Stress Answers

How do I deal with my overthinking?

Thank you for reaching out for support and for submitting your question. I am very sorry that you are experiencing challenges and difficulties in your life right now. You mention overthinking is a big concern for you. Thinking is something all of us do. And it can be a good thing for us to engage in. It can be vitally necessary in many instances. In fact, there are many times in our life when taking the time to be thoughtful, to think more than we might normally, helps us tremendously and is vitally important.But overthinking? That most definitely can become problematic and can indeed get in our way. It can keep us stuck in place. It can stop you from taking action and keep you from getting things done. It can wreak quite a bit of havoc on your emotions and bring down your overall mood. It can impair your relationships, both personal and professional. It can make you feel overwhelmed and stress you out. It can also lead to muscle and body aches, tension, and overall general chronic pain in the body. Some may experience headaches or digestive issues because of it. In chronic, long-term cases there can be issues with premature aging, a compromised immune system, heart disease and other conditions. It really can do quite a number on your emotional and physical health if left unchecked. So it is vital to notice this pattern and cut it off. Overthinking makes thinking productively and clearly much, much harder – if not nearly impossible. Maybe you worry a lot about the future and what may or may not come to pass. Often, this means making predictions, usually catastrophic ones, which quite likely will never happen. Or you get trapped ruminating and dwelling over the past. Perhaps you do both.Overthinking can be a symptom of anxiety, stress, or depression. It can absolutely be a challenging habit to break. But you can get reduce your overthinking tendencies and things can certainly improve. Practice will be helpful as you won’t change this pattern right away. Practice AND patience will be key.Being aware that you have a tendency towards overthinking is actually a really great place to be and is a good first step. After all, you cannot change something you don’t acknowledge. Before we can change a habit we need to be aware it even exists. Catching yourself when you get caught up with overthinking is a moment of awareness that will help facilitate change.Often, our overthinking can be deeply rooted in fear. We begin getting very focused in on all the many things which could go wrong. Our imagination can truly get the best of us. And when that occurs we find that we get stuck. We can’t seem to take action. We get paralyzed by the endless loop of thoughts. We get frozen in place.The next time you notice that loop of overthinking settling in over you, consciously hit the pause button. Notice if you are thinking about all that could go wrong. Are you having lots of negative worries flooding in? Take that moment to switch over to using your powers of thinking to come up with all that could go right and all the positives. Find some alternatives. Switch gears, so to speak.One option is to give yourself some scheduled worry and thinking time. Set a boundary around it. During the time you can think and mull and stew and ruminate all you’d like. You are not going to overthink and worry all day non-stop. Pick maybe 20 minutes where you will sit and process things. Get some pen and paper. Or sit at your computer. List out all the things which need to be thought about. Write about them. What are they? How do they make you feel? What can you do about them? What is out of your control? Get it all out and when your time is up then it’s time to move on. It can be a good idea to plan an enjoyable, relaxing activity after your get-out-your-thoughts session. If you begin to overthink during your day outside your scheduled time, just remind yourself to get back on the task at hand and make a note if need be that you will get to think about things later.Try to challenge the negative thoughts you have. We all have them. Many are untrue. So check in and see how many of yours could be false. Consider the thought. Ask – is that true? How do you know it’s true? What is the evidence for and against it? What else could be true? Try your best to take a more balanced approach.Feeling unworthy and disappointed in ourselves is a something many others find themselves struggling with. It just simply means you’re human. We all experience it at some point and to varying degrees. Again, you’re not alone in this. And it’s a normal thing to have happen. However, it sometimes can become too much to manage and it becomes overwhelming. That sounds like what is happening for you. If it’s impeding your ability to function well in your daily life, causing emotional upset, holding you back, and causing difficulties in relationships, there is much you can do to begin to feel better. You do not need to continue to live in such a way.Learning to be kinder to yourself and working on increasing self-compassion can be helpful. As can practicing gratitude – savoring what you have and who you truly are. You can begin with finding something small to be grateful for. Begin paying more attention to what is good – or even what is just okay.A lack of happiness oftentimes can be the result of us not having a clear sense of meaning and purpose. Working on this will require a bit more time and effort. You’ll want to become more aware of your values and passions. You might want to consider your current qualities versus which ones you may want to develop further. All of this can come about from self-reflection and asking lots of questions. You can do this alone or working with a therapist can be helpful. It sounds like this has all become a heavy burden for you. And it doesn’t have to continue to be this way. None of these feelings have to continue to control you or get in the way of you leading a joy filled, productive life. Working with a mental health therapist to explore what led you to this place is something worth considering. Together with your therapist, you can set goals and eventually find yourself digging out of what can feel like a dark hole you’ve been stuck in. This is something you can make great progress with. I encourage you to seek support so that these feelings don’t continue to limit and/or overwhelm you.
Answered on 02/07/2023

What does one do when they feel: Lost Guilty Shame Fell off No purpose?

I will start by saying thank you for your question and writing about your struggle with feeling lost, guilt, shame, falling off and lack of purpose. I think there is no one way to resolve these issues and that each person may handle dealing with these things differently, but I definitely think there are ways to suggest you could deal with these feelings and then you can make it your own. The first thing that stands out to me as I read your question is I would tend to put feeling lost and not having a purpose together a bit. I think if you are able to find a sense of purpose then maybe you would feel a better sense of direction or maybe a sense of grounding versus a feeling of being lost. As far as finding purpose- I think about a couple of things: the first is purpose can come from something you do. So, what are the things that you do? How do you spend your time? Depending on the answer to this question, I would then encourage you to spend time doing things that make you feel good or give you a sense of satisfaction. I would encourage you to think about the things you have done in your life, and then the things that you might want to do. If you are in a place of not knowing what you want to do with your time and energy, that is okay. Sometimes it takes time to figure this out. In the meantime, again how can we fill your time in a way that makes you feel good, accomplished or energized.  Another good way to gain a sense of purpose is to find a way to help. So whether that be considering your role in your family or your relationships and maybe thinking of ways you can contribute. Another way to help could be to volunteer or get involved in something where you are giving back in some way. This could even be something as simple as cleaning out your closet and donating the items to a homeless shelter or clothing donation program. Last thought on gaining a sense of purpose is I would wonder if there has been any point or time that you have felt a sense of purpose or when you did not feel lost. If the answer to this is yes, then I would wonder what was happening at that time, what made you feel purposeful, grounded or having a good sense of direction. And then once you can identify this, then maybe trying to think of ways you can apply that to your current life situation.  An idea to address "falling off" - The first word that comes to mind for me would be reconnect. The next would be "pick back up". So, if you have fallen off from friends/family, reconnect. Initiate a conversation. Send a text message. Sometimes people just like to hear from you and it doesn't have to be a big conversation, something simple like "thinking of you and hope you are well" can go a long way. Pick back up, if you have fallen off of whatever goals you were trying to pursue, whatever habits you are trying to maintain, pick it back up. Getting started back again is often the hardest part. Remember it takes 21 days to form a habit so it may take a while to get in a routine. Additionally, I think it is important to keep the expectations realistic. If we set our goals to an unrealistic height then we can create unrealistic pressures for ourselves and this then creates negative thoughts that are not entirely warranted. Start small, one step at a time. Small changes accumulate into big changes.  And lastly, guilt and shame. These are tough ones. Guilt is tough and shame is tougher. So the first big thing I recommend to get through these is to acknowledge whatever is causing you these feelings, verbally if possible. If you are feeling guilty about something you have done the first step to relieving that feeling is "admission of wrong-doing". We can feel shame for other reasons and we may feel shame about something that happened to us, versus something we have done but I would still say first step is to vocalize what you are feeling ashamed about and talking to someone you trust to listen to you. If you are uncomfortable with that, second best option would be to externalize those feelings in other ways such as writing them down. Oftentimes this leads to the second step of "receiving grace and acceptance". So for example, I might feel ashamed about something as a first time mom and then I talk to one of my friends who is also a mom and realize what I am going through is very normal and common. Shame can be lifted through vulnerability which requires some level of risk but the reward is greater. Again being vulnerable and real is going to get you further than trying to fight the shame away. Address the person. Address the situation. Address the insecurities. Whatever it is. And then the third step to relieve these things is "repentance". Essentially this means taking action to do better or focusing energy on doing better as a way to make up for past wrongs. This has a healing power to it that can be very transformative in mind, heart and behavior.  I hope this helps and good luck. 
Answered on 02/06/2023

