Most people do not think of “mental health” or “therapy” (that is not physical therapy) when they think of sports, athletes and setting goals. However, many athletes find they benefit greatly from better understanding and balancing the intersection of sports, life, balance, and new beginnings.
Research suggests that strategic goal setting in sports does not only positively affect athletic performance and goal attainment, but it also has positive effects on psychological well-being and an athlete’s mental health. After all, the brain is a muscle that need to be worked out and tended to as well! The mental work you put in off the field will work wonders on your general mental health, but also on your focus and mindset in the critical countdowns of whatever sport you participate in.
Use the motivation of a fresh start in the New Year to focus, reflect and plan to be the MVP of your goals.
Train Your Brain
Athletics is about far more than showing up to practice and on game day. It is about the mindset you cultivate walking into those days, but also about resetting and reflecting too. Some common issues athletes face are performance anxiety, pressure (from self and others), negative thoughts, self-doubt, fear of injury, fear of failure, and the stress of whatever else is going on in life. A student athlete has to balance athletics with academics and a social life on top of that too. It’s a lot of work, both on and off the field (or court)! This is why it is important to prioritize your time, schedule leisure to fit into your training, and listen to your body and mind when you need a break.
Even some of the best athletes, such as Olympian gymnast Simone Biles, deal with mental health issues due to the physical and mental demand of sports. Biles and other prestigious athletes recognize the importance of strengthening your mental game to help your physical game. A big part of athletics is recovery. Not just resting your muscles and getting enough sleep (that is very important too) but also reflecting, affirming, and making resolutions. A successful athletic career is a long game (no pun intended) that requires the athlete to condition their bodies and minds to be strong and resilient.
It makes sense that many of the most successful athletes stress the importance of how taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health. Many teams will even have their own psychologist or therapist to help athletes identify, process and improve aspects of their mental health that are affecting their game and vice versa. Before you hit the big leagues, you can engage in Pure’s Sports Mindset Coaching to help you decrease doubt and stress and increase performance and satisfaction.
Reach your GOOOOOOOOOOOALs
So, how will you set goals for yourself to improve your performance while taking care of the mental aspect of the game? Fortunately, goal setting in sports is a widely researched topic, so there are loads of tips and tricks to support your lifestyle in the healthiest and strongest way. Coaches, teams and individual players set personal and professional goals to track achievements and continue to improve their game.
It is very important for a good athlete to understand that practice makes perfect and perfect is what you achieve when you are trying your best. Obviously, competition is important, but so is enjoying the game you are passionate about. Below is a list of key concepts to remember when setting goals and reflecting on achievements.
Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable
Ask for help/guidance from parents, mentors, teammates, and coaches
Manage your expectations because not every practice and performance can be perfect
Take rest days to recoup and reflect to give your mind & body a break
Practice positive affirmations to help rid yourself of negative thoughts that can negatively affect your game
Face your failures to fuel your successes
Embrace radical acceptance because you can’t win every game/match and that is OK!
Practice mindfulness to stay present in the important moments of your sport (so you don’t overthink past performance, and don’t have too much anxiety for future matches)
And always remember, an athlete does not (and should not) face the pressures and challenges of their sport alone. Most athletes would do anything to improve their game and become a better player, and part of this process is improving your mental game as well. For advice on how to maximize your mindset, see what Pure Health Center can do for you.
The holidays are here again. As a time to give thanks for traditions and celebrate with family and friends, holiday celebrations tend to wrap around the spirit of renewal. But the holidays can also be a time of mourning. As the holidays approach, or during the holiday season, losing someone close to you may make moving forward, renewing, or forgetting the ills of the past year particularly challenging. This may also make you feel like you must rush through your grief because you are surrounded by so much joy. Family gatherings and socially expected gratitude can sometimes feel forced. This includes whether you’re grieving the loss of someone who has just recently passed or mourning the loss of someone that passed away many years ago. When grieving a loved one who has passed away or some other important loss, it is natural to be overwhelmed and experience heightened emotions during the holiday season.
The Struggle of Grieving During Holiday Cheer
A festive, happy, and otherwise joyfully chaotic atmosphere surrounds you during the holidays as you watch others celebrate. Undoubtedly, this makes grief and the holiday season compounded with many warring emotions. You are surrounded by joy, celebration, and excessive joy. At the same time, you feel incredibly alone as you think about your lost loved one, lost opportunities, or lost time. This causes you to feel a thankful but painful awareness of how fragile life is.
Understandably, you may become overwhelmed while actively grieving the loss of a loved one, a family member, a child, the end of a relationship, or the loss of your pet. And unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to grief. While we all deal with grief differently, grief is what provides us with the opportunity to begin healing.
As you start or continue to navigate your grieving process during the holidays, you may find these tips helpful:
Take your time; don’t feel the need to rush yourself through any feelings
Be honest with yourself and others,
Reach out to family, friends, and anyone who has experienced similar losses in the past.
When you feel overwhelmed, let your tears flow. Crying will help your grieving process.
Make time for solitude, mourning, and remembering but balance these activities with planned social events.
Ask others to help with cleaning, cooking, shopping, and decorating.
Perhaps you’ve been putting off talking to a counselor. The holidays can be incredibly stressful, so now is a perfect time for individual counseling or attending a group on grieving.
Remind yourself that grief is another form of love – you wouldn’t be grieving if they didn’t matter. Your sadness is valid and healthy, especially when you lose someone dear to you.
Ask yourself: what gift do I need to give to myself this year?
The Best Ways to Honor Your Loved One and Celebrate the Holidays This Season
The holiday season can be a meaningful time to honor a deceased loved one while celebrating ourselves. We know this isn’t the typical holiday narrative. However, when you reimagine and redefine what you want the holiday season to be and to look like, the freer, you will feel to express your grief regardless of what others expect. No, this doesn’t make you self-centered; in fact, quite the opposite. When you finish this exercise, you may even realize that you have been avoiding your emotions to support your family at the expense of yourself for a long time. That’s normal. Understanding what that means and what you need to do about it can also be part of your healing.
