Stress Answers

How can I get my brother to go to therapy?

Dear Bbbb, I'm so glad you came to BetterHelp; once you are matched with a therapist you will be able to work together to prioritize and set realistic goals to help you process your emotions about the stress of this situation. You must feel so torn between love and distress. Unfortunately, we can’t force others to change or go to therapy, but you *can* change your behavior and outlook, which then can have effects on everyone else in your life.  I wanted to set some expectations for you so you know what therapy will be like. Depending on your subscription you will likely have one live session a week with your therapist (by video, phone, or live texting). In addition, you and your therapist can text back and forth through the week, you can attend unlimited free “Groupinars” about behavioral health topics, and you can use the journaling feature. It’s good to shop around for the right therapist based on their specialties. When you are matched with a therapist, make it clear what you are looking for. It will not hurt our feelings for you to try out several of us until you find the correct fit (there are literally 20,000 on this platform, so you have choices!). We just want what’s best for you. Think of it like remodeling a home. You may just want help painting and changing some fixtures or going after walls with a sledge hammer. You would certainly want different kinds of professionals for these tasks, and you would also want to learn their specialties before getting to work. For example, I specialize in anxiety disorders, grief, sleep improvement, and sexual functioning. I also have been successful with many other areas. However, if a client comes to me asking for help understanding their dreams, I would (kindly) suggest they pick another therapist since that is not my area of expertise. Here are considerations as you look into therapy and shop around. 1. CONSIDER WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH. As I mentioned above, there are lots of styles of therapy, and many different practice specialties. Here are some of the main areas that people usually want help with (but there are many more, of course. You may want to Google, “types of therapy.”) - Empathy (unconditional positive regard). Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us without judging. You may come from a family or friend group where this is hard to find, and a therapist can listen to you kindly and empathically. - Reality testing (helping you separate the logic from emotions). Sometimes we have difficulty understanding whether a situation warrants the kind of reaction we feel. For example, you may become enraged at poor customer service. A therapist can help you understand why you feel this way and how to deal with such situations. - Learning new patterns for thoughts (cognitions). Sometimes we fall into logical fallacies or thought distortions such as-or-nothing thinking and catastrophizing. These lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Your therapist can help you understand these distortions and what to do about them. - Understanding anxiety triggers. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be afraid of consistent things. Unfortunately, the more we avoid a fear, the stronger that fear gets (avoidance is like fuel for fear). As such, it is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you anxious. Is it a fear of being judged? A fear of failure? A fear of not being loved or admired? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced the fight or flight response. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- What was the triggering event? -- How long did it take to calm down?  Over time, your therapist will likely recommend that you also track “what was the automatic thought,” or the instant thought that just popped in to your mind that might have made you feel even worse (such as “everyone here is going to hate me.” Or “They all think I’m stupid.”) Your therapist can help you identify themes and come up with alternative cognitions or thoughts to battle these automatic thoughts. - Disrupt intense fear or the fight or flight response with deep breathing. Learning deep belly breathing (or “diaphragmatic breathing) is a great tool to add to effective stress management. Taking time to breathe deeply for a few minutes is a free and easy to learn method to take you out of the fight or flight zone and into a zone where you can think more clearly and not experience those side effects. You can Google “deep breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” to start learning a technique that really helps most people. You can find mobile apps to help (for example the Breathe2Relax or the Virtual Hope Box app – both are free and evidence-based) or watch videos online that can walk you through it. These are skills that not only help you now, but can assist you throughout your entire life (for example, dealing with road rage, poor customer service, annoying family). You can also disrupt the fight or flight response in the moment with just a minute or two of intense exercise (for example, push-ups, jumping jacks or walking up and down a flight of stairs). This helps use some of the adrenalin and glucose that are released into your blood stream when you have encountered a stressor and leaves you thinking a bit more clearly. - Accountability partner. Your therapist can help you set achievable and realistic goals and help keep you accountable for making progress. This can prevent you from making goals that are too large and unrealistic. Your therapist can also congratulate you on the small achievements that you may not want to share with others (for example, “Yay! You were able to go through the day only reading the news twice!”). - Helping you understand how your early life affects you now. In our early childhood we learn many things and have many experiences that lead to our behaviors as adults. Some therapists (especially those with psychodynamic backgrounds) can help you understand these effects. - Coping with grief, mourning and break-ups. Therapists can help you grieve and mourn losses such as deaths, break-ups, and other ways that you have lost people close to you. - Processing and working through trauma. Therapists can help you understand the symptoms of posttraumatic stress and help you learn ways to reduce these symptoms. - Learning ways to improve sleep, chronic pain, sexual functioning, and other quality-of-life factors. There are many evidence-based techniques that therapists can help you learn to improve your daily functioning in these areas. - Improving communication skills with partners, family, children, friends, or co-workers. As the saying goes, “love is never enough.” To help maintain healthy relationships, your therapist can help you learn effective and clear communication skills. 2. CONSIDER YOUR “STAGE OF CHANGE.” Sometimes we may have the need to change but not yet the motivation (like reducing substance use, quitting smoking, or other healthy behavior change). Depending on your stage of change, it may not be the right time for therapy. Here are the major stages of change. Consider where you are: - Precontemplation: This is the stage during which you may not even be aware of the issue. - Contemplation: This is when you are just starting to think about making change. - Preparation: This is when you get ready to change. This is when a therapist is MOST helpful. - Action: This is when we actually start making the change. Therapists are also very helpful here. - Maintenance: Maintaining the change can be difficult, and therapists are very helpful at this stage as well. I’m sending you hopes for quick healing and lifelong growth. Thank you so much for reaching out! Best regards, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Answered on 08/17/2022

