Why I Love Being a Rural Counselor

When I first moved here to the San Juan Islands, I was struggling with debilitating headaches accompanied by severe nausea. The sharp drops in barometric pressure that come with the weather on an island did not help matters any further. I wasn’t thinking about returning to counseling and had given up on that plan a long time ago. In fact, I wasn’t thinking about anything but surviving from one day to the next at the time. Faced with burnout from grad school, selling my house during the Great Recession, a surprise move to California, then burnout from homeschooling a child with a learning disorder while trying to keep her safe from gangsters in Southern California, I was exhausted and stressed out. I had absolutely no plans to go back into counseling, which had only brought me tears and heartache in grad school. However, God had other plans for me.

The headaches eased up just enough for me to be able to consider going back to work. I was still resistant to counseling, but decided to call the Washington Department of Health and they said I could be reinstated since all the rules had changed from long ago when anyone could hang up a sign and call themselves a counselor. I thought maybe enough time had passed to be able to try again, in a new location, where maybe things would be better than what I had experienced in grad school as an unpaid intern.

Working on an island was not easy. The only place to earn hours was a community mental health center which did little to help and did much to hurt our island community. I walked away from that place twice, and am still amazed that I survived to tell the tale. I often attribute my survival to the grace of God and a strong sense of ethics instilled in me by my Catholic education of long ago. I also found myself blacklisted by the social work community due to my Christian faith. When I quit my last job, it was in the middle of COVID pandemic, spring of 2020. I had become so severely sick that had I not quit, I most likely would have died. What had started out with a dust allergy from a coworker moving around furniture that probably hadn’t been moved in 20 years morphed into a cough which developed into severe asthmatic attacks and extreme bronchitis. By the end of it, I was coughing up blood and could barely breathe other than short, shallow breaths that caused great pain to my lungs. I tried to get tested for COVID in several places, but was denied testing due to my age. I could not receive regular medical treatment in person because it was the middle of the pandemic, and therefore could not receive testing to see what was wrong with my lungs, throat, etc. Three different virtual doctors told me that they didn’t believe it was COVID, but was in fact caused by workplace stress from the toxic work conditions I was in. I had seen so many ethical abuses in my workplace, tried my best to address them, only to be harassed by my coworkers and boss, who became increasingly more abusive towards me. So I walked away, believing that my career was most likely over with nowhere to gain hours for licensure and not even knowing if I would be alive within the next few days or months.

It took me a few months to recover. I saw a counselor who gave me permission to cry it out. Tears were the best medicine, and that’s how I really began to heal. The headaches, which had become a daily problem at my last workplace continued.

At this point, I didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, I didn’t have to work since my husband was already employed. However, I knew that I only had so many times I could renew my associate license before I would lose the possibility of ever becoming fully licensed in my state. A friend recommended I apply to a place. I heard back right away and began contract work with them. I worked out of my house in a spare office, providing telehealth to mainlanders. This was in the middle of one of the most severe lockdowns our state has ever experienced, a very contentious presidential election, and race riots. I saw and heard it all. People were suffering greatly, and it was almost impossible to find a counselor, since we were all going through one of the greatest mental health crises the state of Washington has ever known. I was really glad at the time to be able to help out and often felt like a medic on a battle field, sometimes just doing triage to see who needed help the most and attending to as many people as I possibly could. My clients came from all political parties, social classes, races, religions, etc. I love working with diversity, especially at a time where there was so much division. At the end of my contract with the mainland agency, I said goodbye as I was now fully licensed and confident that I could practice on my own.

To this day, it is still hard to earn the trust of locals, but I have been honored by the clients who take that first brave step to seek help. Despite being blacklisted by the social work community for my religion, I have found that there are many local clients who truly respect diversity and enjoy working with me. I am open about my background and that allows clients to feel comfortable talking about their own life history and values. I do work with many people from the mainland as well via telehealth and I enjoy hearing about mainland life and stories as well.

