Worry Answers

Depersonalisation

Dear Kuchtess,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce their intensity.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for them.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Is there someone who takes Bluecross Blueshield?

Dear Josilla,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce their intensity.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for them.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I get rid of fear? How do I become less agreeable? How do I become more disciplined?

Hello, Thanks for reaching out today.   If I was to take a calculated guess on reading your concerns I would say it appears to me to be social anxiety which is causing you to stress in many of your interactions and relationships.  I will share some insights with you as well as some things you can do to address those yourself but I would like to encourage you to take the next step in your journey by reaching out to a mental health counselor as this is affecting you both at home and at work. Living With Social Anxiety Disorder Social anxiety disorder (SAD) help can come in many forms. Although treatment is available and effective for SAD, it is estimated that only 25 percent of people with the disorder do not receive treatment. While not a substitute for professional treatment, for those that may otherwise receive no help, self-help is a good starting point. The self-help strategies for social anxiety disorder outlined below can be used at home to overcome your symptoms. Social Coping Identifying social skills that could use a bit of work and then focusing on improving them could help cope with the thoughts and emotions that come with social anxiety disorder. Assertiveness Many people with social anxiety disorder lack assertiveness and can benefit from learning to become more assertive through self-help strategies. Practice becoming more assertive by communicating your needs in a calm and relaxed way that respects the needs of others. Usually, this takes the form of "I" statements3 such as "I feel hurt when you don't respond to my phone calls." Learning to say no is also an important part of being assertive3 and a skill that most people with social anxiety struggle with. How To Be More Assertive When you Have SAD - with everyone, including customers, in-laws, when speaking in public Nonverbal Communication Improving your nonverbal communication skills is another area in which you can employ self-help strategies if you live with social anxiety. Most people with social anxiety tend to adopt a "closed-off" stance; you may do this without even realizing it. Learning how to have a relaxed posture (e.g. hands at your sides, good eye contact) encourages others to respond positively to you and makes you appear more approachable. Developing body confidence in this way will help you to become more confident in social interactions.   10 Body Communicators to watch out for: Verbal Communication In addition to adopting a relaxed body posture, knowing how to start conversations, keep them going, and listen attentively are skills that you can develop through self-help strategies. As an example, one quick tip for joining a group of people in conversation is to listen first and then make a comment about what they are already talking about. For example, "Are you talking about the election results? I couldn't believe them either." Expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible to develop your verbal communication abilities. Practice being a good listener, asking open-ended questions, and sharing stories about yourself so that others can get to know you better.   How to Have a Conversation More Easily When You Have SAD: Telling Others About Your Social Anxiety It's likely your closest family and friends already have an idea of your social anxiety. If you want to tell someone specific, send a message that there is something you'd like to share and arrange a time at a quiet place to talk. If you feel too nervous to explain your situation, write down a summary of what you've been feeling. It's best to share your symptoms so that the other person can gain an understanding of what you are going through. Remember that social anxiety disorder is still a little-understood condition and others may need some help to understand. Emotional Coping Fear and negative thoughts are two of the most common emotions when you have social anxiety. A few simple strategies can help you overcome them. Deep Breathing Having social anxiety means that you probably have strong emotional reactions in social situations. One way to reduce these anxious reactions is for your body to be in a relaxed state. When your body is relaxed, your breathing is slow and natural, and your mind is free of negative thoughts, making it easier to enjoy being with others. You probably breathe too quickly in anxiety-provoking situations, which in turn makes your other anxiety symptoms worse. Below are some steps to manage your anxious and shallow breathing. How to Practice Deep Breathing Count the number of breaths that you take in one minute (count an inhale and exhale as one). Make a note of this number. The average person will take 10 to 12 breaths per minute. Focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale through your nose. Take deep breaths from your diaphragm instead of shallow breaths from your chest. Inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds (use a watch or clock with a second hand). As you exhale, think “relax” and release tension in your muscles. Continue breathing this way for 5 minutes. Count your breaths per minute again and see if the number has gone down. Practice this breathing technique 4 times per day when you are already relaxed. When in social situations, make sure that you are breathing the way that you practiced. In time, this way of breathing will become automatic. Reducing Negative Thinking If you live with social anxiety, you probably misinterpret comments or facial expressions made by other people, which contributes to your emotional reactions.5 In particular, there are two common thought patterns that can contribute to your anxiety. Mindreading: You assume that you know what other people are thinking about you (e.g. "Everyone can see how anxious I am."). Personalizing: You assume that the behaviors of others are related to you (e.g. "He looks bored, I shouldn’t have invited him to this movie."). The thoughts that you have are so automatic that you probably don’t even realize you are thinking them. Below are some steps to better manage your negative thoughts. How to Reduce Negative Thoughts Think back to a recent social situation in which you felt anxious. Write down what your negative thoughts were before, during, and after the situation. Ask yourself questions to challenge your negative thoughts. For example, if your negative automatic thought was "People are yawning, they must think that I am boring," ask yourself "Could there be a different explanation?" In this case, your alternative thought could be "It probably had nothing to do with me, they were just tired." Try to notice the automatic negative thoughts that you have before, during, and after feared social situations, and challenge them with alternatives. How to Stop Thinking Bad Thoughts and Get Over Your Social Anxiety Facing Your Fears Avoiding feared situations may reduce your emotional reactions in the short term, but in the long term, it severely limits your life. In addition, the number of situations that you fear grows as your fear becomes more general. On the other hand, gradual exposure to social situations will help to reduce the anxiety and emotional reactions that you associate with them. Below are some strategies to overcome avoidance. Identify the top 10 situations that you avoid. For each situation on the list, break it down into a series of steps, increasing in difficulty. For example, if you are afraid of being the center of attention, your steps might look like this: Tell a funny story about yourself to a group of people that you know well. Tell a funny story about yourself to a group of people that you don’t know well. Voice your true opinion to a group of friends. Voice your true opinion to a group of strangers. Make a toast at dinner with people whom you know well. Make a toast at dinner with people whom you don't know well. Practice each step as much as you need to before moving on to the next. If you notice anxiety, challenge your negative thinking and use the slow breathing technique to relax. Note that the specific list you create will depend on your fears. For example, you might feel more afraid of speaking in front of people you know well versus a crowd of strangers. In this case, you would reverse items on the list. Day-to-Day Strategies Below are some tips to help you cope with social anxiety on a day-to-day basis, such as while at work or attending school. Tell your employer so that you can receive accommodations or supports in the workplace. Arrive to meetings early so you can meet people one by one as they arrive. Make a list of questions to ask your teacher or supervisor and start with the least anxiety-provoking ones. Keep up on current events so that you will be able to participate in small talk. Avoid using alcohol to overcome inhibitions. Choose a job for which you have passion so that even the most challenging aspects of work in terms of your social anxiety will seem worth it. Make new friends by greeting people, giving compliments, and starting brief conversations. Get regular exercise, eat healthy food, and avoid caffeine and sugar to reduce your anxiety. Mistakes to Avoid There are a number of common mistakes that people make when trying to overcome social anxiety through self-help strategies. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you aren't making things worse. Never try to control your anxiety. The more you see it as something awful that needs to be eliminated, the more focused you will be on it and the harder it will be to reduce. Don't focus on being perfect. Instead, focus on accepting worst-case scenarios and then work backward from there. Never accept social anxiety as a personality trait. While you might be an introvert or have a tendency to be shy, social anxiety disorder is a mental health issue that does not define who you are. It is possible to overcome your anxiety and live a fulfilling life. Don't wait too long to seek help from a mental health professional. While it can be tempting to think you can solve this all on your own, often people need therapy or medication to successfully manage social anxiety. Over time, as you practice relaxation, challenge negative thoughts, and face feared situations, you will find it easier to stay anxiety-free in stressful situations. This should help to relieve your social anxiety. However, if you still face severe anxiety on a daily basis, it is important to consult your doctor or a mental health professional, as traditional treatment such as medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy may be advisable. I hope you are encouraged to reach out with some professional support with all you are going through so that you can progress with your relationships at home and be successful at work.   I wish you the best of luck!   Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