Why does money continue to evade me? It has been evading me since 2012

Dear Drew, It's clear you have a lot going on. It can feel so empty to go through life without feeling that you are successful or even comfortable with yourself or the path you are on. I'm so glad you came to BetterHelp; once you are matched with a therapist you will be able to work together to figure out ways you can (1) improve your current progress and (2) make sure that the choices you are making will truly make *you* happy (not just your family). It can be very scary to think that you might be disappointing others, but this is your life and there are many, many potential paths to happiness. Sometimes we need to take a step back and reconsider what is truly most important.  I wanted to set some expectations for you so you know what therapy will be like. Depending on your subscription you will likely have one live session a week with your therapist (by video, phone, or live texting). In addition, you and your therapist can text back and forth through the week, you can attend “Groupinars” about behavioral health topics, and you can use the journaling feature. It’s good to shop around for the right therapist based on their specialties. When you are matched with a therapist, make it clear what you are looking for. It will not hurt our feelings for you to try out several of us until you find the correct fit (there are literally 20,000 on this platform, so you have choices!). We just want what’s best for you. Think of it like remodeling a home. You may just want help painting and changing some fixtures or going after walls with a sledge hammer. You would certainly want different kinds of professionals for these tasks, and you would also want to learn their specialties before getting to work. For example, I specialize in anxiety disorders, grief, sleep improvement, and sexual functioning. I also have been successful with many other areas. However, if a client comes to me asking for help understanding their dreams, I would (kindly) suggest they pick another therapist since that is not my area of expertise. Here are considerations as you look into therapy and shop around. 1. CONSIDER WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH. As I mentioned above, there are lots of styles of therapy, and many different practice specialties. Here are some of the main areas that people usually want help with (but there are many more, of course. You may want to Google, “types of therapy.”) - Empathy (unconditional positive regard). Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us without judging. You may come from a family or friend group where this is hard to find, and a therapist can listen to you kindly and empathically. - Reality testing (helping you separate the logic from emotions). Sometimes we have difficulty understanding whether a situation warrants the kind of reaction we feel. For example, you may become enraged at poor customer service. A therapist can help you understand why you feel this way and how to deal with such situations. - Learning new patterns for thoughts (cognitions). Sometimes we fall into logical fallacies or thought distortions such as-or-nothing thinking and catastrophizing. These lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Your therapist can help you understand these distortions and what to do about them. - Understanding anxiety triggers. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be afraid of consistent things. Unfortunately, the more we avoid a fear, the stronger that fear gets (avoidance is like fuel for fear). As such, it is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you anxious. Is it a fear of being judged? A fear of failure? A fear of not being loved or admired? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced the fight or flight response. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- What was the triggering event? -- How long did it take to calm down?  Over time, your therapist will likely recommend that you also track “what was the automatic thought,” or the instant thought that just popped in to your mind that might have made you feel even worse (such as “everyone here is going to hate me.” Or “They all think I’m stupid.”) Your therapist can help you identify themes and come up with alternative cognitions or thoughts to battle these automatic thoughts. - Disrupt intense fear or the fight or flight response with deep breathing. Learning deep belly breathing (or “diaphragmatic breathing) is a great tool to add to effective stress management. Taking time to breathe deeply for a few minutes is a free and easy to learn method to take you out of the fight or flight zone and into a zone where you can think more clearly and not experience those side effects. You can Google “deep breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” to start learning a technique that really helps most people. You can find mobile apps to help (for example the Breathe2Relax or the Virtual Hope Box app – both are free and evidence-based) or watch videos online that can walk you through it. These are skills that not only help you now, but can assist you throughout your entire life (for example, dealing with road rage, poor customer service, annoying family). You can also disrupt the fight or flight response in the moment with just a minute or two of intense exercise (for example, push-ups, jumping jacks or walking up and down a flight of stairs). This helps use some of the adrenalin and glucose that are released into your blood stream when you have encountered a stressor and leaves you thinking a bit more clearly. - Accountability partner. Your therapist can help you set achievable and realistic goals and help keep you accountable for making progress. This can prevent you from making goals that are too large and unrealistic. Your therapist can also congratulate you on the small achievements that you may not want to share with others (for example, “Yay! You were able to go through the day only reading the news twice!”). - Helping you understand how your early life affects you now. In our early childhood we learn many things and have many experiences that lead to our behaviors as adults. Some therapists (especially those with psychodynamic backgrounds) can help you understand these effects. - Coping with grief, mourning and break-ups. Therapists can help you grieve and mourn losses such as deaths, break-ups, and other ways that you have lost people close to you. - Processing and working through trauma. Therapists can help you understand the symptoms of posttraumatic stress and help you learn ways to reduce these symptoms. - Learning ways to improve sleep, chronic pain, sexual functioning, and other quality-of-life factors. There are many evidence-based techniques that therapists can help you learn to improve your daily functioning in these areas. - Improving communication skills with partners, family, children, friends, or co-workers. As the saying goes, “love is never enough.” To help maintain healthy relationships, your therapist can help you learn effective and clear communication skills. 2. CONSIDER YOUR “STAGE OF CHANGE.” Sometimes we may have the need to change but not yet the motivation (like reducing substance use, quitting smoking, or other healthy behavior change). Depending on your stage of change, it may not be the right time for therapy. Here are the major stages of change. Consider where you are: - Precontemplation: This is the stage during which you may not even be aware of the issue. - Contemplation: This is when you are just starting to think about making change. - Preparation: This is when you get ready to change. This is when a therapist is MOST helpful. - Action: This is when we actually start making the change. Therapists are also very helpful here. - Maintenance: Maintaining the change can be difficult, and therapists are very helpful at this stage as well. I’m sending you hopes for quick healing and lifelong growth. Thank you so much for reaching out! Best regards, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Answered on 07/25/2022