I really enjoy the long-term aspects of rural counseling. I get to see not just individuals, but also families. I see children, adolescents, and adults. I get to see the complete picture of what is going on with an individual by also getting to know their family. I know that when I help an individual, I build up the family, and in turn, the community. I get to see the long-term benefits of counseling in a way that most mainland counselors never get to see. It always makes me happy when a former client stops me somewhere and thanks me for all the ways I helped him or her. Or sometimes I see a client doing something that used to be difficult, but is now easy now that they have overcome their anxiety. Most mainland counselors don’t get to see the after story.

I don’t really mind bumping into clients at the grocery store, at church, school, sports games, at local events, on the ferry, and sometimes even out on the trail. Sometimes I see them at baptisms, quinceaneras, weddings, and other important events of their lives. Clients get to see me for who I really am and I strive to be authentic with them. They know that I am a parent, a fellow Christian, and just another islander with hopes and dreams like anyone else. I get to donate to local causes and I have a soft-heart for lemonade stands and other entrepreneurial adventures of local kids, because it reminds me of my own early attempts at entrepreneurship.

The headaches have since disappeared from my life, and are replaced by a newfound peace in the small moments of rural life. I experience a lot less stress as a rural counselor. My office is within walking distance of my condo. I can take my time and the commute is minimal. Here on the island, there is no need to rush. If a client cancels, it means I have more time to take a walk, chat with someone, or grab a cup of tea. If I have to take a little longer to talk to a parent about a child, that’s okay because no one is in a rush here.

Self-care is a lot easier to do on island, because obligations are minimal. I take walks at local parks and all my stress and emotions melt away into the beauty of nature. I take time to chat with friends and neighbors wherever I am. On weekends, I go jogging or hiking. A hot bath after a long day at work does wonders. So does time with my husband and daughter. Or going out for a coffee with a friend.

I chose the motto “Siempre Adelante” for my business because it represents what I have had to do in order to survive a tough, rural experience here. I have managed to move forward in spite of health problems, illness, bigotry, and a harsh work environment. I hope that I can inspire my clients to move forward with whatever challenges they might be facing at the time. And maybe somewhere along the way, I might find that ranch that I call home.

Can Emotional Abuse Cause Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)?

When most people think of PTSD, they imagine someone who has gone through a natural disaster, a war, or physical or sexual violence. Very few people understand or are aware of how severe the effects of emotional abuse are.

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Emotional abuse is systematic, intentional, and repetitive controlling of a person, using the victim’s own emotions to shame, belittle, isolate, change their understanding of reality, and wear down their defenses.

The effects of emotional abuse can be far-reaching. Emotional abuse can lead to a host of chronic health problems, poor social skills, lack of social support, financial problems, depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, concentration and memory problems, and sensory issues.

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When a person’s emotions are continually used against them to harm them, it can cause severe and chronic trauma to the victim. Some of the symptoms of CPTSD in victims of emotional abuse include:

-hyperarousal of emotions

-hypoarousal of emotions

-feelings of numbness

-nightmares

-flashbacks

-poor sense of self-worth

-avoidance of triggers that remind victims of their abuse or abuser

-panic attacks

-physical symptoms related to reliving the trauma

-believing the world is a dangerous place

-overwhelming crying spells

-inability to register sensory input

-insomnia

-extreme fatigue

If you have suffered from emotional abuse, the best way to overcome it is to get help from a trusted, emotionally mature person. Seek out a counselor trained in treating the effects of CPTSD and emotional abuse so you can start to heal and grow stronger, becoming the person you were meant to be.

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When Is It Okay To Say “I Love You”?

Although dating has changed at a rapid, break neck speed our basic human needs have not. We are all made to be loved unconditionally and to give of ourselves to another human being without reserve, completely. Anyone who says otherwise has had the tragedy of never being loved completely or has had their heart broken in a terrible way.

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Love is a great risk, and yet we try and try again until we find that person who is just right for us. As I write this in 2021, many young people are choosing not to marry, are dating numerous people in rapid succession through the use of dating apps, are experimenting with so many flavors of relationships, and yet there is still a large loneliness and a longing for love that can’t quite go away.

