Tips for Mental Health That Therapists Use for Themselves

Working out and eating a healthy diet are two ways we care for our physical health. However, the strategies are less defined when it comes to mental health.

Nevertheless, we understand how important it is to take care of our mental health. Studies show that most people value their physical health just as much as their mental health. Yet, more than half of people say they spend more time working on their physical health than mental health.

Therapists know first-hand how important it is to care for your mental health. They see plenty of people experience problems because they’ve neglected their mental health for years. If you don’t prioritize your mental health, you will feel the difference. Mental health should be a priority for three reasons: 


  • Preventing mental health problems is easier than treating them. By taking care of yourself now, you may be able to prevent mental health problems in the future. By paying close attention to your mental health, you’ll be able to intervene earlier when problems arise. 


  • Physical and mental health are intertwined. Poor mental health may increase your risk for physical health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. So even if you care more about your physical health, neglecting your mental health may backfire. 


  • Your mental health affects your quality of life, too. Being in good physical shape is important, but psychological wellbeing is equally important. Mental health problems can impact your social life, your ability to complete your work, and your relationships. 


Here are five exercises you can do to improve your mental health:

  1. Plan something fun every week

In therapy, we often discuss “pleasant activity scheduling.” In essence, it means scheduling an activity that you enjoy. It could be as simple as choosing a time to watch a movie at home. Regardless of whether you live alone, schedule it on your calendar. The key is to schedule it in the future, so you have something to look forward to. 

You get a second boost in your mood when you do that fun thing and a third boost after it’s over because you’ve created a positive memory. It is a good idea to schedule at least one fun activity a week.

  1. Practice relaxation strategies

Knowing how to relax your mind and body is essential. Passively watching TV might not cut it either. Even though you’re watching TV, your muscles might still be tense, and your mind might never completely relax. Additionally, watching TV while scrolling through social media can keep you on edge and alert.

For real stress reduction, you might want to learn yoga or meditation practices. Additionally, you can learn and practice breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation. Try to incorporate regular stress relief into your schedule regardless of what you do.

  1. Establish a gratitude practice

The benefits of experiencing and expressing gratitude are numerous. In several studies, gratitude has been shown to be directly related to your overall wellbeing. People who are grateful tend to have fewer mental health problems, higher levels of happiness, and long-term positive psychological wellbeing.

While writing a letter of gratitude to someone is one way to experience these positive effects, you don’t necessarily even need to share your grateful feelings with anyone. You can also increase your mental strength by writing in a private journal.

  1. Foster your relationships

A key factor in good mental health is social support. Relationships play a crucial role in your life, so it’s important to invest time in them. Spend quality time with your loved ones, whether that’s a date night with your partner or a weekly dinner with your friends.

  1. Perform acts of kindness

Acts of kindness shouldn’t necessarily be about your personal gain, but by doing kind things for others, you do gain a lot. Whenever you are kind to someone, your brain releases feel-good hormones, such as endorphins and oxytocin. In addition to boosting your own mood, you will also boost the mood of the person you are giving to. 

Each day, choose a different person to show kindness to and perform one act of kindness. Or, you might volunteer once a week with a specific organization. 


Incorporating mental strength strategies into your daily routine

Identify strategies for building mental strength that you enjoy. This will increase your chances of sticking to them. Don’t force yourself to meditate if you hate it. Instead, look for another exercise you might like better. There’s plenty to choose from, and investing more time in your mental health is key to reaching your greatest potential.


How Therapy Can Benefit Your Mental Health

About 75% of people receiving therapy experience symptom relief and are able to function more effectively. Other benefits include:

  • Better daily habits to support a healthy lifestyle
  • Fewer negative thoughts
  • Greater focus and more satisfaction at work
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Stronger relationships with others

Ultimately, you’ll learn not only how to solve the problem that brought you into treatment but you’ll also gain new skills to help you cope with whatever challenges arise in the future. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.


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Inner Child Work: What It Is & How It Can Benefit You

‘Working with your inner child’ might sound a bit out there. But it is actually a psychotherapeutic concept that originated with Jung, and many therapists use it to help their clients.

The “inner child” is part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages long before your mind was able to understand them (mentally and emotionally). In addition to holding memories and beliefs from the past, it also holds hopes and dreams for the future. Healing and connecting with our inner child can be a powerful and important way to support our emotional and psychological well-being. 


Why is Inner Child Work Important?

Inner child work focuses on addressing our unmet needs by reparenting ourselves. This kind of self-discovery helps us understand our behaviors, triggers, wants, and needs. When we begin inner child healing work, we tap into a part of ourselves that is vulnerable and impressionable.

Yes, it can seem odd to be ‘talking’ to the ‘child within,’ but the benefits are impressive. They include: 

  • accessing repressed memories that are holding you back. 
  • being able to feel again after years of being numb. 
  • gaining personal power and the ability to set boundaries. 
  • learning how to take better care of yourself. 
  • feeling self-compassion and liking yourself more. 
  • being able to enjoy life and have fun again.
  • gaining self-confidence.

