in a specific category you can think of, such as naming the states or all the colors you can think of, counting backwards by 7, and saying a positive statement while tapping your fingers together. For example, you might say “I can do this” and tap your pointer and thumb, then thumb and middle finger, etc. and saying one word for each tap. This can bring you back to the present moment and remind you to be in the moment with your students.   Another thing I would try is to think about why you liked being a teacher in the past and what values you get from being a teacher. What is the why behind your behavior? What motivates you and drives you? Do you enjoy seeing a kid read for the first time or make a new friend? Can you be active in looking out for the times those things happen? What are the smaller behaviors that bring you joy in the classroom? I would try and look out for those small joys throughout the day very mindfully. Another way to get motivated and focused is to learn something new. Novelty releases those good feeling chemicals in your brain and it can get you excited to try some new things in the classroom, too.   Lastly, it sounds like you have a good support system in your co-workers. Have you spoken to them about your difficulties? Having someone who understands your point of view and is going through something similar can help you feel less alone. They also may have tips that have helped them in the same situation.   I hope you have a wonderful rest of your school year and that these suggestions are helpful in your journey!
Answered on 05/04/2022

How can I find ways to motivate myself to be a better me?

Cat, Hello, it is very nice to meet you. You ask a great question! First, recognize and acknowledge the fact that you have chosen to attend college and dedicate your time and attention to furthering your education, that is wonderful! Yes, college can be very difficult and challenging. Even if it sometimes feeling hopeless, it can get better.  If you and I were working together in therapy I want to know more about your experience with college, so far. What are your goals - your major, your study habits, your plans post-graduation, etc. Even if you do get put on academic suspension this semester, that's okay. It does not mean that you can't be successful. It does suggest that you are struggling and could use additional supports and resources to be successful. Have you spoken with your academic advisor, a mentor, a career counselor on campus? College campuses have resources and tools to help you be successful, find them and use them!  Do you have family support? If so, are they helpful with this? I would want to identify what your struggles and areas of concern are with college. If you can identify your obstacles and barriers to success, you will be able to successfully overcome them. Also, it is important to remember that one difficult semester does not define your entire college experience.  Some strategies that you may find helpful include: * Identify your strengths, in what subjects have you been the most successful? * Keep a journal and every evening, write 3 positive things that happened that day. * Write out your short term and long term goals? Do these include a college education? * If you were not attending college at this time, what would you be doing? For the remainder of this semester, reach out to each professor for extra tutoring, opportunities for extra credit, get together or fellow students and attend study groups, etc. Don't give up! If you think you're feeling burnout, maybe take the summer off from college and allow yourself some rest time. I hope that you have found this information to be helpful. I wish you all the best moving forward in your journey.
Answered on 04/26/2022

How do I adjust to a sudden change in my life and environment?

Good morning, I am happy to give a response. The most important thing I see that you have said is,  "I am a happier, more connected individual for now I no longer feel fear in speaking how I feel in the inside." How beautiful is that and how brave of you for taking that step! I am sure it could not have been easy. The first thing is give yourself time.  You are grieving a loss and that does not happen overnight.  Let yourself miss that person.  Whether times were good or bad, they played a part in your life and now they are gone.  That absence needs to be acknowledged so you can move past it and fill it up. Next, be gentle and compassionate with yourself.  Know that you just took a big step and it is ok to feel sad or confused or happy etc.  Mostly, be proud that you chose YOU over anything else. Learn from the experience.  You say you had, "gotten complacent and failed to nurture the partnership" Look at that and try to understand why.  What held you back?  How can you do it differently next time? Was there something you were afraid of facing?  You have the opportunity now to become better acquainted with yourself, to understand what is important to you and what is not.  Take responsibility for your part and make the needed changes.  What you do not want to do carry these same patterns into your next relationship.  Finally, try to look at this as a hopeful beginning.  You get to make your make your life whatever you want it to be.  You no longer have to shape your days around what other people want.  Identify what truly makes you happy and integrate that into your life.  Have you always wanted to learn sailing or do pottery?  Do it!!  Try to fill your life with things that excite, maybe even scare you a little.  Take this opportunity to figure out what you really are interested in an enjoy it.  It will make you excited about life and fill your heart with joy! We only do this once.  Go for it!  
Answered on 04/26/2022