Mental Health & Wellness
Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are all connected. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance in each of these areas so that our minds and bodies can function optimally. All of us get busy, all of us have bad days, and it can sometimes be difficult to balance our needs, wants and responsibilities. Sequoia Counselling is here to help.
Mental Health, like physical health, exists on a continuum. On one end are the days that we feel happy and fulfilled and everything seems to be going well. On the other end of the continuum are the days that we really struggle. Everything seems harder and sometimes it feels like our feelings of stress/anxiety/depression/overwhelm/grief will never end.
Mental health is separate from mental illness. Feelings of anxiety and depression are normal for all of us in moderation at different periods in our lives. However, when these or other problematic feelings start to interfere with our day to day functioning over long periods of time, then a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist may diagnose a mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, etc. Your mental health is not dependent on whether or not you have a mental health related diagnosis. For example, someone may be living with a mental illness and have great mental health because they’ve learned how to take care of themselves and their mental illness. On the contrary, another person may have very poor mental health due to high levels of stress and burn out, even though they may not meet the diagnostic criteria for mental illness.
Whether you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or you are feeling overwhelmed, at Sequoia Counselling we utilize evidence-informed practices, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), narrative therapy, attachment therapy, and others, to help you maintain mental health and wellness by Building Coping Strategies, Facilitating Healing, Balancing priorities, Getting Back on Track, and learning how to Maintain your progress.
Building Coping Strategies
We all have coping strategies that we use when we’re feeling stressed. Some of these coping strategies are healthy, such as exercise, connecting with friends, meditating and taking breaks, and others can be unhealthy, such as overeating, using drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate, overworking or isolating ourselves. We work with you to identify what coping strategies you’re using and assess how well they’re working for you. Together, we will explore the strategies that are most effective for you and develop a personalized coping plan. Coping strategies are applied holistically to address your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
We’re all human. We get hurt, we make mistakes, and sometimes we hurt others – intentionally and unintentionally. Our experiences may elicit emotions that range from mild to overwhelming to intense and sometimes even debilitating. We feel love, joy, and happiness, as well as guilt, grief, sadness, and shame. When we’re able to learn from and move through our emotions they can help us heal from the pain we experience in our lives. But sometimes we get stuck in these emotions; our thoughts start to spiral and we have a hard time moving forward. We may notice patterns of behaviour in our lives and wonder why we make the same mistakes over and over. In an effort to protect ourselves from further hurt and pain we guard ourselves and find it difficult to trust and connect with others. We may begin to struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
At Sequoia Counselling we draw from a number of different treatment modalities to support you in healing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Depending on your individual situation, the healing process may include:
- Processing conflicting thoughts, feelings and values to help you find clarity in your decisions
- Addressing, challenging and reframing spiraling, intrusive or unhelpful thoughts
- Identifying unwanted patterns in your life, exploring how past hurts and experiences have influenced you, and learning to heal, grow and be hopeful for the future again.
- Grieving your losses and finding ways to move forward in life
- Learning to advocate for yourself, develop healthy boundaries and, when appropriate, forgive others.
- Learning to gradually face and overcome your fears
- Learning to be kind to yourself and to have self-compassion
One of the challenges and stressors that we face in our lives is balancing priorities. This includes balancing our needs with those of others, balancing our needs, wants and responsibilities, and making sense of the conflicting expectations that we experience in our lives. Together, we will explore your values, goals, and how you want to live your life. We’ll take some time to explore the conflicting priorities and expectations in your life and determine which of these are in alignment with who you want to be. We will work towards challenging some of the unhelpful expectations in your life and learn how to respectfully maintain healthy boundaries with others when we can’t always please them or do what they want. We will explore different ways that you can make time for the things that are important to you, including taking care of yourself.
Getting Back on Track
Once we have develop some coping strategies, healed from some of our past hurts, and explored our values and priorities, we can work towards getting back on track with living the life that you want to live. This often includes learning new skills and new ways of interacting with others.
- Learning to feel and express your feelings in healthy ways
- Learning to advocate for yourself respectfully, assertively and confidently
- Developing mindfulness skills – Learning to live in the present moment and accept the things we cannot change
- Learning how to trust and connect with others in genuine and meaningful ways
- Building, repairing and maintaining healthy relationships
- Practicing social and interpersonal skills
- Changing your behaviours to be more in line with your values and goal
By now, you should be feeling better. You have the skills for managing the stressors that arise in your life. You’ve started related to others in healthier ways which often improves relationship satisfaction with family and friends. You’re accomplishing your goals, feeling more confident, and believing in yourself again.
The final step is to discuss how you’re going to maintain this progress over time. We do this by consciously exploring what strategies, tools, and skills have been working for you and how you can use them and remind yourself to continue using them moving forward. Maintenance also involves scheduling a booster session if you feel that things are starting to get a bit off track again or if a new stressor or challenge comes up. My goal as a therapist is to give you the skills that you need to be able to manage the stressors that arise in your life. I want you to know that you don’t have to walk this journey alone and you can always schedule a session if you’re feeling down or want some support in getting back on track.