It is our inner child who remembers the joy, innocence, freedom, and playfulness of childhood. It also holds our hurts, traumas, and emotional wounds. The more we connect with and heal our inner child, the more compassionate and understanding our relationship with ourselves can become. To help you tap into and heal your inner child, here are a few simple exercises.


Acknowledge your inner child

Acknowledging that you have an inner child is the first step toward connecting with it. We may think of this part of us as a child, or we may not. There may be a vivid image in your head of your inner child, or there may be none at all. There may be a strong sense that you know who this part is, or there may be no clue. Developing a relationship with your inner child takes time, and you should check in with yourself regularly to see how it’s going. If you are not sure if you have an inner child, here are some questions you can ask yourself to check in with this part of you. 

  • What words would you use to describe yourself as a child? 
  • What emotions do you remember feeling as a child? 
  • What do you remember enjoying as a child?
  • What do you remember wishing for as a child?


Create a safe space for your Inner child

Having acknowledged the existence of your inner child and an idea of what this part of you looks like, create a safe space for it. Taking some time to breathe and observing yourself can help you sense your inner child’s presence. If you sense your child, you can visualize yourself placing your child in a safe, secure place. In your arms, in the space around you, wherever feels safe to you, you can place this child. You can also imagine yourself in a safe, secure space.


Write a letter to your inner child

Once you have created a safe space for your inner child, you can write a letter to yourself. It can be a wonderful way to develop a relationship with this part of yourself. You could write about anything you wish to communicate to your child. You can write with your adult self and your child self both in your mind, or you can choose to write with one or the other. There is no right or wrong way to write this letter. No matter how much or how little you write, you can do it in whatever way feels right to you. 


Self-Love and Self-Compassion

The final step to bringing all of these things together is to establish a loving and compassionate relationship with your adult self. You can offer your inner child all the love and compassion you need from this point. It is possible for you to provide your inner child with support, kindness, and guidance. Imagine giving your inner child everything you wish you had received as a child. Whether that is positive experiences, skills, or knowledge. 



Healing your inner child can be an incredibly powerful and transformative process. It can help you to heal past wounds, find more self-compassion, and create a more compassionate and understanding relationship with your inner self. The process of connecting with and healing yourself can be as individual as you are. There is no right way to go about this, and it can take as long as it needs to take. There is no time limit for healing, and you do not have to do all of these exercises at once if you don’t feel ready. You can work on connecting with and healing yourself anyway that feels right for you.


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How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

You know all the right things to do to protect your child’s physical health-feed them healthy foods, take them to the doctor, and ensure they get enough sleep and exercise. But what about helping your child grow up mentally healthy? It turns out there is plenty you can do as parents to help support your child’s emotional and mental well-being.


What Does ‘Good Mental Health’ Really Mean?

Mental health entails being able to deal with life’s ups and downs. Good mental health allows children to experience both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions without high levels of distress. In other words, they are able to handle uncomfortable feelings such as hurt and embarrassment and do not crumble under unexpected or disappointing circumstances. Despite challenges, they are able to persevere and can move on from failure. Mentally healthy kids can also adapt to change (within reason) and aren’t overly fearful about new experiences.

Your child’s ability to cope with new situations will vary as he or she grows and develops—a 2-year-old will have a harder time coping with new situations than a 12-year-old. Depending on your child’s temperament, more cautious children may be more fearful in new situations than those who are bold. A child’s confidence and resilience will vary considerably depending on their age, stage, and temperament. 

Strategies for Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health

What is the most important factor in helping your child develop positive mental health? You. In all of the literature on childhood mental health, the parent-child relationship is the leading indicator. Invest in the relationship, be present with your children, nurture your own mental health and well-being so you can be present with your children, and do not condition anything about your relationship with them on their behavior.

Here are some practical ways you can use to foster that strong parent-child relationship and boost your child’s resilience and flexibility.


Tips for promoting positive mental health:

  1. Be a Role Model

Children learn how to respond to frustration, challenges, and uncomfortable feelings based on the ways in which their parents deal with them. For example, if children see their parents react to frustration with anger and give up, they tend to do the same. A parent who communicates excessive fear about new things and tries to shelter the child from situations where any hurt or disappointment could occur is likely to have a child who is more fearful and avoidant as well.

  1. Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time (other than video chatting) for kids under 2 and only one hour of quality children’s programming for kids 2 to 5. Limiting screen time can improve mental health. Children’s brains are much more sensitive to electronic use than we may realize. Excessive screen time has been linked to school problems, aggression, and other behavioral issues. The “sensory overload” causes kids to have poor focus and depletes their mental energy, which often leads to anger and explosive behavior. It is possible for kids to become overstimulated and “revved up,” and they may have difficulty managing stress and regulating their mood.

