Worry Answers

How can I be less triggered by my partner smoking?

Hello Frida,    I am glad you have reached out for some help with how to manage your reactions or your triggers.  I am sure your partner smoking is causing you angst and concern.  I can imagine that you are worried about many things including you partner’s health and wellbeing and how that impacts your future for you both. One thing is for sure, you can support your partner when they are ready, but meanwhile let’s take a look at how you can regulate your emotions so that you do not feel so emotionally triggered and less reactive to the triggers. Here are some strategies you might consider trying: Mediation can help us live more mindful and examined lives. When you meditate, you’re practicing noticing thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them and telling yourself a story about these emotions.  If you need some help getting to sleep at night, try one of the apps on your phone such as Headspace, Calm or Medito or take a look at some Your Tube Videos for free.  When we are emotionally reactive or triggered, it’s often done compulsively or unconsciously. Meditation helps us be more self-aware and more conscious of our emotions before we react to them. If you feel like you have no control over your emotions or that you can’t help but react, meditation might be a great solution for you. If it’s possible, surround yourself with people who are positive and helpful in the way they think and feel. Who you associate with has an influence on how you perceive things. When a tricky situation arises, and the people you circulate with all give varying suggestions that result in cheerful ones, you are blessed. And you will statistically be less disposed to stress and tension. When the wrong people give you advice that produces more anxiety or results in enemies and animosity, consider running away from them! Sometimes emotionally reacting without thinking is what generally gets us in the most trouble and causes the most emotional pain.  It’s also what makes it harder to stop being emotionally reactive. Get in the practice of thinking before you act on your triggers. It sounds simple but of course it’s not easy – this takes effort and commitment. When you sense intense emotions percolating in you, use that as a reminder to stop, take a breath, and think. You will soon notice the physical response comes on rapid: clenched fists, sweat, hotness on the face, etc. These are clues that should remind you to turn inward first, think about your situation, and then slowly respond. These few seconds of contemplation can offer the clarity you need to respond more productively, positively and calmly. You might be extremely sensitive. You sense disapproval or disappointment from your partner, and you emotionally react by emotionally breaking down. You may feel your value is being underestimated, so you are struggling.  You may even sense projection, manipulation, or offensive, or some sort of accusation, and you do the knee-jerk reaction of reacting to your partner in an offensive manner, too. Tit for tat. A vicious cycle of negativity resulted because you were emotionally reactive. You never did your research to validate your perception of things. Instead, have the decency to give everyone who gives you negative vibes a decent chance to be heard and observed.You will be shocked if, in the end, the other person also thought you were the one initiating the negative vibes yourself.  A previous negative experience may form a prejudice in your mind, even one you may not be fully aware of having. Remind yourself that whenever you are reacting to something in the present, you may be assuming because of an experience in the past. Detaching our previous experiences from our present ones helps us stop being emotionally reactive. We allow past experiences with people, places, and things to inform how we react to similar people, places, and things in the future. It is known that there are 6 basic emotions that are present in all human cultures, they are: surprise, happiness, disgust, fear, sadness, and anger. To add to this emotion list are excitement, shame, pride, satisfaction, amusement, embarrassment, and contempt. Notice that there are both positive and negative emotions here. Wherever possible, be more inclined towards the positive ones to protect your own emotional health because stressors could be significant sources of physiological diseases. But there are also positive emotions in the list that, when used in an overreactive way, which could be reasons for poor health or conflicts with your partner. Let happiness conquer sadness. Look beyond your initial perception of a person who makes you feel anger, disgust, or fear. In the final analysis, trust might overcome all these emotions when you see a positive character in someone you haven’t noticed before. Lower your level of emotional reactivity by immersing yourself in some self-care activities such as a relaxing massage or give yourself a complete spa treat. Go on vacation to a peaceful place.  Hiking in the cool mountains, or to a relaxing beach, consider experiencing the serenity of the woods as recommended locations to recharge and ease your burned nerves and upended emotions. If going to the gym relaxes you, then join one.  It is known that toxins are filtered out of your body and loads of emotional stress by sweating. If sweating is your thing, you can also go on a run or participate in a team sport. Meanwhile, yoga and Tai Chi all have passionate practitioners because of their emotion calming benefits. Tai Chi has health benefits, just like yoga. They both improve movement, your muscles and enhance your flexibility. As a result, your moods and emotions also benefit. Your emotions and your ability to have enough sleep have an intimate relationship. Sleep deprivation makes you more emotionally stimulated easily and more sensitive to stressful stimuli and scenarios (in a negative way). Adequate sleep (6 to 8 hours) is crucial to better handling emotional reactivity in everyday conditions. So when you need to stop working or whatever you’re doing because it’s bedtime, stop. The benefits far outweigh the cons. The regular ingesting of supplements and food that calms your nerves and will help you stop being emotionally reactive is a great habit. Research has taught us that there are dietary supplements that can help lower your emotional anxieties include vitamin D, saffron, magnesium, chamomile, omega 3, vitamin C, L-theanine, CBD, curcumin, and multivitamins. But be well informed from professionals of the proper dosage of these supplements because too much of anything can produce undesired side effects. Calming foods should be naturally rich in magnesium. Spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens are examples. Other sources of magnesium are nuts, legumes, seeds, and whole grains. Zinc is also a natural emotion pacifier. It’s an essential component found in cashews, oysters, beef, liver, and egg yolks. But everything in moderation, as usual. You should also consider what to avoid consuming. For example, there are links between caffeine and anxiety that may make you consider avoiding that extra cup of coffee in the mornings. Absorb and learn all you can about what can help you stop being emotionally reactive. There has never been a time in history when all knowledge is at the tip of your fingers with the availability of internet. Specifically, when you anticipate being part of a stressful situation, narrow down your research to that niche. Like if you’re about to meet the parents of your partner. Research what should be your most appropriate behavior so that less tension will ensue. Laughter and joyfulness should be part and parcel of every effort to reduce being emotionally triggered. Finding something funny in every situation calms your nerves and makes you prepare with excitement, rather than fear or disgust, for the next chapter. A good old laughing spell mashes all emotionally reactive and triggering tendencies. I hope you try a combination of some of these strategies to help you feel less triggered by your partners smoking habits.  It will take work and effort on your part, but the benefits might b well worth it for you.  If you are still struggling t cope with the triggers, consider reaching out to BetterHelp for some support and guidance for a professional therapist.  Someone who can help guide you with further strategies to help you and someone to listen to your concerns and worries. I wish you much luck with your next step. Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 08/03/2022

