3 Ways Therapy Will Help Your Mental Health

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Therapy. Commonly stigmatized, commonly ridiculed. I’m writing today in an attempt to undo this stigma.

Before we begin, it’s important to define all aspects of this conversation. Therapy is defined as treatment intended to relieve or heal extraneous circumstances. Our circumstances all vary: this meaning we don’t all attend therapy for the same reason or situation. Regardless, communicating with a professional therapist on a consistent basis has been proven to promote healing and emotional recovery. Let’s dive in:

  1. Dealing with your past: Therapy is a great way to uncover some of the emotional turmoil you might not be aware of. As you devote your thoughts to a session, the brain allows your body to feel emotions, both positive and negative ones. The emotionally centered feeling that you experience amidst a therapy session is indicative that the work is helping. If you experienced any relational trauma in your past, therapy is a sure-fire way to relieve and heal your wounds.
  2. Peace of mind: After a therapy session, it’s common to feel an overwhelming sense of peace. Following an emotional revisit to the issues of your past, you may achieve a sense of purpose and fulfillment knowing that you’re actively finding a solution to your problems. This will help you in the future when dealing with similar issues as you become increasingly equipped with the according tools.
  3. Forgiveness: Not only is therapy a great way to mend relationships with others, it can open your mind to forgiveness with those you no longer have contact with. Generally speaking, those who forgive and choose to accept the past as it occurred experience a healthier and happier life. Forgiveness is often overlooked but nonetheless an extremely beneficial byproduct of therapy.

We highly encourage you to get involved in therapy or a talk group. This article will serve to fulfill its purpose if even one person devotes an hour a week to therapy. We strive to instill positive change and improve your quality of life. Please consider.

6 Easy Ways to Beat Anxiety

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As we all know, anxiety can be overwhelming. It can often become insurmountable to reverse the effects of an anxiety attack once it has surfaced.

We’ve formulated a 6 step guide to ensure you avoid these situations and to help you on your road to recovering from your clinical anxiety.

  1. Limit Caffeine Intake! Studies have repeatedly shown that those who suffer from anxiety experience exacerbated symptoms when caffeine is introduced. Limiting intake or excluding it from your diet completely is a sure-fire way to reduce your anxiety immediately.
  2. Talk to a friend or loved one. Talking about your anxiety to others has also been proven to immediately alleviate symptoms. Recognizing that your anxiety is existent and giving it the respect and attention it deserves can often lessen symptoms
  3. Go for a walk in nature. I personally enjoy this pointer as being amongst wildlife and plants gives me an “at-one” feeling with the Earth.
  4. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Scientists recommend a healthy amount of 60 minutes of exercise a day to assist your physical and mental health, but don’t overdo it.
  5. Take a nap! If your anxiety becomes too heavy to deal with and you are finding yourself in a situation that is difficult to function in, try taking a nap. Sleeping gives your mind and body a chance to reset and can help give you a fresh start to the second half of your day.
  6. Practice self-care. Those who consistently practice self-care and are overall healthy people report lower levels of anxiety and depression. Be sure to brush your teeth, shower daily, and eat healthily.

3 Quick Ideas to Remedy Your Depression

Let’s face it: we all get down from one time to another, but sometimes it can be more serious than simple feelings of sadness. Whether it’s clinical depression or simply the blues, we’ve got you covered with 3 quick ideas to help get you back on your feet.

  1. Join a yoga class. Many psychologists and psychiatrists will advise their clients to take on these classes amongst their busy lives in order to centralize their emotions and thoughts. Taking a yoga class is not only beneficial for your emotional health but is a great workout as well.
  2. Cook a meal with a family member. Spending your scarce free time with the ones you love is another way to be sure to put yourself in a joyful mood.The act of cooking a meal gives your day purpose as you are completing a meaningful task and can feel grateful for the work you’ve done.
  3. Spend at least 15 minutes of your day outside in the sun. Sunlight is proven to provide your body with necessary Vitamin D, a vitamin that helps prevent depression from surfacing. On top of this sunlight exposure, studies recommend a healthy amount of 60 minutes of exercise a day.

How are Serotonin and Depression Related?

Depression can present itself in insurmountable ways. If left untreated, depression can affect our ability to function. Today, I’ll touch on some of the symptoms of depression I dealt with and how I ultimately overcame them.

One of the most commonly reported themes of depression is a lack of motivation to do absolutely anything. We can go from goal-oriented and extensively motivated people to locking ourselves in our room without a simple regard for how things are going to play out. And thus presents serotonin and instant-gratification measures.

Serotonin (or the lack thereof) can wreck havoc in our lives. Commonly referred to as the “happy chemical”, serotonin is one of the many brain chemicals. It is known to be responsible for happiness, fulfillment, maintaining a sleep schedule, sexual desire and well-being. Stating the obvious here: it’s essential.