Listed below are a few tips for beginning your process of redefining and reimagining the holidays:
Choose what traditions you would like to keep and which you would like to change. Your loved one can be commemorated by creating a new tradition.
During this holiday season, reevaluate the values your family has passed on to you. Are there any that you disagree with? Do you want to emphasize any particular values this year?
During the holiday, find or create activities that reflect each of your values. If an idea seems unconventional, don’t hesitate to put it into practice—you’re making a tradition for yourself.
5 Ideas for a memory-filled holiday celebration for your loved one:
Create a memory box and find a place for you and others to record special memories. Pick a time to look through them together.
Create an ornament, wreath, candle, or other decoration in celebration of your loved one, and use it whenever you feel the need.
Host a memorial and spend time with your loved one at their gravesite.
Prepare their favorite dish, or at least attempt to do so.
Although it may seem impossible now, your life will begin to rebalance over time, provided you put time and effort into it. You will even get to the point where you can be happier and more like yourself. It is important to remember that you can get help if you are experiencing grief that isn’t getting easier over time, feel constantly overwhelmed, or feel unable to cope on your own. Support is available in the Arlington Heights area; we welcome you to work with one of our therapists near you. Call us or visit our website today to learn more about our services or book an appointment!
The benefits of integrating gratitude into your day-to-day life seem endless. Gratitude promotes happiness, enhances relationships, counteracts depression, boosts self-esteem, and increases dopamine and serotonin, which lifts your spirits instantly. In time, you will be able to cultivate gratitude naturally, which will create new neural pathways. Through these pathways, you will further improve your self-esteem and self-confidence. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let’s get started!
First, we suggest creating your own A-Z Gratitude List(s). This simple activity for practicing gratitude every day will allow you to visualize all of the things you are thankful for. Begin by writing down the alphabet, and then write down the things you are grateful for that begins with each letter. In your first list, feel free to jot down whatever comes to mind. As you continue making these, you can think about the material and nonmaterial aspects of your life that bring you a sense of gratitude.
We have created our own A-Z Gratitude List for you to use as inspiration or as a resource when creating your own. So, if you’re feeling stuck – don’t worry! Break down the task as needed. For example, complete 3-5 items per letter, or use 3-5 different letters daily.
Happiness, hugs, health
Jokes, journaling, joy
Kids, kindness, kittens
Love, laughter, life
Movies, music, meditation
Ocean, old friends
Parks, pancakes, photos
Quality time, questions
Rain, rest, a roof over your head
Tea, travel, texting
Walks, water, windows
Zippers, zodiac signs
Make it Creative
Secondly, we should think of fun and creative ways to show gratitude. Let’s flip the traditional journal prompt for gratitude upside down! It would help if you constantly change your routine to keep it interesting. Furthermore, if this exercise becomes monotonous, you may stop doing it altogether. Using these ideas as a springboard to express yourself unleash your creativity!
Pick a letter each day at random
Let’s play a game; how many letters can you get through in two minutes?
Decorate your gratitude box or jar however you want. Write down the 3-5 reasons you’re grateful today (sometimes, it’s fun to write only things that made you feel grateful today or limit yourself to one letter as an extra challenge)
Make groups of four or five letters out of the alphabet. Organizing the letters alphabetically is unnecessary; you need to group them. Assign a theme to each group and ask yourself: How can I express my gratitude to others? In what ways can others treat me in a way that makes me feel appreciated? Who has positively influenced my life or the community I live in throughout history?
How to Document Your List
There is no wrong way to make a gratitude list. However, we advise making it something physical and tangible rather than keeping it in your head or mentally completing your list. Your experiences today will likely fade into memory and not last long. It is helpful to write and store your positive experiences, people, or things in your life to continue to recall them in the future.
You can make a list in a journal, notepad, or smartphone app (though you might want to skip this suggestion if you are easily distracted by notifications – no judgment here, we all have them!)
Use gratitude-themed smartphone apps (see above about distractions, though!)
Stick notes on your fridge, set your alarm every morning, schedule it on your calendar, and don’t forget to do it every day
Keep a pen, notebook, or journal in areas where you tend to wind down. This way, you can add to your list when you are relaxing and walking through your day
Top tip: Don’t intimidate yourself by setting aside significant amounts of time; at the most, try 10 minutes.
How to Incorporate Gratitude Creatively into Your Life
Practicing gratitude at least 2-3 times per week is a reasonable way to start incorporating it into your life. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to start doing it daily. Over time you will see a significant improvement in your well-being and relationships with people around you. Not only will you benefit in the present, but you will also build a solid foundation for your future. Gratitude also helps you become more appreciative, positive, and optimistic. When we appreciate and acknowledge each other, we feel better, smile more, and inspire others to do the same.
When incorporating gratitude into your thought process, remember that this is challenging and will take work. However, it gets easier and easier the more you practice until, finally, you’re accustomed to it and do it naturally. The following exercises are ways to incorporate gratitude into your life beyond journaling.
Take the time to perform a kind act every day
Encourage your friends and family with daily affirmations
Identify one thing each day that you are looking forward to
Take a moment each day to reflect on what you are grateful for
Remember to appreciate the things you usually take for granted
Make someone’s life better by giving them a book you’ve found profoundly transformative
Walk through life with your five senses, fully engage in the present, and experience life fully
We can show appreciation in many ways, from watching the clouds pass by to writing handwritten thank-you notes, preparing a favorite meal for someone, or even filling out a journal prompt for gratitude. Upon reviewing your list, you may notice some tricky letters. We had trouble finding something that started with Z, for example. At first glance, zippers may seem like a silly item to put on a gratitude list. However, not only are zippers integral to everyday life, but they also help make life easier and more convenient compared to life without them. There’s no point in ignoring the importance of everything, from every person to every letter. Be kind and understanding if you cannot think of an item or a personal connection to a letter. Instead, consider what you use daily, who you see, and the hardships that would arise if you didn’t have them. Once you start looking for gratitude everywhere, you will see that the possibilities are endless in ways you can incorporate them into your life.