I don't know if I have anxiety or panic attack

ANXIETY: Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.   At times Anxiety is a trauma response.    Sorry to hear you struggling. Please email/contact us at contact@betterhelp.com. Call us – 888-688-9296.   There could be many different things going on with you and a therapist could definitely help you figure this out. Perhaps run some Inventories with you (screeners). Its sounds like you may be too hard on yourself to meet your goals and over thinking may be causing some overwhelming feelings thought processes etc...   When individuals are overwhelmed without support, symptoms may arise. Symptoms related to anxiousness, depression, or low self-worth and people tend to start thinking of them-selves negatively. Over time they become stuck in this pattern of self-defeating thinking (negative thought pattern). This is often the case with people struggling with mental illness/ trauma/ addiction/ COVID etc....   There are many treatments/modalities/interventions to use for these symptoms.  The following or an integration of these therapies are a good way to navigate these issues: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy combines several ways to help you change how you think: ·You learn to notice irrational thoughts about yourself. ·         You learn to stop the thoughts. ·         You learn to replace the negative thoughts with accurate thoughts. ·         You can learn to relax your mind and body. ·         You can learn to manage your time better. Humanistic approach: ·      Explore Needs ·      Explore self actualization and self realization ·      Resolve conflicts ·       Reorganize your values and approaches to life ·       Interpret your thoughts and feelings. ·       Change behavior that you believe is interfering with your mental health   The quality of our thoughts changes how we act in and interact with the world around us. Not only does it affect our self-perception but also the relationships we keep with other people. Esteem impacts the jobs we look for, opportunities we take, and what we think we are deserving of. That is why it is necessary that we work on ourselves to get rid of self-defeating thoughts. They are incredibly limiting and can alter the course of the lives that we live. Thankfully there are some ways to help turn around your negative thoughts so that you can fulfill your potential:   Think about the person you would be without the fear and worry. Ask yourself a number of questions. Is your self-doubt keeping you away from the career opportunities that you would like to have? Are you creating problems in your relationships and friendships that would otherwise not be there? Where would you be without all the negativity? It is important to imagine yourself in this position, and know that you are capable of accomplishing all of that. Having the job you want, the relationship you want, living where you want to live. Once you are mentally healthy, you will see that all of this is within grasp and not simply a dream.   Do not assume that everything you feel is a necessary reality. Sometimes honesty is not always the truth, and you should not take it as that. You may feel insecure about your body, which does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with it. You may feel that someone is critiquing you or does not like you, but that could be entirely false. It is okay to feel insecure and unsure about yourself and situations. But you must take those emotions with a grain of salt as they can be far-fetched. Sometimes the things in your head are just thoughts and nothing more. You may think you are failing in certain aspects of life because you may have not met the goals you personally held. Objectively, however, you probably are flourishing.   Always try to succeed and be better even when you do not feel like it. If you are feeling unwell or incapable, that does not mean you must sit in those emotions and dwell on them. You must push yourself to overcome those self-defeating thoughts and not let your mental health dictate your actions. Negative thoughts make you do what you think you are capable of doing, however, sometimes you can achieve so much more and it is important to be aware of this. Think about what your long-term hopes are and how to go about achieving them without daily setbacks deterring you from that path. Accomplishing something despite everything in your mind working against you provides a great sense of relief. You feel stronger than ever and it is always beneficial to surprise yourself with what you never knew before.   Be realistic about your emotions. If you are feeling unworthy, you might think you cannot do something when in reality you do not want to. “Can’t” and “won’t” are very different things, so recognize the difference. If a task feels particularly difficult, you may think it is impossible to do when in reality it makes you feel uncomfortable and so you make excuses to not do it. And also keep everything in perspective. We take so much for granted in life. Allow yourself to feel grateful for the opportunity to challenge yourself and not have it be something forced onto you. There are many people who must do things every day to survive. They have no options, but knowing that you have a choice makes all the difference in how you approach things.   Being aware of your needs is the first step.   I hope this was helpful and you seek the aid you need. Hang in there you are not alone. You can make it through this.    Read this to your self out loud over and over: 1.     My sadness and my depression do not define me 2.     I don’t have to be productive to see value in myself 3.     I am resilient in the face of any challenge 4.     I am in charge of my life, and my happiness and I feel happy and content 5.     Not everybody will understand my situation, and it is okay 6.     I am much more than what I think I am 7.     Every day is a gift, and I am blessed to see today. I will see tomorrow and the next and bless them too 8.     I have made it this far, and I won’t stop now 9.     I am loved and appreciated even when it seems like I’m not 10. I am a work in progress, and I welcome every positive change. The darkness s in the past, and I open my eyes to new beginnings 11. I am more than what people think I am, and my thoughts do not shape my life 12. I am needed regardless of how worthless I feel 13. Everything will work out perfect for me, and I will watch it unfold 14. I forgive myself, and I don’t blame myself for my current situation 15. It’s in my head. It won’t last forever, and I will come out stronger 16. I deserve love, joy, and happiness. I deserve everything good 17. I don’t have anything to prove to myself or anybody else. I am enough, and that is okay 18. This darkness won’t last forever 19. I am not perfect, and it is okay. I forgive myself, and everyone for not being perfect. We are enough, and that is all that counts 20. I love myself, and I am happy! Also, work on self-care and healthy coping mechanisms  Ways to Relieve Psychological Stress:   1. Large muscle exercise triggers a drop in nervous system activation like fighting or fleeing from physical danger.2. Changing thoughts and perceptions about the stressor. “This project is important to me.”“I really care about this person.”“I’m excited!”3. Relaxation techniques: Train the mind and body to let go of tension and stress   •Deep breathing•Meditation•Progressive muscle relaxation•Visualization•Biofeedback •Autogenics•Self-hypnosis•Body scan•Soothing music   -----5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GROUNDING EXERCISE:   HOW TO DO IT: This technique will take you through your five senses to help remind you of the present. This is a calming technique that can help you get through tough or stressful situations.   Take a deep belly breath to begin.   5 - LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see, and say them out loud. For example, you could say, I see the computer, I see the cup, I see the picture frame.   4 - FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them out loud. For example, you could say, I feel my feet warm in my socks, I feel the hair on the back of my neck, or I feel the pillow I am sitting on.   3 - LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds. It could be the sound of traffic outside, the sound of typing or the sound of your tummy rumbling. Say the three things out loud.   2 - SMELL: Say two things you can smell. If you’re allowed to, it’s okay to move to another spot and sniff something. If you can’t smell anything at the moment or you can’t move, then name your 2 favorite smells.   1 - TASTE: Say one thing you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth, or a mint from after lunch. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favorite thing to taste.   Take another deep belly breath to end.      
Answered on 08/03/2022

How do I stop overthinking?

Dear NG,   Thank you for your message and sharing.   I understand how difficult it is to try stopping your thoughts. I could imagine how hard you have been trying and how frustrating to feel that nothing is working.    We can't stop our thoughts, but the more we practice being mindful of the present, the better we can catch ourselves with our thoughts and develop an alternative response to them, and learn to let go.   During moments like this I remind myself the teachings regarding worries, it is consisted with a 2 part questions:   1. Is this problem within my control? If so, then this problem will be solved given time and the right intervention. 2. Would worrying about it make any difference? If not, then is it worth it to sacrifice our time and mental health worrying over something that (1. can't be solved anyway / 2. will be solved anyway)?   This is definitely easier said than done, therefore as a fellow human being, I am working with you to pay attention to what is good, what is kind rather than our worries.   Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.   Can you stop obsessive thoughts? - If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it's slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.   So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let's look at this in more detail.   What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?   If you generated the thoughts, you could've controlled them too.   The truth is that you don't generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is on auto-mode most of the time.   You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can't how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?   If you believe that you are your mind, that's a false notion again.   If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.   The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.   So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it's your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.   How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?   If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question - "is this question not another thought? It's a thought about killing thoughts".   All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?   So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.   What gives power to a thought? - Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.   You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don't take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.   Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.   It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows - it's just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?   With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.   You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don't associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.   What Are Thoughts?   Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.   Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past "external" conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind's conditioning.   Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It's like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.   When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.   Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.   The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.   The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.   You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.   This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.   Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don't give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It's really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.   The Practice of Watching the Mind   All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved.   You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or "sadhana" as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.   Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all.   That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 09/29/2021

How to manage anxiety?