In addition to limiting screen time for kids, you should also put down your phone and show your kids how to balance electronics with other activities in life. Parents should also engage with their kids without devices present all the time to support healthy parent-child relationships and child development.

  1. Stop Helicoptering or Snowplowing

You’ve heard about helicopter parents (who hover over their children to ensure everything’s going well) and snowplow parents (who smooth the way for their children, so they don’t have to face any bumps in the road). Although well-intentioned, these types of parents prevent their children from experiencing disappointments and overcoming obstacles. When children are involved in activities with caregivers where they are able to succeed some of the time but have to overcome challenges other times, they are more likely to develop healthy self-esteem and mental health. 

Whether it’s climbing something higher or putting together a puzzle they’ve never done before, let them try something new. Don’t jump right in to rescue them if they encounter a problem, but support them through it so they can learn how to successfully manage something that’s a little challenging without falling apart. This is the perfect opportunity for you to offer encouragement and support. Allow your child to try new things, and if they fail, let them try again while creating a soft landing in case they fail.

  1. Focus on Your Child’s Physical Health

Providing the best building blocks for mental and physical health is essential. Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Diet contributes to mood, attention, anxiety, and behavior. Mental health problems are more likely to occur in children who consume a diet high in processed foods that are devoid of nutrients. It is also crucial to make sure your kid gets enough sleep to maintain good mental health since poor sleep can impact mood, coping skills, and emotional resilience.

  1. Talk to Your Child About How They’re Feeling

Good mental health requires the ability to share feelings in a productive, healthy manner. Kids should be allowed to feel sad, frustrated, and hurt and supported to work through those feelings in appropriate ways. Help them manage big, uncomfortable feelings by modeling and supporting them to use techniques like deep belly breathing, movement, distraction, and talking.

  1. Accentuate the Positive

You can boost your child’s self-esteem by praising them for their efforts, not their successes. A good way to start is to point out what your child does well and how you notice them succeeding. The crucial thing is to praise a child’s effort despite their struggles or not being the best at whatever they’re doing so they develop a positive sense of self.

  1. Show That Making Mistakes Is Normal

Rather than harping on your child’s errors, show them your own occasional mistakes. Spotlighting your mistakes helps children understand that everyone makes mistakes and they aren’t a reflection of their worth. A positive, healthy sense of self-worth will help them avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with perfectionism.



In order to establish a strong foundation for your child’s mental health, you must build trust, demonstrate strong communication skills, and be a good role model. Being supportive of your child’s mental health also means getting them help or support when they need it.

You are the expert on your child. If they are acting in a way that seems strange or worrisome to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor. Don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you from getting your child help when they need it. It is the most supportive and courageous thing you can do. Treatment and intervention will enable them to care for their mental health.


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What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) & How Can It Help?

Do you…

Feel overwhelmed by intense emotions?

Have behaviors that you want to change?

Do you use food and/or alcohol to cope?

Do you have impulsive or reactive behaviors?

Do you find it difficult to maintain relationships?

Would you like to create a life worth living?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, or if you have other concerns about your emotional well-being, then DBT may be helpful to you. 


What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy aims to find balance and get unstuck from extremes using behavioral-based talk therapy. The D in DBT stands for Dialectics, which means synthesizing or integrating opposite ideas, thoughts, or behaviors. A key goal of DBT is to cultivate acceptance and balance in the world around us by finding the truth in opposing forces. By cultivating balance and acceptance, we decrease suffering and increase acceptance for ourselves and others. DBT is focused on not only creating a life worth living but also a life worth loving.

Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, we learn to accept thoughts and feelings without judgment while letting go of our past and future so we can live in the present. By focusing on the present, we are able to control and regulate our emotions, resulting in better balance and healthier relationships.

Marsha Linehan created DBT to treat clients who had not responded to other types of therapy. Evidence supports the use of DBT with a wide range of disorders, including borderline personality disorder, anxiety, bulimia, PTSD, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and many other mental disorders.


What Is Wise Mind?

It is impossible to understand DBT without addressing the three states of mind. The three states of mind are (according to DBT): Reasonable Mind, Emotional Mind, and Wise Mind.

Reasonable mind refers to our rational and intellectual mind; it is the mind that focuses on facts and logic to solve problems. Reasonable mind is beneficial in many ways. Having a reasonable mind helps us solve complex problems, but when we focus exclusively on them, we ignore the importance of our values and emotions.

The opposite of a reasonable mind is an emotional mind. In this mind, you are only motivated by emotions, disregarding logic and reason completely. In the absence of an emotional mind, we would not be able to understand our emotions or how they affect our behaviors and thoughts. Additionally, we would be unable to feel positive emotions such as happiness and love. On the other hand, by focusing only on the emotional mind, we ignore facts and logic, affecting our ability to make effective and adaptive decisions.

A Wise Mind combines both of these minds and values both emotion and reason equally. Our wise mind allows us to make decisions based on reason and values at the same time. In addition, a wise mind allows us to experience emotions (even strong ones) as they arise and pass.