Those who have a persistent lack of serotonin binding in the corresponding neural cavities experience what’s referred to as clinical depression (or Major Depressive Disorder). Psychologists often overmedicate for this disorder by using multiple antidepressants or SSRI’s. SSRI’s (short for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) are a medication that claims to bind freely mingling serotonin to its respective cavities. This isn’t a pharmaceutical way of inducing serotonin; it simply takes what you already have and binds it to it’s home. Once this medication is prescribed and began, it can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to show positive effects.

Not to mention that there are genetic predispositions people can carry that present a case of treatment-resistant depression, meaning that most forms of medical treatment will hardly improve the condition.

Let’s consider an individual with MDD, specifically treatment-resistant depression. They work 9:00-5:00 at a retail store and can’t seem to find simple hope for the day. They have social outlets, they exercise and even eat healthily. They lead what’s referred to as a normal life but can’t find fulfillment or happiness at any point thoughout the day. Thus, they are lacking motivation for life. They go home and turn to instant gratification activities that help supplement their lack of “feel good” brain chemicals.

These activities often include the following: binge eating junk food, spending hours on social media, video game addiction, social isolation, inconsistent sexual desires, etc. As you can see, most of these activities are simply a by-product of depression which is a by-product of a lack of serotonin.

During my depressive episode, I experienced a number of symptoms despite having been on SSRI’s for years. My depression got worse and worse. My subsequent instant-gratification activities became much more condensed and consistent. My life was falling apart because of a chemical. Then I decided to take my condition into my own hands. I would no longer be ridiculed by doctors or psychologists for my pre-disposition and my incapability to be happy. I would no longer tolerate being talked down to.

I broke free; I became me again. Stay tuned for more.

Stigmas and Signs of Depression

Often times we face our struggles alone and face extreme difficulty while doing so. We may find a sense of pride in the idea of facing these problems headstrong and feel like a failure if we fail or find out that we aren’t strong enough for them by ourselves. These feelings are completely normal and don’t make you an atypical person. Most people feel uncomfortable with reaching out for help because of their desire to “have it figured all out”, but in reality, we never ultimately figure it out.

The sad thing about suffering from a mental illness or dealing with something similar is that it’s often invisible and doesn’t profoundly show any physical manifestations, meaning there is no real evidence to support your claimed pain. This ideology has developed the stigma characterizing conversations about mental health to this exact date. So often phrases are uttered such as “Just get over it” or “It’ll pass”. The thing is, you can’t. Clinical depression is a state in which the person affected has very little power over their motivations and correlating life activities that it shows itself as “laziness”.

Society accepts this “lack of motivation”, but with a price. They say “He/she has really changed” being the acceptance component. The judgement follows: “They don’t care about anything anymore; they quit showing up to work and/or school; they don’t talk at all!”.

Now that all the problems with depression and society’s reaction have been stated, let’s focus on the one and only solution: reaching out. The bottom line is if nobody ever knows, nobody ever knows. And it’s really a shame that the person dealing with this type of disorder has to be the person to come out into the light and claim their struggles and advocate for themselves. We fear rejection, judgment, ridicule, denial and being outcast. We even lack motivation to talk about why we don’t have motivation. Ironic.

But don’t let this fear stop you from communicating. When I decided to tell people about my depression, I found it helpful to identify the next time I’d have a conversation with the desired party and how I would inform them. For some, this may create anxiety: but for me, it gave me a definite time and date that I would have to open up about this. I might even send out a text saying, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something really serious.” while I had the courage.

Opening up about your struggles is never easy, and it never will be. Although you expose yourself in an extensive way, you receive an opportunity for extreme acceptance and support. Many people have faced (or know someone who has faced) a very similar cry for help and are more than willing to extend their hand to you. Find your support group and begin your journey. I believe in you. I truly do.

If you want us to be that outlet for you, I’d be more than happy to talk with you. Strike up a conversation using collin.ullrich@stayforyourself.com. We are here to comfort and provide a safe place for you to vent. Share with a friend to send some encouraging light. Have a great day!

Mindfulness: Liberating your Mind

Breathing is often the most overlooked thing humans do. It occurs naturally, and we hardly have to think about it, so why should we?

Self-induced therapy is the action of bringing oneself to a state of emotional tranquility without outside intervention. Often times when we need therapy or a helping hand, we’re alone: in bed, in a car driving, etc. There’s not much in the way of an on-hand therapist. Thus, it is necessary to become equipped with coping mechanisms in order to avoid an extreme, personal crisis.

One coping mechanism that has resided well with me is mindfulness breathing, hence the title. This exercise can be completed anywhere and anytime, preferably with a sense of privacy. Let’s begin.

For starters, find an area in which you feel exclusively comfortable: free from judgment, free from sound, free from distractions. Once you’ve arrived, find a comfortable spot to sit and take a minute to prepare your mind, whatever this means for you.

