4 Ways Talk Therapy Can Help You

 

A common misconception about therapy is that you have to be seriously ill to benefit from it, or that it simply doesn’t work. The statistics, however, say otherwise—research has shown that roughly 75% of people who participate in talk therapy find it to be beneficial, according to the American Psychological Association

No matter what challenges life throws our way, therapy can benefit anyone.

 

 

4 Benefits of Talk Therapy

1. Long-Lasting Results

Therapy provides patients with tools that they can take with them throughout the rest of their lives to healthily work through and cope with future problems.

2. Improved Physical Health

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Research suggests there is a strong correlation between poor mental health and poor physical health. Certain mental health conditions such as depression can cause or worsen physical ailments including digestive issues, bad sleep, immune system problems and more. So, it only makes sense that working through psychological issues and improving our mental health could result in improved physical health.

3. Repressed Emotions Don’t Always Stay Repressed

While some people think repressing their emotions means they don’t have to deal with them, this usually backfires. Repressed emotions can come out at any time, and with a vengeance. Repressed emotions have been linked to depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems, infections and pain. Repressing your emotions may also cause challenges when dealing with conflict and can make it difficult to connect with others. Therapy provides a safe space to work with a professional to deal with repressed emotions in a healthy way. 

4. Rewiring Your Brain

Therapy can actually help rewire your brain for the better. One particular form of talk therapy known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has shown great success at helping people identify habitual negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive mental habits. Check out this scientific journal article to learn more about the positive cognitive effects of CBT.

 

 

In-Person Therapy VS. Online Therapy

Both in-person and virtual therapy can result in equally positive patient outcomes. In fact, studies have shown that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. 

One benefit of online therapy over in-person therapy is that sessions can take place from virtually anywhere. Other benefits of remote therapy include its affordability, flexibility and that it can be done from the comfort of your own home. Check out this blog post to learn more about the benefits of online therapy. 

If you’re interested in online therapy, click here or visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ to request a free consultation with a dedicated Health Connector who will match you with a provider who’s tailor-made for you. In addition to individual therapy, we also offer virtual group therapy, psychiatry, medication management and more. Click here to learn more about our services and to get started on your wellness journey.

7 Benefits of Online Therapy

 

Therapy can be beneficial for anyone, no matter what they’re going through. Fortunately, online therapy has made it easier than ever before to get mental health support. While both in-person and virtual therapy offer many psychological benefits, online therapy has several advantages over traditional, in-person therapy. Keep reading to learn more about how online therapy can help you!

 

 

7 Benefits of Online Therapy with Valera Health

1. Affordability

Without the operating costs that come with an in-person therapy clinic (like additional staffing and rent), remote therapists are able to pass down these savings to patients. In addition, in-person therapy clinics are often limited by what types of insurance they can accept, while some don’t accept insurance in the first place. At Valera Health, our therapists and other mental healthcare providers accept most commercial insurance plans as well as Medicare and Medicaid. For those without insurance or who do not have in-network insurance, we also offer affordable self-pay rates that are competitive with private practices.

 

2. Accessibility 

Thanks to the advent of the internet, online therapy is available virtually anywhere with wi-fi. Online therapy is especially important in making mental healthcare accessible for those who live in rural areas or have limited access to in-person therapists. For some, physical ailments may limit their ability to see a therapist in-office. Virtual therapy presents the perfect solution to these issues and makes mental healthcare accessible without the hassle.

 

3. Reduced Wait Times

There’s no need to wait for weeks or even months to see a provider—Valera Health’s virtual mental healthcare services have been shown to significantly decrease patient wait times when compared to in-person therapy.

 

4. Privacy

We use secure video meeting technology so patients can rest assured their sessions are private, reliable and confidential. Patients also receive full access to the Valera Health app (available in the Apple App Store and Google Play), where they can send private messages to their Care Team any time they need to chat.

 

5. Flexibility

Online therapy offers patients the flexibility to make sessions fit within their schedule—not the other way around. Plus, with online therapy, you’ll never have to worry about missing hours of your day from getting stuck in traffic on the way to your therapist’s office.

 

6. Comfort

With online therapy, patients are able to participate in sessions from the comfort of their own home and in control of their environment. 

 

7. Successful Outcomes

Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy when it comes to improving mental health outcomes for patients. Valera Health therapists are well-versed in many specialized forms of psychotherapy, and treat everything from burnout, stress and depression to serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders and schizophrenia.

 

For additional information about online therapy, check out these blogs:

  1. How to Prepare for Your First Virtual Therapy Appointment
  2. The Difference Between Therapy & Psychiatry

 

 

How Can I Get Started?

