This isn't one of those stock Thanksgiving blogicles where I waste 500 words tossing around washed-up phrases about how "gratitude is an attitude." It's much worse than that. I'm going to try to challenge your notion of gratitude altogether. I said early on in my HealthyPlace journey that I wasn't going to try to convince anyone of anything, but we all knew I was lying. So let me be explicit about this: I want you to leave this post believing that gratitude isn't just for the things in your life that are working. I want you to walk away feeling grateful for the challenges in your life that aren't.
I'm writing this just a few minutes removed from a morning run, which I hated almost every second. I'm not like the runners you see in the movies who gracefully jog with their camera-ready smiles; my face is usually fixed in a mask of focused despair, disguising not at all how distasteful I find the whole situation. This run was no different—my feet hurt, my heart pounded quicker than it wanted to, and my respiration struggled to keep pace. In short, the run absolutely, unmistakably, irrevocably sucked. It was exactly what I'd hoped for. I was hoping to increase my distress tolerance.
Death is coming for us all. I don't mean that to be threatening; I mean it to be relieving. Encouraging. Enlightening.
It's critical we understand our most important tool. I'm talking about your brain, of course, the very organ that mental wellbeing—and its antithesis, mental illness—originate from. Now, plenty of ink more knowledgeable than mine has been spilled on this subject; a quick Google search will tell you almost anything you want to know about the flesh wad in your head. What I want to do today isn't give you a lesson that Wikipedia could deliver better. Instead, I want to offer you a perspective you'd be hard-pressed to find amidst the citations. I want to help you understand your brain.
This year has been pretty overwhelming for most of us, so we need some self-care hacks to cope. In addition to the general stress of 2020, we are now approaching a season that often brings pain and grief to the forefront. With this in mind, I want to share some of my favorite skills for self-care during challenging times.
Dealing with COVID-19 as a therapist is dual-fold. We must comfort our clients, but we must also deal with the stress of the pandemic for ourselves and families just like everyone else.
Do you find yourself often feeling defensive? Perhaps you have relationships with others who seem to get defensive easily. Responding to another person with defensiveness is never the most effective way to solve a relational conflict, but many of us tend to jump into a defensive stance without thinking much about it.
When asking whether suicidal thoughts are normal, we must first define what normal means to us. I think many people use the word "normal" when they mean "common." Alternatively, we might use the word "normal" when questioning if something is problematic. This definition shifts the question. Are suicidal thoughts common? Are they always problematic? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
People who have strange dreams can worry that strange dreams and mental health are related, when in fact they may not be. Strange dreams happen for neurotypical people as well as those with mental illness, and these dreams often mean nothing at all.
Negative emotions are a part of life, but why are they important? Nobody wants to feel sad, lonely, angry, anxious, worried, or fearful. Often, people don't understand the purpose of emotions they perceive as bad, and they want to get back to feeling good. The problem with labeling our emotions as "good" or "bad" is that we may assume our negative emotions do not serve a purpose, are purely unhelpful, and should be avoided at all costs. The truth is, our negative emotions have positive life lessons for us if we know how to attune to them properly.