Resilience Answers

How to manage stress?

Hi Anne, thank you for reaching out to have your question answered here. I want to be clear to let you know more about the process and also dispel any misperceptions of how this all works. This is not meant to be treatment, a cure, a diagnosis or anything like that at all. It is so important for me to make sure that you know that so that you can enjoy what it actually is. It is a great way Anne for you to get resources and to also gain some ideas that you can look into further and even a first step to motivate you to getting counseling if you so desire. You asked about managing stress. I would ask you to take some time to track and log your triggers and emotions and try and see what has ignited these feelinsg hen your stress is overhelming it may be very helpful for you to gain an understanding if certain stimuli has caused it to be more intense than others. I would also ask you to take some time to list off activities and hobbies that you enjoy. ONce you list off your ideas try and make kits for yourself some portable and some not. You can use ideas like mindful breathing, journaling, meditations, etc. These are all helpful ideas. It can be helpful to also use your five senses to help you to get grounded hen you feel like things have been overactive for you as well. Stress balls and fidgets are helpful to have near you when you can to ease strain and pain too. I would ask that you look into finding a support group and or a therapist too that may be able to help you to gain some professional help and understanding. A therapist would be great to assist you in doing a deeper dive into what might be giving you episodes from time to time as well. You may ant to look into mental health podcasts and books that are based in personal and professional development wih a stress relief theme too to give you more comfort and education as well. If you are ever in crisis do not hesitate to call 911 and find your local crisis numbers to support you too. Thank you Anne.    
(LPC, NCC, RYT-200)
Answered on 01/21/2022

My mom never see eye to eye on anything n she always find the worst thing to say about my parenting.

Dear Dainty, I am so very sorry that you are going through this. Your situation sounds very upsetting and you, like everyone else, deserve to have a mother who is the leader of your fan club. Unfortunately, what it sounds like is happening instead is that your mother criticizes and tears you down, leading you to question yourself and, in turn, to poor self-esteem. This happens because we tend to internalize our mother's views of us. When a mother says it then we feel it may be true. We all internalize what our parents say to and about us, but I want you to know that there is another way to think about things. Your mother is a critical and perhaps angry woman and appears to lack the skills to be warm, supportive, and soothing. Consider that your mother may have a lot of unresolved issues. Perhaps she was raised like this. That would be unfortunate. Nonetheless, understanding your mother doesn't necessarily make you feel better. Keep in mind always that your mother clearly has issues of her own. This does NOT mean that she doesn't love you. It may mean, instead, that she doesn't know how to express her love. However, this means it is unlikely that your mother will change and begin to appreciate you. Keep this in mind when you hope for recognition and acceptance. Begin to learn to appreciate yourself. Make a list of your strengths and positive qualities. Also, give yourself permission to make mistakes. This is part of the human experience. We all need to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and get back into the game of life. Disappointment is okay but tearing yourself down is not.  I am also very sorry to hear that you lost your father. Losing a parent can feel like losing part of yourself. If they have always been there, helping and supporting you, it is hard to imagine coping without them. Getting through such a bleak period, however, proved one thing: You are stronger than you think. Somewhere inside you is a resilience you never thought possible. Do not hide from the fact that your dad is gone. Visit his grave, chat to him in thoughts. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. Not only does it keep his memory alive, but it is also a release for your feelings. In the end, my last message to you is to give yourself some grace. Giving yourself grace is permission to forgive your mistakes, lapses in judgment, and hurtful behavior because no one is perfect. I hope you found this helpful and that it brought you some comfort. Sincerely, Ashley
(LCPC, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What can I do to make myself feel like me again?

Hello! I would first answer your question with a question: "What can you do to feel like a better you again?" Many of my clients begin therapy with the goal of "I want to get my life back," and I ALWAYS challenge them to envision what a better life would look like. A better life is possible! Next, I recognized that things began to get rocky for you right when the pandemic was at its peak. There has been so much change, uncertainty, and fear. It is not uncommon for things to feel very, very different than before the pandemic. Everyone has been challenged with those negative thoughts and feelings, including myself. Assuming there is no history or suspicion of clinical depression, things can turn around for you. Here is a good article to learn more about mental health and the pandemic: NIMH » One Year In COVID-19 and Mental Health (nih.gov) Here is another article with some tips on how to address your mental health during the pandemic. How To Recover From Psychological Aftershocks Of Lockdown During Mental Health Awareness Month (forbes.com) Again, why not strive for something better than before the pandemic? Perhaps a provider at BetterHelp can help support and coach you towards that goal? Be kind to yourself and patient with yourself. You have taken the most courageous step towards a better life by asking for advice. Keep the momentum going, and I am very confident you will get there! Finally, if there are some concerns about the more serious topic of clinical depression, please contact your doctor and address those concerns with them. Your doctor will be able to help you make a plan to address any underlying depression and/or anxiety if they are there. Having an open dialogue with your doctor about your mental health concerns is the safest course of action. There is no need to stay stuck or feel down when help is available. You deserve to live your best life and if anxiety or depression are creating barriers to that life, then you have already shown honesty, openness, and willingness to make a change.  Best of luck in your journey to a "better life"! Pura Vida, Dr. Chatham
Answered on 01/21/2022

Will I ever stop starving myself as a coping mechanism?