Hello Fox,   Thank you for sharing some of your story about the anxiety you are currently dealing with in your life on The Betterhelp Platform.  I can see that you might be feeling overwhelmed with your life and your current love situation.    I will answer your question: How to manage anxiety?   I will share some information explaining what anxiety disorders are, the symptoms, possible causes and treatmetns and then offers some tips on how you might manage your symptoms. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope I would encourage you to reach out to your medical provider or to a professional mental heath therapist for some support.  If you were unable to share all your details on here perhaps you might want to talk your details through with an impartial listener.   What Are Anxiety Disorders?   Anxiety is a normal emotion. It’s your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead.    Everyone feels anxious now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.   Occasional anxiety is OK. But anxiety disorders are different. They’re a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear.  The excessive anxiety can make you avoid work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations that might trigger or worsen your symptoms.      With treatment, many people with anxiety disorders can manage their feelings   Types of Anxiety Disorders   There are several types of anxiety disorders:   Generalized anxiety disorder. You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason. Panic Disorder. You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic disorder. During a panic attack you may break out in a sweat, have chest pain, and have a pounding heartbeat palpitations. Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack. Social Anxiety disorder. Also called social phobia, this is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed. Specific phobias. You feel intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause you to avoid ordinary situations. Agoraphobia.You have an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs. For example, you may panic or feel anxious when on an airplane, public transportation, or standing in line with a crowd.   Separation anxiety. Little kids aren’t the only ones who feel scared or anxious when a loved one leaves. Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder. If you do, you’ll feel very anxious or fearful when a person you’re close with leaves your sight. You’ll always worry that something bad may happen to your loved one.  Selective mutism. This is a type of social anxiety in which young kids who talk normally with their family don’t speak in public, like at school. Medication-induced anxiety disorder. Use of certain medications or illegal drugs, or withdrawal from certain drugs, can trigger some symptoms of anxiety disorder.     Anxiety Disorder Symptoms The main symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, stay still, and concentrate.  Your specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have.    Common symptoms are:  Panic, fear, and uneasiness Feelings of panic, doom, or danger Sleep problems Not being able to stay calm and still Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet Shortness of breath Breathing faster and more quickly than normal (hyperventilation) Heart palpitations Dry Mouth Nausea Tense muscles Dizziness Thinking about a problem over and over again and unable to stop (rumination) Inability to concentrate Intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places   Anxiety Disorder Causes and Risk Factors   Researchers don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders. A complex mix of things play a role in who does and doesn’t get one.    Causes of Anxiety Disorder   Some causes of anxiety disorders are:  Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.  Brain chemistry. Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.  Environmental stress. This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.   Drug withdrawal or misuse. Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use. Medical conditions. Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. It’s important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.    Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorder   Some things also make you more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors you can’t change, but others you can.    Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:    History of mental health disorder. Having another mental health disorder, like depression, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.  Childhood sexual abuse. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.  Trauma. Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause panic attacks. Negative life events. Stressful or negative life events, like losing a parent in early childhood, increase your risk for anxiety disorder.   Severe illness or chronic health condition. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.  Substance abuse. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs makes you more likely to get an anxiety disorder. Some people also use these substances to hide or ease anxiety symptoms. Being shy as a child. Shyness and withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places during childhood is linked to social anxiety in teens and adults.  Low self-esteem. Negative perceptions about yourself may lead to social anxiety disorder.   Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis   If you have symptoms, your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history. They may run tests to rule out other health conditions that might be causing your symptoms. No lab tests can specifically diagnose anxiety disorders.   If your doctor doesn’t find any physical reason for how you’re feeling, they may send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist. Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and testing to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.   Your doctors will consider how long you’ve had symptoms and how intense they are  when diagnosing you. It’s important to let your doctors or counselors know if your anxiety makes it hard to enjoy or complete everyday tasks at home, work, or school.    Anxiety Disorder Treatments   There are many treatments to reduce and manage symptoms of anxiety disorder. Usually, people with anxiety disorder take medicine and go to counseling.  Treatments for anxiety disorder include:    Medications Several types of drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the pros and cons of each medicine to decide which one is best for you.    Antidepressants. Modern antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs) are typically the first drugs prescribed to someone with an anxiety disorder.  Examples of SSRIs are lexapro and Prozac.   SNRIs include duloxetine Effexor. Bupropion. This is another type of antidepressant commonly used to treat chronic anxiety. It works differently than SSRIs and SNRIs. Other antidepressants. These include tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). They are less commonly used because side effects, like drops in blood pressure, dry mouth, blurry vision, and urinary retention, can be unpleasant or unsafe for some people.   Benzodiazepines. Your doctor may prescribe one of these drugs if you’re having persistent panicky feelings or anxiety. They help lower anxiety. Examples are Xanax and Klonopin. They work quickly, but you can become dependent on them. Usually, they’re meant to be an add-on to your anxiety disorder treatment and you shouldn’t take them for a long time.  Beta-blockers. This type of high blood pressure drug can help you feel better if you’re having physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart, trembling, or shaking.  A beta-blocker may help you relax during an acute anxiety attack. Anticonvulsants. Used to prevent seizures in people with epilepsy, these drugs also can relieve certain anxiety disorder symptoms.  Antipsychotics. Low doses of these drugs can be added to help make other treatments work better.  Buspirone (BuSpar). This anti-anxiety drug is sometimes used to treat chronic anxiety. You’ll need to take it for a few weeks before seeing full symptom relief.    Psychotherapy: This is a type of counseling that helps you learn how your emotions affect your behaviors. It’s sometimes called talk therapy. A trained mental health specialist listens and talks to you about your thoughts and feelings and suggests ways to understand and manage them and your anxiety disorder.   Cognitive behavioral therapy  (CBT): This common type of psychotherapy teaches you how to turn negative, or panic-causing, thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. You’ll learn ways to carefully approach and manage fearful or worrisome situations without anxiety. Some places offer family CBT sessions.   Managing Anxiety Disorder Symptoms   These tips may help you control or lessen your symptoms:   Learn about your disorder. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to manage symptoms and roadblocks along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions you might have. Remember, you are a key part of your health care team.  Stick to your treatment plan. Suddenly stopping your meds can cause unpleasant side effects and can even trigger anxiety symptoms.  Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. Don’t use alcohol and recreational street drugs. Substance abuse increases your risk of anxiety disorders. Eat right and exercise. Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood. Get better sleep. Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping. Learn to relax. Stress management is an important part of your anxiety disorder treatment plan. Things like meditation, or mindfulness, can help you unwind after a stressful day and may make your treatment work better. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts before the day is down may help you relax so you’re not tossing and turning with anxious thoughts all night.  Manage your negative thoughts. Thinking positive thoughts instead of worrisome ones can help reduce anxiety. This can be challenging if you have certain types of anxiety, however. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to redirect your thoughts.  Get together with friends. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, or the computer, social connections help people thrive and stay healthy. People who have a close group of friends that support and chat with them have lower levels of social anxiety.  Seek support. Some people find it helpful and uplifting to talk to others who are experiencing the same symptoms and emotions. Self-help or support groups let you share your concerns and achievements with others who are or who have been there.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter meds or herbal remedies. Many have chemicals that can make anxiety symptoms worse.   Anxiety Disorder Outlook It can be challenging and frustrating to live with an anxiety disorder. The constant worry and fear can make you feel tired and scared. If you’ve talked to a doctor about your symptoms, then you’ve taken the first step toward letting go of the worry.    It can take some time to find the right treatment that works for you. If you have more than one anxiety disorder, you may need several kinds of treatment. For most people with anxiety disorders, a combination of medicine and counseling is best. With proper care and treatment, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and thrive.     There is hope!   I wish you the best of luck with getting your life back on track.   Kind Regards,   Gaynor           
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 09/24/2021

Is it avoidant personality disorder?

