It is beyond difficult to go through mental and emotional distress. It can feel impossible to formulate what you are going through, let alone express to a loved one how they can help. So many people experience feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and loss due to struggling with a mental illness or enduring a period of pain. However, everyone goes through different experiences and struggles so it can feel helpless to explain your pain and it can feel helpless to be a loved one trying to help heal that pain. I understand how loved ones then can feel at a loss as to how to give their support. It is normal to not know what to say, how to say it, what to do, or know if you are being helpful in any way.
Being a family therapist at The Centered Life, I believe it is an essential piece to therapy to aid my clients to learn how to conceptualize and express what they are experiencing in order to work through it. But I think it is equally as important in therapy to bring in clients’ support systems so they can learn how to be helpful in a healthy way. It is hard to be vulnerable and ask for help. And if that help is received in a negative way, it will only set up a dynamic of little communication about emotional needs and can negatively affect the relationship as well. Which then creates more distress on both ends. Here is a list of some ways that may help people express what kind of help they need and help support systems navigate how to be helpful.
Say This: “I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help”
Not That: “We all go through times like this”
Say This: “You may not believe it now, but the way you are feeling will change”
Not That: “Just snap out of it, look on the bright side”
Say This: “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. We will get through this together”
Not That: “You’ll be fine. Stop worrying. Shouldn’t you be better right now?”
Say This: “Talk to me, I’m listening.”
Not That: “Here is my advice.”
Say This: “I know you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, what can I do to help?”
Not That: “You are freaking out, you just need to calm down.”
Say This: “You are not alone in this”
Not That: “There is always someone worse off than you.”
Say This: “You are important to me and I want to help.”
Not That: “No one said life is fair.”
Say This: “Do you need a hug?”
Not That: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
Say This: “I can not completely understand what you are struggling with, but I can offer my love and compassion.”
Not That: “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed/anxious for a few days”
Say This: “I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”
Not This: “Your moods are bringing everyone around you down.”
Say This: “When these feelings subside, I will still be here and so will you.”
Not That: “Stop being so sensitive, cheer up.”
It can feel helpless for both the person enduring the emotional distress and the people who are trying to help, but it does NOT have to be. The above statements are some helpful outlines to enhance healthy and empowering support. If we can open up a dialogue about these topics and help each other understand from both sides, then there is so much more of a chance of coping better. It is important to offer support with an open mind, open heart, and with an open-ended approach because it only leaves room for open healthy communication and learning amongst support systems. All of us at The Centered Life are here to help people that are going through a hard time. Please call us if you are needing any kind of guidance and extra support!
All my best,
It’s a no-brainer that physical exercise is good for your body! As well, it is one of the most effective ways to improve mental health. Speaking from experience, getting in a workout every day has been life changing. I cannot even begin to tell you how great I feel after leaving the gym. That does not mean it is a challenge getting there. Some days I have to really mentally prepare myself and other days my body just goes without thinking. I will tell you one thing- I have never regretted a single workout. The gym “has always been there for me”, whether I am upset, sad, lonely, excited, nervous, happy, etc. No matter what I am feeling, I know I have a healthy outlet available. I always look at it as “ME TIME”. It is done for nobody other than myself.
Exercise has many benefits including:
- stress relief
- memory improvement
- mental clarity
- better sleep
- higher self-esteem
- more energy
- anxiety relief
- stronger resilience
- overall mood boost
New to exercise? Dreading that yoga class? Intimidated by weights? I encourage you to start small. And remember, it is okay to start small! Exercise when you have the most energy during the day. Have a friend join you. Give yourself time to adjust if this is something new to your weekly routine. You do not need a gym membership to get in some exercise. Step outside and talk a walk/run. Put on some music and dance away. All you need is anywhere from 15-30 minutes at least 2X/week. I guarantee you will feel better!
- Start small
- Exercise when your energy is highest
- Have a workout buddy
- Give yourself time to adjust to this new routine!
