Our thoughts can make or break us — quite literally.

If you start telling yourself that you are unworthy or not enough, you will start believing it. And this can quickly start a downward spiral, increasing your risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

In contrast, if you believe you can achieve, it’s more likely you will. Surprisingly, your thoughts and beliefs often become reality. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) forces you to challenge your negative thoughts to alter your behavior and ultimately, improve your life. So, let’s take a closer look at this topic. Is CBT right for you? What should you know?

 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps a person identify unhelpful or negative thought patterns and behaviors and change them. In fact, experts even consider CBT the gold standard of therapy.

It is used to treat a variety of conditions, such as:

Additionally, it can help in other situations, including:

Generally, the main goal of CBT is to alter a person’s thoughts and feelings, which then helps to alter their behavior. For instance, if you fear plane crashes but you have to take a plane, CBT can help you gain better control of these thoughts so that you don’t end up crippled by fear.

CBT shows individuals that they have control over their interpretations of events, despite not having control of the world, environment, or situations around them. This helps you create healthier thinking patterns, improving your mood and life.

Related Article: 3 Easy and Simple Secrets for Relieving Morning Anxiety

 

What Are 5 Cognitive Behavioral Interventions?

Common CBT techniques may include:

1. Recognizing Negative Thoughts

A therapist uses the cognitive-behavioral approach to help you find ways to identify and challenge your negative thought patterns. In many ways, this is a guided self-discovery method, which helps you become more introspective.

2. Cognitive Restructuring

This is one of the main CBT techniques used. It involves examining your cognitive distortion (negative thought) to basically make the whole idea fall apart. This may involve categorizing your thought as black-and-white thinking, overgeneralizing, catastrophizing, and jumping to conclusions. In fact, research shows how this technique can help alter a person’s fear response since it can make the fear less fearful.

3. Goal-Setting

Setting goals helps you move forward with your life toward more positive and productive outcomes. When working with a CBT therapist, they will instruct you how to do this in an effective and efficient way. 

This often involves using the SMART method, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. Having goals that include these aspects is an effective goal-setting approach.

4. Problem Solving

Learning to solve problems can help you overcome life hurdles, which is something else a CBT therapist can help you with. You will learn the five steps of problem solving, including identifying the problem, listing possible solutions, exploring strengths and weaknesses of these solutions, selecting a solution to implement, and implementing the solution.

5. Self-Monitoring/Journaling

Journaling can help you monitor negative thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. In fact, doing so can help you challenge these thoughts better with more positive ones. Further, this type of tracking can offer your therapist information regarding how to help you better.

Related Article: Mentally Exhausted? How Journaling Can Help

 

Does CBT Work? Here’s What the Research Says…

CBT has tons of research behind it all. 

A 2018 scientific review indicated the effectiveness of CBT when it came to treating anxiety. Research from 2011 suggested CBT was an efficient and effective method for helping those with depression. 

A 2017 study demonstrated how CBT can help those with OCD. In 2010, researchers examined its use in relation to substance abuse and suggested it may help individuals with addiction avoid relapse.

More recent research published in 2021 even showed the effectiveness of CBD in therapy as a virtual treatment. 

At the same time, it’s important to note that changes take time and hard work. The Mayo Clinic indicates that it can take anywhere from five to 20 sessions for CBT to be effective.

 

Finding a CBT Therapist Near You

Usually, a quick Google search will set you on the right track. However, you will want to check your therapist’s credentials before committing to any kind of payment. 

If you’re hunting for an online therapist, BetterHelp only hires licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists and counselors. 

Depending on where you live, you can also check with your local CBT organization to find out if a therapist is, in fact, certified. For example, The Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies - CACBT maintains a list of certified CBT therapists in Canada. 

In the United States, certification requirements may vary from state to state. The best way to ensure you get the care you need is to do your due diligence and put in the research before booking an appointment.

 

Take That Next Step & Begin Improving Your Life Today

If CBT sounds like it might help you and your situation, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a certified CBT therapist. Sometimes, we all need a helping hand. And therapy isn’t taboo anymore! 

If you’re unsure about therapy, you can also consider downloading various CBT phone applications, such as MindShift or CBT Thought Diary. Try them out and see if CBT is something that might help improve your life and set you up for success.

Read Next: Negative Emotions: Friends or Foes?

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Relationships are bound to have ups and downs.

Relationships start and relationships end. What they all have in common is that they make sense (Mostly.). The reasons why they (the quarrels, fights, and breakups) happen are clear and understandable – no matter how annoying and infuriating.

However, what doesn’t make any sense is getting ghosted. Getting ghosted is like having someone pull the TV plug halfway into the movie, or game, or whatever you’re seeing. Not only is it annoying, but it can also drive you batty. 

 

Why is Ghosting so Hard to Accept? 

Because there is no closure given. It just suddenly ends for no reason.

The story ends halfway with all the suspense. It is not only sad, it is cruel. And whilst everyone else can clearly see this as a wrong done to the person that was ghosted by the "ghoster", the victim often times end up blaming themselves.

