Do you find yourself swarming in negative thoughts, wishing you could just stop them from coming? We are going to talk about that today. Negative thought patterns can become frequent when we allow unrealistic self-critical thoughts, when we make incorrect assumptions or when we are in denial of a reality. All of these can become an unhealthy habit that leads to issues coping with normal life.
What Causes Negative Thought Patterns?
While it is normal to each of us to experience negative thoughts, it is unhealthy when our viewpoint of existing defaults to a negative thought. Life will bring positive experiences as well as negative experiences and learning ways to cope with our circumstances goes a long way toward our perception of them. So many factors can affect why we tend to have negative thought patterns and those of us who experienced multiple life situations that promoted negative feelings and thoughts can truly struggle to not think the way we do. Below are a few examples that could have affected the way you process what you see and experience.
- Trauma During your Childhood or Life
- Untreated Anxiety, Depression or Mental Illness
- Influences in Your Life that Spoke Harshly or Critical
All of these examples deeply affect our wellbeing and can create lifelong issues in our wellbeing and in our relationships. Recognizing when you focus on negative outcomes more than actual or positive outcomes is important. There is help and ways to stop them. Have you been told that see the bad in everything and you want to be able to see the good? Hopefully this can help.
Examples of Negative Thought Patterns
It is completely normal for us to have thoughts that are negative. Or to expect that an outcome may not work well. However, when our thoughts automatically start with reasons something will not work, or begin to process worst possible outcome, we may suffer with negative thought patterns. The good thing is that there is help to change your thoughts. We don’t have to be riddled with constant nagging of failure in our minds. Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?
- “I am always alone and never with friends.”
- “It’s impossible for me to do this.”
- “Today was an ok day, but the evening will probably be horrible.”
- “She said I did a good job, she probably didn’t even read it.”
- “They probably look at me and think I am a loser.”
- “He seems mad. I must have done something.”
- “We are not allowed to do that. I must have messed something up.”
Seeing just the bad, jumping to conclusions, assuming you are at fault or making everything bad that happened to you about one single event in your life are a few ways we can recognize negative thought patterns. Do you find your thoughts to be similar with the above examples? Know that you are not alone. Recognizing an issue is always the first step in learning to manage or heal.
How Can I Stop Negative Thoughts?
While there is no quick fix to stop the thoughts we have, there are steps that we can take to, over time, change the way we think. It has taken your whole life of experiences to form this way of thinking and it will take time and effort to make lasting changes. Change is possible if you desire change and are willing to put intentional effort into it. Adding the suggestions below to your day-to-day life can help change the patterns of your thoughts.
- Practice Mindfulness. Be present in what you are doing right now in this moment. Do not think ahead or backwards. Just feel what you are doing right now. If you are washing dishes, feel the water and the warmth. Smell the dish soap. Feel the texture of the sponge or cloth. Be present.
- Journal. Begin to journal your thoughts. When you read them back, you may begin to see where the negative thoughts enter into your mind. Be sure to include and write thoughts about how you would like your thoughts to change. How would positive thoughts impact you and your relationships?
- Meditate. Add space in your life to meditate. The quiet and space of meditation provides breaks in our “normal” thoughts and open our minds to receive more positive.
- Gratitude. Create a habit of writing about the things you are grateful for. What things in your life do you appreciate? What do you appreciate about them?
- Give yourself some grace. Decide to accept who you are today. Keep the vision of healthier happier you in mind and take one step at a time to achieve that. We can’t make positive steps forward if we keep beating ourselves up where we are.
- Talk. Share your struggle with someone you trust. Confiding our thoughts to someone we trust and listening to what they see in us and love about us can be healing.
- Get out and get moving! Physical activity and being outdoors are so good for us. Our bodies were made to move and use its muscles. The outdoors with its abundance of beauty and oxygen is the perfect setup.
You can’t add all of these in your life at once, but you can add one then move to the next. Our lives progress one day at a time and so does our healing. You won’t see overnight success, but you can see glimpses of hope and change bit by bit. If you have struggled with your thoughts and tried to help yourself, but feel it is too big a task for you, we are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling helps people just like you every day to grow beyond today and closer to what you desire for yourself. Reach out to learn how we can help you.