How do you handle stress?

Stress can have a real impact on our emotional and physical well-being, and can quickly feel quite overwhelming.  It can come in many different forms, and can affect all of us in different ways - and often we can become so good at keeping it to ourselves that no one sees how much stress we're holding until it all comes out in a kind of a rush.  This can feel uncontrollable and there are a few different approaches we can apply to help us feel more in control, but also to help us slow down how heavy those stress levels become in the first place.  I wonder if you notice how your stress affects you, and how you know when you're feeling stressed out?  Do you feel any physiological changes like having difficulty in sleeping or communicating with your daughter or boyfriend?  Or find your eating habits have become altered in any way?  Or you might be aware that you feel like other emotions like anger are extra close to the surface, or you might be more tearful.  These physical and emotional behaviors are trying to tell you something, and they need to be listened to - that's where the therapeutic space can be really helpful, in giving you the room to breathe, and to listen. One way to deal with stress is to try and identify the triggers for it; in your case, you've noticed that how your daughter and your boyfriend behave brings up a lot of stress for you.  Therapy could help you to detangle what part of this situation the stress is being triggered in response to - the feeling that they are holding secrets or maybe that feeling of exclusion that sounds as if it could be there? - and could help you to find the best way to rationalize and explore this stress.  Once triggers are identified it makes it so much easier to avoid them, or stop them from having such an impact on us.  It sounds as if this trigger in particular is bringing a lot of stuff up for you, and a safe therapeutic space could allow you a safe way to look at it all.  The stress you're describing here sounds as if while it comes from the trigger you've mentioned, it does connect with other things too, such as how you see yourself in your relationships, and it might be helpful for any therapy you choose to engage in to explore this too.   A second way to manage stress is to find something that can take your mind away from it - so taking a step back, taking a breath and then maybe doing an activity that doesn't leave any room in our brain for that stress to get ahold of us...listening to music, a hobby you might enjoy, reading a book, going for a walk - the list can really go on and on, what's important is that it takes you (and your stressed up body & mind) away from whatever is stressing you out.  The third thing I'd like to suggest is that you do something for you - show yourself some care.  Just a few minutes a day if that's all you feel you can give, but do this regularly and not just when you're feeling that stress peak.  The idea is to try and rein the stress in before it gets so big that it feels really hard to manage. It could be something as simple as taking a few minutes to just have a hot drink, sit quietly, watch a favorite show on TV, or listen to a piece of music that just makes us feel upbeat. When we do something we enjoy and that gives us pleasure, like a fun activity- laughter, exercise, dancing, singing etc- our bodies release endorphins (so-called 'feel-good hormones') which can help to suppress the 'stress hormone', cortisol, so taking time out for ourselves can really help our bodies to help itself counter the stress. And the final suggestion I have for you on this is to reach out to people when you feel like things are becoming too stressful - talking (and being heard) in itself can help us to feel calmer, less stressed out and overwhelmed.  It may sound simple but it can really help.
Answered on 02/02/2023

Looking for life advice- struggling with marriage and career.

Thank you for reaching out for some feedback. You sound like you already have an idea of what you need, and having someone outside of your life to process that will can make a lot of difference. Finances and life shifts can absolutely put additional pressures on a marriage and add stress that maybe was not there before. Depending on how you cope and communicate with your partner about it all (and how they do in response) can either help or make the situation worse.  Here are some things to consider for the time being, but I highly encourage you to seek a counselor who you can process these topics more so with and also who can support you and give you tools to elevate your life.  - communication: As I mentioned, communication style about stressful topics can make all the difference. When we are stressed, sometimes we don't convey emotions well and can seem aggressive or overly defensive in conversations. Not only can this topic focus on how you communicate, but also how you react to communication. In a partnership you have to focus on how you react and how you communicate needs. Your partner has to do their own exploration to shift and change, you cannot do that for them.  -coping: Again, as I mentioned. This topic can help or make a situation worse. There are a lot of really great ways of coping with stress and difficult times, but for every healthy positive coping skill there are negative ones. An example would be avoidance. Sometimes avoidance is a helpful skill, but long term it typically is not. If your way of coping with financial struggles or marriage issues is to avoid the topic, that fire is going to continue to grow. There are a lot of other examples I could offer, but that paints the picture of how coping can be hurtful to the issue. Having healthy coping can be a real life saver.  -externalizing that internal stress: This is vague I know, but sometimes our internal stress can be caused by external things and in turn, our internal stress creates external stress. Stress is the trash of the mind, so doing something external with it can help. Organizing, time management, brain dumps, and making some sense of that stress can help to "take out the trash." Coming up with a plan with your partner about finances, managing time better, dividing responsibilities, setting goals, to dos and steps-- all of those things can help to reduce the anxiety and noise in the mind. The angst that builds up from "not knowing" can easily be reduced by doing this a bit.  I hope this helps a little, but again, I encourage you to set time aside to meet with someone to help you process this stuff and also help you navigate it. Best of luck!
Answered on 02/01/2023

how to deal with stressors?