Paste your content here. Why hello there! There is so much to unpack in your question. My response is going to lead to many more questions so brace yourself! :-) I think in our culture, we have a habit of self-diagnosing ourselves with mental health disorders - and all of our loved ones and hated ones too! Could you 'have' avoidant personality disorder? Certainly - from what you describe. Could you have social anxiety, or be a natural intervert, or 'relearning' how to be in the world after a 10 year pornography/sex addiction? Absolutely! Could it be something else? Of course! For an actual diagnosis, I suggest forming a relationship with a licensed therapist and work with a person who is able to answer all the other questions that are pertinent in this situation. Here are some questions that are coming to mind for me. - How old are you? Did you grow up in the age where of your social interaction was learned online? Could that be contributing to social anxiety in 'real life' situations?   - What are you afraid of in social situations? Are you a person of color or another minority group? Are there complex societal reasons to be a afraid? What triggers your fear?    - Are you a highly sensitive person and have strong reactions and responses to triggers like being rejected?   - What does your avoidance pattern look like? If you were to draw a map or an outline can you pinpoint the same triggers every time? What do they have in common? You are saying that it's the same whether it's a platonic or a romantic relationship - so that does not appear to be a trigger. Are there other triggers?   - What is the benefit of isolating yourself? Why do no not feel fear or anxiety when you are alone but you do with other people?   - Are you in a program of Recovery for your sex/porn addiction? If not, would you benefit from starting one and conversing with other folks who embarked upon the same behavior as you for the same reasons - anxiety and fear?   - What's up with your family estrangment? What is the connection to the abuse and neglect you experienced with the behavior of avoiding relationships?   My suggestion to you is to find a trusted person to begin exploring these questions. If you don't want to 'do therapy' (which I highly recommend - and not just because I'm a therapist), then do you have a spiritual advisor with whom you could talk through these questions? Or a mentor? Or again, a sponsor or support person in a Recovery? You may greatly benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Look it up. You'll like it. The fact that you are ready to explore it is AMAZING!  Best, Kathy Link, LCSW  
(MSSW, LCSW)
Answered on 09/13/2021

Can I really overcome retroactive jealous ocd?

The short answer is yes, of course, you can overcome retroactive jealousy. The more complicated answer is that it will take time, effort, and reflection on your part. Relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder, which is a broad category of treatable disorders. Untreated anxiety disorders such as OCD can impact relationships with others and take a toll on the individual decreasing one's quality of life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a recommended therapeutic modality when working with a therapist for an anxiety disorder. Most mental health clinicians have the education and training to treat anxiety disorders but some specialize in working with anxiety disorders. Often there is a lot of fear and insecurity underneath the manifestation of any obsessive-compulsive behavior. This will need to be explored with a trusted professional who can help you uncover what may be driving some of the jealousy and feelings of insecurity that are negatively affecting the ability to feel safe in one's current relationship with another. Trauma and childhood abuse can be contributing factors that can impact the emotional and psychological health of adult relationships. Reconciling with the idea that people have had past lives before a current relationship and that there is nothing that anyone can do to change what has already happened in the past. The jealousy and rage that can emerge when one considers one's partner's past may be an indicator of an abusive and controlling nature in you. Abuse and control are serious issues that impact relationships in various and hurtful ways for both parties. Professional help is recommended. Love and loving someone is very strong emotions that can escalate feelings of need and fear of loss. These feelings can sweep over everything and drive one into actions that are overbearing and extreme. It can be very confusing for both because, on one hand, a person may feel that because my partner loves me so much he or she is a sense has a right to feel jealous yet in actuality love that is mixed with extreme expressions of jealousy are often controlling relationships that indicate emotional immaturity and insecurity. Yes, you can overcome retroactive jealousy, but you will have to work very hard and be willing to look deep within yourself as a person to gain insight as to why you might be feeling insecure in your current relationship. Trauma treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may be an option for helping with irrational thoughts and lessening the impact of images that are difficult to stop thinking about. I sincerely hope that you can learn from this, grow as a university student, and relax into accepting what you cannot control. This will allow you to offer more compassion toward yourself and others and enjoy the present situation without obsessing over what was or what will or will not happen. Based on what you wrote, I imagine that this is impacting your concentration and ability to focus on your studies and other responsibilities as well as how you are being in the relationship with the person you love. You do not want to smother her or you could push her away. Everything will work out the way that it is meant to work out if you could step back a little, let go, and breathe - yes, literally breathe. Practice some deep breathing and mindfulness-based approaches such as meditation and yoga for example as ways to reduce the anxiety that you are feeling around this issue. As you become more confident about who you are as an adult whether you are in this current relationship or not you will begin to overcome some of the barriers within yourself that may very well be fueling your anxiety. I think it would be important for you to work with a therapist to explore any underlying issues from your past and from your childhood or adolescent years that could be contributing to worry, fear, and insecurity on your part. When one begins to gain insight as to what might be triggering feelings of jealousy, anger, fear, or any other negative emotion for example one can grow in ways that will be beneficial overall. I wish you well as you take this big first step toward understanding yourself better! It takes motivation, commitment, and courage to ask hard questions and to ask for help. Take care of yourself and treat your partner whom you say you love with respect and kindness and that will go a long way in building a strong relationship. Learn to trust the people whom you can trust as long as they have given you no reason to distrust them. Work on calming your own jealousy feelings with positive self-talk and rational, reasonable, and logical thoughts. Stay in the present. There is no reason to dredge up what anyone has done in the past. The past is the past. Learn from it. When we tell others about who we are and we tell our stories from the past to others because we want them to know us better we are continually learning and making meaning of our experiences, but remember that we are living in today and the opportunity for change and growth are in today not yesterday. Tell yourself that you will not obsess over the past actions of your partner before the two of you were together. Use self-talk to tell yourself that this is not helpful. Tell yourself that if you continue to behave this way you will only drive the person you love away. Take a breath, enjoy the feeling of loving someone in a healthy manner, and relish being young (I am assuming) and in love. At any age or stage of life love is a sweet gift so do not spoil or tarnish the love you feel with jealousy feelings and controlling or manipulative behavior. Get the help you need so that you can live your best life. Study hard!
(NCC, LPC-MHSP)
Answered on 09/11/2021

How to overcome the fear of doing what I want?