Pure Health Center would be delighted to speak with you if you think you could benefit from counseling or are curious and need more information. If you seek more ways to express gratitude in your life, or if you feel stuck at any time during the process, this is your opportunity! When you work with a therapist, you can gain peace of mind and overcome many obstacles. By doing so, you will be able to focus on your life’s positive aspects and how much to be thankful for.
We also now offer individual counseling in three locations in and around Chicago (as well as online), and we are looking forward to meeting you. If you have been putting off counseling or have not been able to take advantage of our services in the past, please do not hesitate to contact us today. You can also schedule an appointment online.
A smile can be a defining facial feature, like a person’s eyes. Genuine, heartfelt smiles born out of amusement or warmheartedness are contagious. Whether they stem from seeing others smile, our smile can contribute to how attractive we are considered to be by others. In many cases, a person who smiles often may be regarded as more attractive and approachable than someone who doesn’t smile frequently. The self-awareness of how attractive one’s smile is can be beneficial, too. It’s common for people who feel good about their smiles to have increased happiness and self-confidence. These individuals tend to smile more. To smile without even realizing they’re smiling.
Many of us smile multiple times a day without even realizing it. So it may come as a surprise to learn that there is an entire day devoted to the practice. This year, October 7th is World Smile Day, a special day dedicated to celebrating the everyday action of smiling. However, we believe that this “holiday” should be celebrated all month long (or even all year).
At Pure Health Center, we offer counseling for individuals, couples, teens, children and families, and working professionals, encouraging them to achieve the meaningful personal and professional relationships and happiness they deserve. We help clients develop healthier thought and behavior patterns and implement coping mechanisms that allow them to have enhanced daily functioning and more reasons to smile each day. Our licensed therapists recognize the psychology and importance of smiling and the physical and mental health benefits of smiling described in this blog.
What is World Smile Day?
World Smile Day celebrates smiles, happiness, and kindness from one person to another. It honors the legacy of the artist who created the smiley face, the late Harvey Ball. The smiley face created by Harvey Ball in 1963 is a recognizable, lasting symbol of happiness, goodwill, and good cheer. Ball watched his design become over-commercialized and overused in the market and decided that we should devote one day to celebrating the true meaning behind the smiley face. He decided that every year, the first Friday in October would be World Smile Day, a declaration the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation makes come to life each year. On this day, everyone is encouraged to devote themselves to smiles and acts of kindness in and out of their communities.
Why is a Smile So Important?
Smiles are important for many reasons—one being what they mean to us and allow us to convey. Smiles can serve as expressions of our feelings. They successfully showcase kindness, happiness, amusement, and pride.
That said, smiles can also stem from social interactions. They can be polite greetings and nothing more. Positive interactions with others can garner smiles, for sure. But, so can interactions where we force smiles, aiming to look approachable. Smiles may also be our go-to coping tool we use in uncomfortable situations, where we may even laugh out of nervousness, embarrassment, or fear. Clearly, there is a lot more reason to smile than we think.
The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Smiling
Celebrating World Smile Day can be rewarding because smiling makes you feel good. Smiling can be a natural antidote that gives the mind and body a boost. One of the greatest mental health benefits of smiling is that this upward turn of the lips initiates the release of three hormones: dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. As a result of smiling:
You experience reduced stress. Dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are natural stress and pain-relievers. Releasing these hormones with every smile can help eliminate negative emotions, feelings, and thoughts. It helps you naturally reduce stress-enhancing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Positive emotions are enhanced. Everyone experiences positive and negative feelings and thoughts. By smiling and laughing, you’re tapping into positive emotions. The hormones released when you smile tell your body that you’re happy. In return, you feel happier.
Job performance gets a boost. Research suggests that the mental health benefits of smiling are as substantial in the workplace as in personal and social situations. The positive emotions associated with and caused by smiling can invigorate students and working professionals. Smiling and increased happiness can boost your decision-making, learning, processing, and creativity.
You can improve and protect your lifespan. The mental health benefits of smiling, like reduced stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and decreased risk of depression while boosting the immune system, ultimately enable you to live longer and healthier.
World Smile Day Can Be a Day of Happiness, Compassion, and Learning
You may have plenty of reasons to smile if you’re living comfortably and enjoying your personal, professional, or academic life. Perhaps you’re experiencing growth and triumphs within yourself and in your relationships. Maybe you’re achieving success at home and in the workplace or school. You’ll likely find it natural and easy to smile on World Smile Day and every day. You’ll probably find you can’t help but smile in counseling sessions with a licensed therapist—sessions you attend despite not facing a crisis because therapy can be beneficial even when you aren’t struggling to handle your life circumstances.
But you may find it hard to smile if you face many struggles. You may find yourself forcing a smile or two because you don’t think you have any reasons to do so naturally. Our compassionate, skilled therapists at Pure Health Center reassure clients that this is okay, too. Even if you don’t have a positive reason to smile at the moment, perhaps choosing to smile is the positive experience you need. You’re still being honest with yourself and your circumstances even when you find it within yourself to smile and laugh during challenges.
Our center is a judgment-free space where clients gain insight into, process, and change problematic thinking and actions. Through evidence-based treatment, they’re encouraged to replace them with healthier, positive coping mechanisms that suit their unique emotional and mental health needs. Reach out to us today for the emotional and mental health treatment, support, and empowerment you deserve. For the healing that allows you to recognize reasons to smile and reap the mental health benefits of smiling.
If you’ve struggled with anxiety, stress, depression, or distressing life circumstances, you might be eager to see a licensed therapist and begin feeling better. Therapy sessions are productive and beneficial, but often leave you feeling many positive things, negative things, and everything in between.