Next, assume a proper sitting position with both feet flat on the ground, shoulder width apart. Relax your neck and shoulders and begin to think of your favorite sound found in nature, whether that be a river flowing, the crickets chirping or the sound of horse’s hooves against hard-packed dirt.

Finally, breathe. Breathe deeply and focus completely on each breath. My favorite count to breathe to is in for 5 and out for 4, meaning counting to 5 as I breathe in and counting to 4 as I breathe out. Continue this process for 3-5 minutes, or longer if you need.

Come out of your meditation by opening your eyes and shaking out your arms and stretching. Feel better? More relaxed?

This type of meditation has provided me with extensive relief from day-to-day stressors, and I fall back on this exercise multiple times a day. It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even the same every time! Modify the exercise and add your own variations which help you relax the most.

Did you enjoy this exercise? Let us know by sending us an e-mail at collin.ullrich@stayforyourself.com, and we’ll be sure to respond within a day’s time. Breathe on 🙂

Fear of the Unknown

The unknown is a scary place: it provides a dark shell of fear for the visitor and wheel-barrows full of uncertainty. This stress eventually becomes so astounding it develops into anxiety, which can control our daily lives.

However, it doesn’t have to. Your life is in your hands, and you have the ability to define it. With proper coping mechanisms, therapy and perhaps some medication, anxiety will quickly become a thing of the past.

So, the question lingers, what is the purpose of anxiety? Many people, including myself, deal with anxiety and its symptoms on a regular basis: difficulty breathing, shaking legs, uncontrollable speech, racing thoughts, etc. It comes, and it goes. So, why? Why is this something we deal with?

To put it simply, anxiety is simply a survival mechanism that had a little too much caffeine. As you may know, the term “fight or flight” coins the idea that in order to survive, one must defend their ground or escape the situation as quickly as possible. Now, imagine a car horn that honks on its own, with little regard to the driver’s notion. Sound annoying? Anxiety is similar.

These symptoms can arise on moment’s notice and have very little empathy for those who are under it’s spell. It certainly can be triggered and induced by outside events, but it doesn’t always have to be. Symptoms of anxiety don’t need causation, and they certainly don’t ask for permission.

Now that you have a taste of anxiety and it’s power, I want to hear from you. How do you deal with your anxiety or stressful situations? What do you do to control your symptoms when you’re in public? In private? Let us know at collin.ullrich@stayforyourself.com. Strike up a conversation, and we’ll be sure to respond with in a day’s time.

Stay tuned for coping techniques that will change your anxiety before you know it!

Be Someone’s Hope

There’s always a chance, always. We can be the hope and be the change in someone’s decision to stay for just one more day.

On average, one suicide occurs every 12 minutes in the United States, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages. This rate is alarmingly high considering it might just be the most preventable cause of death world-wide if proper intervention occurs.

If someone mentions these feelings to you, what do you notice your initial reaction to be? Are you demeaning, in disbelief, thinking they’re saying it for attention? Please re-think.

The United States’ mental health care system is frankly, unjust. We often see depressed people being mis-labeled as suicidal and in turn being put on psychiatric holds due to their “high risk for self-harm”. Now, I may be wrong, but if I feel isolated and depressed out in public, being trapped in a 20 room brick building with freezer pasta isn’t going to help me much. That being said, I challenge you.

Give someone the idea that they matter, the perception that you care. Don’t just say “I’m here for you” or “Reach out if you need anything”. Actually be there. Visit the person. Talk to them. Be their light. Embrace your day in finding out about their struggles and giving this person a sense of encouragement. Don’t leave until the job is done.

Because ultimately, you do have the opportunity to save a life. You just don’t know it yet.

Morning Mental Wellness

I’ll kick this blog off by giving you some mental wellness activities that have profoundly improved by mental stability – and frankly my life.

Each day, I dread getting out of bed. I wake up with a mask of fatigue and can’t summon the energy to desire the day. However, this activity has become increasingly addictive and has reserved a permanent spot in my morning routine.

I start this activity by grabbing a small sheet of paper, two highlighters and a pencil. I write down every single stressor or potential stressor that the day offers: being judged at the gym, losing a game of 8-ball, etc. It’s a pretty wide range.

Once I have all of them jotted down, I assign one highlighter to be my “in my control” color and the other to be my “out of my control” color. I highlight each stressor accordingly and take a look at my sheet once completed.

Unsurprisingly, most of the stressors are completely out of my control and the page is predominantly filled with the “out of my control” color. Wow, what a concept!

I quickly realize that much of what I worry about is ultimately out of my control and realize that there’s not much I can do without seeming intruding in my personal situations.

I encourage you guys to try this activity yourself and see just how many of your stressors are in your control!