The confusion and humiliation often cause the victim to turn inwards to blame themselves for what happened; they may wonder what they did or said wrong.

They may even question their appearance, intelligence, and self-worth. It is not pleasant in any way. Yet more and more people opt-in to ghosting others rather than being upfront.

Are you wondering why this happens so often nowadays? 

 

7 Reasons Why So Many People Ghost or Abandon Relationships

1. The Fickleness Of Technology

The ease with which one can block another person across all social media platforms, exit forums, or bar them from contacting them is so easy that it has become a tempting option for so many people (especially if the relationship has been largely online).

Hence, someone may just opt-in for that convenience rather than having to face you or explain why.

2. Worries

Their fear of uncomfortable conversations or confrontation may cause them to simply move on without you.

This may entail them relocating, traveling, or simply ceasing communication. You may even be able to still see them walking across the street or in the office or lecture hall, but the problem is that they just won’t speak to you anymore.. They don’t want to engage in the hard talk.

3. Mental Health Challenges

This reason is not annoying, but you still might never know if it was the cause.

Mental health issues can cause people to sometimes become emotionally unstable and subsequently unavailable.

For instance, people battling with depression may feel like a burden to you, or may not have the energy to maintain a connection so they simply stop trying.

People with high levels of anxiety, or who are battling a traumatic experience may not be able to tell you how they feel, or why they think the relationship cannot proceed.

4. Low Self-esteem Issues

This can cause them to feel undeserving of being with you.

They end the relationship, and feel too unworthy to even let you know about the reason.

5. Overwhelm

They may worry that the relationship is moving too fast, or transforming into something they are not yet ready for.

Rather than telling you to slow down, or that it can’t work out that way, they would simply run away because (to them) it’s just too much to handle or they’re afraid of getting vulnerable and letting their walls down. 

6. Unhealthy Attachment Styles

People who grew up to develop unhealthy attachment styles – like the Anxious Avoidant type – may find it difficult to connect intimately with people even if that is exactly what they crave most.

The result of this is that they may be very pumped about the whole thing at first, but gradually drawback (or freak out) as things begin to take shape.

7. Hardwired Anti-Social Personality Traits

There are people who are unable to understand how their actions hurt other people, especially when they are not physically harming the person outright.

Some people may be:

When you wind up with people like these, it doesn’t matter how nice or great you are, you’re going to get hurt eventually. And, needless to say, it can be extremely difficult to spot these qualities sometimes.

These, amongst several other (uncountable) reasons, maybe the reason you got ghosted.

Need to start getting over someone? Read this next: 8 Helpful Ways to Cope With the Aftermath of Being Ghosted

 

Remember That Being Ghosted May Not be About You

Unless you are a very toxic, irrationally destructive, or extremely dangerous person, there is hardly any justifiable reason why someone should just abandon you and completely cut you off in their life. Except, of course, they have serious issues, or growing up to do.

In either case, it is not about you.

Most things in life are not really about you. You may be involved, but you are not the reason, and those are two very different things. Your involvement is the reason you are feeling abandoned in the first place, but the reason (or act of abandoning) is all about them

But, understanding this reality doesn’t cause the hurt to melt away. That is why, you have to become intentional about your healing, rather than chasing after them. You have to let go of the one that got (or ghosted) away. You can’t keep making excuses for them, or blaming yourself either. 

Unless they are dead, chances are that they still remember where and how they left you. So, if there is anyone who should be reaching out, it should be them, not you. You have to allow yourself to heal, and after that move on. 

Maybe it wasn’t a bad thing after all. Maybe it was a gift – to help you know who is willing to stick with you for the long haul (it obviously wasn’t them). So, rather than cry over being ghosted, consider it an opportunity to find someone more reliable as you come to rely more and more on yourself as well.

Let the ghost go and thank yourself after.   

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For some individuals, mornings offer a fresh start.

They wake up feeling good, happy, and ready for the day. It’s almost like nothing can stop them. For others, the morning offers the completely opposite ordeal. Maybe you can relate. 

You wake up, and before you can stop them, your thoughts start racing. The worries of the day flood your mind, creating feelings of overwhelm and stress. Basically, the day has barely begun but you’re already in panic mode.

All in all, morning anxiety makes it tough to get anything done. You might even think about hiding under the covers for a little longer, attempting to avoid any problems and tasks entirely. 

So, let’s get you out of this rut. What can you do to combat morning anxiety? And why are mornings so tough in the first place?

 

What is Morning Anxiety?

The American historian, Alice Morse Earle, once said,

“Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” 

In the midst of morning anxiety, that might not mean much. Yet, as the day goes on, you might begin to agree with this quote. The day isn’t as bad as it started. But why does it often start so bad in the first place?

Morning anxiety refers to feelings of stress and excessive worry first thing in the morning.

Many individuals that struggle with morning anxiety also have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). However, just because you’re going through a rough time where morning anxiety keeps happening, it doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case. 