Hello Dede,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: Will I ever stop starving myself as a coping mechanism? I am so glad you reached out for some guidance with your struggling relationship with food.  I think you have recognised the source of why you are using food as a coping mechanism - that is stress.    I will share information on how you can reach out for help with your situation. There is hope, recovery from this is possible but it sounds to me that you would benefit from some professional support and guidance with some effective coping strategies for you.  It is possible to break habits, learn better coping mechanisms to your  manage stress.   Eating disorders can affect just about anybody, and if they aren't handled in time, they can be life-threatening. But, how do you get treatment for eating disorders? What does that treatment look like? This article will answer these and other questions.   However, there is a wide variety of eating disorders, and they are not all handled in the same way. Also, treatment is likely to vary based on the individual and the doctor or team treating the condition, the severity of the condition, and how long the individual has had the condition.     What Is An Eating Disorder?   A person who has an eating disorder either doesn't eat enough to sustain them or eats but then disrupts the digestive process in some way. Either of these routes means that in the long term the individual can suffer from severe nutrient deficiencies, and may eventually die. These conditions can also cause less severe damage in the short term.    Remedying nutrient deficiencies and other damage, such as the throat and dental damage that can be caused by bulimia, are a part of the overall treatment of the individual but are not likely to get at the underlying causes of the disorder.   Eating disorders can be caused by a variety of social, emotional, chemical, and potentially genetic factors. Often it takes many of these factors coinciding at the same time to cause an eating disorder.   Treating The Social Aspects   Eating disorders were once widely regarded as a strictly social problem - the results of unrealistic body expectations put out by the media and bullying by girls at school. We now understand that eating disorders are much more complicated than that, though social factors remain a significant problem.   Social pressure to lose weight can come from the media and peers, but it can also come from family members or colleagues who may be well-meaning but misguided in their attempts to convince a colleague or family member to lose weight, often for health reasons. If the individual begins to lose weight through an eating disorder, those around them may accidentally encourage the harmful behavior.   Social pressures are best dealt with through talk-therapy with a counselor or therapist. Talking with members of a support group can also help.   Treating The Emotional Aspects   Some individuals develop eating disorders with less outside pressure but rather develop the disorder as a way of coping with crises or feelings of powerlessness. Some people also develop eating disorders as a way of introducing more rules into their lives or to give them a sense of control. Similar to social pressures, these pressures are usually handled through talk-therapy with a professional and support group.   Treating The Physical Aspects   As mentioned above, when an individual has had an eating disorder for an extended period they can begin to suffer nutrient deficiencies. Some of these nutrient deficiencies impact the individual's physical health, like how they are body accesses energy, coordinates movements, or builds muscle, hair, nails, and skin. Other nutrient deficiencies impact how the brain and emotions work.   This is similar to the cause of some cases of mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and some experts believe that they are closely related: that one may cause the other. This is potentially supported by the fact that many people who have an eating disorder also have a mood disorder. This aspect of eating disorders may be treated with medication. The dose and duration depend on how responsive the patient is, as well as whether the deficiency was caused or worsened by the eating disorder. If the eating disorder caused the deficiency, then medication may only be required until the deficiency is corrected. If the deficiency existed before the eating disorder, then medication may be required indefinitely. Restoring the person to a physically healthy state is often done before beginning other interventions including talk-therapy.   Unlike with mood disorders, the treatment for an individual with an eating disorder also includes nutritional counseling to teach them about the importance of nutrients in keeping a healthy mind and body, as well as how to get a healthy amount of nutrients from their diet.   Genetic Components   There is a growing belief in the scientific community that there is a genetic component to eating disorders as well. Individual genes have yet to be isolated, however. While genetics and a family history of eating disorders are considered to be a "risk factor" for developing an eating disorder, there is not currently a treatment that addresses this aspect of eating disorders.   Recognizing Risk Factors And Symptoms   It is very important to catch eating disorders as soon as possible to maximize the effectiveness of treatment and to minimize damage caused by the disorder. Confronting someone about an eating disorder that they don't have, however, can also be emotionally harmful to the individual, so it is important not to jump to conclusions too quickly. This is true of adults worrying about their adult friends or family members, but it is more important for parents who are worried about eating disorders in children. This is true because the concept of parental trust is important to children, because they do not have the option not to see a specialist if they know that they don't have a disorder, and because rumors about children having eating disorders can be more socially damaging than rumors about adults having eating disorders.     Whether you are worried about a child or an adult friend, it is better to foster an environment of care and support than it is to confront them about an eating disorder head-on, especially if you do not know the symptoms of eating disorders. Before you confront someone about their eating disorder, consider these risk factors and symptoms adapted from the National Eating Disorders Association:   Does the person have a close relative with an eating disorder or emotional disorder like depression or anxiety? Does the person have a history of dieting? Does the person have type 1 diabetes? Is the person a perfectionist, or a stickler for the rules? Is the person bullied or otherwise sensitive about their weight? Is the person from another country? Does the person show strange attitudes about foods like only eating certain foods or not eating around people? Does the person seem to be preoccupied or obsessed with their body and weight loss? Does the person have mood swings or difficulty concentrating? Does the person's weight appear to change rapidly? Does the person regularly have gastrointestinal problems (heartburn, cramps, &c.)? Is there evidence of induced vomiting (Calluses on the tops of the knuckles, discolored teeth, &c.)? Does the person often feel weak, cold, or sick? Does the person have unhealthy hair and nails? If you are worried that a loved one has an eating disorder, it can also help to talk to your doctor, a therapist, or counselor to get a professional opinion before you bring up your concerns with the individual.     Treatment For Eating Disorders At Different Ages   It can be easier to get young people treatment for an eating disorder because it is easier to get young people diagnosed as they are more likely to see a doctor regularly. As minors, they also have more limited rights to refuse treatment than adults do.   Because people who have eating disorders typically know that they have eating disorders, adults with an eating disorder may avoid seeing a health care provider for regular checkups, which may mean that they are not diagnosed until the condition has become fairly advanced.     Diagnosis of an eating disorder is often made by the primary care provider, who then provides referrals to other experts, possibly including psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, and others. A primary care provider is usually the first professional to notice the symptoms of an eating disorder. Being diagnosed by a primary care provider also increases the likelihood that treatment will be covered by insurance.   What Does Treatment Look Like?   As mentioned above, the first step is usually restoring the individual to a physically healthy state. This is followed by addressing the causes of the eating disorder, usually through talk-therapy. The final step is usually arranging a plan to help keep the individual from relapsing. Talk-therapy and medication may continue beyond this step if the person has a mood disorder or other condition separate from the eating disorder, as is often the case.   The type and extent of care depend on the severity of the eating disorder and the age of the individual. For example, advanced forms of the disorder may need to be treated in a hospital or psychiatric facility. For younger patients and patients with less severe disorders, some kinds of therapy take place entirely at home. In most cases, the individual will live at home during their treatment but have appointments to receive counseling and for their health to be monitored.   The type of counseling depends on the social and emotional causes of the eating disorder.   Finding Help   Many people with eating disorder self-diagnose themselves and seek help. This is best done through the path mentioned above that begins with being diagnosed by a primary care provider. It's okay to tell your primary care provider that you think you have an eating disorder, even if you have not had one long enough to manifest significant physical symptoms. You also don't need to wait until your next routine checkup to talk to your doctor about an eating disorder.   If your condition is not advanced, however, you may be able to get by with talk therapy alone. Some people find that the stigma of mental health makes it easier for them to talk to a therapist remotely rather than one in their community. I hope you reach out for some assistance and support from a mental health professional someone who can guide you through some effective techniques to help you manage your stress so that you can find a different way to cope.   Bottom line, yes you can stop starving yourself by learning new coping mechanisms!   To learn more about the options and benefits associated with talking to a therapist or counselor online, visit https://www.betterhelp.com/start   I wish you much luck with your next step in your journey to have a healthy lifestyle and a healthy realtionship with food.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is there anything to do to better oneself aside from therapy?

Obviously this is a broad and open question. There are many directions an answer could go. So I will start by saying that the best answer will depend on the more specific nature of your concerns. I will approach my answer assuming that you do not have a more specific concern in mind but simply have a general desire to make your life better.  I have essentially given away the first step that I would recommend. That is to get more specific about what you want to improve. One exercise to help you with this is to take some notes as you ask yourself the "miracle question". This is something along the lines of, if a miracle occurred and you woke up tomorrow feeling that you had achieved bettering yourself, what would life be like? What would you be doing? How would you be spending your time?  Do your best to be as specific as you can. Take time to really think about the life you want. It would be easy to say things like, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams, or, I would be a famous athlete or actor, or even, I would have found the perfect career and every moment of my life would be spent doing meaningful things, etc. But try to get more specific.  There are many answers you may come up with, but these are still very general, non-specific answers, and in reality some will be unrealistic. Let's use the example of a perfect career. That means something different for every person. What defines the "perfect" career for you? Are you working with people, or ideas, or things? What's more important, income or impact? Is it important to you to have time to get away from the job to do other things like travel, volunteer, or spend time with family, or is that not so important to you? You can get as specific as- are you a night owl and would the perfect job allow you to work odd hours?  Do your best to walk the line between daring to dream big and being practical. I am in my 40's and have never shown any real athletic talent throughout my life, so it wouldn't do me a lot of good to dream of playing professional basketball. But it isn't unrealistic to hope to buy a dream home someday, so long as I am open to putting in the necessary work.   Spend time to narrow down all aspects of what your life would be like. This exercise is not going to suddenly reveal to you every specific detail of your perfect life, nor is it going to show you how to accomplish every goal you have in mind. But it can help you develop a better vision of what bettering yourself means to you.  Another aspect of learning to better ourselves is learning to be more intentional about what we are doing in our everyday lives. Being more focused on our day to day actions and paying close attention to what we are and are not doing, then comparing that to what we value and what we want to be.  Perhaps you value kindness, you believe the world could be a better place if people would just be kinder to one another, and you like to think of yourself as a kind person. So spend a week tracking how you interact with other people. When you go to the store, do you look the cashier in the eye and smile? When you are driving in traffic, are you cussing out the other drivers and thinking to yourself that everyone else is a terrible driver? Do you take the time to notice others around you, even strangers, and look for small ways to show kindness? Maybe you do. Maybe this is something you've already incorporated into your life. Maybe you do it sometimes, but start to recognize that you could do it more. Simply start by tracking your behavior. By doing so you will naturally start to increase the rate of doing the things you want to do.  This applies to any aspect of life. Do you want to be more spiritual? Spend some time to try to get as specific as you can about what that would mean to you and then take some time to track your spiritual behaviors. Do you want to be healthier? Do your research and decide what that means for you. Will you focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc? Then start tracking what you are doing for your health.  After you spend a week or two tracking your behaviors you can now start to create some effective goals on what actions you would like to take to improve.  A very common approach to effective goal setting is the S.M.A.R.T approach. This approach can easily be found with a quick internet search. In general the acronym refers to setting goals that are:  -Specific - I've already highlighted the importance of this -Measurable - You need to be able to track it -Achievable - is it realistic?  -Relevant - Does the goal actually help you accomplish your long terms goals or is it a distraction?  -Time Oriented - "I will do this 2 times a week", "I want to have this finished by the 16th", etc.  But don't forget to be flexible, sometimes we don't accomplish our goals the way we intended, and that's just a time to adjust the goal, not a reason to beat ourselves up.  Finally, it is helpful to involve another person, whom you trust, who will help you stay accountable to your goals. Share your goals with this person, ask them to help you review them, and report back to them on your progress. This is a lot of what therapy is. If you have a trusted mentor who is willing to help you may not need to worry about having a therapist.  Self-improvement is a matter focus, intentionality, and working toward reasonable and well thought out goals. With the right support and some determination you can do this. Good luck to you!    So then you spend some time getting more specific.  
(LPC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What are the steps to healing BPD? (borderline personality disorder) If you could outline them :')

