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15 Things People Who Go To Therapy Never Told You

15 Things People Who Go To Therapy Never Told You

Society seems to be biased about mental health and those that go to therapy. Even Tony Soprano saw a therapist during most of the popular show The Sopranos, but he definitely kept that fact from family and friends for fear of being judged or ridiculed. There seems to be quite a few generalizations about people who go to therapy. Some might think we are crazy, or that we all need medication. We take a look at all the positive things about therapy and how it really can change our lives for the better. Here are 15 things people who go to therapy never told you. The basis of this list is to break the societal stigma that somehow there is something wrong with people who go to therapy.

1. We are less stressed.

Sometimes it is hard to keep everything that might be going wrong in our lives bottled up. The more it stays inside our head and heart, the harder it is to relax. After talking to a therapist, life seems less heavy and after sharing something important with another person while receiving a few useful tips and pointers, we are able to improve the way we currently choose to live our lives. It is definitely helpful when talking to someone regularly about any issues in our lives.

2. We are learning new tools to combat future issues.

Boundaries. Communication Tools. Staying out of codependent patterns. Most of these points might sound like “therapy talk”, but setting boundaries with others that are hurting our emotional health are necessary to be able to protect ourselves from further harm. Most of these ideas and tools are not widely taught outside of therapy or recovery circles, but they are common conversations when talking to a therapist.

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3. We are not doing it alone.

Isolation can be detrimental. If we go into our head and spend days there ruminating about negative thoughts, feelings or problems it usually makes the problem feel bigger. Many times isolation just makes the already bad situation worse. The fact that seeing a therapist means that we are not going through life alone, it definitely helps.  Using a professional to help with our mental health issues, we have made that first vulnerable step to go to therapy and share parts of our lives with someone else.  There is healing even in taking that first step to seek out and set up an appointment with our therapist.

4. We are actually utilising someone unbiased in our lives.

Sometimes taking our problems and issues to a best friend or family member can damage the relationship. The other negative of sharing our issues with others that know us pretty well could end up hurting more than helping our situation. The friend or family member might tell us what we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. It is helpful to have someone that has no previous bias about who we are or how we have lived our lives. The more our therapist gets to know us, they can offer sound advice and sometimes point out when we might be playing the victim or not fully owning up to our own responsibility in any given situation. It is good to have someone that will help us discern the truth in our situation and not our own perceived reality.

5. We are getting out of denial.

Denial is a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad or painful is true or real. In some situations, it is a defence mechanism to shield us from severe abuse or harm. It works for a while, but it has no long term benefit in our lives and it eventually will surface sooner or later. Seeing a therapist helps us sift through our past hurts and negative events that might be affecting our current lives. The more time spent talking to a therapist, the easier it is to realise when and where we might have been using denial to avoid certain feelings. The most important thing is that once we are aware of our own denial, we can finally begin to change.

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6. We are changing the way we do things, for the better.

Going to therapy helps improve communication with others, helps with how we choose to react in certain situations and figuring out what we truly are responsible for in our own lives. The longer we are in therapy, the more we figure out healthy ways to react to negative or complicated situations.  A licensed professional can give us sound and important suggestions on how we can improve the way we choose to live our lives.

7. We are taking care of our mental health.

When we a have a cold, we go to the doctor. When we need help with our fitness goals, we hire a personal trainer. When we need help with our finances, we go to a financial advisor. Why would it be any different when we need help sorting out our thoughts or problems in our lives? Seeing a therapist helps us take care of our mental health so that we can live our lives in a more positive and balanced way.

8. We are not afraid to be authentic.

We get out of therapy what we put into it. Being authentic and truthful as best as we can with our therapist only benefits how we can improve our current situation. A therapist is a safe person to share past and current experiences with, and the more we trust our therapist, the more authentic and real we become with family and friends. The truth is that no one is perfect, it is not possible to be perfect. The more forthcoming we can be with others about our own issues or struggles, the more trustworthy we become.

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9. We are letting go of our past hurts.

Most people believe the only thing talked about in therapy sessions is our past. The past is important because many of our belief systems were formed while growing up. When talking to a therapist, the past is only the main topic for a certain amount of time. Once it is realised that some of our bad habits are directly related to our negative past experiences, that awareness alone allows for better reactions and choices to be made with future issues or struggles.

10. We know that it’s not a shame to go to therapy.

After talking to a therapist for a while and getting some answers and healing in certain areas of our lives, we feel good about our decision and start talking to family and friends about the successes we have had from going to therapy. This doesn’t mean we are talking about the person we share that information with during our sessions. We also don’t expect the person we tell to feel sorry for us because we are in therapy. We are taking care of our mental health and all we want from friends and family that we share the fact that we go to therapy with, is love and support.

11. We go for as long as we need to.

Going to therapy does not mean we go forever. Everyone is different and many issues can be worked through in a matter of months, or we occasionally can check in every 6 months after working through the majority of what we came to work on to begin with. We do form a bond with our therapist so it is hard to just stop going altogether because we respect and form a safe and trusting relationship with our therapist.

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12. We are still in control of our own thoughts and decisions.

When we go see a therapist, we are not told what to do. We are actually asked many questions in return and most of the time we are nudged in the direction we need to go. Many answers we are looking for, we find out after sharing important bits of information and getting back suggestions that help us figure out the answers. We are not controlled by our therapists, they are just there to help us reach the goals we wanted to reach when we first started.

13. We are more accepting of ourselves and others.

Once we realise a few of our faults and habits that have currently held us back, we realise that we accept the good and bad of who we are and we can enjoy our lives and others around us even more. Negative self talk and low self worth can be detrimental to our happiness. The sooner we fully accept the good and the bad within ourselves and others instead of holding others to certain expectations, the sooner we can move forward and live our lives without anything holding us back.

14. We are open to trying new things.

We learn new things in therapy. We learn to journal our thoughts, to ask ourselves hard questions so we can find out the very important answers. We sometimes do ‘homework’ assignments and we are sometimes asked to do things a little differently and report back on how our new attitude or reaction worked out for us. If we struggle with anger or resentment toward certain people, we are asked to consider exploring the possibility of forgiveness. We agree to try new things even if we may not want to at first, we know in the long run it will help us learn how to have positive and healthy reactions instead of our old negative patterns.

15. We are not weak.

Some may view us as weak because we seek out professional help for certain issues or situations we can’t quite tackle on our own. We realise that admitting we need someone else to guide us in the right direction is the best decision for us and going to therapy was not an easy decision. We decide that society’s view of “sucking it up” and “figuring it out on our own” is not the best advice. We realise in the end, we are choosing to make positive changes in our lives instead of staying in our previous mode of insanity which was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. We are strong for deciding to change our lives for the better, and we finally realise we no longer care what others think about us anymore because we know that going to therapy is the best thing to do for our own mental health.

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via photos.jdhancock.com

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Wendy Redden

Digital Advertising Account Manager, Music Blogger, Freelance Writer

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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