Are you interested in starting your mental healthcare journey? At Valera Health, we offer online mental healthcare for those who need it most, when they need it most. Our services include individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry, medication management and more for those ages 6+. Visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ or click here to request a free consultation with a Health Connector who will match you with a provider.

 

Reset Your Routine With These Positive Daily Habits

 

Amongst the chaos of our everyday lives, it’s easy to develop bad habits or throw good ones out the window before we know it. By pausing and creating an intentional daily routine, we can combat the chaos and live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. That’s why we created this list of healthy habits that can easily be incorporated into every daily routine. Keep reading to learn more.

 

 

Sleep Well

Technically, this part of a daily routine starts the night before—but that’s because good sleep plays a fundamental role in any health-conscious daily routine. A good night’s rest can kick-start a successful day by reducing stress levels, improving mood, increasing energy levels, decreasing anxiety and improving focus and memory. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night—the doctor recommended amount.

7 Tips for Better Sleep:

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and night, even on the weekends.
  2. Avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. 
  3. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption—and don’t drink either for at least a couple of hours before going to bed.
  4. Read a book, drink a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea (try one of these bedtime teas) or take a bubble bath to promote relaxation and send signals to your body and brain that it’s time to go into sleep mode. 
  5. Invest in a comfy bed and pillow/sheet set and wash your sheets regularly. 
  6. Sleep in a dark and cool environment with a temperature around 65°F.
  7. Use a sleeping mask and earplugs to limit exposure to light and noise while you rest.

 

 

Come Prepared

Prepare for the day ahead of you the night before so you don’t have to rush in the morning. Here’s how to do it: make breakfast or lunch the evening before. Pick out your clothes for the next day so you don’t have to spend time thinking of what to wear in the morning.

 

Wake Up with Intention

After you wake up and before getting ready, set a simple intention and affirmation for the day. Here are some examples of daily intentions to get you started: “Today, I will practice gratitude,” “Today, I will focus on the positives,” and “Today, I will be kind to myself and to others.”

After deciding on a daily intention, choose an affirmation, which is a positive statement used to boost self-esteem. Some favorite affirmations include: “I am worthy,” “I am strong,” and “I am right where I’m supposed to be.”

Keep a journal by your bed so you can easily write down your daily intention and affirmation first-thing in the morning.

 

Write It Down

Either the night before or in the morning—but before you dive straight into work—write down a to-do list of all the things you need or want to accomplish that day. This should include both work tasks and personal tasks.

 

 

Eat a Nutritious Breakfast

As the saying goes, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” A healthy breakfast can give us the energy we need to take on the day, while also boosting our mental health and focus. Some easy, delicious and nutritious breakfast foods to try are fruit (such as bananas or berries), oatmeal or overnight oats, eggs and yogurt. Homemade smoothies are another great way to get essential nutrients on the go.

 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day not only helps with energy, but also helps with cognitive functioning. Start your morning off by drinking a glass of water, and keep a large reusable water bottle with you throughout the day. Make it a goal to drink the recommended daily water intake every day, which is 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women.

 

 

Practice Morning Meditation

Meditation has many positive benefits for both our physical and mental wellbeing.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased anxiety levels
  • Better emotional health
  • Enhanced self-awareness
  • Improved attention span
  • Increased positivity + kindness
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced physical pain
  • Decreased blood pressure

Even 5-10 minutes of morning meditation can provide positive mental health benefits. Check out this blog post to learn more about different types of meditation and ways to practice.

 

Set Aside Time for Self-Care

Make sure to schedule some “me time” every day. Use your designated “me time” as an opportunity to rest, unwind and reconnect with yourself. 

Here are some ways to practice “me time”:

  1. Take a coffee or tea break outside. Drink your beverage slowly and take time to really enjoy each sip, breathe fresh air and watch your surroundings. 
  2. Read a good book.
  3. Have a dance party with yourself.
  4. Watch an episode of your favorite show.
  5. Take a nap.
  6. Paint or make a craft.
  7. Journal your feelings.


Whatever you do with your “me time,” it should be centered around self-care. For additional ways to practice self-care, click here.

 

 

Final Thoughts

In order to successfully change our routines and form healthy habits, it’s best to add one or two new practices at a time. As these become second nature, gradually add more healthy habits to your routine and do regular self check-ins where you can reflect on the impact and success of these new habits. 

By slowly incorporating positive habits into our daily routines, we can drastically improve the quality of our lives, leading to positive, long-term change.

