Resilience Answers

I work 6 days a week and need help and methods to decompress.

Thank you for your question. Work-life balance can be tricky, especially if you are working a lot of overtime hours. That can making scheduling in-person counseling appointments challenging. One aspect of live appointments at BetterHelp – they can be scheduled for a 30-minute session. So, if you cannot spare a 45-minute block of time, check with your counselor about a 30-minute block. That may be more manageable for your time management. Another feature of BetterHelp is groupinars. These are group webinars covering a variety of topics. When you register for one and are not able to attend it “live”, you will be emailed a link to the recording so you can watch it/listen to it when you have a chance (within a 1-week time period I believe). This way, you can still receive some benefits of a psychology-related webinar at a more convenient time for your schedule. At the time that I wrote this reply to your question, there is a Self-Care 101 and a Sleep groupinar offered – those topics seem to closely relate to your question/concern about being overly stressed. Let me suggest some ideas to decompress and manage your stress. First, getting adequate sleep can be very helpful as waking up refreshed can provide you with energy for your day. Establish a set bedtime each day (weekends too) so your mind knows when it should start slowing down. Using a routine each evening before bed can help too. Turn off electronic devices at least 30-minutes before turning in and avoid the temptation to watch TV in bed. The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with melatonin production (which helps you sleep). Writing down notes from the day, so you can release them from your mind, may help (especially if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing about what you need to do the next day). Meditation and/or prayer can help relax your mind and destress your body, as can some light stretching. A bath or shower before sleeping can also relax your body and signal your mind that it’s sleep time. Just like establishing an evening routine, a morning routine can help you face the day in a good mood. Stretching when you awake and meditating or praying can help set an intention and tone for your day. Deep breaths and saying an intention for the day can help by starting the day on a positive note. A healthy breakfast is needed to fuel your mind and body.  During the day, eat healthy foods – avoid sugar, processed foods, etc. Aim for whole, nutritious foods to give your body and mind the nutrition it needs. Exercise, if you have time (even a few minutes) can help your heart and blood circulation. When stressed, take a minute or two to take some deep breaths – breathe from your belly. Also helpful during stressful times are affirmations and positive statements (reframe the stressful event into an opportunity) – ex: instead of: I can’t meet this deadline – reframe to: I can do this; I know how to prioritize my day and focus my energy. I can ask ___ for help, if needed. Reframing (switching perspectives) can help you focus on what you CAN do and away from what you cannot do. This helps you focus on solutions (and not on problems). Then, lean on your past successful healthy coping skills – what has worked for you in the past to manage your stress? Make sure to use those healthy coping skills, as well as to adapt them to work in your current situation. For instance, if you used to run 5 miles each day but don’t have the time now, adapt to fit in a 1-mile run – or set a time limit for what you CAN do (perhaps a 10-minute run in the morning is all you can fit in – you’ll still be fitting in some exercise). And, finally, on your day off, aim to do at least 1 thing that you find enjoyable. Engaging in hobbies is part of your overall self-care. I hope those ideas help! I wish you well as you manage your stress. In wellness, Dr. Sally Gill, LMFT
(PhD, MS, LMFT, C.C.T.S.I.)
Answered on 07/07/2021

Medicaid insurance?

