5 Benefits Of Anxiety

5 Benefits Of Anxiety

When you think of anxiety, you probably focus on all of the negative aspects, such as constant worry, and restlessness. However, there are also many ways that experiencing anxiety can be helpful. Below are 5 benefits of anxiety that you may often overlook.

What Is Anxiety

Anxiety refers to feelings of nervousness, unease, or fear about something future oriented, usually with an unknown outcome. It is normal and helpful to experience anxiety when encountering a dangerous situation. During periods of major change and stressful life events, it is common for most people to experience some form of anxiety. Anxiety can be felt physically as well as emotionally. You may experience tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, and sweaty palms as well as racing thoughts and feelings of dread. Although persistent anxiety can interfere with your ability to function effectively, having some anxiety can actually be very beneficial.

1. Anxiety Can Help Keep You Safe

One of the benefits of anxiety is that it can help keep you safe. When you feel anxious, your amygdala kicks in to assess the situation for danger. This is the instinctual fight-flight-or freeze response that takes over to keep you safe when you become afraid. In a life-threatening scenario, you will respond by running away, fighting for your life, or playing dead. By doing one of these three things, you have a better chance of surviving. If you pay attention to this fear, or anxiety, you can be alerted to danger and take action to keep yourself safe. 

2. Anxiety Can Alert You To Things That Need Addressing

Anxiety can alert you to things that need addressing so you can make a positive change. If you feel anxious about your job or relationship and can’t stop worrying about it, some adjustments may be necessary. Anxiety can help you notice problems in many areas of your life. It requires you to do something in order for the uncomfortable feelings to subside. This can lead you to making a beneficial change that can help you lead a more fulfilling life. If you are always stressed out about your finances, anxiety can motivate you to create a better budget and save more money. This way you can be more responsible with your finances, which can help decrease your worry and anxiety.

3. Anxiety Can Be Motivating

Motivation is also a benefit of anxiety. If you are feeling anxious about a specific outcome, you can be more motivated to prepare. Without a little fear, you will be unlikely to put forth the effort required to achieve success. For instance, if you are worried about getting a good grade on a test, you will probably put more time and effort into studying. Those who don’t experience anxiety may not be as motivated to prepare for the test. Anxiety can also help you focus more on the task at hand, which can improve your performance. Along with focus, anxiety can help you forgo other activities so you are more likely to accomplish your goals.

4. Anxiety Can Help You Consider All The Options

If you experience anxiety, you are probably able to imagine a variety of different outcomes based on which steps you decide to take. This can help you formulate a very detailed initial plan, as well as a number of back-up plans that help you reach your goals. Because you are very good at anticipating a variety of different results for any given situation, you can be a very effective leader. It is unlikely that you will be caught off guard, or that something unexpected will deter you. Since you are able to consider possible obstacles, you also know what you need to do to overcome them. You are a cautious thinker, careful planner, and good decision maker. This helps others rely on your judgment and trust in your abilities.

5. Anxiety Can Improve Empathy

If you experience anxiety, you have a greater understanding of the toll it can take on an individual’s mental health. It will be easier for you to show compassion for friends and family members facing personal struggles. You may easily attune to others suffering and empathize with their pain. Because of this, others may seek you out when they are suffering. Your ability to understand things from someone else’s point of view can enable you to provide meaningful assistance that helps others feel understood and valued. This empathic response can strengthen your interpersonal relationships and ability to connect with others on a deeper level.

When you notice yourself becoming anxious, try and remember these 5 benefits of anxiety. Doing this can help you focus less on the worry and restlessness related to anxiety. However, if anxiety is having a negative impact on your quality of life, therapy can help. Remembering the positive things about anxiety can help you manage the negative parts more effectively. This way you can use the benefits of anxiety to your advantage.

7 Tips For Repairing Your Relationship After A Fight

7 Tips For Repairing Your Relationship After A Fight

Disagreements and arguments happen in almost all relationships on occasion. While this isn’t really a problem, feelings can get hurt and your relationship will suffer if you don’t repair the damage. Without proper repair, emotional intimacy can weaken and resentment can build. This can have a negative impact on your couple connection. However, effective reparation after a fight can restore a sense of unity and can even strengthen your relationship. Below are 7 tips for repairing your relationship after a fight.

