3 Tips to Reduce Stress

Hello, I’m Ciara Gorby and I’m the new Administrative Assistant at Serene Mind Psychology. I just graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological and Behavioral Health Science and recently applied to the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program there as well.

Since I am currently not in school, something I had been accustomed to for my entire life, I have run into some stressors revolving around purpose. Although this was brought on by the removal of education in my daily life, this can be brought on by many things for different people. A mother can struggle with a sense of purpose when her youngest child moves out to go to college. A boy can struggle with purpose when he breaks his leg and can no longer fulfill his dreams as a professional athlete. A college student can struggle finding their sense of purpose if they decide they have picked the wrong major, with no back up direction in sight.

What I’m saying is: This is fine, it happens to all of us.

Every once in a while, we think we have it all together and then we take a long moment and figure out that we just DO NOT. And that is okay for a little while. It is totally fine to have a break down and freak out for a few hours. When the weight of a tough semester, the job you hate, and the stresses of a rough breakup get to you, it is okay to momentarily question all of your life choices. It is okay to lock yourself in your room and cry about absolutely nothing. It is definitely okay to eat an entire pint of ice cream in pajamas and binge watch Netflix for a night.

But, eventually, we have to get it together. Eventually we have to get up and leave our room. Eventually the meltdown has to end. When life starts to get though, whether by the stressors of school, a relationship, or your job, when you cannot seem to find your own purpose, I have some tips and tricks to just give you a little push on your road to feeling better.

1. Exercise: Some people benefit from a long run around the block and other people like to lift weights. Yoga, on the other hand, is my guilty pleasure and (BONUS) does not have to be strenuous or even hard at all. Any form of exercise is healthy and can be beneficial but sometimes when your head is up in the clouds a little Downward Dog is all you need to bring you back to reality. If your school offers free yoga classes, give it a try. If you don't have access to free classes and you don’t feel like paying to go, there are plenty of apps you can download on your smart devices to get you started with the basics. Following inspirational people like Rachel Brathen, also known as Yoga Girl, and listening to podcasts might help you realize that you are not alone in your struggles. Some Sava Sana may be all you need to kick that funk you are in.

2. Self-love: When you realize the only thing you have had to eat for the past week is Target brand coffee and microwaved Ramen Noodles maybe it is time to splurge. Go treat yourself to your favorite sushi roll, put on a face mask, wear PJs all day because you can. When you notice... hmm maybe you do not remember the last time you trimmed your facial hair or shaved your legs... take a long shower. Clean yourself up. The better you feel physically, the better you will feel mentally. Do not be afraid to tell your friends you are busy and take a personal day.

3. Connect with someone: If all else fails, we are here for a reason and we are all human. Find someone you can talk to and find some support in them. Maybe it is your sibling, or your parent, or maybe even your roommate, but it may help to just let it all out. But if you do not, talking to a therapist or counselor can really do your mind some justice by giving you a safe space to vent. Some schools offer free help sessions for student who feel like they can not handle the stress alone, too. The world may seem like a lot sometimes and it is not wrong to ask for someone to listen.

Being a person is hard. Sometimes we forget how much we do, and how stressful everyday life can be. Taking time to focus on ourselves and finding purpose in our day to day routine can bring us great happiness and joy. Be grateful for your struggles, they will only make you stronger.

The Truth About Therapy

How do you feel about the word therapy? Some of us are under the impression that attending therapy means we are going “crazy” or “insane.” This is false and if you believe this you are actually stereotyping and increasing the stigma related to mental health. Therapy is for all, the everyday unique person who simply wants to better them self. You do not have to be experiencing a major life crisis, transformation or a traumatic event to benefit from someone listening to you.

I want to debunk some therapy rumors and clear up any misconceptions about therapy:

1. My issues are not a big deal: Your anxiety may be related to things others may not understand or empathize with. That does NOT mean they are not a big deal, it means you can talk to someone who can empathize, listen and understand how your illogical thoughts may be growing in your own head.

2. In therapy I will be told what to do: NO, sorry that is truly the most far from the truth. A therapist listens and guides. But we do not tell anyone what to do. You come up with our choices based on what you want to accomplish. In therapy, you gain insight and the ability to make your own healthy choices.

3. My therapist does not care about my problems: That may be true or not, every therapist is different and unique. If you feel they do not empathize or understand you, leave. Find another therapist, we are everywhere and we all have different talents. The most important thing for you to benefit from therapy is simply your relationship with your therapist and how well you get along.

