Alone Time Is A Wonderful Thing

Everyone needs “alone time”. This is time to recharge your batteries, appreciate the quiet and not have people in your face asking for things. I like this time. I used to absolutely hate quiet time because I didn’t like to be alone with my thoughts. These days, I appreciate it a lot more. I can relax, color and read in peace, among other things.

Creating Space for Yourself

Besides the quiet and lack of demands from others, there are other benefits. Being alone can be relaxing, allow for time to reflect on your current situation in life and maybe even focus on hobbies and get things done. You can also do what you want, not just what someone else wants to do or have to come to some sort of compromise.

Not everyone is happy with the idea of alone time. Many extroverts are not into the idea, because they thrive on being around others. I hang out with a lot of extroverts. It is important, even if this is you because everyone needs to be alone sometimes, just to get away from the noise. It’s okay to need time to yourself.

Some ideas to ease yourself into alone time are:

  • taking short walks
  • cooking
  • trying a new workout class- without taking a friend
  • sign up for volunteer work
  • go to a bookstore/window-shop

For those of us who have had some practice with being by ourselves and actually liking it, here are some advanced ideas:

  • Go to a yoga class. I go to a class every Sunday. It’s recovery-based and I love it. I was very nervous about it at first, but my anxiety has lessened a lot. I sat next to someone last week and she actually thanked me for sitting with her. Wow.
  • Have a solo picnic.
  • People watch- at a coffee shop, in a park, wherever you feel comfortable.
  • Go to a movie by yourself.
  • Try an evening class.

If you want to go for the extreme:

  • Take a road trip.
  • Go to a concert alone.
  • Go hiking.
  • Go to a meditation or yoga retreat.
  • Start a home renovation project.

Have I tried any of these ideas? Sure. Not all of them. I’m a work in progress, so some of these are definitely on my to-do list. I’ve always liked to people watch, but it’s always been more fun to do it with someone else. I would like to try that one soon. I live near a large park so there are always people to watch.

Time for You is Good Time

It may be hard to squeeze in the time for yourself, but it is necessary. It may mean walking to the bus stop on a sunny day to get your kids, but you’ll have those 10 minutes of a good walk. Walking is exercise and a way to clear your mind a bit. It’s a two-for-one deal. A whole day isn’t possible for everyone, so don’t feel guilty for the time you can’t give to yourself.

When you’ve had time to yourself, you feel refreshed. You feel ready to face the next challenge ahead. Who doesn’t want to feel like that? It’s a nice feeling. If you’ve had your nails, hair or toes done, you look better. That’s also a great boost. This isn’t meant to encourage living a life of solitude unless you really want to, but to encourage time to yourself so that you can breathe. You can get to know yourself a bit better. What do you like doing? How do you want to spend your time?

Do you have ideas to add for the list of ideas of things to do alone? Leave them in the comments!

How Can Therapy be Beneficial for You?

Let’s Talk About Therapy

I’m a “therapy graduate”- I picked this term up from my friend and fellow graduate Melanie. I finished in May 2018 after two very rough years. My former therapist gave me the tools I needed to rebuild my life, coping skills, cheered me on and gave me hope for the future.

When I got into therapy, I was completely broken- Jake died a month earlier, my drinking was out of hand, I’d snapped at someone, lost a friend, and I was terribly depressed.

*Melissa helped me process my grief, decide to stay in a marriage that I was a week from ending just a month earlier, learn to trust myself and others again, among other things. Oh, and she had great candy. That helps.

Therapists are rock stars and I highly recommend them.

How Do I Know if I Need Therapy?

Life is not easy. Sometimes we have to grieve a loss and can’t do it alone, even with lots of support. Sometimes we don’t know how to appropriately deal with anxiety, depression, or both. There are many reasons people may need to go to therapy. If you’re unsure, however, here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. Are my issues interfering with my daily life? For example, if you’re having a hard time getting out of bed because you are depressed, is this leading to consequences at work, school or other areas in life? Or if you’re worried about your child, is this causing your child to miss a lot of school or activities?
  2. Do you feel ” stuck” in your feelings? It can be difficult to get out of a cycle of feelings that you have been in for some time. You may benefit from some assistance to get out of that cycle plus some help with learning new thought patterns.
  3. Have I changed as a result of my thoughts, feelings or actions? Sometimes when we are depressed, grieving or otherwise not ourselves, we lash out at others or completely shut down. Neither is healthy. Therapy can help with learning new ways to deal with and appropriately vocalize emotions.

How Can Therapy Help Me?

Therapy can be immensely helpful. This can happen, however, if you are willing to do the work. Don’t go into therapy if you are not willing or ready to do the work. It’s not just walking in, talking, then walking out and coming back in a week or two.

