I will begin by saying this is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MENTAL HEALTH CARE. If you or someone close to you is having a difficult time, I urge you to seek out professional help.
Now, there are so many reasons why a person decides to seek the help of a therapist. Most are looking to ease anxiety or uncover the root of a problem. With the exception of those suffering from a physiological or physical related mental ailment, most can workout issues by improving on their coping skills. I myself battle anxiety and depression and continue to discover techniques that help me deal. The benefits of seeking professional help is to learn which methods best suit your situation, personality, and general preferences. If your challenges are not debilitating or for the most part are manageable read on.
My top 5 therapeutic measures for coping with stressful situations, thoughts, and feelings include:
- Meditation. The practice of silencing your thoughts and focusing on the present is a challenge, but is worth the practice. While in a meditative state, solutions to problems can become clear, and in some cases the severity of the issue can be lessened. Meditation also calms your thoughts enough to ease anxiety, and promote a level of peace that helps with depression. Many gurus recommend starting with a 5 minute guided practice, and slowly increase your time each week.
- Take slow, deep breaths. Breathing in and out when emotions are at an all time high can take the focus off the problem giving you time to organize thoughts. This is also a form of meditating as it forces you into the moment.
- Write about your problems. I like to break down my problems in a form of a list. Each issue, thought, feeling, and reaction has a counterpart that is easier to detect when you can physically see it. The next time you get into an argument, or feel nervous about an upcoming event, write about the situation, and everything that bothers you about it. Reread what you have wrote and think about positive alternatives, to any of the negative ones that have made your list. Then write those down as well. Seeing the comparison will help the positive outcomes appear more likely.
- Take a walk or do some form of exercise. When working out, all most people can think about is the direction they are moving and the movements made by their body. In addition to activating those endorphins, you can also clear your mind and bring yourself back to a state of calm.
- Talk it over with someone you trust or a stranger. Seek out the ear of someone who you know will guard your secrets, and most importantly will not pass judgement. Everyone has people in their life they can share certain things with, so keep that person in mind when things become tough. Another alternative, and I know the idea of spilling your guts to someone you do not know sounds crazy, but consider the benefits of talking to a stranger. You more likely will never see them again, and will lessen the chance of what you say being shared with those you do not know.
I must repeat the disclaimer, that these techniques are not a substitute for professional help, but a way to start the process toward self-awareness and healing. Working on yourself begins within. Love yourself enough to know when to call in reinforcements.
Reoslifers, how do you deal with personal challenges? In what ways do you self-counsel? Comment below.
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