This longing for a deep, intimate love is built into the core of our being. Yet with each rejection, each shallow relationship, hurt builds and builds until it explodes and is taken out on either ourselves or others. Is it any wonder that the biggest fear in a relationship is saying the words, “I love you?”

When people are hurt, it’s common to look for answers to our problems. We might see solutions in rejecting all men or women, monogamous relationships, people of a certain socioeconomic group, race, etc. None of these answers really satisfies the heart, however. As much as we are made for love, we are also not made for hate (the permanent, stick-around-forever kind of hate).

With so much instability in modern relationships, people will do anything in a relationship except say “I love you.” That’s because love means something permanent and a big risk. Being in love and declaring your love makes your relationship open to the possibility of rejection and solidifies it into something more than an ethereal passing moment of two lives joined together. It speaks the truth of the heart and of the relationship and how it’s meant to be.

Speaking truth to power in a relationship is always recommended, even if not well-received. It’s important to be honest not just with others, but with ourselves. Hiding who we are and our positive feelings towards others is not good for us or the people around us, especially those we are closest with. It’s better to take a stand in our closest relationships and identify our love for what it is, something beautiful and what is meant to be.

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Why It’s Good to Let Yourself Be Disappointed

As adults, we naturally tend towards hedonism as a way of life. We tend to avoid what hurts us and seek out what feels good. Pain, whether psychological or physical, causes stress to our bodies and our minds, which, when we endure it for too long, can cause mental health problems, chronic health issues, and burnout.

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However, staying too safe isn’t good for us either. Even as adults, our brains are constantly growing, developing new neural networks. Or at least that’s how we are designed. We are meant to be constantly evolving in new ways, learning new things, and achieving new insights and success along the way.

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Part of that growth naturally involves disappointment. No one, male or female, is successful at everything we attempt for the first, second, or third time. As we try things, and as we fail, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We become more creative, stronger, and more resilient. When one path leads to a dead end, we find a wonderful new trail we didn’t know existed and end up in destinations unheard of. Trying to be competent, safe, and sure of everything ahead of time is simply trying to avoid shame and disappointment. You go down the path everyone else has already trod on a million times that leads to the same place that you already knew about ahead of time. Your mind, your body, and your life remain stagnant, not really going anywhere.

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Sometimes people have an idea that they should wait until the unpleasant feelings go away before they try something new, before going on an adventure, before charting unknown territory. What happens is that they never go anywhere as those negative feelings hold reign over their lives and become their own prison. Rather, it’s better to take risks, experience disappointment, and grow from it all first. In other words, become really good at being a beginner. Over time, the unpleasant feelings will give way to the more positive feelings that naturally come with mastery and overcoming challenges. A good struggle, whatever the outcome, can make life more interesting and a tool for growth.

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There is no better time than now to reach out and try something new, scary, and challenging. Test your limits, and see how far you can go, and what you can learn from your experience. If nothing else, you will have some great stories to tell later.

Emotional abuse and the Independent Woman

Modern American culture celebrates and honors the independent woman. And that’s not a bad thing either – for a woman who is free to make her own decisions, truly liberated from the tyranny of being forced to behave or do something without respect for her free will – is a woman who can go on to achieve her full potential. However, beneath this lovely veneer of female American independence lies an unnoticed class of women who might appear capable, fierce, and successful – everything American culture glorifies. Yet on the inside, all of this independence is not a result of true freedom, but instead stems from having to do everything themselves from a young age, knowing they could not rely upon other people when they most needed help. Or if they did go for help, they were criticized, shamed, and rejected. Girls were not protected, fought for, or given evidence that they were worth spending time with.

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Dads play a big part in building up their daughter’s confidence. This isn’t to downplay the role of mothers either, but we need to look at how important dads can be in their daughter’s lives. I have had the honor of seeing so many wonderful dads who really encourage their daughters to try new things even if they are afraid of them, encourage them, and teach their daughters that they are valuable and worth protecting and cherishing.

