People are suffering.
Just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month, I am realizing every single person I have come into contact with is operating at half capacity, maximum. People are struggling. Therapists are burnt out, clients, family, friends, strangers, community members. I am seeing us collectively grind to a halt in so many ways. Numbness, anger, confusion, exhaustion, fatigue…sorrow, fear, despair…
Honor your burnout. It’s okay to feel the way you are feeling. Everyone is feeling this way. At least everyone I know. There are always a few outliers who are afraid to admit this, so they nail a smile on their face and insist they are okay and look baffled and confused when someone else admits to being done with everything.
Sometimes at the end of a session, I will ask my clients what their takeaway is for this week (some insight gained, a new challenge they want to take on, something they want to give thought to over the next 7 days, etc.). Lately, most people look wearily back up at me and say, “I don’t know, I was hoping you could tell me?”. Because I have gotten this question so often this season, I decided to share my top 2 takeaways I have gotten myself:
I haven’t the foggiest idea if this is helping anyone or not, but it’s helping me. Sitting here typing and listening to my sad songs playlist (because sometimes tears need some encouragement). Grief is a part of life. We don’t talk about it much, but it is a part of the process. Sometimes we sift through the ashes and rubble and find little glimmers of hope. I keep them, too. Like the recent Humans of New York story. Or lines from my favorite TV shows. Or my clients that show up every week, no matter how challenging and painful the work is that we are doing. They are amazing people.
I hope you are feeling safe enough to let yourself grieve. Take time to notice the things that don’t suck amongst your tears. Honor your energy levels and adjust your plans to your needs accordingly.
I know two kinds of people around this time of year. The ones that can't wait to see their family and loved ones and build more memories, and the ones that are already feeling panic and dread, even though, as I write this, it is not even Halloween.
The first kind really seems to like their family. They accept each other, flaws and all, and are pretty closely knit. If there is alcoholism or mental illness, it is actively addressed and the family supports recovery.
The second, plays a strategic game of survival. Being closely knit comes from obligation rather than genuine interest and acceptance of one another. There are expectations and rules to be followed. There are roles to play and formalities to contend with. Alcoholism and/or mental illness is minimized, ignored, or stigmatized.
I will be honest. I know a lot more about the second type of family than I do the first. And I also know how to approach the holidays (and every other day of the year) so that you can finally maintain your integrity and self-worth, while loving your family.
Every day when I wake up, it seems like a fresh crop of stuff of stress about begins to seep into my brain and threaten to take over. And when I am feeling particularly vulnerable due to a difficult life circumstance or pending event, it threatens in double-time. None of us are immune to anxiety. And some of us have a predisposition to be more anxious more of the time than others. Have you noticed that when you are in the throes of an anxiety attack, it seems like Nothing will work? Maybe you have researched or read about techniques in the past, but at this very moment when you need it the most, the options elude you? I am willing to bet that half of the time, you don’t even remember how to breathe.
Fortunately, I can help. The techniques outlined below actually involve using your anxiety, the material you have in that moment, to find relief. Sound counterintuitive? It is. But it can also be a lifesaver. Many times we are told to roll our shoulders back a few times and take some deep breaths but I have heard more often than not, there needs to be more. So grab a hot cup of tea or cold glass of water (are you even drinking enough water? No? Great, we can start with worrying about that for the purposes of this article) and take a moment to read some effective ways of managing the Anxiety Monster that is lurking inside of you. Want something you can use starting today without having to buy anything or even go anywhere? Take a nice deep breath….and read on...
Cindy Goeller is a licensed therapist who loves listening to others, eating Maryland steamed crabs, and exploring the Finger Lakes of New York. When she is not in session with her clients, she can be found writing, baking, or spending time with her family.