For more support with developing and sticking to healthy habits and improving your mental wellbeing, therapy is a great option. At Valera Health, we offer virtual individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and medication management so you can receive the care you need from the comfort of your own home. To request a free consultation with a Health Connector who will match you with a provider, click here or visit www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/.

 

 

How to Set Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

 

2024 is almost here! Each new year brings an exciting opportunity for a fresh start, and New Year’s resolutions are a great way to improve our lives by inspiring us to strive for positive change. However, many of us set lofty and unrealistic resolutions that can lead to frustration and self-doubt when left unmet. 

This new year, set yourself up for success with realistic resolutions that keep your mental wellbeing in mind.

 

 

Define What’s Realistic For You

Rather than jumping into creating huge goals for yourself right off the bat, it’s important to reflect on the past year through a positive lens, celebrating wins throughout the year. In what ways did you improve last year? How have your values changed? When were you most proud of yourself over the course of the past year? When did you feel your best? What times brought you the most joy? 

Reflecting on these questions can help us define areas of our lives that could use improvement, while also focusing on what went well over the past year—and how we can incorporate that into the year to come. 

Being optimistic coming into the new year creates positive momentum that can help us achieve our goals. 

Challenge yourself while also honoring your limitations. Creating unrealistic goals is a sure-fire way to lead to disappointment. Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to not “shoot for the stars.” In order to create resolutions that will positively affect our mental health and contribute to our wellbeing, they should also be achievable and take our limitations into mind. This may include physical limitations, mental health limitations, financial limitations, resource limitations and time limitations. Rather than pretending these limitations don’t exist, create resolutions that accommodate your reality.

 

 

Set SMART Goals

One tried and true way for creating healthy and doable goals is by using the SMART goals method. “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

The SMART Method:

1. Specific 

  • Specific goals—as opposed to broad or vague goals—clearly define what it is you want to achieve.
  •  Important questions to ask when coming up with the “S” portion of your goal include: “What needs to be accomplished?” “Who is responsible for completing the goal?” “What steps need to be taken to achieve this goal?”
  • Example: A specific goal vs. a non-specific goal would be making the goal of going on a walk for 30 minutes a day, rather than setting a broad goal to walk more. 

2. Measurable

  • After creating specific parameters for your goal, figure out how to measure your progress. 
  • Example: You set a goal to save $1,500 in a year. That means that each month, you need to save $125 to reach your goal. You can further break this number down by saving $31.25 per week (assuming, for example sake, there are 4 weeks in a month). Each week, count your savings, and once again, count your total savings at the end of the month. To track your progress, create a spreadsheet for each week, month, etc.

3. Achievable

  • Goals should challenge you to grow or improve, while also being realistic. Ask yourself if your goal is something you can actually accomplish.
  • Example: It’s probably not achievable to become a famous author in a year, however setting the goal to improve your writing skills is. 

4. Relevant

  • Think about the bigger picture around why you’re setting this goal. Make sure the goal is important to your values, dreams and desires. If you set a random goal that isn’t related to something you actually care about, you probably won’t be motivated to accomplish it.
  • Example: If you set a goal to become a famous equestrian, but you are allergic to horses and hate riding them, then that goal isn’t relevant.

5. Timely

  • Choose a specific timeline for accomplishing your goal to help create a sense of urgency and prevent procrastination. This also helps you clearly picture accomplishing your goal which will help motivate you to get to the finish line.
  • Example: If you want to learn Italian, set a goal to spend an hour per day learning Italian for the next six months.

 

 

Start Small

Once you’ve decided on your New Year’s resolution and have broken this resolution down into a SMART goal (or goals), you can establish routines that will help you achieve your goals and monitor your progress. 

Make a plan to incorporate the steps needed to incorporate your resolutions into your everyday routine. Using to-do lists, journaling or using a planner can all help you track your progress and remind you of your goals. Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. 

Focus on one goal, step or resolution at a time before moving on to the next one, because taking on too much at once can lead to overwhelm and burnout. 

If you’ve set multiple goals for yourself, prioritize each one by your needs, realistic timelines and how important each is to you.

 

Embrace The Journey

Let others know your goals so they can both hold you accountable for them, and support you on your journey. Healthcare providers—such as your therapist—can help you with your goals, resolutions and overall self-improvement. 

Hold yourself accountable, but also be patient with yourself and readjust your goals, priorities and timelines as needed. 

Seek extra help and resources as needed as well. If you make a mistake or face setbacks during your journey, give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. Focus on all the great things that have accomplished so far, and adjust goals as needed. If you feel like you need to quit, instead take a break and make a plan to get back on track afterward. 

Reward yourself for accomplishing smaller steps to achieving your primary goal, as well as reward yourself when completing your larger goal. 

