Six Strategies to Decompress While Sheltering At Home

Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Six Strategies to Decompress While Sheltering At Home

Posted on: April 15th, 2020 by Gretchen Lewis, LCPC

When we experience stress or internal pressure it becomes even more vital that we take time to emotionally soothe ourselves. We all are aware that stress makes it difficult to maintain a work life balance. During stressful times, we may lose motivation to prioritize daily tasks such as cooking, laundry or cleaning. Some of us are not fully aware that we are slipping into negative patterns which then makes it even more of a struggle to change the behavior. We want to share with you some strategies that may be helpful for you to stay grounded and balanced during this Shelter At Home period.

#1: Schedule Breaks
Be as consistent as possible with the start time and end time throughout the week. This helps to create a work life balance as well as sets a framework for patterns and routine. With some flexibility, consider carving out time for breaks or keeping to a schedule for meals. And when you are taking a break from work, give 100% of your attention to your activity. We promise, your work will still be there after your dedicated break.

#2: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
OK, this oversimplifies things a bit but there is truth to what we can’t see frees up mental space for other activities. This applies to whether you have a dedicated office or are using a common area in your home. Before you leave your work area, try to put away files, papers and anything else work related. Shut down your computer or close out your tablet. Create a ritual for closing the work day and this will keep your space more inviting to enter.

#3: Physical Exercise
Even just 10 minutes of exercise can change our brain chemistry to relax or help us switch gears. Exercise improves mental health through increased blood flow and deep breathing.

#4: Try Meditation or Just Take Three Deep Breaths
There are some great Apps that offer step-by-step directions on meditation and deep breathing such as Headspace, Calm and Ten Percent Happier. If you are new to meditation, start with a short, guided, five-minute exercise.If five minutes seems too lofty right now, sometimes just taking three deep breaths periodically throughout the day can help reduce stress levels.

#5: Write It Out
Perhaps you have personal goals that you have wanted to work on but have not had the time to start. Or, maybe you have been working on multiple goals at once, therefore not giving the appropriate time for each goal. Giving 100% focused attention can help us to honor our goals. One way to do this is through journaling. There are no wrong ways to journal, whether stream of consciousness or writing about a specific topic. Feel free to use bullet points or complete sentences. Spend 10-15 minutes each day diving into your successes and barriers. Let your mind wander to ways to overcome these barriers. Allow new perspectives to form.

#6: Plan Social Time
Give yourself something to look forward to throughout the week. Schedule game time or watch a movie with friends or family. This is a great time to create a new outlet such as a book club or movie club. These types of activities encourage us to schedule leisure time and have the added bonus of staying connected to others on topics that are of interest.

How to Increase Confidence During A Big Life Change

Posted on: April 10th, 2019 by Kelsey Ruffing, LCPC

Humans are creatures of habit. We like to go to the same coffee shop and order the same drink from the same barista every day before work. We have our routines and we stick to them. This can be a healthy way of functioning, but this habitual nature can also lead to great difficulty when adjusting to change. It can also keep people from initiating change in their lives, whether that is finding a new job, moving to a new city, or starting a new degree program. Change can leave people feeling uncertain and anxious because it is different from what we know, and it can feel risky to alter that comfortable routine.

So, what holds us back from making big life change? Most would answer “fear”. You wouldn’t be wrong. Fear certainly holds us back from many opportunities for growth in life. However, there is something even deeper than fear that inhibits us from leaning in to change, and that is confidence. One’s own belief in themselves and their capabilities is the underlying cause of resistance to change. The more self-confidence you have, the more capable you feel you are of being successful. The less self-confidence you have, the more likely you are to believe you will fail and the more resistant to change you will become.