The Four Modules of DBT

DBT has four main modules of skills: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Let’s discuss each skill:

Mindfulness – Learning to be present-focused and nonjudgmental of ourselves and others.

In order to practice mindfulness, you must learn how and what it is, be mindful of your current emotions and thoughts, and cultivate love and kindness towards yourself and others.

One way to practice mindfulness in our daily lives is to walk mindfully (observing your surroundings and being present in the moment) or do a task mindfully (one-mindfulness – not multitasking but focusing on one task at a time).

Distress Tolerance – Learning how to tolerate stress and negative emotions when they arise so that they do not become paralyzing It is through Distress Tolerance (DT) skills that we can put space between the event/emotion and ourselves, allowing us to decompress and return to the situation with a wise mind rather than one ruled by emotions. One such skill is STOP (Stop, Take a step back, Observe, and Proceed Mindfully). Before reacting, we need to STOP. Then, we need to physically or mentally distance ourselves from the situation or emotion. After that, we need to pay attention to or observe what is going on both inside and outside of us. By observing, we can tap into our wise mind. Our next step is to use that information to Proceed Mindfully. In this step, we aim to ask ourselves, “How do we want this situation to be resolved? Or “What would be effective in this situation?”

Emotional Regulation – Learning how to better understand and handle our emotions so that we have more control over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Our ability to check the facts is an important emotional regulation skill that can assist us in seeing that our feelings and thoughts are not reality. In turn, this skill allows us to change our emotional response to situations by allowing us to focus on the facts rather than our interpretations.

Interpersonal Effectiveness – Learning how to better navigate relationships.

A person’s interpersonal effectiveness includes communication skills, the ability to build relationships, the ability to set boundaries, the ability to advocate for one’s own needs and wants, and the ability to end toxic relationships.

Among the interpersonal effectiveness skills are GIVE and FAST. When we communicate and interact with others, GIVE (G=Gentle; I=Interest; V=Validate; E=Easy manner) reminds us to validate and respect them, while FAST (F=Fair; A= no Apologies; S=Stick to values; T=Truthful) teaches us to validate and respect ourselves without lying or manipulating them. 


How Is DBT Different From CBT?

Both Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focus on behavior, but they are also quite different. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on restructuring thoughts to change self-destructive behaviors and is based on the belief that our thoughts and behaviors influence our feelings. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, logic and reason are used to direct responses and change emotions.

In contrast, Dialectical Behavior Therapy is more about finding balance through navigating dialectics, getting unstuck from extremes, validating our emotions, and addressing and changing behaviors.


DBT Is a Diverse and Flexible Therapy

DBT is applicable to many issues, concerns, and distress we experience in life. We all navigate dialectical dilemmas more often than we think and run into situations where we are stuck or are having difficulty gaining perspective. Through DBT, we learn concrete, measurable, and validating skills and knowledge that help us overcome our barriers and cope better with life’s challenges. You might enjoy DBT if you prefer a therapist who gently challenges you while remaining aware of your concerns, distress, and experiences. We want to set you up for success, not failure. Small steps lead to big steps, which lead to leaps! No matter what type of counseling or therapy you’re looking for, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.


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What to Do Between Therapy Sessions

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “You get out of therapy what you put into therapy.”

Although everyone experiences therapy differently, one thing is true for all: success in therapy requires effort and focus. You will ultimately achieve your goals through the work you put into therapy, but that doesn’t just happen during sessions. The work you do between therapy sessions is just as important for your progress. Here are some things you can do to continue progressing in therapy between sessions. 

Complete Therapy Assignments

You may be given “homework” to do outside of therapy by your therapist. In these assignments, you may be challenged to put what you’ve learned during sessions into practice. Depending on your circumstances, your therapist may assign you breathing exercises or other self-care activities. They may also focus on practicing new skills, reframing negative beliefs, and practicing coping strategies.

Taking the time to complete tasks outside of therapy may seem daunting, but it’s well worth it. According to research, therapy is more effective when homework is assigned. What’s more? Homework assignments that are consistently completed tend to result in better therapy outcomes.

Think About Your Most Recent Session

When it feels like there’s a lot to cover in a single therapy session, it can be helpful to review what you covered with your therapist in your last session. Based on your previous discussion with your therapist, what did you learn? Were there any revelations that you would like to keep in mind and work on moving forward, such as reducing or avoiding certain thought patterns or behaviors? Would you like to ask your therapist any questions regarding something you discussed in your previous session? 

As you think about and work on things outside of therapy sessions, questions may arise. Write them down so you will remember to ask them at your next appointment. By reflecting on your sessions and what you discussed with your therapist, you can identify actionable things to work on and keep your therapy goals in mind. 

