Category Archives: Anxiety

TeleHealth Life Coaching Can Help You Manage Anxiety

Learn What Telehealth Life Coaching Is & How it Helps

Online Telehealth life coaching for anxiety.If you live with serious or persistent emotional distress related to an anxiety condition, you may have given some thought to how professional support might help you manage your symptoms. But reaching out for help may not always be easy.

Even in ordinary circumstances, certain barriers might make it difficult for you to leave home in order to see a therapist or attempt to make an appointment. For example, many people who have panic attacks or live with specific phobias often find it challenging to go new places. Conditions like agoraphobia may keep you from leaving home entirely.

Depending on your location, you might even have trouble finding a therapist in your area. But telemental health, also known as distance therapy or online counseling, puts therapy within reach from anywhere—even the safety of home.

THE RISE OF TELEMENTAL HEALTH
In recent years, stigma surrounding therapy has decreased. Talking to loved ones and acquaintances about mental health symptoms and your efforts to address them has become a more normalized and accepted practice. This change has also normalized the act of reaching out for help, and the demand for therapy has increased.

Along with this increase in demand has come an increase for alternative types of mental health treatment—in short, more convenient approaches to therapy. As experts begin to recognize more unique, specific presentations of mental health conditions, the demand for therapists who specialize in addressing these issues also grows.

Technology no longer exists on the fringes of our lives. It’s become indispensable. Busy people want convenient, quick solutions, and the increasing use of technology in daily life makes this possible for all manner of services. Therapy is no exception.

Telemental health care fulfills the need many people have for more accessible therapy. Whether you prefer to connect with a therapist over a weekly video conference, telephone, or regular text message, distance counseling enables you to get help on your own time, without having to face certain challenges like transportation, limited parking, or limited therapist availability.

Since telemental health care allows you to work with a therapist located anywhere in your state, it also opens doors to specialized treatment. That is to say, if you need a specialist, you may be able to find one more easily than if you were limited to local providers.

ANXIETY AND TELEMENTAL HEALTH
Current COVID-19 lockdowns can impact your ability to access in-person therapy for the time being. But for many people, other barriers to treatment may still linger once quarantine and social distancing requirements have lifted.

Distance counseling can be an accessible option for people working to manage their anxiety symptoms. Many different conditions exist under the umbrella of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety (what many people think of when they hear “anxiety”) is only one of these. Other common experiences related to anxiety that might lead someone to seek out telemental health care include:

  • Severe obsessions or compulsions, such as a fixation on germs or persistent thoughts of doing harm to others, that make it difficult to have close contact with other people
  • A phobia of something regularly encountered outside your home, such as dogs, birds, or cars
  • Agoraphobia, or a strong fear of being somewhere you can’t easily leave. This phobia usually relates to panic disorder
  • Panic attacks, especially if you haven’t identified triggers and fear having one without warning
  • Social anxiety severe enough to make in-person interaction terrifying or unbearable even to consider

HOW TELETHERAPY SUPPORTS PEOPLE WITH ANXIETY
While distance counseling may not be ideal for every mental health condition, it can work well for some issues. Online therapy is generally effective for treating anxiety. The types of treatment therapists typically provide for anxiety can be offered fairly well online through a video platform.

Anxiety treatment approaches can vary, since not every treatment will work well for everyone. But if you work with an anxiety specialist online, your therapist may use treatment strategies such as the following:

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you learn to recognize distressing thoughts, challenge them, and reframe them so they no longer have a negative impact
Exposure therapy, which helps you slowly become accustomed to facing a specific thing or situation you fear (typically used to treat phobias)
Exposure and response prevention, which helps you learn to face situations or things that trigger obsessions without performing a compulsion in response
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a type of CBT that prioritizes mindfulness, or staying grounded in the present moment without getting trapped in cycles of unwanted thoughts
When working with a therapist online, you’ll also have a safe space to explore underlying factors that contribute to anxiety, talk through distress in your everyday life, and develop safe, healthy coping strategies—just as you would when working with a therapist in person.

Therapists can also offer guidance on methods that can help you address anxiety symptoms before they reach an unmanageable level. For example, they can teach skills to counter rumination, or circling thought patterns, that often come up for many people living with anxiety.

You can also learn (and practice) mindfulness and meditation exercises in distance counseling. These practices may help ease certain mental health symptoms over time, lead to decreased stress, and help you get better sleep, which can also help relieve anxiety.