Hi Magiic and thank you so much for reaching out and having your questions answered in this way. I want to alert you to the fact this is not intended or meant to be a treatment opportunity, cure or way to gain a diagnosis. The information that you receive today may be more broad and is meant to be basic psych-educational resource material as opposed to a clinical remedy. If you need further and customized information seeking a professional personally is the best way. When you ask about borderline personality disorder it can be a disoder that involves many nuanced outcomes and reactions. I would suggest that you grab the book: "I hate you, don't leave me" understanding the borderline personality by Jerold J. Kreisman, MD and Hal Strauss. It is available on Audible if you would rather listen to it and has been revised into a newer edition. This book is the best that I have seen dealing with this specific disorder. You talked about the need to maintain emotional stability and also consistent security. It is vital for a person wwho may think that there is a correlation with this disorder to seek out a mental health professional on a regular basis. Betterhelp is an option for tele-health avenues and for accessibility but there are also support groups and other ways to find good clinicians. I would ask first if they have experience in the specific disorder and related treatment plans like DBT and emotional regulation. In finding a good resource and plan it may take interviewing several programs or therapists to find the right fit. Journaling and logging symptoms and outcomes are fantastic ways of noting what specific needs are and also of letting a new professional in your life in to what is plaguing you the most in this arena. If a professional can see your patterns and what you deal with on a regular basis they can have more insight into how to help and aid you in goal setting and protocols for assistance. It is never a bad idea to be open and honest wwith someone that you are reaching out to for help so transparency is key. I hope that this helps you in your journey and I wish you the bestl.   
(LPC, NCC, RYT-200)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I feel like I’m stuck in life and I’m not moving forward.

Caretakers  of family members often experience burnout and get used to putting others first and  have their own needs come second.  Caretakers also miss out on many opportunites that you mentioned such as dating, traveling,  and self care.  That could add up to depression, lack of self esteem and bitterness. I think one of the keys  to change  and bettering yourself is  to change the view point that you are looking from.  You say you missed the train yet,  you are going to school.  So  you already are working on the change to better  yourself.  Maybe  you can think of the going to school as going to the train station and  you are deciding where to go!  There's also courses on line, or reconencting with something you used to love  like painting or music.  Even for a few minutes a week, giving yourself something to look forward to!!   Covid has handcuffed many people but I am hopeful things are lossening up;  where you can join  groups,  attend classes in person.   A support group for caretakers (online even) might also  be an added support and relieve you of some stress and isolation.  Its been my experience isolation  can lead to run on or racing thoughts.   You can find support  groups like that on social media.; or participate in a groupinar on  Better Help!  Change to Better  yourself  has so much too do with self esteem! Even a simple activity like looking  in the mirror in the morning and just saying "I can do  this" is a way to better yourself!  Go over your qualities.  Remind yourself of the qualities you have and from your question I  already hear loyalty,  dedication,  and hard worker for starters.   Self care  helps.  You might not have time for an hour massage but you can incoportate a five minute relaxation video from you tube or a five minute  cup of tea.  Tiny little breaks add up!  Incoporate gratitude into your daily  routine.   Gratitude helps change the way we look at things even if we are just grateful for a beating heart and a beautiful sunset.  Add laughter by watching a funny video on tik tok or you tube.  Laughter helps by  releasing the feel good chemicals in the brain.  Again only five minutes can help.  These are all ways to better yourself I have a favorite quote by Audrey Hepburn. Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I'm possible"
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get back to my usual happy self when I’m struggling with being unhappy at work?

Greetings Em,Thank you for posing this question. It is my pleasure and honor to help you to reconnect to your former upbeat, energetic, positive, and well-adjusted way of being. I imagine that when you were in this optimistic mental space, your internal dialogue mirrored your outward expression of positivity. I imagine despite the obstacles you were facing; you chose to tell yourself more helpful thoughts and that led to your confidence and vibrancy in choosing healthier ways to cope with everyday life stressors. It seems that in the present time, your thoughts may have drifted from optimistic to pessimistic. Why am I focused on your thoughts? I am focused on your thinking because life flows in a direction of situation>think>feel>act. This means that a situation/obstacle/circumstance is presented to you. In the moment, you have thoughts about the situation that lead to emotions and feelings. Then your thoughts and emotions work together to lead to how you choose to behave and act. But this job really makes me stressed, and the small things make me upset…In reality, you are in control of your thinking, feeling and actions. This means that no one and no thing can MAKE you FEEL. You make you feel based on the thoughts you have about a situation. So, take the time to think… What am I telling myself about this situation? Am I telling myself, “This job is too stressful,” “This job is draining,” “I am struggling, and my emotions are uncontrollable?”  This type of thinking can lead to the negative emotions of powerlessness, annoyance, lack, irritation, anger, displeasure, inconvenience, nuisance, dissatisfaction, uneasiness, difficulty, stress, drained, unhappiness, and much more. Then, when you feel these negative emotions, your choices to act upon these thoughts and emotions could be choosing to not go to the gym after work to exercise, choosing to give up and do nothing because you are telling yourself that the obstacle is too great, choosing to isolate, choosing a less bubbly nature for the day or even being less motivated to work in general. Challenge these thoughts and know that it is not about the obstacle; it is about your response to the obstacle that determines your quality of living. When it comes to employment, it is important to understand what is and is not in your control. In your control is your thinking, feeling and actions. That’s it. Not in your control is the thinking, feeling and actions of others. That means that you do not control the expectations of the employer, the policies and procedures, the pay, the drama, etc. Acknowledge what is in your control in the moment and allow what is not, to be the responsibility of its’ owner. Understand that there is freedom in focusing on what is in your control. In that freedom, is where you re-establish your bond with Em. I hope this helps and I wish you much success in your counseling journey.
(LMHC, MCAP)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I have been struggling with pornography and masturbation and I am feeling really bad. What can I do?