GAD is when this excessive worry continues for six months or more. In these cases, anxiety begins to significantly interfere with your daily life, such as your work, finances, health, and more.

Symptoms of morning anxiety often are very similar to GAD and may include:

Related Article: How to Handle Post Quarantine Anxiety and New Social Norms

 

What Causes Morning Anxiety?

Morning anxiety is due to heightened stress and worries.

This means that a number of factors can impact whether or not you experience increased anxiety in the morning.

However, physiologically, there is a reason you might have more anxiety in the morning than at any other time of the day. The stress hormone, cortisol, is highest during the morning hours.

This is because as melatonin levels decrease (which are the reason you get sleepy at night), cortisol levels increase, elevating your alertness. 

If you’re already stressed about something, cortisol can spike even higher. Additionally, throwing caffeine into the mix can also cause an influx of cortisol. So, what can you do about it?

 

3 Ways to Combat Morning Anxiety and Stress

Undeniably, starting your day with increased anxiety doesn’t exactly set the right tone for the rest of your day.

If anything, you might end up carrying this stress with you as you go about your daily activities, leading to other issues and even more emotional distress. 

Luckily, there are things you can do about it. Below, we explore three ultra-simple and easy ways you can decrease your morning anxiety and set yourself up for success.

 

1. Practice Stress-Reducing Techniques First Thing

Beginning your day feeling relaxed and focused can ensure your day goes to plan. In turn, this can contribute to your overall happiness and fulfillment in life. Thus, some relaxing morning techniques you might want to try include:

Related Article: 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Well-Being Right Now

 

2. Eat a Healthy and Nutritious Breakfast

A sure-fire way to deter a cortisol spike in the morning is by eating breakfast.

In the morning, your blood sugar is low. Cortisol can increase to compensate for this and to help the body dig into other energy stores to keep you going. 

But instead of letting cortisol do its thing, eating can help limit the stress response and help you feel more level-headed. In fact, you should be eating breakfast within a half-hour to an hour of waking up anyway, since you’ve, technically, been fasting all night long while you sleep.

On top of this, you should eat before grabbing that cup of coffee. If you opt for your coffee before food, you might find yourself feeling more stressed since caffeine can quickly elevate the stress response.

What are some healthy options you can choose for breakfast? Try these:

3. Nail Down Your Sleep Schedule and Habits

This one isn’t exactly a secret. For optimal mental and physical health, sleep is of the utmost importance. Getting your sleep routine down-pat is one of the best things you can do for your health and happiness.

Some things you might want to consider include:

 

Experiment and Find What Works for You!

Ultimately, not everyone is the same.

It may take some testing to determine what exactly works for you, your body, and your mind so that you feel calmer and more collected throughout your mornings. Try the above. And remember, it takes time for the body to adjust!

Give each adjustment a good amount of time for testing, such as a week or a month.

Morning anxiety doesn’t have to be your norm. You can overcome it, and even make mornings one of your favorite times of the day.

Read Next: 8 Good Morning Inspirations You Need to Try Each Day

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Missing your childhood?

Do you miss bringing life to those empty sketches in your coloring books? Don’t worry, you won’t miss them for long. 

There’s no denying that life is a beautiful mess and that adult coloring books have become a global sensation. Although many people think that it’s childish and a complete waste of time, some psychologists think otherwise.

Research shows that adult coloring books have various benefits for the nourishment of your brain, it seems to tap into the part of our brains connected to our feelings of spirituality.

From picking up the colored pencils or crayons to expressing your true colors on the empty sketches, adult coloring books have a key role to play in identifying your true self.

 

An Appetite For The Soul

In today’s world, everything has gone digital.

Professionals sit in front of a screen all day long and exhaust themselves in the name of creativity. Putting the keyboard to rest and picking up crayons for one day is the best thing many of us can do in order to re-build a bridge between our heart and our soul.

Much like writing by hand, coloring activates different parts of our brain. Another advantage is that you can go from working on the classic black and white screen to creating mindful color patterns on your new coloring book.

 

3 Mental Benefits of Coloring

1. Freedom From Thought

How often do you find yourself free from distractions and away from the dealings of this world, when you have the luxury of time which allows your thoughts to go from one part of your brain to another? 

Coloring makes you feel easy and relaxed and lets your mind process thoughts in an organized way.

Your mind is like a maze. There are a million endings to every single thought. You might be astonished to see how your mind connects the dots while you try to color within the borders.

2. Stress Reliever

Coloring is such a satisfying and creative process that it has a league of its own. It’s just as if you were meditating. It relieves stress on a massive scale and brings immense joy. 

Creativity is like fuel for the mind. Whenever a person invests their time and thought in making something very unique through different color combinations, at its completion it gives that person a sense of satisfaction which is completely unparalleled in this world. 

The great thing about coloring is that it takes your focus away from everyday problems and carries the weight of your stress for you. You can have some moments to think about yourself and others around you in a peaceful and unorthodox manner.