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On the other hand when a dad makes himself too busy to spend time with his daughter, when he tries to force rather than encourage her to do something, when he criticizes his daughter being not _____ enough, when he compares her to other people, or calls her names, a daughter learns that it isn’t okay to be herself, that she isn’t good enough, and there is nothing she can do about it, because there is nothing her dad will do about his own behavior. Or the father may be passive and withdrawn, leaving the daughter to fend for herself and expecting that no one will help her out when she needs it the most. If her own dad won’t stand up for her or interact with her in a healthy way, who will?

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In other words, the daughter sees the truth about her dad’s behavior and unfortunately applies it to every relationship to her life, making it the blueprint of her actions and her destiny. She stops asking for things, she avoids relationships, or only enters into relationships that feel “safe”, and she withholds and withdraws from opportunity, growth, intimacy, and the potential for rejection. On the outside, the woman can appear capable, confident, and successful, but on the inside the woman is lonely, hurting, and suffering from anxiety and depression. Her own negative beliefs about men and her self-worth become self-fulfilling prophecies as she either numbs herself to the pain of her self-imposed isolation or repeats the same cycle of dysfunctional relationships with her partners. Her house is built on sand and it only takes a few things to trigger an avalanche of self-doubt, self-hatred, and tears that possibly no one will ever see. This is the hidden face of emotional abuse and it is unfortunately all too common.

How to Break Free From The Effects of Emotional Abuse in Your Life:

  • Find good people in your life who affirm your true value and spend time with them.
  • Don’t accept untruths about yourself from others.
  • Practice asking for and receiving help from the right people.
  • Work on changing those negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Either take a break from or cut out people in your life who tear you down.
  • Or alternatively, learn to set boundaries, including emotional boundaries with people who tear you down.
  • Celebrate your mistakes and shortcomings, rather than fear them. We all have them and it’s what makes us unique.
  • Celebrate what you have accomplished.
  • Practice self-care on a regular basis.
  • Overcome your shame by being honest about your thoughts and feelings with those who care.
  • Tell your story, and don’t hide it.
  • Find meaning and value in your community and your friendships.
  • Follow your dreams, even if they don’t match what other people want for you.
  • Know that your past does not determine your future.
  • Know that it is okay to have your needs met.
  • Know that you don’t have to be perfect.
  • Don’t ever give up on love and healthy relationships.
  • Learn to be okay with being yourself.
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Why Being Pregnant and Giving Birth Can Be So Hard on Adoptees

Trying to conceive and being pregnant is an emotional journey for anyone, whether the baby came as a surprise, was welcomed in advance, or came as a result of a difficult situation. However, when the mother and/or father was an adoptee, parenthood takes on a different level of complexity.

Becoming a mother or father can be a source of pride and joy. For adoptee parents, it can also be a reminder of loss – loss of connection to biological family, loss of what could have been, loss of culture, etc. At the same time, it can be a sign of victory in having a positive, healthy pregnancy and being able to raise and care for your child.

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During the pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for the adoptee parent to experience intense feelings and worries throughout the pregnancy. Even trying to conceive can take on an urgency of its own. It’s not uncommon for adoptee parents to experience times of tearfulness, anxiety, intense need for control, and hesistancy in sharing their feelings with others out of concern that people might not understand or they might not even be aware of what is going on with themselves.

After the pregnancy, many issues particular to adoption will come up. As adoptee parents see their children growing and thriving, they can’t help but think what their own life was like or could have been. Anger toward birth and adoptive parents can be common during this time. There can also be a subconscious fear toward adoptive parents, doctors, and other people of authority that their child will be taken away.

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If a child is born with a medical or genetic issue, adoptee parents can feel like failures as parents and associate with their biological parents’s situation at their own birth. That same subconscious fear of having their child taken away can also resurface, leading them to avoid doctor’s visits or family activities.

Over time, these worries and strong feelings can resolve on their own, especially if you have someone you can talk to who understands the experience of being an adoptee. Finding a good mental health counselor who specializes in the adoption experience can help you work through the feelings and thoughts associated with conception, pregnancy, and parenting.