Some situations in life can cause a person to experience physical, emotional, behavioral, and mental health changes. When it becomes too much to bear—and even before that point—it can be beneficial to go to personal counseling.
Knowing that therapy can be good for you, you may tell yourself that you’ll feel great when you leave sessions with a licensed therapist. You may expect to leave feeling happier and more positive. And in many cases, people do feel this way after spending time with their therapist. But not always. This is why it’s so important to care for yourself after your personal counseling session. Therapy is an empowering experience but also a learning experience that requires hard work. That requires acknowledging painful memories and feelings tucked away in the corners of the mind and heart.
At Pure Health Center, we recognize that people may experience various emotions and feelings following therapy. Whether you’ve had an excellent session with your therapist or feel deep fatigue that needs a little more attention, described below are practical after-therapy self-care tips and reasons why they matter.
What Happens in Personal Counseling?
No two individuals, couples, or families experience therapy the same. Ultimately, your therapy experience depends on what you need. For some, personal counseling is temporary for learning to navigate a distressing life event. Others may go to therapy for years to meet different mental and emotional needs in their lifetime. Some clients’ psychotherapy goals may be identifying problematic thought patterns and adopting healthier ones. Others may hope to improve their interpersonal skills.
It’s common for early therapy sessions to involve therapists asking their clients many questions to learn about them, their history, and their needs. These conversations enable therapists to identify any themes or patterns in their clients’ lives that may affect their mental health. Topics that commonly come up in personal counseling sessions include one’s:
School or work life
Values and beliefs
At Pure Health Center, clients have a nonjudgmental, safe space to discuss these topics with compassionate, licensed therapists. Our therapists specialize inpersonal counseling for:
Healing from trauma
Managing stress and anger and much more
Our team members use their expertise and compassion to help clients confront barriers that impede their mental and emotional well-being.
How Should You Feel After a Counseling Session?
There’s no one way to feel immediately after or later on following a personal counseling session. Conversations with a therapist typically involve dredging up difficult memories, situations, thoughts, and emotions, which is why after-therapy self-care is crucial. You may feel uncomfortable at first. You may feel nervous and vulnerable opening up about things you tried to close yourself off from. You may relive trauma, anger, sadness, regret, humiliation, disappointment, or pain you tried to suppress, causing you to feel exhausted, drained, and depleted. Yet, you may feel relieved you’re no longer holding things in but processing them. All of this is completely normal and expected.
Still, you may be wondering why you don’t immediately feel the relief that was promised to you when you start therapy, and here’s why. Identifying and processing your traumatic memories, stressors, interpersonal challenges, and difficult symptoms can be nerve-wracking because:
Therapy is new to you
You aren’t used to discussing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences
You’re confronting things you’ve suppressed or avoided
You’re discussing triggering memories, such as childhood trauma
Releasing stressors that have held your mind and body captive can take just as much or more energy as keeping them bottled inside. Especially if you didn’t have the coping skills to deal with them. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Trust yourself and your therapist. Remember that growing pains happen just as much in the mind as they do in the body.
As your sessions progress, you may begin feeling proud of the positive changes you notice in your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and stress responses. You may feel more compassion toward yourself after therapy. Perhaps, you better understand why past situations impacted your thoughts and behaviors. Maybe you judged yourself too harshly for being unable to regulate your emotions at the end of therapy sessions. Improved mental health symptoms and daily functioning can have you feeling lighter after therapy. Remember, even if you started therapy to relieve mental and emotional pain, personal counseling sessions aren’t just for discussing hardships. When you and your therapist begin discussing your progress, successes, and strengths, you may feel hopeful in the face of hopelessness. You may feel encouraged to bring about change outside of the therapy room.
Effective Ways to Engage in After-Therapy Self-Care
Therapy sessions can inspire a range of emotions from exhausted to energized. Even the lightest, most uplifting sessions can require after-therapy self-care. Below are some ways to care for yourself after therapy that can help you tend to and regulate your feelings.
When You Feel Depleted
Experiencing various negative, neutral, and positive feelings is nothing to fear. It may signify you’re actively engaged in therapy. Making changes in life and trying to improve your circumstances takes effort, dedication, and time. It involves deconstructing old patterns and exploring your current ones to make a fresh way for the new. It can be depleting and make you zone out.
If this sounds like you, consider:
Taking time to treat yourself. Therapy is a productive process but an emotional one. Reward yourself for your progress. In therapy, clients learn to avoid substance use, emotional eating, or impulse shopping as coping mechanisms. Instead, turning to your favorite books, songs, and movies, taking hot baths or showers, and other relaxation and pampering forms are encouraged as rewarding after-therapy self-care methods.
Being physically active. Moving your body can help boost your happiness and health. Exercising can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure. Just a walk around your neighborhood can help you clear your mind. Physical after-therapy self-care is one way to show your body and mind some deserved TLC.
When You Feel Heavy
Pay attention to how you feel after therapy. You may feel anxious, irritable, confused, relieved, or all the above. When your mind feels light and free, you may physically feel light as a feather. Likewise, if you feel heavy and slowed down after therapy, you may experience muscle tension. It’s the brain-body connection that makes personal counseling a full-body affair. As mentioned above, physical activity can be beneficial. In addition to taking walks or exercising, after-therapy self-care activities that your therapist can introduce to you to nurture the mind and body include
Yoga. Simple and advanced yoga techniques and poses can be effective stress reduction methods. The gentle movements and guided imagery can help usher in a state of mindfulness and peace and improve your physical capability in ways that relax and rejuvenate you.
Deep breathing. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) in a comfortable place can help you feel grounded and calm. It helps reduce your blood pressure, improve muscle function, and prevent strain. Increasing your lung efficiency by breathing this way can help you if you experience anxiety, stress, or any condition or situation that impacts your breathing.
