Where is Your Focus of Control?
I pose this question twisting the term “locus of control” developed by Julian B. Rotter, an American psychologist, in 1954. Locus of control is a concept looking at the degree to which a person thinks they have control over dealing with things happening in their lives versus outside influences dictating the outcome.
People who focus too much on outside influences, may blame others, fate or bad luck for their situation. They tend to say things like "I have no choice" or "They make me feel guilty if I don't do this." Such thoughts have likely developed over long periods of time and tend to be great contributors to feelings of anxiety and depression.
I am not saying one should totally focus on the self, in all situations. Certainly, there are events and circumstances brought on from the environment, that can throw us a wrench sort-to-speak; and some are bigger wrenches than others. Many people even have to deal with a whole toolbox full of wrenches that have been thrown into their lives. Some are traumatic, some are painful, some are horrific, or all of the above. And sometimes it really sucks, is not fair, etc. etc. etc. Yes, absolutely do we need to pay attention to these outside circumstances, events or influences and deal with them appropriately.
And that’s the key right there. We Choose how to react; how to deal with what has been given to us. Maybe we are not able to choose all of the outcome, in things that are beyond our control. But we can focus on the things we can control. This can help us feel better; less anxious or depressed.
Sometimes it’s hard to look at our own ways in which we can keep ourselves stuck and sometimes we don’t see choices. It can help to talk things through with a counselor.
Need help? ~ Let’s Talk!
Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, grief & loss, or any other mental health issue for that matter, or even if you are not - everyone can do these five things that help tremendously with maintaining mental health and well-being.
1. Reduce unnecessary stress and 'stressing.' Take a good look at your life and identify stressors. Then determine what YOU can do about them. Which stressors can you eliminate? What can you change about certain situations? Don't forget to check for stressors on your schedule, in your house (clutter?) and yes, in your mind - what are you 'stressing' about? Find ways to reduce the 'stressing.' One of my favs to dealing with stress (yes, I am a human being lol) is a mindful activity - to get outside and 'connect' with nature - being fully present with all senses and taking it all in. Other examples of how to deal with stress are journaling, napping (another one of my favorites) or talking to a friend. If you have a hard time stopping the stressing, talking with a counselor may be a good idea. Too much stress is not good for us; it can make us physically and mentally ill.
2. Get enough Zzz's. Your brain and your body NEED sleep. Especially if you are not feeling well, or are dealing with any type of illness. It is during sleeping, that your brain and your whole body work on things like making repairs, restoring energy, sorting out and strengthening information learned throughout the day (that's why it's especially important for students to get enough sleep). I prefer to get at least eight, if not nine or so hours each day. Listen to your body as to how many hours feel right for you. If you are struggling with not being able to sleep or if you are not feeling refreshed after nine or so hours of sleep, there may be underlying reasons that need to be addressed and it's time to talk with a counselor and a doctor.
3. Exercise. I can't say enough about that. Exercise has been shown to be Uber-beneficial to people's health, including mental health. As you exercise, 'feel-good' hormones are released, called endorphins, that do exactly that - they help you feel good. The more you exercise on a regular basis, the more of a benefit this will be to you. Find things you ENJOY, because you are more likely to keep doing them. Do a variety of activities to avoid getting bored. Find ways to reduce activities in the day that involve being inactive and ways to increase activity, such as getting off the bus a bus-stop earlier to walk home or taking the bike to work. Please do check with your doc, depending on your particular health situation, before starting any exercise program.
4. Speaking of checking in with your doctor ⚕️; regular check-ups and getting recommended tests done is also very important in maintaining overall health. When you feel something is off in terms of your mental health, getting a check-up is especially important. There are numerous 'medical' conditions that could be underlying or connected to mental health issues. If the doc talks with you about meds, try to have an open mind about it and at least listen to what is offered. Speak your mind about the issue, if you have worries or concerns about medications. If you do decide with your doc that meds are important for you to take, take them as prescribed and communicate with your doc and your counselor about how this is going for you or if you are experiencing side effects. Keeping a journal just for this is a good idea, so you have an objective and written record you can take with you to your appointments, and you don't forget in that few minutes that you are actually seeing the doctor about things you may have wanted to mention. Typically you only see a doctor about once a month or so, therefore it could be easy to forget about things that seemed to be important information at the time.
5. It's all about balance. Look at any areas in which you feel your life may be out of balance. Some examples are balanced eating, work-life balance and balance between time spend by yourself and time spend with others or doing things for others. Try to figure out how to re-balance these areas. Of course, sometimes we have to work a lot or we have to spend a lot of time doing things for others (for example if a family member is ill and we are the main care giver). The idea here is that, eventually, the pendulum needs to swing in the opposite direction, meaning, we NEED to find ways to re-balance from time to time. Being off balance for too long = too much stress (see number 1 above :)
If you are struggling with any of these and would like to chat, please call (208) 321 5552 or schedule online at www.petracounseling.com.
5 Steps to Self Care
No time to take care of yourself you say? Been there. Sometimes still think that way. Although I know better. ‘Cause if I don’t, it’s no bueno. I get stressed, sick or too tired to function well. It comes out in many different ways; headaches, making more mistakes, lack of concentration. So things take longer, as I have to go over things again and again or fix mistakes.
Know that feeling? But I have so much to do, you say. Yep, I hear ya. So what gives? How do you find time to take care of yourself? I think everyone is different and different things will work better for each individual. But here are some general tips:
1. Recognizing and acknowledging that there is an issue and that something needs changing is the first step towards change. Have a heart to heart ♥️ with yourself. Accept that you are human and not Superman/woman. Your energy resources are limited and running on close to empty is like trying to drive a car on fumes. Eventually you will breakdown, if you don’t “refuel” sorta speak.
2. Make it a priority. Remind yourself continuously about the importance of self care. Talk back to that inner voice of “oh but This and That is more important than” - essentially ‘you.’ Self care is preventative health care. Besides, you’re setting an example to people around you that self care is important.
3. Schedule it. Yep, you read that right. Writing ✍️ appointments with yourself to take care of you, such as scheduling time for a 20 minute nap or that yoga 🧘♀️ routine in your planner makes it more serious to you.
4. Simplify your life. Get rid of things you don’t have time for. Reduce your commitments and ask yourself which of those are really 'have to's.' Learn to say 'No' to things. Declutter that schedule. Speaking of clutter, which creates more stress for you and robs you of valuable moments of you-time. I go through my house a couple times a year and get rid of things we don’t use. Decluttering makes cleaning easier and leaves you with more time for yourself.
5. Pay attention to when you do make changes how it is affecting you. How do you feel now? Have more energy after working out? Feeling refreshed after that 20 minute nap? Concentration is better and getting stuff done ✅ faster? Tell people about your success and encourage others to take care of themselves, as well. By becoming a ‘believer’ and spreading ‘the word’ about the goodness that comes from self care, you are also reinforcing that mindset in yourself, making it stick more in your future.
Need some support with this? Let’s talk! (208) 321 5552
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I am a Nationally Certified- and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Idaho. With over eight years of experience, I specialize in counseling and consulting with adults of all ages, facing anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, grief & loss, life stage issues, stress and more.