First, I want to commend you for looking at ways to process stress when you are feeling overwhelmed and identifying the areas that you see are causing stress and could be improved. Also, with knowing that mental health runs in the family it is crucial that you take a look at the ways that you feel you are stressed or overthinking so it does not lead to further increase in symptoms.  You are correct in mental health having genetic components and therefore seeing generational mental health issues.  If you allow or let the stress continue- it can deplete you. Some physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of stress are: fatigue, difficulty with sleep, muscle and body pain, headaches, loss of motivation, mood instability, restlessness, isolation, social withdrawal.  I want to highlight the aspect of "caretaker burnout". I know that you are not completely in the caretaker role for your father or boyfriend, but it sounds like you are the one that is primarily responsible and feeling responsible for some or most of their needs. The boyfriend sounds like it is more from a financial perspective and your father is from a physical health perspective. Both of these are "caretaker" in the sense of responsibility for others and putting their needs before your own. When we talk about caretaker burnout, one of the important aspects is self-care. This is putting yourself and your needs as a priority. It is not selfish, in a negative connotation, but in a way that allows you to be present and able to help others while not depleting yourself.  When addressing anxiety, there are different treatment methods that can help. One is through individual therapy and being able to learn coping skills and process emotions. Some forms of therapy that would be beneficial include cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Your licensed clinician would be able to create a treatment plan for therapy that would be best for you and individualized to your needs. Coping skills that are effective for anxiety and stress include deep breathing tools. Deep breathing tools are effective for managing emotions and when you are feeling intense anxiety or stress. It helps the body to calm down and de-escalate in the moment. The good thing about deep breathing is that you can practice it anywhere and at any time that is needed. Journaling can be another positive coping skill that you are able to do. Journaling allows for you to process your emotions and potentially challenge irrational thoughts by looking at the thoughts externally rather than having them spiral within your mind.  For your boyfriend and even aspects of your father's care and health, you may want to explore boundaries. Boundaries can be positive for our mental health and can actually help our relationship with others. When setting boundaries it is important to consider values, time, and emotions. Boundaries are set on the values that are important to you and ways that you do not want someone to hinder or impact these boundaries. Boundaries are YOURS and while it may align with others' values, boundaries are what is important to you and what you do not want to move your own values on. Knowing your boundaries before going into a situation helps you to address the situation and be able to decide what you want to do and help with the outcomes of the situation. Some ways to express your boundaries without directly saying no are saying "I'm not comfortable with this", "This is not acceptable", "I cannot do this at this time". 
Answered on 01/31/2023

How can I better manage stress?

Something exists within you that tells you, you won't be or can't be happy until you...(fill in the gap of something your mind tells you is necessary).  If some deep belief lies inside you, you will live according to its demanding rules. You will be a slave to the belief that you won't be happy, can't be satisfied until... Honestly, ask yourself, why can I not be happy right now? What is the problem, right now, in this moment? Your mind will answer with something that must be done, accomplished, or overcome. You do realize that you are under the command of a mind that was formed in this world, and now you live according to the beliefs of others around you, right? You do realize that it burns us out to live according to a life we didn't even choose and find little value in, correct? We focus on what gets our attention. What gets our attention are things that are often negative or provide some threat to something we care about or could improve something we didn't even know we need to improve on until the fear ends up produced inside of us as a result of the show of better options from the world around us. Millions of stimuli cross your mind every day, yet not all get your attention like the pressures to perform. Why does it matter so much that you accomplish what you've been raised to believe is critical to your well-being? What happens if you let that belief go and start to live life for things you actually care about and find purpose in? Think about it. Watch a TV show, and there are underlying values pushed all the time that you may not be able to separate from because the image is so repetitive. Maybe the depiction on a show is a group of friends and the free time it takes to maintain them. Is this how we should live? Do I even value that much time with friends?  So, if you aren't doing what your mind tells you to, you could start to internalize a less than image of yourself, or a shameful, or guilty feeling that your mind says you must remedy. You have adopted a belief that you can't be happy until you fix everything you think is a problem. However, when you fix one problem, you are then stuck with ten more. Then you get better about seeing problems and never a solution because you are better at looking for problems than finding benefit in what you have.  You are not your thoughts, you have them, but they do not define you. Start to realize that you have thoughts, and they are allowed to exist and they come from some place of experience, and you can let them be without listening to them or trying to remedy them. This is how you manage life and stop the stress from seeping into your core being. You experience stuff you were meant to care about; now I ask you, is all this pain worth it? Find something that gives purpose to the pain, and you will reduce your suffering. 
Answered on 01/30/2023

I feel like I'm in a deep pit and I can't figure out how to get out. How do I get out of the pit?

It sounds like you are going through a very difficult time and are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities and stress in your life. It's important to take care of yourself during this time and to focus on small, attainable goals that can help you make progress and move forward. Here are a few suggestions: Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks: Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, break your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can accomplish one step at a time. Try making a daily to-do list and focus on completing them one by one.   Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a professional counselor for support. Talking to someone who can help you process your feelings and provide a different perspective can be very helpful. Consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor if you feel like you need someone to talk to.   Make a daily to-do list: Make a list of things you need to do each day and focus on completing them one by one. Look for a part-time job that could supplement your income.     Reach out for financial assistance. There are many government and non-profit organizations that can help with financial assistance for those in need. Consider reaching out to government or non-profit organizations for financial assistance.   Prioritize self-care: Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that you enjoy. Try to set aside some time for yourself each day to relax and unwind.   Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you manage stress and reduce feelings of overwhelm. Try incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily routine.   Set realistic expectations: It's important to set realistic expectations for yourself and not to expect too much from yourself. Try to set realistic expectations for yourself, and don't expect too much from yourself.   Celebrate small wins: It's important to acknowledge and celebrate small accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This can help to boost your confidence and motivation. Try to celebrate small wins, no matter how small they may seem.   Try to find a way to delegate some of your responsibilities. For example, if you are taking care of your mother and sister, can you find other family or friends who can help you with their care? Also, there are community service programs that can help with these kind of situations.    It's important to remember that change takes time, and it's okay to take small steps towards your goals. Keep in mind that it's important to take care of yourself first, so you can be there to take care of others.
Answered on 01/27/2023

I'm finding it hard to balance work / home

Hello Nan! Thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding being able to "turn work off" once you are home. That can be such a challenging task, right? I would imagine it is particularly hard for a community service worker. I will say that you are not alone. Most of us have a hard time switching off work, or at least the stress and thoughts of work, once we get home at the end of the day. Sometimes it seems like the mind seems determined to refuse to let go of the day's events and worries. In a nutshell, what is going on is a side-effect of stress. The stress response is triggered when demands overload your ability to cope with them and as a result, it basically sends us into fight or flight mode. I am going to offer you a few ideas to help you unwind after a busy day. I know that you said you recently quit your job; however, maybe you can find these tips helpful at your next place of employment. 1. Spend the time between work and home to transition from "work mode" to "relax mode." Try not to spend your commute thinking about what happened that day. Instead, you could listen to calming music, tune in to a podcast, do some breathing exercises, or listen to an audiobook. 2. Try to create an "after-work routine." Make coming home something to look forward to. Get in a habit of doing something you like as soon as you get home. That may be taking a bath, eating your favorite snack, going for a brisk walk, etc. 3. My last tip may seem very simple, but I promise you that it is incredibly effective. Take time to breathe! Taking intentional deep breaths is one of the most effective ways to destress from any situation. It takes your body out of the fight-or-flight response. I will encourage you to set aside at least five minutes each day to focus on taking deep breaths. This can even be on your way home from work.  Remember that unplugging is key to coming back happier, stronger, and healthier the next day!
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 01/26/2023