It really is ok to fail. Sometimes we have to take the leap and prove to ourselves that we really are capable of adjusting to change. Individuals that thrive when change occurs are confident because they have faced change before head-on and have failed. Ironically, failure and the overcoming of failure lead to greater self-confidence. When we test ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., we realize we can push beyond the boundaries we set for ourselves. When we test ourselves we learn that we are so much more capable than we thought we were. When we fail, we are forced to adjust, to learn more about ourselves, and to try again.

Perhaps someone is not ready to jump right in to change, and that is okay. There are other ways to boost self-confidence before taking the action. It is important to note, the more these interventions are practiced, the greater the impact they will have on self-confidence.

Self-talk is everything. What you say to yourself daily influences how you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself. Negative self-talk certainly outweighs positive self-talk in individuals lacking self-confidence. Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk can be a process and take time. The first step is to recognize your negative self-talk and become aware of it. The next step is to replace the negative with a positive in the moment.

Reflect back on accomplishments. We truly do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have accomplished in our lifetime. Take some time to write a list of successes and try to remember what those accomplishments meant to you at that time. Reflecting back on times you overcame adversity, won an award, or completed a difficult task at work allows you to recognize your capabilities and can boost self-confidence greatly.

Do something different. Remember that monotonous daily routine you have? Try to mix it up a little by implementing one small thing into your day or week. This could be trying a new place to eat, saying hi to a stranger, switching up that shade of lipstick, or reading at night instead of watching T.V. Implementing one small thing can ease you into change, add more variety, and increase positive feelings. Once you see small change is not so bad, big change may not seem so scary.

Affirmations are a must. Affirmations are positive statements we recite to ourselves daily. Affirmations have been shown to increase happiness, but they are also a great way to increase self-confidence. An affirmation for self-confidence would look something like “I am capable of handling anything that comes my way” or “I have what it takes to be successful in life”. Although you may not believe it right away when saying it, through daily repetition your brain will come to accept these statements and believe them to be true.

It is normal to feel hesitant when facing a big life change and having fear of the unknown is very common, but becoming resistant to change can be maladaptive to our health. Building upon self-confidence in order to feel capable of navigating change is key to ultimately becoming successful after the change has occurred. Building self-confidence is also the key to getting out of your comfort zone and exploring the variety of options that life has to offer. You might just surprise yourself and find that the change you were scared to make, is actually the change you needed!

Why does Later feel so much more appealing than Now?

Posted on: April 11th, 2017 by Justin Tobin

Written by: Lindsey Rogers, LCPC

It is known as “The Thief of Time” or “The Assassin of Opportunity.” These are not glowing descriptions. So why does something that is so bad for us in the long-term feel so good in the moment? Whether it is something small or a major life decision with real consequences, it is easy to fall victim to the alluring idea of “not now, but later.” We may have learned the art of procrastination early on in childhood with putting off homework assignments, or it may be a newfound mode of not doing what we are supposed to be doing at work or at home. Regardless of when it started or how great we are about reconciling it, procrastination is a tricky mix of a mental concept that can create real problems for ourselves and for those around us. Luckily, there are ways to kick the habit or at least to consider alternatives to the seemingly appealing idea of delaying the inevitable.

The first step in loosening the hold that procrastination has on your life is to take a hard look at the origin of the issue. Ask yourself (or if you aren’t great at remembering, ask people like family members who may have more accurate recall) what you were like as a child. Were you the kid who never did his homework on time? Did you wait until the last minute to put your shoes on to get out the door? Maybe you grew up in a household of procrastinators and this behavior became normalized. Did your parents forget to pay bills on time or always seem to owe a library fine for overdue books? Maybe the idea of due dates and time boundaries were more flexible when you were learning about the ways of the world. Or if you were the only one dragging your feet to complete tasks and it was a big problem, your parents probably had to give you more attention or help. Maybe you not following through with tasks on time on your own meant someone else picked up the slack for you. Learned helplessness is a real thing. And not to jump on the bandwagon of blaming our parents for all our problems as adults, but it is possible that a message got communicated to you early on that procrastination was no big deal or someone else’s problem. Luckily, you can figure out a new way of thinking about this regardless of what you understood in your early years. But it can be helpful to look at how long this behavior has been going on to determine the right ways to challenge it.

