Covid-19 Anxiety.

Posted: 3/19/20
Posted by: Kate

When the news of Covid-19 started becoming more prominent in the media I didn’t really think much of it.  I don’t watch or read a lot of news mainly because of its negativity and makes me anxious.  So I didn’t focus a lot on it.

Now, of course, it is impossible to avoid hearing about it.  It is everywhere.  My anxiety is almost uncontrollable.  I am constantly on the verge of a panic state and have to really try hard to keep myself grounded.   I know there are others in a similar situation.

What I am doing to help is really focusing on my self-care.

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One major thing that helps me is routine.  I exercise every day; I do the same twenty-five-minute workout every morning.  For me, having something that happens every day helps me feel better and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I also try to plan out things to do throughout the days; such as baking, painting, or writing this post.  Do these help me all the time?  No.  But it helps keep my mind focused or distracted from what is going on.  In that aspect, it helps most of the time.  Having some sort of routine is a large part of my self-care.

In the times that routine doesn’t help me.  I do other self-care tactics.  Like taking a bath, walking, or painting (one of my jobs).  I find these to be very relaxing and can help me stay grounded.  The graphic above, authored by Lindsay Braman, provides some good ideas to try if you feel you need more of your own self-care practices.

Another is avoidance.  I don’t just mean social distancing from others.  I mean I avoid reading or watching news reports that are not from legitimate news organizations. I say this because, for me, if I read everything that is posted my mind will start falling down the doomsday blackhole.  Any ‘non-legitimate’ news I read about Covid-19 is concerning mental health, such as this article on healthline.com, that helps keep me informed on good mental health practices.  I have been doing this a lot in order to assist myself in practicing good self-care but also so I can help others who may be struggling with anxiety for the first time.

I cannot stress enough how important mental health is at this time.  Individuals who have or don’t have a diagnosed mental health illness are struggling with some.  The Center For Disease Control even provides information on how to manage stress and anxiety during times such as these.  On their website, they even provide information on ways to cope during this ‘disaster’ as they say.

Please make sure that you are not only taking the steps to care of your health but also your mental health.  Don’t be scare or ashamed to reach out for help if needed.

How Kevin Richardson Taught Us All About Self Care Before It Was Cool

We thought this was a great article, by What Happens On The Backstreet Website, about self-care and how it can help you. Quitting something sometimes can be great medicine for the future.

What Happens On The Backstreet

The year was 2006. It was the beginning of summer, shortly after the end of the Never Gone tour. All we had, as fans, were a few message boards online and MTV (or Much Music, depending on where you lived).

And Kevin Richardson left the Backstreet Boys.

In a statement, Kevin said that he wanted to “move on to the next chapter” and that there was nothing but love for his “little brothers” as they chose to continue on with the Backstreet Boys and their music. The remaining four, in turn, stated that Kevin wouldn’t be replaced and that the door was always open for his return.

To say we were heartbroken would be an understatement. We were kids, some of who idolized Kevin, but we all collectively could not imagine the Backstreet Boys without him. How could he do this, we thought. How could he leave us? How…

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Godsmack: Under Your Scars.

Posted by Kate.

As some may or may not know the band Godsmack came out with a song, on their latest album When Legends Rise, called Under Your Scars.  The song is dedicated to anyone struggling with mental health and promotes that ‘…scars come in all forms…'(Godsmack, Scards Foundation).  You can check the song out:

This has been a year of new things for Godsmack.  They released that album, a couple of singles, and have a new world tour going on.  They have also become mental health advocates and also started The Scars Foundation dedicated to helping mental health organizations reach their goals.

The music industry has suffered many losses over the years from struggles with mental health.  The discussion of mental health has increased which, hopefully, is helping to lessen the stigma around these struggles.  Many celebrities have used their platforms to share their stories regarding mental health struggles and to help spread awareness.  Godsmack has been very successful in doing this.

Today the band announced that their single Under Your Scars reached 10Million views on youtube today!  That is amazing and shows the awareness around mental health is growing.  The band thanked everyone in an Instagram video:

A big congratulations to Godsmack on this accomplishment.  Also, thank you for your dedication to raising awareness and advocating for Mental Health.  This is a tremendous victory for mental health awareness.

Mental Health America: Back to School Toolkit.

Image result for back to school mental health america
Copyright Mental Health America

Mental Health America recently tweeted out that they have their Back To School Tool Kit posted for download.  Just in time for young adults going back to school.  School can be a difficult adjustment for anyone; as we all have experienced in our lives.

The tool kit includes information on understanding trauma; recognizing psychosis, depression, anxiety; and preventing suicide.  Even if you are not an educator these tools can assist anyone in helping those young adults in your life.