what should i do if specific thoughts come up

Hello and I am glad that you posed this question. It can be quite distressing to be caught off guard with disappointing outcomes/news/feedback when you thought everything was sailing along and feeling good about your situation. There are many ways in the course of therapy that we can address these experiences both in how you think & feel about yourself and also in how you choose to manage these feelings. We can also support you to approach disappointments/failures as learning opportunities for growth. In this sense, we can make the negative experiences meaningful by using them to inform your future choices and actions. For example, if you felt you were doing pretty ok and were shocked to learn that wasn't the case as you wrote, I would support you to reflect and understand more about what informed your determination that you were doing pretty ok. Additionally, we would look at what was going on that brought you to the situation of not doing well with grades. In this process though sessions together, we would support you to look for evidence to inform your assessment of your performance and make a realistic evaluation of where you stand. This would help with the feeling of despair associated with failure and help you become more able to tolerate the distress as you get more comfortable with the understanding that failure is a part of life and it is actually the path to growth.  I support folks to see failure and mistakes as "growing pains" so that we expect it to feel uncomfortable while remaining focused on the learning opportunity to keep from making the same mistakes in the future. When we see failure as an expected part of the human experience, not something to be avoided or labeled as a deficit, it becomes easier to focus on what you want to do differently next time, rather than be stuck in the regret, shock, and shame of having the rug pulled out from under you when you thought things were going fine. It also helps to normalize this experience so that you feel less like a complete failure and gain the understanding that making a mistake or failing does not reduce your worth as a person. Helping you to have a balanced and informed way to measure your progress and effectiveness in tasks that are important will also assist in having appropriate and realistic expectations. If you expect to get grades that are "pretty ok" and you found out that wasn't the case, I would support you to adjust your expectations based on the latest information (I.e. I have at least a 70 average in all my classes and my assignments have been turned in = I feel pretty certain I am "doing pretty ok"). In therapy, I would support you to look for evidence in your environment to give you the appropriate expectations. If you start here, then you will likely be able to expect more positive outcomes and less surprises as you will be able to take action on things that could jeopardize your success before it becomes a failure (i.e. I am doing pretty ok but I have 2 outstanding assignments and a 65 in one subject so I will need a near perfect score on the final exam to come out with an average that is 70 or higher). Finally, I would support you to be kind to yourself and take action in the current moment as often as possible. I would support you to identify your goals and assess with you in therapy what you are doing to either get you close to your goals or further away; then we would work on generating options and choices based on your desired outcomes. Through this process, you will be able to achieve more postive outcomes and learn that you are able to achieve whatever you decide you want to with the abiility to critically assess your choices and actions in this way. This means that you will be able to tolerate failures with less distress overall. I would also give you real time tools to cope with intense emotions and improve your ability to self soothe in the moment. I hope this was helpful and I welcome the opportunity to connect for therapy if you desire. I appreciate the chance to be part of your journey in this way and wish you all the very best. 
Answered on 01/24/2023

Why do I get so overwhelmed by simple tasks such as cleaning?

Hello Nami! Thank you for your message and your question. You have brought up several different issues: change, feeling overwhelmed, and ADHD. 1. Change: change is always difficult even when it is a good change. Change takes us out of our comfort zone -- meaning that place that we are accustomed to being. So change can feel uncomfortable and sometimes even unbearable. This is the reason that people frequently are not able to maintain the change they are trying to make. They find it too uncomfortable and they don't think they can tolerate that discomfort. In your case, I am guessing you are not going to move back to wherever you left so the next challenge is to learn how to tolerate that feeling of discomfort. Even if you love your new home, your body is reacting to these changes and is suggesting to you that something is wrong. We will get back to this. 2. Feeling overwhelmed. Anxiety (your sense of being overwhelmed) is our body's natural reaction to stress (the move) or to a feeling of a lack of control (not sure where to put everything). Anxiety is our response to perceived danger. Having too much on our plate can be perceived by our brain to be "danger." Our response is anxiety. 3. When it comes to change and to stress, one way to respond is to break down what is on our plate into small, achievable pieces. Think of this like a football field. Imagine you are standing in your own end zone on the football field. Imagine everything that needs to be done (everything on your plate ) is sitting on the opposite end of the field -- the other end zone. The idea would be to assign one piece of everything that is located at the other end zone to one of the ten-yard-line markers. As an example, getting the kitchen organized might be on the ten-yard-line. Getting bedroom number one organized might be on the twenty-yard-line. And so one. Now, you have a plan and none of the steps to the plan are overwhelming by themselves. It is only when you are trying to do everything all at once that it can become overwhelming to the point of feeling paralyzing. You make progress towards the other end zone ten yards at a time. 4. If you understand that those feelings of being overwhelmed are the result of your nervous system being in overdrive, then another key is to send messages to your nervous system that you are safe and it can calm down. This is what I was alluding to under point number 1. We can send messages of "safety" to our nervous system by using one of many mindfulness techniques. Those techniques do not have to be complicated or take a lot of time. The most basic of those techniques is mindful breathing. Just stop for a moment and breathe in and breathe out and notice your breath as you breathe. Focus your attention on your breath. There are many more mindfulness techniques that will help you to calm down while you are adjusting to your new home. You can Google "mindfulness" or DBT techniques to find them. Essentially, what you are doing is moving from your brain where you are overthinking things to your senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch) where you are experiencing things in the here and now. By using your five senses, your body starts to feel grounded and safe. Then your nervous system will start to calm down. 5. Another technique to help you calm down would be to examine your thoughts. This is best done in the moment when you are feeling overwhelmed. Keep a little notebook and just write down what you are thinking at the time that you are feeling overwhelmed. Write down your exact thoughts without editing them or judging them. Thoughts are not facts. They are just thoughts that popped into your head. By noticing them, you can decide if these thoughts are supported by any evidence. For example, you said that it is hard for you to relax and watch tv until things are tidied up. The key here is to understand the thinking behind this mindset. What do you think is going to happen if you do not tidy up or fold the blankets? Where is the evidence that something bad is going to happen if you watch tv without folding the blanket? It is important to do this without judging your thoughts or feelings because all you are trying to do is decide if you want to hold on to this thought or if you want to let go of it. There are what we call cognitive distortions which are just patterns of thinking that result in difficult feelings. We need to be able to catch ourselves in these distortions and change our spin on the situation -- the story we are telling ourselves. You could also Google cognitive distortions. If you are a bit of a perfectionist, you might be thinking that "it is not okay to relax unless everything is perfectly in order." That is a cognitive distortion and we have to be willing (key word willing) to let go of and change some of these thinking patterns so we can feel better. 6. Now, the ADHD can certainly have an effect on how you react to stressors in your life. I am not an expert when it comes to ADHD and so I can only offer some very general ideas. It is usually helpful for people who struggle with attention to do some of things mentioned above -- break things down into small, bite-size pieces and just do one thing at a time. Some people with ADHD will have reminders set up that help them stay on track. Example: "Right now I am working on the kitchen. Don't go to a bedroom." It helps to take breaks so you don't get to feeling overwhelmed again. There are many resources for individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD. You can find a lot of these resources on the internet. Also, the doctor who initially diagnosed you with ADHD might have resources to offer. These are only a few of the things that might be helpful to you. Just try to remember that what you are experiencing is very natural. We all experience these feelings when we go through changes. Be compassionate with yourself and give yourself some time and space to adjust naturally to your new environment. Thank you for reading my response. Judi
Answered on 01/24/2023

I feel very stressed, specially during exam season and feel a lot of pressure to pass my exams.

