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/.

7 Tips to Avoid Burnout

Simple steps that you can take every day to live a healthier, more balanced life

Burnout is a common term that you have most likely heard of and maybe even used to describe feelings of fatigue and being overwhelmed. Although burnout isn’t a formal mental health diagnosis, it’s been defined as mental and physical exhaustion related to working in the human service and healthcare fields. Today, however, burnout has been expanded to include all types of occupations, as well as other social roles such as being a parent, a spouse, and a caregiver.

Burnout and COVID-19

Burnout is characterized as a state of mental and physical exhaustion and is defined as a psychological problem that is a result of experiencing prolonged and chronic stress in a position or role. Recognizing the common symptoms of burnout can help you determine if you are experiencing this condition. Indicators of burnout include avoidance of following through with your usual responsibilities, chronically feeling as if you are ineffective in completing daily tasks, as well as persistent feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.

There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed our lives.

Studies show increased rates of burnout, particularly among healthcare workers. This is no surprise considering the demands that COVID has placed on our frontline workers. Doctors, nurses, and female healthcare workers seem to report higher levels of burnout.

The demands of COVID have also placed increased pressure and stress on other professions and social roles. Working from home has been a challenge to many who are having difficulty creating boundaries and quickly evolving workflows. Teachers have had to re-invent themselves instantaneously. Parents have had to adapt to adding teachers and tutors to their traditional parenting roles, while in many cases also adding daytime caregivers to their already established responsibilities. Store clerks, business owners, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers have had to continue to show up to work despite feelings of fear, desperation, or other emotions. It is safe to assume that anyone is at-risk for COVID burnout due to the significant changes and stress it has brought to our daily lives

How to Avoid Burnout

As with any mental or physical problem, the sooner you notice it and address it, the better off you’ll be. Burnout is no exception. Whether you have been experiencing burnout for several weeks or months, or you just started noticing symptoms a few days ago, there are things you can do to help reduce and avoid future burnout.

Here are  7 simple steps that you can take to help avoid burnout and live a healthier, more balanced life.

1. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.

To keep your diet on the right track, prep healthy foods ahead of time so that when hunger strikes, you have nutritious options ready and available. We all know what it feels like to be starving in the middle of the day and reach for a bag of chips when we had every intention of making a salad. Have the salad and other healthy options ready to go so that you can empower yourself to make a healthy choice.

2. Exercising regularly.

If you are finding it difficult to start an exercise routine, you are not alone. Start small. Commit five to 10 minutes a day of physical exercise in some form. That can be walking, stretching, or doing yoga. Many of these activities can be done while watching your favorite TV show or listening to a podcast.

3. Making time for self-reflection.

Self-reflection is about tuning into your inner thoughts and feelings. That can mean making time for journaling or meditating.

4. Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene and getting adequate sleep.

Make it a point to go to bed around the same time each night. Also, follow a regular sleep routine to help prepare you for sleep which can include taking a shower, washing your face, brushing your teeth, and reading.

5. Engaging in a pleasant activity every day, such as crafting, gaming, or reading.

Having something to look forward to can help you maintain a healthy mood and act as a preventative factor for stress and burnout. All work and no play doesn’t make anyone happy!

6. Strengthening your support system by spending quality time with family members and friends.

A healthy support system can be a key factor in effectively managing stress and burnout. Spend time with people who you love and trust and feel comfortable around.

7. Re-evaluating personal and professional goals regularly.

Create a goal for yourself that is important to you and focus your attention on it when you feel an increase in stress and burnout. Once you have achieved that goal, set another one; if you haven’t achieved your goal, re-evaluate the timeline of your goal and whether it is reasonable to your current circumstances.

Finally, take breaks throughout your day, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we are all in this together, and we made it through a remarkably difficult time by relying on each other and working together. We all need help and support.

If you’re experiencing signs of burnout, you may also want to try Valera Health’s therapy and psychiatric services. Our dedicated coaches, therapists, and psychiatrists will provide a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Get started today and request a consultation online.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911781/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7519601/
  3. https://inside.ewu.edu/calelearning/psychological-skills/preventing-burnout/