For a brief amount of time, you forget all your problems and start to go down the stream of thoughts that your mind has stored inside and that’s one of the perks of coloring in this day and age.       

3. Helps You To Connect With The Community

When you start doing something, you get connected to the community of all those people who are doing the same things as you.

The same applies to art and coloring. Providing feedback to other people, sharing ideas, helping each other out or simply converting your imagination to reality next to another person gives you a feeling that can’t be replicated.

 

It’s Fun to Color

People say that coloring is for children. I believe that sometimes we should go back to being children and actually have some fun with our imagination. Why do we always need to be professional and put our imagination to waste?

Isn’t it better to go back to the good old days when we didn’t pretend to be someone else and were actually good at expressing our true selves?

It’s fun to play with colors. Unlike other things, one can play with colors all day long and still not get bored.

It’s a great way to cheat time as well. You can immerse yourself in your imagination and lose track of time altogether. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

If you’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps, you aren’t alone. It happens to all of us. Unfortunately (and possibly, fortunately), life is full of ups and downs. Yet, during tough times, taking care of yourself can make a world of difference. 

At the same time, you might not have the tools you need to do so. Maybe you’re wanting to feel better, but you just aren’t sure how to do that. Luckily, you’ve landed on the right article. Below, we’re going to dive headfirst into 10 ways you can improve your mental well-being right now.

So, let’s get straight to it.

 

1. Create a Gratitude Journal

In this modern world, it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of what you want or need. You might see that new outfit on social media and decide you need it in your life. Or perhaps you just found out that the new version of your phone is out, and you’ve decided you need that too.

Let’s just slow this all down for a second. What about all the things you already have in your life? An attitude of gratitude is insanely good at dispelling negative thoughts and feelings and allowing you to appreciate your life for all that it is and for all that we fail to notice on a daily basis.

The truth is our lives are already so abundant. We’ve just got to take the time to notice. So, take a few minutes and write down every single thing you’re grateful for.

It can be as small as the clothes on your back or as big as you want it to be. The point is to practice appreciation for everything that is already present in your life.

Related Article: How Practicing Gratitude Can Help You in Your Hardest Moments

 

2. Nourish Your Body

Did you know that anxiety and stress happen when you don’t eat for hours on end? It can also happen when you’re not giving your body the food it needs. So, this is your sign. 

Ditch that takeout meal and those pre-packaged food items. It’s time to treat yourself to a homemade spread that your body and health will appreciate. And if you haven’t eaten any food in hours, grab something. Anything is better than nothing. 

 

3. Socialize

There are so many benefits of socializing, including:

Humans thrive off of connection. We are naturally social creatures. Even if you don’t “feel like it,” try picking up the phone to call a friend or try getting out to that social event. Having that basic connection can do wonders for your mental health.

 

4. Get Some Sun

Have you been outside recently? If not, this could be exactly what you need. Sunlight increases serotonin in the brain, which can boost your mood and help promote feelings of calm. On top of this, the sun helps regulate your circadian rhythm.

This means that exposing yourself to the sun each day can help promote a good night’s sleep later on.

 

5. Take 5-10 Deep Belly Breaths

Research shows how deep breathing is associated with decreased anxiety, reduced stress, and improved attention. While it might feel silly to do, it can really help lift up your mood, as well as calm you down during stressful times.

Start by sitting up tall with your shoulders back and a neutral spine.

How do you feel afterward?

 

6. Move Your Body

You likely already know the countless benefits that exercise has when it comes to your physical and mental health. And moving doesn’t have to mean an intense or super planned out workout.

In fact, it can simply mean going for a short walk around the block or performing a few stretches in the comfort of your own home. Some individuals might even find they feel better after busting out a few squats or push-ups. Do what works for you.

The goal is simply to move a bit and get that blood flowing!

 

7. Take the First Step

Is there a goal you want to achieve? Or is there something you’ve been putting off and feeling guilty about (not that you need a reminder)? Let’s alleviate some of these feelings surrounding these situations. 

All you need to do is take that first step. What does this mean? It could mean writing down in your calendar what you need to do to get to where you want to be. It could mean planning out how you’re going to get to your goals. 

When all else fails, keep this first step ultra-simple. Overwhelm doesn’t serve anyone. Just take that first step, and do it for you, not anyone else!

8. Set Yourself Up for a Better Sleep

There are countless articles and studies linking sleep to improved mental well-being. Harvard Health puts it simply, “Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health.”

Undeniably, your mental state can also impact your sleep patterns. However, you do have some control here. You can set yourself up for sleep success. Start by getting into a routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time.

Avoid screens for an hour or two before bed. Instead, find a relaxing activity that helps you wind down. It matters more than you think.

Related Article: 18 Tips For Better Sleep At Night

 

9. Change Your Posture

Alright, this is super simple. How are you sitting right now? If you’re hunched over or lying down in the fetal position, it’s time for a change. Yes, everything in you might not want to sit up, but it will help you feel that much better.