When my body begins to feel healthier, is it natural to begin worrying about other things?

Dear Brody,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What therapy form do you aoply for OCD? I would like to do CBT/ERP

Dear Markus,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Does this make sense so far?   As a follow up I'll be sending you another exercise on a few tools that are aiming to help us practice "making room" for these feelings, accept them rather than fighting/avoiding them. Would you like to go through this exercise (now with this new mindset in mind) and let me know how it impacts you? Make sure that when you practice the meditation exercise, you're recalling what you've learned about observing your sensations and make room for them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Best solutions for parenting anxiety

Hello Effie, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling at this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others. I wanted to send you grounding skills to help you when you find that you struggle with anxiety or overthinking about things going on either in your life or your future? Know that you are not alone, today I am going to send you reading and skills to help you ground yourself when you are struggling.  What is grounding you may ask? Grounding is using skills to help you physically ground yourself when you are struggling with feeling anxious or racing thoughts. Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions and allows you to focus on what is happening in the moment.  It allows for you to focus on real items or things that you can either see, touch or smell in that moment to help you refocus your mind and help to calm yourself down.  These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment.Physical techniquesThese techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through distress.1. Put your hands in waterFocus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?2. Pick up or touch items near youAre the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.3. Breathe deeplySlowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.4. Savor a food or drinkTake small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.5. Take a short walkConcentrate on your steps — you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.6. Hold a piece of iceWhat does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?7. Savor a scentIs there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).8. Move your bodyDo a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.9. Listen to your surroundingsTake a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Do you recognize the language? Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.10. Feel your bodyYou can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part.Can you feel your hair on your shoulders or forehead? Glasses on your ears or nose? The weight of your shirt on your shoulders? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your sides? Can you feel your heartbeat? Is it rapid or steady? Does your stomach feel full, or are you hungry? Are your legs crossed, or are your feet resting on the floor? Is your back straight?Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you barefoot or in shoes? How does the floor feel against your feet?11. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 methodWorking backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the color of the flecks in the carpet or the hum of your computer.Mental techniquesThese grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and back to the present.12. Play a memory gameLook at a detailed photograph or picture (like a cityscape or other “busy” scene) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, turn the photograph face-down and recreate the photograph in your mind, in as much detail as possible. Or, you can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.13. Think in categoriesChoose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavors,” “mammals,” or “baseball teams.” Take a minute or two to mentally list as many things from each category as you can.14. Use math and numbersEven if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help center you.Try:running through a times table in your head. counting backward from 100 choosing a number and thinking of five ways you could make the number (6 + 11 = 17, 20 – 3 = 17, 8 × 2 + 1 = 17, etc.)15. Recite somethingThink of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.16. Make yourself laughMake up a silly joke — the kind you’d find on a candy wrapper or popsicle stick.You might also make yourself laugh by watching your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.17. Use an anchoring phraseThis might be something like, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. I live in City, State. Today is Friday, June 3. It’s 10:04 in the morning. I’m sitting at my desk at work. There’s no one else in the room.”You can expand on the phrase by adding details until you feel calm, such as, “It’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun. It’s my break time. I’m thirsty, so I’m going to make a cup of tea.”18. Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doingIf you like doing laundry, for example, think about how you’d put away a finished load.“The clothes feel warm coming out of the dryer. They’re soft and a little stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket, even though they spill over the top. I’m spreading them out over the bed so they won’t wrinkle. I’m folding the towels first, shaking them out before folding them into halves, then thirds,” and so on.19. Describe a common taskThink of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.20. Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behindPicture yourself:gathering the emotions, balling them up, and putting them into a box walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from painful feelings imagining your thoughts as a song or TV show you dislike, changing the channel or turning down the volume — they’re still there, but you don’t have to listen to them.21. Describe what’s around youSpend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Use all five senses to provide as much detail as possible. “This bench is red, but the bench over there is green. It’s warm under my jeans since I’m sitting in the sun. It feels rough, but there aren’t any splinters. The grass is yellow and dry. The air smells like smoke. I hear kids having fun and two dogs barking.”Soothing techniquesYou can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional distress. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.22. Picture the voice or face of someone you loveIf you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.23. Practice self-kindnessRepeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:“You’re having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.” “You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.” “You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.”Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.24. Sit with your petIf you’re at home and have a pet, spend a few moments just sitting with them. If they’re of the furry variety, pet them, focusing on how their fur feels. Focus on their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a smaller pet you can hold, concentrate on how they feel in your hand.Not at home? Think of your favorite things about your pet or how they would comfort you if they were there.25. List favoritesList three favorite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.26. Visualize your favorite placeThink of your favorite place, whether it’s the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all of your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colors you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin.Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?27. Plan an activityThis might be something you do alone or with a friend or loved one. Think of what you’ll do and when. Maybe you’ll go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie you’ve been looking forward to, or visit a museum.Focus on the details, such as what you’ll wear, when you’ll go, and how you’ll get there.28. Touch something comfortingThis could be your favorite blanket, a much-loved T-shirt, a smooth stone, a soft carpet, or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.If you have a favorite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and spend a moment thinking about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.29. List positive thingsWrite or mentally list four or five things in your life that bring you joy, visualizing each of them briefly.30. Listen to musicPut on your favorite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the song give you chills or create any other physical sensations? Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can you work through a bug phobia?