Do you have therapists specialising in ACT therapy?

Hi Poro, Thanks for your question and good for you for reaching out for help in a time of change and transition and with noticing the increase in stress and anxious thoughts and feelings. I am glad that you have found ACT work to be helpful in the past and want to continue with help and support from a therapist.  I believe there are likely more than one therapist on the platform that uses ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy)  as an approach. I responded to your question as I have had training in ACT therapy and resonate strongly with the approach. I don't consider myself an expert in this approach but rather a student of it... I have found that the processes in acceptance and commitment therapy and my practice approach are aligned quite well. No matter what the therapy approach, it is also my belief that much of the work is about relationships and goodness of fit between client and therapist.   There are many things I like about acceptance and commitment therapy such as Being able to see ourselves in relationship to our thoughts... As I like to say in ACT work... "seeing our thoughts... not being our thoughts" ...being able to change our relationship with our thoughts and feelings... giving space in order to discern what to do in a particular situation... asking questions about thoughts such as ... is it helpful? is it healthy? is it workable?  will this move me more toward the sort of person I want to be or away? I see ACT work as a blend of cultivating a set of mindful processes/ skills, learning to notice the movement of the mind rather than reacting or responding to the thoughts and feelings... being able to "hold them lightly not clutch them tightly" clarifying what matters (values) , and than creating habits that support what matters and taking action steps that help to move us in that direction.  The purpose of ACT is to be able to live a valued life. Developing more flexibility to hold our thoughts and emotions ab it more lightly and act on longer-term values rather than getting caught up in implude=es and reactivity to the thoughts and emotions that come up. Good luck in your search for a therapist. My door is open to you if you decide to give it a try with me.  Take good care and warm regards Dave
Answered on 07/28/2021

What should I do to cope with the high amount of self doubt and anxiety?

Hi Sm, First off, let me say that I'm sorry you are going through a rough patch with these thoughts and feelings of doubt and worry. It might help a little to know that you are not alone with these feelings and due in part to the Pandemic, even more people are dealing with this.  Let me start with a quote or saying sometimes attributed to Eleanor Rossevelt or to Master Oggway the fictional elderly tortoise who said... "The past is history..the future a mystery, the gift is now ..that's why they call it the present."  I refer to this in part due to you relating that you are experiencing the worry or uncertainty of the future.  Sometimes a good antidote to this is to ground yourself in the present moment through connecting to your sensory experiences... mindful meditation, awareness of sights, sounds, smells... allowing yourself to take a pause and a deep breath and anchor yourself in the here and now. Maybe a walk in nature paying attention to the beauty of the surroundings.  Also, contrary to the often dominant social messages that encourage us to look away from uncomfortable feelings, it can be very helpful to lean into them rather than away from them. To be able to acknowledge the presence of sadness, anger, worry and make room for them rather than try to avoid them. As is often been said... "what we resist ...persists"  It can also help to try to cultivate the practice of seeing our thoughts with distance. Being able to look "at " our thoughts, rather than "from" our thoughts... allow yourself to feel your feelings including uncomfortable ones such as worry about the future and choose the qualities of being and doing that matter to you and work to develop habits that support that values.  A very important practice to cultivate also is self-kindness and self-compassion. During times of distress and worry try to be kind to yourself rather than judge yourself. Develop a gratitude practice and remind yourself that in addition to having this feeling of uncertainty you have also worked hard to graduate.  We all have elements of self-doubt (imposter syndrome) and our own "not good enough story".  You might enjoy reading a book from a colleague of mine, Dr. Valerie Young, entitled, "The secret thoughts of successful women." (it's for men too) ...  I will end with this...  consider looking at lifeless as a problem to be solved and more like a process to be lived...  its not the destination ... it is the journey.  Be well and wishing you good health, safety, peace, ease, and belief in yourself as you move further along in your journey.  Warm regards Dave
Answered on 07/26/2021

Are there any counselers here who specifically focus on working with adults with autism?

