Category: Self-improvement

Mental Health Resources

Pretty much everyone knows the benefits from therapy. But not everyone has the time or money to be able to get one-on-one help. With today’s technology, there are so many other resources that could help you. And if you are in therapy, some of these resources can complement the help you’re already getting.

http://openpathcollective.org

Open path is a website where you can get online therapy from $30-$50 a session with a licensed therapist.  This is a great resource if you don’t have health insurance.

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)- provides education and support to increase awareness and understanding of mental health.

There are many apps you can download. I wrote a blog post on some of my favorite mental health apps. I would suggest typing the mood you’re in in the app store search and download a few to find a few of your own favorites.

ulifeline.org online mental health resource for college students

National Suicide Hotline- text START to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-8255

GLBT National Help Line 1-888-843-4564

GLBT National Help Center for Youth. 1-800-246-7743

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7223

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673

Psychology Today to find a therapist near you.

Center for Complicated Grief to find a list of resources for when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one.

Center Link is a center to support the LGBT community.

IMAlive lets you chat with supervised peer volunteers when ever you feel so down that picking up the phone to talk is too much. You can chat with someone and know that they will not judge you.

National Center for Victims of Crime provides resources of crime victims,  from bullying, physical abuse, stalking, and even terrorism.

National Eating Disorder Association

OK2Talk is designed for teens and young adults. The site is an online outlet for people to share their own stories. Good to find support and discuss coping with a diagnosis.

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25 Coping Skills

Here’s a list of coping skills to try when you’re feeling really stressed out, worried or depressed. Try to do at least 2 things on this list every single day.

  1. Talk to one person about your feelings. Supportive friend, family or therapist.
  2. Have a “lazy” day or hour where you do NOTHING.
  3. Go for a walk in nature or a quiet environment.
  4. Help someone out by volunteering somewhere or help someone who you know needs help.
  5. Do a random act of kindness, on purpose.
  6.  Write out what you’re thinking as if you’re talking to someone. Then destroy it.
  7. If you don’t like writing, record yourself instead. Like a video diary.
  8. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for and write at least 3 sentences of why you’re grateful for that thing. Think bigger than your life, like being grateful for having the sight to read these words, or that your family does not do arranged marriages.
  9. Color/paint/draw/doodle.
  10. Listen to music.
  11. Create play lists for different moods.
  12. Take a bubble bath.
  13. Take a hot shower. Before turning off the water, turn the water as cold as you can stand.
  14. Clean/organize your environment; room, house, desk, etc.
  15. Play/cuddle with a pet.
  16. Search “guided mediation” on YouTube and listen to one.
  17. Watch a funny movie or video.
  18. Create a vision board with pictures of things that you would like to do and have.
  19. Play games. Video games, board games, or games on your phone.
  20. Take a nap or just make sure you get enough rest.
  21. Read something that makes you feel good.
  22. Pamper yourself, like doing your hair or painting your nails.
  23. Watch your favorite movie or TV show.
  24. Write down or think about 5 good things you have going for yourself. For example, if you hate your job, at least you have a job. If you don’t have one, think about your strengths that will get you one, such as being responsible or being a hard worker.
  25. Create and stick to a daily schedule. Scheduling out your day will give you a routine and a sense of accomplishment.

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in  Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

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Improving your Mental Health.

Although getting psychotherapy is one of the best investments you can make in your mental health, for different reasons, not everyone can go to therapy. The good news is that you can do a lot of free things that help improve your mental health without going to therapy. Here are a few suggestions, that if done regularly, you can see an improvement in your mental health.

Surround yourself with supportive people.

If you don’t do anything else, doing this one thing can help you better handle the ups and downs of life. One of the quickest ways to feel bad is to spend time around negative people. Even worse is to be lonely. Loneliness is one of the biggest contributors to depression and poor health.  Humans are social beings, we are not meant to be isolated from others. Now, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. You can be around a lot of people, and still feel lonely. And you can be alone and not feel lonely.

If you don’t have friends or family who are supportive, try to join a club or sport. Being around people you have something in common with is a great way to make new friends. Do you love reading? Spend time at the Library or Book Store and try to join a book club. Do you love sports? How about joining others in fantasy football? Or start saying yes to invitations from coworkers or class mates. Volunteering is another great way to be around people. Plus, when we help others, we in turn help ourselves. The point is that you want to be around people who are positive, supportive, and make you feel good.