When You Feel Like You Can’t Handle Anything Else
It can be helpful not to schedule therapy sessions before school, work, or other essential tasks that require your attention. This is suggested because whether you feel knocked down or uplifted by a personal counseling session, your mind may stay in the therapy room even after you and your body leave. If your mind remains occupied, try grounding yourself to the present moment by after-therapy self-care methods like:
Journaling. Putting pen to paper can be therapeutic when you need to release negative thoughts and record positive ones. You can find insights you never noticed and be aware of things to share with your therapist when you write without censoring yourself. Don’t run from your thoughts. Don’t try fighting them, either. Jot them down and hold yourself with compassion.
Practicing mindfulness. Usually implemented with yoga and diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness, too, can calm your mind and nervous system. Pausing to practice mindfulness is an after-therapy self-care technique that can work at home or in any private or public quiet setting. When troubling thoughts arise, allow them to. Let them come and go judgment-free. Inhale deeply and envision negative thoughts and bad energy leaving you when you exhale. Doing so allows you to feel more peace and less anxiety and stress.
Discussing Your Experience With Your Therapist
The best after-therapy self-care methods allow you to be gentle with yourself. To pay attention to your mind and body’s needs. And to give your psyche the time needed to integrate things you explore with your therapist in personal counseling. Be patient and give yourself the chance and time to learn, self-reflect, and learn. Allow your therapist to learn more about you, too. Tell them about your after-therapy feelings. They should know how you feel during and after therapy. They should know how you cope after sessions, especially if your emotions and coping mechanisms influence your decision to continue treatment.
At Pure Health Center, our licensed therapists can suggest after-therapy self-care techniques, tools, or resources that help you healthily manage distress. When you decide the time is right, reach out to us to discuss your views and feelings about therapy and collaborate with compassionate therapists to determine what can help you feel safer and more validated during and after personal counseling sessions.
You’ve dreamed about this moment for years. You just got the keys to your new place. You’ve just crossed that graduation stage and said goodbye to college. You’re leaving town and excited to start your new life in a new city. Well done! But wait…isn’t adulthood supposed to be liberating and thrilling…why are you plagued with an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation? You used to be able to make friends easily, but now you feel isolated. You’re likely wondering, “Does anyone else find it hard to stay in touch with college friends, or is it just me? What can I do now that my college days are over?” Adulting is so complicated; who knew?
Adapting to a Lack of Forced Socialization
When you were a child, do you remember how wonderful it felt to be invited to join someone for lunch for the first time? The friendship gods brought you together that day, and you became instant best friends. Naturally. As children, making long-lasting friendships is as simple as being in the same after-school activities or the same class. Leaving school, becoming older, and having our worlds exist beyond school walls change our entire understanding of what a friend is and how we look to find friends. We may initially feel out of place or ill-equipped to make new friends without teachers and classmates vetting for us, but we learn. Our understanding of ourselves and how we grow from various experiences will continue to develop throughout life. Our friendships become based on shared values, being kind and respectful, and being encouraged to live our most authentic lives rather than proximity.
Making Friends: Quick Tips for Young Adults:
Join a community club; we know we can see your eyes rolling now, but seriously, join a book club, volunteer somewhere, or sign up for an adult sports league
Make your coffee shop a frequent stop; eventually, the staff will recognize and start speaking to you
If you’re moving to another city, seek out roommates. By living with roommates, you have the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends
Consciously make an effort to spend less time on your phone, especially when you’re out with potential friends
We all have coworkers. Take advantage! The importance of this one is even more crucial in our Zoom-filled world where we already have screens physically separating us
Being a young adult is just about as easy as it is straightforward. Growing up pulls you in every direction imaginable and, as if that wasn’t enough, it will push you out of your comfort zone from time to time into loneliness and isolation. But, throughout life’s trials, putting your most authentic self forward and into the world will attract the people you are looking for. You will find your people regardless of what the status quo says or wants you to believe.
Acclimating to Working Schedules
The college years are usually devoted to catering to your preferences and needs. As an individual, you decide how to spend your time, set your schedule, and understand that no one will interfere with your napping the whole day; it’s up to you. Then, graduation comes around, and you quickly realize that you will have a 9-5 job sooner than you hoped. The days of waking up at noon are numbered. But this is where you always wanted to be; you’re adulting. Still, you wonder, “Why weren’t we prepared for this?”
It is becoming increasingly common for young adults to embrace a “hustle culture” to achieve their professional and financial goals. However, they also understand that hustling is necessary to survive in the modern world, where most companies do not pay livable wages compared to the rising cost of living. Most of the time, this includes working all weekend, skipping meals, and drinking their way through the day with overflowing cups of coffee.
How to (Comfortably) Adjust to Waking up Early and Working:
Sleep more than staying out late; you’ll feel better when your alarm rings first thing in the morning
Plan a morning routine with steps you’ll enjoy doing every day
Don’t lose patience with yourself
You will adversely affect your mental health when you consistently work beyond your limits and neglect your needs. You may even start experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. Our suggestion? Whenever possible, start gradually (You have your whole life ahead of you to work, really). Consider working part-time and gradually increase your hours until you’re ready to take on a 40-hour week.
Moving from student to employee is stressful and intimidating for most of us. It’s common at this launching pad for your career to worry about not being qualified for your job, run through countless scenarios of how embarrassing it will be to fail miserably, and even wonder if anyone will like you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek the support of someone trained to listen.
If you or a loved one have similar thoughts, don’t hesitate to contact us. Whether you’re struggling with finding your authentic self, balancing work and life, or overcoming workplace anxieties, Pure Health Center’s individual counseling can help. We want to help you find your groove in this whole adulting thing. Reach out to us today.
Despite being a public health crisis that impacts people of all ages, suicide remains heavily stigmatized and pushed to the recess of public discussion. Out of fear that it might inspire someone to commit suicide, even when someone is demonstrating risk factors, many people do not discuss it with their families or friends. However, research has shown that talking openly about suicide can help people feel less lonely and more comfortable expressing their feelings. To honor Suicide Awareness Month this September, we encourage you to educate yourself on depression and suicide. Start breaking down stigmas in your neighborhood by sharing what you’re learning and supporting the families who have lost loved ones to suicide.
