What I Learned In Therapy Is...
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Health and Wellness

What I Learned In Therapy Is...

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What I Learned In Therapy Is...

In honor of May being Mental Health Month, I thought I would share some of the wisdom that has been imparted on me by therapists, social workers, and guidance counselors over the years. I’ve had a rocky time in regards to mental health and have a lot to thank these compassionate, dedicated professionals for.

While it’s not for everyone, I’m a big advocate of reaching out and letting someone know how you are feeling. It’s important to remember that you are never alone in your emotions and that you deserve attention and care.

Disclaimer: Please do not regard any of this as advice or “tips” on how to deal with your mental health issues. Everyone’s situation is unique and therefore requires unique treatment.

How to control anxiety/panic attacks

This may seem like a fabled superpower, but fear not – it can be done. When the body is under stress, it releases adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. In some cases, this rush of energy can help you think quickly and get out of tough situations. But during your average, everyday anxiety attack, all it does is make you panic.

The best thing to do during this is ground yourself. Make your body recognize where it is. Name everything that you can see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste. This will not only give you other things to focus on, but will also lessen your anxiety as you recognize familiar sights, sounds, and feelings.

Breathing is also important. Often, an anxiety attack is accompanied by hyperventilating or crying. To calm yourself down, try the 10-to-1 breathing technique. Breathe in for 10 seconds, then breathe out for 10 seconds. Breathe in for 9, breathe out for 9. Do this all the way down to 1. Then go back up to 10. Repeat until you are breathing normally again.

The Feelings Path

A particularly rough thing to deal with is feeling like our emotions are irrational. Sometimes we feel a certain way and can’t figure out why and deem it as something silly. It can make us feel ashamed or guilty or invalid.

But – and this is probably one of the most important things I learned – no emotion is irrational. There is a reason you feel that way. It didn’t just come out of nowhere. Follow your “feelings path.” As cheesy as it sounds, the easiest way to shed that feeling of shame is to trace through the things that led you to feel this way. Keep asking yourself “Why?” Eventually, you’ll understand your feelings and be able to work through them a lot more effectively.

Self-destructive behavior saves your life

I’m going to say upfront that I am not advocating for self-destructive behavior. If you know or suspect that you or someone else is engaging in it, please reach out and get the proper treatment you need.

However, there is no reason to feel guilty about it. You were keeping yourself alive. I am not saying that it is okay. But I realize that sometimes it seems like the only option. Think about the emotions and thoughts that drove you to this type of behavior. If you weren’t binge drinking or cutting, what would you have done instead?

Of course, there are healthy alternatives and effective coping mechanisms, but at the time you weren’t capable of them. That is okay. You are not a bad person because of it. You were just keeping yourself alive the only way you knew how.

I will reiterate: If you know or suspect that you or someone else is engaging in self-destructive behavior, please reach out and get the proper treatment you need.

There’s no such thing as wasting time

Did you watch Netflix all night instead of doing work? Yes, you did. And do you feel like shit about it? Oh yeah. But, you shouldn’t. You did not waste your time or do something wrong. You simply made a different gain. Instead of gaining more time to do work, you gained pleasure and relaxation. They’re both important. You cannot waste your time doing either.

The best type of self-care is the ugly kind

Self-care is incredibly important. However, trendy Instagram posts and hyperlinked lists on Tumblr have turned it into a type of “treat yourself” phenomenon. And while bath bombs and smoothies are great, sometimes self-care will not take on such a colorful hue.

Most of the time, self-care is paying your taxes on time. Setting reminders to take your medication. It’s getting dressed and leaving the house when all you want to do is cry in bed all day. It’s making sure you eat three meals a day. Taking care of yourself isn’t always going to feel like you’re pampering yourself. It’s just what it is – looking after yourself.

Accepting help is brave.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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