Counseling To Help With Stress, Anxiety, or DepressionCounselors at LifePaths help you find ways to cope with life's challenges.
Managing Stress, Depression, or Anxiety in Counseling
Although these all may feel different to a person trying to cope with one of them, unfortunately, people also often deal with them together! It is very common to be dealing with two or all three of these uncomfortable human problems.
As counselors, we get that. We also know that in counseling we need to help you find some relief as quickly as possible (learn strategies that work for you) and to really make a difference for the rest of your life, we need to help you figure out what the core issues are, too (the things that are driving the feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression).
This isn’t always the way it goes, but trauma ends up being a core issue a whole lot more than people tend to think. A lot of the time, a person can point right to a traumatic event in their life, but it doesn’t have to be a huge event like being in combat, or being assaulted, to still be considered trauma. We are trained to understand the impact that events have on a person’s life, and help you understand it, too. You can read more about it here: trauma therapy.
The suggestions we list below are almost always a part of our work with clients. It is easy to forget to take care of ourselves when life gets tough for any reason. So, in the meantime, between now and your first appointment with your counselor, we hope these ideas help you find some ways to feel better, and we will build on them and strengthen these skills once we get started in counseling:
- Employ some form of relaxation – deep breathing, guided imagery, tai chi, soothing music, meditation, mindfulness
- Look for ways to bring balance and simplicity to your life – say no to some obligations, delegate chores to children
- Do something you enjoy, just for you, once each day – no matter how small it may seem!
- Identify thoughts that may be adding to your stress – distorted thoughts that are unrealistic, exaggerate negativity, or place blame where it doesn’t belong can be destructive to you and others around you
- Get good at boundaries!
If you have questions or feel ready to work with a counselor, please get in touch. We can be reached at the telephone number or email at the top of the page, or contact LifePaths here on the website.
All those bullet points above are some form of self-care, although what people usually think of are the first three – relaxation, simplify your life, or do activities you enjoy. Self-care also means identify ways of thinking that are holding you back and having good boundaries. Self care is exactly what it sounds like – taking care of yourself in a healthy way. Some of these ideas are healthy and helpful to everyone. Some of them are options that work for some but not for everyone. Even if a particular item doesn’t appeal to you, if it reminds you of an activity that will help you let’s call that a win!
The key to reducing stress is to find what works for you and use it.
Self care can help you manage stress, and employ healthy coping skills. You may find it helpful to download our Self-Care Handout, the information below is in it, but it’s in pdf form to download or print out for yourself.
- Take Care of your Body – taking good care of your body and health will help you be at your best to take care of ALL of you.
- Eat Right – although this might be an obvious one on a site about weight loss and weight management, we’ve included this anyway! Eating healthy food in a healthy way is one of the basic ways of taking care of yourself. Learn about nutrition, eat balanced meals, and have fun with new recipes.
- Exercise – Develop an exercise plan that fits your lifestyle, age and capabilities. Determine the right amount of exercise for you with your doctor.
- Get Enough Sleep – Sometimes we underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep to be able to function at our best. This helps you both physically and mentally.
- Know Your Limits – it is also important to know when you are overextending yourself and life is out of balance.
- Take thinks slowly if you can.
- Tackle difficulties one at a time.
- Plan and organize your days to avoid getting overwhelmed.
- Every day, take time to do something you enjoy even if it is only for a few minutes.
Take your pick from this list, which could also be considered a list of healthy coping skills or stress management skills. Choose items that appeal to you, that you think will be enjoyable, or that will help you feel good about yourself.
- Practice deep breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Draw, paint, or another creative activity you enjoy.
- Call a friend or family member who supports you.
- Plant a flower, do some gardening.
- Listen to music.
- Write in a journal.
- Take a walk.
- Ride a bike.
- Read a good book.
- Do something nice for someone else.
- Go see a funny or inspirational movie.
- Play with a pet.
- Go to church, or engage in a spiritual activity.
Now let’s get a little more creative and detailed – try one of these or maybe one of them will help you think of another item you can add to your own personal list.
- Listen to a guided imagery recording, or create your own.
- Write a llist of qualities you like about yourself.
- Dance to your favorite music.
- Do yoga.
- Sit in the sun and close your eyes.
- Cut pictures out of magazines and make a collage.
- Read the comics.
- Put on your favorite good smelling lotion.
- Do a puzzle.
- Put an inspirational quote up on your bathroom mirror.
- Draw with sidewalk chalk.
- Slowly eat one piece of your favorite candy or treat.
- Play a musical instrument.
- Draw random designs and color them in.
- Start a blog.
- Organize one part of your house – a room, a closet, a drawer…
- Do a different kind of workout you’ve been wanting to try.
- Write a thank you card to someone you’ve been meaning to thank for something important.
- Play a computer or video game.
- Read an inspirational book.
Some additional resources you may find helpful:
Guided Imagery – at the website for Health Journeys you can find many different recordings utilizing guided imagery. My favorite are the ones by Belleruth Naparstek.
Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. You can find many thoughtful, self care ideas at her website as well, at http://www.brenebrown.com.
Shortcuts to Inner Peace, by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW. This is a collection of briefly described and easy to do activities to bring more serenity to your daily life.