A telehealth therapist can also work with you on making changes in your life that lead to greater well-being overall. It’s not uncommon for anxiety to stem from difficult situations, relationships, or life circumstances. Even when these issues don’t cause anxiety directly, they may make your symptoms worse. Addressing these triggers may not make anxiety disappear entirely, but it can have a significant benefit overall. A mental health professional can help you recognize these triggers and how they contribute to your emotional distress.

A therapist can also offer support as you explore improved self-care habits, such as:

  • making sure to get enough sleep
  • taking time to do the things you enjoy most
  • spending time with positive people
  • Telemental health doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you prefer connecting with someone in person, but experience struggles severe enough to prevent you from getting support, you might consider distance counseling as a short-term option: You’ll work with a therapist online until you reach a position of being able to attend therapy face-to-face.

If you or someone you love is anxious and in need of help, contact me for more information on how telehealth life coaching can help you.

Courtesy of GoodTherapy.

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How a Counselor Can Help With Loneliness

Negative Self-Talk Is a Sign to Contact a Counselor

Dear GoodTherapy,

My life is a sad state of affairs. I have no real friends to speak of, just my cat Lula. Even she doesn’t like me very much. I can’t work because of a disability. I basically sit at home all day eating myself a little closer to irreversible depression and eventual death.

This is no way to live, but it’s all I’ve got. I used to rationalize that being alone was okay because I’m an introvert, but that’s dumb. Introverts need love and socializing too. I have nothing! I feel so lonely.

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect me to go out and make a bunch of friends. I’m ugly, not very interesting, and I’m not easy to get close to. I don’t let people in. Not sure why, I just never have. So then the question becomes, how do I accept my life for what it is? Is it as simple as no longer judging it as meaningless and empty? Please help me stop feeling so alone.

—Only the Lonely

Dear Lonely,

I hear your very real sadness coming through. Thank you for reaching out. I am actually hearing two different questions in your message—how do I accept my life as it is, and how do I change it to be less lonely?

I recommend you start by finding a therapist in your area. I hear a lot of negative self-talk and negative self-concept in your message. Finding a way to appreciate what you have to offer yourself and the world around you will be an important first step. Your comment about not letting people in—and that you never have—lets me know the work really begins there in understanding what about connecting with others is scary for you.

You also mention not wanting to judge your life as “meaningless and empty.” I agree this is an important goal! Feeling a sense of purpose is essential to long-term well-being. That purpose can be localized or it can be on a broader scale, but feeling that we matter, that we have an impact, that we have a reason for being here is important. You are not alone in struggling to find purpose. Again, working with someone to explore what is meaningful to you will be important.

You are right: introverts need connection too. It is up to you, though, what connection looks like. I have known people who had many friends and were very social and still felt extremely lonely. Meaningful connection with self, with others, and with the world around us can help reduce feelings of loneliness. I encourage you to start that journey by finding someone who can help you work on a meaningful connection to yourself, one in which you feel more accepting of who you are. From there, you can explore how to connect with others.

Best of luck,

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC

Courtesy of GoodTherapy.

If you or someone you love is having problems with loneliness, please contact my Portland, Oregon office for an appointment.

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Stressful School Year? Use Summer to Help Your Student Manage Anxiety

Summer Therapy Can Help Students Manage Anxiety

Portland summers can be a time to treat a student's anxiety.If your child or adolescent struggled with anxiety during the school year, now is an opportune time to address it. Take advantage of the summer break to give them the skills they need to manage stress, feel confident, regulate their emotional responses, maintain strong friendships, and—most importantly—feel better about themselves.

Not sure if your student has anxiety? Here are some common signs:

  • Excessive worry about a variety of issues, such as grades, appearance, peers, family matters, performance in sports/activities, homework, and tests
  • Physical symptoms such as upset stomach, vomiting, and headaches
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Changes in eating behavior
  • Inability to relax even when they recognize their fears are out of proportion or unreasonable
  • Treating themselves harshly and/or expecting perfection
  • Fear and avoidance of social situations
  • Disconnecting from friend groups
  • Mood swings and/or increase in irritability
  • Obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors

Trying to resolve these issues during the school year, when symptoms may be at their peak, can be challenging. Homework and tests are a constant, then add on any extracurricular commitments. There may be few opportunities for your student to decompress and learn from the last anxiety-producing experience before they happen upon the next one. Summer provides a (hopefully) more relaxed schedule to reflect on what creates anxious feelings and to practice and adopt effective ways of coping.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of treatment that has been found to be effective for anxiety (Otte, 2011). With the guidance of a trained counselor, CBT brings to the forefront the thoughts a person is having, the emotions that accompany those thoughts, and the behavior that results. Modification of just one of these variables can help improve the other two. Students can learn more effective ways to cope by examining faulty or irrational thoughts. For example, a young person with test anxiety may have a negative internal message that reminds them that they have no hope or confidence they can pass their tests. This negativity can spill over into areas such as homework, extracurricular activities, and friendships, leading to a prevailing sense of powerlessness, hopelessness, and failure. The resulting behavior can include the symptoms listed above.

Taking time to challenge a student’s way of thinking and replace negative narratives with more reasonable and accurate self-statements can help them feel more capable and empowered. Confidence helps build a sense of control and possibility, and in turn leads to adopting healthy behaviors in the face of all the ups and downs that come along.

It’s important to educate your student about anxiety so they understand everyone experiences it in varying degrees, thanks to the fight-or-flight response. The human brain is hardwired to assess for dangers and react to threats in the environment, an evolutionary survival mechanism (Schab, 2008). Helping your student understand that the fight-or-flight response is there for a good reason assures them that (1) they aren’t flawed and (2) opens the door to learning ways to turn the dial down so they aren’t constantly on high alert. Chronic anxiety builds up stress hormones that can, over time, cause emotional and physical problems.

According to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey conducted in 2013, “Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.1).” This summer, take the time to help your student better understand the anxiety that comes with all that stress, and partner with a therapist to develop strategies for building the confidence they need to manage it in the next school year. Make an appointment at my Portland area office or contact me for more info on anxiety therapy.

References:

American Psychological Association survey shows teen stress rivals that of adults. (2014, February 11). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/02/teen-stress.aspx
Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: Current state of the evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 13(4), 413–421.
Schab, L. (2008). The anxiety workbook for teens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

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Life Presence Coaching For Better Living

Stay Present in Life: How to Attract What You Want

Coaching life presence for better living. PortlandWho doesn’t want to live their dream? I don’t think many of us would say “no, thanks” if the opportunities and relationships we desired were offered to us on a silver platter. It can be encouraging to remember that ultimately, we are the creators of our own life.

In a literal sense, we can create or impact outcomes we desire if we keep our head in a good feeling space consistently.

We are all artists, creating our lives thought by thought, action by action.

The areas we focus on are a big deal. These are the difference between a life we feel aligned and satisfied with versus a life we are constantly questioning and trying to figure out.

To quickly gauge where your focus tends to fall, ask yourself this question:

“Do I tend to focus on the good things (what’s abundant) or what’s a problem (what’s lacking) in my life?”

Focusing on what’s wrong will often leave you in a state of anxiety and in a “fix it” mindset, while focusing on what’s going well can support more positive experiences coming your way. This is often the case because what we focus on dictates our feelings and thoughts. How we think and what we spend our time thinking about becomes a habit. For better or worse, our thought habits can affect how we perceive our life. This spider web effect is nothing new. We’ve all heard it, especially those of us familiar with the Universal Laws of Attraction.

Here are some tips on how to help attract good things in your life.

BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT IS POSSIBLE

Life tends to mirror what we believe to be true. It’s common for our human minds to need to see and have proof of an outcome or reality before we believe it’s possible. Our need to see before we can believe is where we get stuck. The trick is to allow yourself to dream while pressing the pause button on your logical mind. Our logic is waiting for things to make sense. The reality is, sometimes how things come to be defies logic, and unexplainable things do happen. Start believing in them and how they can happen to and for you.

I understand why it’s hard for many adults to believe in what we can’t see. After all, we grew up and became “practical.” Responsibilities present themselves; all of this is valid. There’s no denying that. However, it’s to our benefit to tap into that childlike part of ourselves and remember how to imagine, dream, and believe.

FOCUS ON FEELING GOOD

What makes you feel good? Great, do more of that.

Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people, environments, and activities that align with who you are. I want to emphasize that life’s not about feeling good all the time. This belief can cause people to deny or not process uncomfortable emotions.

Life provides contrast, including both yin and yang, good and not so good feelings. When negative situations and emotions come up, do your best to acknowledge them. Allow them to be there while continuing to focus on the positive things that are also in your path. You will always have options in life; the key is to choose wisely. When possible, choose the things that bring you joy.