Written by: Ashlee Cantrell
Through apps and sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, social media allows us to stay connected! Humans are naturally born with a social drive to communicate and connect with others, and this is especially true for young people. Connection is good for your well-being and your mental health, but is there such a thing as too much? With the recent pandemic, it seems that almost everything has become digitized including the social lives of teenagers. Because of this, the more social media a young person participates in, the more likely they are to experience a stimulating effect of addiction to social media. But don’t worry! Let’s look at some effects of social media and tips for avoiding these effects.
Effects of Social Media
Surprisingly enough, social media has quite a large effect on the brain, especially the teen brain. The teen brain is the second-largest period of growth for the brain, which means that it is one of the most important parts for building social skills, intelligence, and other skills. However, that also means that it is very susceptible to addiction during the teen years. What does that mean? It means that overuse of social media can sometimes cause the brain to rewire itself and develop a dependency on feeling like it constantly needs to be on social media or cannot be without it. How else can it affect the brain? Social media provides us with almost instant gratification every time; getting an immediate text back, being able to search for what we want when we want, laughing at TikTok videos all night, etc. Finding enjoyment from social media is a good thing, however, this becomes a problem when the brain becomes used to too much instant gratification for too long. This can sometimes lead to addiction because the brain’s reward system is releasing too many “feel good” chemicals, also known as dopamine. For some social media users, it triggers a rush of dopamine in the brain, causing a need to continue the cycle repeatedly. Can you think of other ways that social media might affect the brain?
Are You Addicted to Social Media?
Being able to appreciate social media is a benefit that you deserve to enjoy. However, once that appreciation goes too far, it may become dangerous. Feeling as though you might be affected by the negative effects of social media can be scary. You might feel anxious or concerned about your risk of being addicted to social media. How do you determine if your brain may be at risk?
- Spending a lot of time thinking about social media.
- Feeling an overwhelming need to be on social media or to pick up your phone almost all the time.
- Using social media or phone to forget about personal issues.
- Often being unable to control or contain the use of social media.
- Becoming restless easily without having social media or a phone.
- Getting in trouble at school or work for being on social media or the phone.
If you find yourself meeting any of these criteria, it’s okay. There are ways to care for oneself and enjoy the benefits and connections that social media allows. Let’s talk about it.
Tips for Avoiding Addiction to Social Media
Social media is everywhere, which means that it is not easy to just give it up altogether. The urge to use social media and be connected to others at the tips of your fingers is there is most of us. There is no harm in this habit, as long as it is not harming us. So, how do we ensure that we keep this habit from harming us in the short and long term? A digital detox! A digital detox is an agreed-upon time when you, your friends, and family members agree to put all devices away to concentrate on your conversations and activities and be present with each other in the moment. How do we do that?
- Turn off social media notifications. I’m sure you’ll still have the urge to check your apps throughout the day, so missing a few notifications won’t hurt.
- Stick to one device at a time. If you’re using your computer, put your phone away and vice versa.
- Use an actual alarm clock. Avoid using your phone as an alarm clock and go back to using a regular alarm clock. It’ll help you stay off your phone before bed!
- Monitor the amount of time you spend on your phone. Most phones have an app that helps to monitor how much time you have spent on your phone. Create a setting to notify you when you have spent more than a reasonable amount of time on your phone. For example, only be on your phone for an hour during lunch.
- DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE WHILE DRIVING. This should be obvious, but just in case it’s not, using your phone while driving has multiple risks from mental to physical risks. To keep your brain and your body safe, it’s best to put the phone away while in the car.
In summary, taking a general break from social media may be a valuable way to identify unhealthy habits, establish healthy connections with friends, and allow for self-reflection. If you find yourself relating to the information shared in today’s post, know that you are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here for you. Contact us today!
Written by: Ashlee Cantrell
Congratulations! Welcome to college as a first-year student! It was only a few months ago that you received your acceptance letter, and now look at you! I can only imagine what some of you may be feeling; excitement, independence, freedom, but most of all… anxiety. It is common to feel those first-day jitters. You might be thinking about how you are going to make new friends, and how you are going to find your classes; what if you don’t like your professors and your homesickness? Ugh! But don’t worry. Many people are feeling what you’re feeling right now. Let’s talk through it together.