Hello Crcr,   Thank you for reaching out on The Bettehelp Platform with your question: I have been struggling with pornography and masturbation and I am feeling really bad. What can I do? I will share some information and tips on how you can manage your struggles with pornography and masturbation.   How to manage the urge to masturbate: The urge to masturbate is a natural one, especially in adolescence, as it signifies interest in sex before embarking on adult sexual relationships. Masturbation is a shortcut to get the natural gratification that comes with reproduction, but when it becomes an obsession or a reason for constant self-loathing, then perhaps it is time to learn how to stop masturbation addiction.   How To Stop Masturbation Addiction On Your Own? Perhaps the most common issue with masturbation addiction, especially in married couples, is how it affects one’s relationship with the partner. They soon start to feel neglected, inadequate, and frustrated. The following addresses how to stop masturbation, and it does not focus on issues such as why people want to stop masturbating or whether or not it is healthy. There are so many ways to confront the masturbation problem, but they are all very likely to fall under one of a few categories. One can stop masturbation addiction in a few ways when one considers how to stop masturbating:   Stop punishing oneself. Remember that masturbation is actually a natural urge, and as human beings, people always have these sexual urges, and neither of these things makes them less of a person or any less worthy compared to anyone. Don’t allow oneself to enter into despondency as this is mostly a waste of time, and it could have been spent relinquishing oneself of the addiction. So take it a step at a time and realize that there is help; the situation is not helpless. Remove the triggers that bring temptation to masturbate. Top of the list of things that brings the temptation to masturbate is pornography, so one has to rid oneself and the immediate environment of any pornographic content. Also, one should control access to this content. If one is observant enough to know the specific times and instances, one mostly gets the urge to masturbate, try to get busy with other things at those times. Some people recommend exercising as this gives a release of its own and leaves a person exhausted to do much else. Reduce the alone time. If one frequently masturbates  as a result of loneliness, find ways to limit solitude. Do things that are usually done alone in the company of others and public places. Don’t lock oneself up indoors all day. Find another outlet for time and energy. Fill life with engaging activities. The excitement of doing something different and meeting set goals and objectives can help replace the urge to masturbate, and there are a lot more distractions that can keep one’s mind off it. The process of turning one’s sexual urges into creative output is something that monks and sages have mastered, and it is called sublimation. This is something one can utilize on a scale that one is capable of. There are a lot of things that one can invest time and energy into, such as writing, learning to play an instrument, drawing, etc. This takes discipline and persistence, and no one ever said it was going to be easy. Research has also shown that the way one lives can either increase or decrease self-control when it comes to dealing with addictions. Be persistent and patient. Stopping masturbation is not something that can be done instantly. It is a process that requires commitment, and one might fall to temptation and relapse on occasion. Don’t beat oneself up when this happens. One can also set up a reward system to reward oneself for good behavior and achievement in terms of how long one goes without masturbating. When one keeps a record of how long one has gone without masturbating, the longer the record stays, the harder it is for one to engage in activity that will ruin that record. Doing this introduces a new motivation that can help one go over the finish line. A desire to keep a record and pride in how long one has abstained will eventually overwhelm the desire to masturbate, and at this point, the battle over addiction is almost won. Don’t rush the process. Stopping masturbation is not a one-time activity. One has to be patient and give themselves the required time and help that is necessary to overcome this addiction. Adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle. In order to overcome any type of addiction, a healthy diet and lifestyle are very important as it makes one’s urges reduce and also provides motivation to resist. Wear extra clothes at night. Wearing more clothes at night may help create a physical barrier and stop one from touching himself. It will reduce the sensation and will help curb the urge to masturbate. When all else fails, seek professional help. Help can be found by enrolling in a therapeutic community and counseling. The community can take the form of support groups, online forums, and accountability partners.  How to Quit Porn 1. First, you must acknowledge the addiction exists. Many who are caught in the trap of addiction will adamantly deny the problem.    2. You must recognize that what you are doing is wrong. Addicts find a way to justify their problem in their mind.    3. Letting go of the notion to blame others – “If my wife/husband were just more affectionate.  Instead, you must begin to take responsibility for your actions.   4. Make yourself accountable to a spiritual authority perhaps a pastor or mature believer. Everybody needs a “safe” person to share their struggles with.    How to Stop Porn Addiction     5. You must recognize that “willpower” is not the answer. At a weak moment, your “will” may fail you. By admitting that you are in need of help, consider reaching out to a therapist for support.   6. Study sexual purity.    7. You must destroy any pornography in your possession. You can’t wean yourself off pornography. Think of the hidden pornography in your home as a ticking time bomb that will ultimately destroy your family and marriage.   8. You must learn to flee temptation. Self-deception may enter when you think you can play with fire without getting burned. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on.    9. Give yourself time to work through the process of recovery. More often than not, understanding that good choices to take us through a learning and growing process, that can be very painful. Victory over addiction should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint.   10. It’s cliche, but you must approach your addiction one day at a time. Look for little victories and rejoice in the progress you’re making. Recovery is a cinch by the inch, but a trial by the mile.   There is hope!  Recovery is Possible.   You do not have to struggle with these behaviors alone.   There is help for you.  Consider reaching out to a mental health professional.  someone who is skilled in this area of behavior management to help guide and support you with effective interventions.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I figure out which part of me has something wrong or is in need of attention so that I can

First, just because you're feeling like crying or fighting doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. These are perfectly normal reactions to stressors, and it actually means your body is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. Those reactions are actually controlled by your nervious system. The nervous system is actually broken down into two different parts, the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. The parasymptathetic nervous system is responsible for those times when we are calm. It helps us with digestion, thinking, and feelings of relaxation. The sympathetic nervous system is supposed to be there to help us in the case of a threat. It helps us with things like running away, surviving a fight, and other things that are necessary when we're facing a threat.  The problem is, our nervous system is not very good at deciding what is a threat and what is not. So a lot of people get false alerts from their sympathetic nervous system. When our sympathetic nervous system is on alert, we are more likely to be emotional, more likely to feel stressed and anxious, and more likely to act out of anger. We also can't think very well because those areas of our brain are literally shut off when our sympathetic nervous system is active.  But just because your nervous system is seeing threats where it shouldn't does not mean that you are stuck at it's mercy forever. There are actually things you can do to manage your nervous system so you stay in the parasympathetic nervous system when you want to. This is where self-regulation comes in. Self-regulation are skills that you can use that calm your body, and by extension, your nervous system. If your body is tense, your nervous system is tense. Doing things like deep breathing, mindfulness skills, rubbing your arms, and even just getting up to move can be self-regulating. Everyone has their own things that work for them, so it can take some experimentation to find the self-regulation tools that work best with your body. It might be helpful to work with a therapist while you're finding these skills, as a therapist can help you figure out what to try and help you when you're not really sure if something is working or not. 
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I deal with my resentment?