Hello! 1st, thank you for reaching out and asking this question. This is such an important step to take for your own mental health, wellness, and happiness. Our bodies are very much wired to naturally be motivated by 'wins'. When we experience a win, it reinforces that choice that we made. Failure doesn't produce the same motivation, naturally.  If you have established what your goals are as well as the steps it takes to achieve that goal, the process can produce some anxiety. Remember that anxiety lives in the future or the past. Using grounding techniques can help you to regain emotional composure. This is the place where you can problem-solve or try new things with a more calm and clear mind.  In order to begin to approach doing something new or something hard in order to reach our goals, answer the question for yourself: "Why do I need/want to achieve this goal? How will achieving this goal affect my life? How much do I need/want that end result?" Asking these questions can help illuminate things that you can utilize as motivation to accomplish the goals you've set for yourself OR inform you on ways you may need to adjust your goal to create reasonable steps for growth.  You can also utilize your support network. Who do you have in the life that can partner with you on the journal of accomplishing those goals? Who can you talk to when you feel like you've failed or allowed your anxiety to overpower your will, that can speak to you in a defeated place and help you re-establish your footing to go back and try again. At times, the change that sees for ourselves requires a "village" of support in order to overcome the personal challenges that stand between you and the life that you see for yourself. At times, you are better suited to communicate and journey through with someone to experience that "win" to strengthen you for the next journey. I hope this makes sense.  Establish your goals. Why did you choose these? What is the 'why"? (why is this goal necessary?) What is the block? ( what makes this scary or produces anxiety in you?) Find your tribe. Utilizing your support network in critical or difficult places can change the game for you in a very positive way.    As always, utilize the support of a licensed therapist to help you talk through things that may be difficult for you so that you are able to continue to achieve the progress you have set for yourself. Good luck to you, moving forward! 😊
(MAMFT, LPC)
Answered on 09/08/2021

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 08/18/2021

How do I stop thinking about death and just enjoy life?

Thank you for your question on this topic.  Fear can be healthy. It is programmed into your nervous system, and gives you the survival instincts you need to keep yourself safe from danger. Fear is unhealthy when it makes you more cautious than you really need to be to stay safe, and when it prevents you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy. Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated aging and even premature death. You might consider examining whether your current fear is healthy or unhealthy based on what I stated earlier.  In terms of you encountering physical or medical concerns, you might consider having a physical exam by your physician to reassure you about those concerns that arise.  Once you find out the results (i.e., that you do not have cancer or a tumor) you can then reexamine the source of your feelings of fear and challenge any potentially irrational beliefs in this area of your life. One approach offered by Gillman in her 2016 article (Face Fear and Keep Going) is that we take an ‘open door policy’ as it relates to fear.  Rather than fighting it, embrace the feelings and consider what you can learn and benefit from through the experience.  She suggests recognizing the fear, being aware of it, and then explore the fear through meditation experiences.  Using a ‘touch and go’ approach is what is encouraged.  You acknowledge and welcome the fear.  You avoid pushing it away.  You really take a look at the fear but don’t dwell on it or build it up.  Once you have welcomed it and examined it, you let it go.  This may take many examination experiences before you are able to truly let it go.  Also, keep in mind that the fear is an emotion and it is not who you are.  Changing the narrative from I am fear to I feel fear can make a huge shift in your experience of this emotion. I would encourage you to grant yourself grace and patience.  Don’t be too hard on yourself for having these feelings.  Fear is a human response.  Don’t expect to conquer your fear in one day but grant yourself permission to be human and face this challenge one step at a time.  Based on your question, it sounds like your fear could be robbing you of the daily joy that you would prefer to experience.  Take time for yourself and make a conscious effort to appreciate the small moments and small joys of everyday life.  Take a walk, smell a flower, drink a good cup of coffee, watch an absorbing movie, etc.  Don’t let fear keep you from those pleasurable moments that you deserve to experience and enjoy. I hope that this response is helpful to you and you are able to face and embrace your fear and come to a deeper understanding of yourself through this experience.
(M.S., LPP)
Answered on 06/29/2021

how can I stop overthinking/ having intrusive thoughts?

Overthinking can be such a painful and frustrating aspect of anxiety. Ruminating or intrusive thoughts are like bubbles in a boiling pot, they happen to everyone, we cannot fight them sometimes. But here is the difference; when other people have an intrusive worry thought, they do not stop and give it power. Let me give you my favorite example. How many people have been driving down the road and have seen someone standing on the sidewalk and have thought to themselves, “I wonder what would happen if I swerved, drove through that puddle, and splashed that person from head to toe. They would never know who I am or that it was me!” Now – how many of us actually do that? Next to none of us obviously. The person without anxiety chuckles to themselves and moves on with their day and literally does not give that silly thought, a second thought or any power. The difference between someone with an anxious, ruminating style of thinking or not, is that the person with anxiety thinks things like, “Oh my good God! I am a terrible person! Who thinks things like that? What is wrong with me? What if I had actually done it? What if I had ruined their day? If I am capable of doing that, what else am I capable of???” That thought becomes like a snowball rolling down the hill and only gets bigger, and scarier and more intense as we “pile on” and make a minor, silly thought turn into something major. It quickly turns into an avalanche of guilt, shame, negativity and more worry.  With anxiety, we are often so quick to think in terms of polar opposites - black and white, right and wrong, love and hate. When in reality, the world is full of gray. We are so quick to go to the worst-case scenario in our head, and never the best-case scenario! I would challenge you to do a couple quick exercises when those ruminating, intrusive and obsessive anxious thoughts pop in your head. One is ask yourself – What is the best-case scenario, what is the worst-case scenario, and what is the most-likely scenario. In your example of my partner must hate me, ask yourself – what evidence do I have to support that thought/feeling? The other question I would ask yourself is if you’ve had an awkward interaction with someone, will you care about that interaction in a week, a month or a year? Anxiety is so good at taking a snowball and making it an avalanche! But, there are simple techniques like this that we can do that make all the difference in the world! Anxiety is full of really big and powerful feelings and thoughts. It is important to recognize those thoughts and feelings for what they are, but also emotionally step back and try to see it from a wise part of your brain that can call it out and help re-frame it in a more loving, realistic way.  Finally, I want you to think about your anxious thoughts like flowers in your garden. When you tend to your flowers, give them lots of love and attention, and water them, prune them and feed their needs – they grow and thrive and become huge blooms. Well the same can be said for your anxious thoughts! When we “water and tend to our thoughts,” they are just like those flowers. There’s science to this, when we send blood, oxygen, hormones, and neurotransmitters to those anxious thoughts, our body and our brain thinks, “hmmm this is really important stuff, we should send even MORE resources to this!” In essence, the more we worry, the more efficient and better worrier we become. We are literally carving more efficient pathways, so that we can become even better worriers, with each subsequent worry! Picture a river carving a pathway out of a mountain side!  So when those thoughts pop in your head, I want you to remind yourself, I don’t want to water my worries. Distract yourself with music, good friends, conversations, podcasts, going for a walk or exercising. Distraction is truly a powerful tool! I have even said to some people, set a timer each day. Give yourself 15 minutes, you can let your worries run free and wild, journal them out or say them out loud. Do not edit them, let them roll off of your tongue. But when that timer goes off,  put your worries away until tomorrow. Shut the box, lock the key and move on with your day. We only want to give water and love to those things that are helpful, productive and make us feel the way we deserve to feel. My final thought, is that sometimes people confuse worry with love. If I worry, it must mean I care. Worry is not love, and that extends to how we treat ourselves as well! I hope that was helpful and know that while your default setting may be to over-worry and obsess over those thoughts, it does not have to be like this forever! Counseling and techniques such as these can be wildly effective at treating this particular struggle. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 06/04/2021

I want to stop worrying and being scared of everything, how do I do that?