Making New Friends
Having anxiety as a new college student is super common. In fact, I bet that at least 1 in 5 new students that you’re seeing on your campus are feeling anxious right now. So, when I tell you that you’re not alone, I mean it. Reading that you’re not alone is one thing but finding a new friend who makes you feel supported and safe is something else! Making new friends can be difficult, especially if you are nervous, or if you have social anxiety. So, how can you find a friend for support so that you can enjoy the college experience?
- Join a club of interest
- Volunteer on campus/school event
- Attend sporting events
- Eat in the common area
The key is to avoid social isolation. Social isolation can increase anxiety and make making new friends even harder. One way to avoid social isolation is to force yourself to make new friends by saying “yes” to social offers (if you’re comfortable and safe, of course)! If there are no social offers, make the first move and spark up the first conversation.
Getting Used to Classes
Throughout the first few weeks of school, you’ll discover that college classes are vastly different from high school classes. You get to take the classes you want to take and find your future niche, while also getting to meet all your new professors. But, while there is more freedom, there is also more responsibility, more walking around campus and so many assignments. It can all seem overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. Would you like some tips?
Tip #1: Organization is key when it comes to keeping your assignments from piling up. Keep a planner with a calendar to help keep track of when all your assignments are due for each class. This will give you a visual schedule of the semester and will help you plan a study schedule for important assignments.
Tip #2: READ THE SYLLABUS. Your syllabus will include the description for each class, what materials you’ll need, the assignments to be completed, and their due dates. It will also include how assignments will be graded, the schedule for the class, and course policies such as late policies on assignments, and the tardiness policy. This information is crucial because each professor has their own rules for each class. Some professors are more lenient than others and you don’t want to mistake one professor’s rules for another.
Tip #3: If you’re on a big campus, get a map of the campus. Highlight where each of your classes are then go through the map and highlight a quick and easy pathway that you can use to get you to and from your classes. After a few weeks, you should be able to memorize the pathway you’ve chosen.
One of the most exciting things about going away to college is just that; the going away part! You get to decorate your dorm room, meet your new roommate, and get to explore your individuality. However, being on your own for the first time can often lead to feeling uncomfortable in a new environment. Whether you’re moving 50 miles from home at a college close to home, or 500 miles from home, homesickness affects most students all the same. Is homesickness something you think will affect you? Let’s talk about some ideas to help you along the way.
- Know that what you are feeling is normal. At least 70% of first-year students experience homesickness in college. You are not alone.
- Stay in touch with family and friends back home. One of the best things about the modern world is our immediate access to family members and friends. Call them, text them, and video chat them despite the distance! I know they would love to hear from you.
- Practice self-care. I know, I know. You hear all the time about self-care this and self-care that, but there’s a good reason! Prioritizing self-care helps to reduce stress in simple ways. For example, eating a well-balanced meal, getting a good night’s sleep, or taking a well-deserved break with music and a good book can help to ease stress.
Starting college as a first-year student is no small feat. This is specifically true for those with anxiety. Now that we are here, we still must answer our big pending question: How do you settle into college with anxiety? We have gone over a lot of information so let’s recap.
- Connect with your peers
- Give yourself time to adjust
- Stay in touch with family and friends
- Embrace the change
- Consider therapy
For those who still feel overwhelmed by starting college as a new student, who may feel anxious about making new friends starting new classes, or experiencing homesickness, know that you are not alone and help is out there! Consider therapy as an option with us today at URC.
When looking at Gen Z, ages 15-21, there is an increasing amount of young people who are dealing with anxiety and/or depression. There are social changes that could have an effect on the increase. This generation of people have lived through global, social and local changes that have contributed to creating deep seated uncertainties to take root. Gen Z anxiety looks a little different and today we are talking about that. Do you know a Gen Z who struggles with multiple anxiety points? Let’s take a look at what could be contributing to anxiety in that group of people.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is not a new term; it has been around a while. But while anxiety isn’t new, there are new circumstances that are increasing the rate in which our young adults experience it. Today, we will take a look at anxiety as well as new circumstances that have created more anxiety. There are common life circumstances that are known to create anxiousness. A few of those are below.