Hello CT, thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding stress, time management, and trying to balance having a healthy social life. Wow! It sounds like you have so much going on! I know this is a tough time for you as you are adjusting to so much, but be proud of yourself for everything you have accomplished so far to get you to where you are. I would imagine that studying abroad is an exciting time, full of new challenges. As you know, being able to manage stress is crucial for not only your academic success but also your personal well-being and mental health. It sounds like you are trying to figure out the right balance between work, school, and friends. There are many ways you can manage your stress as a student. Just as everyone experiences stress in their own way, we all have our preferred methods of coping with it. It is crucial to learn how to cope with it productively. After all, you cannot control the stressors in your life (for the most part), but you can choose how to respond to them. When it comes to your social life (friends), I want to encourage you to make an effort to only befriend people whose company you enjoy. Your time studying abroad is too short to spend interacting with people who you don't get along with, so be selective about who you give extra energy to. The people you surround yourself with can either benefit your mental health or be destructive to it. When it comes to healthy ways to manage stress, I want to encourage you to take the necessary time to recharge. I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "you can't pour from an empty cup." That is so true! If you are spending all of your time studying and sitting through class lectures and not taking care of yourself, your cup will run empty. Do something you enjoy! Try journaling, meditating, or scheduling an afternoon where you don't have to do anything but read your favorite book or watch a movie. You may not be able to drop everything on your to-do list, because you have responsibilities of course, but don't hesitate to spend some time focusing and prioritizing yourself. Getting professional support can be beneficial when it comes to balance and stress management. Do your best to understand what kind of stress you are feeling and experiencing, what is causing it, and how you can respond to it productively. By addressing your stress in a healthy way, you are doing all that you can to make the most out of your experience.
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 01/24/2023

Can you give me some tools to deal with grief?

Our Mind... I wanted to start this out by calling this "our" mind because of our similarities in how we think about things. It seems that in my experience, no matter the culture, the area of the world you live in, or different upbringings, there is a similarity to being human, we are all controlled by our interpretation of events. Your interpretation, as fueled by the tragic experiences and chronic illnesses, is painting life a different color for you and it is time we start noticing it.  Death is inevitable, yet still very sad. Losing someone is difficult, especially when we don't even get to wrap our minds around it. You lost your mother, and depending on your outlook on the afterlife, that can be a permanent loss. Often in these times, hope is found in spirituality, beliefs of heaven, and how we have eternal souls that never die. I have my beliefs, and it allows me to speak from a place of peace, but depending on your outlook, you might not see the same thing. It's cruel when we feel someone was taken from us, and then it is difficult to live with that loss, among other things.  Your chronic illnesses are a lot too. The fact that they are chronic tells me that you are accustomed to living a certain way, and maybe in times like these, they became that much more apparent.  Look, these things you mention, the things you notice and think, they are all very real. Strength is not found in the unreal, but in what has happened and how we feel about it, not in how we sometimes think we SHOULD feel about life. Often when working with people I notice an underlying belief when they are suffering, I notice there is this measurement they compare to, something else they SHOULD be feeling, they think. On the contrary, pain is really the only guarantee in life, and yet we have been told, and we believed the lie that it shouldn't be. We have more negative emotions than positive ones, and when stressful situations occur, we are equipped to deal with them because of the negative emotions. However, angst isn't about the emotions, but our pressure to get over them, to feel happy, that there should be some alternative life for us. Your life is the one that you have been given, and it can be the greatest life there is, with the loss, with the pain, unless you choose not to see it that way. Unless you let grief and the negative consume you.  Much of life is spent in our heads. Do not walk through this situation interpreting these events as something that detriment you. You have the choice with what you do with life; no matter how hard it gets, you can choose to see the good, the beneficial, or at least the positive things. You have the choice not to give up your thoughts to the circumstance. The emotions will come and go; let them pass. Let grief hit you like a wave; it will pass. It is the thoughts and our belief that this will never end, or the expectation to be better, that actually plagues us. Otherwise, what is wrong with the way you are handling things now?  Remember, you have thoughts; they are provoked by circumstance. You are not these thoughts. You can practice noticing them so they can float on by, and you can find purpose and value in all this. I am not saying that is the goal, but it may be the way to transcend all the inevitable pain. Talk things out, get heard, and have the person you are talking with listen. You can fall in love with life again if you see the parts you can control and take hold of them. 
Answered on 01/24/2023

What is one of the best methods to handle feeling as if you’re not meeting expectations?

Hi Cindy! I am so grateful to see that you are reaching out for support at this time. It sounds like you are seeking out methods in which you can explore your feelings. Based on what you wrote in your question, I can see why you would be inquiring about ways in which to best manage your feelings. There are numerous therapeutic modalities and counseling interventions that can assist you in attaining your goal of handling the emotional experiences that you have been having lately. My hope is that I can inform you about these various interventions as well as help you in coming up with novel ways to better understand your feelings as well as manage them effectively. First and foremost, I want to give you my sincere condolences for your recent losses. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to lose your brother and father around the same time last year. It sounds like you went through a lot at one time having them both pass away two months apart. How are you doing with managing this sense of loss now? Where would you say that you are at in the grieving process? It may be helpful for you to take some time to check out the stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The five stages of grief, according to Kübler-Ross, include shock, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Grief can be a circular process and is not necessarily linear. For example, an individual who is experiencing grief may go through more than one stage at a time as well as shift from one stage to another. There are free resources and worksheets online by Therapist Aid that could aid you in organizing your thoughts and concerns regarding where you are at in the grieving process. In addition to reviewing the stages of grief and loss, I would like to encourage you to participate in a therapeutic writing exercise. If you have time and are willing to try, you can utilize therapeutic journaling and writing as a means to foster a sense of relaxation as well as process your experiences and express your feelings. There are countless journaling prompts on the BetterHelp platform. It could benefit you to write in your journal on a daily or weekly basis. Keeping track of your emotions in a feelings diary can be helpful for both short term and long term reflection. In addition to daily journaling, you could incorporate ad libs into your writing. An interesting concept that I came up with when someone that I loved passed away is to create an ad lib about the bereaved person. Essentially, you could fill in the blanks for the following statements as well as come up with your own outlined sentences, as well: "The person I lost is (name). I love how this person would (verb) with (noun/ adjective). My favorite memories with (name) was when (describe memories). The qualities that I admired most about (name) were their (adjectives). If I could tell one thing to (name) it would be (insert thought/ feeling). (Name) will be known for their (adjective/ noun)." Therapeutic art making is another way in which you can engage in self exploration and express your feelings. The benefits of art therapy can be eye opening, healing and incredibly inspiring. Gather your choice of art supplies and paint, draw, color, weave or sculpt your feelings. A well known art therapy directive derived from the Drawing Diagnostic Series (DDS) developed by Barry Cohen is: "Draw your feelings in lines, shapes and colors." As for art supplies, the DDS directive specifically calls for colored chalk pastels and 18 x 24 inch drawing paper. For more information on the benefits of art therapy, please check out the website for the American Art Therapy Association:  I believe that you are so brave to reach out for support at this time. I want to remind you that your feelings, thoughts and experiences are truly valid. Whether they are positive, neutral or even negative, your experiences are so important. As I mentioned before, you can survey your experiences through therapeutic journaling and art making. As another coping skill, I would like to recommend that you try out some mindfulness based techniques. Take some time to practice the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skill of mindfulness. Mindfulness essentially means being present in the moment. In addition to fully being present in this moment in time, another aspect of mindfulness includes relieving feelings of anxiety, stress and focusing on the here and now. Try to incorporate a sensory grounding exercise such as recognizing five things that you see, four things that you feel, three things you hear, two things you can smell and one thing that you can taste. Regarding your concerns about meeting expectations and feeling like a failure in your line of work, I would like to encourage you to address this in one on one counseling sessions. The therapy process can give you an opportunity to explore more about your core beliefs as well as your reasons for feeling this way. On BetterHelp, you can request to be matched with a licensed therapist who is trained and specializes in career counseling. For now, I would like to recommend that you combat the negative thoughts you have as well as challenge unrealistic expectations through positive self talk. Simply remind yourself that you are not a failure and that you are doing the best that you can. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies can be beneficial for you to assay. Thank you again, Cindy, for your time asking this really great question on the BetterHelp platform. I sincerely hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey now and in the future. Take good care and have a good day!
Answered on 01/23/2023