You can get all the information on their website: Mental Health America: Back to School.

Work Stress and Depression.

Posted: 2/7/19
Posted by: Kate

Have you ever felt so stressed out that you say to yourself “I can’t do this anymore?”  You’re so stressed that you escape to the bathroom or lockeroom at work and just hideout for long periods of time?  You get panicky and have to take deep breaths or call someone to help you calm down?

This was me a year ago.  Honestly, I feel like this is many people around the world.  A lot of us just try to deal with it or use up all of our time off to avoid the work hustle (I know I did).  But what do you do when it gets so bad that the stress becomes depression?  You start having negative thoughts?

7194282e2ca88d14e2fac62f072235abFor me, I had to quit my job.  I found a position with another department to try to remedy the situation.  My therapist at the time thought that and environment change would be benficial.  For a month or two it did help me; but the stress and depression never really subsided.  The change never ‘cured’ me but it also didn’t releave the triggers that were around.  After a year of ‘toughing it out’  I ended quiting that work place too.

It was the best thing I ever did.  I put myself first instead of putting my career first.

I read a blog post on the website The AWE Group about a person who went through a similar situation.  This person ended up taking a hiatis from her career to focus on his or her mental health.  He or She found it be extremely beneficial for both mental health and career, for a bit.  Similar to what I was going through, all of the feelings start to return again.

My depression got to the point that I wished something bad would happen to me.  I would hope that I got into a car accident, that I would break a leg, or get admitted into the hospital.  I wanted anything to happen to me so that I didn’t have to go in to work and deal with what was going on.

So is it beneficial to take a leave?  To quit altogether?  I guess, it depends on the person.  Starting over can a trigger for some.  Staying put can also be a trigger.  I think one just has to make sure to put themselves first.  Make sure the self-care is a first priority;  if you need a break then take it,  if you need to leave then leave.  All that matters is putting oneself first.

Disturbed Frontman David Draiman Interviewed on Mental Health & Addiction.

Published by: Kate

I was parusing facebook a few days ago and I saw a post from the band Disturbed.  I have always been a fan of theirs since The Sickness came out around the same time as Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory album; around 2000.  The post was an interview done with Distburbed’s frontman David Draiman for Consequence of Sound.

I reccomend checking out the video (here) of the interview.  David has always been an advocate for mental health and addiction awareness.  He posts some really good ideas and comments on the subject.

In it he discusses mental health and addiction.  He also shares some memories about Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington; who succumb to his depresstion in July of 2017.  The reason for this discussion is because Distbured has a song out A Reason To Fight, off of their new album Evolution, that is about struggling with addiction and depression.  Check it out yourself:

 

Anxiety While On Vacation: How Can You Manage Anxiety On Recreational Trips.

Published by Kate

Have you ever gotten stressed while taking a vacation?  The large crowds get to you or you are unable to relax?  Do you feel like you are doing too much in a short amount of time?  You just feel overwhelemed?

This happened to me recently.

My husband and I typically go on small–three to four day–vacations.  We usually go to the same place; our little peice of heaven.  Every so often we do a larger week long vacation.  This year it was to the west coast.

The first few days were packed.  We had museums planned, shows planned, everyday there several places to go.  This can be stressful, always being on the go, but is manageable as long as you have an outlet to release the stress.  That is to say, self-care is extremely important when you are on vacation.

The hotel we were staying at for the first leg of our west coast adventure didn’t have a bath tub.  I know this seems like a silly thing but for me taking a bath is how I relax.  Baths are essential to my self-care routine; so I lacked an outlet to maintain my anxiety. This made me more vulnerable to have the anxiety/stress attack that I had.

What I should have done was had alternative self-care options planned.

How do you practice self-care while on vacation?

Firstly, you’re on vacation so it is ok to be selfish on occasion.  Do something for yourself; something that you want to do.  It is your vacation as well;  so you don’t have to please everyone or sacrifice your mental health.

The website Health Nut Nomad states, in their article 9 Ways to Practice Self-Care While Traveling, that “Sometimes a breath of fresh air, away from people (especially if you’re traveling in a big group) is just what the doctor ordered” (Amanda Zetah, Health Nut Nomad, 2017).  Whether you take an entire day or just an hour some time to yourself can be extremely helpful.  How do you do this?

Well you could always do the bath method that I do.  Hotels can have some of the nicest bathtubs around; jaquizzis, large soaker tubs, or just regular tubs a nice hot bath really relaxes me.  I try to take an hour to myself every other day or so when I am traveling.  I fill up a tub and stream a movie.  The warm water helps relax my muscles and focusing on a movie really gets my mind off of things.

