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

5 heads art

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

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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

The Best Mental Health Bloggers You Need to Follow

mental health bloggers woman

Educating the masses on mental health and battling the stigma of mental illness is a massive mission. That’s why the world needs dedicated mental health bloggers and writers who frequently cover relevant issues. They help us think progressively so we can build a world where everyone takes mental health seriously and does not discriminate against those with mental illness.

At Talkspace, we’re all about mental health and fighting stigma with the power of posts like these. That’s why we wanted to give a shoutout to these awesome bloggers and writers. Follow them if you want to learn more and stay updated! Continue reading The Best Mental Health Bloggers You Need to Follow

This Easy New Year’s Resolution Will Make You Happier

woman smiling street

Weight loss/fitness is the most popular New Year’s resolution and the one the highest number of people give up on soon after they proudly declare it. Wouldn’t you rather pick a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to stick to?

Do you want your resolution to make you happier in two seconds or less? You can, right now. But you need to do something very simple:

SMILE! Continue reading This Easy New Year’s Resolution Will Make You Happier

Try Doing Nothing This Holiday: It’s Great for Your Mental Health

Liz Lemon couch doing nothing

Planning to do anything — even something fun and relaxing for the holidays — takes work and sometimes causes stress. Then you might want a vacation from the vacation.

Spending at least a day doing nothing is essential to having a restful holiday where your mind and body power down. But that’s only the beginning of why making time to do nothing over the holidays is great for your mental health.

Then there’s learning how you will actually do it and grappling with the definition of “nothing.” We’re aware of the irony of spending time strategizing how you will do nothing, but a quick read will be worth the reward. Continue reading Try Doing Nothing This Holiday: It’s Great for Your Mental Health