So, sit up and straighten your back. Take on a power pose. This has the ability to improve your confidence and give you more energy.

 

10. List Five Things You Love About Yourself

Lucille Ball famously once said,

“Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to give yourself a little love. But practice makes it easier each time. So, take a few moments and write down at least five things you love about yourself.

They can be about your personality, your accomplishments, your looks, the abundance in your life, and so much more. After all, you are your own best friend, always.

 

Step Forward Into a Better Life!

Feeling better doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Taking a few simple actions can make a huge difference in your mood and mental state. Yet, it’s up to you to take those steps and make those changes to feel better. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat of your life. Steer it in the direction you want it to go.

Read Next: 9 Things That Aren’t Helping Your Mental Health

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Working is as synonymous with adulthood as play is with childhood.

On average, people work 42 years of their lives before retirement. With an average lifespan of 72, our work life takes a huge chunk of our lives.

Dedicating one's life to a worthwhile career can be one of the most meaningful and impactful things a person can do, however, there is such a thing as overworking – no matter how important that career is.

Overworking is simply working too hard or too much for way too long. In simple terms, it is working beyond the normal threshold. Beyond your capacity. It is working to the point when the work ceases to excite and feels more like a punishment or a chore.

For most people – especially those living in underdeveloped or developing countries – overworking is mostly imposed on them. But for those living in more developed countries (and who are working white-collar jobs), overworking is mostly by volition. However, in either case, it is not healthy.

Overworking leads to all sorts of dark places - from emotional to physical.

 

The Emotional & Physical Effects of Overworking

Emotional Effects

Overworking can cause people to grow resentful of their jobs, and of course each working hour.

These lead to other negative consequences such as substance abuse, and lower creativity and productivity among others. It could also lead to chronic stress and anxiety, which can go on to trigger depression and can become toxic for both personal and professional relationships.

Physical Effects

Prolonged periods of overworking is stressful and causes fatigue, loss of concentration, insomnia, headaches, neck pains, lower back pain, changes in appetite, and in prolonged cases also weaken the immune system which then makes room for a swam off other illnesses.

Stress also contributes to aging and other metabolic disorders. 

Needless to say, overworking is not something to be proud of, especially when it goes on for a prolonged period. Below are some simple strategies you can employ today to curb overworking, whilst getting the most of your working time.

 

6 Solutions to Feeling Overworking

1. Differentiate Important From Urgent

There is no end to what can be done. So, if you open up your schedule, it is sure to get filled up with a lot of super urgent tasks.

But you need to pause and ask yourself, “Is this task important?”. Most times your answer would be no, and you should relegate those urgent tasks to the back – if they can’t wait, they should slide up.

On the other hand, you want to go to bed each night with a list of the important things you need to do the next day so that you know exactly what your priorities are as the day breaks.  

2. Do The Important Things First

This follows from the first.

You want to do those important tasks first so that at the end of your working hours, only the less important things are left; and since they aren’t really important, you can decide to leave them for the next day.

However, if you put aside an important task earlier, you would be forced to work overtime in order to complete it. So, by first picking, then prioritizing, you essentially weed out the need to work past the allocated time.

3. Delegate Tasks or Ask For Help

The better you pick, prioritize, and delegate tasks, the more effective your work would be.

This could mean asking for help on a very important project rather than spending all day on a single major task, while others are free or playing around with unimportant jobs. If it is work that has several parts to it, you would achieve more by delegating than trying to do everything yourself.

4. Say No

If after picking, prioritizing, and delegating, you find extra work finding its way to your desk, you must learn to gracefully decline.

The problem with a lot of overworked workers is that they are always trying to please people, and this is something you don’t want to be identified as. Then you’d be exploited, and grow resentful of the work and the people you are assisting.

So having said that, focus on what’s important in your business and not someone else’s.

5. Listen To Your Mind And Body

As you work, also note that time and space on your schedule aren’t the only indicators of how much you’ve worked. You also want to listen to your body. If you feel stressed or exhausted, don’t hesitate to drop what you are doing and have a break from time to time to get your groove back.

6. Block Out Time For Relaxation and Recreation

You can also willfully block out time to relax. It doesn’t matter if you are tired or still have some work to do. Simply ensure that once it is time for a break, you take it; and later return to whatever you were doing.

Bonus Solution: Get An Accountability Partner

If you find yourself in the habit of always pushing yourself beyond your limits, get an accountability partner to help out. Inform this person that you do not want to get into (or that you are already into) the habit of overworking, and that you’d love them to help keep an eye on you.

Feeling the heat? Read this next: Keep it or Sweep it: The Litmus Test for a Life of Less Stress

 

Make an Effort to Stop Overworking

When you work in this fashion, you would come to realize that your energy levels would always be high, your creativity at its zenith, and your enthusiasm as hot as it ever were. Obeying these little self-care practices can be the difference between a delightful 42 years of employment, and 42 years of misery in the labor market.

