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At some point in life or maybe several times in life we are faced with challenges that incite fear in our minds. I go through it myself at times. If you struggle with depression or anxiety it may be even harder for you to shake that fear when it arises.

When I was child, my dad used to always say “The battle is in the mind, Jessie.” I didnt know what the heck he was talking about and really didn’t care at that age. Now that I am older, practicing in this profession, and through experiencing challenges and facing my own fears, I can testify to this daily battle in all of our minds.The battle between fear and courage, self doubt and confidence can take a mental and physical toll on you if you let it.

So how do you overcome the battle?

Step one, challenge yourself. Think of yourself as a lawyer and argue back to those negative and distorted thoughts with evidence and counteracting positive statements.

Step two, find your motivation or reward. Yea you might be afraid to put yourself out there but what is the end result? Where do you want to be down the line that requires you to push through this fear? There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Lastly, step number three, JUST DO IT! If you don’t jump out there and start that business that you have been wanting to start or talk to that crush you have been having your eyes on for the last few months or delay submitting that application to graduate school that would help you get a pay increase later, then you can only be mad at who at the end of the day? That’s right. YOU. Don’t regret five, ten, twenty years down the road that you didn’t act and allowed your fear take control of your life. Grab fear by the reigns and let it know who’s boss. I had so many doubts in my mind throughout my counseling career and especially with starting my private practice but I did it anyway because I decided a long time ago that I was never going to let fear keep me from achieving my goals. And you don’t need to allow it to either.

Listen to the podcast to find out how you can participate in this week’s TCC Weekly Challenge on overcoming your fears. Comment below which fear you plan on facing this week.

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It’s the summertime and you know what that means? Vacation time! If you haven’t already taken some time off I hope you plan to at some point this summer. Taking vacations are important to our mental and physical health and studies have shown that vacations can reduce stress, increase productivity at work, prevent heart disease, and allows the opportunity for better sleep. It also presents a time for you to practice mindfulness as discussed in the last podcast (Episode 1). Listen to the podcast to here more about my thoughts on vacations and how they can affect your mental health positively and negatively. Here are five tips to help you maximize your mental health while on vacation:

1. Social Media Detox-use this time to stay off of social media and truly be present mentally on your vacation. It can be stressful in itself trying to take pictures, record those perfect moments, and think of those catchy captions. At least limit your posting and scrolling to twice a day if you can’t cut it out completely.

2. Minimize electronic usage-phones, computers, and tablets should ideally be left behind but if it’s not possible, try every effort to engage in the activities and with others you are spending your vacation with. If it helps for you to turn internet off so you aren’t tempted try that as well. I know you may not think you can survive without the internet but trust me you can and you will thank me later after you try it. Electronics also negatively impact our sleep so when you are on vacation try to sleep with your phones in another room and put them on silent. Nobody should be contacting you anyway right?

3. Catch up on sleep- vacation is a perfect time for you to get the rest you need to improve your sleep quality so you will feel refreshed upon your return to work. It also won’t hurt for you to schedule nap time in your vacation itinerary. Sleep helps to decrease irritability which will make your vacation a whole lot more enjoyable.

4. Get in touch with nature-unless you work outside most of us never truly enjoy the wonders and peace of Mother Nature. Take walks, appreciate the scenery, practice mindfulness by sitting and using your five senses to become aware of your surroundings. Take in every little detail about your location and bask in the beauty of it all.

5. Resist the urge to spend money or excessive amounts- you do not have to spend a lot of money (or any at all) to enjoy yourself on vacation. Minimal spending helps save you stress later on down the line when you realize that money on that expensive meal could have been used for something else. Save money in advance and plan activities and meals accordingly for your trip and stick to using that money only. Be disciplined enough to not use undesignated funds. Leave credit cards at home if this is difficult for you.