What Does Awareness Look like for Different Ages?
A common misconception is that depression symptoms are a normal part of aging due to the physical, emotional, and cognitive difficulties associated with aging. For example, if a senior has recently been diagnosed with a chronic or mental illness or has lost a spouse, they are more likely to experience depression in response. Older adults generally struggle to voice their needs, especially when suffering from depression, even more so when family and friends live far away.
Several factors contribute to the high risk of older adults attempting suicide and ultimately taking their own lives. It is more difficult for those older adults who live alone to be found; they tend to use lethal methods and plan carefully; they are also physically frail, so they have more difficulty recovering fully. It is not uncommon for older adults with depression to report physical complaints that their doctors cannot explain or may not have had the time to treat. They may also appear irritable instead of sad.
Death by suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adults between the ages of 26 and 55. The suicide rate among middle-aged men is the highest among other groups. Male, middle-aged men can struggle with stressors such as unemployment and divorce due to not meeting their traditional male roles. Aside from these factors, life challenges, substance abuse, poverty, and relationship difficulties can also lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Risk Factors for Adults:
A personal and familial history of mental illness
Lethal means, such as pills and guns, are readily available
Abuse, neglect, or trauma experienced as a child
Young Adults & Teenagers
For young adults and teenagers, suicide is the second most common cause of death among 15-24. Compared to adults, teenagers and young adults typically experience extreme and long-lasting reactions that leave them feeling hopeless and sad, unable to see that things will change; this is why some may think suicide is the only way out of these feelings. Additionally, many adolescent people who are depressed may also be facing an addiction. Teenagers and college students with severe depression often take drugs, drink alcohol, or engage in risky behaviors to numb pain. Unfortunately, addiction and depression can be a deadly combination. Consequently, drugs and alcohol become the only means of escaping or alleviating their suffering.
Struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity in an unsupportive and nonaccepting environment
It is a common misconception that suicide affects only teenagers and adults, but children also risk developing depression and experience suicidal thoughts at younger ages than expected.. Depression in children is often accompanied by changes in behavior, including changes in appetite, a shift in interest in playing games or playing with toys of their choice, and excessive fatigue. A child who expresses an interest in dying should never be brushed aside and ignored, especially if they appear to be acting out for attention. Children interested in dying are likely to complete their suicide attempts, even those younger than 10.
Suicide Risk Factors for Children
A change in eating or sleeping habits
A persistent feeling of sadness
Taking a break from friends, family, and regular activities
Consistent complaints of stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with negative emotions
Supporting the Self or Loved Ones who are Impacted by Suicide
When you’ve lost a loved one to suicide:
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to express your emotions
Keep a journal: you can calm your insecurities by writing everything down, even if you aren’t ready to express your grief verbally
Remember your loved one’s life was about more than their suicide
Be prepared for a nonlinear healing process
Don’t neglect yourself
Do not hesitate to enlist the help of your support system if you need it
Give yourself time to heal
When someone in your life has just lost a loved one by suicide:
It is okay to say, “I don’t know what to say” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I want to be there for you.”
Gain a better understanding of what your loved one is going through by educating yourself
Offer to help with a specific task, such as grocery shopping or babysitting, instead of waiting for someone to ask for assistance.
You can assist your loved one’s recovery from grief by supporting them in finding a therapist, setting up an appointment, driving them there, etc.
Most importantly, remind your friend of their self-care needs: get plenty of rest, eat nutritiously, etc.
Despite depression being the most common diagnosis associated with suicidal ideation, it is often left undiagnosed and untreated. A person’s suicide risk can rise if they have a co-occurring diagnosis of anxiety, substance abuse, and/or depression. Suicide prevention awareness will only begin once we, as a community, take responsibility for recognizing suicide warning signs, whether we are parents, teachers, community workers, or anyone else with regular contact with children, teens, young adults, adults, or elders. Having these difficult conversations could prevent someone from committing suicide, which would have an enormous impact on their lives.
Whether you or someone you love is showing signs of suicidality, know that you are not alone and help is available. We are here to support your mental health. Please call 911 if you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency. In addition, if you are interested in scheduling a non-emergency appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.
We all experience anxiety now and then. After all, normal anxiety is the body’s natural stress response. It helps us identify danger and unknown threats. It motivates us to face challenges. The ‘right’ amount of anxiety can push us to perform better. But there’s another side to this coin. While normal anxiety can provide healthy boosts, chronic anxiety can be a barrier. With high anxiety and low self-confidence, a person may feel limited. Doubting themselves and their capabilities, they may experience generalized or performance anxiety. Ultimately, persistent anxiety can lead to the development of anxiety disorders like panic disorder, OCD, phobias, or social anxiety disorder.
Anxiety may threaten or completely wipe out one’s self-confidence. The resulting feelings of limitation may only fuel anxiety more. But there’s hope. No one has to stay fixed in this cycle. At Pure Health Center, our professionals specialize in counseling for all types of anxiety, stress management, self-esteem, and more. We help clients recognize the importance of building self-confidence and taking back power.
The Pain of Performance Anxiety
Confident people aren’t perfect beings above emotions. They, too, suffer from feelings of inadequacy from time to time. It’s natural to have nervousness and feel butterflies inside before performing on stage or when giving that presentation. However, some people have performance anxiety—a specific type of anxiety built on a fear of one’s ability to perform tasks. These individuals experience excessive sweating, nausea, elevated blood pressure, and more before a recital, speech, sporting event, interview, or sexual activity. In some cases, these sensations and panic attacks occur at just the thought of such events. It’s so debilitating for some people that they can’t perform. Worry and panic can set in ahead of tasks due to the fear of failing and being negatively evaluated. This fear can keep people from doing things they’re good at or trying new things.