In other words, stop believing that working or grinding all the time is the only way to succeed. It is important to remember that rest, recovery, and reflection all contribute to leading a happy and successful life.

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

As perplexing as it seems, despite the exponential improvement of technology and quality of living, more and more people are saying they are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious with the world today.

In a recent study, 50% of college undergraduates said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year. 

True, technology has made a lot of difficult jobs easier, and has created more time; but what have we done with the time it afforded us? We added more work to it.

More must be done, within the shortest possible time. We are always on our toes, doing this, and doing that; never hitting the snooze button, until our minds and bodies can’t take it anymore.

The excuse many give is that they must work harder so as to afford a vacation before they can get away from all the work. They complain of not having the money nor time for a vacation, so they won’t hit pause. 

But vacations don’t always have to cost a fortune, nor does it have to take two months. You can take a mental vacation for free, and be in and out of it in just 15 minutes.

What Is Mental Vacation?

Just like a real vacation, a mental vacation is a getaway; with the twist that it happens only inside your head. At first, it may sound silly and ridiculous, yet in practice, it can be as potent as meditating – in fact, meditation can be considered a form of mental vacation.

Mental vacations are basically an attempt to unplug, relax, enjoy, and rejuvenate oneself before heading back to normal life. It is not the same as going on breaks only to head over to the drama of social media, or to wallow in one's thoughts. During mental vacations, everything that is not pleasant is expelled. Only pleasant sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings are permitted.

The aim of a mental vacation is to experience calm and peace; to place your mind in a state of harmony, and stability.

In all sense, it is as rewarding as an actual vacation, except for the fact that you can’t take pictures. 

Looking for a bigger retreat? Read this next: Think a Meditation Retreat Can't Help You? Think Again!

 

8 Ways To Take A Mental Vacation

The first step in taking a mental vacation is actually getting away from everything. After that, you can proceed to 

1. Listen To Soothing Music

Headphones on, turn on a piece of music that relaxes you.

It could just be the sounds of crashing waves, chirping birds, leaves in a rolling wind, or maybe the sound of gentle rain. A classical song with just the instrumentals skillfully playing in harmony is always a good start!

It could be some other peaceful sound that translates you into a place of mental serenity and tranquility.

2. Play Your Favorite Instrument

If you can play an instrument, you can find yourself easily carried lost in the state of flow. It disconnects you from the worries of the moment and gets you to relax. Maybe you love playing the violin, or the piano; don’t hesitate to play your favorite scores.

3. Read A Nice Book

Books are magical. A well-written book has the capacity to teleport you into another realm, then keep you there.

Exceptional books can change your outlook on everyday life. It is almost hallucinogenic and provides a great degree of relief. If you already enjoy reading, then try reading in a quiet place, and in a relaxed position (maybe on your bed) more often.

4. Take A Walk

You could decide to take a stroll through nature – a waterfront, a garden, the woods, etc. This will help you relieve stress, and get out of your head. It has the added advantage of getting you some sunlight and exercise in the process.

5. Look At Nice Pictures

Beautiful sceneries, or maybe old pictures that conjure up delightful memories can help you escape the bustle and tussle of the present. You could also consider going to an art gallery and getting immersed in the world of art. 

6. Visualize

Think of a pleasant moment. Something that makes you happy, grateful, or fills you with awe. This could be a memory or just a fantasy. The idea is to try to relive the moment. When tension reduces, pressure dissipates.

7. Meditate

If you have a lot running through your mind, consider going into meditation.

The aim isn’t to forget those things but to simply observe them, and let them fade away. It is a way to free you from the influence of those thoughts by becoming unaffected by them.

It takes a while to master meditation, but constant practice can help you maintain your peace in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. 

8. Sleep

This is perhaps the most luxurious form of escape. Even those on “actual vacations” still need to get a healthy dose of sleep. So, if you find yourself stressed out during the day, you can go for a quick nap, in order to rebuff your mind and body.

Bonus: Anxiety Canada offers a walkthrough of a mental vacation for free on their site! 

 

Take a Break! 

Going on mental vacations every now and then can save you from the negative long-term consequences of stress. Thankfully, you don’t have to be on an island resort in order to enjoy the benefits of disconnecting from work and reconnecting with your inner self. So why won’t you? It’s free anyway.      

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Mental health challenges are a global concern.

This isn’t just because it costs trillions of dollars yearly (with the US alone racking up $225 billion in 2019). More so because even the concept of a “mental health challenge,” is largely stigmatized and misunderstood. It is hard to recognize, and even more tricky to treat. 

The reality we find ourselves points to one glaring fact: The task of protecting, managing, and treating your mental health challenges is largely your responsibility.

Taking care of your mental health is not just about therapy, practicing meditation, and sticking to your medication; there are also things you should NOT do in order to help yourself.

It is true; life is full of ups and downs. For some people, it has always been the “downs” and they have to struggle for the rest of their lives. Sometimes unexpected things happen that shake “healthy” people to the foundations of their beings (they call these traumas).