Remember: Change is a process and setbacks aren’t permanent. Keep moving forward one step at a time. 

 

 

For more mental health support, Valera Health offers virtual individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and medication management from the comfort of your own home. Visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ or click here to speak to a Health Connector who can help match you with a provider tailored to you.

How to Not Drink During the Holidays

 

Whether you are sober or trying to cut back on drinking, it can be particularly challenging to avoid alcohol during the holidays. Alcohol-centric gatherings combined with seasonal stressors can be particularly triggering for those who wish to avoid alcohol or limit their drinking. By remembering the benefits of not drinking and following a few tips, you can still have a merry and festive season sans alcohol.

 

Benefits of Sobriety

Whether you’re sober or sober-curious, avoiding alcohol comes with many benefits, including*…

  1. Better skin
  2. Weight management
  3. Improved nutrition
  4. Improved immunity
  5. Reduced risk of cancer
  6. Reduced risk of heart disease
  7. Better sleep
  8. Improved stress levels
  9. Improved confidence
  10. Improved mental health
  11. Improved relationships
  12. Improved cognitive functioning
  13. Decreased risk for developing mental health issues

*Source: Verywell Mind


Although it can be tempting to turn to drinking when dealing with the stress that comes with this season, this is actually counterproductive, since alcohol can make anxiety, depression and other bad feelings even worse. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to deal with issues that have nothing to do with alcohol!

 

6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Drinking

  1. Plan ahead for triggering situations: By first identifying situations that can trigger drinking beforehand, you can plan ahead for what to do if/when faced with those situations. Triggers can include people, events, dates and places. Knowing these triggers can help you reduce exposure to them. If you’re unable to always avoid your triggers, working with a therapist to create a toolkit of coping strategies and an emergency plan is extremely helpful. Remember: It’s always okay to leave a triggering situation if possible. 
  2. Stick to your boundaries: “No” is a full sentence. Stand firm in your boundaries when pressured. Leave the situation, event or location where you’re being pressured, or walk away from the person pressuring you. Know that it’s not “rude” to leave situations where people are not respecting your boundaries, and that there is no reason to feel guilty for doing so. Come up with a list of possible situations where you may be pressured to drink, and practice different ways to say “no.” Some excuses you can use include: “I can’t because I’m driving.” “Alcohol doesn’t mix well with my medication.” “I’m allergic to alcohol.” “Alcohol makes me feel sick.” “I have to get up early tomorrow.” “I don’t drink.” Check out this blog post for other useful ways to decline alcohol. 
  3. Use the “Buddy System”: Find a friend (or friends) who doesn’t drink and/or will hold you accountable to not drinking that you can rely on. Join a sobriety group—such as Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)—and find a “sponsor” who can help you when you’re tempted to drink. Hang out with friends or other loved ones who don’t drink in settings without alcohol. Use your therapist as a resource and ally. 
  4. BYOB—Bring Your Own (Non-Alcoholic) Beverages: Bring your favorite non-alcoholic beverages with you to events where there may be alcohol. There’s more refreshing non-alcoholic (NA) options now than ever! Fun festive NA drinks include hot chocolate, hot apple cider or sparkling apple cider. You could also bring your favorite soda or juice, flavored seltzer water, or even alcohol-free wine or mocktails!
  5. ‘Tis the season for alcohol-free events and traditions: You don’t have to go to events/parties with alcohol involved. Turning down invitations—for whatever reason—is 100% okay to do. In lieu of these types of events, there are plenty of alcohol-free activities you can do this season—such as hosting your own alcohol-free holiday party, going ice skating, baking cookies, making holiday decorations with friends, and much more. Check out this list for more fun alcohol-free holiday tradition ideas.
  6. Work with a therapist: Behavioral interventions—such as therapy and support groups—can be extremely beneficial when it comes to managing and reducing alcohol intake. Therapists can equip you with coping strategies and provide help navigating the emotional aspects that can trigger drinking.

 

Please note: If you’re a chronic heavy drinker and have decided to go sober, it’s important to first consult with a medical doctor before quitting drinking. Your doctor can help you go sober in a safe way so you don’t experience dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, as well as help you find additional treatment options and support. 

 

 

Final Thoughts

Embracing sobriety or cutting back on drinking during the holidays can lead to even more joyful and rich experiences this season. By planning ahead, creating and sticking to your boundaries, leaning on your support system and coming up with your own traditions, you can enjoy all the merriment this season has to offer without relying on alcohol. 

You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Valera Health offers a gamut of virtual mental healthcare services so you can get the high-quality care and support you need and deserve. Our services include individual therapy, group therapy and support groups, psychiatry, medication management and more. 