I hope these tips help you to enjoy your vacation even more so than your last! Tell me what are you doing for your vacation? Comment below! Also if you are participating in this week’s TCC challenge comment below how that was for you. Listen to this week’s Episode 2: Mental Vacay podcast to find out what this week’s challenge is. Happy Vacationing!

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Welcome to the very first blog post of The Counselor's Complex!!! I am so excited to be premiering my blog AND my podcast on today! Start your week off right every Monday with myself, and in the future some special guests, to discuss some important topics related to mental health! Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and suggest topics for future podcast episodes and blog entries. You can listen to the podcast on all major podcast platforms very soon but for now listen to it from our sponsors using the link: https://anchor.fm/TheCounselorsComplex

Please remember that this is simply my personal thoughts about these topics and in no way is this a replacement for actual therapy with a mental health professional.

Today I am going to be answering the frequently asked questions regarding mental health treatment. I hope that this helps to kickstart your mental health journey to becoming your best self!

Q: Who should seek counseling?

A: Everybody! I strongly believe that everyone should go to therapy at least once in their life to get a better understanding of themselves and how to process certain situations. Even if you do not have a serious mental illness, a counselor is a great person to have in your corner to help you successfully maneuver through some difficult life transitions.

Q: What exactly happens during a counseling session?

A: The fear of the unknown is what I think scares a lot of people away from seeking help through counseling. Well, I'm here to ease your fears a little bit. The first session is usually completing basic intake paperwork and getting a background history of your treatment, childhood, and other significant things that have contributed to you seeking a counselor. One important thing that I will stress to you is that every single counseling session is what YOU make it. Your counselor cannot help you in the best possible way if you are not open and honest about what needs to be addressed in therapy. Try not to think of the session as this stranger is just getting all up in your business but think of it more as you and the counselor developing a rapport with one another and the more you let them know the better they can serve you.

Q: Where are the counseling sessions held at?

A: Counseling sessions can be held at a variety of locations including but not limited to hospitals, clinics, private offices, libraries, parks, and even your own home. Some counselors even offer tele-therapy, but you will need to discuss with your therapist what is the best location and mode of therapy to fit your needs. Big factors that contribute to locations include accessibility to transportation, safety for the client and the therapist, and confidentiality.

Q: When can I meet with my counselor if I am so busy?

A: Depending on the therapist some may have a variety of times for you to choose from to schedule your sessions. Some therapists are very flexible with scheduling sessions around work or school and some, including myself will offer evening and weekend appointments based on availability. So there really should be no excuse for not being able to set up a convenient time for you to get the help that you need. Make time for what is important and your mental health is extremely important. Don't you agree?

Q: Why is mental health so important? I have done well by myself so far why do I need a counselor to help me?

A: 1 in 5 adults are diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Half of those dealing with a mental illness go untreated. Mental illness contributes to so many other societal ills including crime, homelessness, abuse, substance abuse, etc. Your mental health effects every aspect of your life whether it be socially, spiritually, intellectually, and even your physical health. A lot of physical symptoms are linked to anxiety and depression. And of course you can deal with your problems on your own, but isn't it better to have someone there to support you and show you a better way that might get you to a better place in an accelerated amount of time? Every great basketball player has bragged about their coaches right?

Q: Okay, so how do I even find a therapist in my area?

A: I don't know what I would do if I didn't have Google so I would definitely start there. Type in "counselor near me" in the search box and you will find tons of counselors in your area. Some other great websites to look at are Psychology Today and if you are African-American and looking for a therapist of color in your area you can try Therapy for Black Girls which is also one of my favorite podcasts to listen to! Lastly, you may also try asking friends, family, and others you may know if they have any recommendations for therapists.

Well there you have it! I hope that I was able to answer some of your questions about seeking treatment. Making that first contact to call and ask for help can be the hardest decision to make ever. Just remember, that you are doing something that is going to help you in the long run especially if you take the time out to make sure you find the best therapist for you. Don't forget to listen to the podcast (there are some extras in there for you) and share the blog! See you back next Monday!

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