Top five ways to take back control of your mental health

Is Trauma the New Normal?

Charlotte, NC

What is Trauma? 

In today’s time we are hearing a lot about this word and for some it can be scary. Kids are experiencing trauma right now. They have been without a normal school schedule for over a year now and being online has most likely caused depression, anxiety, anger or all three. Many kids have shared that they are struggling with not being as social as they would like unless they are online. Even as they begin returning back to school, it may take time for them to adjust.

Parents have struggled as well regarding having to do their job and in many cases their professional job all together as well in their homes and the same time. Even single moms and dads have felt the stress level as they have had to take care of their children and work, and in some cases have lost their jobs added to their stress. Now with many parents having to navigate back to the office, they are struggling on how to do this, with some younger kids not wanting them to leave home.

Single adults have also struggled with not being able to get out as much on dates, to socialize with friends and families and to do their hobbies.  Many of these individuals have felt so isolated, stating that there are eating more empty calories, watching more television/streaming shows, drinking more alcohol and using drugs.  In addition to this online pornography and social media has exploded feeling like you are living on cotton candy and soda instead of healthy and nutritious meals.

Many of these individuals have shared with me that they don’t even find joy with mindlessly surfing through social media, reality shows and the like.  Boredom has been a big culprit, and now they may be engaged in a problematic or addictive behavior that is causing even more problems.

As restaurants and outdoor events open back up, social anxiety and low motivation may have set in and many individuals may prefer to remain at home. This is of course not good for their mental health, research states, as we all need some vitamin D and to get out and socialize a little each week.

How We Struggle

Some of these individuals may be feeling depressed, feeling anxious, having feelings of emptiness, and feeling like they need to take a substance or do a behavior just to get through the day. I often here that they it never really helps in the long-term. These individuals share that it just causes more feelings of guilt, shame, and feeling numb. 

Our New Normal

Even as the pandemic and the way we have all been living our lives ends, some difficult symptoms and situation may stay and we are in our new normal.  So what should we do?  I often hear, I guess we just have to go through the motions, suffer silently, suck it up, and be a man or a good girl.  After researching how we deal with short and even long-term crises, I have found that, saying “It is what it is”, will not help most of us.  Awareness of what is going on and being able to talk, engage in healthy activities and heal is a better option.

There is Hope! Here are five ways to begin taking back control of your mental health.

1.) Getting out of our homes/offices: You would be surprised what a good 15 minute walk will do for you in the morning, during lunch time or in the evening. I know that for some of us, the weather may be getting hotter, however; taking that walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler, may help with that. I would also encourage you to get out into nature. If you have a walking trail, local hiking trail, or even a nearby mountain or hill, I say get out and start walking or hiking. Hiking can be a great way to burn some calories, get much needed Vitamin D and also to talk with a friend. It’s important to have these fun chats or even get a little serious and share what you most need help with in your life. It can also be a time for you to focus on being in the moment with nature, see number two about this.

2) Being Present. Practicing Yoga/Meditation: They say that many of us tend to worry about the future or may be stuck in the past. Due to that, your brain can secrete stress hormones that may cause us to have racing thoughts and eventually tire us out. Although it is okay to brainstorm a problem or to talk it out with a friend when needing to vent, it is also a great idea to be more present with our thoughts. One way to do this is to practice Yoga. You can go to a Yoga studio, and for those that are not ready for that, you can stream it. If you have 8-30 minutes a few times a week, I would definitely recommend that with streaming services like AmazonPrime.com to watch Yoga Instruction videos right from the comfort of your home. See Yoga with Adrienne from Amazon Prime by clicking here.

Meditating is also becoming very popular and even if you feel that meditation has not worked for you in the past, I would give it another try. One thing to know is that you do not have to meditate for a long time. Even meditating 5 minutes a day can be very helpful. You can also find meditations every where now, with YouTube, Spotify, and even with popular meditation apps such as Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace and Abide to name a few. Please click on these apps to learn more about them. I would start with one of these options, and apps such as Calm also have sleeping meditations that may be helpful if you have a hard time going to sleep.