Good morning.  Phobias are common among humans and involve many behaviors, animals, and creatures of diverse types.  The category of "bugs" actually includes insects so throughout this answer, unless I indicate otherwise, the words insect and bug mean the same thing.  Entomophobia is also called insect phobia and acrophobia.  It is an extreme and persistent fear of bugs or insects themselves and is one of the most common types of phobias.  It causes significant distress, anxiety, and irrational fear.  It is more than dislike or fear.  The person with this specific phobia knows that it is not rational to fear the bug or insect but they fear it anyway.  The extent of the consequences of this distress, anxiety, and irrational fear seriously affect the person's quality of life and ability to go about their daily living activities.  Despite knowing that they are in no actual danger, being near an insect can cause the following mental and physical symptoms:   immediate feelings of intense fear or anxiety when seeing or thinking about an insect anxiety that worsens as an insect comes closer inability to control the fears even though you’re aware they’re unreasonable trouble functioning because of fear doing anything possible to avoid insects, such as avoiding parks, basements, or activities where they may be present Entomophobia can also cause additional physical symptoms, such as panic attacks, rapid heart rate, chest tightness, sweating, hyperventilating, dry mouth, shaking, crying (particularly with children). Initial reaction to bugs may be distaste but once it expands to fear it becomes overwhelming to the point of being consistently preoccupied with whether or not an insect or bug is near.  It takes over one's life.  There are certain insects that have their own specific phobias such as scorpions, centipedes, and cockroaches.  Some of the differentiation is due to the venom or the bite or sting of the insect.  Antianxiety medications are in the front line of treatment but by no means the only treatment. A family physician can manage the diagnosis and prescribing such medication.  If you are already seeing a psychiatrist he or she can prescribe as well.  Exposure is another method of treatment with one imagining the presence of the bug or insect that is feared.  One can do progressive exposure in which one is closer and closer to the insect or bg.  .  Any anxiety treatment may be useful as well.  There are also machines that encourage calm breathing which are helpful according to research and promotion by manufacturers.  Any of these methods can be utilized by a counselor to assist you in managing overwhelming anxiety.  A physician, as previously mentioned, is essential to prescribing unless you live in a state where counselors may prescribe medication.  
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What can cure anxiety,Panick attacks

Dear Bev,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What is the best course of action if I just can't afford therapy right now?

Dear Nic,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Am I in a depression or anxiety disorder?

Hello Sakura, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling at this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others. After reading your question, I wanted to send you grounding skills to help you when you find that you struggle with anxiety or overthinking about things going on either in your life or your future? Know that you are not alone, today I am going to send you reading and skills to help you ground yourself when you are struggling.  What is grounding you may ask? Grounding is using skills to help you physically ground yourself when you are struggling with feeling anxious or racing thoughts. Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions and allows you to focus on what is happening at the moment.  It allows for you to focus on real items or things that you can either see, touch or smell at that moment to help you refocus your mind and help to calm yourself down.  These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment.Physical techniquesThese techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through distress.1. Put your hands in waterFocus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?2. Pick up or touch items near youAre the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.3. Breathe deeplySlowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.4. Savor a food or drinkTake small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.5. Take a short walkConcentrate on your steps — you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.6. Hold a piece of iceWhat does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?7. Savor ascentIs there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).8. Move your bodyDo a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.9. Listen to your surroundingsTake a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Do you recognize the language? Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.10. Feel your bodyYou can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part.Can you feel your hair on your shoulders or forehead? Glasses on your ears or nose? The weight of your shirt on your shoulders? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your sides? Can you feel your heartbeat? Is it rapid or steady? Does your stomach feel full, or are you hungry? Are your legs crossed, or are your feet resting on the floor? Is your back straight?Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you barefoot or in shoes? How does the floor feel against your feet?11. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 methodWorking backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the color of the flecks in the carpet or the hum of your computer.Mental techniquesThese grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and back to the present.12. Play a memory gameLook at a detailed photograph or picture (like a cityscape or other “busy” scene) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, turn the photograph face-down and recreate the photograph in your mind, in as much detail as possible. Or, you can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.13. Think in categoriesChoose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavors,” “mammals,” or “baseball teams.” Take a minute or two to mentally list as many things from each category as you can.14. Use math and numbersEven if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help center you.Try:running through a times table in your head. counting backward from 100 choosing a number and thinking of five ways you could make the number (6 + 11 = 17, 20 – 3 = 17, 8 × 2 + 1 = 17, etc.)15. Recite somethingThink of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.16. Make yourself laughMake up a silly joke — the kind you’d find on a candy wrapper or popsicle stick.You might also make yourself laugh by watching your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.17. Use an anchoring phraseThis might be something like, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. I live in City, State. Today is Friday, June 3. It’s 10:04 in the morning. I’m sitting at my desk at work. There’s no one else in the room.”You can expand on the phrase by adding details until you feel calm, such as, “It’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun. It’s my break time. I’m thirsty, so I’m going to make a cup of tea.”18. Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doingIf you like doing laundry, for example, think about how you’d put away a finished load.“The clothes feel warm coming out of the dryer. They’re soft and a little stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket, even though they spill over the top. I’m spreading them out over the bed so they won’t wrinkle. I’m folding the towels first, shaking them out before folding them into halves, then thirds,” and so on.19. Describe a common taskThink of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.20. Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behindPicture yourself:gathering the emotions, balling them up, and putting them into a box walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from painful feelings imagining your thoughts as a song or TV show you dislike, changing the channel or turning down the volume — they’re still there, but you don’t have to listen to them.21. Describe what’s around youSpend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Use all five senses to provide as much detail as possible. “This bench is red, but the bench over there is green. It’s warm under my jeans since I’m sitting in the sun. It feels rough, but there aren’t any splinters. The grass is yellow and dry. The air smells like smoke. I hear kids having fun and two dogs barking.”Soothing techniquesYou can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional distress. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.22. Picture the voice or face of someone you loveIf you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.23. Practice self-kindnessRepeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:“You’re having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.” “You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.” “You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.”Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.24. Sit with your petIf you’re at home and have a pet, spend a few moments just sitting with them. If they’re of the furry variety, pet them, focusing on how their fur feels. Focus on their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a smaller pet you can hold, concentrate on how they feel in your hand.Not at home? Think of your favorite things about your pet or how they would comfort you if they were there.25. List favoritesList three favorite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.26. Visualize your favorite placeThink of your favorite place, whether it’s the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all of your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colors you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin.Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?27. Plan an activityThis might be something you do alone or with a friend or loved one. Think of what you’ll do and when. Maybe you’ll go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie you’ve been looking forward to, or visit a museum.Focus on the details, such as what you’ll wear, when you’ll go, and how you’ll get there.28. Touch something comfortingThis could be your favorite blanket, a much-loved T-shirt, a smooth stone, a soft carpet, or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.If you have a favorite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and spend a moment thinking about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.29. List positive thingsWrite or mentally list four or five things in your life that bring you joy, visualizing each of them briefly.30. Listen to musicPut on your favorite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the song give you chills or create any other physical sensations? Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/18/2021