What is your initial perspective?

I Believe... The initial phrase caught my attention the most. We act as though what we believe to be true. You are what you believe, and if you allow yourself to be defined by any one thing, you are holding yourself back from being another, greater thing.  Now, I know you might not have intended to say what was said here, but I think that it is as good a place to start as any. What do you believe about yourself? What we believe is where we make all of our decisions from and it alters our perspective of the world. You take two people and put them in the exact same situation; the only thing different is how each person views the situation. This is why it is important when we reveal our most broken parts as what define us. We have to start there with what to work on if we want to be more effective at getting our needs met.  Your abandonment issues, attachment difficulties, trauma, and what you are with people (as defined by your own mind that you just admitted is problematic) are not the problems you think they are. You defined them with clinical terms so I think you have done some research, but you stopped short of being effective. Your symptoms are just that, a result of your genetics placed in an environment where you formed the beliefs about yourself and the world around you. These symptoms then indicate clinical words such as "attachment." But, what is attachment to you? How do you see being attached as being affected by the way you think?  Do not go to therapy or start reading self-help books to remedy your symptoms. Instead, notice the underlying, more important issue here: your beliefs. As long as you believe that you are somehow broken in these various ways, even if all the problems were solved today, you would create more, because you believe you are broken. Accept that the way you think is the way you think. When something goes wrong in life, it is an easy and familiar thought process to beat yourself up and "oh, I should have done better." Notice what happens when you interact with life, and how you respond, in your head.  Once you notice the way you think, not what you think about, but the WAY, you can start to make changes where it matters. Do not try to remedy all the problems with the same mind that created them. Bypass the solving and go to the why is this a problem, and what does this situation trigger inside of me? Notice thoughts because your mind is trying to get you to react to life because that is the familiar narrative, to react, fix, solve.  You do not have to respond to what your mind says. If my mind says, "oh I messed this up because I have poor attachment," I can say, "oh, that is a part of me." You see here, I acknowledge this, "part," but it is not the whole. I have this, "part" inside of me, but if I give it too much attention, then what about the other, more effective parts? You get habitually trained to input one part when another part could be better.  Notice how you are choosing to define yourself and sit with it, asking what does this do to help me. Notice that life causes triggers to get you to respond and that you literally do not have to, even though your mind will scream, "do something!" Notice and separate from thoughts, and this will be the best starting point to change you have ever implemented. You have thoughts; you are not defined by them. 
Answered on 01/23/2023

How can you forget and forgive the abandonment of your father when you are an adult?

Forgiveness is for You Your view on forgiveness is that it seems to be for your father when forgiveness is really about your peace. Forgiveness isn't a necessity, though, especially not today. True forgiveness takes time and learning to be able to sit with the reality of what he has done and how it has affected you. It will come up at odd times. So, how do you forgive? You start to love the person you are as a result of the circumstance.  I want to take a second to validate your feelings and experiences and the results of your childhood. This validation is critical for you to know you are heard. Being heard is what your father did not give you as a child and what you can do for your childhood self now. You today can allow the thoughts and emotions that were developed early in life when they come up. You can show you respect your childhood self and the pain of it all but allow the hurt to exist. Don't be the disconnected parent to your childhood self who discounts emotions. Find a way to find gratitude for who you are and how you turned out because of that kid, and how they responded to the circumstance they were put in.  Your dad contributed to your formation of self. If you like yourself, then you can be grateful for the pain and hurt you endured. You can forgive then, naturally, because you aren't mad for what you've been given because even though it hurt, you are better now because of it. If you don't accept or like yourself and all parts, even that six-year-old who wants to cry, then it will be difficult to forgive because it's easy to blame him for this less-than version of what you might have thought you could be. Self-acceptance is critical to move forward because without accepting all parts of you, you will always struggle with a self-disdain, and any forgiveness will be falsified. Find the most inadequate part of you and learn to sit with that person because they are you and have contributed to the person you are, which is what parents are tasked with. As for abandonment, that is something that will be difficult to overcome because you were abandoned, and you know, you were. Your father left you with people that was neither mom nor dad. However, it is not beneficial for what that child went through to indulge that abandonment to be a victim. Remember, you aren't forgiving and moving forward for him or even you today, but as the responsible caregiver to your six-year-old self that tells you all the horrible things he experienced. His service was not in vain, for you will take his experience and grow from it. Thank your childhood self, for your pain because it helped you grow. That abandonment the child felt, that isn't going anywhere because that child will remind you. You can thank him and go forth with a sense of peace your father may never know. 
Answered on 01/23/2023

How can I find myself again?