Good Morning Ewe!  First off I want to thank you for reaching out for help and even having the courage to ask a question to seek an answer for the issues that you have been dealing with thus far. Let's explore performace anxiety and what this entails. Anxiety in most cases is false fears appearing real that we manifest over and over within our thoughts which then affects our behaviors. I sense that you may have had some kind of traumatic experience with perfromance anxiety within the past that has now become a constant thought within your  daily routine such as you mentioned the inability to work a job effectively and communicate with others. Anxiety has led you to overthink things which then leads to obsesive thoughst of failure or the fear of failing when you try to work or accomplish anything. To overcome this fear of perfromance anxiety you have to recognize what your triggers are and combat them with interventions before they start to affect your behaviors. For example, if you know that you have performance anxiety at work, you can practice mock situations at home or during your downtime of being in these situations and practicce ways you would overcome these situations such as staying in the moment, deep breathing, closing your eyes and counting backwards from ten until you reach one. The goal is to overthrow that negative thought of fear enough to remain present focused on the task at hand. Negative thoughts and fears only have power when they become obsessive and affect behaviors. If you can normalize that you have a negative thought then let it flow through your mind and get back to the present task you can overcome it, it's just when it becomes obsessive that it has power to affect you and your behaviors. I would also practice minfulness techniques to help you focus and stay within the moment. Practice and going through these situations will help you overcome the perfromance anxiety by giving you the evidenc that you can get through different stressful situations. Think back to a time when you were able to overcome some form of Anxiety, how were you able to do this. We all have overcome things withn out past be we have to reconnect and draw from those experiences as to how we did it. I would encourage you to focus on small fears and overcome them first as this will give you the evidence as I stated earlier that you can defeat these fears then you'll be able to conquer more fears that you have. I want you to focus on this analogy of what I feel fear is, FEAR: False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. You have no real reason to fear anything and once you make up your mind that you will live by this your life and situation will change for the better. It starts with acceptance and allowing yourself the room to make mistakes.  Also, having a more positive outlook on life and no matter what you face, give it your best effort and learning to live with knowing you did your best. I really hope this helps explain some things around Anxiety and fears as you move forward, Warm Regards!    
(LPC, CPCS)
Answered on 05/18/2021

OCD

OCD I read where you shared that you feel like you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You shared that you always feel like you have to get things done the day of. You also shared that you cannot wait and just put things to the side because if you do it drives you crazy and you will worry about it excessively. You shared that you feel like you always have to clean or be productive as well. Based on your statements, I would highly recommend that you see a professional counselor and or therapist to be assessed for an official diagnosis. A professional counselor and or therapist can support you in assessing your specific mental health needs in regards to your treatment goals. While there are great advantages of doing counseling online, such as ease of access, there are also some limitations. Since, you have not been assessed properly, you would not be able to receive a thorough and full evaluation/assessment, through a question. You unfortunately will not find an official diagnosis or confirmation of a diagnosis on the Betterhelp platform. Professional counselors and therapists on the Betterhelp platform do not diagnosis.  A professional counselor and or professional therapist in your local area can assess your current mental health concerns with you to see what triggers your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. If your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder are severe, a professional counselor and or professional therapist can provide you with a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider for a medication evaluation. After you are assessed by a professional psychiatrist or medical provider you may be given a prescription for medication in regards to your specific mental health needs in an effort to decrease or alleviate your current symptoms of obsessive compulsive. Medication can work quickly to begin relieving some of your obsessive compulsive thoughts with in around 14 days. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your symptoms of obsessive compulsive thoughts if needed. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take medication in regards to dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggle with symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder,.  A professional counselor and or professional therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your symptoms obsessive compulsive disorder. In an effort to decrease your symptoms obsessive compulsive disorder you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are having obsessive thoughts outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a professional counselor and or therapist and a medical provider if needed for medication management. The help of a mental health professional counselor and or therapist can be quite beneficial in helping you to properly get a better understanding of your current symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, as it can look different for everyone. Please remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. Best regards!
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 05/13/2021

How do i recover from fear of death.

Talking about and more importantly thinking about our own death can be stress-inducing. In fact, psychologists have actually come up with a theory called the terror management theory. The terror management theory posits that humans cannot be reminded of their own demise or they would get very little accomplished; we manage our terror by simply putting it out of our head and out of our hearts, so we can go through the world and live our best lives possible. This year in particular has been so difficult to manage because unfortunately, death is all around and we have near constant reminders of our mortality due to COVID-19 and the pandemic. Not only is it more present in our lives than ever before, but we have daily reminders every time we turn on our phones, radios or televisions. When we have lockdowns and social distancing, we have more time to think about our own mortality and that can present such a challenge to many people. Lots of folks are struggling with this very topic you are describing in your question.  So what do we do when we cannot manage our terror, when it is one of the only things we can think about? In this case, it is important to live a life of which you are proud. Many psychologists reference Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In this theory, we recognize that when humans live a life that they are proud of, when they become the best versions of themselves, and are able to live a legacy worth remembering, they are much more likely to enter the final phase of their life without regrets. Legacy is all about what we leave behind. It does not have to be a monetary thing; legacy can mean mentoring someone, doing the best you can at your job and improving the position, or simply being kind to everyone we meet. We do not have control over when we go, but we have control over how we live every day of our life until then. When we think about dying, for most people, it is the lack of control that is the most stressful. We have control over what we have for breakfast, what we watch on tv, even where we choose to work and spend our time. But one thing we do not have control over is how and when we pass away. Some people can become obsessive about illness and being healthy to the point where those thoughts can be all consuming. One thing I would encourage you to do is to ask yourself how often am I having thoughts about mortality and my health, and how much time am I spending each day thinking about this. That can give you a good gauge to assess how dug in those behaviors are. One thing we can do to help combat that is to use some thought-stopping and reframing techniques to help us re-wire our brain circuits as it relates to this topic. When we spend a lot of time thinking about something, our brain starts to think, “hmmm this is important, we should spend ever MORE time on this topic!” So when you start thinking about your health for example, replace that thought with something you are grateful for or something that is going really well in your life. For example, I worry that this headache is something more. Replacing that with, I am so grateful for my home, my family, my job, this walk that I am taking right now to get the chance to go outside. The other thing I will share is that when people are on their death bed, the vast majority do not care about what kind of car they have, their house or their belongings. They care about relationships. They care about the people in their lives. One thing that all of us can do better is to cultivate our relationships. Take care of our relationships and treasure the people in our lives. A wonderful former student of mind always used to say, do not bring flowers to my funeral, give me flowers now, while I am here to appreciate them. I loved that idea of loving each other while we still have the chance!  Cognitive behavior therapy can be a wonderful way to combat obsessive thoughts and compulsive patterns as it relates to mortality and health. A therapist can help you reframe those thoughts to be more kind, productive and healthy! 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 05/03/2021

I was have been having intrusive thoughts about home invasions since I was a younger.