too scared to get help how do I overcome it

Hello there! this is a great question. You are not alone. Many others also have a sense that they need/ want help, but are either afraid or unsure about how to go about this.  To better answer these questions I would like to address them in two parts. Firstly, I acknowledge that the idea of starting therapy can be overwhelming, and this is a step that one would have to take when ready. How does one know they need help? If you acknowledge that your daily social, relational, and physical functioning is impaired, and you are struggling in managing these areas on your own, this could be a sign that you need help. As for the fear of beginning therapy. I encourage you to weigh the risks, and benefits of getting help. If there is more benefit than risk, then maybe it's worth taking that leap. Let's assume you see more of the benefit, now there's the question of how and where one would go to get that help. I would say one of the benefits of starting your counseling journey on a platform like Betterhelp is that you have quite a few options on how you would go about it. Firstly you have access to your own virtual counseling room 24/7, where you can message your therapist throughout the week, check in on your goals, and journal as needed. In addition to this, you have three options for how you would like to do live sessions with your therapist that include: live chat, live phone call, or live video. Since you are struggling with poor self-esteem/ image at the moment perhaps you could begin by engaging in live chats or phone sessions with a therapist until you feel comfortable doing a live video session. Keep in mind that if at any point you don't feel uncomfortable with your assigned therapist, you are free to request a new one.  Remember when it comes to therapy, you should feel like you are in the driver's seat, and Betterhelp really does provide this control.  I really encourage you to think about these points, and if they sound good to you perhaps you can give therapy a try. Hopefully, this helps you. Wishing you all the best!
Answered on 10/18/2021

I have anxiety when it comes to sex which leads to ED. What should I do about this?

Dear Deebz,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts, while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce their intensity.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

I am a bipolar person, I get delusional when I get angry. Could that be the reason ?

HI,      I read your question and I see you are struggling with anger and delusions.  I would advise you to speak with your doctor considering your Bipolar disorder.  I suggest you work through your anger identifying your triggers and understanding how both relate.  Identifying why you have illusions when you are angry will help you create effective ways to cope with your challenges. It appears you are struggling with some trauma that needs to be identified.  Identifying your trauma can assist with controlling your triggers associated with bipolar. This is exhibited when one struggles with the inability to control negative thoughts, conflicting relationships, lack of affection, struggles with inferiority to others, struggles with expressing your thoughts, avoidance, and lack of support. Trauma is associated with a person triggered by past events by present actions and responses. Understanding trauma can be difficult that needs attention from a professional to guide and assist in a healthy way to increase positive ways to explore, process, and discuss alternatives without feeling overwhelmed by the emotions and actions. It also appears that you are exhibiting symptoms of anxiety as you do not understand what you are feeling and how it is connected to your life. Anxiety can be triggered by trauma or the inability to process or cope with negative feelings or thoughts.  Anxiety is the inability to stop worrying and control the negative thoughts resulting in a decline in daily activities, create fear and result in depression.  My suggestion is to work with a doctor and a counselor to identify your feelings and thoughts associated with trauma, illusions, and confusion to help work through difficulties and cope in a healthy way. It would be best to allow a counselor to assist your weekly in identifying your experiences, feelings, and thoughts related to delusions.  Allowing yourself to be helpful will increase your ability to self-soothe and gain control over your life and actions. As you consider your options there are several techniques that will be beneficial. Cognitive Behavior Therapy will help you identify, replace and challenge negative thoughts of yourself as well as negative perception socially to increase healthy coping skills.  Dialectal Therapy will help reduce the intensity by learning to regulate your emotions, defuse situations, and set boundaries by challenging isolation and expressing feelings with confidence.
Answered on 10/18/2021

I'm married to a woman who is diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. How can I cope?

Hello, my name is Eric Velazquez and I am a Clinical Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your struggles with me. When I read the first lines of your question it dawned on me that your relationship may have gone through a lot of trauma. I wonder if there is love and respect in the relationship at this point. We cannot change others, the other person will change if they feel that they need to or if they have a desire to change. Personality disorders are difficult to treat as they are not mental illnesses they are part of who the person is.  She may have been raised by parents who were similar and be reacting to her trauma. How about you? How are you coping with this? What do you want for yourself? Remember stress affects many things in our minds and bodies. Some of us may experience more stress than others and others may cope with stress differently. Things that cause negative stress are triggers (some people in 12 step groups call them temptations). Triggers can be people, thoughts, events, memories, etc. How would you define stress? When do you feel more stressed out? What triggers you?You may also be traumatized by her behavior and all that you have gone through and may need to speak to someone about this.  Being GentleIn our process of self-discovery and healing, we may undergo many different things. That is normal and okay. Recovery is never fully complete. It is a process that we may cope with for a long time. This is a difficult thing to accept and cope with. As humans, we may begin to think: “Fuck this, this means that I will be doing this forever!” Thinking in this manner is thinking in absolutes. This does not help at all. It is healthier to think that as people who are growing, we learn new things daily and can challenge ourselves to overcome things and grow.When we as human beings are faced with the task of coping with emotional wounds or trauma, we may grow to a state of emotional healing that is greater than some in the rest of the population. We grow in awareness, mindfulness, and gratitude. We also grow in our emotional intelligence which is important if we are to have meaningful relationships.   Speaking about your experience and coping can help heal your wounds, your marriage, and your entire life.
(LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I get the motivation I need to push far with life

Dear Frankie,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized by it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings, or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings, and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce their intensity.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for them.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for them.   You can look up the "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Does this make sense so far?   As a follow up I'll be sending you another exercise on a few tools that are aiming to help us practice "making room" for these feelings, accept them rather than fighting/avoiding them. Would you like to go through this exercise (now with this new mindset in mind) and let me know how it impacts you? Make sure that when you practice the meditation exercise, you're recalling what you've learned about observing your sensations and make room for them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I stay away from excessive thinking and constant anxiety with a problem in my life without a

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with overthinking and anxiety.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have about society.   Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of anxiety and overthinking.   As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in the past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I live more in the moment and stop overthinking?