Thank you for the question. I am very happy to hear you are advocating for what you need.There are therapists who work specifically with those dealing with Autism, and have a clearer understanding of what it is like so they don't have to ask as many questions. That being said, everyone is unique and Autism doesn't look the same for everyone experiencing it. So there will most likely still be some questions that accompany counseling. In addition, trying to understand what your life is like, not just because of Autism but because you are an expect in you and so helping your therapist understand what that burnout is like will help them to offer insights and skills you can try to manage and decrease that. If you have insight about a particular area of your life you feel the burn out in (work, relationships, financial, family, etc) it may also help to look at therapists who specialize in those aspects of life (career counseling, family counseling, life coach, etc).  In terms of picking a therapist, fill out your intake form thoroughly so that the referral team can place you with a therapist that will best meet your needs. Be clear about your expectations so that the therapist knows if they can offer what you need. It may be a trial and error process at first but I am confident you can find a therapist that you connect with who provides you the level of care you need. You also have the option to explore therapists on your own and request to be placed with a particular one. That may be your best bet in finding someone who you like, but again, be clear about your needs because if you choose them they may no feel they can best support you and you want to address that sooner than later.  Based on what you've shared, it sounds like you believe Autism directly correlates with your burnout, so it is important you find a therapist who does specialize in that population. Burnout happens to a lot of people and a therapist who doesn't specialize in Autism may still be helpful, but a believe a specialist will be able to offer the best feedback that will work for you. 
(MS, LMHC, RPT)
Answered on 07/18/2021

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

is there any way to get better help any cheaper.

Knowing that you want therapy and would benefit from it but are struggling with the cost is a terrible place to be. Therapy is a place where you can come and talk about the issues and struggles you are having in life and feel heard and understood. I believe in taking a positive approach to helping clients to problem solve the issues they are having in life.  Betterhelp offers a way for subscribers and therapists to meet by video conference, phone session or live text chat. I believe in and practice brief solution focused therapy which usually consists of twelve in person sessions. Most of my subscribers tell me that they feel they have significant progress and feel much better after just four live sessions of therapy.  A quick google search on betterhelp promotions showed me several different options offering various discounts and promotions. They seem to have promotions going on frequently. The pricing on betterhelp is already cheaper than many other therapy options both in person and online. There are several different types of payment plans and the longer term plan you choose the cheaper per live session the rate is. I firmly believe that one of the greatest benefits of the BetterHelp platform is the asynchronous messaging where therapist and subscribers can message each other back and fourth between live sessions.  While I am a believer that financial stressors are some of the toughest ones we face in our lives, anyone who has made significant progress in therapy would likely tell you that it was more than worth the monetary cost that they put into it. Another thing they might say is that there is no amount of money that would make them feel as good as therapy does.  I have had several people tell me over the course of my career that they wish that they had started therapy so much sooner. Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is this: How much is it costing you to NOT have therapy? The answer may not be something we can measure in monetary dollars, but neither are the results which can be priceless.  I would reach out to support at contact@betterhelp.com  and tell them that you are interested in getting therapy and to ask them if there are any ways in which you can get a better or discounted rate. 
(LPC, MHSP)
Answered on 06/12/2021

Will stress cause hair loss?

Everyone experiences stress on occasion. It’s a normal reaction to the demands of life that everyone encounters. While a small amount of stress can be positive and motivating, too much stress can interfere with your health and ability to function in a resourceful way. The brain is wired to detect threats and then to respond to them accordingly. This is our fight or flight system; designed to prepare us to detect a threat and then to respond by fighting, fleeing, fainting, or freezing in order to handle the threat. Once the threat has been abated, the body is meant to return to its pre-stress response state. But for some of us, this process of returning to normal is difficult because of constant stressors, lower resilience, or prior trauma. Stress can be linked with hair loss. Doctors believe three types of hair loss can be associated with high-stress levels. These are telogen effluvium, where stress is thought to force hair follicles into a resting phase where hair discontinues growing and may fall out during normal brushing or washing; trichotillomania, where an urge to pull hair from the body arises and leaves a person with less hair; and alopecia areata, wherein the immune system attacks hair follicles, which stress is thought to contribute to. Stress can become chronic, and can create health problems, relationship issues, and lower the overall quality of life. Stress management is a vital part of living a healthy life. Doctors and therapists may recommend several stress management activities including: Getting plenty of exercises Maintaining an adequate sleep schedule Spending time in activities you enjoy Creating and spending time with a social support system Practicing meditation, mindfulness, or breathing exercises to help the body’s stress system return to normal levels Participating in yoga, stretching, and other gentle exercises that are relaxing to the body If you notice sudden hair loss that is more than normal for you, talk with your primary care physician to rule out underlying health conditions that may be contributing, and to evaluate your level of stress. If you’re experiencing stress, create a stress management routine, or talk with a licensed therapist to begin a management plan for your stress.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Will stress cause diarrhea?