Other times, prolonged challenges from life events mounts insane pressure on peoples’ lives and they are left struggling under the immense weight. 

No one chooses to have mental health issues.

However, it is still our responsibility to stand up, and do something about the situation we find ourselves in. For the sake of this article, we will focus solely on the things you might be doing, that aren’t helping your mental health.

If mental health challenges are starting to overwhelm you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Mental Health America is available 24/7 if you need to talk to someone. In Canada, reach out to the Canadian Centre for Mental Health & Sport via email, phone or text. 

 

9 Behaviors That Can Harm Your Mental Health

Below are 9 things that aren’t helping your mental health:

1. Isolation

Isolation simply means being disconnected from people.

Not a lot of people know this, but isolation has been observed to actually physically alter the brain of lab animals.

This causes the brain to shrink and can lead to other abnormal brain changes that are similar to those of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Isolation also increases the risk of depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, heart attack, and stroke. So, while it is advisable to cut off unhealthy social interactions, it is crucial that you build and maintain healthy interactions from time to time.

2. Poor Social Interactions

Thanks to the Internet (particularly Social media), we can now stay “connected” with millions of people around the globe, and this is good.

One problem with it is that it's also created an avenue to escape reality – to escape real physical social interactions. 

The result is that those who stay glued to the screens and ignore spending quality time with loved ones, can consequently emotionally starve them.

The simple habit of going out and meeting new people (or loved ones), and putting the phone away when interacting with them can go a long way in helping your mental health.

3. Multitasking And Busyness

A lot of people are very busy, being busy.

For the sake of your mental health, you must figure out the difference between the tasks that are important, and those that are urgent. And oftentimes the “urgent” tasks are not important.

Juggling several “urgent” activities often comes with cognitive costs – which brings about burnouts. This can leave you too drained for the truly important tasks, not to mention being stressed, and in a bad mood.

Slow down, and focus on the important things; the world is not on fire, right?

4. Not Putting You First

Saying “Yes” to everyone is very unhealthy.

For a start, it can leave a lot of dreaded and unimportant tasks on your to-do list. Not only will this make you miserable, but it can also leave you stressed, bitter, tired, resentful, and sometimes sad. 

5. Suppressing Your Thoughts And Feelings

We do not overcome our negative emotions (such as fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, etc.) by ignoring, or suppressing them, but by facing and processing them.

When we ignore our thoughts and emotions, we risk having them build up only to explode (or implode) at an unexpected time – sometimes with an unbearable intensity.

Situations like this can lead to mental breakdowns, panic attacks, or emotional outbursts to mention a few.  These issues may be avoided if you talk to someone, or found a way to not suppress those negative emotions. 

It can be so hard to simply ask for help. And most of us don't have the coping skills or knowledge of how to deal with these emotions. But you can learn. And it can help you. 

6. Not Exercising

Aside from the numerous physical benefits of exercising, it has a lot of psychological, emotional, and mental benefits.

For instance, walking for just 12 minutes daily can lift your mood, and help you cope with stress better. 

7. Lack of Sunlight

Spending just 15 minutes daily under the sun can greatly boost your mood because sunlight helps you synthesize vitamin D (which is believed to be a mood booster).

Being out in the sunlight also helps optimize your circadian rhythm (so you can sleep better at night). All of which brings about a healthier mind. Even if you feel you can't leave your house yet, sitting by a window or out on your deck to get a dose of sunshine can help.

8. Poor Sleeping Habit

Anxiety, depression, stress, bipolar disorder, and some other mental health challenges both cause and are worsened by lack of adequate sleep.

Due to this circular relationship between sleep and mental health challenges, it is important that a sleep schedule is drawn-out, and followed religiously; having an erratic sleeping pattern – especially when sleep time is reduced – often leads to dark places and negative emotions. 

9. Junk, Drugs & Alcohol

Food and substances are often viewed as coping mechanisms, but they can also worsen the situation at times.

For instance, the chances of a person struggling with a mental health challenge harming themselves significantly rises once they start using substances.

This may be because of how it (the substance) negatively affects their mood, other coping skills, self-esteem, and relationships. On the other hand, binging on comfort foods may feel like a very effective means to relieve yourself and boost your mood.

But just like alcohol, they can also leave you feeling depleted, ashamed, and guilty in the long run if you don’t eat them in moderation. 

 

Do What You Can to Improve Your Mental Health

One reason many people slip into these aforementioned habits is that they can be quite alluring.

Avoiding social contact and distracting yourself with endless social media feeds can be easy.

It is easy to avoid dealing with upset people by just saying “yes” and mounting tasks upon yourself. But this can serve to help you run from the “important” task of processing your thoughts and feelings.

Not exercising and staying indoors all day can seem like the easiest choice. And it is easy to stay up all night watching TV and having your nightly glass of wine and portions of comfort foods. 

But, you must realize that the “small things” do add up. 