Hello Hi, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you when you find yourself overthinking and also to help you find your happiness during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Sometimes, when you feel stressed or even overwhelmed, it isn't easy to stay focused. I just wanted to give a few tips on what may be causing this distraction. I am giving you these strategies so you can begin to implement them and consider the triggers/stressors impacting your thoughts, how you feel, and your behaviors (energy, motivation, etc.).High-stress levels - When you have a lot going on and face high levels of stress, it is more likely that your attention span will be shorter and that you'll have trouble focusing on the task at hand. Are there certain things you can recognize that may be causing you to feel stressed out? Have you been ruminating about it and playing this thought in your head over and over again? Let me give you an example of how stress can be distracting and cause negative thoughts. Imagine going to a picnic on a beautiful warm summer day. The wind is light, the sun is shining, and the food is delicious. You are sitting in a grassy field and just daydreaming of this beautiful moment. All of a sudden, these feisty little ants show up and start to ruin the moment. They are crawling all over the blanket, one got on your sandwich, and now your beautiful moment is ruined by these little ants. When you are trying to enjoy the day and focus on being in the moment, sometimes these Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) ruin the moment. If you find that ANTS continues to destroy your peace, we can work on that more in the session. Your environment - Is your workspace or home cluttered with things? Do you have trouble finding what you need when you need it? This could be why you cannot focus and concentrate. Sometimes your environment is a major stressor that contributes to why you are distracted. What right now in your environment might be causing you to feel discomfort? Poor diet - Eating a lot of junk food or not eating enough can cause irritability, and even overeating can be the root cause of distraction. Your brain needs a certain amount of essential nutrients to focus and stop thinking, so depriving yourself of that changes your productivity. That's why it's critical to eat well if you want to focus. Social Media - Do you often find yourself checking your phone, Facebook, or personal emails while you are supposed to be working or spending quality time with loved ones? The constant stream of information coming from technology is a common cause of distraction. Not to mention, it is an easy trigger and could leave you vulnerable to comparisons. How much time do you spend on social media? Lack of sleep - If you're not getting enough rest and sleep at night, you are more likely to concentrate effectively during the day. Have a healthy nighttime routine and give yourself a lI am talking about negative self-talk and reminding you to T.H.I.N.K. Sometimes when you are triggered by something, you will ruminate on it for a while. Rumination can convince you of things that can make you feel anxious and worried about yourself or the things that are happening in your life. Ruminating happens when you try to figure out a solution to a problem and keep getting stuck. Sometimes you may feel guilt, resentment, anger, embarrassment, and even sadness. This may cause a lot of negative self-talk. You may overexplain yourself (emotional vomiting) and obsessive attention to overanalyzing decisions in some cases. You may also tend to overvalue your relationships with other people so much that you'll make large personal sacrifices to maintain these relationships, even if they're not working for you. This can leave you feeling unimportant, devalued, and unappreciated. This is when negative thinking errors and negative self-talk begins. This creates core beliefs about yourself that may not be true. The more you ruminate and think, the more your negative self-talk creates beliefs. Core beliefs are central beliefs that you have about yourself, others, and the world. Many of your beliefs have been created at an early age. These beliefs and negative self-talk are present in messages such as, "I am unlovable," or "people can't be trusted," "I am not good enough," "the whole world is bad," etc. When you start to ruminate and have negative thoughts that start to create beliefs, I want you to remember this acronym T.H.I.N.K!!Is it Truthful?·          When you start to have certain beliefs that are ANTS (automatic negative thoughts), you do not have to accept this belief as to the truth about yourself and life. So other than your thoughts, are there other factual things that would contradict (go against) your beliefs? For example, o     Core Belief: "I am a loser; I never do anything right." Accepting this belief would be: I missed a deadline at work (confirming your negative thought/belief) Rejecting this belief would be: Although I missed this one deadline, I am always on time and mostly turn in all of my work on time. Modifying that belief (to change it, so it confirms your negative belief): §   The boss says, "Great job on meeting the deadline." Modified thought: They are just saying that they do not mean it! Is it Helpful?·          If you realize your thoughts are only reaping havoc, do not lay down and take it. Stop getting beat up by your thoughts, even if it is difficult for you to see past your own beliefs about yourself. If the thought is not helpful, just let it go. Try taking action and doing something else. Is it Insightful? Is this thought helping you solve the problem? Or is this thought about creating new problems? Try to find the smallest solution that you can resolve. Try to find out something you can do at the moment while you are ruminating. If all you are coming up with are problems, then this is all you will see. Is it Necessary? What you are thinking about at the moment. Is it something that actually has to be resolved right now? Is this a current problem that needs resolution, or did something already occur in the past, and you cannot let it go? Try to stay present...if it is not a problem RIGHT NOW, then stay connected to things you can do today. Is it Kind? If you realize that most of your thoughts are negative, you know maybe it's just your beliefs. Are you being kind to yourself and treating yourself with respect? Sometimes, when you are in a low mood, you are not even kind to yourself. You self-criticize, self-judge, and self-blame. Sometimes this is suppressed and then projects as resentments to other people and how you view the world. Try to be a bit nicer to yourself! Please find the skills on helping you find happiness. Happiness and emotional fulfillment are within your grasp. Happiness is and will always be the most cherished, yet most elusive, of all human desires. Day in and day out, many search for happiness, but end the day empty-handed.Happiness isn’t something that someone gives us, nor is it something that we have to have permission for. Happiness is a state of mind that is created from within. We all want to feel happy, and each of us has different ways of getting there.  Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let them rub off on you. Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to feel as happy as the person next to you? Do you ever feel that you are on the sidelines looking in on a party you were never invited to? Maybe you seemingly have everything you could possibly want materialistically, but still can’t quite feel that elusive internal contentment?Maybe you wish you had more, and are not satisfied with your current life circumstances and believe that if you just get that ‘perfect job’ you can then be happy. Or maybe you’ve lost a love…maybe you’ve never had one… and feel that your life is not complete without a significant other to bring you the happiness that is so rightfully yours, but seems to be just out of reach. Regardless of your personal circumstances, it is possible to find internal happiness, that form of happiness that feeds on nothing, except your own desire to find it.PIES is a common acronym for the complete package to ensure happiness. P – physical exercise, I – intellectual stimulation, E – emotional stimulation, S – spiritual stimulation. And with this in mind, I have completed a list of things that we all can do to bring out our own internal happiness that is non-reliant on any other person. 1.   Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.2.   Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.3.   Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.4.   Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.5.   Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.6.   Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.7.   Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.8.   Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. The change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.9.   Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.10.            State your achievements“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry FordIt’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and never take the time to reflect on the things we have accomplished. Each of us has done plenty of awesome things in our lives.So what if life isn’t perfect at this exact moment. It’s okay that it’s taking a tad bit longer with your fitness goals. Don’t worry that you haven’t reached the pinnacle of your career just yet.The most important thing is that you are moving forward and you’re in a better position today than you were yesterday.Start a journal listing accomplishments, milestones, and breakthroughs you’ve experienced. After writing this list, take a moment or two to reflect on all you’ve done.11.   Include the little things you love into your day-to-day life“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert BraultI’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” The little things are the small and often underappreciated aspects of life that truly make us happy. Rather, it’s your favorite cup of Joe, your morning walk along the beach, attending your favorite yoga class, or wearing that outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.Schedule your life around the small details that bring you happiness.12.  Do what you loveAs Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”People who do what they love for a living tend to live a happier and more productive life, have higher self-esteem, and better health. 13.  Paint your perfect day“To accomplish great things, we must first dream, then visualize, then plan…believe…act!” – Alfred A. MontapertEveryone has the power to live each day exactly the way they want to. We all have the same 24 hours to work with. It’s up to you to decide how to fill up those minutes.Ask yourself, are you wasting time watching reality TV, sleeping late, complaining about your job, and wishing for a better life? Or are you going after your goals and dreams, and doing whatever it takes to reach them?Take these 3 steps to achieve your perfect day:Realize you have the power to achieve anything you’ve ever wanted and no one else can do the work for you. Figure out what your perfect day looks like. You must believe 100% that your perfect day will become a reality.14.  