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How to Turn Anxiety into a Tool for Growth

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Anxiety is a human emotion that we feel when there is change, the unknown, or potential danger. However, when anxiety becomes prolonged and unaddressed, it can lead to panic attacks, avoidance, insomnia, poor self-esteem, depression, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and a host of other negative symptoms.

What many people do not realize is that anxiety, like any other emotion, can be a tool for growth. Anxiety can show up in a variety of ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, heavy perspiration, dry mouth, tense muscles, dizziness, and narrowed vision. It also shows up through negative thoughts, a feeling of overwhelm, and sense of being in danger. Although the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety can seem overwhelming, they are there to help you achieve something great, if you learn how to harness it.

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Many of the world’s great athletes have learned to work through anxiety. David Goggins, in his story, Can’t Hurt Me, relates how he learned to face fear and anxiety, and came up with mental tricks to go from a childhood filled with high ACE scores to become a Navy Seal, win world records, and become a top ultra-marathoner, among his many accomplishments.

Those physical symptoms of anxiety are designed to help you do amazing and brave things in your life. A racing heart, difficulty breathing, sweat, adrenalin pumping through your body and making your muscles tense – those are all there to help you move forward past those dangers and challenges, so you can go up there and give that speech, run that race, confront those literal or figurative monsters, face your worst fears, etc. So the very thing that seems overwhelming to us when we face anxiety and panic attacks is actually the thing that can propel us forward when we learn to not be afraid of it, but take it on. Find ways to challenge your anxiety, accept it for what it is, and most importantly, find humor in it. Thank anxiety for giving you that motivation and that energy to do the difficult things in life and embrace it as you learn to live life more fully and welcome adventure, rather than avoid difficulties.

If you suffer from anxiety and want to learn more about how to not just overcome it, but use it to move forward in life, contact a counselor who specializes in anxiety. It’s amazing how far you can go when you don’t let anxiety hold you back any further.

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How Previous Trauma Can Affect Healthcare Outcomes

Telling your story can be a very powerful experience. However, the doctor’s office is a place where the ability to tell your story can be impacted by trauma, childhood neglect, and instances of racism which can inadvertently result in misdiagnoses, lack of care, and insufficient treatment which all lead to poor outcomes in spite of the best intentions of healthcare providers and their patients.

doctor with patient
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It is a well-documented fact that there is an implicit bias among the health care community. Research has shown that healthcare providers tend to favor White appearing patients and have more negative attitudes towards people of color. Many times, healthcare providers are not even aware of their own biases and assumptions which negatively affect the health outcomes of their patients. This can result in an increase in negative physical symptoms including prolonging physical ailments, higher likelihood of death among patients of color, and poorer overall health. For this reason alone, I believe it’s important to address the issue of storytelling within the medical setting.

It’s not just people of color who have a hard time telling their story within a healthcare setting. People who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, and oppression may either hide or minimize their symptoms, worried that they might be seen in a negative light or not be taken seriously. Trauma in all of its spectrum can affect people’s ability to communicate, trust other people, and feel safe, especially in a setting that by its very nature exposes the common vulnerabilities of our human nature.

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For a person who has been sexually abused, any exam that involves touching, removing articles of clothing, or talking about body parts or physical functions can elicit feelings of shame, alarm, and hyperarousal. A doctor’s tone of voice, physical movements, and the question he or she asks and the way they ask it can all make the difference between the ability to form trust in a patient who has been sexually abused or leave the patient feeling ashamed, terrified, or upset.

People who have been physically abused may be on high alert inside a medical office, and may flinch at the slightest touch, be less accepting of treatment until a bond of trust is formed, and devalue their symptoms. They may be out of touch with their body and not able to form words to describe their physical symptoms.

Victims of neglect have learned that their needs are not important and will carry that belief into the doctor’s office. Some symptoms of victims of neglect may include a quiet or passive demeanor, not being forthright or specific about their symptoms, and appearing tearful or emotionally overwhelmed. Often, they will not ask questions that will help them advocate for themselves. On the surface they might agree to the treatment but they may not follow up on treatment protocols, due to poor time management, low self-esteem, and self-sabotaging behavior.