Hello, How do I deal with my resentment? I will share some information and steps you can consider to work through your feelings and thoughts about your family.   Resentment is not just a quickly passing feeling of anger. When you’re resentful, the anger and resentment persist over time. It’s a feeling that’s hard to shake, and if you don’t do something to address your bitterness, it’s likely to continue or even get worse.   Unfair Treatment Resentment comes from a belief that someone (or the world in general) has mistreated you. Anger is a little different because you can be angry without necessarily thinking you’ve experienced an injustice. In resentment, it may be that someone has actually treated you unfairly. Sometimes, though, people get caught up in resentment because they misunderstand what happened or the other person’s intentions.   Dwelling on Upsetting Experiences Do you ever find yourself replaying upsetting conversations and events over and over in your mind? Ruminating over distressing situations can be an extremely painful experience. However, when someone is resentful, they usually do dwell on hurtful experiences.   What Can Cause Resentment? So, where does resentment come from, anyway? What caused resentment for you might be very different from what caused if for someone else. The following are some of the most common causes of resentment.   Inequality in Relationships When one person in a close relationship has more power than the other, the less powerful one may feel resentment towards their partner. Or, the one who has more responsibilities may feel bitter that the other person isn’t shouldering an equal share of life’s burdens. And even in the most loving homes, children may feel resentful that their parents get to do or have things that they aren’t allowed. Sometimes, there isn’t an easy way to equalize the relationship. However, you can get beyond the resentment if you can learn to deal with it effectively.   Abuse and Neglect You might tend to feel resentment and anger if you experienced abuse or neglect, either as a child or later in life. And that’s perfectly reasonable. You certainly didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Yet, these negative feelings are painful and can become self-destructive after a while. Once you’re out of the abusive relationship, a therapist can help you shift your focus to get beyond those feelings and build a more positive future.   Health Problems Often, health problems can create situations where resentment crops up easily. Medical issues put many people in a position that requires them to do things they’d rather not do. Caring for someone who is sick or injured is a huge responsibility, and if the person you’re caring for you is uncooperative or unappreciative, it can be hard to take. In one study, caregivers of people with dementia completed resentment rating scales. The results showed that they were indeed resentful, and when the person they were caring for behaved in manipulative or willful ways, they were even more resentful.   Being Humiliated Humiliating experiences often lead to lingering feelings of resentment. You might resent another person who you believe caused the embarrassing event. Or, you might blame yourself and feel the life has let you down by not preparing you well enough for that moment.   Prejudice and Discrimination Many people face prejudice and discrimination related to their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other aspects of who they are. Interestingly, both people who discriminate and those who they discriminate against may feel resentment. For example, scientists conducted two studies – one in the 1980s and one concluding in 2011 – and determined that racial resentment was a factor in why white policy-makers didn’t and still don’t create programs to address racial inequality.   Envy and Jealousy Many people feel bitter that someone else has what they want and can’t get. The other person may not have done anything to hurt them directly. The anger and resentment come from the idea that they feel it’s so unfair that they don’t have what they want or need while someone else does.   Rejection Rejection is often a source of resentment. You might face rejection when you ask someone for a date, when you apply for a job, or even when you offer to help someone. If the other person turns you down, it can feel very unfair. Anger and shame can turn to resentment in these situations.   Effects of Resentment While resentment can cause you a lot of pain and keep you stuck in the past, it’s important to remember that emotions aren’t “right” or “wrong.” They’re just the way you feel. So, you don’t have to blame yourself or feel bad about yourself because you feel resentment. There may be a great deal of truth in your opinion that someone has treated you unjustly. Still, dealing with the feeling and moving past it is critical to your mental health. Here are some of the ways resentment can affect your life.   Relationship Issues Resentment can be toxic to close relationships. Couples who experience resentment towards each other usually have unsatisfying relationships. They may stay together in misery, or they may split up to get away from those bad feelings. Yet, even if you do end the relationship, dealing with your feelings can help you move on to better relationships in the future.   Strong, Uncomfortable Feelings The feeling of resentment can be very distressing. Other uncomfortable feelings may come along with it, too. You may develop feelings of regret for the things you did or said or the way your life turned out. You might begin to feel inadequate if you believe you didn’t handle the situation well. These intense feelings can disrupt your life and may even lead to other mental health issues like depression or anxiety.   Avoiding Conflict If you often feel resentful, you might begin to avoid conflict. Because you haven’t let go of the resentment, you may not feel ready to face difficult situations. And it’s understandable if you don’t want to be hurt anymore. But facing challenges is often the only way to find satisfaction and pleasure in your life. Many people find that working through their resentment frees them to deal with new conflicts when they need to do so to get what they desire or achieve their goals.   How Therapists Help with Resentment A therapist can help you deal with resentment in several ways. Treatment usually includes self-expression, learning, and putting into practice what you’ve learned. Here are some of the tasks involved in overcoming feelings of resentment.   Expressing Emotions One thing that can help tremendously is to find appropriate ways to express your emotions. Just talking to your counselor about your feelings is a good start. Another method is showing your feelings through artwork or music. Sometimes, counselors suggest writing a letter to the person who has wronged you and then, once you’ve got the emotions out, destroying the note. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to communicate with the other person, but only to face your feelings and the situations that caused them. Journaling is another useful tool for self-expression.   Identifying the Source of Resentment What is causing your resentment? Resentment may come without you knowing its source at times. If that happens, one of your tasks will be finding out what happened that caused you to feel resentful. Your therapist can help you explore the possibilities and come to your own answer. And even if you know what you’re resentful about, you can go deeper to find the specific words, actions, or circumstances that are generating that feeling.   Recognizing Patterns of Resentment Another question you and your therapist may delve into is whether your resentment is an isolated incident or not. For some people, resentment can become a way of life. By identifying long-term patterns of resentment, you and your therapist can work towards overcoming them.   Checking Your Perspective It also helps many people to have a therapist who can guide them in seeing other perspectives on the circumstances that cause them resentment. Sometimes being able to see the situation from another angle can help you feel less mistreated. By taking another person’s point of view for a moment, in some cases, you might realize they didn’t mean to harm you at all.   Assessing and Choosing Thoughts Sometimes, it’s not so much what happens to you that’s painful. It’s what you think about what happened that fuels the resentment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy offers tools to help you assess the thoughts behind your resentment, decide whether they’re accurate and helpful, and choose the thoughts and behaviors that will benefit you the most.   Calming Techniques While you can use your mind in many ways to help you in letting go of resentment, thinking obsessively about the source of your pain usually makes the feeling more intense and long-lasting. Sometimes, calming techniques can make it easier to let go. Many therapists teach their clients mindfulness meditation, systematic muscle relaxation, or other methods that help them relax and focus on something other than their pain.   Choose a Positive Mantra   Experiment with different phrases that mean something to you and that actively help shift your mindset. It could be something like Aristotle’s, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Perhaps it’s simply a word, like “release” or “forgive.” As soon as feelings of resentment creep in, stop them in their tracks with this mantra. This exercise can feel a little syrupy at first, but over time it can help eradicate or mitigate negative feelings. It also acts as a nice compliment to the other exercises on our list.   Building Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem   If you’re suffering from feelings of inadequacy, your therapist can help you build your self-esteem and boost your self-confidence. They can do this by helping you recognize what triggers your low self-esteem. They can help you challenge negative beliefs. They can also encourage you to take risks and work towards goals that will increase your feelings of self-worth.   Adjusting Expectations Setting reasonable expectations for fairness might also help you feel less resentful. There’s rarely any guarantee that the world will give you precisely what you want or even what you need. By recognizing that life isn’t always fair, you might be able to avoid intense feelings of resentment when things don’t go your way. At the same time, it’s still important to stand up for yourself when you’re being hurt, discriminated against, taken advantage of, or abused. The goal here is to find the right balance between your expectations and what’s actually possible.   Envisioning a Future Without Resentment Once you deal with your resentment, resentment will no longer be your focus. At some point in your therapy, it’s good to take some time to think about what your life will be like.   There is hope and you do not have to deal with this on your own.  There is support available for you.   I wish you much luck with your next step!   Kind Regards, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you come out to parents and socially that you're trans?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on the Betterhelp Platform with your question: How do you come out to parents and socially that you're trans? Coming out as transgender is a very scary process—particularly when you’re in the uncertainty phase, considering thoughts like whether you’re just experimenting or feel fundamentally at odds with the gender you were assigned at birth. You may have total certainty within, feeling sure of your dysphoria and eager to express it. Or you may be battling self-doubt, and dealing with the challenge of trying to parse what’s going on inside your own head. People come out as trans with a variety of personal attitudes—but regardless, we can never control the reactions we’re going to get. What’s perhaps the scariest, or potentially most supportive and important, element of coming out as transgender  is coming out to your parents. You may wonder about the real potential of being left without a sense of support from your family or, even worse, getting kicked out of your home (depending on your age). I will share some information and tips for you to consider as you contemplate your next step.     When you come out to your parents as a transgendered person, they need to know that:    • You will probably still have the same corny sense of humor.    • Your love life - what do you expect about your marriage, current partner, future type/gender of partner. Might as well be frank here, even if you just don’t know. (I tell my friends I never cared about life after death, but love after transition - THAT concerns me...)    • You still love them. • You are not doing this to hurt    • You will still love them, music, cats, loud shirts, short hair, etc.  them.  • You will still work, go to college, keep your friends, go to church, and love your children..... (things that are important to them)...    • You’ve had these feelings since you were _________________ years old.    • You might also change in some ways - voice, hair, walk, talk, dress, etc. Be honest about what changes to expect.    • You realize they may go through an emotional process, too -- shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, sadness, acceptance. Know these symptoms and help them also to recognize them.    • You resisted coming out to yourself for ____________________ years.    • You might look as though you were your twin brother/sister.    • You really struggled with it, but it wouldn’t go away; - it’s SUCH a compelling feeling!    • You will give them all the time they need to get used to the new you. You didn’t get used to the idea overnight yourself.    Believe it or not, some parents even get to a stage of celebration! We wouldn't want to change our “new” son or daughter, even if we could!    • You are now pretty seriously considering (hormones/reassignment surgery/or ____________________.    • You know the new name is hard; they even get the grandchildren mixed up sometimes.      I often suggest writing a letter to parents or family; read it over, sleep on it, does it say everything you want to say, and in a loving way? Then THEY get to read and reread and respond thoughtfully. Plenty of time to talk in person later. You might also give them something to read or suggest books for them.  Here is one sample you might want to think about completing.   You don't have to send it ... just an option to consider as you are in your planning stages of coming out.  Just to experience how it sounds can be helpful.    Hey ,      I've been meaning to tell you for a while and I think I'm ready to say it now: I am transgender. I don’t identify with the gender I was assigned at birth, and instead I identify . This means that there will probably be drastic changes going on in my life and I want you to be aware of it. Along with the changes, I also go by and hope you will begin to address me that way.   While it may seem sudden or hard to believe, being transgender is not something that I decided to be when I woke up one day. It’s not easy. The person I am is who I've always been—it’s my identity—but I used to lack the vocabulary to express it.   This may be a lot for you to take in, especially since you’ve always known me as your <son/daughter/child> but if you have any questions about it, please let me know and I'll try to answer them. While discovering myself is an amazing feeling, I need all the support I can get. In short, I need to know that you’ll love me no matter what. Transitioning is a scary prospect and I can't do it alone. I'm hoping you'll be supportive in my journey to my authentic self. It would really mean so much to me and I hope you will be able to regard me as your <son/daughter/child>.    Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.   Love, • You have talked extensively with a counselor, met many other trans folks, have done some reading and/or at this point you believe _________________ about yourself.    • New pronouns are even harder. After all, your mother changed your diapers a thousand times and knows your body. Cut them some slack here. (I still slip up after many years!)    • If/when you change your gender presentation, you will still be the same person inside in many ways.    • You will still have much of the personality you always had.    Coming Out Trans To Your Parents & Family      Coming Out Transgender to Your Parents and Family    Your own, nieces and nephews, neighbors    Some parents are rejecting for years, but then come around. Give them things to read, send greeting cards, reassure them of your love, and tell them of your successes. You can’t force them; it’s not your fault if THEY can’t handle it. If you once had a good relationship, chances are you will again.    • Children do not usually need therapy to understand and accept your transition.    • They need the significant adults in their lives to accept the changes, to take them a little casually, answer questions directly, but minimally, until you are sure they want more information. (Why is Daddy wearing dresses? Because he feels better in dresses. Oh!).    That’s why we caution gay, lesbian and bisexual youth not to come out to family until they have an alternate support group; same for you. There’s no real substitute for your family of origin, but you CAN live without them, even have a full and very happy life.    • Even young children can understand that some of the things we believe and talk about at home may not be acceptable to others; they can learn to deal with questions at home and not with neighbors, friends, or teachers until you tell them it’s OK.    Let this tough experience make you wiser, gentler, more loving, not bitter, distrusting, and cynical. Let it not have been in vain.    • Older children need to be reassured transgenderism is not contagious and hardly ever inherited; they are not likely to be trans just because you are.    • One parent explained to her young children that being trans felt like going to a Halloween party, coming home and never being able to take off her costume nor convince people that wasn't who she really was,. Transitioning is like finally taking off your costume so people can see who you really are. (This seems to help a lot of adults, too.)      You don’t necessarily have to come out by yourself. If you’ve already come out as transgender to your therapist, who has been supportive, you could ask for help with coming out. In a best-case scenario, the therapist may even have experience with these issues, and can offer specific tips about how to communicate the challenges you’re having. Either way, therapists can invite your parents to a future session and help you approach the subject collaboratively. Having a professional opinion on your side might help them better understand what you are going through.   These are a few things to think about in this process, but I can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead when it comes to real questions of making sure you’re safe and have a place to stay . You never really know how parents might react to you coming out, and it’s helpful to prepare yourself for a worst case scenario.   Assuming you’ve done that, then comes the question of actually coming out. There are a few ways you can do so: you can have an honest conversation and tell them upfront, hand them a letter or even send an e-mail (similar to the above example).   Whatever method you plan to use is your choice but it’s important to be sure that you’re clear about telling them that you are transgender, explaining what that means, and asking that they call you by your new name and pronoun.   I wish you much luck with your next step in your journey.    In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I cope with so much stress all at once?

