Sometimes we make it too complicated.

I think we make it too complicated sometimes when it comes to psychiatry and mental health treatment. We try to ascribe labels and diagnostic codes and levels of care. 

What if, when you are in front of me, I just listen to your heart?

When I’m meeting with a patient for the first time, I think it’s a pretty simple breakdown. 

I want to know:

1) What are your stressors? These can be big or small. Think about anything that is interfering with your ability to be happy in the present.

2) Of all your current symptoms, what are your top five or ten that are most troubling to you? 

3) Trauma is something we all have. I define trauma as any event that you perceived to be negative or unexpected that left you feeling confused, overwhelmed, frightened, or helpless. After giving this some thought, please list any history of trauma that might be affecting your ability to be happy in the present.

4) Considering all of our stressors, symptoms, and trauma, it’s only natural that we would find a way to soothe ourselves or numb any negative emotions. I’d like you to list your current ways of coping below– the good stuff and the bad stuff. What do you do to get through the day? Honesty here is key. I promise, no judgement on my part :) This includes some tough self-insight. 

Are you using alcohol, caffeine, food/sugar, shopping/gambling, any form of self-harm, pornography? What’s your average daily screen time? What are some toxic relationships that you can’t seem to give up? Are you taking care of yourself physically? Are you sleeping to escape? Are you involving your spiritual side? 

These are tough questions. It took me a while to learn how to ask them without being too clinical or checklist-y. 

Still. They need to be asked. 

Feel free to comment below or DM me with any insights or comments, friends!

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Some thoughts on Self-Care

The best form of mental health treatment is prevention, agreed?

I am a firm believer that one of the best forms of self-care is setting boundaries with our time and one mode of anxiety prevention is utilizing solid time management skills.

A common theme I hear from patients is that they are overwhelmed with their long to-do list. From work to home to kids to relationships to exercise/nutrition to socializing to hobbies, it’s hard to fit everything in and lead a balance life. (Mental health professionals are sometimes the worst examples of how to live a balanced life!). We wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honor, yet setting poor boundaries with our time and a chronically unbalanced life can leave us feeling unfulfilled, stagnant, and weary.

When we feel this way, it’s natural to crave relief. Relief can take many forms - a mental health day off work, a massage and facial, a couple episodes of our favorite show on Netflix, happy hour with co-workers, or a big bowl of Graeter’s. If we’re not careful, we can take our relief techniques and turn them into maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Consider these tips when it comes to self-care through setting boundaries with our time:

Learn when it’s appropriate to say “no thanks” or “maybe next time” to an invitation. Rehearse ahead of time the answer you will give when you are invited to an event or activity that you know will drain you, or will make you feel overwhelmed.

Keep the long-term in mind. Doing something that makes you feel good in the moment (spending spree!) but that will make you feel stressed later (overdrawn bank account!) is NOT true self-care.

Make a list of the 3 most important areas of your life. What are your passions? What are your priorities? What are your goals? From this point on, when you get an invitation for your time - if it doesn’t fall into one of those 3 areas, give yourself permission to say ‘no.’ Feed your passion with your time.

Let’s create a life of buffer and care for ourselves through healthy choices in how we spend our time.

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