Put yourself above everything else“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world.” – Lucille BallIt’s time you put yourself first and become selfish. While it’s admirable to help others, don’t forget to show yourself some love. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a weekend trip where you can disconnect from the noisy world you live in.Block out your time and let no one cut in.15.  Tell yourself today will be awesome“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce BrothersHappiness comes from within. Happiness starts with reshaping your mindset to be positive and eliminating all negative thoughts.Be positive and believe in yourself, no matter the obstacles that might stand in your way.16.             Forget being perfect and accept yourself as is“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo TolstoyPeople often act confident and secure around others but deep down, they’re insecure.Realize we live in an imperfect world and stop comparing ourselves to others (it’s not worth it to play ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, life becomes simpler and more peaceful.17.              Surround yourself with the right company“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higherYour friends should bring out the best version of you and help you strive to new levels in life. Think of your company in terms of quality instead of quantity.It’s more important to have a few quality friends who inspire you, than tons of friends who leave you in a negative state of mind.18.             Stop worrying and keep it moving“Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain.” – Author unknownLife is full of what-ifs and endless possibilities. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, whether you worry or not.So, why waste time worrying when some things you have no control over?If what you are worried about isn’t within your means to be solved, then move on and don’t let it put a damper on your parade. Embrace the uncertainty that life brings us and get to enjoying life.  19. Get out of your comfort zone and become bold“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian TracyWe cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DepreeNothing worth having comes with a 100% guarantee of success, nor should it. Being willing to take risks is what life is all about.Living in your comfort zone shrinks your world and gives you tunnel vision. Instead of thinking, “If only I had…,” take a leap of faith, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover the life you always wanted.20.             Have a feel-good song“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip HarburgEveryone needs a go-to song when they need to brighten up their day. It’s been proven that music can make us happy even on our worst days.21.             Eat HealthyThe first step one should take in making internal improvements is acknowledging your food choices. I know you’ve heard the cliche ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, a corny cliche that it is, but there is an element of truth to this age-old saying!Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals to energize your body throughout the day, providing your various body systems with oxygen and energy that can greatly impact your overall mood and sense of well-being. Junk food will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling sluggish for the bulk of the day.So often when we’re busy we forget to eat, and will then grab the quickest snack available without thinking of the impending effects of unhealthy eating. Snacking on a bowl of grapes, or some refreshing watermelon can bring an amazing boost to your morale and energy level. And don’t forget…along with all this healthy eating, keeping hydrated is also very important.22.             ExerciseAlong with healthy eating comes exercise. It needn’t be strenuous, this post isn’t about improving one’s bicep ratio!  A simple increase in heart rate will increase your endorphins giving you a natural feeling of happiness, and I do believe it’s the endorphins that give many avid exercise enthusiasts their momentum for endurance. Physical exercise and the increase in those endorphins can naturally increase mood positivity. Just 20 to 30 minutes each day should keep your spirits right at par with your endorphin level!  23.  Treat Yourself WellSo now that the technical stuff is out of the way, ie healthy eating and exercise…it’s time to work on the internal stuff.  I was once told by someone during a very difficult time to wrap myself in a comfortable blanket, make myself a hot tea, or hot chocolate, (I guess wine could work too…. but only in moderation, as there is no happiness in a hangover!) and keep that blanket wrapped around you and treat yourself as you would treat someone else who seems to be under the weather.  Maybe when you were young, someone would make you homemade / or store-bought Chicken Soup?Well, this is similar, the comfort of the soup or hot tea and blanket provides warmth and will put your body into a relaxing mode, and therefore release certain chemicals in your brain that will give you that comfort that you once believed could only be received from a significant other. We’ve all heard of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’..well this collection of ‘good-feeling books is similar in nature to sitting back and treating yourself well. This was honestly my first step to internal happiness.  And it was a small piece of advice that I’ve carried with me for quite some time now, and it always works during times of unsettlement.24. Take a Break from Social MediaAs you’re relaxing, you may think to yourself that it is the perfect time to check in on social media, but you might want to try and resist, and depending on your cohort, this may prove to be more difficult for some than for others!  Remember, this time is about yourself and really not about your friends. It’s time you dedicated solely for yourself!When you’re not at your happiest moment, seeing other’s perfectly portrayed lives on social media is enough to bring even the happiest person into a non-showering, non-hair brushing, stay in bed all day slump. If you are feeling depressed or down.. avoid, avoid, avoid..social media and watch a comedy or an intriguing drama instead!25. Set that Movie Date Night for YourselfSpeaking of movies…. I have found that a dedicated night to just yourself and a really good movie can do wonders to your morale. Prepare some healthy snacks..and okay….maybe some popcorn too, and settle in for the night with one of your all-time favorite ‘turn-to’ movies when feeling down, or a movie you’ve been just dying to see and never did.With the digital age, the way it is now, thousands of movies are right at your fingertips, and these movies can sometimes give you a greatly needed boost that can actually carry onto the next day. I personally find movies can be incredibly therapeutic and motivational, depending on genre.26. Go out and ExploreThis is my favorite tip of all, probably because it has always worked for me during times when I was feeling down. I have a few places that I like to walk to, and these walks lead me to places that are serene, peaceful, and just downright relaxing. If you have a waterfront, seawall, beach, or just a favorite park, I recommend bringing a blanket, a well-loved book, or magazine and just submit to the inner peace and happiness that is lurking from deep inside. Don’t allow negative thoughts or external problems to enter your mind.Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, be it nature, trees, the sea, or an urban paradise, and treat yourself like you are dating yourself. Enjoy this time, and enjoy the fact that this is YOUR life, and you are in charge of allowing yourself to be happy. And if you don’t have a time issue, then take your time there, pretend that you are taking a child or a pet to the park, you would do it for them right? Then take this time and do it for yourself. This is one of the most sure-fire ways of finding happiness.27. Take Pictures of Beautiful ThingsSo you’re taking in the beauty around you, and taking advantage of all this free enjoyment, so why don’t you pull out the phone, or camera and snap a few photos? You never know…. you could find joy or even a hidden talent that you never knew you had! I personally love buildings, I take photos of them all the time…perhaps a little too many photos!Maybe you like the rainfall, or puddles, flowers, landscape, or focus on your creative side and take some unique photos of whatever you fancy from various angles, and see what you come up with. Creativity is in all of us, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to remind us to go find it. If drawing is more your thing…then draw and draw some more… really lets your creativity just take over.28. Write it all outSpeaking of creativity, have you ever thought of keeping a personal journal, or even a not-so personal journal, say your own blog perhaps? Writing can be cathartic, it can be a vessel to release pent-up emotions or frustration. If you write out all that is bothering you, it keeps your mind more organized and transfers your negative thoughts onto that paper, providing you the freedom to focus on positivity.While you’re at it, if you have problems that need solutions, this is also a good time to brainstorm and throw ideas onto that paper that can offer a solution. I’ve often felt that my alone time and list writing have relieved ill feelings leaving more room for my new ventures into that space for internal happiness.29. Declutter and PurgeLastly, if you’ve made it this far, then you are ready to make some serious progress. And this progress starts with completely decluttering and cleaning your home, donating or recycling anything that you don’t need. A clean and clutter-free home is a clean and clutter-free mind. At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sorry…yes another cliché! Be warned though… this may prove to be more challenging than it appears because if you are still feeling unhappy, and low on energy, then this step may be difficult to overcome.But can you imagine how simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing a clean home can be? Pump up on those fruits, drink some water, juice, or splurge on a beverage of your choice…turn on the tunes, and get cleaning!  You will feel better once you start, and even better once you’ve finished!ConclusionSo now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I found it. These are the steps I took, and I hope you can find the happiness you deserve as well. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/18/2021