Hi Shady, and thank you for your question. It sounds like you are going through a lot right now and you are in a really difficult situation. I am sorry to her your father passed and that you are over inundated with responsibilities at such a young age. There is not magic wand that can be waved to make all of your stressors disappear, but there are small things you can do to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed.   For starters, ask for help. This is not always an option, but if there are other family members or friends that are close to you, I encourage you and your mother to reach out and ask for help. Help does not need to be getting handouts from family (although that is fine too), but it could be someone who has a lead on a job for either of you. Openly voicing your struggle instead of suffering in silence may open some doors for both of you.    Another thing that may be helpful is to make a list of what you want to achieve. What would you like to achieve this week? What about this month? Within a year? What about in 5 years? Thinking about what you want to achieve in the long run, and what you need to take care of here and now will keeping you actively working on improving your situation. Right now, it seems like taking care of the bare necessities is your main issue. Setting up a plan for you and/or your mother to start working to take care of financial matter will help alleviate some of your stress.   Treating yourself with kindness is also something you should focus on. You have been dealt a difficult hand, and you need to treat yourself with compassion. Talk kindly to yourself and constantly reassure yourself and your mother that you are strong and will survive. Simple things like saying positive affirmations in the mirror or catching yourself when you are talking down to yourself can be helpful.     Practicing gratitude is another technique that may feel silly, but will improve your resiliency and your ability to handle stress. Even with everything difficult happening in your life, you can still reflect on positives you have. Be grateful for the running water, be grateful for a quiet moment with a cup of coffee. Writing down 3 things daily on things you are grateful for can greatly shift your mood.   Lastly, talk with a therapist about your anxieties and current stressors. Having a professional to listen to you and help your process will help you heal and thrive. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I heal from mental & emotional distress from family, friends, and a relationship and loss?

Dear Beyond Stressed, I am glad you reached out to BetterHelp with this very relatable question - you are not alone in feeling this way. It sounds like you, like many others right now, have experienced additional stress from the global pandemic. This intensely stressful time has given you an opportunity to assess the needs you have and how they've been unaddressed, maybe for a very long time. Recognizing that you are feeling burned out and "tired" by the extra responsibilities that living with COVID19 has placed on you can serve as an awakening even though it's a harsh realization you're finding - you have to take care of yourself first before caring for others. You obviously care immensely for others (that's a lovely and desirable trait), yet caring for others takes an emotional and mental toll. Taking time to rejuvenate and refresh your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs can reduce those feelings you've described as "overwhelmed" or "used." This can look like taking time every day to laugh, dance, move, walk, journal, read, enjoy music or have a conversation with a good friend. Compassion fatigue results from giving to others what we haven't replenished. Imagine pouring water for 12 glasses from a pitcher that accommodates four!  You wouldn't say to the pitcher, "Why can't you pour more water?!" No, you would see the pitcher has limitations, and not every cup will be filled. Self-compassion is an antidote to what you're noticing now in your life. Honoring yourself with deep love and concern during this time will be beneficial for you. You must take steps today to find some balance in caring for yourself. If you are in an abusive relationship, you must define the boundaries that encourage safe and healthy ways to communicate. Engaging in individual therapy or counseling may be helpful for you now as you navigate new ways to care for yourself. Remember to fill your cup and stop pouring from an empty vessel! You deserve the care and compassion you give to others.  Here's to finding balance and your peace. With care and concern, Kathryn Falbo-Woodson, LCSW BetterHelp
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do i deal with work and school stress and at what point do i need to cut back?

In order to have a happy, healthy life; I think it's important for each of us to focus on putting first things first by making sure that our current efforts (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.) are aligned with our values and that those efforts are leading us to where we ultimately want to end up. An important aspect of our personal self-care is to reflect on whether the stresses we are taking on are helping us to learn and grow into the best version of ourselves, or if they are causing us to break down and lose sight of who we are and who we want to be. Many people are aware of stress and distress, but I think just as many or more of us can lose sight of the importance of having eustress in our lives. Eustress is the positive stress that helps us focus on maintaining healthy routines such as proper eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. A good way to know if we need to cut back on what we are doing is if it is causing more distress in our lives than the eustress we need as part of our growth process. I think another important question we need to reflect on is whether the things we're stressed out about are temporary while we're adjusting to performing at a higher level, or if they are leading us to burn out with detrimental effects to our personal health, relationships, etc. Trees can crack for different reasons, but it's much better when it's just the outer bark cracking as opposed to deep cracks right down the middle. A tree can and will re-grow bark that is cracking from internal growth, but if it is cracking due to external stressors then the stressors need to be dealt with promptly to avoid losing the tree. It appears that you've had all sorts of adjustments going on and I hope you're digging deep to maintain or find the coping skills you need as well as seeking the support you need from your spouse, other family and/or friends. Many movies address the importance of being centered in your life and having meaningful work is surely part of equation. If your own coping skills and relationships aren't helping you adjust through things, then it's time to go see your primary care physician and/or therapist to seek out professional help. Medical and mental health professionals are there to help support your own efforts and help you get back on your own feet.
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Working for myself is a dream. But my fear and lack of confidence stops any progress. Help?

Hello! Thanks very much for your question. It's so relevant right now. As someone who works in the health care field myself, I can tell you that being exhausted and overwhelmed is absolutely natural. The work our industry has been doing over the past two years is nothing short of heroic. I'm sure you've been working incredibly hard and, in many ways, it can feel unappreciated (or, at the very least, underappreciated). I'm curious about your desire to work for the VA. Do you have the perception that somehow working for a government entity will make things easier for you? I think that is probably true on some levels (for instance, working at the VA means you do nothing with billing and most if not all of the services you want for your patients are available), but I caution you to not see changing jobs as a total panacea that will automatically change your life. While working at the VA is certainly satisfying work, across the board VA staff are struggling just as those in the private sector are. It would be easier to answer your question if I knew more about what you are looking for in a job. At the VA, the administrative aspects of a job tend to be less onerous than at private hospitals. Patients aren't denied care when they don't pay their bills, Congressional oversight means VA employees are more subject to heavy-duty scrutiny so customer service tends to be better, etc. Even so, when it comes to things like speed of care and access to specialized services, even at the VA there are burdens placed on health care workers. It can take months for consults to get processed and providers often have to jump through hoops to even address pain management. So I would caution you not to assume that moving to the VA will make everything all better. Having said all that, there is a level of honor that exists for VA employees. The concept of serving those who so willingly and ably served us is amazing. So many veterans have suffered terribly because of their military service and being able to assist them feels like the ultimate honor and privilege. It's hard to overstate how incredible the feelings are when you give back to a population who, in many ways, protected the well-being of our country (I use past tense because the VA does not serve active-duty soldiers, sailors, etc).  Mostly, I want to just say thank you for the work you do. Whether at the VA or in a civilian hospital, it is not easy being a health care professional right now and you have all my respect for persevering. Good luck to you!
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I help myself be calmer.? I can’t keep myself under control. I can’t afford the help I need.