Try Therapeutic Journaling

Journaling is beneficial whether you are in therapy or not. By journaling, you can explore and express your thoughts and feelings, identify negative thoughts and behaviors, and more. As an outside-of-session therapy assignment, you might be asked to record your feelings and thoughts each day. Even if your therapist doesn’t assign journaling, it’s something you can do in between sessions to help you make progress toward your therapy goals. If you’re not sure how to get started with journaling, consider using these prompts

Focus on Healthy Habits 

In order to feel better mentally and physically, it is important to incorporate healthy habits into your daily life. Practicing self-care, eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep are all healthy habits. Self-care involves looking after your entire being – your body, your relationships, your emotions, and your spirit. Self-care isn’t just a spa day or a glass of your favorite tea – it’s improving the things you do every day to make them healthier. To get started practicing self-care, consider these tips

Improving your overall health also requires eating well. But what does it mean to “eat well”? Choosing nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats is a key component of a healthy diet. The benefits of eating a nutritious diet extend not only to your physical health but also to your mental health. According to studies, diets high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, and seafood reduce depression risk by 25% to 35% compared to diets high in processed and refined foods. It has also been shown that people with mental health conditions should follow a diet low in refined sugar, as a high-sugar diet has been linked to worsening symptoms.

Physical and mental health can also be improved by exercising regularly – at least 20 minutes a day. In addition to reducing anxiety and depression, exercise improves mood, self-esteem, and cognitive function. It is also important to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your psychological state and mental health. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and monitoring your caffeine consumption can help you get quality sleep. 

However, if you find that you are consistently having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, you may have a sleep disorder. The likelihood of having sleep problems and/or disorders increases if you have anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Talk to your therapist if you’re having trouble getting enough restful sleep. If needed, they can refer you to a medical professional for additional treatment for sleep problems. 

Be Proud of Your Progress

You can’t expect change to happen overnight. Although change may not happen as quickly as you’d like, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate your progress in therapy. Therapy is a journey, and the more you work toward your goals between sessions, the closer you’ll get to feeling better and achieving your goals. Remember, there is no rush. Progress will happen if you put in your best effort.

If you’re ready to make progress in your mental health journey, SF Stress & Anxiety Center is here to support you. Our experienced therapists offer personalized therapy sessions and can provide guidance on how to make the most of the time between sessions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and continue your progress towards a happier, healthier life.


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How to Care for Your Mental Health While Grieving

One of the most painful experiences in life is losing someone or something you love. When we lose a significant person, job, ability, or time, we may feel lost and confused about how to move forward. Loss can cause a wide range of emotions, and grief is a natural process we all go through.

What Does Grief Feel Like?

Everyone goes through grief at some point in their lives, but it can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. As a result, it can be difficult to predict how we might respond to a loss, as it is an individualized experience. You may experience any of the following after a loss:

  • Sadness or depression. After realizing the loss, you may isolate yourself and reflect on things you did with your loved one or focus on past memories.
  • Shock, denial or disbelief. Following a loss, some people may find themselves feeling quite numb about what happened, as their minds protect them from pain. In the early stages of grief, shock serves as an emotional shield to prevent overwhelming feelings.
  • Numbness and denial. After a loss, you may feel numb. It is natural and helps us to process what has happened at our own pace and not before we are ready. The problem arises when numbness is the only feeling we experience, and none of the other grief-related feelings can cause us to feel ‘stuck’ or ‘frozen’.
  • Panic and confusion. When someone close to us passes away, we may wonder how we will fill the void left in our lives and may feel like our identities have changed.
  • Anger or hostility. When we lose someone, it can seem unfair and painful. When you experience loss, you may feel angry or frustrated and seek to find someone or something to blame to cope.
  • Feeling overwhelmed. It is common for people to cry a lot or feel as though they cannot cope when grieving. Some people worry that their feelings are so overwhelming that they cannot handle them. Over time, however, the intensity of grief tends to lessen, and people learn to cope.
  • Relief. There are times when you may feel relieved upon the death of someone, especially when there had been a long illness, when someone was suffering when you were the person’s primary caregiver, or when your relationship was difficult. This is a normal response and does not mean you don’t care or love the person.
  • Mixed feelings. Having a difficult relationship with a person may make you think that you will grieve less or cope better because you had a difficult relationship with them. You may instead experience a mixture of emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, and anything in between.

It is possible to feel all of these things, none of them, or just a few of them. After a loss, there is no right or wrong way to feel. Some people seek help immediately by expressing their emotions and talking to others, and others prefer to deal with things slowly and quietly. Everyone grieves differently and on their own timeline.


Reasons You May Experience Grief

Many people associate grief with losing a loved one, but any significant loss that completely alters your life’s trajectory – especially if it is unexpected – can cause grief.

Life events that often lead to grief include:

  • Divorce and relationship breakups
  • Chronic or terminal illness
  • Loss of time
  • Loss of a job or other financial security
  • Retirement
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a friendship
  • A miscarriage
  • Loss of safety due to trauma or abuse
  • Selling a family home

It may seem selfish to take care of yourself after a heavy loss, especially if other people around you are hurting and need support too. However, putting your mental health on the back burner can increase your chances of depression, anxiety, and other conditions. One of the most important ways to cope with grief and begin the healing process is to take care of your mental health.