- Constant changes all around them
- Unsure of college and/or job plans
- Ever changing relationships
- How to pay for life
- Self esteem
- Effects of social media
New Gen Z Anxiety Triggers?
All of these are circumstances are known to increase a person’s chance of experiencing anxiety and/or depression. Couple these with the additional environmental circumstances of today and it becomes easier to see how we have a population of people who struggle even more. It can be easy to see why Gen Z has more than double the amount of people struggling with anxiety and depression than previous generations. Below are a few of the added stressors of today. Do you find yourself or your loved ones get stressed from these?
- COVID 19 Pandemic
- Lack of opportunities to get together with friends and family
- Isolation of Virtual Learning
- Constant Comparison on Social Media
- Increased Negative Messages on Social Media Platforms
Understanding anxiety and recognizing anxiety with you or a loved one is an important first step. Some have reported not realizing certain activities were causing more anxiousness for them. If this resonates with you and you are ready to take steps to help with these feelings, keep reading. There is help and you are not alone.
What Can I Do?
If you are still reading, I celebrate that, and you should too. There are steps that we can take to help us manage the things in life that keep us feeling anxious or depressed. Taking the first step is sometimes the hardest part. It is an important step to take thou. Living with anxiety is hard and it is hard on your body. It can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally. It can affect every aspect of your life if left alone. There is help. Below are steps you can take in an effort to overcome being controlled by anxiety. Will you pick one and take a step for yourself today?
- Recognize and acknowledge anxiety
- Decide if you want to take a step
- Choose healthy foods
- Decrease gaming time and increase activity
- Reduce time spent on social media
- Engage with a trusted friend, in person
- Seek activities you enjoy outdoors
- Evaluate your caffeine intake
- Put your smart devices away for periods of time
- Read up on coping strategies, get help if needed
- Don’t be afraid to seek therapy
Do all of these require a step of change? Yes, they do. Change is necessary for us to make differences in our lives. Once anxiety is recognized within you, a step is necessary. It can be hard and even scary, but we can do hard things. Talk to someone you trust. Let them know the step you are taking. Ask them to support you and encourage you. It is good to have someone on your side. Let’s take control of #GenZAnxiety
What If I Need Help?
If you have tried to take steps to concur anxiety and you need help to move forward, it is ok. Often, we need the help of a professional to step us through our personal wounds and patterns. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to help you do just that. We have a team of counselors who have a passion to help others achieve their best. They have a passion to help you.
Some of the synonyms of independence are self-ruling, self-determination, self-reliance or self-sufficiency. What is obvious in each of those words is “self”. Independence is a belief that we are capable of relying on ourselves. It is often paired with an equal determination to not need help from anyone. A simpler definition stated it was freedom from the control, influence, support or aid from others. If these descriptions seem familiar to you of yourself, today’s blog could help you gain an understanding if you are too independent. We are going to take a look of when independence is too much and why letting others help you can be good.
Do I Let People Help?
Does this thought make you feel uncomfortable? You are not the only one, I assure you. I am hanging on to every word I write, as I too, struggle to receive help from others. Being willing to take steps that are uncomfortable are necessary to overcome the things we struggle with. It can actually improve your mental health. We were created for community and relationships. Helping others and allowing others to help you carries great benefit. Will you take a step to allow someone to help you? By taking a step you could…
- Improves mental health
- Overall better physical health
- Better relationships
- Helping others can lengthen your life
- Outlook on life improves
Taking a step to receive help can be hard. It may help to try and remember that although it feels hard, there may be reward in it. New things are hard and we can do hard things.
I Can Do It On My Own.
If you struggle with control and independence, you may believe that you can do all the necessary things yourself. You may even be capable of this most of the time. However, life has a way of placing circumstances where we need other people. In those times, it is good to rely on those who offer genuine help. Living a life where you only depend on yourself can create anxiety and lead to a life crisis eventually. Can you remember a time in your life where it would have been beneficial to have help, but you didn’t? Maybe you can take a step and let someone in. Here is a list of things to consider that can form when we structure our lives alone.
