6 Reasons Why Seeing a Therapist May be Right For You


Today's we're going to be discussing six reasons why seeing a therapist may be right for you. We'll be covering the following contributing factors: first is feeling overwhelmed. Second is being out of control or feeling out of control, third is having irregular patterns of sleep, fourth is low motivation, fifth are addictive behaviors and the sixth reason is low or a drop in performance

To start I want to talk a little bit about how seeing a therapist can be helpful overall seeing a therapist is for some people only for those that can't handle it or that have had something really bad happen to them like abuse or kind of addiction or some kind of trauma and that's really just not the case. I like to think of seeing a therapist is having a personal trainer for your brain or for your mind or your emotions. With a personal trainer you go into the gym every week and they help you to stay focused and stay on task so that you can reach achievable goals. That's exactly what a therapist does. We’ll meet weekly, we determine goals, we figure out how to meet those goals and go over how you get results. Thinking about taking the step to get a therapist is really just a step in making your life something that's worth living and living in a way that you really want to.

Feeling Overwhelmed

The first reason one might see a therapist is about overwhelm so when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or experiencing excessive worry or frustration, some agitation or maybe even some anger or angry outburst this could be a sign that there's something going on. Overwhelm is sometimes just the feeling “I can't handle it right now” or “I just can't take it anymore” but sometimes it's also a longtime lingering feeling that just feels like you just can't catch a break. When our bodies feel overwhelmed It's because there's only so much room that our bodies have to hold on to emotion and so when your emotion get so full that your body has very little space to deal with new things that's when you start to feel overwhelmed. That's when we get angry, that's when we start feeling agitated all the time and we’re frustrated or we feel bothered by certain things. In this situation what we want to do is we want to try to find some bandwidth. Finding bandwidth is going to help your body react more appropriately and more efficiently when you have something come up that is maybe not so typical one of the ways that you can do this to get more bandwidth is to add more oxygen to your blood.

Now that sounds a little strange but I'm going to explain. When we get anxious or when our body gets triggered or we're feeling uncomfortable the brain and the nervous system behave in a way that is going to make us safe and that is going to provide us with opportunities to react and do things quickly so this is based on the fact that when mankind was fairly new, developing into modern humans, the part of our brain that was developed first was fight flight freeze and a bunch of old memories and it was all for safety. Now in modern times when our body feels activated it goes to that old part of our brain which then tells us don't think about things it actually cuts activity in the front of your brain where you're reasonable and rational and it just stays in the back and it says gosh should I run, should I hide or should I fight back. It's not thinking “gosh I wonder if this is a good opportunity to make friends with this thing that's scaring me” or “maybe I should think about what I should do next maybe talking is the best thing.” This part of the brain is very reactionary and it's very fast, so adding oxygen into the blood stream allows your brain to actually think more clearly. The best way to add oxygen to your bloodstream is by taking three cleansing breaths. A cleansing breath exercise doesn't have to take very long and it's actually not very hard but you have to think about doing it slowly so when you're taking your first cleansing breath you want to breathe in for a slow count of three and then breathe out for a slow count of five. When you breathe out you want to get as much carbon dioxide out of your body as possible because if your bloodstream has oxygen in it your brain is then being told everything is okay and you can access that front part of your brain that is reasonable and rational. If you can do this when you're feeling overwhelmed, when you are feeling angry, when you're feeling frustrated or you just feel like you don't have enough bandwidth it's going to help you get more bandwidth so that you can manage and deal with your surroundings with more control. Finding yourself feeling overwhelmed could be a sign that you could benefit from seeing a therapist to learn more about how to calm your nervous system to know more about where these triggers are coming from to understand and be able to cope with whatever come up for you that makes you feel overwhelmed.

Feeling Out Of Control

The second factor is do you feel out of control of your life. What does control mean? Control is a vital part of self-preservation and survival. We get very controlling when we don't feel like we’re safe and we don't feel like we are being supported. But life is not always controllable and if anything life require a lot of flexibility and life is incredibly unpredictable so when you're so focused on control it really inhibits your ability to live a life that is fulfilling and satisfying. When you're trying to control things the more you control, the more you're going to be hurting the relationships around you and it’s ultimately going to make you feel quite lonely. Have you ever had a boss that was a micro manager and it just felt awful to be told what to do at all time and how to do it and when to do it and if it's done properly or if it's not done properly and you have no autonomy to do things in the way that you feel is appropriate? Well that's what it's like for people around you if you are trying too hard to force control. One of the things that you can do about it is practicing how to allow others to do things for you. Allowing others to help and trusting that others have your back is a first step. When I'm working with clients in session this is a lot easier said than done so typically we start with somebody safe somebody that you know pretty well. This person is going to do what you ask them or is going to be open to hearing what you have to say or you know for sure won't let you down. In practicing we will roleplay in session or just kind of practice and go through the steps that you may want to follow to take this action. Now this is where practice really does make perfect. The more that you can practice allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to having other people support you or do something for you then the more inside you're going to start feeling like that’s true. It might sound silly but practicing really does make perfect and that's kind of what coming to therapy is about’ it's about practicing so you can develop a skill and take it out into the real world so if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or out of control then it could be time to call a therapist.

Irregular Sleep Patterns

The third topic is irregular sleep patterns. Are you finding yourself not sleeping enough? Are you sleeping too much? Regular sleep is incredibly important; it's a foundational need for all human beings just like food and just like breathing. When are not sleeping well it really impacts our mood, it impacts our behavior it impacts just the quality of our life in general. When your body is working really hard during the day your body is going to need to sleep more at night so excessive sleeping is sometimes a sign that we're doing too much or that there's too much going on. And when we're not sleeping enough that sometimes happens because we're so exhausted through our day that we don't have the energy to stop the racing thoughts, we don't have the energy to stop all of the things that are keeping us from falling asleep and that also keeps us from being present. If we can try to get present then your body will relax and only process what's going on for you in that moment. It's not necessarily the number of hours that you're sleeping so much as the important thing is the quality of your sleep.

I recently got a Fitbit and I had no idea that when I was sleeping eight or 10 hours a day that the quality of my sleep was so poor that I wasn't even feeling rested or rejuvenated after those long hours of sleep so Getting 4 to 5 hours of quality sleep is significantly better than getting 8-10-12 hours of inferior quality sleep. What can we do about this? Well one of the things that I like to discuss with my clients and that they find to have a lot of success with is creating a sleep routine. So when you have a sleep routine you really need to take the time to think about what is most helpful for you to fall asleep. Sometimes that means taking a shower or a bath before you go to bed. Sometimes that means washing your face with cool water or not watching television for 15 20 minutes before you're going to bed. It might mean reading in bed or not reading in bed or not looking at your phone while you're in your bed. Sometimes that means journaling or writing in a diary. There are so many different possibilities that you have to decide which are the most helpful for you in attaining your sleep routine and then when you have the routine it's very important to keep it consistent. Having a consistent bedtime is really important. Having a consistent wakeup time is really important because our bodies like to have routine and they function better. When there's routine and structure even though it sounds kind of boring it's actually the best for our body.

I frequently have to explain to clients what's best for us is not what often really excites us. If someone gave you a plate of carrots and then they gave you a plate of chocolate cake which one would you want to have? Probably the chocolate cake, but you know that's not good for you. If you had chocolate cake every day you’d get sick, you’d get diabetes, you’d gain weight. There are numerous reasons why eating that chocolate cake is not the right thing to do but a lot of times we’ll do it anyway. What’s best for us is really to eat the carrots. The carrots are the things that we know are best for us but it's really hard to turn down chocolate cake when you've got in front of you. So think of your sleep routine as carrots. Carrots are going to help you be healthier and happier in the long run. If you don't find a sleep routine that works for you just keep changing it up, try different things until you find something that does work and then when it does work keep doing it and you will find that your sleep will be more regulated and it's going to help in all the other parts of your life. So if you find yourself overwhelmed or feeling out of control or you're having irregular sleep these things that could be signs that you could benefit from seeing a therapist.

Lack of Motivation

Now going on to our fourth point do you find it hard to get motivated to do the things that you usually enjoy? What does that question mean? I have clients come in and when I asked this question they tell me things like “gosh you know I've been having trouble getting out of bed” not that anybody enjoys getting out of beds, but sometimes you can get out of bed and it's not a big deal but if you have a lot of trouble getting out of bed or you decide you’re not really in the mood to go out with friends or your just not really in the mood to call or talk to anybody or you just don't feel like sticking to my diet or you feel like just eating a bunch of fast food because it's easier. it's not having motivation orjust not caring as much, just letting things slip by. So what do you do when you feel this way? it's actually not a very nice feeling, it feels pretty hopeless and so one of the things that my clients have really benefited from is really trying to set some very small but attainable goals. Small goals vary depending on the person but a small goal could be to get out of bed after you hit the snooze only two times or to call or maybe text one family member or friend after you get off of work, or to try to walk for five minutes outside before you go from the car into your House. You want to take small actions that you can achieve without pain or super human effort. One of the mistakes that we often make is to set our goals too high and then we can't achieve them and we get disappointed and frustrated and we just give up. so start off picking something small and doable and then as you perfect that then move on to the next thing so all of this is going to be teeny tiny little step toward getting you to where you want to go and pretty soon you're going to look back and you're going to say “whoa I've actually come pretty far because even though they're small little things. They add up” Focus on the little things. Again if you're feeling unmotivated if you're feeling like you have a lost interest in things, if you're feeling overwhelmed, if you feel like your life is out of control if you're not sleeping well these are all signs that you could benefit from seeing a therapist

Addiction or Addictive Behavior

Let’s say you start over using or abusing something or someone in your life. Now what exactly does that mean? Well some examples could be if you're drinking or if you're smoking or if you're eating more than usual. Now here are the trick questions: “What's more than usual” and “Was it a problem before” or “Is it even more now” that's a topic I think for another article but if you find you normally set yourself at a two drink limit and you find yourself at three or four that's a Red flag. If you're smoking cigarettes or other things that are more medicinal every single day multiple times a day and you haven't done it before. If you're eating more it could be snacking constantly, it could be portion control. Maybe you feel like letting loose more often, you feel like partying, you feel like going out, you feel like you need to let off some steam. These are also signs that you may be over doing it. Another sign could be dieting more which means eating less. If you find yourself eating less than usual that's also a sign that something's not quite right or if you're working out way more sometimes we work out more so that we can distract ourselves from what's going on in our life. If you find yourself turning into like a workaholic or working significantly more hours on a regular basis that's not necessary okay. If you're taking this time now to read this article and you can take a really quick inventory of your life and how much you're drinking, smoking , partying, dieting, overeating or if you're working to excess. We have to think about something called harm reduction and harm reduction sounds really scary and super horrible but it's actually just a method for when you're doing something too much cutting back so if you are let's say drinking so if you're drinking and you're finding yourself drinking four glasses of wine a night then Maybe harm reduction or reducing the harm would mean you can have your four glasses but let's put 5 ounces of wine in a smaller glass instead of just nearly filling a larger wine glass. So if you pour in five ounces and have that four times a day maybe that's better than if you were self-pouring and it was 10 or 12 ounces per glass four times a day. That's what we mean by “Reducing the Harm.” just think about how you can take one tiny step toward reducing whatever it is that you're doing that is too much or yes that's too much A lot of my clients find this very helpful because just to tell yourself that you're going to stop doing that like I'm never going to drink wine again or I'm just never going to be angry again that's just not realistic and if it's not realistic it's just not going to happen and then you're going to continue with the over using which then could lead to something like addiction and we Want to go out there so if you find yourself over doing things over using maybe even possibly abusing things It could be time for you to call and work with the therapist

Change in Your Behavior or Performance

For our final reason why you might want to see a therapist is a change in your daily performance. Are your friends and family telling you that they notice a difference either in your performance or in your behavior or just all around they're noticing that something just isn't right? This could also be affecting your job performance. I'm going to explain a little bit about what noticing changes in in our behavior performance means. When we are assessing ourselves it's really easy to overlook things and quite frankly we rarely sit down and take a personal inventory. Now when our friends and family mention something to us about our performance there’s a really high likelihood that it's actually true. We might not notice these changes but other people in our lives will notice them a little quicker. They may notice things like you’ve recently been kind of scatter brained, you’re missing deadlines, you're losing track of your keys, or your losing track of time more than you used to. Maybe you're just forgetting to do things. If you find yourself doing these things sometimes we think “well I'm just tired” or “I just have a lot going on” and that may be true but if other people are noticing it and it's affecting how you're performing at school, how you are relating to your friends and family or how it's impacting your job then it's actually a little bit more than being just tired or just feeling overwhelmed for the moment.

So when you find yourself asking “what can I do” I like to recommend to clients is to take a step back and take a personal inventory and really think is this happening. Am I losing track of things? Am I missing deadlines? Is this true? What about this is true and what about it is not true? Once you take the inventory oftentimes you'll find that a lot of the things that people have been saying are actually correct.

So when things like that start happening it's usually because of some kind of underlying issue or problem and so without knowing exactly what that issue or problem is it's hard for me right now to say oh yes do x y z when you find that friends and family are noticing a difference or maybe you're noticing a difference yourself that is really just the time to stop Try to find a good therapist that can help you work through these things and get back to a place where you are productive where you're happy and things are working.

Remember seeing a therapist is just like seeing a personal trainer for the mind. Life is so much more stressful and fast pace these days. We can all use someone to talk to. Someone who is trained on how to make the necessary daily adjustments to get us on the path we want for ourselves. If any of the above challenges sound like something you’re dealing with on a daily basis feel free to give us a call at 310-612-2998 or email us at info@pacificmft.com and let’s start talking about it.

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