Good Life Blog
An ongoing series of informational entries
5 Interview Tips for Introverts
April 1, 2020
Having an important interview is nerve-wracking for just about everyone. But when you’re an introvert, interviews can feel almost unbearable.
If you are an introvert and you have an important interview coming up, follow these tips to feel calm and in control.
1. See it as an Opportunity
An introvert’s first reaction to the prospect of an interview is usually dread. This obviously sets a very bad tone for the actual event. See the interview as an opportunity to advance your career or positively change your life in some way. Feeling anything right off the bat besides positivity is just setting you up for experiencing anxiety.
2. Be Prepared
The more you know what to expect, the calmer you will feel walking into that meeting. It’s fine for you to ask some details about what you can expect. Will you be meeting with one person or more? What will be discussed? Don’t obsess over the information but try to get a sense of what you will experience. This will help you visualize the event ahead of time and get comfortable with the idea.
3. Do Some Research
Once you find out who will be interviewing you, spend a little time looking up their background. Knowing a little bit about the person or people will also illustrate your interest in the position and help you be comfortable in conversation.
4. Recognize Nerves are Natural
On the day, don’t scold yourself for being nervous. It is completely natural for everyone to be nervous. You care about the outcome, and you’re feeling on the spot. Everyone feels like this. Accept that nerves simply mean you want to do a good job and then stop thinking about them.
You know why there is so much discussion about the benefits of slow, deep breathing? Because it actually works. By breathing slowly and deeply you are sending a signal to your brain that there is no danger in your environment. Your brain then tells the rest of your body to “cool it.” Fight-or-flight hormones cease being excreted, heart rate slows, and you feel calm. This is powerful and it WORKS! So that morning getting ready, and on your drive, and while you are waiting, think of little else than keeping your breathe slow, deep and steady.
Being an introvert doesn’t have to be a curse. If you follow these five tips you will set yourself up for interview success.
4 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public
March 22, 2020
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you know how difficult your life can feel most days.
When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become a sort of funhouse, only not that much fun. It’s important to be able to self-soothe in these instances. But how can you calm an anxiety attack subtly when you’re out in public?
Much of our anxiety comes from our anxious thoughts. It’s our reptilian brain trying to keep us alive by alerting us to all of the dangers around us. But when we meditate, this mind chatter goes away.
When an anxiety attack comes on, life can feel unbearable. The next time this happens to you in public, try one or more of these techniques.
And if you’d like to speak with someone about your anxiety, please get in touch. I’d be happy to explore treatment options.
Talk to Yourself
In your mind, remind yourself that you are having an experience but that you are NOT that experience. While you feel that something is wrong, remind yourself that you are actually safe and all is well.
Think of something that calms you. This may be your childhood bedroom or your grandparent’s home. It could be your favorite beach or your own bathtub. Simply put yourself IN that space. Use your full imagination to feel yourself there and allow the calm to settle over you.
Practice Listening Meditation
If you’ve never tried listening meditation, I highly recommend it for everyone. But it can be especially beneficial when you are feeling anxious, and here’s why. Listening requires you to stop thinking. Try it now. Stop reading and instead listen to all of the ambient sounds there in the room with you, outside the door and window.
What do you hear?
Let your sense of hearing grow and grow, picking up more subtle sounds. The buzz of the lights overhead… the noise of the ice maker… a bee at the window… your dog’s collar down the hall…
It’s actually a very fun exercise to do. And in order to REALLY GIVE SOUND YOUR FULL ATTENTION, you can’t think while listening. It’s a bit like trying to juggle while standing on your hands, it simply cannot be done.
As soon as you feel the anxiety coming on, focus intently on your breathing and nothing else. Begin to take slow… deep breaths. Inhale for a slow count of three… hold for a count of three… and exhale for a count of three. Slow deep breaths send a signal to our body that we are not under attack and everything is okay.
5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep with Anxiety
Marcg 14, 2020
Affecting nearly 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety is one of the country’s most common mental health disorders. Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are highly prevalent amongst those who suffer from anxiety disorder. If you have trouble falling asleep, it may heighten or trigger your anxiety, and vice versa. While it can be difficult for an anxiety sufferer to fall asleep, it’s not impossible; read on for five ways to get a better night’s sleep.