3) Treating yourself to a needed self-care service. For many of us, we tend to take care of others before ourselves or we do not feel we deserve to be spoiled a bit. I want you to know that the better you take care of yourself, especially when you need some TLC, the better you will show up for your loved ones and friends. With that in mind, how often do you get a relaxing massage, have a spa day, a pedicure or manicure, or a relaxing shampoo and conditioner ? You can do these at spas or local hair cut shops, like Sports Clips? If you answer is hardly ever, than maybe it is time to do that this week. You could start with doing this once every 2 weeks to see how that makes you feel and then you could adjust it from there. Remember, we all carry around stress, especially since the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the better we take care of ourselves, the more we will be able to heal from this time and be there for those we love.

4. Talking to safe people: We all need to be heard.

Sharing how we are doing with safe people, such as a trusted friend, significant other or family member is a great way to feel better and begin healing. Although some of us where not raised this way, and may find this difficult at first, it really could be as simple as sharing a meal or a coffee with a friend to catch up and ask how each other is doing. In her book, The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown talks about how being vulnerable with people you have built trust with can be a great way to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and even addiction. If you are not sure what to say when you meet, do a google search on 10 topics to bring up with a friend to get to know each other. Stay tuned as I share more information on that topic.

There are more support groups than ever on topics such as addiction, giving too much, and dealing with a loss to name a few. The best way to start is to ask a friend or google a support group with key words describing what you are looking for. For some individuals they may enjoy going to a therapeutic support group which is run by a therapist who provides up to date research and also help and encouragement with other group members that can relate to you. At Charlotte Counseling Associates, we have several of those groups, dealing with topics such as sex addiction (click here to learn more) and Men’s Assertiveness (click here to learn more). In some cases we may need more individual help with a professional therapist, see number 5.

5. Professional Therapy: Some of us can do well speaking to a good friend, family member, support group, and even getting out in nature, journaling, practicing yoga, and meditation etc.  Although all of those activities and individuals would be a great way to begin sharing and working through our stress and trauma, in many cases it is very helpful to speak to a trained and licensed mental health therapist, especially if they have experience with trauma, anxiety, stress, depression and addiction.

It has been said that we will all have life stressors or “life quakes” that occur to us. Some of these may be a death of a family member, a car accident, divorce or break-up, being fired, having an medical emergency etc. As I always say, going to a therapist does not mean there is something extremely wrong “with us”, but it may mean that we need help due to what has happened to us. Just like you may go to a CPA or financial planner to help with your finances, or to a medical doctor when you have a pain in your foot, it is equally important to speak to a therapist. They can help you to assess what is happening to you and to see if therapy would be helpful. For some individuals being actively heard, not judged, and being validated is extremely helpful. For others they may need more specific help which the therapist is trained to help you in with regarding helping with your problems and pain. Either way the benefits of being more joyful and working on things that bring you energy and healing are so worth it.

Trauma Treatment: When you have an emotional wound

For some of us, we have been through so much, either as a child, or even recently, it has created a emotional wound or trauma in our lives. Talk therapy is a great way to begin this process, as all therapists are trained in this. But to get to the emotional or deeper parts of our brain and help to heal this wound, this is where a trauma therapist may be able to provide deeper and longer lasting benefits.  The fact is that most of us have had trauma, or some type of abuse or neglect growing up, and as kids we have been.  Many of us have been able to deal effectively with this, as kids can be very resilient, but many of us have not been able to deal with this well.

When you add stressful events and times of crisis, it can be overwhelming and downright paralyzing.  Trauma may not be something that goes, away, but like a physical wound, it can heal or at the very least you can adapt to the pain, and begin having more peace, joy and happiness. 

Some individuals may not get out once life starts to become “more normal” and that is okay, but what if they really want to, but can not deal with the internal and emotional pain.  If this is you or someone you know, you don’t have to continue to suffer, there is hope, and trauma therapies such as Brainspotting and EMDR can be very helpful and helping you move forward in the direction of where you want to go and who you want to be. To learn more about Brainspotting or EMDR and how this can help, please click on those words to learn more.

For more information on how to receive help, speak to a therapist at Charlotte Counseling Associates. You can reach them at [email protected] or 980-224-3233

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