You must also remember that the assignment of taking care of your mental health is in your hands, and all that you do (or don’t do) works for (or against) you.  

We recognize some of this is easier said than done. 'If it was so easy, I would have done it before.' If you can do anything to help yourself feel better, just give it a try. No judgment. 

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Meeting face-to-face has changed dramatically since COVID first came onto the scene in 2020. Less people meet in public, and that includes those seeing professional counselors. 

However, video chats give many more people the opportunity to get their counseling needs met even when they have to be quarantined or practicing social distance. 

Online video counseling allows clients to receive therapy in a way that is convenient and comfortable for them. This has been one of the biggest draws to this mental health method.

There are many reasons that you should consider using online counseling to address any emotional or mental health concerns you may have. 

However, keep in mind that just like with anything else, this type of treatment has its pros and cons. Keep reading to find out more, so that you can make a well-informed decision as to whether video counseling would be beneficial to you. 

8 Powerful Pros of Video Counseling

There are several pros to video counseling. Below you will find the top advantages that have been cited by clients who have used this method of therapy.

1. Video counseling is flexible.

For someone who has an extremely busy schedule, video counseling can provide the flexibility that is needed to get the help they need. There are many counselors who work with clients online after regular office hours.

This makes it easy for clients who are not able to free up their schedules during the daytime hours. It is also a good option for people with kids but no babysitter.

2. Online services save you the commute - and gas money. 

It is much easier to switch on your computer than it is to commute to an office. The money you save on gas can help pay for your therapy! Some clients say that worrying about the commute takes away from any insights that they get in their therapy sessions. 

3. Online therapy in your own home may be more comfortable.

Getting counseled in your own home puts you more at ease. It is less formal than an office setting, and this allows for you to open up easier in a place that you already feel safe and comfortable.

4. You don't have to see anyone in the waiting room or stress about how to get there.

There are many people that feel shame about needing therapy and this stops them from going to a counseling office. With video counseling this is not an issue.

There are also people who do not have a way to an office, are not able to leave their home due to medical conditions, or are unwilling to leave their home because of their mental illness/disorder. For these clients, video counseling is a complete saving grace.

5. Times and locations are more available.

There are no time constraints, and you can find a therapist in a different city or country for that matter.  

6. It may be more comfortable for people with social anxiety.

Those with social anxiety benefit from meeting online with a counselor, as it tends to cause them less anxiety. 

7. You don't have to make a huge trek or deal with traffic.

Those that live in remote areas and don’t have the means to drive to therapy benefit from video counseling. Also, those that simply don’t care to drive in busy traffic or longer distances benefit. 

8. Online therapy can be more affordable.

Video counseling is oftentimes cheaper than in-person counseling. Some therapists offer a sliding-fee scale, which can bring the cost down too. There are other therapists who work through online counseling companies, such as Better Help. These companies offer low-cost fees to clients. 

Read this next: 20 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid and Ashamed to Consult a Therapist

The Cons of Video Counseling

Even though video counseling is a great thing for some people, it is not something that is for everyone. Here are some cons to this counseling method:

1. Your insurance provider may not cover the cost.

One of the biggest cons of video therapy is that many insurance companies will not pay for it. This can mean costly treatment, even with a sliding fee scale.

2. It may seem less confidential.

Confidentially is important in the mental health field. With a face-to-face session online, some people fear that somehow the sessions could be recorded.  They are concerned about privacy and may be hesitant to fully share with the counselor. 

3. Your call may be dropped or interrupted.

Technology is not always the most reliable thing in the world. Your computer, wireless signal, or chat app can go down at any time. These devices do not care if you are in the middle of a counseling breakthrough. 

4. It's harder to read people when you aren't together.

Counselors in traditional settings are able to better read clients’ body language and overall demeaner. Sitting with someone in person gives you a better feel for their mental or emotional health than looking at them on the video screen.

5. Sometimes, you really need to go in person.

There are certain issues that are not ideal for video counseling. Those who have serious mental health issues should not be getting counseling in an online capacity. Those who need to be prescribed anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs will need to see a psychiatrist in person for an assessment.

Is Video Counseling Right For You?

Many people reach out for help from a counselor at one time or another throughout their life journey.  During times of crisis, such as a breakup or divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, etc., the support of someone who knows how to hold space to help you heal and grow can be invaluable.

You certainly don’t have to struggle through issues alone, especially when there are so many highly qualified therapists offering services online these days. 

Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It's about how you drive, not where you're going. - HealthyPlace.com

Now that you know the main pros and cons of video counseling, you can decide if it is the right thing for you. Many participants are quite pleased with the results and the ease of the process.

Personally, I’ve had in-person and video counselors and I benefitted from both types of counseling.  As I mentioned though, if you’re struggling with severe mental health issues and think you may need a prescription, you will have to see a psychiatrist face-to-face.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you are still unsure what choice to make, try talking it over with a traditional counselor and a video counselor. This may help you in your choice. Or, try both types of counseling to see what you prefer, as many counselors offer both types.

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