- 15-30 minutes of exercise is all that is needed at least 2X/week
The Centered Life proudly partners with Knockout Women’s Boxing Club, a women’s only boxing club. The owner, Jessica Storch, takes pride in the friendly, safe, and welcoming atmosphere. If you would like to learn more about Knockout, their classes and services provided, please check visit the website at:
Sweat it out,
5 Things I Do to Cope Better With Daily Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal response to challenging or stressful situations. In fact, having anxiety can help people to push themselves to perform tasks better. However, it is when your worry and fear become so overwhelming it gets in the way of your daily life that it may be helpful to learn how to cope better day to day with it. According to the ADAA, there are close to 4 million people in America who are struggling with anxiety disorders and it is one of the most common issues that brings people into therapy.
I specialize in working with anxiety disorders and one of the reasons I have a passion for helping those with anxiety is because I myself, have anxiety. I always thought that it was stress induced but as I got older I realized it was actually anxiety that caused me to feel overwhelmed daily. I understand that it can be hard to describe to people what anxiety feels like and it seems easier to just act like it is not there. Distraction and avoidance will only make your anxiety worse. The minute I recognized it, it empowered me to implement skills that improved my coping. Here is list of 5 things I do to decrease my daily anxiety.
1. Give yourself a worry period. Set aside 15-30 minutes at the beginning of the day to allow yourself this time to process your worries. The more you try to ignore a thought, the more likely you are to focus on it. For example, try not to think about a pink elephant. Let me guess, you just pictured a pink elephant. Anxiety has a way of making people feel overwhelmed and gives the belief that if someone could control everything then the anxiety will subside. Trying to give in to your anxiety and believing you can control everything is an impossible task. What is possible? Organizing what you can and cannot control. Work on what you can control and accept what you cannot. At the end of the worry period tell yourself that whatever it is, you can handle it.
2. Stay present. Anxiety robs people of the ability to stay in the here and now due to fear and worry about all the “what-if’s” in the future. A way to calm anxiety in the moment is to notice you are beginning to feel anxious and identify it as just a thought, neither good nor bad. Do not judge your thoughts. Next, begin to focus on your breathing. Focus on your chest rising and falling, the sound and feel of the breath going in and out, and the slowing down of your heartbeat. It can be hard to just stop worrying and focus on the present. However, if you practice these skills it will get easier to bring yourself back to the here and now and you will see a significant decrease in your daily anxiety.
3. Practice deep breathing. When you become anxious your “fight or flight” is triggered in your brain which causes stress hormones to be released which is why people commonly feel physical symptoms of anxiety. During an anxious moment, take 10 deep breaths where your chest is rising and falling dramatically. Count your breath in for 5 seconds and your breath out for 5 seconds. Again, focus on your breath and your muscle relaxation while deep breathing. This useful skill will slow your anxious mind and body quickly.
4. Engage in physical activity. Anxiety can be paralyzing due to constant, intrusive thoughts of worry and fear. Due to its common physical manifestation, anxiety can make someone feel mentally and physically drained. However, if you can increase your physical activity it will not only give you a healthy coping skill, but it will also cause your brain to release more endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These are also known as your “happy chemicals.” An anxious brain will start to release stress chemicals more frequently so if you increase the amount of “happy chemicals,” your brain’s “fight or flight” response become less triggered. Start out by taking short walks a few times a week. Once you see the benefit of your mood improving, you can work up to adding more physical activities such as biking, going to a gym, or doing an exercise or yoga class.
5. Improve diet and sleep hygiene. A big part of managing anxiety is looking at your food and sleep regimen. If you are having too much caffeine or sugar then it will exacerbate you feeling stimulated on top of feeling anxious. Furthermore, anxiety causes the brain to be hyper vigilant and without getting proper sleep, your mind is never getting the rest it needs. The Centered Life works closely with nutritionists and will also refer clients for a sleep study because it is important to have a healthy diet and sleep in order to improve anxiety. Anxiety makes you feel out of control and these are things you can control!
Anxiety is a normal response to stress and can become a learned reaction to such situations. It can be easy for worry and fear to become constantly internalized and then all of sudden it is overwhelming your daily life. But when you start to talk about it and take action to cope better with it, you will see relief. Try for just one day to implement the above skills and empower yourself that you can take control of your anxiety. If you are having a hard time handling your anxiety, please call one of our therapists for a free phone consultation to talk about it and receive support. We can help you figure out the rest!
All My Best,