Here are some tips to give yourself space to grieve a loss while prioritizing your mental health.


Mental Health Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss

  1. Allow yourself time to grieve.

The process of grieving is unpredictable, complex, and exhausting. Accepting that grief takes time is an integral part of grieving. Once you’ve given yourself time to heal, the heavy weight of grief will gradually lift, and you’ll develop the strength to move forward with your life and relearn who you are. Allow yourself grace if you need additional time and support to move on from grief.

  1. Spend time with people you trust.

After a significant loss, many people prefer solitude to reflect and process their emotions. If you need some time alone, take it. Be aware, however, that prolonged isolation can result in loneliness, which negatively impacts all aspects of your health. Whenever you’re ready, speak to friends, family, clergy, or other people in your community who make you feel safe – even if you’re only talking on a video call or sitting in a room together. The company of another human can offer much-needed comfort and emotional support.

  1. Don’t neglect your health.

Experiencing a loss is not just an emotional endeavor. It can also impact your physical health if you have trouble eating, sleeping, or staying active. Because our minds and bodies are so closely connected, meeting your basic needs, such as food, sleep, and exercise, during a grieving period can help you remain physically healthy and mentally stable.

  1. Get back into your hobbies (or discover a new one).

It’s normal to lose interest in social activities or hobbies after a loss. The benefit of channeling your interests is that it allows you to cope with grief while stimulating your body and mind at the same time. Taking part in hobbies that you enjoy can keep you physically and mentally active, whether you are painting, gardening, writing, fishing, kayaking, or cooking. Consider exploring a new hobby and learning something new if your old hobbies no longer interest you.

  1. Talk to a mental health professional.

You may feel lost when you lose someone or something important to you. There was a drastic change in your life path, and you don’t know which alternative path to take. It’s okay to feel this way. However, a long period of grieving can be a sign that you need additional support. By discussing your struggles with a mental health professional, you can express your emotions and learn tools to find your next path (or carve out a new one altogether).

Whether your loss is recent or happened a long time ago, our mental health providers at SF Stress & Anxiety Center are here to help you move forward through in-office or telehealth sessions and is dedicated to supporting you on your healing journey.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our team. 


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How Social Media is Affecting Your Mental Health

Everybody is on social media. It’s muscle memory — when we need a brain break at work or while standing in line, we pick up our phones and open one of the options. As of 2022, almost 5 billion people worldwide were on social media, with average daily use totaling nearly 2.5 hours.

 There’s a reason these apps are so popular. It is designed to be addictive. Dopamine is released when you use the apps, and you feel good when others like your posts and react to them. It is possible, however, for the connection between social media and mental health to go sour. Here’s what you need to know and how to keep that from happening.

 How does social media affect mental health?

Most people agree that social media has a negative impact on mental health. But why? Let’s dig into how social media affects our perception of the world. Apart from the obvious negativity and bullying that can occur on the internet. 

 Because social media use is still relatively new, we don’t yet have research exploring its long-term effects. However, multiple studies have linked it to multiple mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem. 

 It can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms 

The constant use of social media can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms and increase feelings of loneliness. It has been shown that excessive social media use, coupled with emotional dependence on the platforms, can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms.

 However, the problem cuts both ways. Some people use social media to cope with feelings of anxiety or depression, according to researchers. You can get caught up in the vicious cycle of scrolling through social media when you’re bored or anxious without realizing that your actions may make things worse. 

 It can cause feelings of inadequacy 

The emphasis on social media is on interaction, such as likes and comments on photos and videos. It feels great when you post something and get a lot of feedback. As a result, you feel validated for posting in the first place. However, what happens if you don’t get the interaction you’d like with your pictures or videos? If you rely on social media for self-validation, you may feel down when you do not receive the expected recognition. 

 Social media comparison can lead to low self-esteem. In an age when filters smooth the skin or make the water of a beach selfie a deep and alluring blue, it can seem impossible to keep up with what others are sharing online. In addition, unrealistic body image expectations may lead to what experts call “body surveillance,” the monitoring of one’s body to the point where it becomes judgmental, especially among adolescents. 

 It can interrupt your sleep cycle

According to studies, 70% of people reported getting on social media in bed before falling asleep, and 15% spent an hour or more a night on their phones. Checking your feed before you go to sleep is a common nighttime ritual for most people. 

What if we told you that it shouldn’t be? According to the same study, people who check their social media in bed are more likely to suffer from insomnia. The use of social media before bed can delay your bedtime and cause you to sleep less, and the sleep you do get won’t be of good quality. 

 In addition, there is the blue light your phone emits, which interferes with your circadian rhythm. Aside from that, social media stimulates the mind and body. If you want to sleep better, put your phone away.

