Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

woman moving box

I’ve always tended to romanticize the thought of moving away. Once I shed my hometown, I would finally become someone who never forgets to floss and sleeps precisely eight hours a night in crisp white linens. Making the big move is an ideal time to introduce other changes in your life too, but you can’t move away from yourself. Or your anxiety. After the move, I might have become slightly more committed to my oral hygiene, but my Persian cat’s weepy eyes still constantly left mysterious beige spots on my cotton sheets.

Perhaps, like me, the idea of starting over somewhere new is your go-to escapist daydream. As the realities of moving set in, however, it can become difficult to keep your anxiety in-check.

Before setting off I tried to deal with the less romantic realities. Pondering housing, thinking about relationships, and coping with these changing elements of my life gave me somewhere to focus my anxiety. I reasoned that this focus would help me identify everything that could potentially go wrong and eliminate the risks. This strategy, however, kept me from acknowledging I was doing something brave and that the risk was part of what made the experience exciting, too. Continue reading Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

Alone Time: Why It Matters and How to Claim It

woman drinking table alone

Most days, I work from home, alone. I also often travel alone. Solitude is a central part of my everyday existence. Yet I am not lonely.

Working alone doesn’t meant I don’t collaborate. I schedule virtual and in-person meetings with team members and clients.

Traveling alone is less of a sentence to isolation and more of an opportunity to connect with strangers and welcome unexpected encounters into my journey. It also offers more freedom and flexibility than traveling with others.

There’s much written about our culture of distraction, but there’s too little discussion of the value of time spent truly alone. We largely fear it and cling to the pings and prods from our personal devices to keep us in constant company.

Don’t get me wrong. Connection still matters. It is an important indicator of health and happiness. Studies indicate that social isolation is more dangerous to your health than obesity, increasing your risk of premature death by more than 14%.

But quality alone time does not indicate loneliness. Celebrating solitude doesn’t condemn connection. Continue reading Alone Time: Why It Matters and How to Claim It

Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

hands green brain

Good mental health is both a state of mind and a lifestyle. Part of it is developing a rational, positive mindset about oneself and the world. Having sources of pleasure and a manageable level of stress facilitates good mental health as well.

Additionally, it’s important to have a lifestyle that helps maintain this state of mind. This goes beyond fulfillment in work and relationships. It’s about regularly engaging in activities that provide a sense of peace or catharsis, including being in nature, meditating, or working with a therapist.

By practicing good mental health, people become more resilient and able to cope when their lives are riddled with stress and misfortune.

“Practicing good mental health habits before you feel distressed is like putting money in the bank for the bad times,” said Jude Miller Burke, Ph.D., a business psychologist and author of The Adversity Advantage. “When a bad time then comes, you are more prepared.”

If you feel like you’re missing a positive mindset or healthy lifestyle, try out some of the tips we gathered by asking therapists how to practice good mental health. Continue reading Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

Why Happiness is Overrated, According to a Therapist

green color pencil drawing smile on figures

Often times people come into therapy hoping to finally tackle issues like anxiety or depression. Clients have come into my office wishing for me to share my keys to “happiness.” Sometimes they are disappointed to find I actually don’t think happiness is a reasonable goal.

There is a lot of information, particularly in the positive psychology movement, about finding the keys to happiness. You can use affirmations and daily validations to help lift your mood. You can organize your life and change your behavior, all in an effort to secure this feeling of happiness.

There’s a lot of validity to those suggestions. Nonetheless, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to search for “happiness” to begin with. Continue reading Why Happiness is Overrated, According to a Therapist

5 Unusual Ways to Boost Your Mental Health

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Finding a mental health treatment, including therapy, is only part of taking care of your mental health. What about everything you do outside the treatment?

There are the standard suggestions: yoga, deep breathing, exercise. Maybe you’ve heard of those or tried them, perhaps with less success than you hoped.

Then there are other ways to boost your mental health, methods that are unusual but can help nonetheless.