Most therapists give you something to think about between sessions. Mine asked me to start new hobbies to have better coping skills- I love coloring. I’ve also learned to love meditating and yoga. Both help with anxiety. I was also asked to do various things with my husband to work on our marriage, which he was on board with. Therapy is a lot more work than most think but it is worth it.

While in therapy, we face things that aren’t so pretty. There are tears involved. It’s painful- this is not fun, but this is part of the process. Your therapist will guide you through the issues that brought you there and into a life that is a bit easier.

Life does become a bit more manageable. It’s good to have someone who is on the outside to help sort things out. The skills you learn are those you can take with you forever.

Finding Help

There are a number of sites you can go on to find a therapist- I found mine on Psychology Today

There is nothing wrong with needing therapy. This can be a great step in your life.

Information courtesy of Smsteevesblog

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Growth in therapy

Online vs. In-Person Therapy: Which is Right for You?

Therapy is THE BOMB

Therapy is a good thing. I’m a “therapy graduate”, as one of my friends referred to both of us. (Thanks, Melanie. You also rock.) I was in therapy for two years following Jake’s 2015 death and I wish I had gone a long time before then. I had gotten to a point in which my grief had gotten too big to handle- and thankfully, my former therapist was able to give me the tools to get myself and my life back together.

I still have bad days, but not nearly as bad as when I started therapy. I do realize, however, that not everyone can access and/or afford therapy. This entirely sucks, and it’s why I’m a fan of alternate forms of traditional therapy or other kinds of help, like the crisis text line (text “home” to 741741) and apps like 7 Cups. Note: I’m not endorsing any of these.

Growth in therapy

Going to therapy can change your life. It works. It really works if you work at it. Do the homework. If your therapist challenges you like mine did, do it. Don’t start it if you aren’t prepared to do the work. You’ll cry and even get mad at your therapist. It happens. I cried my way through a lot of my sessions. I went through a lot of candy and Kleenex.

What kind of therapy did I go to? In-Person therapy.

What kind is right for you? I have no idea, but the rest of this post can help you decide.

Therapy is Cool, but Which Kind is For You?

I’ll break down the advantages of both for you:

In-Person therapy:

  • In an office, possibly someone’s home.
  • Can feel like a break from daily life- walking in can feel like turning on the “off switch” to your life
  • More accountability for your actions and making appointments
  • Some conditions require in-person treatment, like PTSD, severe schizophrenia, etc.
  • Ability to see the body language of the therapist, which is helpful

Online therapy:

  • Easier for those with disabilities
  • Easier for those in rural areas
  • Can create a constant connection versus only while in the office or certain times while not in the office
  • Easier to find a better match (not having to base search on distance, insurance, etc)
  • Can save money and time (depends on certain factors)

There are some issues with online therapy that remain to be sorted, mainly about insurance coverage and confidentiality. I recommend looking into your coverage before starting either kind of therapy. If you don’t have insurance, I recommend looking into local community resources for assistance.

Of course, this isn’t a full list of the good parts of in-person and online therapy. Online therapy is still relatively new. Many insurance companies won’t cover out-of-state therapists- for example, I’m in Kentucky, but if I picked an online therapist in Louisiana, my insurance might not cover it. I’m assuming they’re still working out the kinks in the process, which might take a while.

In the meantime, if you need therapy, please seek it. You’re worth it and you will be glad you did.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Information found on Very Well Mind and Talkspace

Have you tried online therapy? Would you like to share your experience?

Is It Time for A (Mental Health) Break?

Many of us live fast-paced lives. Kids, work, marriage (or other relationships), and other activities keep us busy. We tend to stay pretty occupied on a daily basis- the main part of adulting. Someone has to pay the bills, right?

There is a time where you begin to feel a bit rundown, maybe even a little cranky. You start wanting to get away from everything, checking your social media less than usual- maybe it’s getting annoying. Maybe you’re sleeping in a little more or losing your motivation to get things done. This might be the time you start thinking about taking a mental health break. This doesn’t mean jumping in the car and never coming back (although sometimes that’s a great daydream). Your body and mind will send signs that it is time to slow down a bit.

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Listening to the Signs

My immune system is awful, so I listen to it frequently. I might not like what it has to say, but I do listen. If you’re constantly sick, it may be a sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep. eating properly, or maybe just extremely stressed out. Stress can do terrible things to your body- if you don’t rest when you’re sick, it takes longer to get better or your symptoms can get worse. Neither of these options are fun, and you should probably see a doctor.

Sleep is also important. We don’t function well without it. Getting to sleep and staying there can be an issue when we have a lot on our minds. Laying in bed and not being able to sleep is frustrating (I’ve been there many nights) There are ways to get better sleep- blackout curtains, turning off TV and electronics at a certain time, essential oils, meditation for sleep, etc. Getting more and/or better sleep is beneficial all the time, not just when you need to take a mental health break.

