By Bea Arthur Ah, the wonderful world of “mental health.” As much as we’d like to think we’ve got it all figured out, we all go through times in our lives when things are confusing, frustrating, or just straight-up WTF?! And, you don't need to be affluent or eccentric to seek help for your issues. Everybody's got 'em — and we all have different means and methods for dealing with them. If we can’t change our circumstances on our own, it can be hugely helpful to change our approach to them. That’s what wellness professionals do: partner with you to shift your perspective, so certain situations or people don’t negatively affect how you feel or function. Psychotherapy, personal coaching, meditation, and even hypnosis are all proven and effective methods of improving mood and reducing stress. But, there’s such a cloud of mystery over these services that it can be tough to choose the right practice, let alone the right practitioner. If you don't know where to begin, how do you get started? I own and operate In Your Corner, a website that connects people with licensed therapists, certified coaches, and meditation instructors. So I can help shed some light on the different types of care available and lead you to making the right choice for you. Trusting another person with feelings and thoughts that are important to you can take a lot of courage, and working with the wrong person can make a bad situation worse, or even put you off getting any kind of help at all. To help make sure you choose the best practice for your situation and your personality, read on for a breakdown of the many different approaches.
If you’re feeling super stressed, try guided meditation. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, when you feel a persistent sense of anxiety, sometimes the last thing you should do is talk about what’s bothering you, as giving it additional attention and energy will only magnify the issue. Operating from a panicked frame of mind can be just as bad as beer-goggles — it can cause you to make careless or desperate decisions, which will keep you in the whirlwind. In these situations, it’s best to get into a calmer state so you can clearly assess the issue and solve it. Guided meditation — and breath work especially — slows your thought process to give you a sense of clarity and control. Continued practice of meditation and deep breathing really pays off in the long run, as your body and mind learn to temper reactions to stressful situations. This practice can also include holistic self-help strategies, such as visualization skills and energy healing, to relieve stress and tension.
If things don’t seem to be working out the way they should, try talk therapy. Humans are creatures of habit. And, as a result of our life experiences, we can develop defensive coping mechanisms or destructive behavioral patterns. These tendencies become part of our personality and are often invisible to us. Through ongoing analysis your personal history, therapists identify the patterns in your life that have worked for you and help you understand why other patterns have not. For example, if you tend to be attracted a certain “type,” but these relationships keep ending in disaster — that is not your type, that is your subconscious setting you up: Run! We tend to return to things that are comfortable and familiar, even if they lead to bad experiences. A good therapist can point to people or things in the past that led you to the enact a destructive behavior or adapt a certain coping mechanism. Understanding why you do something can help you proactively change that behavior, and make you more likely to stick to it in the future. Self-awareness and understanding are necessities for personal and professional development; they're how we evolve our thinking and get to where we need to be — in other words, you gotta know yourself to grow yourself!
If you need a nudge in the right direction, try a life coach. Therapy aims to work out what happened in the past and what’s going on in the present, but coaching looks toward where you want to be in the future. While therapists don’t give specific advice and are trained to maintain as much objectivity as possible in guiding you toward finding your own answers, life coaches are actually invested in helping you achieve a very specific outcome. In Your Corner coach Catherine Chen explains, “We want to help them look at what their vision is and where they’re actually standing in respect to that vision, and who they have to become in order to be on that mountain, and what that path looks like.” A hearty “hell yes” to that!
If you need to break a bad habit for good, try hypnosis. Of all the practices, this is arguably the most “out there,” but it has proven effective in achieving weight loss, quitting smoking, avoiding destructive situations or behaviors, and revealing hidden beliefs. In fact, though results from a lie-detector test are not admissible in court, testimony from a client during a hypnotherapy session is. In Your Corner life coach and hypnotherapist Sabrina Bolin explains, “The unconscious mind wields about 90% of our overall mind power, whereas the conscious mind only holds about 10%. The reason many of us fall back onto old patterns when trying to create change in our lives is that we often only approach change through the conscious mind, which doesn't truly get to the root of what's keeping us stuck.” Hypnotherapy is often used for survivors of rape and sexual assault to uncover suppressed memories in testimony. The practice can be beneficial if someone thinks she blocked out something that happened to her and she wants to confront it. But, it could also be damaging if the client is unprepared for what may be uncovered. If a client reveals something major under trance, the hypnotherapist will approach it gently to assess whether they're aware of an event or issue surrounding it, and ask if they'd like to discuss it. This process can bring the memories back into focus. The treatment can be extremely helpful, yet needs to be treated with caution. Fortunately, one of the best things about hypnosis is that it's usually effective in five sessions or less. There is so much power in these kinds of partnerships, and a wellness practitioner can be your ally, advisor, and advocate through a tough time or transition. No matter which path you choose, it always helps to have someone with you to light the way.