People who have experienced racism either within a medical setting or outside of it will struggle with sharing their symptoms, especially if the provider is the same race as the person who has hurt them. Those who have experienced racism or microaggressions within a medical setting may be reluctant to seek medical help and will wait until symptoms are more severe instead of taking a more preventative approach. Patients of color may be more likely to seek out alternative medicine providers to alleviate their symptoms after losing faith in the traditional medical establishment. Tearfulness, aloofness, brusque behavior, and a stoic attitude in a patient of color can all be manifestations of the emotional pain they carry within them.

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Of course, it’s rare to find a patient with just one ACE (adverse childhood effect). Patients will come with a variety of traumas and other issues that are left unspoken until they find the right doctor that builds up trust in the doctor-patient relationship. A good trauma-informed doctor encourages the patient to tell their symptoms in such a way that helps the doctor better understand the patient’s background and arrive at the correct diagnosis. The following are a list of ways that medical providers can help patients tell their stories so that they can share vital medical information with their doctor:

How to Help Patients with Trauma

  • Speak in a gentle voice
  • Speak slowly
  • Assess patients for their ACE score
  • Ask the right questions (see below)
  • Ask clients what they think might be the cause of their symptoms.
  • Avoid rapid physical movement
  • Avoid standing too much as that can appear dominant in relation to the client. Sitting can show receptivity towards the patient.
  • Look patients in the eye
  • Tell patients that their story is important and that you care what they have to say.
  • Ask patients for permission to ask questions or perform procedures, especially if they seem nervous, withdrawn, agitated, or have an ACE score.
  • Ask for feedback on how you can provide an improved patient experience.
  • Assess for and validate the reality of a client’s previous negative medical experience. You are not responsible for medical trauma caused by other providers, but you can provide healing to a client who has experienced medical trauma, simply by providing a positive experience for the client where they can be heard.
  • Give patients as much time as you can and apologize if you can’t continue the conversation due to time restraints. Allow the patient to tell you the rest of the story via some other form of communication. This shows the patient that you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Respect a client’s culture and be aware of the assumptions you may be making. For example, some clients may not be aware of the basics of nutrition if they were neglected as children. A person who was adopted may not feel comfortable talking about their genetic history, as it reminds them of their loss or what sets them apart from other people.
  • Ask patients what would help them feel more comfortable sharing their information.
  • Self-disclosure, when done appropriately, can help a patient form a bond with their doctor that helps the patient feel more comfortable disclosing vital information.

Trauma-Informed Questions for Doctors to ask a Patient

  • Is there anything you think I should know about?
  • Is there anything in the past that might be affecting the symptoms you have now?
  • Why do you think this is happening right now?
  • Is there anything that makes this hard to talk about?
  • If you find it hard to talk about it, is there a better way to tell me what you think I might need to know? What would help?
  • Have you ever experienced difficulty receiving medical treatment before?
  • Are there things that currently get in the way of being able to receive medical treatment?
  • Is there anything else that might make it hard to follow the medical plan?
  • If you come up with any more thoughts or concerns on this, could you please let me know?
  • How are you feeling today?

Ways to Tell Your Story in a Medical Setting if You Have Experienced Trauma So You can Get the Care You Deserve

  • Find the right provider. It’s so important to find a provider who you feel comfortable talking to and who listens to your story. Don’t be afraid to try out several until you find that right fit.
  • Take time to prepare ahead of time for your visit with questions you might have. Think about what struggles you may have with talking to your doctor and how you can overcome these challenges.
  • Tell your doctor if you are feeling uncomfortable talking about certain things. This can help your doctor understand you better and might help you feel more comfortable talking about it after all.
  • Ask the doctor if they have any training or experience in trauma-informed care.
  • Remember that you have a right to say no to any treatment.
  • All feelings are valid, whether they are physical or emotional. Sometimes talking about your emotions first can help you identify and talk about your physical symptoms.
  • If you are worried that your doctor will not believe you, be open with your doctor about it. This will give your doctor a chance to allay your fears and validate your symptoms, thus reducing your negative cognitive distortions and improving your relationship with your doctor.
  • Find a type of treatment that is more trauma-informed. Functional and integrative medicine providers, along with naturopaths, tend to have more training in mental health along with a more open, problem-solving approach. However, some more mainstream medical providers are becoming more aware of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and incorporate that into their practice.