Stress is something everyone encounters at some point in time. In fact, it’s a normal response to situations we encounter, even daily. Stress can be helpful to us, but in a large dose or an ongoing situation, stress can cause negative responses in the body and hurt overall health. While stress doesn’t cause diarrhea in every person who experiences high or chronic stress, it can work for many people. Researchers believe that the “gut-brain” or enteric nervous system responds to the release of stress hormones in the body, triggered by the fight or flight response. These hormones have been found to cause slow motility in one part of the digestive system and movement in the large intestine, resulting in diarrhea. In other studies, stress has been shown to cause cramping in the intestines, which contributes to diarrhea. For those with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, diarrhea caused by stress may happen even more frequently than it does for people who experience stress and do not have IBS. Stress comes with an array of other physical symptoms, including: Changes in appetite Trouble sleeping Exhaustion and fatigue Impaired immunity causes you to become sick more often. If you’re experiencing diarrhea that you believe is caused by stress, it’s important to talk with your doctor. They will rule out any potential underlying health conditions and make recommendations about how to address stress-induced diarrhea. This may include using medications that soothe the spasms triggered by stress in the intestines, changes in diet, and talking with a therapist. Because stress can also contribute to other health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular health risks, incorporating a stress management program is important for overall health and well-being. Working with a therapist can help you create goals for improving stress, identify and address specific triggers, provide you with personalized recommendations for a stress management plan, and a safe place to process stressful events and situations you may encounter. If stress has become overwhelming and you are having thoughts of self-harm, episodes of diarrhea that occur with stress regularly or using substances to address stress in your life, visit your doctor as soon as possible. 
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

How stress affects the digestive system?

Stress is a normal psychological and physiological response to certain events and situations. The brain is designed to detect threats to protect us. Once a threat is detected, the brain responds by releasing hormones that cause the body to respond in a way that prepares it to fight, fly, faint, or freeze – a set of responses that can help face threats. For most people, once this system is triggered and the threat is abated, their nervous systems return to normal. For others, ongoing stressful situations, difficulty managing stress, or a history of trauma, can lead to the body becoming “stuck” in stress response mode or unable to return to a pre-stress level in a timely way. Over time, stress that isn’t managed can lead to health difficulties and reduce the quality of life. For those that experience stress, research confirms what they already know: the digestive system is impacted and responds to stress. Stress can cause intestinal cramps that lead to diarrhea. The “gut-brain” or the nervous system researchers believe operates within the gut responds to the release of stress hormones by slowing down the digestive system in some places – leaving food unprocessed in your body which can create nausea or stomachache and creating movement in other areas of the digestive system, which leads to diarrhea. People with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS are more prone to the digestive impacts of stress. Talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing digestive symptoms that you believe may be related to stress. Your trusted medical provider should evaluate anything out of the ordinary. If they believe stress is the culprit for your ongoing digestive issues, they may make some lifestyle recommendations or prescribe medication meant to reduce the body’s stress response or stop the cramping that may result from stress and lead to problems like diarrhea. Stress management practices are likely to be recommended and often include regular exercise, getting plenty of restful sleep, spending time in activities you enjoy, and participating in or learning relaxation techniques. Working with a therapist can be very helpful for learning coping skills to use with stress, processing stressful events, and having a supportive and helpful space to discuss stress and its triggers.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Can stress cause diarrhea?

Stress is our body’s normal psychological and physical response to the demands of life that we all face. Small amounts of stress can even be helpful to us at times. Unfortunately, many people are under constant demands that create high levels of stress or chronic stress resulting in uncomfortable and unhealthy physical symptoms. In some studies, doctors have monitored the digestive system to monitor its responses to stress. Results showed what most people with high-stress levels know – stress and stressful situations can cause intestinal cramps, which contribute to diarrhea. Researchers have also identified the “gut-brain,” or the nervous system that functions within the digestive system called the enteric nervous system. This system, just as the body’s other nervous system branches, responds to stress. The response of the enteric nervous system to the stress hormones released during the stress response cycle slows movement in the digestive tract. Still, it can also cause movement in the large intestine, which can contribute to stress-induced diarrhea. For those with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, research has shown that they may be more susceptible to stress and have a faster and more strong response to stress than someone without IBS, which means that those with the condition may experience more episodes of diarrhea. Stress has many physical symptoms, including changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, exhaustion, and impaired immune response. Long-term impacts of unmanaged stress may lead to serious health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular issues. If you’re experiencing unusual digestive symptoms or diarrhea, talk with your trusted medical provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions and discuss the potential impact stress may have on your symptoms. Stress management is an important part of healthy living. Your doctor or your therapist may recommend incorporating an active stress management routine into your life. This may include recommendations to get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, practice meditation or other relaxation techniques, and planning time to spend in activities you enjoy. Working with a therapist to manage stress can be very helpful. A safe place to discuss stressors and a fresh set of eyes on your stress triggers can help you cultivate new coping methods.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Can mindfulness be harmful?