Physical activity is an important component for overall health. Exercise will produce chemicals in your brain that will help elevate your mood and decrease your stress or tension, which will provide some relief for your anxiety. Exercise will also help you sleep. Not only will the physical exertion improve the quality of your sleep, it will help insure you’re able to sleep without interruption.
Daylight helps set sleep patterns, so try to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors during the day time. Daylight sun exposure is critical if you have trouble falling asleep, because it helps to regulate the body’s circadian clock.
3. Healthy Habits
Studies have shown that people who make unhealthy food choices are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances. Healthy balanced meals will keep your energy stable which will help you manage your mood and improve your sleep habits.
It’s also important to avoid big meals or alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Smoking is another bad habit that can cause many health problems, which will negatively affect your sleep in a number of ways.
4. Night Time Routine
Create a routine that you execute nightly, an hour or two before bedtime. Minimizing screen time will help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep. Change into your pajamas and do some light reading, or find other ways to charge down and get ready to sleep. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.
5. A Comfortable Bedroom
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions. Have a window open to keep the room cool and the air smelling fresh. A clean room and clean linens will make your bedroom more inviting. Make sure you have a good quality mattress and pillow to maximize your comfort.
Are you struggling with falling or staying asleep, and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.
How Chronic Illness Can Affect Your Mental Health
Feb 25, 2020
If you are suffering from a chronic illness, you are not alone. Almost half of the population in the United States is currently battling some form of chronic physical illness. In fact, chronic illness is the number one driver of healthcare costs in America.
Some of the most prevalent examples of chronic illnesses are:
Many people suffering from a chronic illness can become depressed. It is estimated that roughly one-third of chronic illness patients suffer from depression, a rate that is significantly higher than in the general population.
Depression is often an immediate response to the diagnosis. It can be overwhelming to be told you will need to be treated for your illness for weeks, perhaps even a lifetime. Certain types of chronic illness can also, and quite suddenly, change how a person lives their day-to-day life. They may not be able to do the same things and, in some cases, completely lose their independence.
There are physical illnesses which can cause depression by hampering the central nervous system or endocrine system. Some examples would include thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.
Symptoms of Depression
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with a chronic disease, it’s important to watch out for signs of depression. These can include:
Feeling sad and hopeless
Losing interest in once-loved hobbies and activities
Changes in appetite (eating too much or too little)
Trouble with sleep (sleeping too much or too little)
Lack of energy
Thoughts of suicide
Becoming educated about the link between chronic illness and depression is extremely important. So is seeking help. Be sure to discuss any symptoms with your doctor. He or she may be able to refer you to a therapist.
Many patients have found they can treat their depression right alongside their illness by using medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. It is also helpful to surround yourself with a loving support network of friends and family.
If you or a loved one is experiencing depression as a result of living with a chronic illness and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. We would be more than happy to discuss how we may be able to help.
What is Conscious Parenting?
February 19, 2020
How many parents have said at one point or another, “I wish my child would have come with a users’ manual,”? Nearly every single one.
Nothing can really prepare us for parenthood. No class, no advice, and no user manual can give us the tools we require for raising happy and healthy kids. The truth is, to be good parents requires us to be conscious parents.
Mindfulness – It’s Not Just for Meditation
Your 8-year-old runs in from the backyard, excited to tell you about the frog he just found in a puddle. Before you even recognize his joy and desire to share that joy with you, you yell because of the mud he just tracked into the house.
Was this reaction really warranted? Were you reacting just to the mud on the floor (which can be cleaned), or do you have a need to control everything in your environment at all times? And does this need stem from your own childhood wounds?
Often parents react to their children subconsciously. That is, they have a knee-jerk reaction to something their child says or does. This reaction may stem from an event that occurred in their own childhood and, without realizing it, they are having a profound reaction to it instead of to their child’s current behavior. Conscious parenting requires mindfulness, and mindfulness requires a parent to be fully present in the moment. Bringing our full awareness into the ‘now’ can help us recognize the meaning and truth in each moment and make better, healthier decisions.
