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.

 
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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.

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Mental Health Matters

"Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."

–Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Co-developer of Minority Mental Health Month

I’d like to take a moment to first give kudos to the individuals and groups of individuals who have made great efforts to destigmatize mental health over the past several years. Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’, and Takethis.org have created safe spaces for individuals and their loved ones who experience mental illnesses to vent about their experiences, and connect with others who they can relate to. These sort of campaigns have been created with the purpose of destigmatizing mental health, and it seems that they have done an excellent job of educating individuals about mental health, and fostering hope for individuals by sharing venues for getting help.   

Unfortunately, it seems that many individuals still feel a sense of shame and helplessness when it comes time to getting care for themselves or for their loved ones. Statistics vary depending on the source, but between 1/5 and ¼ of all Americans are currently living with a diagnosable mental health condition. NAMI reports that individuals who are Hispanic, Black, Asian, and American Indian, are as or more likely to have a mental illness as white individuals. But when it comes to receiving care, White Americans are most likely to receive care for their mental health. African Americans and Hispanic Americans do not tend to receive the mental health services that they need and Asian Americans were found the least likely to receive care. 

So what explains this disparity between white individuals and minorities receiving mental health treatment? According to NAMI, individuals in multicultural communities receive a poorer quality of care, experience higher levels of stigma, receive services within a culturally insensitive health care system, may experience language barriers from their clinicians, and have lower rates of health insurance.  These statistics, although discouraging, serve as a sign to mental health practitioners that we need to do more to reach clients of all ethnic backgrounds, especially individuals who fall into these underserved communities. Minority Mental Health Month was developed to improve the public’s awareness of mental health among minorities and to improve access. 

What can you do to help? Educating yourself and others about mental illnesses may be the first step. You can visit www.nami.org for additional information regarding the facts and myths associated with mental health. You can connect with other individuals and families, neighbors and people who have sought help for their mental health in the past. You may also speak with your doctor to see if therapy may be a good fit for you or a loved one.

It is not always easy to talk about mental health but by just reading this blog you are already helping others. Awareness is key and by coming together we can begin to end the stigma associated with mental illness, especially for minorities.

Speak Up About Suicide

Not everyone may know, and it is not a cheery topic to talk about but September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Yes, it is not as popular as National Cheeseburger Day or National Dog Day but just as, if not more important. The topic of suicide is one many people believe is taboo. We think that by not speaking about it, it simply does not happen. This is false. 

By speaking and learning about what suicide is and how to prevent it we can pass on tools to help prevent unwanted suicides. Here are some q and a's to help you spread awareness and share the message that everyone's life does matter: 

What is suicide? It is when someone feels as if they have reached their limit. They are past the point of return and want to give up on life. They may feel as if no one cares or pays them any attention. 

What can I do if a friend or family member talks about suicide? Listen. Be understanding and empathetic. Do not try to minimize their emotions or thoughts. Talk about what they think they may gain from suicide. Talk about what they will lose with suicide. Talk about the love and joy they do bring to the world. Make sure you do make them aware that their is help and things can get better. 

What if they have a suicide plan? A suicide plan and intent to act is very dangerous. This is a direct threat and should be treated as such. Do not hesitate to take your loved one to an emergency room or call 911. 

What if talking does not help? Talk about gaining a second opinion and seeking professional help. If the person is not willing to gain help, you also have the option of taking them to the nearest emergency room or calling 911. 

Can therapy help someone who is suicidal? Yes! The therapy has to be intensive and positive. It can work over time but the difficulty with suicide is that it is an immediate danger. The sooner it is addressed, the better. 

Now that you can help your loved ones, please share this with others. Spread awareness about suicide prevention by simply, talking about it. Do not be shy, talk about how you feel and what you know. Starting a conversation can help slowly reduce suicide and improve mental health for everyone. 

 

New Year, New You

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This New Year do you have a resolution to be healthier, happier and to focus on the positive? Now that we are near the end of January your motivation may be dwindling. You may be starting to make excuses and prolong working out, letting negative people influence your decisions or focusing on negative events that you feel are out of your control. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone! Like many of us, you need to regain focus, set realistic goals and feel accountable. 

1. Make time for your goals: You have to plan time everyday to focus on your goals. Make a schedule for yourself and create a routine. Having a schedule will make your goals that much easier to accomplish.  

2. Set goals that are attainable and specific: Create goals that start small and that you can progress with (Ex: Walk around the block and make progress towards running a 5K). Make a list of rewards to help motivate you to complete your goals (Earn a cheat meal, a new clothing item, a glass of wine). Write down your goal details and track your progress, you will stay focused even when you feel least motivated.  

3. Share your goals with others: This will hold you accountable for your goals and success. Tell your friends and family what your goals are and ask them to help you stay on track. It will help them feel included and encourage them to give you positive feedback. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

You can make a change for yourself this year by dedicating yourself to maintaining your goals! Do not let yourself become discouraged, your great work will not go unnoticed. Keep your focus, set yourself up for success and build a great support network.