Hello, Thank you for reahing out on the Better Help Platform with your question: How can I help myself be calmer? I can’t keep myself under control. I can’t afford the help I need. We can’t control what others think, say or do. We can’t control what others think of us. We can’t control who our loved ones hang out with. We can’t control who we work with or who’s in charge. We can’t control Mother Nature, or today’s traffic. But, of course, we can control our reactions to all the things we can’t control. I’m sure you’ve heard that statement many, many times. And it’s true, of course. But, in the moment, we’re often left wondering, how do we react when we’re really upset? How do we react when it feels like our world has stopped—or exploded? Sometimes our explosions can cause us to loose precious things like relationships (as it seems the case for you) so you are wise to look into ways to learn to control your stress and moods so that you protect your job and are more successful in future relationships. I will share some information and some practical steps you can make learn how to keep yourself calm when under stressful times. Stress is a normal part of modern life, but if you’re often faced with stressful situations and feel panicked or overwhelmed trying to deal with them, you may benefit from learning some coping strategies that can help you to stay calm. Pressure can put the body into “fight or flight” mode – an evolutionary tactic that releases hormones designed to get you ready to either fight or run from danger. In modern times, stress triggers these hormones but they’re not so helpful when the “danger” comes from giving a presentation at work rather than being faced with a wild animal. If you frequently find yourself feeling anxious or panicked,  your fight or flight mode is probably being triggered too easily and it’s helpful to learn how to calm yourself down when you’re entering this state. 1. Take a Deep Breath Breathing deeply and slowly triggers the body to stop releasing stress hormones and start to relax. Concentrating on your breathing can also help to distract your mind from whatever is bothering you so that you focus only on what is happening at that moment. Breathe in deeply through your nose – you should breathe all the way into your belly and not just your chest. Hold for a moment and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Take a few minutes just to breathe and you should find yourself feeling calmer quickly. 2. Focus on the Positives Always imagining the worst case in every scenario is clinically known as catastrophic thinking and can increase anxiety and feelings of panic. Rather than dwelling on negative aspects or outcomes, try to spend a few moments thinking positively. If your bathroom has flooded and you have to replace all the flooring, for example, this could be a very stressful situation. Yet try to focus on the fact that it gives you the opportunity to update and renovate, and the repairs should be covered by your insurance. Staying positive allows your brain to avoid stress and stay calm. 3. Get Plenty of Sleep Everything seems worse when you’ve haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Stress and anxiety can often lead to insomnia so you end up in a vicious cycle – not being able to sleep and then feeling worse because you haven’t had enough sleep. Make sleep a priority, especially if you’re under a lot of pressure. Go to bed early and ban electronic devices from the bedroom. Lavender essential oil can also promote feelings of calm and help you to sleep at night. 4. Go for a Walk   Exercise is just as important as sleep when it comes to keeping stress in check and dealing with external pressure. Exercise prompts the body to release feel-good hormones and helps to clear your head. If you’re under pressure at work, just five minutes of fresh air and a change of scenery could help you to feel calmer and gain a new perspective on the situation – you’ll probably realize it’s not a case of life or death anyway. 5. Meditate Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and actually changes the brain over time so you can manage your emotions better and stay calm when you need to most. If you think meditation is all about sitting cross-legged for hours and chanting “om”, you couldn’t be further from the truth – even a few minutes of sitting quietly and concentrating on your breathing is a beneficial form of meditation. You can also try apps like Headspace and Calm. 6. Practice Gratitude Staying grateful for everything you have in your life – no matter how small – can keep things in perspective and help you to maintain a positive attitude. Studies have shown that people who keep a daily gratitude journal have lower levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress. Try taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write down 5 things you feel thankful for and see how much better it makes you feel. 7. Surround yourself with positive people You probably have a few people in your life who can make you feel stressed just by being around them. While it’s not always possible to cut these people out of your life entirely, when you’re under pressure try to spend more time with friends and family who are helpful, positive, and will lift you up rather than drag you down Retrain Your Brain for a Calmer Life You can’t control what life will throw at you next, but you can learn to cope with pressurized situations and deal with stress in a healthy way. Making an effort to practice some of these strategies the next time you feel under pressure can help you to feel calm and able to deal with any situation.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to not let racist actions and hearing about racist people depress me?