Mindfulness, like anything else, can be harmful under certain conditions and for certain people. There is always too much of a good thing, even when it comes to practices meant to be helpful. While much of the research available for mindfulness shows its immense helpfulness to issues like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression, other studies demonstrate that it isn’t helpful for some. There is no such thing as a universally helpful practice or anyone therapy-related practice that is right for everyone. If a panacea for life’s stresses, anxiety, and other issues exist, rest assured everyone would know about it and be doing it. Humans are strongly motivated by feeling good. In fact, research shows that even with positive action, such as mindfulness, most positive benefits tend to follow a trajectory where ultimately their positive effects become negative. One way that mindfulness may take a negative turn is in the misunderstanding and misinformation about it. Popular media portrayals do paint it as a one size fits all fix for difficult and complex issues. Mindfulness may also be oversimplified. Mindfulness involves awareness and acceptance. While this sounds simple enough, it can be challenging for many people to avoid judgment, and judgment that occurs alongside examining or being mindful with experiences may worsen depression, anxiety, and emotional instability. Cultivating awareness without the ability to accept or without acceptance may cause more problems than it helps. Mindfulness may also exacerbate existing mental health problems, depending on the person, the mindfulness method being used, and the support a person has while building a mindfulness practice. Lower motivation may result from mindfulness in some instances. Decreased willingness to accept responsibility for wrongdoings or to accept accountability was found in one study on mindfulness. For most people, and in most cases, mindfulness is a helpful way to cultivate wellbeing and improve overall wellness, but nothing is flawless. Mindfulness should not be approached lightly or without proper research or guidance. If you are interested in beginning or trying mindfulness practice, talk with a therapist trained in mindfulness, find a legitimate mindfulness teacher or course, and approach it while also monitoring how you’re feeling.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Are childhood tics common?

Tics are defined as fast, repetitive muscle movements that can result in sudden body movements or sounds.  They are uncontrollable because they are involuntary and may cause embarrassment to the person experiencing them.  Some examples of tics include frequent eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, sniffling, uncontrolled spoken words, or constant throat clearing.  People have reported they feel an urge to engage in this body movement, and once it is complete, they feel a release of tension or stress once it has happened.  Some have reported they can control their tics for short periods of time. However, the tics typically return. Childhood tics are fairly common and typically appear around the age of five and up to the age of ten.  Most of the time, they are not serious and either improve or disappear as the child ages.  Often, the tic disappears within a year or less.  It is noted that one in five children experience tics during their school-age years.   It is very infrequently that tics will start when a person is an adult.  It is not known what causes tics and why they occur.  Doctors believe there are chemical changes in the brain with the release of dopamine and serotonin and that it impacts different parts of the brain.  Parents often ask how tics should be managed, and the best advice that has been given is to ignore thetic.  When the person or child has attention brought to their tic, they often experience increased anxiety.  The increase in anxiety can actually make the tics worse, which then causes more anxiety, and a cycle begins. The best way to address tics for children is to help them learn how to relax and reduce their own stress.  This can be done in several ways, it can be done through teaching them breathing techniques, teaching them to focus on a favorite memory to help reduce the anxiety, or it can be done by engaging them in activities they also enjoy to help alleviate and reduce their anxiety and stress.  In addition, children may have lowered self-esteem and self-confidence due to the tic.  It is important to support the child and reassure them.
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 05/17/2021

What body language shows lying?

Body language can communicate a variety of things to people.  Sometimes we might intentionally communicate something with our body language, and then sometimes, we will unintentionally communicate something that we may not want to.  The latter can be true sometimes when we are lying because we typically do not want someone to know that we are lying.  One common thing that will happen when someone is lying is that they will not maintain eye contact.  Making eye contact can sometimes make someone feel more seen, so if they are lying, they will sometimes naturally not make eye contact in hopes of hiding their lie from someone.  Some people are just not good and/or comfortable with eye contact, so it is not always the case that someone is lying, but it can be a common type of body language that shows someone is lying.  Another type of body language that can communicate that someone is lying is fidgeting and/or shifting around a lot.  Lying is closely related to stress in the body, and that stress can cause the body to shift and fidget more.  Fidgeting can look like shaky hands, shaking one’s feet, fingers fidgeting around, picking at one’s fingernails, among other actions.  Shifting more looks like moving around in one’s chair when sitting or pacing when standing, among other actions.  This type of nervous energy could be that someone is uncomfortable for various reasons, including because they are lying.  The nervousness in the body when someone is lying can also lead them to sweat, so that is also something to watch out for. Someone that is lying is more likely to show avoidant types of body language to those around them.  Again, lying makes the body uncomfortable for most people because of the anxiety involved in it, and so some people will avoid the conflict. Body language that communicates avoidance of conflict could be leaving a room, a closed-off stance to someone, among other things.       While someone could have other reasons for showing that avoidant body language, it is something to be suspicious of. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/14/2021

What to Do When Stress at Work is Too Much?