We also offer many support group options that can help you navigate the emotional aspects that lead to drinking among peers and licensed mental healthcare professionals. For established Valera Health patients, our Co-Occurring Disorders Program is designed to help individuals navigate the emotional aspects of substance use and recovery. While our Co-Occurring Disorders Program tackles mental health and substance use disorders, it is not a substitute for detoxing off of alcohol or other substances. 

To schedule a free consultation with a Health Connector who will match you with a provider and services, click here or visit  https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/.

Help for the Holidays: A Guide to Seasonal Self-Care

 

The holiday season is an exciting and picturesque time filled with joyous celebrations, family gatherings and long-awaited traditions. But behind the rose-colored glasses therein lies an intense pressure to create picture perfect memories that can leave us feeling totally drained. If this sounds all too familiar, fear not. Your Holiday Survival Guide awaits you!

 

 

Seasonal Struggles

It’s not uncommon for mental health issues to spike around the holidays. According to numbers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people living with a mental illness have felt that their conditions worsen around the holidays. The highest rates of child psychiatric hospitalizations also happen in the winter, according to the same report. 

Common mental health issues around the holidays include seasonal affective disorder (SAD), loneliness, grief and loss, financial stress, family conflicts and trauma. On top of this, the stress of gift giving, overloaded schedules due to holiday celebrations and events, and the pressure of having a “picture perfect” holiday season can be a pressure cooker for our mental wellbeing. 

Whether someone is facing worsening long-term mental health problems or short-term mental health problems, these issues need to be taken seriously. Left untouched, they can lead to clinical anxiety and depression. 

 

 

Practicing Self-Care

There are many things we can do to improve our mental health around the holidays—including therapy, self-care and rest. 

Here are some of the top seasonal mental health issues—and what you can do about them.

 

Lack of “Holiday Spirit”

The pressure to be joyful, social and in the “holiday spirit” can make it more difficult to recognize we’re struggling and to seek help. You don’t have to force yourself to feel happy or fake happiness around others. Try not to judge yourself or feel guilty for having these feelings. Many people also feel this way.

Identifying triggers and getting to the root cause of why you feel anxious or sad around the holidays can help you process and accept these feelings in a healthy way. Avoid numbing your feelings with alcohol or other substances—these can actually worsen depression and anxiety. Talk to others who feel the same way or who are a solid support system.

 

Social Pressure

The increase in social events during this season can lead to overwhelm and burnout—especially for introverts or those with social anxiety. Know that it’s okay to not attend every event and to turn down invitations. Accept your limitations. Schedule time for self-care and alone time. Prioritize what events or celebrations are most important to you. Make time for guilt-free rest. Realize that you can’t do it all—no one can.

 

Financial Pressure & Strain

Plan ahead by deciding on a budget and sticking to it. If you’re unable to give gifts this year, be honest and let people know. Suggest doing Secret Santa or a White Elephant Gift Exchange to reduce financial burden and the number of gifts you need to get.

Make homemade gifts from the heart instead of blowing your budget on store bought items. Clearly communicate your financial limitations and stick to your financial boundaries—especially if others are pressuring you. Help out a neighbor, loved one or stranger. Know that generosity isn’t determined by how much money you spend on others. The act of giving is more important than any dollar amount.

 

Grief & Loss

Grief and loss can be especially difficult to deal with during this time—especially if you’ve lost someone around the holidays. Don’t compare your situation to others or expect yourself to grieve a certain way. You don’t have to force yourself to celebrate if that’s not what feels right. Let your friends and family know when you need help, and what they can do to help. Speak to a therapist or join a support group.

 

Loneliness

Feeling lonely around the holidays is very common—and the pressure to have a close knit family or romantic relationship only makes it worse. Rethinking your expectations of what the holidays “should” look like can drastically help with loneliness. Try reaching out to friends or neighbors, or volunteering. Limit social media use is a helpful way to stop comparing yourself to others. Know that it’s perfectly fine to take a friend to a holiday party or to go alone.

Despite what holiday movies make it seem, many people have strained relationships with their families. It’s perfectly normal to not have a romantic relationship during this time (or any time!) of the year. 

It’s also perfectly fine to participate in holiday traditions or celebrations by yourself—and to even make your own traditions. Spend time focusing on the positives in your life and doing things that make you happy.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

For some, lack of sunlight and shorter winter days can cause seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that happens in cold months. Sticking to a routine, using a light therapy lamp, and medication and therapy can all help with SAD symptoms. Check out this blog post for more ways to help with SAD.

 

 

Final Thoughts

This bustling holiday season, don’t forget to give yourself the gift of self-care and much-needed rest. Often, when it feels like there’s no time for these things is when we need them the most.