GET PRESENT

When your mind is stuck in fear, anxiety, worry, or depression, good things are often blocked from coming into your space. When your mind is chronically stuck in the past, a common symptom of that head-space is depression. When your mind is constantly stuck in the future, the common consequence of that mindset can be heightened anxiety. These conditions can be your body’s natural way of alerting you that alignment is off. Being in the present can help us feel centered and balanced.

Practicing staying in the moment can help you discover more presence in your life. Here are some quick ideas of how to practice being present in your life:

  • Be mindful of over-planning
  • Rid yourself of distractions that don’t serve you
  • Disconnect from relationships that are not supportive and feel draining
  • Be thoughtful of how you spend your time

Clearing out the activities and distractions that are not serving you while creating more space for good things to come in can allow you to spend more time on the things that matter most to you.

Believe that good things are possible and are, in fact, on their way to you. Expect good things to happen to and for you. This frame of mind may help you cultivate more overall goodness in your life.

If you’re having trouble reframing your mindset or focusing on what’s positive, coaching can help. Call to learn more about life coaching at our Portland office.

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org.

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Is Your Regret Causing Anxiety? Understand Your Regret

Portland Therapy Ideal for Understanding Regret About One’s Ideal Self

Regret can be painful, even debilitating. People plagued by regret may feel guilt or shame about what could have been. They can even develop symptoms of depression or anxiety. Yet regret in life is inevitable. No one is able to live up to every goal they set.

A new study published in the journal of Emotion explores the psychological underpinnings of regret. Researchers found regret stings the most when people fail to live up to their idealized selves. Regret about duties and obligations is less painful. Although regret about one’s idealized self is often more painful, participants were less likely to take proactive steps to live up to idealized versions of themselves.

Three Components of A Person’s Self

The research used six studies to survey hundreds of participants about their feelings of regret. The study draws upon the notion that there are three components of a person’s self: the actual self, the ideal self, and the ought self.

  • The actual selfis who a person believes they are.
  • The ideal selfis who a person wishes they were. The ideal self includes dreams for the future and goals for living up to values. It also includes traits a person wishes they had.
  • The ought selfis who a person thinks they should be. The ought self is more focused on obligations, such as holding down a job. Regrets involve failures to live up to these duties.

Researchers asked participants what kind of regrets they had most often. Most participants (72%) listed regrets about their ideal self. Only 28% of people listed regrets about their ought self. When people were asked to name their biggest regret in life, 76% mentioned a regret about their ideal selves.

This finding suggests regrets about the ideal self may be more painful. They may also be more likely to contribute to an overall feeling of regret.

Coping With Regret Helps By Knowing Selves

The study also found people are more likely to take steps to correct regrets related to their ought self than to their ideal self. This trend may be because ought-self regrets often involve explicit criteria. Fixing duty-related regrets can often be corrected with specific steps.  For example, if a student regrets doing poorly in class, they can resolve to raise their grade through studying.

Meanwhile, regrets involving one’s ideal self tend to be vaguer. A person may have a dream to “be adventurous” or “be a great parent.” Yet such goals rarely have a concrete way to mark success. Without a clear destination, many people wait for inspiration to guide them toward these goals. If inspiration doesn’t come, a person may let opportunities pass them by.

Fear of how the pursuit of a good life might look to others may also hold people back. That’s doubly true when there’s a conflict between a person’s ideal self and ought self. For instance, a person may wish to go on a backpacking trip with their child. But they may turn down the trip so they do not miss any work and appear “unmotivated” to colleagues. In this scenario, the person prioritizes the work duties of their ought self above the parenting dreams of their ideal self.

A trained therapist can help people cope with regret. They may help a person explore ways to build self-compassion and self-esteem. In therapy, a person can also learn goal-setting skills to help them grow into their ideal selves. If you’re interested in learning how to cope with regret or in need of anxiety therapy, make an appointment at my Portland office.

June 15, 2018 • Contributed by Zawn Villines, GoodTherapy.org 

References:

  1. Davidai, S. & Gilovich, T. (2018). The ideal road not taken: The self-discrepancies involved in people’s most enduring regrets. Emotion,18(3), 439-452. 
  2. Woulda, coulda, shoulda: The haunting regret of failing our ideal selves. (2018, May 29). 
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