Thank you for reaching out. My name is Julie and I am a clinical psychotherapist. I have been working with individuals, couples, and families for over 20 years. There have been so many life changes over the last few years that have influenced the way that we think and experience the world and ourselves. These things have been paramount to understanding Self, our relationships, and the way that we view our experiences. Major life changes can affect how we work, learn, and interact as social beings. Much of which has led to many of us having a more virtual existence, both personally and professionally. Which can change the construct of our brain mechanisms.  Life changes, grief, and feelings of loss can result in experiencing issues of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or isolation, or even feelings of meaning and purpose.   It can be harder to think of positive things during this time. However, know that when you might be feeling lost you are really on the way to the Self being "found" -  You have an incredible intrinsic awareness - be aware that when something may feel uncomfortable at the moment it is significant to provoke a change.  When you look at what being "lost" feels like - what comes through for you most?  What do you feel? What do you experience? What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced this before? Psychotherapy can help you delve into yourself and your mindset and make connections that will evoke a new awareness and narrative.  if you're feeling lost, the first thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone in these feelings. Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or even celebrities of some sort, experience days where they are feeling lost in life, are losing interest in things, or are feeling confused and frustrated at the same time.  There is hope - and know that this is a shift or transition. You will learn exponentially more about yourself as you go through this time of life. Psychotherapy can aid in awareness and also provide your map in the direction you need to be.   Please keep in mind that you have all the answers within you and you will be able to have confidence in your abilities to thrive. It may be tough at times,  but learning how to be content with yourself and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance. Sometimes we can cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant reassurance or companionship. Having periods of uncertainty may be uncomfortable,  but it is also a perfect place for you to spend some time with yourself to build your efficacy and confidence.  Feeling lost in life also can be a life signal to indicate you're in search of something. Telling yourself that you feel lost is a good step as it can prompt action. You have reached out in order to provoke action. You are in touch with your soul. Deep down, your strongest revelations can happen when you are alone and needing a place of relaxation and soothing. This search for meaning and purpose can help as a catalyst. You are in control. Only you have the ultimate say as to how you choose to react, what your thoughts are, and what your actions will be. Remember that you are in control.  You have all the answers within you.  Perhaps you were feeling lost because your life circumstances have taken you away from a routine or from a different persona. Every circumstance you encounter in your life is designed to teach you and also, every lesson in turn is growth while simultaneously passed on to others.  It is important to identify and surround yourself with your support systems. Also, reach out to professionals for additional help. When you think about what you were feeling you can examine different parts of your life that have led you to this point. When was the time you felt the most authentic and fulfilled? What were the circumstances of this particular point in your life? Did you have a lot of social connections? Were you spending more time in nature? What was your work life balance like? Chances are, you will begin to realize some differences between that time in your life and your current feeling now. A few questions: What resonates the most with you as you look at your past and times that you felt most on track with your true place in life. What is missing? During the therapeutic process you will be able to look and find what your goals are and what are some things that you want to do in your life that maybe you have not done yet.  Also, if you keep doing the same things that made you feel lost, chances are, you will continue to feel this way. There's a neurological reason that people stay in habits and patterns that might not be advantageous in the long run.  Getting into a new routine can revitalize your life. Old habits die hard for a reason.  They may be woven into the fabric of our brain states. We can be wired for specific kind of activations very early in life in these habitual responses are automatically activated in daily living, often without conscious awareness. Once they are set they are likely to continue. Until there is an awareness or intervention. You are experiencing an "awakening" for a reason. You are realizing certain things within yourself that are not congruent to where you want to be. That is a huge part of growth and change! You have the answers!  Remember, more than anything, growth does not happen in your comfort zone. Sometimes when you are feeling lost or "a bit off", it might just be there to help you learn something new and to grow. There is a powerful part of you waiting to be activated. Therapy can inspire a new approach that empowers your emotion and thoughts to work in common cause, rather than at cross purposes, to help manage your most volatile feelings. You will be able to have newly charted links between neural circuitry and your most primitive passions to merit open minded and thoughtful consideration in order to achieve your ultimate goals. 
Answered on 01/23/2023

Grief and monumental life changes.

Hi LO, It makes sense that you feel alone. Losing your parents at any time in your life can cause you to feel like an orphan. Our parents are our anchors to the world. We have never known a time that they were not present. Your parents knew you all of your life; they were present for all of your accomplishments, challenges and heartaches. They were the witnesses to your life. Now without them you may feel adrift trying to find how to anchor yourself to this complex world without their presence, trying to learn how to navigate without the support your parents may have provided.  Grief can cause a number of reactions. Psychologically you may be experiencing a combination of anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, and despair. You may be struggling with sleep, eating, overeating, or taking care of other physiological needs. In addition, you may be having trouble motivating yourself to engage in your typical activities, increasing difficulty with parenting and addressing your financial needs. And through all of this you may be experiencing a preoccupation with thoughts about your parents; feeling the loss of their absence. Everything you are experiencing is a natural response while you are going through the process of grief.   Everyone's grief process is individual. Sure, there will be some commonalities amongst people who have grieved or are grieving, but your process is individual and unique. Therefore it is very important that you allow yourself to grieve in your own way. Do not discount your process or allow others' expectations of how you "should" grieve interrupt that process. Respect your unique process.  Be flexible with yourself. Let yourself talk about your emotions if you are feeling the need. However, if you don't feel like talking, give yourself permission to set boundaries with others by asking others to respect your time until you are ready to open up about your emotions. Open up when you feel ready.  Allow yourself to talk about your parents and encourage others to do the same. Your parents are still important to your life. They have passed but they are not gone from your heart, mind and life. It is okay to keep the memory of them alive.  Remember grieving is a long process. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to cry when you need to cry. It is okay to feel like you are struggling. It is okay to give yourself time to rest and let your heart heal. It is okay to lean on others and ask for support. If others are not able to be the support you need, join a grief support group, engage in therapy, or ask friends to show up for you.  A resource that you may find helpful is . They provide information regarding grief and  in-person, as well as, online groups. Building your support system, creating a safe place and soft landings that will embrace you as you are and where you are is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Others have been through what you are going through. Let them in. They will help you navigate this new world absent your parents. Don't hesitate to invite others to wrap their support around you. 
Answered on 01/21/2023

How can I cope with stress/being overwhelmed/exhausted when there is little leeway in my life?