Here are five examples:

1. Laugh as Often as Possible

It may be difficult to laugh when in the throes of depression or another mental health disorder, but it is important that you laugh as often as possible. Laugh therapy improves our emotional well-being and our overall mental health.

Every time you smile and laugh, your brain releases dopamine. This chemical produces feelings of happiness and endorphins, our natural painkillers. When we shift from smiling to laughing, the brain’s response includes releasing nitric oxide that boosts the immune system and improves our overall wellness. Continue reading 5 Unusual Ways to Boost Your Mental Health

Dropped Your New Year’s Resolution? Try Again With These 3 Steps

woman calendar hanging

Some 80% of New Years’ resolutions have failed by mid February. Does that figure include you? For far too many years it included me, until I had a paradigm shift.

It’s official; I no longer believe in the concept of a “lack of motivation” for something people want. By the dictionary’s definition, a person has motivation if they have a reason for doing something. I have a reason, so I have motivation.

You must’ve had a reason for making your resolution. How then could you lack motivation to achieve your goal? Continue reading Dropped Your New Year’s Resolution? Try Again With These 3 Steps

In 2017 I Am Making My New Year’s Resolutions About Mental Health

woman hopping 2017 new year

2016 was not the best year for most people I know, myself included. One of the few good things that’s happened this year is that — after years of convincing myself not to — I finally made a commitment to see a therapist.

After some discussions with my therapist, I decided to avoid making concrete New Years resolutions I can’t keep. No, I’m not going to cut cheese from my diet. I’m most likely not going to make full use of that gym membership I’ve been eyeing.

And that’s OK. Struggling for perfection is stifling and utterly exhausting.

Instead I decided to focus on mental health resolutions I can actually keep. I’m hoping they will make 2017 a happier and less stressful year. Continue reading In 2017 I Am Making My New Year’s Resolutions About Mental Health

4 Mental Health Resolutions: Try Something Different This New Year

woman hopping 2017 new year

Now that the new year has started, many of us are deciding on some of the classic New Year’s resolutions: weight loss, eating healthier, getting in shape, etc. These can be great goals.

They only focus on physical health, though. What about mental health? Continue reading 4 Mental Health Resolutions: Try Something Different This New Year

Here’s Why You Failed Your New Year’s Resolutions (And How to Succeed Next Time)

new years resolutions 2016 notebook

The New Year has barely started and people everywhere are starry eyed and ready to begin anew. We have our grocery-shopping lists done and new gym clothes hung and ready for wear. We hit the ground running, quite literally, for about a month. We begin to see some progress and are excited by the possibilities.

Then, out of nowhere, our grand plans come screeching to a halt. In an exhausted and disappointed haze we declare, “Maybe next year” as we fall into the same old routines.

“I have really been screwing up. I don’t understand why this always happens,” my Talkspace client, Emily, texts me around dinner time on a Sunday.

Note: Out therapists obtain permission from clients before featuring them in stories and change their names to protect privacy. 

Continue reading Here’s Why You Failed Your New Year’s Resolutions (And How to Succeed Next Time)

How To Tell If You’re Talking to a Bot: The Complete Guide to Chatbots

bot spam code

Quick Note from Talkspace: Because we provide online messaging therapy, we frequently hear from potential clients who want to be sure they are chatting with a therapist, not a chatbot. All of our therapists are licensed, flesh and blood humans, but we understand the concern. Whether it’s online therapy, social media or online dating, everyone deserves to chat with the humans they believe they are connecting with. We made this guide so people can answer the big question: Bot or not?

When we message with people on the Internet, we deserve to know they are, well, people. In a time where bots drive more than 60% of web traffic, it’s reasonable for consumers to be wary of chatbots masquerading as humans.

This variety of bot talks with you on sites such as Tinder and Facebook. Programmers design chatbots to simulate real conversation long enough to convince you to buy something, click on a link or offer personal information.

The key to detecting and reporting them is understanding how they work in various contexts. Then you can exploit their weaknesses and out them as robots! Continue reading How To Tell If You’re Talking to a Bot: The Complete Guide to Chatbots