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Being social is a good thing- even if you’re not a fan. Going out has become pretty tiring for me, physically and somewhat emotionally. I still enjoy it. If you pull away from your social circle, this can create or add to feelings of isolation. It may be hard to notice without others letting you know that you have been pulling back lately, due to work or other factors, but it may be time to take that break. Taking time to do something as simple as a dinner with two or three close friends can be a lot of fun and stress relieving.

Stress can contribute to a need for a break. Some things that we do can be kicked off our lists- what do we really enjoy and what can go? It may be time to reconsider what you (and your family) do with your time. When you’re stressed, your body feels it. Muscles stay tensed, fatigue sets in, weight loss plateaus, etc. Yoga and/or meditation can be a great help. Stress comes from many different places. It may be time to re-evaluate things and figure out where things need to be changed.

Be Like Ferris… Maybe

I don’t recommend calling in sick when you aren’t, but I do recommend having a day of fun for yourself.

I’m a huge “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” fan, and if you’ve never seen the movie, you should. Ferris is a high school senior who cuts school with his best friend (while pretending to be sick), Cameron (who is actually sick and the character that I named Cameron for) and his girlfriend, Sloane. They spend the day running around Chicago. It’s so much fun to watch. It’s my favorite movie. As Ferris said. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The lesson is: Take a day off. Everyone needs one.

Suggestions:

  • Museums- art, science, anything that you’re into
  • Shopping
  • Sitting in the park
  • Library, bookstore, etc.
  • Spa, makeup/beauty store, etc.
  • Curling up in a chair with a good book and snack all day (one of my favorites, preferably with a cat)
  • Hiking, jogging, any kind of sports that you enjoy
  • Trying out an art class, pottery, painting, etc.
  • Working out
  • Writing, journaling

Don’t feel bad about taking this day to yourself. Make a note to do this at least once a month- and look forward to it. If you want, involve a friend. I enjoy my day alone.

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Self- Care is Essential

If taking time for yourself isn’t helping in the way that you are hoping for, please seek help with a professional. This does happen, and that’s okay. Everyone needs to be able to care for themselves somehow and may need the extra boost to do so.

For further reading: Are You Meeting Your Needs?

How do you take care of yourself? When do you know it’s time for a break?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Information Courtesy of Blysee

Feisty Green Polka Dot

Twin Mummy and Daddy

The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

Mental illness can lead to difficult situations if left untreated, but yet millions do so. Why?

Reasons To Not Find Help

  1. Shame. This leads many to hide symptoms. In many minority communities, mental health issues aren’t discussed very often, if at all. Those who do have issues are made to feel that something is “wrong” with them. You can read about this in Men and Mental Health and Breaking Down while Black.
  2. Poverty. Many don’t have money and/or health insurance to cover the costs of therapy and/or medication. This can be another major stumbling block. I was very lucky in that I had insurance to cover two years of therapy for a very low co-pay. Julian is on state health insurance. It’s hard to get help when you can’t afford it.
  3. Embarrassment. This is still a big reason that people avoid treatment. I’ve been very open about my struggles with mental health, drinking, and loss. Many people, however, want to hide that they have a drinking problem or anxiety. It makes them “look weak”.
  4. Side effects from medications and/or not feeling comfortable with a provider. Side effects from psychiatric medications are less than fun. Some are so bad that people simply stop taking them. It’s recommended that they don’t without speaking to the prescribing doctor, but this is not always done. It also helps if you feel like you can open up to your mental health provider. If you can’t, it makes you less likely to want to go back. It’s okay to want to switch. There’s someone out there for you.

The Dangers Below the Surface

When you leave your mental health unchecked, things can go very bad. The things on this list are possibilities:

  1. Worsening mental health status. As time goes by, your mind can go into some dark places if left unchecked. It may become harder to treat the issues. Longer and more intensive treatment may be needed.
  2. Unexplained physical symptoms. Sometimes our bodies begin to show wear after a certain amount of time of not being cared for. Our muscles stay tense, sleep becomes restless or harder to come by, eating may become irregular.
  3. Job and home instability. During a severe mental health episode, it may become difficult or even impossible to go to work. This can lead to losing a job and/or home.
  4. Incarceration. During episodes, there may be behaviors that lead to arrests, like indecent exposure, assaults, etc. These would not occur otherwise but in an altered state, people may not think clearly. There are millions sitting in jails and prisons with mental illnesses, many with severe mental illness (SMI).
  5. Victimization. Sadly, some with mental illness are more likely to become victims of violence than others due to past incidents and/or altered levels of functioning.
  6. Suicide. Many suicides are attributed to untreated mental illness. It’s not a failure or a lack of coping skills. Sometimes you get stuck in a moment you literally cannot see yourself getting out of. That’s when tragedy strikes.

Mental health treatment is well worth the time and money. You are worth the time and money.

Have you had problems with accessing mental health services?

For more information on accessing online therapy, please see Better Help

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Information courtesy of Psychology Today