4. It is too expensive: This can be true, but it can also be very false. Therapists can work with insurance providers, some have sliding scales or discounts for college students. I always say therapy is not permanent, it is an investment. Put away your online shopping habit and instead commit to something that can help you gain better relationships, a promotion and self-esteem.

5. Talking won’t help me solve anything: Of course, it can! You just have not found the right person for you to talk to. See talking to a therapist is not like talking to a friend, spouse or family member. It is unique in that your therapist has no motif, no underlying gain, they do not know you or your acquaintances. A therapist learns to see you the way you see yourself, through your own eyes.

6.  I can not change people around me: Very true, in therapy, you will learn this. But you should not be going to therapy to change people, you should be going to therapy to improve your own thinking and insight.

7. It is embarrassing: If you feel this way, talk about it in therapy. I do not see people feeling embarrassed about going to the doctor, dentist and even your gynecologist. Talking to a therapist is empowering and the most opposite of embarrassing.

8. Therapy is forever: No, it does not have to be forever. Find a therapist with a therapy style that gives you results and you too will see not every therapist is the same, and you do not have to invest your entire future going to therapy.

Please remember your therapist is human too. In fact, many of us attend our own therapy. It is not as shocking, embarrassing or outlandish as you may think. We study the art and science of psychology, it is important for us all to realize our own limitations and to consult with other like-minded humans, who are impartial and non-biased when we need an extra boost.

Spring Clean Your Self-Care Routine

Hello! My name is Nikki Tucker and I recently joined the Serene Mind Team as a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “spring cleaning”? Do you envision the dirt and dust that has accumulated throughout the year around your living space or do you imagine a pile of material objects that you are able to toss or donate? It seems that we, as human beings, tend to follow this mindset that if we clean up our external world then our internal world will fall into place. But what if we were to “spring clean” from the inside out? If we were to make a conscious choice to take care of our internal dirt and dust, then our external world may seem less overwhelming when it comes time to renew and clean during the Spring season.

You may be wondering how you begin to inwardly spruce up. It can start by beginning to understand your need for self-care and establishing a routine that works for you. Self-care is ways that you take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It is about connecting with your body and mind and asking for what you need. Asking for what you need can be difficult if you are used too often caring for others before caring for yourself. I am going to ask that you read the steps below for establishing a self-care routine and TRY. All you can do is try and begin to practice caring for yourself. Self-care can be a stumbling point for me, especially as a new counselor in the field, so I will work hard to practice these steps right along with you.

Steps to Creating A Self Care Routine

1. Sleep When You Are Tired: This one may seem obvious but in today’s fast-paced world, it can difficult to find time to rest your body and sleep. This step is not saying that you need to give things up to sleep but to determine how to get the best amount of sleep for your body and lifestyle. Sleeping is so important to be able to recharge physically, emotionally and mentally.

2. Eat Until You Are Satisfied: After overindulging, have you ever felt sluggish, sick and just generally zapped? I know I have. This step challenges you to recognize the sign your body is giving you when you have reached a point of satisfaction while eating without feeling overly full. Eating to feel satisfied can leave you feeling less like taking a nap and more like taking on the day in between meals.

3. Find Time for Yourself: Finding time for yourself can be just five minutes throughout the day to practice your deep breathing, dance to your favorite song in your living room or listen to a song that brings you joy. It can be anything really as long as it is something that is meaningful to you and gives you space to channel your own energy.

4. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings: This is so challenging but one of the most important parts of caring for yourself. This includes even those negative feelings that can be uncomfortable to feel. It may seem like you are being selfish for saying no to that person’s request, not wanting to be another person’s friend or letting someone know that they may have made you angry, but it is not selfish. Self-confidence comes with beginning to know all emotions are acceptable. Learning to recognize and express how you are truly feeling helps to make you more whole for YOU and everyone else.

5. Be Present: We hear this a lot in today’s fast-paced world but how many times do we truly take time to practice this? This includes unplugging from work responsibilities, phones, computers, tablets, etc. and just being there to experience your life. Maybe you take a walk and notice the colors of the foliage around you or you tune into what your dinner partner/partners are saying without any external distractions. You can even take a moment while at work or home to just recognize the colors around you. Whatever it might be, being present for a moment and not thinking about the mistake you made yesterday or the project you have due tomorrow begins to teach you how to connect with
your life.

All of the above is a guide for how to start asking for what you need. You can add to this list or pick out the most important steps for you and begin incorporating them into your life at your pace. However, you decide to begin, start small and give yourself grace along the way. Dusting and sweeping each area of your life takes time.