1. Give Each Other Time And Space

After an argument with your partner, it’s important to give each other time and space. It’s difficult to think about repairing your relationship when your emotions are heightened. A little time and space can give you each a chance to calm down and consider the situation logically as well as emotionally. You can discuss this ahead of time and decide on the length of time that works for each of you before attempting to resolve the issue. If you come back together and the argument resumes, try taking a longer break. 

2. Feel Your Feelings

When you take a break from your partner, allow yourself to feel your feelings and reflect on the situation. Name the feeling that you are experiencing and notice where you feel it in your body. Determine if this feeling comes up a lot for you during an argument with your partner and what you might need. Sit with the feeling and allow it to be until it no longer feels as strong. Once you both feel calmer, you may be ready to talk about the fight.

3. Use I Statements

To repair your relationship after an argument you need to be able to communicate effectively. Use I statements to begin the discussion. I statements are about what happened for you, rather than what you think happened for the other person. These statements start with I, such as I think, I feel, I believe, rather than starting with you. This way your partner doesn’t feel as though you are blaming them or making assumptions about what occurred for them. When you explain things from your own perspective, your partner is less likely to get defensive, and more likely to listen.

4. Actively Listen

Active listening refers to listening in order to really understand your partner. This includes noticing nonverbal cues as well. It is important to put down your phone, turn off the television, and make sure there are no other distractions. Make eye contact and give your partner your undivided attention. Do not interrupt your partner unless you are trying to further your understanding. The focus should be on really understanding your partner’s point of view, not on what you want to say. Summarizing what you hear your partner say lets them know that you were really paying attention to them.

5. Take A Break If Needed

Even if you are using I statements and actively listening, it is still possible for the discussion to turn into a heated argument. If this starts to happen, let your partner know that you need to take a break. Tell your partner when you want to come back together and try again. Make sure you come back at the agreed upon time. Use this time to calm yourself down and feel your feelings. Think about what you might need so you can listen to your partner and share your needs. There is nothing wrong with taking a break if you really need it, but using this tactic too often can interfere with the ability to repair effectively.

6. Apologize And Reconnect

An effective apology can go a long way towards repairing your relationship. In order for an apology to be effective, you need to state what you did to make sure you are on the same page. Then let your partner know how you think that impacted them. Finally, you need to state the steps you plan to take to make it less likely to continue to happen in the future. To reconnect after the apology, you want to let your partner know that you are on the same side. This can be a touch, a hug, a smile, an inside joke, or anything else that helps you feel connected. By apologizing and reconnecting, you both get closure.

7. Make A Plan For The Future

By using what you learned during this process, you can now make a plan going forward to help you navigate future disagreements more effectively. Consider what you learned about yourself and your partner. Discuss the needs that you each had that were not being met. Come up with a way that you can do things differently in the future so these needs are addressed. Make the necessary changes to work on the parts of your relationship that need strengthening.

The next time you and your partner have a fight, try the above tips to help repair and strengthen your relationship. If your arguments start getting out of hand, or you are unable to effectively repair your connection following a disagreement, couples counseling can help. By focusing on repairing your relationship after a fight, you can keep your relationship healthy and strong. 

6 Tips To Manage Perfectionism

6 Tips To Manage Perfectionism

While many think that perfectionism is something to strive for, being a perfectionist can have a negative impact on your self-view and emotional well-being. As a perfectionist, you might be very self-critical when you fail to meet the high standards and often unattainable goals that you consistently set for yourself. Since your self-esteem is mainly based on what you achieve, failing to accomplish your unrealistic goals can lead to a constant state of disappointment, anxiety, depression, and feelings of unworthiness. If perfectionism is taking a toll on your mental health, there are some things that you can do to help.