But what if that is not available or an option?

I went onto Instagram and asked people what they like to do.  I got some really good ideas from people.

Meditation was mentioned by one person.  Meditation is a great way to destress ones mind and body.  If you are unfamiliar with meditation the website How To Meditate provides some great incite into meditation. But when your on vacation where can you meditate?

The great thing about meditation is you can do it pretty much anywhere.  Your hotel room, the bathroom, or by a nice pond; pick a place that you find relaxing.  You can look up places online before your trip.  In my opinion the breathing aspects to meditation is great for anxiety; it has helped me prevent several attacks.

When researching this topic I found this blog called Breathe Travel; it has an article on the Eight Best Places To Practice Meditation.  It has some great resources for women while traveling.

Reading was another suggestion I recieved via social media.  Accodring to the website Bustle, “studies have shown to lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension quickly and effectively.”  The term for this is bibliotheraphy and it is a concept named by Presbyterian minister Samuel M. Crothers in 1916 (PsychCentral.com, Why Novel Reading Reduces Anxiety, 2018).

When your reading your mind is concentrating on something other than what has caused you to be anxious.  It allows your mind to escape so your “brain is able to experience and empathize with the words, which helps you identify and express what’s happening inside of you” (Exploring Your Mind, Reading Can Combat Anxiety and Depression, November 13, 2016).  According to study, quoted in the article Why Novel Reading Reduces Anxiety on the website PsychCentral.com, conducted at Emory University:

“…has shown that novel reading enhances connectivity in the brain as well as improving brain function…The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist…the neural changes weren’t just immediate reactions, but persisted the mornings after the readings as well as for five days after participants completed the novel” (Carol Clark & Gregory Berns, Emory University eScienceCommons Blog, December 17, 2013).

Whether you are reading a comic book, a novel, or a magazine it appears that reading can really help anxiety.  So it isn’t suprising that many people are seen reading on airplanes or at the airport.

Physical Fitness.  This is one of my ‘go to’s’ when it comes to managing my anxiety and depression.  It is super hard to get motivated to go the gym at whatever hotel you are staying at.  That doesn’t mean you can’t get some endorphins running throughout your body.  If your feeling stressed go for a walk; take a stroll through the area your vacationing at and let the sun hit your skin.

You can even stream some yoga on youtube and stretch it out in your hotel room.   If your not into yoga there are plenty of other workouts you can find on youtube or other streaming services.  If your not int he streaming mood you can always do a lap in the hotel pool.

The most important thing about traveling is making sure you take some time for yourself.

Regardless of whether your on vacation or a buisness trip you need to carve out sometime for you.  This will help to lessen your anxiety and allow you to have a good time.  Practicing self-care while one is away can be tricky but it is not impossible.  What I discussed are just some of many other options that can be available.

If you can do some research on places that accomodate your typical self-care practices.  The internet is a great tool for finding places so it shouldn’t take up too much time to find places or things to help you with your self-care techniques.  So when you are packing your clothes, camera, phone charger, and toothbrush make sure you include some ways for self-care.

What is Cognitive Distortion?

Published By: Kate

Have you ever had a negative thought?  A thought that you weren’t good enough?  That no matter how hard you try it doesn’t matter?  Those are negative thoughts and that is cognitive distortion.

Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. (Grohol, John M. 15 Common Cognitive Distortions, PsychCentral.com, 2018).

Sometimes you may not even know that your mind is doing this.  Particularly if this type of thinking has been going on for a prolonged period of time.

There are several different variations to Cognitive Distortions.  Most of the resources I located list ten aspects that are considered common:

  1. Dichotomous Thinking (All Or Nothing).
    1. This type of thinking leaves no room for compromise or middle ground.  Everything is either black or white.  If something isn’t perfect it is deemed a total failure. (Inner Space Team, Cognitive Distortion: Reeling You In, March 31, 2017).
  2. Catastrophizing or Magnifying.
    1. Have you ever thought the worst-case scenario about a situation? Or have you ever blown something out of proportion?  Made something seem more serious than it really was?  That is what Catastrophizing or Magnifying is according to Psych in 60 Seconds.
    2. The opposite of this is Minimizing which is also an aspect of Cognitive Distortion.
  3. Blaming or Personalization.
    1. The website, Everyday Health lists Blaming as blaming “…yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for or you blame other people and overlook ways that you contributed to the problem.”
    2. Having a one-sided perspective on a situation.  That is to say, you fail to look at a tense relationship from both sides (Dr. Alice Boyes, Psychology Today, 2018).
  4. Fortune Telling and Mindreading (Jumping to Conclusions).
    1. With this type of thinking it is believed that emotions about a person or situation are, in fact, the reality of the event (Inner Space Team, Cognitive Distortion: Reeling You In, March 31, 2017).
  5. Should Statements.
    1. Criticism of oneself or others.  Often the terms “should have” or “could have” are used. (Everyday Health, 10 Cognitive Distortions, 2016).
  6. Mental Filtering/Filtering/Selective Abstraction.
    1.  An individual with this thinking pattern tends to selectively pay attention only to the negatives in an event, person or situation and dwells on those instead of considering the positives too and looking at the larger picture. This may also be seen where one detail or aspect of a situation is emphasized leaving the other aspects blurred and in the background (Inner Space Team, Cognitive Distortion: Reeling You In, March 31, 2017).