Hope for Performance Anxiety
Skilled, licensed therapists can help individuals who experience severe performance anxiety cope with and overcome their fears. Professionally led individual and couples counseling sessions can cover anxiety, stress management, intimacy struggles, and sexual concerns.
Avoidance & Social Anxiety
Individuals with social anxiety have experiences similar to those with performance anxiety. They live with extreme apprehension, fear, avoidance, and pain. For instance, going for walks may only be possible for someone with social anxiety if they avoid eye contact with passersby. Others may avoid unnecessary trips outside altogether out of fear of others stopping and talking to them. Likewise, some people may dread going to work because they’re afraid of conferences and meetings with others.
Social Anxiety Leads to Self-imposed Barriers
Social anxiety can have a person fretting over things they’ve said or done. As with performance anxiety, individuals with social anxiety may worry about others’ disapproval and rejection before acting. They may be too anxious to join conversations, fearing others won’t value their input. And when they do work up the courage to converse, they may be prone to ruminating afterward. While relief may set in because the conversation is over, they may agonize that they fumbled the exchange. To prevent such experiences, socially anxious people may hide deep inside themselves. They may think they’re protecting themselves, but a licensed therapist can help them recognize that their actions are counterproductive. A mental health professional can help people see self-punishing behaviors aren’t effective defenses against the pain and awkwardness of life.
Self-confidence is the antidote to anxiety
Knowing you excel at something and being proud of yourself is different from being boastful, vain, and arrogant. Arrogance doesn’t benefit or serve you. Often, it’s just a way of overcompensating for insecurities or flaws—a display for others. On the other hand, authentic, healthy self-confidence has positive effects such as:
Less worrying that you’re not good enough
Better energy and performance
Improved engagement with others and healthier relationships
Deeper empathyfor others and awareness of their feelings
Take Back Your Power Over Your Mind, Body, and Life
Self-confidence is more than just an attitude about your abilities and skills. This healthy belief in yourself can be protective. It can motivate you to do your best and be your best. When you’re feeling confident, you’re more likely to make beneficial choices for yourself and your health. A self-confident person is more likely to put care into their outer appearance, hygiene, and what they eat and drink. They’re more likely to be active indoors and outdoors yet know when to rest. A self-confident person can be more forgiving of themselves when things are going right or going wrong. They have kinder, more reassuring yet rational thoughts. Ultimately, self-confidence and a more positive outlook on life can help improve mental and emotional well-being.
Step outside your comfort zone. Permit yourself to try new things and show yourself more grace and patience. Instead of prematurely labeling ventures as failures, entertain the possibility of success. Seeing a therapist for anxiety counseling or stress management, for instance, is a significant step outside your comfort zone that involves trial and error. The more you succeed and feel safe as you open up, the more confident you’ll feel.
Forgive your past and focus on the future. Fears, worries, panic attacks, and other obstacles are real. But they don’t have to last forever or break your belief in yourself. You can still trust your ability to effectively cope with anxiety symptoms and succeed in therapy, no matter how long it takes. At Pure Health Center, compassionate counselors can help you learn from the past and look beyond any losses.
In individual counseling, you can learn healthy ways to cope with the symptoms of performance anxiety, social anxiety, and other forms of anxiety. With non-judgmental guidance, you can learn how to enhance your mental, emotional, and physical well-being with confidence. Reach out to us today to begin sessions focused on you and what you want to address.
Mental Health Awareness Month kicks off in May! Beginning in 1949, the United States has celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month to increase awareness about the value of taking care of one’s mental health. This movement works to combat stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental health challenges.
We have compiled a list of mental health facts and information about our services to illustrate how Pure Health Center approaches mental health treatment and ensures a brighter future for those with mental health illnesses.
1. Over 27 million American adults do not receive treatment for mental health conditions.
However, an American Psychological Associationstudy discovered that 75% of patients who underwent therapy considerably improved after six months. In addition, many of our clients have reported that attending individualized sessions with our compassionate and knowledgeable counselors has increased their self-esteem, confidence, and courage.
Still, some couples face increased difficulty communicating, resolving conflicts, or identifying unhealthy patterns in their relationships to avoid recurrent issues. As a result, many couples only consider counseling at their most challenging times; however, couples counseling is also helpful during exciting times, such as starting a family or relocating. With our supportive, nonjudgmental counselors, we help couples reinforce the rhythm of their relationship and strengthen it in anticipation of the inevitable challenges that will arise during these life transitions.
It is a common misconception that play-based therapy is just an excuse for children to have fun, not that they are benefitting from the experience. However, this could not be further from the truth. Through play, our children can express feelings and thoughts they cannot articulate. In these impactful sessions, children learn how to recognize and handle problems. Our play-based therapists utilize evidence-based therapeutic techniques to develop their social skills and problem-solving abilities and increase their resilience.
4. Teens benefit from a positive adult relationship in their lives.
Adolescence is a stage in development marked by exploration, impulsiveness, taking risks, setting goals, and strengthening social ties with peers. However, just because the parental relationship is taking a back seat does not mean that teens do not benefit from positive relationships with adults in their lives, especially after the couple of years we’ve had.
COVID-19 proved to be a demanding pandemic for everyone, but teenagers faced more challenges than any age group. For example, when the shelter-in-place mandate went into effect, emergency room visits due to suspected suicide-related concerns among 12- to 17-year-olds grew by 39% compared to those in 2019.
Teen therapists at Pure Health Center provide individualized care for teens to teach them practical ways to manage stress. Moreover, they take the time to listen to and understand each teen, which is particularly important since these are the years when health behavior and habits are formed.
5. Physical and mental health is often improved when young people participate in sports.
Some teens, however, may also experience anxiety and depression as a result of putting all their energy into succeeding. This pressure is not only from teammates and coaches but also from themselves. Our sports mindset coaching program is tailored specifically for teenagers who fear failing. With her skills as both an athlete and a therapist, our coach helps teenagers address mental blocks, overcome their fear of failure, and discover relaxation techniques to help them reach their full potential.