What Is Perfectionism

Perfectionism, or the need to appear to be perfect or flawless in one or more areas, and believing that being perfect is possible, is a trait that many think of as positive. However, perfectionists can set unrealistically high standards that are impossible to achieve, leading to feelings of inadequacy and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The fear of failure can lead to negative self-judgment and can keep perfectionists from beginning, or completing tasks at times. Self-esteem is often derived from achievements and the approval of others, rather than from within. Perfectionists can be highly critical of themselves and others and often engage in black-or-white thinking. They may experience little satisfaction, a lot of disappointment, and may feel as if they will never be good enough. Below are 6 tips to manage perfectionism.

1. Strive For Good Enough

Instead of trying to be perfect, try to be good enough. The concept of being good enough refers to knowing when putting more effort into something is unlikely to improve it. This way, you aim to do the best that you can do, instead of trying to do the best that you believe might be possible. Doing this sets up more realistic expectations that can actually be achieved. It does not mean not trying, or settling for mediocrity. Mainly it is about knowing when enough is enough, instead of trying to reach unrealistic standards. You will be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to finish what you start, when you are striving to be good enough. 

2. Practice Self-Compassion

When you practice self-compassion, you are able to relate to yourself in a kind, understanding and caring way. Perfectionists often focus on what is lacking and how they are not measuring up. If you are kind and gentle with yourself instead, you can start to notice what is going well and the gifts you have. To practice self-compassion, you need to notice your negative self-talk and how you can change it to something that is accurate, but kind. Stop judging yourself so harshly. Begin and end your day by writing down a few things that you did right and are proud of. Talk to yourself the way you talk to someone that you deeply care for. This way you can start to appreciate your strengths.

3. Forgive Yourself

Practicing self-forgiveness can also help with perfectionism. Achieving perfection is an impossible task. In order to even come close, you will probably struggle to meet the high standards that you have set. You can choose to beat yourself up for this, or you can practice self-forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for not being perfect is a way to let go of the need to punish yourself or ruminate on your shortcomings. Self-forgiveness helps you put these things behind you so you can learn, adjust, and move forward. This way the focus can be on new possibilities, not on past shortcomings.

4. Challenge Your Thoughts

If you struggle with perfectionism, negative thoughts can become problematic. The thought of failure can stop you from even trying. There can be a lot of negative thoughts about not measuring up or being enough. These thoughts can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression that can impact your behavior. When these negative thoughts come up, it is important to recognize them and challenge their accuracy. Consider another way to think about it that is more compassionate, and change your negative self-talk.

5. Focus On The Lessons

A perfectionist has a hard time with mistakes. Instead of viewing mistakes as learning opportunities, you might see them as a character flaw. This can make it difficult to learn valuable lessons that can lead to improvement. When you are able to look for the lessons when things don’t go perfectly, you can let go of some of the negative self-judgment. This way, you start to look at what you are gaining, not what you are lacking.

6. Celebrate Achievements

As a perfectionist, it can be hard to take pride in your accomplishments. You notice all of your imperfections and what isn’t going well, instead of celebrating what you have achieved. This can cause your achievements to seem meaningless as your expectations are so high. You naturally look for the things that need fixing and forget to acknowledge your successes. Celebrating your achievements may seem frivolous and unnecessary. However, it can actually be highly motivating and encouraging. Taking the time to appreciate your accomplishments enables you to give yourself the praise that you ordinarily try to get from others, which can improve your self-esteem.

If you struggle with perfectionism that is having a negative impact on your mental health, try the above tips. Counseling can help perfectionism that continues to be problematic. When you set more realistic goals and try your best, you can improve your self-esteem and emotional well-being.

OCD And Trauma

OCD And Trauma

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can have a negative impact on a person’s emotional well-being and ability to function effectively. It can be especially difficult to manage when OCD develops as a result of trauma. There is a link between trauma and OCD. It can be hard to treat when symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also occur. It is important to also address symptoms of PTSD, when a traumatic experience leads to OCD.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by both obsessive thoughts or sensations and compulsive actions. Those experiencing OCD have distressing thoughts that cause them to engage in repetitive behaviors to decrease anxiety related to obsessions. Although anyone can experience distressing thoughts at times, those with OCD have persistent thoughts requiring strict behaviors to manage them. If they are unable to perform these behaviors, they become very distressed. The repetitive behaviors are very time consuming, taking up at least an hour of their day. OCD can cause significant impairment in functioning in one or more areas of life.