In addition to the tips featured throughout this blog, therapy and medication are excellent resources when dealing with mental health issues.

At Valera Health, we offer a variety of mental health services from experienced, licensed physicians. Our services include virtual individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and medication management. 

We have several remote therapy and support groups to help with grief and loss, depression, anxiety, loneliness and more—as well as a seasonal Holiday Support Group. Check out our group therapy page to learn more. 

If you’re interested in signing-up for one of our services, visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ or click here to request a free consultation with a dedicated Health Connector who will help you find the right provider for you.

10 Messages of Hope for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Those who’ve lost a loved one to suicide face a complex type of grief which may leave them feeling alone, confused or even guilty. Carrying on after suicide loss takes immense strength and courage. While it may feel like this pain will last forever, through time and with support healing is possible. Whether you’re a survivor of suicide loss, or know someone who is, these messages about life after loss can help you find hope.

 

 

1. Healing is not about moving on or ‘getting over it.’ It’s about learning to make peace with our pain and finding purpose in our lives again.” — Shirley Kamisky

 

2. “Moving on doesn’t mean letting go.” — Mary VanHaute.

 

3. “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” — Vicki Harrison

 

4. “If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide—even if you, yourself, have dealt with depression and suicidal ideation—you may often wonder why. And that’s okay. Allow yourself that space.” — Karen Espenshade

 

5. “One thing I learned is however I decided to grieve is the right way for me. Everyone’s different.” — Ron Prickett

 

6. “Loss from suicide is like no other loss, and there’s no time limit for grieving. Allow yourself that time to process. And then talk to someone, anyone.” — Deenie Bagley

 

7. “The best piece of advice I got was, ‘Once you accept that many, if not most, of your questions will never be answered, you can start to move forward.’” — Michele Starbeck

 

8. “Talk about them. Be proud of them. Losing a courageous battle doesn’t make you weak” — Jennifer Betts

 

9. “A person never truly gets over a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment” — Holly Kohle

 

10. “Continue to live your life, know that it’s OK to smile again. Don’t ever be ashamed or let anyone make you feel ashamed.” — Jackie Burson

 

 

 

 

Support For Suicide Loss Survivors

While feelings of grief may never go away, we can learn to make peace with these feelings. 

There is no one “right way” to grieve or a set time period for grieving. Grief, and healing from suicide loss, looks different for everyone—and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—it’s always available, whenever you’re ready for it. 

 

Here are 5 resources for suicide loss survivors:

  1. American Foundation for Suicide Loss Prevention — Living with Suicide Loss
  2. Healing Conversations — Personal Support for Suicide Loss
  3. A Handbook For Suicide Survivors
  4. Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — Loss Survivors
  5. Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors

 

If you’re in need of additional support, Valera Health offers individual therapy as well as grief support groups. Visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ or click here to request a free consultation with a dedicated Health Connector who will help you find a therapist. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at “988” or go to the nearest emergency room. 

9 Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the sun goes down earlier and temperatures drop, we find ourselves longing for sunshine and warm weather. However, for some individuals, seasonal changes bring more than just a longing for summer again, and can cause the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder occurs in cases where “…these mood changes are more serious and can affect how a person feels, thinks and handles daily activities,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). SAD begins and ends around the same time each year, and typically resolves in the spring to summer months.

Fortunately, there are a handful of ways to relieve the symptoms of SAD that can be done from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to wait until the warmer months come around to experience relief.

Tips for Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Tip #1: Get a light therapy lamp. 

This type of lamp is specifically made to treat conditions like SAD. Because of the amount of light intensity they produce, light therapy lamps have the ability to mimic sunlight, which in return triggers positive mental and biological effects. Experts recommend that you should slowly ease into the use of your light therapy lamp, gradually leading up to using this light for about a half an hour per day. They also find it crucial to expose yourself to some light in the morning (before 10 a.m.)  so depressive thoughts and effects subside early on. 

Tip #2: Wake up & go to bed with a dawn simulator.

Dawn simulators—a.k.a. sunrise alarms—are alarm clocks designed to help you improve sleep by waking up and going to bed gradually. By using timed lights, they mimic how the sun rises in the morning and sets at night, tuning in with natural circadian rhythm patterns. Dawn simulators are known for benefits such as boosting energy, improving sleep and decreasing stress levels.

Tip #3: Exercise.

Exercise is one of the best ways to release feel-good endorphins—a fast acting mood booster. Exercise can help ease feelings of depression and anxiety. Getting enough exercise is also a great way to calm down and clear the mind. During winter and fall months, gyms provide a solid place to exercise without having to brave chilly weather. Or, if you prefer to stay in, these at-home exercises will get you moving.