It sounds like you're living a very full and satisfying life, doing a lot of great things to create the future you want for yourself. That is wonderful, and like you said, probably exhausting at times. It can be challenging but essential to your long-term success to find as much balance as possible between pushing yourself to accomplish your goals and compassionately taking care of yourself. You must engage in the life-long process of learning to take care of the different parts that make you a whole person; your physical, your intellectual, your social, your spiritual, your vocational, and any other important parts of you. It will be beneficial for you to pause your busy life periodically to take a self-inventory of how you're compassionately caring for yourself in each of these different areas. There are plenty of free online "self-care" resources that you can utilize to help in that process as well. Everything in life needs regular maintenance to function optimally. One of the most important life skills that you can develop in this journey of self-care is stress management. I believe that stress management at its most basic level is a two-part process, problem-solving and coping, and I think of it in terms of balancing a scale. On one side of the scale you have the stressors that are weighing you down. On the other side you have the coping skills that balance out those stressors. We are effectively managing our stress when the scale is balanced. So, problem-solving removes as many stressors as possible from that side, and coping strategies hopefully can neutralize or balance the remaining stressors that can't be solved. However, not all coping strategies are created equal. There are varying degrees of healthy and unhealthy coping. In fact, we could think of coping strategies on a spectrum ranging from very unhealthy to very healthy. Some examples of unhealthy coping strategies are isolation, avoidance, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, compulsive shopping, nail biting, hair pulling, and the list could go on down the spectrum. Some examples of healthy coping strategies are emotional expression through crying, rest and relaxation, social and family support, physical activity and exercise, listening to or playing music, appreciating or creating various other forms of art, journaling or writing, cleaning or organizing, and this list could go on up the spectrum. Just a word of caution about these healthy coping strategies, some or many of them can gradually turn unhealthy if practiced in excess. Too much exercise or too much cleaning or too much of anything can become problematic for a number of reasons. One of the best ways to prevent that from happening and to maintain healthy stress management is to practice a variety of the healthy coping strategies as much as possible. I know you stated that you're very busy and you have "little leeway" in your life, so you might be thinking "how do I fit more things into my life right now?" I hear you and understand that feeling. Life is full of choices we have to make about what we do with the 24 hours we have each day. If we don't choose to spend some of that time taking care of ourselves, we might lose some of our options to illness or just to decrease effectiveness from wearing ourselves out. If we think of ourselves as knives, we have to take breaks from cutting things periodically to sharpen ourselves, so we can keep cutting effectively and not break. Another metaphor you've probably heard that I like compares our lives to jars that we fill up with a combination of stones and pebbles and sand. If we fill up our jar with the sand first, then the pebbles and stones won't fit. But if we fill up our jar with the stones first, then the pebbles, then the sand, it will all fit. The stones represent the biggest most important things in our life; our own basic needs and wellness, our family and friends, faith and spirituality for some, or whatever we value most. The pebbles represent the moderately important things in our life; our job or career, financial assets, hobbies, and so on. The sand represents the rest of the nitty gritty things we have to do in life. If we fit all the biggest things in our lives first, then the next most important things, and then let the small things fill in around the rest of the space, it will all fit for us. You've got to keep your knife sharp. You've got to assess your stones and pebbles and sand, and put them in your jar in order.
Answered on 01/19/2023

Can you please guide me through life / work after reading my detailed situation down below?

Hello, Thank you for describing your concerns. Therapy is a great place to start. Therapy can help you work through and process your emotions. A therapist can offer support and validation, as well, as help you problem-solve or work on goals. Therapy can help you decrease stress and anxiety.  You have very reasonable goals. Being a teacher can be challenging. It's ok to lean on a support system. Perhaps getting to know your coworkers or engaging in activities outside of work may be helpful. Some ideas may be inviting a coworker to lunch or a happy hour. You may want to adopt a theme to make the work week more fun like having tacos on Tuesday or donuts on Fridays. Bonding with the coworkers may help you feel more connected. They can validate you as they are probably feeling some of the same stressors.  Instead of saying you are an imposter, you may want to think of yourself as a student. An imposter sounds like you are "faking" something. You are not faking. You are embracing your career. Try to see yourself as a student. You are learning. You aren't supposed to know everything in the beginning, but you are working hard and figuring it out as you go.  Avoid comparing yourself to others. Comparison sends a message to your brain that whatever you are doing is not good enough. The brain is easily influenced and will quit trying to find solutions. This may be why you are procrastinating. You have already convinced your brain that you are behind and your friends are way ahead. Instead of saying you are behind, tell yourself "They are on a different path. I'm working on my own path." What you say to yourself can affect how you feeling. Negative thoughts often lead to negative feelings. Try to counteract your negative thoughts with a positive mantra. Some examples are: "This is a new challenge, but I'll figure it out."  "I'm working at my own pace. I always find solutions."  "I'm a hard worker. I know I can do this."  "I'm gaining experience every day."  "I'm in the right place at the right time."  In order to stay focused, identify your peak performance time. Every person as a certain time of day where they feel more alert and productive. Some people are night owls and enjoy staying up late to get things done. Other people are more active in the morning. See when you feel the most alert and try to schedule time during this time frame to work on your goals and your side hustle. Schedule a designated work time for yourself without distractions. Decide to work for a solid 30 minutes without interruptions. Turn off alerts, notifications, etc. Put your phone away. Do not check emails or messages until your 30 minutes is up. When your time is up, take a break. During your break time, you can check your messages. Allow for a few minutes to do these things and them return to work for another 30 minutes. When doing chores, breaking tasks into smaller pieces. For example, if you want to clean the kitchen, break the tasks down. Start with one particular area or task, like doing the dishes. Focus on the dishes and complete this task before starting a new one. Next, work on a different task in the kitchen, like taking the trash out or wiping down the counters. Allow for breaks in between tasks if needed.  Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Be patient. Trust and believe in yourself. 
(M.Ed, L.P.C.)
Answered on 01/19/2023

How to deal with the stress of life?

Coping You are in an interesting spot. It's unfortunate that your circumstance has left you having to work so hard to accomplish what you want. It would be nice to have the safety and support of the child's father or the liquid assets of a better-paying job. It would be nice, I bet, if many things were different. Yet, here we are, in our situation, looking for help in what to do when we struggle with staying motivated, feeling good about ourselves, being supported, being able to rest, etc. Whatever we lack daily, we usually wish for that thing, thinking all would be so different if we had it.  Coping isn't always just a way to manage emotions, it can be found in how we view situations in our life. Coping is also choosing to see the gift we have in our struggles. It is a coping skill to be truly grateful for our situation, even if it was, at one point, something we thought was holding us back.  Here's an interesting thing about parenting. You prepare your children for the life they will have growing up. Parents are the elements of the environment where the mind is formed and will forever hold beliefs about self, others, environment, safety, healthy attachment, and the like. People seek therapy due to the failures, shortcomings, and effects of distractions from parents who were unable to give the kids what they needed to feel safe and thrive. We require a safe environment to grow into our personal, autonomous selves. Your hard work is worth it in more ways than you can imagine. You are not only trying to make a better life for yourself and your kids, but you are modeling something for your kids that they will also reproduce in a certain way in their life and later with their spouses. You have the opportunity to find ways to genuinely appreciate the pain and demonstrate gratitude around the kids, or you could complain and be angry. You could surround yourself with people that allow you to complain, and even fuel it. You could do that, but then the kids will do that too.  Your coping then is found in applying what you notice in situations to your choice in how you hold it. Your formation of grit in your current season will be unmatched in your career. Now, as long as you don't internalize being a victim and want the world to give you what you might feel entitled to, or form some greater thought because of what you went through, you will give all this energy someday to your career, and build your way into financial freedom and a better life for your kids, etc.  DO NOT look to coping as complaining. Look to coping as accepting and therefore empowering. The more you accept your life and the circumstances, find little pockets of joy, and stay mindful of the task at hand, you will gain confidence and won't have to scream from the rooftops so that everyone can validate you. Your determination, grit, and life experience will be obvious to those who meet you because you will become someone who lived through things coming out grateful for it.  Imagine that, this situation is something you are grateful for the experience. And your kids will be raised by a mom who modeled that you work for things you want in life and you earn what you take. You are giving your kids a lesson unlike any public or affluent school could provide. Practice finding areas you can be grateful for, which will stop your emotions from building up and overriding all your hard work. 
Answered on 01/18/2023