Raye    I understand you are struggling with intrusive thoughts, trauma, and coping in a healthy manner. You stated your concern of obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of trauma and intrusive thoughts daily affecting your life. It appears you are struggling with anxiety and tendencies of OCD. I will discuss each disorder and different ways to address your concerns in a healthier manner.  I suggest you seek professional help with a therapist or doctor for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment to your behaviors.  I will assist you with some information about your report of behavior along with interventions to help make a decision to your needs. If you are experiencing intrusive thoughts, you are struggling with self-perception negatively along with self-doubt lacking confidence withing. Your thoughts start to become embodied by your inability to redirect the thought creating anxiety.  Most times intrusive thoughts are deflected, and one tends to spend more time doubting that they are making the right decision rather than being confident the decision is accurate. If you are experiencing obsessive compulsive disorder as a result of intrusive thoughts, you are exhibiting fear of the unknown focusing on a sense of control.  OCD struggles often are exhibited from exhaustion of inanity to control the thought of fear of keeping things in line.Anxiety can be triggered by trauma or inability to process or cope with negative feelings or thoughts.  If you are experiencing self-doubt and excessive worrying you began to over generalize and create narratives of negative thoughts that falls in the category of social anxiety and anxiety category.  Anxiety is inability to stop worrying and control the negative thoughts resulting in a decline in daily activities and fear.  Based off your information and the discussion you are experiencing one if not all and is struggling with coping in a positive manner.  I suggest you work with a therapy to identify your thoughts and patterns of behavior to replace with positive ways to cope and regulate your feelings in emotions.  A therapist may utilize CBT skills to identify and patterns with you and increase healthy responses and reactions.  A therapist may also utilize Dialectical Therapy to increase self-esteem mad your ability to self sooth. If you are experiencing both anxiety and OCD it will be best to work with a therapist to sort out your problems and explore your feelings to decrease negative coping skills and self-defeating behaviors.  I hope this message gives you some clarity and understanding as you decide how to go further.
Answered on 04/14/2021

Hi I have health anxiety, how do you address that?

Hi I have health anxiety, how do you address that? Hi! I read where you shared that you have health anxiety and you would like to know how to address that.  Based on your question, I would highly suggest that you try to seek help from a professional counselor or professional therapist to discuss how to address your health-related anxiety. A professional counselor and or therapist can assess your current mental health concerns with you to assess your symptoms of health-related anxiety and determine what triggers your need to overthink about your health anxiety. Once you have been properly assessed by a professional counselor and or professional therapist you can both then discuss and process what your current symptoms of health-related anxiety and overthinking look like. If your symptoms of health-related anxiety and overthinking are severe, a professional counselor and or professional therapist that can provide you with a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider for medication after they assess what your specific mental health needs are in regards to your symptoms of health-related anxiety and overthinking. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your health-related anxiety and overthinking if needed. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take medication in regards to dealing with health-related anxiety and overthinking. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggle with health-related anxiety and overthinking.  A professional counselor and or professional therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease health-related anxiety and overthinking. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your health-related anxiety and recognizing what triggers you to overthink about your symptoms of health-related anxiety. In an effort to decrease your health-related anxiety and overthinking you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate your symptoms of health-related anxiety and overthinking. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are feeling anxious and or are triggered to overthink outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing health-related anxiety and overthinking in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a professional counselor or professional therapist and a medical provider if needed to properly assess your symptoms of health-related anxiety and what triggers you to overthink, as it can look different for everyone. Please remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your symptoms of health-related anxiety and overthinking. Best regards to you!
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 04/01/2021

How do I go about getting diagnosed with autism as an AFAB adult?

Good evening and thank you for your question,   I understand that you may have been noticed some signs that may point to Autism Spectrum diagnosis and it is important for you to know the answer. What you would need to do is to look for "Adult Autism Assessment in GA" and you will get a number of results with various assessment centers that could provide assessment and diagnosis services. There are a number of trusted sources that come up, such as Emory University  and UGA Autism Centers.   What you would need to do is identify several places that could work for you, then call around to find out their process and pricing. Assessment services could be expensive, typically running between $1000-$2500 and typically not covered by insurance. At the time of your appointment you would meet with a Psychiatrist or a Psychologist (PhD or PsyD) who would interview you, then perform a number of psychological tests. Some doctors will request to review your school records if available, and may want to speak to some of your family members or close friends (this is called a collateral source).  Sometimes you may have to come in for more than one appointment to complete the testing. After all that is finished, you would wait for your results. You will receive a detailed report with test scores and results of your assessment to include diagnosis. This report will typically include a number of recommendations for further treatment: you may be referred to see a psychiatrist for medication and to a counselor or a therapist to work on skills to live your best everyday life. Some of the most common therapies for autism include ABA or applied behavioral analysis, which helps promote positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors. Other common treatments for Autism include cognitive-behavioral therapy and CTR (cognitive restructuring in particular). Another way of receiving help could be to look for a counselor who specializes in working with adults with Schizophrenia-type disorders, because those adults also experience symptoms that are typical for individuals with autism: difficulties with communication and social connections, low motivation, neglect of basic daily needs. Therapist could help with reducing anxiety, helping managing strong emotions, creating a schedule/routine and improving functional skills.   Finally, I think it is important to ask yourself if you really need this diagnosis. If you are an individual with mild symptoms and may have been navigating life just fine with very minor challenges related to your symptoms, you may need to try to work with a counselor first and see if you could gain skills without having a formal diagnosis.   Best of luck to you!
(LPC, NCC)
Answered on 03/15/2021

How can I overcome OCD and the thoughts?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety have often been confused, but there is a big difference between the two. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions (a huge impulse or push from within). These could be anything from checking door locks over and over to driving by an X's house. Everyone does some of these behaviors, but stop before they become a problem. If these behaviors are problematic enough and last over an hour a day, they may be considered for diagnosis.   Anxiety is "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome" (Oxford Languages). If we didn't have anxiety we might forget our keys altogether. We might not pay attention at night when we should be safe and aware of our surroundings. We might not make a lot of sound in the woods where bears are and stumble into a crabby animal. So anxiety can be a good thing. Your anxiety has just taken the driver's seat. It can be for many reasons, 2020 may play a big role. We just have to use our voice of reason to talk anxiety out of driving when she's drunk.     To overcome either feeling it starts with you doing self-care. I'll explain a little more in-depth:     Often we have a negative thought which will trigger us like girls often get "I'm ugly, I'm not good enough." These negative thoughts are often tied to childhood memories. So if a boy rejects the girl she may be triggered and will react with a fight, flight or freeze response. Doing self-care several times a day builds muscle memory like soldiers in training are building muscle memory for combat. So when fight, flight or freeze are triggered you can use self-care to stop it. Like soldiers can fight the enemy instead of freezing and getting a response. We need to find things that you will like to do so the self-care, or coping skills, isn't a chore and you won't quit after a few weeks. For regulating our emotions, self-care skills are the things like: go get coffee, talk to friends and family, watch funny videos, play games, play with the dog, walk the cat, sing to music, fishing or knitting.     To fix it you have to work through these thoughts. It's an exposure and acceptance therapy. There are many variations of exposure and acceptance therapies. I offer EMDR therapy, which speeds up the process of exposure therapy by using bilateral stimulation (sound or tapping on both sides of your body) to help both sides of the brain fully link together.
(MSW, MN, LICSW, #26706, EMDRIA, Certified)
Answered on 01/31/2021

How do I get over a fear of being a bad person?