Recognize When It’s Too Much For some people, even recognizing that they are working too many hours or experiencing too much stress from work can be a challenge. Some of us are taught that being constantly stressed out is normal and that if we are not feeling overwhelmed, we are lazy. We also may stay at a job for so long that we feel stuck there, that we would be unwanted elsewhere, or that we would be letting our coworkers or customers down if we were not extremely stressed out. Some questions to ask yourself are:  Is my stress from work interfering with my other life priorities? Is my stress from work preventing me from enjoying the time that I do not spend at work? Does my work stress affect my physical health, mental health, sleep, relationships, or self-esteem? Do I tell myself that my stress from work will reduce soon, only to find that it never does? Communicate Once we recognize that our work stress is excessive, we need to communicate how we feel. Letting our support network know that we are experiencing significant stress, and asking for their support, is crucial. However, some people become afraid to let their employer know that they are experiencing excessive stress, telling themselves that they will be seen as an inadequate employee or be seen as a complainer. However, when we do not let others know that we are stressed, it is easy to build resentment and assume that others know how we are feeling. Practice Self-Care We all need balance. When many people hear that they should practice self-care, they assume that they do not have enough time. Seldom not just mean getting a massage or going on vacation—it can also be talking on the phone with a friend, going for a walk, spending time in nature, praying, eating healthy foods, and getting enough sleep.   Set Boundaries One way we can practice self-care is by setting boundaries. If we are taking on too much at work and the stress is regularly harming the quality of our lives, we need to determine what we are willing to do and what is too much. This may be letting an employer know that we need to leave work on time or have enough time to take on an extra task. We need to evaluate whether a coworker may be taking advantage of our willingness to help out. For those of us who have difficulty setting boundaries, therapy can help us practice being assertive and help us to evaluate our needs. Our career is only one part of our lives, and by setting boundaries, we can reclaim our mental health and create a better work-life balance.
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 05/12/2021

Why Stress is Bad?

Some level of stress is normal. We are designed to use stress as a means to react to life-threatening situations, and our sympathetic nervous system helps our body react to dangerous situations by increasing our heart rate, increasing the rate at which we breathe, and providing adrenaline and the energy to react. However, when stress becomes chronic and poorly managed, it can significantly impact both our physical and mental health. Stress And Our Physical Health You have probably heard that excessive chronic stress is linked to certain types of cancers and to high blood pressure. However, stress also can cause our muscles to feel tight, leading to pain. It can alter our immune system, leading us to get sick more easily. Stress can additionally affect the condition of our hair and skin. Excessive stress can also result in gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation, and it is common for people to undergo tests to determine if they are experiencing a condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease only to find that by changing their lifestyle to reduce stress, the symptoms reduce. Perhaps one of the most significant ways that stress affects our physical health is when the stress contributes to unhealthy behaviors to try to cope with the stress. This can include overeating or eating food items that are particularly unhealthy, abusing substances, or neglecting hygiene or exercise due to failure to make time for these activities. Stress And Our Mental Health When stress becomes excessive and chronic, it can also affect our overall mental health. For example, a person may find less joy in p, previously enjoyable activities a feature of Major Depressive Disorder).  The person may feel anxious often, avoiding social situations, which only further threatens the person’s mental health. If not participating in self-care activities, the individual may regularly feel on edge, and again, as this affects the person’s relationships, his or her mental health can likewise be compromised. When stress impacts sleep, this insomnia can result in both mental and physical health problems. Conclusion Therapy can help give clients tools to manage stress. Coping skills and mindfulness activities can be effective. Additionally, setting boundaries and changing thinking patterns associated with obligations and success can help a client reduce stress and find a more satisfying life.
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 05/12/2021

What does stress do to your brain?

Stress gets lots of attention for having negative impacts on your health. It’s been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, can cause headaches, stomach problems, and more. Less known may be the impacts of stress on the brain. In studies, scientists have noted that stress can impact the brain’s structure, memory, and memory recall and increase the likelihood of developing a mental illness like depression or anxiety. Stress can be a perfectly normal response to situations that we encounter throughout life. Stress before an important test or ahead of a medical appointment can be normal. The brain and body have the ability to down-regulate that stress response, and in most people, the body and brain return to their pre-stress levels. For some people, regulating after a stressful event can be challenging. Chronic or ongoing stress can have lasting impacts on the brain, creating vulnerability to developing mental illness. The brain’s structure can be affected by stress. Stress can cause changes to both white and gray matter in the brain, contributing to other mental health issues. Some research indicates that exposure to even a single stressful event can kill newly formed neurons in the brain. While existing neurons may be unaffected by stress, new ones can die from certain kinds of exposure to stress. Stress can influence memory. Ongoing stress can affect the ability to recall information from the environment and how we view spatial relationships. Short-term memory is also affected by exposure to stress. If you’ve ever tried to recall the details of a very stressful situation, you probably are aware that remembering the full details of the event can feel difficult. Good stress, also called eustress, can arise from positive situations. For example, you may experience stress before receiving your high school diploma or ahead of a first date. These situations are positive, and the stress response is positive stress. Positive stress hasn’t been shown to have the negative impacts of other forms of stress. Stress can be helpful; it can provide us with the energy needed to address a serious situation. If you feel that your stress interferes with your ability to navigate daily tasks, talk with your doctor or a licensed mental health counselor. 
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/06/2021

How stress impacts the body?