I want to find an acceptance and commitment therapy counselor for my anxiety disorder.

Dear TranVu,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of becomes traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result, we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like suffering, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace, and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompanies a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid it, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts while continuing to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce their intensity.   Floating is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for them.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

What is a good coping mechanism when you can’t stop thinking and you have anxiety and depression?

As rational human beings, we often approach anxiety, fear, panic and worry, with the "just stop it" mentality.  Anxiety, although highly uncomfortable and distressing, It can also provide us with valuable information about ourselves and our assumptive worldview.  It helps our brain indicate that "this is important".  The importance may relate to your values, beliefs, and the general quality of your life.   It is okay to feel if uncertain about the experience of anxiety.  Good things can cause and create stress and anxiety, the same as negative experiences.  Our brains can't predict the future, but that rarely stops us from trying.  There have recently been some research studies that anxiety can become a habit-forming experience for our brains.  The study proposes that anxiety, which comes largely from things outside of our individual control, the brain in an attempt to make sense of things, decide I may not be able to do anything about this situation but I can worry about it, and that helps to satisfy something for which you can control.   You are in a similar process, you are trying to make sense of situations that are "new and different".  Overthinking can come from a desire to prepare ahead for any outcome.  I am sure it can maybe very exhausting at times for you.   The goal isn't to think about the future.  Using goals and plans is a very helpful and healthy practice for giving direction and purpose.   What largely drives anxiety, is the thought surrounding the worry.  I would ask you to consider exploring 3 (three) questions regarding your thoughts (if identifiable) around the anxiety  as 1.) Is it true (meaning are these thoughts true all of the time, or are there variables).  2) Is is Kind. (would you say these thoughts out loud to a friend, coworker, or fond family member), and 3) Do these thoughts give me the power for action.  These questions can give you the opportunity to reflect on the source of anxiety and also it may give your brain time to pause and process the contributor to anxiety reducing reaction and increasing production.   I hope you find this answer helpful.  Best endeavors.   
(MS, LPC, CGRS)
Answered on 10/18/2021

I am dealing with health anxiety(hypochondriasis)