Obsessions

Although many with OCD recognize that their obsessions are unrealistic, it’s not enough to stop them from engaging in compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, sensations, images, or ideas that lead to fear, anger, disgust, and other distressing emotions. Fears related to something happening to a loved one, images of a distressing event, or thoughts of harming a child can cause a great deal of anxiety. In fact, the obsessions can become overwhelming.

Compulsions

In order to relieve the overwhelming anxiety, a ritual must be performed. Compulsions are behaviors that a person feels compelled to do in order to alleviate the anxiety created by the obsession. These compulsions can be related to the obsession, or completely unrelated. Compulsions such as repeatedly checking things, constantly washing hands or cleaning, or repetitively counting to a certain number, can significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life.

OCD And Trauma

Trauma refers to any distressing event that overwhelms someone’s capacity to cope effectively. While not everyone that experiences trauma will develop OCD, research shows a link between trauma and OCD, especially childhood trauma. This can include a single event, like being the victim of a violent crime, or more complex trauma, such as repeated sexual abuse. Childhood trauma can lead to obsessive thoughts and compulsions and a diagnosis of OCD.

PTSD And OCD

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and OCD can co-occur at a very high rate. This has caused some to suggest that these disorders are on the same continuum. The obsessive thoughts associated with both can lead to hypervigilance and compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are to help manage the thoughts, flashbacks, and anxiety common in these disorders. For instance, if someone was involved in a house fire, it would be normal for them to want to check their home for possible fire hazards for a period of time afterwards. However, if this behavior continues after several months, becomes compulsive and interferes with their ability to leave the house, or fall asleep, they may have developed PTSD and OCD. 

Treatments

Treatments for PTSD include trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), brainspotting, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In TF-CBT you learn about the trauma and create a narrative to process the trauma. While doing this, you use techniques to help calm down the central nervous system. EMDR and brainspotting enable you to access stored traumatic memories. Accessing these memories enables you to reprocess them through the use of certain tools and bilateral stimulation. The most common treatment for OCD is exposure and response therapy. In this therapy, you are exposed to the stimulus that causes anxiety without being able to engage in the compulsions. It is important to treat both PTSD and OCD. Treating only one can lead to an increase of symptoms in the other.

If you have experienced a trauma and are having symptoms of both PTSD and OCD, individual counseling can help. Make sure whoever you work with has experience treating both disorders. With proper help, you can learn to manage the symptoms of trauma related OCD and PTSD. Then they will no longer have a negative impact on your emotional well-being.

6 Tips To Stop Being A People-Pleaser

6 Tips To Stop Being A People-Pleaser

Although being a people-pleaser might not seem like a bad thing, it can actually cause a lot of problems. People-pleasers like to feel needed, but can easily end up feeling used and taken advantage of. If you are a people-pleaser, you most likely neglect your own needs in order to meet the needs of others, no matter the cost. People-pleasing can cause both physical and mental health issues. In order to protect your health, you need to stop being a people-pleaser. Below are 6 tips to help you stop being a people-pleaser.

What Is A People-Pleaser

A people-pleaser is someone who has a need to please others. They often do things for others at the expense of their own needs. People-pleasers are very kind and helpful and they are always willing to lend a hand. However, they can feel as though they have to do everything that is asked of them in order to be loved and accepted. They can have a hard time saying no. People-pleasers do not like anyone being angry with them and try to avoid conflict at all costs. They feel responsible for the emotions of others and tend to over apologize. They may anticipate and try to meet the needs of someone before being asked. People-pleasers can believe it is their responsibility to make other people happy.

Why Is Being A People-Pleaser A Problem

People-pleasers can be so busy taking care of everyone else, that they forget to take care of themselves. They can identify so strongly with caregiving and agreeing with others that they can lose sight of their own needs, values, and beliefs. Their kindness, willingness to help, and difficulty saying no, can lead to other people taking advantage of them. People-pleasers can become overworked and overburdened, which can lead to them harboring resentment towards those they are helping. The desire to avoid conflict can cause them to accept bad behavior from others. Putting aside their own needs can cause them to believe their needs aren’t important. If you identify with the above, there are things you can do to stop being a people-pleaser.

