Many people come to therapy feeling overwhelmed and overworked. What is often being neglected is a self-care routine that can build resilience, reduce anxiety, and increase calm, making life in general more satisfying and enjoyable. This article outlines all the details:
Whether you hunkering down at home, or showing up at your job, work can be a big contributor to life stress. Here’s help.
By Gary McClain
MAY 05 2021 7:24 PM EDT
So here’s how the cycle works:
A hard day at work. You hit traffic on the way in. The boss is in a bad mood. A co-worker is out sick and you have to pick up the slack. Customers are acting like customers and being especially difficult. Under pressure, you crank out a rush job. And you make an error.
This article outlines how the long held belief about mood issues being caused by chemical imbalances in the brain just does not pan out with science.
A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.
10 August, 2020
A study at Harvard’s McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a “brain-based diagnostic system.”
Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
The pharmacological revolution began with tranquilizers. Miltown was the country’s first “blockbuster” drug. Touted for relieving everything from skin problems and stomach distress to lack of focus and social anxiety—and, of course, “the blues”—tranquilizers were the first psychiatric pills to widely infiltrate a country that, for the first time in its history, had expendable income and leisure time.
By 1971, 15 percent of Americans had taken a minor tranquilizer.
Subject: USPATH Statement on the Surge of Anti-Trans Legislation Occurring Within the US
Date: March 17th 2021
USPATH Statement on the Surge of Anti-Trans Legislation Occurring Within the US
March 17, 2021
The United States Professional Association for Transgender Health (USPATH) strongly opposes the recent wave of legislation seeking to criminalize health care for young people who are transgender. This legislation prevents young people from accessing life-saving services. Currently 25 states have at least one of these bills moving through the legislature or have already been signed by their governor. These bills are based on misinformation and would cause great harm to transgender young people.
The preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that gender affirming healthcare can greatly help transgender people. Further, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care provide widely accepted guidelines for health care professionals to work with young people and their families. The guidelines are a conservative document that supports all children in exploring their gender and offers team-based approaches to determine the best course of action for each child.
Proposed anti-transgender legislation threatens health care providers with risk for fines, loss of license to practice, and imprisonment. Most importantly, these laws will prevent young people from receiving beneficial, often life-saving services, that have strong evidence of success and are supported by mainstream healthcare professional associations including the American Medical Association, Endocrine Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Psychological Association.
USPATH calls on all people to oppose bills that will not only punish physicians, psychologists, and others providing evidence-based care to young transgender people but will also further threaten their health and well-being. These legislative actions will keep young transgender people, who are experiencing great distress due to discrimination and prejudice because they are transgender, from accessing help from expert medical and mental health providers at the exact time they desperately need professional care and support.
USPATH also calls on our members to educate their communities on the need for gender affirming care to not only help all transgender people thrive but prevent the devastating consequences that come from denying life-saving care.
Be gentle with yourselves people. There is nothing wrong with you if you do not feel good. It is not realistic to expect yourself to be positive all the time. That would be dismissive of the struggle.
This list is from Lindsay Bramane, with modifcations by Gilbert Chalepas, a therapist in California. Pick one thing to try on one day. When crisis is present, you will do the best you can. That sometimes means doing nothing.
Most of us believe that what we think is who we are. This is supported in western culture. There are many sayings and affirmations that reinforce this idea. We often get stuck there. We believe our thoughts are one hundred percent true. Not only that, we believe we must act on them. What if that is not the case? How many times have you made the mistake of acting thoughts you believed were true only to find out that you made an erroneous assumption, or lacked all the information to make a sound judgment? What about emotions? How often have you acted on impulse, without thinking something through, without asking yourself, what is the evidence this is true? Is there another way to look at this? What if I wait for this thought or feeling to pass? Have your impulsive responses led to damaged relationships, an inability to connect with others, lost jobs, income, or opportunities ?
One of the tenets of psychology is that we have the power to change our thoughts and feelings. It is possible to distance ourselves from our thoughts, to feel less ruled by them. The first step occurs by increasing awareness of those thoughts and feelings and beginning to question their validity. This is challenging because we believe so strongly that our thoughts define us. This is not an easy exercise. Start by practicing a deliberate pause before speaking or taking action, especially in relationships, which I introduced in this blog entry on communication: Setting Boundaries. But what do we do when our internal dialogue is self-defeating? What about thoughts that I’m not good enough, that I can’t handle this, that I feel too anxious or sad, or angry, or want to die? Then what? What do we do with that?