Tip #4: Journal.

Journaling can help you release your thoughts and feelings, which in turn can help improve anxiety and mood levels. We recommend utilizing specialized journal prompts designed for those experiencing SAD in mind—one one of which can be downloaded here.

Tip #5: Limit alcohol consumption.

When you’re experiencing constant low moods, it can be easy to turn to alcohol for comfort. However, this is actually counterproductive as drinking when depressed can result in worsening depressive symptoms and spiraling negative thoughts. Although it may be tempting, It’s important to be conscientious of how much you’re drinking and how it makes you feel so you don’t end up feeling even worse—both physically and psychologically.

Tip #6: Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy—or diffusing or rolling essential oils—is a great way to quickly boost your mood and promote relaxation. Putting essential oils in a diffuser or taking an aromatic bath before bed are great ways to channel inner peace and calm.

Aromatherapy experts recommend these oils for improving SAD symptoms:

  1. Patchouli Oil (Pogostemon cablin)
  2. Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia)
  3. Cardamom Oil (Elettaria cardamomum)

For more oils that promote relaxation and help with depression symptoms, click here.

Tip #7: Stick to a schedule.

Schedules are crucial when dealing with SAD, as many individuals with this condition struggle with waking up and sleeping. Being able to keep a steady and regular schedule is very helpful when it comes to improving sleep quality and keeping your body in a balanced state throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Keeping a regular schedule will also expose you to light at consistent and predictable times…which is beneficial for your circadian rhythm.”

Tip #8: Consider medication.

Antidepressants can be a helpful tool for combatting the depressive symptoms that come with SAD. If you’re considering going on antidepressants for SAD, make sure to consult your doctor first.

Tip #9: Try Therapy.

Therapy is a great way to learn coping strategies for managing and improving SAD symptoms. In therapy, you can learn new skills to help you navigate the emotional lows that come with SAD and receive much needed support during these difficult seasons.

Final Thoughts

At Valera Health, we offer virtual mental healthcare treatment tailored to each individual. Our services include individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and medication management—all of which can be effective tools for individuals with seasonal affective disorder. Our seasonal Holiday Support Group can help participants find relief and manage the unique struggles that come with this time of year such as SAD, stress, loneliness and more.

Whether you’re struggling with SAD or other mental health issues, we’re here to help you find the right provider for you. To request a free consultation with a Health Connector who can match you with a provider, visit https://www.valerahealth.com/consult-today/ or click here

Remember that seasonal affective disorder is temporary. By practicing self-care and being aware of your needs and challenges around SAD, you can find relief.

Works Referenced:

Beth W. Orenstein and Michelle Pugle. (n.d.). 14 ways to ease seasonal depression. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/treatment/ways-to-ease-seasonal-depression/ 

Health, A. (2019, December 9). How to use light therapy for sad. Adventist Health. https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2019/december/feeling-sad-try-light-therapy/#:~:text=You%20should%20absorb%20light%20from,some%20light%20before%2010%20a.m. 

Loeb, K. (2020, December 18). Tips for managing seasonal affective disorder (during a pandemic). Vail Health Foundation. https://vailhealthfoundation.org/news/tips-for-managing-seasonal-affective-disorder-during-a-pandemic/?gclid=CjwKCAjwp8OpBhAFEiwAG7NaEreVRwjA3xDEIhhywNhN17zDJylUEe0cWqy_Bt-vrHTHIrj77zeqVxoCdCYQAvD_BwE 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651 

Williams, K. (2023, October 7). 13 essential oils for seasonal affective disorder. Aromatics International. https://www.aromatics.com/blogs/wellness/13-essential-oils-for-seasonal-affective-disorde

How DBT Can Transform Your Life

As we go through our fast-paced, everyday lives, it can feel like a challenge to manage and navigate all the intense emotions and unexpected incidents that we’re faced with along the way. 

In response to these challenges, Dr. Marsha Linehan created dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) as a road map for individuals struggling with their mental health and emotional wellness. Throughout this blog, we’ll explore how DBT works and how it can benefit you.

 

What is DBT?

DBT is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). DBT helps individuals accept and manage the world around them rather than reacting to uncomfortable situations in a harmful way. DBT is a long-term therapeutic practice that’s often used to help work through suicidal ideation or self-harm, complex life difficulties, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders and challenges. 

There are four core strategies DBT aims to teach individuals: Mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. In particular, DBT can help those who may feel emotions intensely. The “dialectical” portion of DBT means to try and understand how two things that seem opposite could be true at the same time. DBT teaches individuals how to master the art of finding a balance between both change and acceptance of oneself and one’s own environment.