1. Learn To Say No

People-pleasers have trouble saying no. When you always say yes, you can become easily become overwhelmed. It will be hard to take pleasure in the things you do if you are doing too much. This can lead to feeling anxious and building resentment against the people you are helping. Saying no some of the time can keep this from happening. You don’t need to give a lengthy explanation as to why you are saying no. Keep it short and matter of fact. Start by saying no to small requests. Try not to volunteer your time, energy, and help automatically. If you have two people ask you for something, say yes to only one of the requests. Saying no to some of the things that you really don’t want to do enables you to devote your all to the things that are important to you. When you are able to say no, your yeses become more meaningful as well.

2. Delay Your Response

Although saying no is very important, it can also be quite difficult. If you have trouble saying no to the things you don’t want to do, you can delay your response. You could say something like, let me check my schedule and I will get back to you with an answer tomorrow. Delaying your response gives you time to make a more informed decision. You can then carefully consider if the request is something you really want to do, and if it is worth your time and effort. By delaying your response, you can stop your automatic yes response until you have had time to really think about what you are committing to.

3. Establish Healthy Boundaries

Establishing clear, healthy boundaries can keep you from feeling used by others. When you have healthy boundaries with both yourself and others, you will feel stronger as an individual, and your relationships will strengthen. People-pleasers often put the needs of others before their own, which can cause them to feel a lot of resentment. When healthy boundaries are established, you will be less likely to build resentment. For instance, if your friend always calls you to talk about her problems at dinner time, and your dinner gets cold, you might harbor resentment about this. Instead, you could establish a boundary. You can let her know that you won’t be answering the phone at dinner time and will only be able to talk to her after you are done eating. Once you establish a boundary, you need to make sure you abide by it as well.

4. Practice Empathic Assertion

Since it can be hard for a people-pleaser to say no without trying to justify it, practicing empathic assertion might be helpful. Assertiveness refers to standing up for yourself and what you need in a calm, positive way. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings from their point of view. When you put the two together, you can respond in a way that acknowledges the other person’s situation or feelings, followed by a statement in which you stand up for yourself and what you need. If a friend asks you to come early to help with a party they are hosting at the last minute, you can respond with empathic assertion. You could say, I understand this party is important to you. However, I made other plans and I can’t come over early. This might be an easier response to give to your close friends and family members since it is a lot softer than simply saying no.

5. Know Yourself

It is easy for people-pleasers to be very aware of the needs and wants of others. However, it can be difficult to know your own wants and needs. In order to know what is important to you and what you want and need, you need to know yourself. Spend time alone with yourself daily and figure out your likes and dislikes. Listen to your inner voice and figure out why you are really doing something for someone else. If it is just so they will like you, or because you don’t want them to be upset, maybe you should say no. When you are clear about what you want, you can start saying yes to yourself and meeting your own needs instead of worrying about everyone else.

6. Practice Self-Care

Once you know yourself and your needs, you can start practicing self-care. Self-care is about giving yourself the things that help you feel refreshed, calm, and energized so you can thrive. This includes eating healthy meals, exercising, engaging in activities that you enjoy, and spending time with friends and family. It can also include meditation, mindfulness, practicing gratitude, getting your hair and nails done, and taking a relaxing bath. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, when you take good care of yourself, you have more to give to others.

To start focusing on your own needs and stop being a people-pleaser, try these tips. If people-pleasing is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being, therapy can help. When you stop trying to please everyone else, you will have the time and energy to care for yourself and do the things that bring you joy.

Being An Empath: The Benefits

Being An Empath: The Benefits

Being an empath can be challenging at times. Your high sensitivity can feel more like a burden, than an asset. However, being an empath is not necessarily a negative thing. There are many positives to being an empath as well. Below are 10 benefits of being an empath.