Get your body moving.

If the gym is your thing then great. But if not, that’s okay too. You just want to get your body moving. You can go for a walk (it’s even better with a friend), stretch your body, follow along to a work out video, walk around the mall several times, or lift some weights. Get creative with it and do what works for you. When it comes to exercise, something is better than nothing.

Relax

If this is hard for you to do, then you REALLY need it. What do you do that helps you slow down your thoughts and relax? Maybe it’s painting, listening to music, taking a bubble bath, cleaning and organizing things, reading, getting a massage, watching a movie, or going for a long car ride. It doesn’t matter. You just have to do what works for you. You might even have to schedule down time if you have a lot going on. If others depend on you, you MUST set time to relax. If not, you won’t be your best self. And that doesn’t help anyone.

Guard your mind.

Every single thing we are exposed to is shaping our thoughts. Think a thought long enough and it becomes our belief. Be careful of the types of shows you watch. Do they promote drama, violence, being unfaithful? Do you start and end your day with watching the news? Do you constantly compare yourself to the pictures you see of skinny woman or muscular men?

We don’t live in bubbles so of course we’re going to be exposed to negative things. But you can limit how much time you are exposed to them. Try to balance it by spending more time doing things that make you feel good versus things that make you feel stressed out or sad.

Meditate

Meditating has been proven to lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones, help you think more clearly, and so much more. At first it might be hard to slow down your thoughts so I suggest following a guided meditation. You can simply go on YouTube and search “guided mediation” and find one you like.

If meditation is not your thing, find an activity where you have to focus all of your attention. Some people say that going for a run, driving, or working to solve a problem, like cross word puzzles, helps them focus completely.

Take care of your spirituality.

This part of our life gets ignored by a lot of people. There is a difference between religion and spirituality. I think people should practice whatever works for them. If reading the bible or attending church gives you spiritual strength, then that’s what you do. If you don’t consider yourself religious but feel that there is something more to this life, that’s completely okay too.

At some point, usually around our teen years, we begin to ask ourselves, “why am I here?” and “what’s the purpose of life?” This is a very personal area to explore and no one should tell you what is right, only you can determine that. It’s a journey, but finding what it is that strengths your spirit is important. It gives you meaning to life, and the strength you need when you’re going through hard times.

 

These are just a few, but important suggestions. Just like taking care of your physical health is about doing little things everyday to stay healthy, the same goes for your mental health. Try to do small things daily that make you feel good. Eventually it’ll be a habit and you’ll notice that you can better handle every day stresses.

If you liked this post, feel free to share with your friends. And if you want to receive more posts and resources that I share, remember to sign up below.

 

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

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How to better deal with life changes.

Change.  Some people welcome it, but the majority of people hate it. I hate to break it to you, but you just have to learn how to deal with it because change is part of life.

Whether it’s dealing with a break up, graduating from high school, going away to college, moving away, or any of the major life transitions that we go through, it can make you feel confused, lost, afraid…alone. When life forces you out of your comfort zone, you need all the help you can get to get  back on track.

Although you might not have a lot of control over what is going on in your life, you always have control over your reactions and attitude. Here are some tips that I hope will make this time a bit more bearable for you.

Take care of yourself physically.

The first thing to do is make sure you take care of your physical health. If you physically feel like crap, you can care less about anything else because you don’t have the energy. When we’re under a lot of stress, our nervous system is a little out of wack. You might  feel on edge and your sleep patterns can change.

You want to drink plenty of water and rest your body. If you can take a short nap great, but it can also be relaxing  listening to music or watching an episode of your favorite Netflix show. The point is to let your body relax as much as you can.

Also try eating healthy foods. When people are stressed they tend to go for foods high in sugar. Try to eat foods that give you energy such as nuts, whole grains, and veggies.

With taking care of yourself also comes Exercise. I know, I know, some people get tired just thinking about exercise. But it doesn’t always mean hitting the gym. Go for a walk outside, dance, stretch your body, follow a YouTube video to practice yoga, play tennis, ride a bike, etc. The point is to get your body moving. Being under a lot of stress during this time is going to build a lot of tension in your body so doing something physical will release that tension.

Look at past evidence.