A Side of Love, Forgiveness and Patience

   You're at your favorite date night restaurant, and you've been looking forward to it all day. You order the salad with dressing on the side and wait patiently as you sip your glass of wine. Finally, the waitress comes over with your delicious salad bowl, and you dive right in! It takes you about a minute to notice...she forgot your dressing. A little dismayed, you flag her down when she's near, and politely let her know. She's is so sorry! She was buzzing around and it simply slipped her mind, she asks that you please forgive her. You tell her it's no big deal at all, you just wanted to remind her. You offer a reassuring smile as she scurries to go get your dressing. Within seconds, it's on the table and you go right back to your meal. It is delicious and you are once again reminded as to why this is your favorite place. 

     So why when your significant other doesn't listen to what you're saying or forgets something, are you not as forgiving and friendly as you were with the forgetful waitress? Surely you love them more than the waitress, so what is keeping you from being just as kind? Maybe because it's a common thing, and you feel as though you are constantly reminding, and repeating yourself. If that is the case, ask yourself this: when is the last time someone had to remind me of something? In today's world, I can guarantee it wasn't that long ago. 

    Communication comes in two primary forms. Verbal, and non-verbal. It seems that in times of frustration or stress, many of us remember our verbal communications well, but what about the non-verbal? Have you ever said something was 'okay' with your mouth, but your face and that long sigh said something else? "It's fine, I'll just run to the store myself and get it." You say, as you snatch the keys and shove them in your pocket, marching towards the door. Body language says everything when your mouth doesn't, and it can be one of the main roadblocks to proper communication. Reactions like this can bring such unnecessary stress into your relationship when one of you feels they have to walk on eggshells and have the memory of an elephant. The solution to this is something that must be practiced, and it involves three words. Love. Forgiveness. Patience. 

   There are many times during our day that I am sure we wish we had more patience. At the minimum, can we try to give our loved ones the same courtesy as we do our waiters and waitresses? All of us know what it is like to be human, and we should try to remember that the next time we say something without saying it. Do we want to be sure that we aren't doing this all for a show, right? Let's not smile through the conversation, and lament in our heads for the rest of the evening. Forgiveness not only releases the person, but it frees you as well from the burden of agonizing over it. The most important of the three is love, and it is my favorite. No matter what, you should always speak to your significant other out of love. This is a great way to keep yourself in check, and in times of frustration, you will be shocked at the results. Their reaction to being spoken to out of love rather than irritation will not only ease them but bring you both happiness in solving the issue together. Try it. Practice it. And be kind to everyone you meet, waitress included! 

The 3 R's to Help You Stick to Your Resolution

Hi everyone, my name is Melanie. I am the new administrative assistant of Serene Mind, and I wanted to take a second to congratulate everyone for making it through another year! No matter what happened, no matter how you are feeling or where you are, if you’re reading this, you made it. 

                Such as the New Year, I would like to take a closer look at New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us have made one this year, and moving towards the end of the month, aren’t feeling all that hopeful anymore? How many of us have made the same one that we made last year…and the year before that? I am writing this in the hopes that after reading it, you don’t walk away feeling discouraged, or berating yourself. All of us have things about ourselves that we would like to work on, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. A New Year’s Resolution should not be something for us told hold over our heads like a demanding cloud of gloom. It should a goal. Humans are creatures of habit. If you have been doing the same things for the past fifteen, or even five years, please do not think that you will suddenly be able to change it at the stroke of midnight. 

                The same way that a habit is made, it can be broken. Some of us don’t know how we even got to the point that we are at today, we just know that change is necessary. Know that is half the battle, having the motivation to see it through, is the other half. I would like to share a little bit of knowledge that I acquired recently that might make this whole thing seem a little more feasible. 

What are the 3 R’s of Habit Formation? 

Reminder: The Reminder is a trigger and it can come in the form of many different forms such as a location, time, struggle, emotion, or action. A good amount of the time, this isn’t something that is within our power to change.

Routine: Then there is the Routine, which is what we do in response to the Reminder. This is where change happens. You control how you respond to that Reminder, and you alter your process. Try doing this 21 days in a row, however big or small it may be, and you are on track to modeling a new behavior.

Reward: The last is the Reward, and this is the joy within ourselves that we feel after a job well done. Don’t forget to celebrate each day that you accomplish your daily goals.

       This formula is broad for the purpose of it being adaptable to all of your different situations and work habits. There is wiggle room, and forgiveness if you allow it. There isn’t room for self-doubt, or beating yourself out, so leave it all at the door, and see what happens. I wish you guys the best of luck in all that you set out to accomplish and have the happiest of New Years.