6. Only 57% of workers with moderate depression and 40% of those with severe depression received treatment for their symptoms according to the CDC.
Additionally, nearly two out of five Americans have contemplated quitting their jobs because of mental health challenges. Unfortunately, our work ethic as Americans often glorifies long working hours and ignores the negative impacts this has on our mental health and overall well-being (for example, feeling too much pressure to get work done and therefore not having adequate time to see a therapist before or after work). When it comes to maintaining a healthy work environment, we have found that arranging workshops during business hours is the most effective solution. We offer corporate workshops to educate employees about mental health symptoms, identify stress, manage it before it leads to burnout, and engage in mindfulness and meditation.
7. The emotional and mental health of your therapist DOES matter.
While it’s true that the therapeutic relationship is about you, it’s okay to wonder about the training, experience, and support that your therapist receives. To meet our clients’ needs and ensure the clinical success of our clinicians, Pure Health Center emphasizes exceptional training, quality supervision, and peer consultation. Therefore, we now offer individual consultation and supervision with our experienced licensed clinicians to those looking to gain licensure or advance their careers in private practice.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we challenge you to take the first step in prioritizing your mental health, or the mental health of a loved one, by scheduling an appointment with one of our counselors today. For more information about our available services or if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 312-324-4502 or explore our website.
Recent years have seen headlines regarding COVID-19, politics, social protests, and global conflicts dominate the United States news cycle. While staying informed about what’s happening in the world around us is essential, it can be distressing for some. Many Americans reported finding the news stressfulbefore COVID-19. For this reason, psychologists suggest taking breaks from news consumption, as some news stories can be so overwhelming they exacerbate viewers’ and readers’ mental health symptoms.
Among the heavy, chaotic news, people may also find feel-good stories and inspiring headlines regarding celebrities and their mental health. Many celebrities have become mental health advocates in recent years, speaking candidly about their experiences with mental health challenges or substance abuse. These high-profile mental health advocates leverage their status in the public eye. They discuss how they handle challenges in private while living in the limelight. With many of them discussing how therapy changed their lives, they often encourage individuals to seek treatment and support from professionals like the highly trained team of clinicians at Pure Health Center. Our licensed counselors give clients a safe, judgment-free space to share their unique stories. These compassionate therapists can help you achieve greater empowerment, better insight, and total healing no matter where you need it in your life.
Celebrities Using Their Platforms
Famous singers, movie stars, athletes, and other pop culture icons generally have some influence on their fans and the public. For this reason, people tend to listen to their messages when they speak about causes they find meaningful. The famous people listed below serve as mental health advocates. They make it a mission to grab the public’s attention, discuss their experiences with mental health challenges, and put a spotlight on getting appropriate help and treatment.
Singer Demi Lovato (who recently announced an official change to they/them pronouns) has been diagnosed with addiction, bipolar disorder, anorexia, and bulimia. Turning struggle into passion, Lovato is dedicated to tearing down stigma. Their Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health campaign encourages people to speak about their mental illness to normalize it. Lovato admitted to self-medicating in the past when they had no way to describe how they felt or what they were going through. After seeking therapy, however, they were able to concentrate on gaining control, finding healthy ways to cope, and maintaining sobriety.
Halsey (she/they) is another singer who’s opened up about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and receiving in-patient mental health treatment. She also expressed disappointment that some internet users make light of mental health struggles. Taking their role as a mental health advocate seriously, Halsey called on fans and nonfans alike to show compassion for others’ mental wellbeing and refrain from ridiculing someone’s mental health battle and treating a manic episode like a spectacle. She reminded the public that you could disagree with someone’s opinions or actions without contributing to stigma. The singer continues dedicating their career to offering insight and education about bipolar disorder.
Singer Harry Styles (he/his) also serves as a mental health advocate. He’s opened up about experiencing anxiety while in One Direction and writer’s block that made him address underlying issues he was reluctant to admit and go to therapy. He uses his celebrity status to discuss the benefits of good sleep and meditation. For him, resting and recovering are as important as working. Having found a balance he says benefits his physical and mental health, he collaborates with mental health services that give people access to stress reduction techniques.
How Conversations Surrounding Celebrity Mental Health Have Changed
Self-disclosing a mental illness is a personal decision people should make when they’re fully ready. When famous mental health advocates responsibly self-disclose what they’ve learned from their mental health or substance use challenges, it provides a positive, effective way for the media to engage such topics. This wasn’t always the case, however. Decades ago in Hollywood, stars refrained from speaking up about mental health conditions because doing so could get them denied parts, blacklisted, and cost them their careers.
Now, however, high-profile mental health advocates’ contributions to conversations about mental health are welcomed and celebrated. Today, many celebrities have large social media followings. They can use fast-moving, ever-connected digital platforms to reach larger audiences more efficiently. The generally positive reception to such advocacy has driven some stars to do more than share their experiences. Like Demi Lovato and Harry Styles, they may contribute to mental health treatment platforms or even start foundations.
Why Mental Health Advocates Using Their Influence Matters
Celebrities may seem larger than life to some, but it’s crucial to be mindful that they can face the same problems as other members of society. When famous people make mental health headlines, it can be reassuring for some individuals. Representation matters—some people may feel comforted to know some of their favorite stars are open to therapy.
As famous mental health advocates continue talking openly about their challenges, people worldwide may feel more comfortable admitting struggles. Learning about role models with mental struggles who continue to triumph and garner personal and professional success can be empowering. Some people may feel encouraged to ask for help and heal. When you’re empowered and ready to seek professional guidance for mental health challenges and illnesses, turn to a judgment-free center where counselors can help you improve your quality of life. At Pure Health Center, counselors specialize in:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Mental health specialists help clients cope with specific challenges, but they also guide them on their journey of experiencing growth and healing, becoming more self-aware, and living more mindfully. Call Pure Health Center at 312.324.4502 to work with compassionate professionals and get started with an appropriate treatment plan.