We are always going through some type of transition in our lives. It’s those big ones though that we remember. Think back to another time in your life that you went through a similar change. If you’re nervous about starting high school, remember how you felt when you were starting middle school. If you’re going away to college think back to the first time you were away from home like going to camp or remember how nervous you were about starting high school. The circumstances may be different, but the feelings are very similar, maybe even the same. Remember a time you survived something in your life that you thought you were not going to get through. When you were also feeling afraid, anxious, sad, and hopeless. What did you do to survive it? The fact that you’re here now is proof that you did survive it. So you can also get through what you’re living now.

Surround yourself with supportive people.

During these times you need a good support system. But be careful because some people, who are well meaning, give horrible advice. Like when your girlfriends tell you to egg the house of the boy who just broke up with you.

You want to be around people who will reassure you, help you laugh and relax. People who you trust and feel comfortable with. Transitions are an emotional time. You want to be around people who uplift your energy, not drain it. If you feel that you don’t have anyone in your life who is supportive, watch motivational speakers on YouTube. There are also a lot of books about going through transitions. Some of my own favorite speakers/authors are Les Brown, John Maxwell, and Tony Robbins.

Don’t focus on the negatives.

It’s natural to focus on the bad side of  change. Going away to college means you don’t know anyone there. And it also means being away from family. However, it also means not having to see people you didn’t like in high school anymore, and making new, like minded friends. And also going away changes the dynamics between you and your parents. Typically for the better.

Ask yourself, what good can come from this life change? Sometimes we can’t see it until things have settled down.

Remember that there are always two sides to everything. Focus on the things that you can control. After you focus on the things you can control, take a step back and ask yourself “what can I do that would make me feel better?” “What action step can I take to be more clear?” It can be anything from creating a To-Do list to organize your thoughts, or reaching out to a supportive person. The point is you’re doing something.

Practice mindfulness.

I always remind my clients that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to think about two things at the same EXACT time. We have thoughts back to back and really fast sometimes, but not at the same time. So, try paying attention to what you’re doing. Be very mindful through out the day. Even if it’s 5 minutes here, and  minutes there. For example, pay attention to your breathing, notice how your chest rises and sinks as you breath in and out. Or pay attention to how your feet hit the ground as you walk.

If your mind just won’t be quiet, try asking yourself “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” For a few seconds, you stop thinking because you’re now paying attention to thinking. It takes practice to keep that silence for a long time, but it’s a nice break when your mind is racing.

The point is that if you’re focusing on what is going on at this very moment, you shouldn’t be feeling anxious or stressed thinking about the “what ifs.” Take things 10 minutes at a time, and try to stay as present as you can.

 

Going through life transitions really shakes us up and makes us doubt ourselves. Just remember that we can’t really grow as a person unless we get out of our  comfort zone. Some of the most successful people put themselves in situations out of their comfort zones on purpose because they know that that’s how they can grow as a person.

 

As you’re in the middle of your life transition, do some of the things I have suggested here. You are stronger than you think. You will get through this.

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” -Nikos Kazantzakis

 

 

 

About the author

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

 

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Quotes to live by.

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Quotes are a great way to find inspiration, motivation, and to help us accurately express how we’re feeling. Sometimes they can even help us shift our thinking.  I suggest that you find a quote, or several, that really speaks to you and post it in different places. Here are just a few of my favorite ones. Feel free to share.

 CHANGE

“There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.” -Denis Waitley

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

“When you’re trying to motivate yourself, appreciate the fact that you’re even thinking about making a change. And as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” -Alice Domar

“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” -Maya Angelou

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” -Jacob M. Braude

 

FEAR

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

“Have no fear of perfection-you’ll never reach it.” -Salvador Dali

“In action breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Canegie

“Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.” -Shirley MacLaine

“Courage is knowing what not to fear.” -Plato

 

DEALING WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” -Mary Lou Kownacki

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

“Admire the ones who criticizes you, for they are  but simply prisoners of their own jealousy.” -Lord Jack Kabasu

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can become great.” -Mark Twain

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

 

CHANGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

“If you change the way you look at things,  the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” -Willie Nelson

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” -Zig Ziglar

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” -Albert Einstein

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” -Albert Einstein

 

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About Liza J Alvarado, MS, LPC

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Bethlehem, PA area.

 

 

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