  7. Overgeneralization & Perfectionism.
    1. Everything has to be perfect in all aspects of life.  Any negative event or situation is a never-ending pattern of defeat (Everyday Health, 10 Cognitive Distortions, 2016).
  8. Emotional Reasoning.
    1. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly.” Or “I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person.” Or “I feel angry. This proves I’m being treated unfairly.” Or “I feel so inferior. This means I’m a second-rate person.” Or “I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless.” (The Pennsylvania Child Wealthfare Resource Center, Managing the Impact of Traumatic Stress on the Child Welfare Professional).

  9. Discounting the Positives.
    1. Similar to minimizing anything good in an event isn’t given a high priority (Inner Space Team, Cognitive Distortion: Reeling You In, March 31, 2017).
    2. According to a Pennsylvania Child Welfare handout, called Managing the Impact of Traumatic Stress on the Child Welfare Professional, discounting the positives positive experiences are rejected because the subject can or will insist that “don’t count’
  10. Labeling Or Cognitive Labeling.
    1. Psychology Today indicates that labeling is putting a ‘label’ or judgment on someone without any evidence or information to support this opinion.
    2. This can also be done to oneself.  An example of this on the Everyday Health website indicates that “Instead of saying, ‘I made a mistake,’ you tell yourself, ‘I’m a jerk’ or ‘I’m a loser’.”

While reading this I bet you thought to yourself “Yup I totally do that” or “I know someone who does this!”  You would be correct to have those thoughts.  I know several people who have conducted one or several of these characteristics of Cognitive Distortion–I, myself, have several of these traits in my personality–but this does not mean that every person has a diagnosed mental health illness.

There is some more in-depth analysis that would be required to diagnose a single thought as full-on Cognitive Distortion.  Personally, I believe, that every person has some sort of negative thought at some point in their life that could fall into any one of these categories.  I would assume that it would require more persistent negative thoughts and thoughts that affect a person’s quality of life greatly that would be the basis for a diagnosable condition associated with cognitive distortion.

What mental illnesses are associated with cognitive distortion?

Would you be surprised if I said cognitive distortion is common amongst those who are suffering from depression?  I didn’t think you would be.  Depression is the most common mental illness that I was able to link with cognitive distortion (this is where I remind you that I am not a doctor nor a mental health professional) through my research.

Doctor Allan N. Schwartz indicated in his article titled Cognitive Distortion, also known as, regarding a study that was conducted at Ohio State University:

[What the] study showed was that depressed and non depressed people were equal in their ability to learn negative information. However, depressed people were far less capable of learning positive information. The study clearly showed that depressed people showed a bias against positive information. Everyone seems to remember negative events but those who are depressed have an easier time retaining the negative events.

Now depressed people can mean anyone who has experienced some sort of trauma.  For example: when a loved one passes away the family often goes through a depression or mourning because of the loved one’s death.  Another example would be when Katy Perry struggled with situational depression.  From what I gathered reading the sample of Dr. Schwartz article is that a person who is in a depressive mindstate will focus and remember all the negative attributes of an event (this thinking falls in an aspect of cognitive distortion, i.e. Discounting the Positive, Filtering, Minimizing, Catastrophizing).

Cognitive distortion can also be associated with anxiety and or stress.  Toni Bernhard J.D. discusses this topic in her article, How Distorted Thinking Increases Stress and Anxiety, published in Psychology Today.  In her article, Bernhard discusses how the book helped her cope with her own struggles; it also assisted her in identifying when her students had emotional struggles at UC Davis.  The best thing about this article is the suggestions that Bernhard includes for each item.  I found them interesting and may try them out if and when I identify myself thinking in one of these categories.

If anyone has a comment, idea, thought on cognitive distortion reach out to me! I would love to hear them!