 Warning signs your online habits are unhealthy

It is possible to become dependent on social media, which can also lead to negative consequences. Consider these warning signs when determining whether social media is affecting your mental health.

  • You leave no time for self-care.
  • You spend more time on social media than you do with friends or family.
  • Your symptoms of depression or anxiety spike. 
  • You often compare yourself to others and feel jealous of what they are posting.
  • You are distracted from school or work.
  • You have trouble falling asleep.
  • You feel like you need to check social media every few hours. 

 Here’s how to protect your mental health from social media

It’s not a bad thing to use social media. And you can use it in a healthy way to enrich your life. Maintain a healthy balance between social media use and mental health by following these tips.

  • Decrease your time on social media: According to studies limiting social media use to 30 minutes can improve your well-being. Be deliberate about how much you log on to social media if you think it negatively impacts your mental health. Set a screen time limit or create a schedule for checking social media. It’s not necessary to quit cold turkey. It is important to be realistic about what you want from social media and what it will take to get there. 
  • Don’t start or end your day with social media: Timing is important. Start or end your day on an enjoyable note instead of a potentially negative one. Researchers have found that those checking Facebook at night were likelier to feel unhappy or depressed. 
  • Use that time for something else: Social media can be useful. However, logging on just to scroll through your downtime can cause problems. Think about why you’re logging on. You can then shift your focus from social media to other activities — like exercising or taking up a new hobby. 
  • Spend time with friends and family: Although social media platforms can be a place of connection, they can also cause loneliness if you’re not getting what you expect. Face-to-face contact and quality time cannot be replaced by social media. Spending time with family and friends can help combat this problem.


Despite its downsides, social media isn’t all bad. It can be a way to connect meaningfully and keep up with others. It can also be an outlet for self-expression and creativity. There can be good things about social media. Make sure you are intentional about how and why you use your platforms. Consider why you are scrolling when you grab your phone and poke that all-too-familiar Instagram camera. Are you putting off activities you should be doing, such as taking a walk or fulfilling obligations? Being mindful of how much and for what reasons you use social media can positively impact your mental health.

Are you struggling with the impact of social media on your mental health? Don’t face it alone. Visit to get professional support and guidance tailored to your needs. Start your journey to a healthier, more balanced life today!


SF Stress & Anxiety Center Free Consultation

10 Tips for Coping With Emotional Exhaustion

Perhaps you feel like you’ve reached your breaking point. Maybe you’re tired, frustrated, and feeling like things will never get better. This degree of burnout can happen to anyone, but those with chronic stress or other mental health conditions may be at a heightened risk. In order to treat your symptoms effectively, you need to be aware and proactive. Let’s talk about the best coping strategies for emotional exhaustion.

What Is Emotional Exhaustion? 

Stress is a normal part of life, but emotional exhaustion is a chronic feeling of exhaustion. It is common for the symptoms to develop over time, and many people don’t realize they are in this state until it becomes unbearable. 

Many factors may contribute to emotional exhaustion. Having a stressful job is a main factor. Overworking, feeling out of control, or working in a particularly demanding position can all lead to stress. Pessimism, perfectionism, and high-achieving personalities can also contribute to burnout.

The symptoms of emotional exhaustion vary for everyone, but here are a few common ones:

  • Feelings of irritation.
  • Depression symptoms (apathy, lack of motivation, persistent sadness).
  • Sleep problems.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Poor concentration and focus.
  • Memory issues.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.
  • A feeling of failure or hopelessness that persists.
  • A decline in performance at work or school.
  • The failure to meet deadlines and complete basic tasks.
  • Negative, cynical attitude.
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, stomach problems, high blood pressure).
  • An increased desire to engage in substance abuse or other activities that numb the pain.
  • Frequently fantasize about escaping your current situation impulsively.


Emotional exhaustion is one of the most common symptoms of burnout, especially in professional settings. Furthermore, emotional exhaustion can worsen other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. 


Tips for Coping With Emotional Exhaustion

If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, ignoring them won’t help. In fact, certain problems often worsen when nothing is done. One of the best ways to feel better is to take action now.

  1. Identify the Main Triggers

What situations most give rise to your emotional exhaustion? Is there a particular work task you dread? Do you generally get frustrated when spending time with certain people? Do you feel more spent at specific times of the day?

If you aren’t sure exactly what elevates your stress, dedicate a week to track your emotions throughout the day. Use a journal or an app to track your mood. If you feel more stressed, agitated, or depressed than you normally do, note it down. 

As time goes on, you should be able to identify specific trends. Having that insight gives you a starting point for your next steps. Being able to identify triggers before they arise can help you prepare to cope with them even if you cannot change the situation. 


  1. Begin Each Day With a Positive Routine

What is your usual morning routine? If you’re like most people, you reach for your phone and scroll through social media or emails. However, this habit can add to feelings of anxiety and dread. Take the time to examine how you can improve your morning routine.