Hello Kiki, Thanks for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How to not let racist actions and hearing about racist people depress me? I will share some information and tips that might help you address your concerns. Reach out to others and share your pain Whether you’ve experienced a blatant racist attack or suffered one or more micro-aggressions, it’s normal to feel angry, upset, or hopeless. It’s also normal to want to bottle up your experiences of racism or try to pretend that they haven’t affected you. But keeping painful feelings to yourself will only amplify them and adversely impact your mental and physical health. The first step to healing is to openly and honestly share your experiences with others. The simple act of talking with someone who makes you feel heard and understood can trigger hormones that calm your nervous system, relieve stress and ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.   Talking about your experiences can also make them seem less intense. Acknowledging and expressing feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety, for example, can help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and better enable you to cope with similar emotions in the future. Try to prioritize face-to-face contact. Although it’s not always possible in the age of social distancing, it’s the act of looking another person in the eye as you talk that offers the most benefit. Obviously, the person you talk to doesn’t need to be able to offer solutions—systemic racism isn’t something that will ever be solved easily—but they do need to be a good listener, someone who can understand your experiences and acknowledge your feelings. Reach out to those closest to you, such as your partner, family, and friends. Opening up won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends and loved ones will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship. Look for support within your community. If you feel that you don’t have any friends or family who’ll listen without negatively judging you, try reaching out to a cultural or community center, school or youth counsellor, sports coach, religious organization, like-minded people on social media, or a respected neighbor in your area.   Listen to others when they reach out to you. Make yourself available to support others just as you would like them to support you. Listening attentively to another person’s experiences of racism and making them feel heard and understood can be just as beneficial for you as it is for them. Supporting others can help reduce your own stress, combat feelings of isolation and depression, and protect your mental health. Think of it as being each other’s therapist. Embrace your ethnicity Racism is often used as a weapon to devalue you as a human being and lower your self-esteem. You can counter that and help deflect the pain of racism by developing a strong sense of your ethnic identity, embracing your heritage, and taking pride in your culture and history. The identity of each one of us is closely intertwined with the experiences we share with others of a similar background. Living in a white-dominated society, though, often means that the experiences of black and minority cultures are devalued or marginalized. To develop and maintain a better sense of your own ethnic identity, you can: Educate yourself on the history of your race. Black history, for example, didn’t begin with slavery. Both Africa and the Caribbean have long and proud histories, with Africa being the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization. The more you learn about the history of your race, the better you can steel yourself against the ignorance that fuels prejudice and discrimination. Research your family history. Grandparents, genealogical websites, and DNA testing can all help you investigate your family’s lineage, discover distant relatives, and explore your roots. Most of us can’t afford to travel to our ancestors’ homeland to experience it firsthand, but we can learn more about its history and culture online, watch relevant travel shows, or learn the country’s language and traditions. Embrace your culture through books, music, art, film, or food. Look for books written by black or minority authors, for example, films that tell stories important to your ethnicity, or art and music that speaks directly to you. Cook a meal in your ethnic cuisine or rekindle the unique customs and traditions of your culture. Strengthen your community ties. Sharing closer ties to people who share your experiences can help reduce the sense of isolation that often stems from racism. Join community groups and cultural programs, volunteer to help others in your community, or simply reach out to those in need— people at risk during COVID for example, or kids in need of guidance or mentorship. Channel your anger Enduring the injustice of racial bigotry and discrimination can understandably make even the most even-tempered person seethe with rage.  Venting your anger in an uncontrolled way, may potentially make a bad situation even worse. No matter how much your anger is justified, expressing it in a knee-jerk fashion will impair your judgement, diminish your chances of being heard, and negatively affect your health. Similarly, trying to mute or suppress your anger will also have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. The key is to harness your anger and channel it in a constructive way to provoke meaningful change. Join an anti-racism or other activist group. As the Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world have proved, there’s real power and influence when people come together and express their anger in a profound, meaningful way. Not everyone is supportive, of course, but they are all taking notice. Vote and encourage others in your community to do the same. Campaign for an issue or candidate important to you. Make your voice heard, whether it’s on a local or national level, at school, or in the workplace. Direct your anger into creative pursuits. Writing down your experiences and sharing them with others or making music, art, or films are great ways to constructively vent your anger, tell your story, and make your feelings heard. Creativity can help communicate even the most difficult thoughts and emotions and reach people who wouldn’t normally listen. Diffuse your anger with humor. When you bring humor to the fight for social justice, it doesn’t mean you’re not taking it seriously. Rather, finding humor in bleak situations can help to diffuse anger and pain, inspire hope, and reframe unpleasant situations so they seem less threatening. You don’t need to embark on a stand-up routine, but finding ways to laugh at the world we live in with friends and like-minded people can add joy to your life and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Allow yourself to feel hope—even gratitude When you’re struggling against racial injustice and oppression, it can seem that everything in life is negative. But even in the bleakest, most distressing times, it’s usually possible to find reasons to be optimistic, however small and seemingly insignificant. Allowing yourself to feel hope can make a huge difference to your mental health. And studies have shown that acknowledging and expressing gratitude can help improve symptoms of depression, boost your self-esteem, and even strengthen your immune system. Acknowledge even the smallest signs of change and draw hope from them. More white people do seem to be opening their eyes to the harsh inequalities that exist in our society. Some are even actively willing to educate themselves on the issues and support calls for change. Of course, society tends to evolve only slowly, but to change attitudes and policies it helps to believe that the small changes occurring today will eventually become the major changes we want to see tomorrow. Try to find something positive about each day, however small. The colors of fall leaves, a favorite song playing on the radio, a message from a friend, or an uplifting story in the newspaper. Being grateful for something in your life doesn’t mean denying the pain of racial inequality and injustice. And it doesn’t mean you’re simply trying to put a brave face on your problems. But by trying to find the good in even the worst days, you can help to boost the levels of serotonin and other feel-good chemicals in your brain, improving your mood and outlook. Write these moments down. It sounds corny, but making a note of the small things that bring you hope and gratitude—in a journal or on your phone, for example—can help remind you of the good that still exists in the world, improve your outlook, and boost your resilience. Take care of yourself Having to cope with the daily pain and stress of racial discrimination can be emotionally and physically exhausting. You may feel constantly on edge in a workplace that does nothing to address harassment or inequality, targeted as you walk or drive through white neighborhoods, or drained from trying to be a cheerleader for diversity. Feeling in a heightened state of stress and anxiety can lead to serious health problems, impact your immune and digestive systems, increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and lead to burnout. a state of mental and physical exhaustion. Since your body and mind are so closely linked, taking care of yourself is an important part of coping with racism, getting through times of overwhelming stress, and steeling yourself for the challenges to come. Exercise. Exercising regularly can ease stress, anxiety, and anger, give your spirits a lift, and boost your self-esteem. There’s no single exercise that's right for everyone. The key is to choose an activity you enjoy and stick with it. Make time in your day to go for a walk or run, for example, dance—on your own, with a loved one, or with your kids—lift weights, or hit a punching bag or pillow to release your frustration and burn off tension. Manage stress. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help relieve stress, calm your anxious mind, and bring your nervous system back into balance. An easy way to get started is by using one of apps for meditation on your device. Eat right. When you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed, it’s natural to turn to the comfort of takeout and convenience food. But while these foods are often tasty, they tend to be loaded with calories, sugar, and preservatives, and lacking in essential nutrients. Eating a healthier diet can make a huge difference to your mood, energy, and outlook. Even when so many of us are out of work or living on a tight budget, it’s still possible to find food that is both wholesome and affordable. Get enough sleep. When you’re working two jobs or long hours, taking care of a family, or enduring high levels of stress, scrimping on sleep may seem like the best solution. But not getting enough quality sleep at night can impact your mood, energy, and ability to handle stress. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to cope with the rigors of daily life. Find a “safe” place Everyone needs a safe place to retreat to each day—a place to relax, recharge, and let down your guard without feeling stressed, on edge, or a target for racism. For some people, that place is home. But if you live in a crime-ridden neighborhood or have a turbulent family life, home may not feel safe or a place you can totally relax, so you’ll need to look further afield. Many people find their safe place in a church, mosque, or other religious institution, a place where you can be with like-minded people who share your faith and values. Or you could try a community center, local library or recreational facility, after-school-program, or any place where you’re able to take a break from ongoing, relentless stress.    I wish you much luck with you managing what is a most challenging issue in our community at large!   In Kindness, Gaynor    
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

i can't win lately, how do i move forward even when i feel like the whole worlds against me

Hi Tia. It sounds like you have been feeling extremely frustrated, overwhelmed, and discouraged by having one negative event happen after another. It must feel as if the the universe seems to be going out of its way to make life more and more difficult for you. Having so many stressful incidents occur in a short period of time compounds feelings of powerlessness because it appears that you haven't had time to recover or "solve" one problem, before more keep coming until you feel like you are at the bottom of a huge pile. It then becomes so hard to even know where to start digging out because then anxiety, worry, feeling like a failure, etc. get added on to the pile. All of these feelings would be "normal" or "appropriate" and the solution is trying to get the feelings, individual problems, and solutions sorted out, clarified, and prioritized.  I am glad that you have reached out to ask your question because in doing so, you have actually taken the first step to "digging yourself out of the pile." So even in the confusion and being overwhelmed, you have chosen a starting point for yourself.  It is hard to advise you exactly where to begin with the problems, but I feel it would be a good start to begin with determining which needs are immediate or "very important", possibly getting the cars fixed or finding a job. Next would be to identify which are important, such as cutting down on drinking. Finally, maybe working on your self-talk or ways you may be thinking about yourself that would lead to low self-worth or anxious thoughts. Your feelings are very important and valid in this situation, though we need to keep them from overtaking our ability to make decisions and find solutions. For instance, it is appropriate to feel guilt about wrecking the cars, but if I dwell in that guilt too long, it becomes shame and destructive if I spend all of my time beating myself up instead of problem-solving. It's a balance between acknowledging and validating the feelings but not letting them take control of everything. This is definitely something that can be learned in counseling.  I know that smoking everyday is a concern, however this is a very difficult habit to quit, and even though it may not be a healthy coping tool, it is still a coping tool. The goal here is to try to reduce your stress, not increase it, which is why I would suggest leaving the smoking cessation until the end. I hope this information is helpful for you. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I actually deal with the stress in my life in healthy ways without it resurfacing repeatedly

Identifying what is creating stress in our lives, and why it is stressful, is the first step to changing it. Practicing self-care is an expression of self-love, and enables us to be more engaged in our relationships and more resilient to stress. Other tools that help over the long term are eating an appropriate diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising appropriate to our physical ability. In the short and immediate term, coping skills are what we need to use. When we are close to crisis point, such as being overwhelmed, distraction is an appropriate coping skills, as well as TIP, which stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Temperature means to do things like splashing cold water on your face, running warm or cold water over your wrists, squeezing an ice cube, taking a hot or cold shower, or something similar. Intense Exercise means to do some sort of quick and intense physical exercise that will get your heart rate up. Make sure that you take your physical abilities into consideration when determining what you do. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a form of meditation, where we sit or lay down comfortably and then we focus on each muscle group, starting at the hands and feet, and work on relaxing them. Meditation and mindfulness is another exercise that can help us organize our thoughts, regulate our emotions, and get to know ourselves better. Yoga can be a great form of meditation, and deep focused breathing is also useful. Do your best to take a step back and make a list of those things that are stressing you out. Then sort them into 3 columns, which are those that you have direct control over, those that you have some control over, and those that are outside of your control. With those that you have direct control over, coming up with a plan to manage them is what is necessary. For those that you have some control over, creating a plan to take care of your part, and being willing to let go of the parts that are outside of your control, are the steps necessary. For those that are outside of your control it is necessary to let go of the illusion of control over them, and instead focus on deciding how you will let those situations affect you. Developing a mantra or something similar can also help. My personal one is "this sucks, but it will be okay." Finally, being able to communicate your fears and needs to your partner will give you someone to lean on during this stressful time. Identifying other people in your life that you can turn to for support with the different areas that are stressing you out will also help. As a final note, taking even a minute each hour to stop and breathe can be remarkably rewarding and relaxing. If you do not take some time now to take care of yourself, your body will force you to take more time in the future when things come to a head. I hope this helps.
Answered on 01/21/2022