People who are experts at procrastination have likely been doing it for a while. You may be one or know one of those people who say, “I do my best under pressure. I always leave things to the last minute, but that’s when I do my best work.” But whether you came out of the womb not following through on timelines or it is a little something you picked up in your post-collegiate years, it is also important to think about how much being a procrastinator is part of your identity. Does thumbing your nose in the face of deadlines make you feel powerful in a way? Probably not in the long run. What may seem thrilling in the moment might have long-term consequences that would classify you as lazy or irresponsible (which doesn’t seem quite so thrilling). The important thing to remember is that we are capable of change. However deeply engrained our patterns are, there is always hope to be able to do, act, and be different.

Another piece of the procrastination puzzle is what this behavior has achieved or continues to achieve for you. What do you get out of this habit? The anxiety that builds when you have something to do but put it off can be thrilling and exciting. Does the idea of living on the edge give you more motivation? Another psychological gem that procrastination can produce is avoidance. If a task like contributing to your 401K or getting that full body scan done at the dermatologist’s office sounds like the worst thing ever, it makes sense to employ the tactic that allows us to avoid those tasks. We don’t have to deal with all the feelings or reality of hard things if we just put them off. Yay for the fun of now!

Yet another wonderful aspect of procrastination is that is can also allow us to live in a world of all-or-nothing thinking. If we are perfectionists, procrastination can be our cherished friend. If we expect our actions, life, selves, etc. to be perfect and yet we can’t achieve that, it can make a lot of sense to put things off. If we can’t do everything perfectly right now, why even try? And finally, another check mark in the procrastination column is that it can keep us feeling really terrible about ourselves. Rarely do people act productive and then think, “Wow, I am the worst. I cannot believe I did everything I needed to do! Argh, this just feels awful.” Nope, failing to follow through on things is more what leaves us feeling that way. But if you have a self-concept that is all about feeling chaotic and that you are terrible at life, well, yes, procrastination is going to be right up your alley. It can allow you to live in a space where you feel justified in feeling bad about yourself and your lack of accomplishments.

But let’s be real. The upsides to procrastination are actually pretty unfulfilling when you think about it.

Once you understand the beast, you can conquer it. If you know when and how it started and what it looks like, you can feel a little more in control. The all-or-nothing thinking that feeds a mental concept like procrastination is really important to challenge in these moments. Here is the thing: You absolutely can’t do everything, but you also can’t do nothing. So just try to do something. Start addressing procrastination by getting yourself organized. What is the task and what are your roadblocks? How can you strategize to avoid those distractions? If the task is preparing a presentation for work, maybe you need to log some time at a coffee house or a quiet workspace versus trying to knock that out when Netflix is on. Notice the times when you are most productive or the tasks that come to you most naturally. Then schedule yourself to be proactive during that part of the day or the week. There are probably millions of day-to-day responsibilities you have to do that you take on mindlessly and don’t delay, like making coffee or opening emails. Figure out what you already do and build on that. And try to stay away from extreme thinking; you won’t just change this overnight. Be realistic with yourself but also give yourself that push to do things a little differently. If all else fails, take a breath and try to visualize how it would feel to do the task at hand ahead of time or on time. You will feel powerful, strong, capable, and proud. You already know what it feels like when the excitement of procrastination wears off and you are stuck with the reality of some seriously awful consequences to your lack of action. Try something a little different. Move towards the now and I bet later will eventually feel a lot less appealing.

Healthy Living Starts Now

No matter your obstacles, you don’t have to face them alone. We offer comprehensive support so you can regain control and rebuild your life. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, please call (312) 346-5156

We are in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO (BCBS PPO) and Aetna PPO

counselor blue cross blue shield (BCBS)aetna ppo