- Isolation leads to worry, anxiety, doubt and stress
- Relationships suffer
- Existing fears could deepen
- Unhealthy balance in friendships can damage them
- Depression is more common
Taking a step may be hard, however, it is a step that we all need to take. Being willing to receive help when needed and offering help to others is necessary when doing life with others. We both benefit when receiving or helping. Ready to take a step? Keep reading where we will talk about just that.
How Do I Let Someone Help?
People who are too independent will often state that being vulnerable is hard for them. That is understandable because there is a boundary up that we need to lower in able to be vulnerable. Starting somewhere with a small step is necessary. That can look different for each of us depending on our experiences and mindsets. The one thing we all have in common is that there is a small step each one of us can take. Starting somewhere is the goal. Below are steps as well as things you can ponder that may help you in understanding why you struggle to receive help. Try to find your why then see if there is a small step you can take.
- Examine what you believe about receiving help
- Consider what friend you have that you trust
- Remember who has asked to help you often
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable with the friend you trust
- Recognize if you are in need of help and ask someone you trust
- Do it afraid, receive help when offered
- Write or journal what you are grateful for in their help
These are beginning points that may help you take a step in allowing others in. If you have tried and are having issues moving forward, you are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling has a team of therapist who want to help.
Would you believe me if I told you the average American feels relaxed less than an hour a day? With greater than 75% of people reporting they deal with stress daily. With these kinds of statistics, this topic needs to be discussed. The ability to relax keeps our bodies healthier. We are less stressed and our muscles are less tense. These things help our overall health. By learning to relax, we help our brain and memory as well as symptoms from anxiety and depression. Could you use some tips to increase your ability to relax? That is what we talking about today.
Why Do I Not Relax?
With the seemingly demand to succeed in all things ever increasing, our health is decreasing proportionally. Regardless of what causes you to not be able to relax, the results can be harmful to you and your relationships. Creating time to be calm and relax is important to nourish your body physically, your mental stability and your outlook. But what happens when we don’t have the ability to relax often enough? Do you want to understand what could be contributing to your lack of relaxation?
- Watching too much news creates constant flow of stress
- You have a tendency to measure self-worth from achievements
- Spending too much time on social media, comparing our lives to others
- Your schedule is overly busy, not allowing down time
- Possible anxiety, depression or ADHD
- Too many to-do lists
- Not making self-care a priority
Could you relate to this list? If you find yourself familiar with multiple of these, I encourage you to read on. Take a stand for your health.
What Can Happen If I Don’t Relax?
We can push through life sometimes on autopilot. We can thrive and even accomplish great things in life, but not frequently and consistently without pause. Our body has a need for down time. Time to restore and pause for replenishment. Ignoring the signs and symptoms of our bodies needs can lead to many things, most of which we would mostly consider unwanted. When we push our bodies without times of relaxation many side affects can take place, a few of those are mentioned below.
- Physical pain within your body
- Muscle tightness and strain
- More frequent illness
- Increased inflammation in the body
- Sleep deprivation
- Mental fogginess
- Memory issues
- Heart issues
Pushing through and pushing your body may seem like a good idea, until you understand the harm it can bring to your body. If you struggle to find time to relax, take a look below and see which of these you could incorporate into your days.
How Can Learn to Relax?
Adding in a bit of time here and there to give your body space to relax doesn’t necessarily mean a life change overall. You could start with one of these simple suggestions and then continue to seek help if relaxing is still not finding it’s way into your day. The important take away is to add some length of time to your day in an effort to decompress and relax. Ready to see what may work within your day? Take a look below for ways to incorporate relaxing.
- Talk a walk, even if you only have five minutes
- Try a class to learn something new
- Join a gym
- Practice breathing techniques
- Explore doing something creative
- Listen to relaxing music
- Refrain from social media, read a good book instead
- Add an empty block of time into your schedule – choose a relaxing suggestion
- Establish a night time routine
These are a few suggestions but the most important step is to choose you. Recognize the need to relax if you have one and take that stand for yourself. It is needed. Do you struggle to relax and have tried change, but still need help? You are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling has a team of therapists who desire to walk along side you.