Hello Mendyy, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Sometimes, when you feel stressed or even overwhelmed, it isn't easy to stay focused. I just wanted to give a few tips on what may be causing this distraction. I am giving you these strategies so you can begin to implement them and consider the triggers/stressors impacting your thoughts, how you feel, and your behaviors (energy, motivation, etc.).High-stress levels - When you have a lot going on and face high levels of stress, it is more likely that your attention span will be shorter and that you'll have trouble focusing on the task at hand. Are there certain things you can recognize that may be causing you to feel stressed out? Have you been ruminating about it and playing this thought in your head over and over again? Let me give you an example of how stress can be distracting and cause negative thoughts. Imagine going to a picnic on a beautiful warm summer day. The wind is light, the sun is shining, and the food is delicious. You are sitting in a grassy field and just daydreaming of this beautiful moment. All of a sudden, these feisty little ants show up and start to ruin the moment. They are crawling all over the blanket, one got on your sandwich, and now your beautiful moment is ruined by these little ants. When you are trying to enjoy the day and focus on being in the moment, sometimes these Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) ruin the moment. If you find that ANTS continues to destroy your peace, we can work on that more in the session. Your environment - Is your workspace or home cluttered with things? Do you have trouble finding what you need when you need it? This could be why you cannot focus and concentrate. Sometimes your environment is a major stressor that contributes to why you are distracted. What right now in your environment might be causing you to feel discomfort? Poor diet - Eating a lot of junk food or not eating enough can cause irritability, and even overeating can be the root cause of distraction. Your brain needs a certain amount of essential nutrients to focus and stop thinking, so depriving yourself of that changes your productivity. That's why it's critical to eat well if you want to focus. Social Media - Do you often find yourself checking your phone, Facebook, or personal emails while you are supposed to be working or spending quality time with loved ones? The constant stream of information coming from technology is a common cause of distraction. Not to mention, it is an easy trigger and could leave you vulnerable to comparisons. How much time do you spend on social media? Lack of sleep - If you're not getting enough rest and sleep at night, you are more likely to concentrate effectively during the day. Have a healthy nighttime routine and give yourself a lI am talking about negative self-talk and reminding you to T.H.I.N.K. Sometimes when you are triggered by something, you will ruminate on it for a while. Rumination can convince you of things that can make you feel anxious and worried about yourself or the things that are happening in your life. Ruminating happens when you try to figure out a solution to a problem and keep getting stuck. Sometimes you may feel guilt, resentment, anger, embarrassment, and even sadness. This may cause a lot of negative self-talk. You may overexplain yourself (emotional vomiting) and obsessive attention to overanalyzing decisions in some cases. You may also tend to overvalue your relationships with other people so much that you'll make large personal sacrifices to maintain these relationships, even if they're not working for you. This can leave you feeling unimportant, devalued, and unappreciated. This is when negative thinking errors and negative self-talk begins. This creates core beliefs about yourself that may not be true. The more you ruminate and think, the more your negative self-talk creates beliefs. Core beliefs are central beliefs that you have about yourself, others, and the world. Many of your beliefs have been created at an early age. These beliefs and negative self-talk present in messages such as, "I am unlovable," or "people can't be trusted," "I am not good enough," "the whole world is bad," etc. When you start to ruminate and have negative thoughts that start to create beliefs, I want you to remember this acronym T.H.I.N.K!!Is it Truthful?·          When you start to have certain beliefs that are ANTS (automatic negative thoughts), you do not have to accept this belief as to the truth about yourself and life. So other than your thoughts, are there other factual things that would contradict (go against) your beliefs? For example, o     Core Belief: "I am a loser; I never do anything right." Accepting this belief would be: I missed a deadline at work (confirming your negative thought/belief) Rejecting this belief would be: Although I missed this one deadline, I am always on time and mostly turn in all of my work on time. Modifying that belief (to change it, so it confirms your negative belief): §   The boss says, "Great job on meeting the deadline." Modified thought: They are just saying that they do not mean it! Is it Helpful?·          If you realize your thoughts are only reaping havoc, do not lay down and take it. Stop getting beat up by your thoughts, even if it is difficult for you to see past your own beliefs about yourself. If the thought is not helpful, just let it go. Try taking action and doing something else. Is it Insightful? Is this thought helping you solve the problem? Or is this thought about creating new problems? Try to find the smallest solution that you can resolve. Try to find out something you can do at the moment while you are ruminating. If all you are coming up with are problems, then this is all you will see. Is it Necessary? What you are thinking about at the moment. Is it something that actually has to be resolved right now? Is this a current problem that needs resolution, or did something already occur in the past, and you cannot let it go? Try to stay present...if it is not a problem RIGHT NOW, then stay connected to things you can do today. Is it Kind? If you realize that most of your thoughts are negative, you know maybe it's just your beliefs. Are you being kind to yourself and treating yourself with respect? Sometimes, when you are in a low mood, you are not even kind to yourself. You self-criticize, self-judge, and self-blame. Sometimes this is suppressed and then projects as resentments to other people and how you view the world. Try to be a bit nicer to yourself! Do you find that you struggle with anxiety or overthinking about things going on either in your life or your future? Know that you are not alone, today I am going to send you reading and skills to help you ground yourself when you are struggling.  What is grounding you may ask? Grounding is using skills to help you physically ground yourself when you are struggling with feeling anxious or racing thoughts. Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions and allows you to focus on what is happening at the moment.  It allows for you to focus on real items or things that you can either see, touch or smell at that moment to help you refocus your mind and help to calm yourself down.  These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment.Physical techniquesThese techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through distress.1. Put your hands in waterFocus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?2. Pick up or touch items near youAre the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.3. Breathe deeplySlowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.4. Savor a food or drinkTake small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.5. Take a short walkConcentrate on your steps — you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.6. Hold a piece of iceWhat does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?7. Savor a scentIs there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).8. Move your bodyDo a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.9. Listen to your surroundingsTake a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Do you recognize the language? Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.10. Feel your bodyYou can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part.Can you feel your hair on your shoulders or forehead? Glasses on your ears or nose? The weight of your shirt on your shoulders? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your sides? Can you feel your heartbeat? Is it rapid or steady? Does your stomach feel full, or are you hungry? Are your legs crossed, or are your feet resting on the floor? Is your back straight?Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you barefoot or in shoes? How does the floor feel against your feet?11. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 methodWorking backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the color of the flecks in the carpet or the hum of your computer.Mental techniquesThese grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and back to the present.12. Play a memory gameLook at a detailed photograph or picture (like a cityscape or other “busy” scene) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, turn the photograph face-down and recreate the photograph in your mind, in as much detail as possible. Or, you can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.13. Think in categoriesChoose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavors,” “mammals,” or “baseball teams.” Take a minute or two to mentally list as many things from each category as you can.14. Use math and numbersEven if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help center you.Try:running through a times table in your head. counting backward from 100 choosing a number and thinking of five ways you could make the number (6 + 11 = 17, 20 – 3 = 17, 8 × 2 + 1 = 17, etc.)15. Recite somethingThink of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.16. Make yourself laughMake up a silly joke — the kind you’d find on a candy wrapper or popsicle stick.You might also make yourself laugh by watching your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.17. Use an anchoring phraseThis might be something like, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. I live in City, State. Today is Friday, June 3. It’s 10:04 in the morning. I’m sitting at my desk at work. There’s no one else in the room.”You can expand on the phrase by adding details until you feel calm, such as, “It’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun. It’s my break time. I’m thirsty, so I’m going to make a cup of tea.”18. Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doingIf you like doing laundry, for example, think about how you’d put away a finished load.“The clothes feel warm coming out of the dryer. They’re soft and a little stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket, even though they spill over the top. I’m spreading them out over the bed so they won’t wrinkle. I’m folding the towels first, shaking them out before folding them into halves, then thirds,” and so on.19. Describe a common taskThink of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.20. Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behindPicture yourself:gathering the emotions, balling them up, and putting them into a box walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from painful feelings imagining your thoughts as a song or TV show you dislike, changing the channel or turning down the volume — they’re still there, but you don’t have to listen to them.21. Describe what’s around youSpend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Use all five senses to provide as much detail as possible. “This bench is red, but the bench over there is green. It’s warm under my jeans since I’m sitting in the sun. It feels rough, but there aren’t any splinters. The grass is yellow and dry. The air smells like smoke. I hear kids having fun and two dogs barking.”Soothing techniquesYou can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional distress. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.22. Picture the voice or face of someone you loveIf you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.23. Practice self-kindnessRepeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:“You’re having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.” “You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.” “You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.”Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.24. Sit with your petIf you’re at home and have a pet, spend a few moments just sitting with them. If they’re of the furry variety, pet them, focusing on how their fur feels. Focus on their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a smaller pet you can hold, concentrate on how they feel in your hand.Not at home? Think of your favorite things about your pet or how they would comfort you if they were there.25. List favoritesList three favorite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.26. Visualize your favorite placeThink of your favorite place, whether it’s the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all of your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colors you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin.Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?27. Plan an activityThis might be something you do alone or with a friend or loved one. Think of what you’ll do and when. Maybe you’ll go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie you’ve been looking forward to, or visit a museum.Focus on the details, such as what you’ll wear, when you’ll go, and how you’ll get there.28. Touch something comfortingThis could be your favorite blanket, a much-loved T-shirt, a smooth stone, a soft carpet, or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.If you have a favorite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and spend a moment thinking about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.29. List positive thingsWrite or mentally list four or five things in your life that bring you joy, visualizing each of them briefly.30. Listen to musicPut on your favorite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the song give you chills or create any other physical sensations? Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 10/18/2021