Thanks so much for your note. I'm sorry to hear that you had such trouble finding the right counselor. Unfortunately, BetterHelp is private pay only; however, there is a place in the registration process where you can indicate if money is a barrier to services for you. There are indeed, scholarships available that mek counseling through BetterHelp more affordable. Yes. Yes. There is no question that virtual learning for children and families is very challenging. You are not alone. You can certainly join BetterHelp for a limited time, to get support related specifically to supporting your daughter. For you, it might be more helpful to have a longer engagement with a counselor. Have you connected with your family doctor, or even your daughter's pediatrician. They often have insight in to local supports, therapists or therapeutic or socal groups that are free or very low-cost. Another thought - is there a Community Health Center in your community. They often have excellent ressources to support mental health, and for certain take medicaid and/or offer services on a sliding scale.  I have put together some additional suggestions for you. Take them. Try them. Keep the ones you like: 1. Practice positive self-talk, or self-affirmation (occasionally called a mantra): There is a lot of research to support positive the practice of saying good things to ourselves - practicing positive self-talk; "Researchers have long marveled at the almost-magical power of self-affirmation ....(and) people with bad health habits become more amenable to shaping up. The simple act of focusing on the sources of meaning and purpose in our lives is incredibly effective at lowering defenses and changing behavior" (Falk & O'Donnell, 2015). An example of positive self-talk is, "I am a kind person" or "I deserve joy and happiness" or "I am courageous". You get the idea. At the start, it might feel strange to begin to say these types of words to yourself, but it will become less uncomfortable as you make the practice of positive self-talk your own.  2. Honor your (difficult) emotions and set boundaries for your sadness, worry, and anxious feelings: For example, set aside specific time to worry, freak out or feel anxious - even set a timer, say 15 minutes - devote time to cry, stomp around your room, or write angrily in a journal - you get the idea; Then, when the timer goes off - that is the signal to end the in-the-moment worry/anxiety/self-doubt and begin something that brings you pleasure . This can be a very small thing (ie. make a cup of tea, watch a favorite TV show, take a walk, or listen to music that makes you feel joy or uplifted.). 3. Talk with supportive family/friends/colleagues: DO seek out those supportive individuals who can listen to you and validate your concerns, and perhaps even help you problem-solve. It might be someone you've never reached out to before, for example and elderly neighbor, or long-lost friend, school-mate or colleague. Remember, they may benefit from your outreach, too. These are tough times. 4. Practice self-compassion/self-kindness (This is different from developing and practicing self-talk.): Notice, write down and reflect on all the components of your life that are are going well, even if very minor - For example, I can bake really good cookies, or my fish or plants need me and and I take good care of them, or nothing I've done today has been hurtful towards someone else or I've worked hard to be kind to others this week....etc. 5. Access technology - smartly: Check out apps to help ease emotional distress. For example, CALM App or HeadSpace App. Also, a research-based website that has important information about mental health and mental wellness is verywellmind.com.  Be mindful when looking online for information about mental health (or anything else, for that matter) by confirming that the information is peer-reviewed, appropriately cited and is relatively current. 6. Get Organized: Make sure you have some basic organizing tools in your home. For example, it is handy to keep work due, classes, work owed, assignments and appointments in one place, either on an old-fashioned wall or desk calendar or on an iphone/ipad, etc. It takes time to gete used to inputting information, but don't give up. It gets easier. Also, using and alarm clock (or phone alarm) to help you set times to work and time to play. There is an interesting and research-based method of helping you with time management called The Pomodoro Method, just Google it. 6. Reach out: Though I obviously do not know where you are - could be anywhere in the world - please remember that there are many, many groups (social groups, religious groups, groups through local church, libraries or charity organizations, crisis lines and support...poke around and do some research and you you may be surprised at the available services and supports available for free to help bring people together in these very difficult and trying times!) for people to join, and all of them - for obvious reasons - are currently online. Additionally, you can always access the National Crisis Hotline (aka. Suicide Prevention Hotline) at  1 800 273-8255 or by text:741741. 7. Connect with medical professionals: Please take time to visit with your medical doctor and/or mental health provider to share authentically how you are feeling and to review health and wellness goals. Additionally, practice good sleep hygiene, limit social media, eat healthy foods and (of course) get a reasonable amount of exercise. Finally, limit alcohol (if applicable) consumption, as well. If you'd like to start therapy with BetterHelp, I know that their staff will help connect with you a great therapist. Unfortunately, at this time my caseload is full. Take care. Amanda  
(LICSW, MSW, Lic_School_Counselor)
Answered on 03/14/2021