Mindful parents are less likely to have automatic, unexamined reactions to their children’s behavior. Staying present also means parents are less likely to “pop back” into their own childhood traumas and wounds.
Getting Started with Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting is easier than it sounds. To start, you’ve got to slow down so you recognize when you are reacting to a present moment authentically and when you are reacting to your own past moment.
And speaking of slowing down, try and take a three-second pause before reacting to anything your kid does. This small space will allow you to check yourself. Does the reaction you were about to have match the actual situation? If not, what WERE you reacting to?
And finally, forgive yourself for any past parenting errors. We all do the best we can do. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”
Speaking with a therapist may help you discover old wounds and programming you are parenting from. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. We would be very happy to discuss how we may be able to help.
Keys to Successful Therapy
December 18, 2019
Cognitive therapy has been shown over the years to be incredibly effective at helping people recognize and change their behaviors. But, as much potential as therapy has for every individual, some people seem to have success with therapy while others don’t.
Some of this stems from what the individuals’ expectations were going into therapy, some from how much effort they gave, and some from whether or not there was a good personality fit between patient and therapist.
If you’re thinking of exploring therapy and want to ensure your journey is successful, here are some things to keep in mind:
An Evidenced-Based Approach
The American Psychological Association defines an evidence-based practitioner as someone who integrates their (1) clinical expertise with (2) available/relevant psychological science and (3a) the client’s values and (3b) cultural context to guide the intervention. This means your therapist should be using proven techniques in a way that jive with your values, preferences, and needs. It’s not about them and what they bring to the table, it’s about what they have to offer and how they can offer it so you might be positively impacted.
A Solid Partnership
It’s important to shop around to find the right therapist for you. Ideally, you want someone who you feel comfortable opening up to and someone you trust to listen and offer guidance. You also want to know your therapist is competent and has your best interests at heart. And finally, you’ll want to have open communication so you can always be sure you are on the same page as far as your “story” and how well the interventions are working.
An Appreciation for the Process of Change
We live in an instant gratification society. We want what we want and we want it NOW. In many instances, we can get what we want quickly. But this isn’t true for real change.
For therapy to be successful, you MUST be realistic about the process. It is not linear, and it is not quick. This is particularly true if you are dealing with complex, long-term problems. This doesn’t mean you can expect to be in therapy for the rest of your life or even many, many years. It simply means you must appreciate the reality of what you can expect and how quickly.
If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with us. We would be happy to discuss how we may be able to help.
3 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Suffering from Depression
December 1, 2019
When a loved one is depressed, it’s often difficult to know what to say. Even with the best of intentions, friends and family can often say the wrong thing, which can make the person feel misunderstood and even more isolated.
If you’ve never suffered from depression, you may simply not know what is appropriate and what is not when speaking with someone who is suffering. Here are three things you should never say to someone with depression.
Pretending to Understand When You Don’t
Perhaps the worst thing you can say to someone who is depressed is, “I completely understand. After [insert specific event] I was depressed for weeks.”
The truth is, grief and depression are two entirely different things. Feeling sad after the loss of a pet or being laid off from your job is expected. These feelings are not chronic but rather expected after an isolated incident.
Depression is chronic and is often not associated with one specific incident. Clinical depression can last for years and sufferers typically cannot pinpoint the reason they are feeling what they are feeling.
Unless you have truly suffered from depression, don’t tell your loved one that you understand. Though you may want to, you simply don’t.
Sharing Information from an Article You Read
Even well-researched and thoughtful articles on the topic of depression cannot possibly paint the full picture or offer the best course of treatment or action. As everyone is an individual, all treatment needs to be individualized as well.
You may have read that exercise can help lesson some of the symptoms of depression. And while exercise can release powerful “feel good” hormones, exercise alone will not offer enough full relief from the disease. Also, by lending this kind of “quick fix” advice, you risk coming across as patronizing and may make the sufferer feel as though they are not trying hard enough to “het better.”