Hello there! You wrote in wondering how to get over your fear of being  a bad person. So, here’s the thing, bad people don’t go around wondering if they are a bad person. The fact that you have this question running around in your head is probably indicative that you put a lot of good out into the world. You wonder if you might be abusive, and manipulative. A lot of people with these thoughts often have a history of trauma. I’m not sure whether this is applicable to you or not, but it’s worth considering. An article I came across recently had the following quote, “Bad person feelings typically develop early in life. Although it may not be intended, children can get the message that it isn’t simply what they do or think or feel that is bad, but that they themselves are bad.  When these feelings are communicated, verbally or nonverbally, children soon learn to avoid them by working very hard to please and not disappoint parents. They may try so hard to be good (i.e., to be the child the parent expects), that they have little room to develop their own unique selves… When parents yell at their children or verbally or physically abuse them, we can imagine that this might frighten, shame, humiliate, or terrify a child.  But parents can also respond in more subtle ways that can damage a child. When a parent expresses hurt or disappointment by a sigh, a look, crying, head shaking, or leaving the room, the impact can be devastating: “How can I have done this to my parent? I must be a terrible person.” When the parent’s displeasure is expressed as hurt, it is especially difficult for the child to mobilize a strong sense of self and fight back.  The parent’s hurt is evidence that the child is a bad person. It then feels necessary to always please others and behave in ways to avoid the “I am a bad person” feeling.” Here's a link to that article: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/pleasing-others-bad-person-feeling-0308124/ Basically, what ends up happening if that this person turns into a people pleaser, and is constantly monitoring others for their verbal and non-verbal signals, and leaves a lot of room for mis-interpretation, and you guessed it, anxiety! So, how can you get over this fear? Well, therapy might be a good place to start, whether it’s through Betterhelp, or another agency. If cost is a concern, put your location + community mental health into google, and a low cost agency (who often works on a sliding scale with payment as low as zero), should pop up.   So what is therapy? Well, a worksheet that I like to use has the following information. Psychotherapy is a process that many believe is shrouded in mystery, but it doesn't have to be that way. Therapists are normal people who usually chose their profession because they care about other people, they're good listeners, and they want to help. What does a therapist actually do, and how can they help me?Therapists act as a neutral party who can listen and try to understand without judgment. Therapists help you learn about yourself by pointing out patterns and giving honest feedback. Therapists teach specific techniques and strategies to deal with problems. Therapists can refer you to additional resources in the community that might be helpful. Therapists provide a safe place to learn and practice social skills.You won't be annoying your therapist, whomever you choose, by being present and working to change and grow as a person. It sounds like you have a lot going on, and therapy really can help you sort through everything.  What are the limitations of psychotherapy?Therapists should not tell you what to do or try to direct your life. Think of the proverb: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life." Therapists will help you learn to solve your own problems, rather than solving them for you. Some mental illness cannot be managed by psychotherapy alone. If medication is recommended, it's probably important. Benefiting from psychotherapy does require work on your part. Speaking to a therapist for an hour a week, and then pushing it out of your mind, probably won't do you any good. Complete homework, practice your skills, and legitimately try the recommendations you are given. Therapists cannot be your friend after starting a therapeutic relationship. Therapists generally like their clients, and would love to get to know them better, but ethical rules prevent the formation of relationships outside of treatment. It isn't you, it's just that the therapist could lose their license! Therapists cannot read your mind. If you hide information, or are dishonest, you're wasting your own time and money.Therapy is a great way to help you sort out what’s causing the anxiety, and develop a plan for change. A therapist can help you figure out what you want to change, and work with you develop a plan for change. Anyway, I hope this helps you out and gives you some food for thought. I encourage you to reach out and talk to a therapist. I can pretty much guarantee that there is one out there who you will click with and can help you figure out how to grow and achieve your goals. Therapy can be expensive, but it's an investment in yourself. I wish you luck!
(LMHC, MCAP, (FL), LMHC, (WA), LCPC, (ME))
Answered on 01/27/2021

Can you write an accommodation letter for extended time on tests due to anxiety and panic disorder?

Hello Austin!   Thank you for submitting your question regarding testing accommodations. It is a great question to ask. It is not uncommon for individuals to experience anxiousness and discomfort when facing an exam or test. Test anxiety can be overwhelming and sometimes impact how individuals perform. There are several things that you can do to help alleviate the panic symptoms that you are experiencing that I'd like to discuss; however, lets begin by addressing your initial question.      Initially, it is important to understand what level of academia you are in. Assuming you are a college student, it is imperative that you reach out to the department that handles students with disabilities. Most colleges provide support for individuals that have diagnosed mental health or disabilities and offer testing accommodations. They usually require documentation from your therapist, psychiatrist or physician. The school can provide you steps to follow in order to access accommodations for testing. If you are in high school, you can access testing accommodation through the support of an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) or a 504, which is similiar. This can be addressed by reaching out, once again, through your school counselor or administration. In addition to the above- It never hurts to discuss your concerns with your educator - directly. Sometimes, they have the avilibility to work with you directly and may not require a lot of formalities. Whatever the scenario, your mental health provider can walk you through this and provide the necessary documentation to back up your diagnosis.      All that said, it is super important to stay dedicated to your self care plan. This includes doing mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, meditation and making sure you are getting rest and eating well.  Being a student during this time is challenging, for sure. If you are taking prescribed meds, make sure that you are staying on top of those and sharing with your doc that you are still experiencing panic symptoms. It always helps the day of the test to do some meditation and visualization! Take a few moments to do a visual of you taking the test and feeling great! It really helps. When you go in, breathe! Remind yourself that you are fine and that all your hard work is going to pay off.       I hope that this was helpful and I wish you great success and that you get the support that you are seeking for academically,  Sincerely, Stephanie Stavinoga, LPC-MHSP      
(LPC-MHSP, CCMHC, Licensed, Hypnotherapist)
Answered on 01/27/2021

How to stop overthinking?

Overthinking may be a symptom of perfectionism. Perfectionism can be defined as the need to be perfect or appear perfect. This kind of thinking and coping style causes great anxiety due to the fear of failure and the "what-if's." It also is closely rooted and related to the belief that if I do things well (or perfectly) I will be accepted, loved, and fulfilled. It is irrational and causes an individual to think that everything is conditional. Also, this behavior points to problems with self-image and undervaluing yourself because you may base your worth on other people's opinions and responses.  It will be helpful to let go of the comparison mindset. Additionally, it is so important to understand worrying. Worrying often seems to be productive as we believe we are preparing for various outcomes and working to prevent be unprepared. Worrying is actually unproductive. It gives us a false sense of control. It is often learned behavior, from parents, caregivers, etc. It is helpful to realize what is in your control and out of your control, evaluate what may be the best plan of action, (weighing the advantages and disadvantages of decisions) and trusting your gut instinct. Anxiety decreases when we acknowledge it and learn to address it appropriately and healthily. Evaluate how you are making the most of your time. Time is one of the most invaluable resources we have. Learn to embrace discomfort and uncertainty.  Incorporate daily affirmations to help build self-esteem and motivation. Monitor and change your self-talk. Think about what messages your give yourself about who you are and what you can do. Tell yourself what to think even when your brain leans more toward negative thoughts. Be mindful of what you choose to focus on and remember that what we focus on tends to be magnified. Set realistic expectations for yourself and know that consistency and persistence are key components for growth and success. You also need to define or re-define what success and failure actually mean to you and for you.  It will be extremely helpful to learn what your strengths are and use them to your advantage. It is imperative to understand that your value and worth are not based on your achievements, your capabilities, or your accomplishments. 
Answered on 01/17/2021