 

Benefits of DBT

DBT serves several purposes and provides many benefits to individuals  seeking help and solace. It’s an incredibly valuable therapeutic approach for individuals struggling with their mental health. 

Benefits of DBT Include:

  1. Strengthens relationships with others. DBT teaches individuals to think before abruptly reacting, and how to build a balanced perspective (middle ground in the case of opposing viewpoints). DBT increases self awareness and decreases destructive behavior which can lead to the nourishment of close supportive relationships.
  2. Raises self esteem. DBT can use validation techniques that validate one’s emotions and experiences. As this can boost one’s confidence in their emotions, this also translates into personal self esteem as feelings of shame are often lessened. DBT challenges an individual to go against their negative thoughts which in turn negates a lot of negative self talk.
  3. Enhances emotional regulation. DBT will teach an individual how to manage their emotions rather than be managed by their emotions. These learnt skills will assist in the development of reducing negative emotions and one’s vulnerability to them and help see a more positive outlook on stressful situations.
  4. Promotes a change in behavior and positive thinking. Because DBT builds an individual’s distress tolerance, it assists in managing anxious or depressive tendencies. It allows individuals to not feel defined by stressful or tumultuous situations and rather work through them with emotional intelligence which makes it easier to have a positive outlook on changes and ones thinking. 

 

What skills can DBT teach me?

DBT is broken up into four different modules: Mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. 

Mindfulness, when referring to DBT, helps with talking through, being aware and accepting the present moment without judgment. These practices help build awareness skills that teach us to relax our body and mind in times of distress—ultimately, strengthening our mind-body connection. Mindfulness also helps us learn to let go of negative thoughts and intrusive thought patterns. 

DBT also focuses on emotional regulation and changing one’s undesired emotions to reduce vulnerability to them. Emotional regulation skills help one examine their distortions and patterns of thinking, and work on emotional urges. These emotional regulation skills are an important part of improving problem solving and coping strategies. 

Another skill this type of therapy focuses on is distress tolerance. Improving distress tolerance is important when it comes to our ability to work through crises situations without escalating them. It helps us to understand the distinction between acceptance and approval. Distress tolerance exercises include cost-benefit analysis, grounding techniques and practicing radical acceptance. 

Lastly, DBT focuses on building interpersonal effectiveness, which means learning how to apply effective strategies for managing conflict, setting boundaries and communicating our needs to those around us.

 

DBT at Valera Health

Is it time to try DBT? 

Here’s how to know if DBT is right for you:

  1. You’re experiencing feelings of loneliness and hopelessness that feel insurmountable.
  2. You seem to lose people quickly or suddenly due to fallouts.
  3. You struggle to maintain positive relationships with partners, family and friends.
  4. Your emotions interrupt with work, goals and relationships. 
  5. Your emotions feel debilitating and overwhelming.

 

Valera Health offers a wide range of virtual DBT therapy groups, both in New York and Arizona. Currently, our DBT skills groups are open to established patients that are 18+ years of age. The majority of Valera’s DBT groups include four modules that run for a total of six months. While participants only need to commit to at least 8 weeks, it is recommended they complete all four.

Valera Health’s DBT program can benefit adults and adolescents experiencing emotional dysregulation, relational issues, poor impulse control and anxiety and depression symptoms. 

For those seeking more intimate one-on-one sessions, our providers are well-versed in individual DBT therapy. 

Whether you’re interested in a DBT group or individual DBT therapy, you can request a free consultation with Valera Health. We also offer other forms of group and individual therapy, psychiatry and medication management—all from the comfort of your own home.

The best way to know if DBT is for you: You are ready for change and committed to making yourself better. 

Though it can be intimidating, reaching out for more information regarding DBT therapy can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. Whether you have a specific mental health condition or are just looking to improve your life, anyone can benefit from DBT therapy.

 

 

Works Referenced:

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. (2022, November 5). Distress tolerance. DBT. https://dialecticalbehaviortherapy.com/distress-tolerance/ 

Emotion regulation. DBT Self Help. (2023, September 27). https://dbtselfhelp.com/dbt-skills-list/emotion-regulation/#:~:text=Emotion%20Regulation%20is%20the%20Dialectical,and%20build%20positive%20emotional%20experiences 

Schimelpfening, N. (2023, May 1). How dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) works. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy-1067402 

Transtrum, T. (2023, May 3). Anxiety & depression are on the rise-here’s what you need to know. Valera Health. https://www.valerahealth.com/anxiety-and-depression-are-on-the-rise/