Can I Be Too Tired To Be Anxious?

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Someone once asked me if it was possible to be too tired to be anxious. In other words, could you tire yourself out so much that you could reduce anxiety? In a nutshell, yes, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Some people tend to have more anxiety when they are used to being so busy as a way of numbing their natural emotions, including anxiety. When they finally have down time, they struggle with their uncomfortable feelings, and the panic of not having their normal means for numbing their feelings.

One of the reasons it’s always important to take time for ourselves where we are not purposely busy, time to just be, is because our mind needs time to wander, our heart needs time to ponder and to just feel whatever emotion comes our way. We need time to refresh and renew. A lot of anxiety can come from just being too busy and not taking time to let those thoughts and feelings, however uncomfortable, come to light and exist before they disappear.

If we constantly busy ourselves, those strange and alarming thoughts come to us at night when we finally have time to rest, keeping us from being able to sleep as they try to grab our attention. It’s much better to give time to think and feel during the day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I sometimes wonder if some of the symptoms of ADHD come from a life filled with constant stimulation and no time to pause and let our minds and hearts be moved by the world around us and inside of us.

Physical exercise, good time spent with loved ones, a pleasant time spent working on hobbies are all great ways to spend our energy. When we have a good day we can reduce our anxiety, which in turn makes it easier to sleep at night, knowing that we are loved, the world is safe enough, and life is good enough.

Anxiety left untreated and ignored can lead to us feeling very worn out. When we constantly worry and feel on edge, as our thoughts take us down some very bad paths, it is easy to feel discouraged, hopeless, and depleted. Anxiety is natural for everyone, but when it sticks around for a long time, it can wear out our body, cause physical damage, and take away our joy. That’s when it’s time to seek help and take back your life, so that you can enjoy life again and have energy for the things that matter.

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Creative

It’s been a long, hard, traumatic road for a lot of people this past year in America. I can’t even speak for the rest of the world. A global pandemic, race riots, our beloved Capitol being attacked, being stuck at home, mandates after mandates, masks, hand sanitizers, job loss, and a lot of time on people’s hands. What’s one to do?

Some people have tackled house projects, taken on new creative pursuits, and gotten back to the basics. A lot of other people felt like the wind was taken out of their sails and they have been stuck in the Bermuda Triangle for almost a year.

side of sailboat
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Even though we can smell change in the air, for better or worse, we wonder if we will ever enjoy the things we used to enjoy again. If you are one of those people struggling with writer’s block, or any other creative pursuits that just can’t make it past an idea and a few well-intentioned purchases, here are some tips to supercharge your creative engines:

How to Find Creativity Once Again

Do Something Out of Your Comfort Zone: If you are a writer, try painting. If building things is your passion, try baking. Do something different, unusual, never been done by you before. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Along the way you will either a) really long to do what you know what to do or b) find a new creative outlet

Pick Up that Really Long-Lost Project: You know that sweater you started knitting for your high-school boyfriend. Yeah, that one, the one stashed away in your attic. How about that novel you planned to write 10 years ago, sitting in some hard-drive somewhere? How about that model train kit you planned to build with your son who is now 30 and living his own life? Nostalgia can be a great inspiration for further projects and there is something satisfying about picking up long-lost projects and remembering the good times once again.

Remind Yourself Why: When you are feeling stuck, it’s easy to stay in the stuck zone. Behind every project is a reason, an ideal, an image, an emotion of something pleasant. Remember what inspired your drive to create in the first place. Were you planning to give a gift to someone, pursue your own knowledge and skills, make the world a better place, or just have fun?