Your body’s stress response is a fantastic built-in device that helps you navigate stressful situations—the response kicks off when the brain and mind detect a threat or danger. In dangerous situations, this response can literally save your life. However, this response can sometimes be set off in situations that don’t necessarily require the amount of energy or full fight or flight response. We may struggle to down-regulate the fight or flight response in some circumstances, and stress can be long-lasting or become chronic. Stress that interferes with the ability to function in relationships, at work, or in school is stress that should be addressed. Chronic stress can affect overall health. Some of its symptoms may include: Anxiety Depression Irritability Headache Sleep difficulties Stress can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol abuse, drug use, social withdrawal, or eating unhealthily, leading to health conditions or complications of existing health conditions. Stress can also affect the respiratory system. The stress response cycle causes breath to come faster, and if there is an underlying issue like asthma, stress can cause that condition to worsen or create an acute issue. Stress causes a temporary spike in blood pressure, which makes your heart work harder. When stress becomes chronic, and the spikes in blood pressure come more frequently. As a result, cardiovascular health risks can increase. These may include an increased risk for stroke or heart attack. Stress can even lead to issues with blood sugar, including diabetes. During times of stress, the liver produces additional glucose to provide you with a surge of energy. This may happen so often with chronic stress that your body is negatively affected by this process, resulting in type 2 diabetes. The digestive system can also be negatively affected by stress. The risk of developing heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers can all be increased by the acid created by the stomach as a response to stress. Sexual health may also be impacted by stress and chronic stress. Testosterone levels drop due to chronic stress, which makes sex for men challenging. Stress can cause heavier, irregular, and more painful periods for women. The immune system is affected because the stress response is triggered frequently; constant exposure to stress hormones can lower the immune system’s response to potential illnesses. If you feel that stress you’re experiencing may be contributing to health issues, talk with your trusted medical provider, or reach out to a licensed mental health counselor.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/06/2021

How stress affects the brain?

Stress is a normal reaction to situations that most people face at different points of life. Stress is even a healthy part of a normal day. The stress of a first date, a public speaking engagement, the daily stress of work or school obligations are all normal parts of life. Stress may also be derived from relationship issues or financial ones. Stress is ultimately the response we have toward perceived threats. The mind and body respond to stress by initiating the fight or flight stress response cycle to meet the challenge at hand. For most people, once the threat subsides, the cycle completes, and the body and mind return to their pre-stress state. For others, there may be difficulty in returning to the state before the presence of stress. This may indicate problematic stress or anxiety. The cardiovascular issues, headaches, stomachaches, and other issues related to anxiety are well known. Many people are unaware of the impacts of stress on the brain. Researchers have found that stress can have long-lasting impacts on the brain, contributing to a vulnerability to developing mental illnesses. The structure of the brain can be changed by stress. White and gray matter are both affected by stress. Neurons in the brain may be killed by stress. Researchers found that some kinds of stressful events can kill newly formed neurons in the brain's hippocampus. Traumatic stress can cause the amygdala to become larger and the prefrontal cortex to become smaller. The amygdala is responsible for the stress response cycle. A larger one may be associated with a heightened stress response, while the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for helping to down-regulate the stress response, shrinks and may result in a lower ability to regulate stress. Stress can impact memory as well. Chronic stress has been found to hurt the ability to recall information in the environment and impact short-term memory issues. It’s important to note that positive stress – like accepting a new job that you want is still stress, but positive stress or eustress doesn’t have these negative impacts on the brain. If you’re experiencing difficulty managing stress, talk with your doctor or licensed mental health professional.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/06/2021

Can stress cause high blood pressure?

Stressful situations cause your blood pressure to increase temporarily, as a normal part of the fight or flight stress response triggered when our brains and minds perceive a threat or danger. While researchers are still out whether or not these temporary spikes in blood pressure caused by stress can cause long-term high blood pressure, most feel that these temporary spikes can be dangerous if stress becomes chronic and poorly managed. If you have repeated and frequent stress responses, there is a potential for cardiovascular health issues, particularly if an underlying cardiovascular health issue is already present. Managing stress is an important part of maintaining overall health and wellness. Sometimes people respond to stress with unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, drug use, alcohol use, or eating poorly. Reacting to stress in this way may contribute to the potential risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Ongoing or chronic stress can often be a facet of anxiety, depression, and social isolation. These issues are also related to cardiovascular health problems, including high blood pressure. However, the risk comes from the hormones produced under stress rather than the conditions themselves. Managing stress is an important part of overall wellness. This can include: Incorporating exercise into your weekly routine Utilizing relaxation skills like mindfulness, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation Practicing yoga Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule Setting healthy boundaries with your time that allows you to spend time doing things you enjoy Spending time in activities that you enjoy and hobbies that are of interest to you Engaging in supportive and healthy friendships and relationships with friends and family Experiment with stress management techniques and consider working with a counselor to home in on the sources of stress, get help reframing and rethinking stressful situations, support in setting boundaries, and specific techniques to help you address and manage stress in your life. If you feel that your stress has become difficult to manage or interfere with your ability to function in your daily life, talk with your doctor or licensed mental health professional.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/06/2021