Tag Archives: worry

Declutter your Life

 

After a long, hectic year, autumn is a time for “new beginnings”. A new school year begins, leaves start to change and weather feels less oppressive.  It makes sense, then, to take advantage of this time by taking inventory of the things in our own lives we wish to change or get rid of. This mental and emotional clutter can build up over time, leaving us in a constant state of exhaustion, depression, irritability and stress.  As we proceed into yet another season of change, incorporate the following to achieve maximum serenity:  

1. Spend Your Time Carefully
It’s hard to be calm if you are surrounded by toxic people, those who leave you feeling exhausted, rather than energized, after each interaction. While constant complaining or gossiping are the usual M.O. for toxic people, they can also operate in coverts ways by being flaky, perpetually late, or even throwing subtle digs and backhanded compliments your way. Treat your time and energy as sacred things and spend them only on relationships that benefit you in a positive way. Do not be afraid to take space from those who are not invested in your well-being. 

2. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts 
While other people can negatively impact our mood and emotions, sometimes we are our own worst critic.  People who experience chronic anxiety and worry tend to feel guilty for things that were outside their control or label themselves as a “loser” or “unworthy.” This thinking error, or “cognitive distortion”, occurs when we rely on inaccurate or biased logic to process information. As a result, we act and behave in irrational ways without understanding the real reasons for we did so. Our skewed perspective on reality also leaves us with feelings of anxiety and distress. Common types of cognitive distortions include:

    • All-or-nothing thinking: thinking in terms of black and white. “Everything must be perfect, or I am a total failure.”

 

    • Overgeneralization: applying the outcome a single negative experience to all current scenarios. “The last interview I had was terrible. This interview will be a disaster too. I am not employable.”

 

    • Fortune-telling: immediately jumping immediately to worst-case scenarios. “I just know that something is going to go horribly wrong.”

Are you still ruminating on something you did or didn’t do six months ago? Stop now. This does not mean resigning yourself to all the bad things that have happened or might happen. Rather, forgiving yourself means giving yourself permission to not spend mental energy getting angry, fighting the feelings or assigning blame. The long chain of events and decisions that led you to the current situation all have a cause—to change reality, you must first accept the reality without judgement. 

3. Take a Time Out
It may sound like an obvious concept, but setting aside time for yourself can easily get swept away by daily, weekly and monthly routines. Identify one activity you want to get back into, or try for the first time. Then, make it a priority. Mark it on the calendar and hold yourself accountable by not making the plans contingent upon whether other people will be able to join you. Trying a new activity is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and take a break from your usual routine. 

While fall is a great season to start cleaning up your mental health, don’t forget to check back in with yourself frequently throughout the year to reflect on whether you have any baggage that might be weighing you down.

– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC

Mental Health Hacks

 

The effects of physical, mental and emotional fatigue are real. This burnout can seriously impair your concentration, energy, confidence, decision-making—just about everything that makes you feel like “you”. This can be a slippery slope considering that the deeper you fall into the rut, the more difficult it feels to claw your way out.

The good news is that getting “unstuck” does not need to be a superhuman feat. Slowly building new habits can provide a fresh perspective and provide the momentum you need for tackling bigger tasks. Read the following mental heath hacks for guidance on how to re-boot your life.

  • Go back to basics 

Nobody can be productive if their basic needs are not being met. This includes things like sleep, nutrition, exercise and hygiene. Focus on small actions that can trigger bigger habits. For instance, drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning will prevent dehydration and make it more likely that will continue making healthier choices. Committing to walking for 10 minutes outside each morning can get you into the habit of physical activity, which can lead to more energy to increase the amount of time you spend exercising.

 

  • Acknowledge your thoughts

Worry is a huge energy drain. Much of the time, you are likely not even aware that you are engaging in ruminations because the thoughts often come automatically. These automatic thoughts are usually self-critical or future-oriented: “I’m so lazy”, “I’ll never accomplish my goal”. Many people mistakenly believe that the solution here is to “just be better” at not focusing on those negative thoughts. The thing is, criticizing yourself for being too self-critical only perpetuates the rumination cycle. Rather than resist the anxiety, intentionally confront and acknowledge the worry “it is possible that I could lose my job. Anything could happen. I can’t predict the future”. Acknowledging your thoughts will not change reality for the worse or better, but it will free up mental energy that you can now spend on something more productive.

 

  • Follow the five second rule

Procrastination can be the biggest threat to productiveness. Quickly checking your email before starting a project can lead into spending hours on social media. It has been said that you can talk yourself out of anything in five seconds. The next time you find yourself resisting going for a walk or doing laundry, give yourself to the count to five and then get moving without giving your actions a second thought. This can give you the “push” you need to start a task, which is usually the most difficult part.

Remember that everyone gets stuck in a rut every now and then. Don’t spend precious time and energy criticizing yourself for “failing” to live up to your standards, just focus on the small things you are able to control. Try these tips and look for mental health hacks coming soon!

– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC