Life Can Be Hard, Even For A Therapist
Dairy entry #1
“Sigh” life can be exhausting. Add emotions, opinions, thoughts, past events and relationships to the mix and it can feel like you are drowning in the sea of what we call ‘life’. With ease one can easily jump onto any social media app and begin to lose yourself. Self-loathing may kick in high gear as you scroll endless posts of how you failed at not being where everyone else is and soon find yourself sobbing while staring at the bottom of an ice cream tub. I will not lie I have been there, done that and on occasion those feelings wash back. After all, I am just a human like everyone else trying to find my way through life’s many obstacles.
‘Adulting’ as we have come to call being past some arbitrary age at which we expect everyone to have their shit together, is just unrealistic. Let’s be real for a moment, what the f%$k does it even mean to have one’s shit together?!? If I were to look at what social media describes as having my shit together it would say something along the lines of you need to look good, go out often, hit up amazing vacation spots, have a good job and live in magazine page houses. Now, if I was to look at general society ideas, then at my age I should be married, working full time with a college degree, have at least two kids, a nice house and a maybe a dog. ALL OF THIS SEEMS SO UNREALISTIC AND UNFAIR! What if I don’t want these things?
As someone on the receiving end of ‘not being where I’m supposed to be in life’ I find these concepts frustrating. It can be hard at times to grasp the logic behind following a path that may not be for me. Yet, many times I experience shame and guilt when people ask me life related questions such as ‘when are you going to have kids?’. Ultimately, I find myself angry every time this question comes up. Mainly because most of the individuals that have asked this question have no idea what the inners of my life really look like. There are so many factors to having a child and being able to provide for that child, that I find it near impossible at times to answer when people ask me. I do not feel that they are privy to my personal decisions. Plus, comments made about ‘it’s going to be stressful’ or ‘you will be financially strained because that’s what it means to have a kid’ is bullshit. Yeah, I know budgeting is a bigger concept when expanding one’s family but I do not see the logical reasons of placing myself and my partner in a stressful situation. Especially one that can easily lead to many negative impacts on our relationships, such as higher levels of stress.
Typically, this is where therapists enter into individuals lives. You may or may not of followed this set path for you, or maybe you carved your own. At this point you are probably feeling like either decision was wrong/right in its own way. You may also be questioning whether or not you made the right choice based on where you are in life. Heck, maybe you are scrolling social media at this very moment questioning where your life went wrong. What if you didn’t go wrong? What if the path you chose is right for YOU? This is where I’ve found that things can get tricky. Now, I am not anti-social media. To be honest, I use it every day. However, over the years I have come to notice that the information I consume while on social media does greatly impact how I perceive the world around me.
A great example of this is when I followed WAY too many people online. People I didn’t even really know! When I say I didn’t know them, I mean like I couldn’t tell you what they valued as a person. I had no real way of knowing if this person shared similar values with me or if they were toxic to my mental health. Over many months I slowly started to remove people I didn’t know, I never talked to, or people who posted opinions that didn’t align with my values. Slowly, I started to notice that I wasn’t so negative. I wasn’t swarmed with thoughts of other people’s lives. I wasn’t waiting to get onto social media to discover the next good juicy piece of gossip that ultimately had no impact on my life, other than eating up my free time. Something as simple as removing 1 person a day from your social media feed that has no added value to your life can be a game changer in the long term. It allows you to open your time up to more valuable and desirable hobbies and interests. I found that by doing this I slowly was finding more time to focus on my health. Rather than sitting and scrolling and mentally beating myself up about not reaching my life goals.
Now let’s be clear there is no secret hidden one size fits all formula for this. Everyone is different and different skills work for different people. While I might be a therapist trained in helping people overcome some of life’s biggest obstacles it doesn’t mean I am immune to encountering challenges myself. The whole point of this entire journal entry is to normalize that the human experience happens to everyone, even me! That being said below is just a short list of skills and techniques that I have found helpful in challenging myself to focus more on self-care so that I can provide quality care, while also managing my own life struggles.
Skills I find useful:
Carbon dioxide breathing technique: Okay, I know this technique is strange but hear me out! Place one finger over your right nostril and breathe in. Then before breathing out uncover your right nostril and then cover your left nostril, so that you breathe out of your left nostril. You repeat this pattern for about 1-2 minutes. This technique helps to improve overall respiratory function and endurance while also encouraging nervous system regulation. Let me tell you I felt silly as can be doing this the first few times when learning this technique but it works! Especially when I need to calm my nerves at the end of a long hard day.
Stretching! Believe it or not but putting on a quick stretching video does wonders for me. Especially at the end of a long day in which my butt rarely leaves my chair. It is beyond refreshing to restore blood flow to muscles and improve my ability to move. Not to mention depending on the video some of them can be really engaging while doing the stretches. Having a little chuckle while working to restore and improve my range of motion can really change my overall mood.
A hot shower. Yeah, this is pretty simple and self-explanatory. However, add a nice shower steamer to your shower while you wash away the stresses of the day and it can be a game changer. I will be honest I do this almost EVERY night. It’s a great way to wash away the stressful buildup of the day and be refreshed for bedtime.
Progressive muscle relaxation! This one is a favorite for helping me fall asleep or just to release some pent-up emotions, primarily anxiety. You can easily google numerous different progressive relaxation exercises that you can use. My go to is to just start with tensing and releasing my toes and work my way up. Most of the time I don’t get very far before I start feeling less stressed or end up falling asleep.