Why Not Take a Vacation?
If you’ve never suffered from depression, it’s easy to confuse it with stress, but the two could not be more different. Telling a depressed person they just need to relax more is like telling a paraplegic they just need a new pair of shoes. Neither solution gets to the root cause of the issue.
When you love someone who is depressed, you want to help in any way you can. But offering advice or suggestions when you are unclear of what it is they are experiencing is not helpful. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on depression so you may better understand what you’re loved one is truly going through.
It is also advisable that you speak to them about seeking treatment. A therapist will be able to help your loved one understand what is happening to them and guide them through the journey back to health. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact the Good Life Center for Mental Health today. We would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to help.
A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide
September 5, 2019
The statistics on teen suicide are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide. This makes suicide the second leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 24. In fact, it is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza and heart disease combined.
Studies have found that teens who have presented with a mood disorder or who abuse drugs are at the greatest risk of attempting suicide. While research suggests girls attempt suicide more often, boys more often die from it.
Unfortunately, there is still much stigma surrounding depression and suicide, and so often these kids keep their emotional pain to themselves.
What can parents of teenagers do to keep their children safe and healthy?
Speak with Your Kid
Many parents believe that trying to speak with their kids about their moods and feelings will only push them farther away. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, teenagers need to know they are safe, loved and cared for.
You may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what’s going on in their life. When the time feels right, you can ask if they have ever had thoughts of self-harm. If their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves.
Validate Their Feelings
Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with your teen, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. Your kid must really believe you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of it. Try and listen without judgement. This will help your child relax and open up, thereby giving you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional life.
Clarify the Situation
If your teen confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine if they are mentioning suicide because they:
Want to tell you just how bad they are feeling.
Alert you to something they need but are not getting.
Need to vocalize their desire to stop feeling so many emotions.
Have actually planned how and when they will take their life.
Seek Professional Guidance
Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and requires professional guidance by a trained therapist. It’s important not to force your teen into any treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their plan. Some of their depression might stem from an overall lack of control they feel they have in their own life, so it’s important you let them have a voice in the direction of treatment. You may also find that you will want to speak with someone through this difficult time.
If you or a loved one is seeking treatment options for a troubled teen, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help your family.
3 Signs Social Media Is Hindering Your Happiness
July 16, 2019
How long has it been since you checked your Facebook page or Twitter account? If you’re like most people, you use social media many times throughout the day.
But while you may think social media is fun, studies have suggested that it can take a toll on our emotions.
One such study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user.
Professor Margaret Duffy, a co-author of the research, said about the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”
Other studies have revealed that most people tend to edit photos and only show the ones that make their lives seem more attractive to others.
It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes unimaginable amounts of grief. I see it on an almost-daily basis. Decent people with much to offer feeling unworthy of happiness because they feel inferior to others. They walk into my office with what appears to be the weight of the world on their shoulders.
I have found much of this weight stems from not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others.
If you are now wondering whether maybe your happiness has taken a hit from social media use, here are 3 signs it has:
1. You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good
Let’s face it, we all love feeling appreciated. It feels good to get that positive feedback when you post a photo or event from your life. But if you find you only have good days on the days you are getting that positive feedback online, you may be depending on social media too much.
2. You’re an Instant Gratification Addict
We have become a society of people who seek out instant gratification. While it’s okay to want instant oats and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy and good through social media is very harmful.
If the promise of instant gratification is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent.
3. You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again
I find many of my adult clients care just as much about how many Facebook friends and likes they get as my teenage clients do. It’s as if the adults are reliving the high school popularity contests all over again. At the end of the day, are all of those Facebook friends reallyyour friend?
True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough on whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem.
The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. They, like you, want to measure up to the rest of the world.
Know that every human being is essentially struggling to feel worthy of being alive. It’s something we all seem to have in common. Instead of trying to be better than each other, let’s all instead try to have more compassion for each other.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time with self-worth issues and you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out the Good Life Center for Mental Health. We’d love to discuss how we may be able to help.