Empaths

Empaths readily notice and tune into the emotions of others. You see the pain and suffering of everyone around you. It is probably easy for you to absorb the feelings of others as well. You are highly attuned to your surroundings and everyone in it. Empaths are very aware of subtle changes and can easily become overstimulated by sounds, smells, noises, and crowds. While having so much empathy can be difficult at times, there are also a number of benefits associated with being an empath.

1. Good Intuition

As an empath, you are very intuitive. When you absorb the emotions of others, you rely on your own gut feelings and intuition to make sense of everything. This enables you to notice subtle changes in body language, facial expression, and tone. You easily pick up on discrepancies in what is being communicated. Because of this, you will be able to tell when others are being dishonest. It won’t be easy for anyone to lie to you. If someone tells you nothing is wrong, it will be easy for you to tell if this is accurate or not.

2. Creative

Empaths are very creative. Since you pick up so much from your environment, a creative outlet provides a way to express it. You put a lot of emotion and energy into everything you create. Your creative efforts often move others because of this. Therefore, you can be quite successful in any field that requires creativity. This includes working as a writer, artist, dancer, actor, or chef among others. If you don’t work in a creative field, you will benefit from a hobby where you can use your creativity.

3. Helpful

It is natural for empaths to want to help others. This is not limited to friends and family. You may also go out of your way to help a stranger. Because you are so good at understanding what others are experiencing, you often know what type of help will be most effective.  Your trusting nature and kindness draw others to you, especially those in need. People turn to you for your sound advice and excellent listening skills. Helping others helps you feel good, as you are flooded with positive emotions that reinforce your helpfulness.

4. Compassionate

Empaths are very compassionate and understanding. It is easy for you to show kindness to others and to champion the underdog. You truly love being in nature, young children, and animals. They are naturally drawn to you as well. Seeing others in distress causes a great deal of discomfort. Your compassion knows no bounds. You feel a strong desire to comfort anyone that is suffering, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

5. Awareness

Because you are so attuned to your environment as an empath, you are very aware of any changes that occur. This can help you avoid uncomfortable, or even dangerous situations. The energy of a place is noticed immediately and deeply felt. When the vibe in the room is positive, it enlivens your mood and makes you feel great. Likewise, you also notice when something is off with someone you are close to. Because you are so aware, you can provide others with a safe space to share, and you usually know just what they need as well.

6. Healing Energy

Empaths have a very healing energy. Others are often soothed simply by being in your presence. Feeling someone else’s pain gives you a stronger insight into what they need most. When you understand another’s pain, you can also understand what might help them. The ability that empaths have to really hear and understand someone can be quite healing on its own.

7. Feel Others Emotions

As an empath, you not only notice the emotions of other people, but you are actually able to feel them. This enables you to understand others on a deeper level. If you are with someone who is excited, you can experience the excitement as well. When you are with someone who is positive and joyful, you can experience these wonderful feelings as strongly as if they were your own. This can cause you to feel amazing.

8. Experience Feelings Deeply

Along with experiencing other people’s feelings strongly as an empath, your own emotions are deeply felt as well. If you are feeling some harder emotions such as sadness, or fear, you are able to process them quicker because you allow yourself to feel them so deeply. When you are feeling more positive emotions, you are able to fully feel them as well. This allows you to relive the enjoyable experience that created the wonderful feelings, so you feel the feelings all over again.

9. Meaningful Relationships

Empaths do not enjoy superficial relationships. Therefore, an empath usually has very deep and meaningful relationships. This is true of friendships as well as romantic relationships. Since an empath is naturally understanding and compassionate, you find it easier to forgive others. This can help improve the quality and duration of your relationships. You are always there with support when anyone close to you is suffering. 

10. Enjoy Alone Time

Alone time is very important to empaths. You need alone time to process your feelings and to differentiate your emotions from the emotions of others. Alone time gives you a chance to decompress and daydream. Since you rely so much on your intuition, and you possess a strong imagination, alone time helps you strengthen both. When you engage in time alone, you are able to recharge your batteries so you are not as overwhelmed by overstimulation.

While being an empath can have it’s challenges, there are also many benefits. If you are struggling with some of the challenges of being an empath, individual counseling can help. By focusing on the benefits of being an empath, you can enhance your overall emotional well-being.

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