One skill to develop is self-talk. We all talk to ourselves. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have conversations with ourselves. Start noticing how you speak to yourself. If you drop a glass on the floor, do you call yourself an idiot or do you say it’s just a glass, it was a mistake? This noticing will help you understand how you treat yourself, what you think of yourself, what you like about how you treat yourself, and what you want to change. You can use that same self-talk in new ways. You can learn to become your own coach. You can say to yourself I’m okay right now. I don’t like this feeling but I know it will pass. It has passed before. Pairing self-talk with other skills like distraction, especially if pleasurable, increases the chance that change can happen. Changing your environment, going for a walk, listening to music, calling someone can change your thoughts and feelings and provide relief. Even temporary relief can build emotional resilience. It takes practice and does not work all the time but it’s a start. Give me a call and we can talk about other changes you have the power to make if you are willing to take a look and consider the possibilities.
This is a follow up post to the one I did on Practicing Self-care. It is very easy to take on more and more tasks and responsibilities. It seems the expectation that we work well beyond what is normal capacity, that we can recover during little time off (actually feel rested by spending time with friends and other loved ones, and pursuing leisure interests), has become acceptable. This often leads to increased anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, drinking, drug use, insomnia, and conflicts in relationships and with family. Resentment grows.
Yet, the response seems to be what is wrong that you can’t handle it? Take the time to notice what you have agreed to take on. Become aware of when things changed for you. What else changed around the same time? Have you noticed you feel a general decrease in your overall satisfaction in your life? What if you are simply expecting an unreasonable level of involvement from yourself? If someone else were doing as much as you are, what would you say to them? You are worthy of noticing, of taking the time to reflect, to make changes to feel better now.
I have been thinking a lot about self-care lately. It’s usually not that we don’t know what to do to best support ourselves, it’s that those practices take a back seat to other priorities. We get busy at work. We worry about finances. We put in more hours. We get busy trying to maintain a hectic schedule. We try to accommodate the needs of others before our own. Sometimes that is reasonable. We do the best we can. In doing so, we can lose something along the way: ourselves.
Yes, self-care. Most of us cannot fly off to a tropical island vacation tomorrow. That would be nice, right? I have to think about little things that I can incorporate into my day to day experience like a great tasting cup of coffee, a break to really stretch my body, walking away from whatever I am doing for ten minutes, a change of scenery, talking to someone else. I do better when I periodically ask myself what I need in the moment. When did I last eat or drink something?
And then there are, what I call follow up activities, the things we know about that help, like walking in nature, resting, having a hot meal, going to bed early, yoga, meditation, listening to music, exercise, spiritual practice, retreats, weekend getaways, pleasure for pleasure’s sake, and especially spending time with people who want to spend time with you.
When I feel overwhelmed, when I feel tired all the time, that is when I want to increase my self-care, even in some small way, so I meet the priorities I set for myself. I cannot sustain a hectic pace for long without making changes to get my needs met. I deserve to treat myself as if I matter. I am the one who can best do that.
Learning assertiveness skills has so many benefits. Assertiveness means using skills to express your feelings, thoughts, and needs, while respecting the rights of others. There are other types of communication. If you engage in passive communication, you allow others the dominant role; you lose, they win. When you are acting in an aggressive way, you win, the other person loses. With assertiveness, the problem is attacked, not the person. By acting in an appropriate direct, open, and honest way, healthy relationships grow, interpersonal conflict becomes greatly reduced, and overall satisfaction in life greatly improves. You get your needs met!
Many people, when they first realize they have addiction, think about what they lost. They have lost time, money, jobs, maybe important relationships, with family and others. Maybe their health has suffered. Maybe they spent time in jail. They look around and compare themselves to peers and see this one has a house, that one a secure job, or a career. They see this one found a life partner, that one is raising children. It takes time to start thinking differently. It takes time to recognize the madness that continuing to drink and/or use drugs could have continued. They could have lost much, much more. When the desperation of having to drink or drug every day lessens, then disappears, when the cravings stop, the gratitude can start. It grows with each day spent clean and sober. Eventually, we move toward a place of realizing that we have been given a gift that not everyone receives. Some people do not get clean and sober. Some of us die. We begin to realize that we have to do the work to clean up our past, to live well today, respect others, and take responsibility for our choices to retain this gift. It is only by cultivating gratitude that we can rebuild our lives and start to have meaningful connection with others. Feeling grateful in recovery is a continuing journey, one that takes a lifetime and it naturally ebbs and flows, one day at a time.