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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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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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