Consider ways to start each day on a positive note. Perhaps you can take a quick shower, think about your gratitude, and then brew your morning cup of coffee. And, as a general tip, resist the urge to check your phone for as long as possible! 

If you’re not a morning person, consider simple strategies to make the morning more pleasant. It may take some trial and error, but there is no downside to trying! 


  1. Practice More Gratitude 

Identifying what you appreciate often can make you feel more empowered and optimistic. The purpose of gratitude isn’t to invalidate your challenges. Rather, it’s about broadening your perspective and orienting yourself to find opportunities in difficult circumstances.

Every day, spend a few minutes practicing gratitude. This can take less than a minute. Think about writing down three things that went well each day before going to bed. Alternatively, you can commit to “reflecting on gratitude” when you hear a particular song or drive on a particular route. 


  1. Set Healthier Boundaries

Oftentimes, we are compelled to comply with every obligation because of insecurity or people-pleasing. People often experience emotional exhaustion when they overextend themselves. Maintaining some sense of ownership over your life requires boundaries. It is perfectly okay for you to establish limits with other people. 

When you feel emotionally exhausted, consider what you can control right now. Is it possible to talk to your boss about reducing your workload? Could a family member help you with babysitting next weekend? Would it be easier to hire a cleaner instead of cleaning every weekend? The bottom line is that it’s okay to say no and to delegate when needed. By learning to say no, you open yourself up to opportunities that bring you joy and fulfillment. 


  1. Start Making (Smaller) Healthier Lifestyle Choices

Unfortunately, emotional exhaustion makes it difficult to prioritize nutrition, exercise, and sleep. You can, however, improve your emotional well-being by taking care of your physical health.

Commit to making small, manageable changes over time. For example, plan on packing a lunch to work each day this week. Or challenge yourself to walk with your partner every night for thirty minutes. Taking even tiny steps in the right direction can make a significant difference in how you feel. 


  1. Cultivate Positive Relationships

Having positive social support can have a significant effect on how you cope with daily stresses. Spending time with optimistic, compassionate people will likely rub off on you. Of course, the opposite can also be true. Being surrounded by pessimistic colleagues may also make you feel bitter at work.

Invest time and energy in people who make you feel good about yourself. Laughter is also essential! Ideally, good friends support and accept you for who you are, but they can also call you out when you’re “stuck” in an unhealthy mindset. 


  1. Release the Need for Perfectionism 

The pursuit of perfection can trigger and maintain symptoms of emotional exhaustion. Consistently holding yourself to unrealistic standards will harm your mental health.

It takes time to change perfectionistic patterns. Being kinder and more forgiving to yourself is one of the first steps towards self-compassion. It will also be necessary for you to adjust your expectations regarding control and power.

When you let go of perfectionism, you embrace “being human.” By doing so, you are able to learn, make mistakes, and grow and evolve. In addition, having this mindset encourages you to focus on being healthy and happy rather than feeling pressured to “do everything right.” 


  1. Pursue Meaning Wherever You Can

Perhaps you hate your job, but leaving it isn’t an option right now. That’s okay. You can cultivate meaning and fulfillment in your life in many other ways.

Take some time to reflect on your core values. Identify the most sacred and non-negotiable priorities. What would you miss most if it were taken away tomorrow?

Answering these questions can help you identify your personal purpose. The more you cherish your purpose, the more inspired you will feel. Additionally, it reduces the effects of emotional exhaustion. 

If you feel like you have no time, dedicate one week to eliminating distractions. Just for a week, turn off the TV and all excess technology. There are likely to be plenty of “time suckers” that could be used for more productive and enriching activities! 


  1. Reevaluate Toxic Environments 

Some situations may not improve despite your best efforts. Consider the scenario in which you set a boundary with your boss about refusing to do tasks outside of your expertise. However, your boss continues to make these requests, and your HR representative refuses to intervene.

In that case, you have made the best efforts within your realm of control. Nevertheless, if your workplace remains toxic, you may need to seriously reconsider your options. 

Of course, there may not be a simple solution. However, recognizing what is and isn’t in your control can help you recognize if coping with emotional exhaustion requires external changes.


  1. Seek Professional Support

Emotional exhaustion can impact all areas of your life. If left untreated, it may seriously compromise your emotional and physical well-being. 

With that in mind, emotional exhaustion may be an underlying symptom in other mental health issues. Therapy can help you untangle your thoughts and feelings- it also provides a roadmap for restoring a sense of balance in your life.


SF Stress & Anxiety Center Can Help

Emotional exhaustion is a serious issue that can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. But there are steps you can take to cope with this condition and prevent it from taking over your life. By identifying your triggers, setting healthier boundaries, practicing gratitude, and making small lifestyle changes, you can start feeling better and more in control of your life.

If you’re struggling with emotional exhaustion, we’re here to help. At SF Stress & Anxiety Center, we offer a range of therapeutic services to help you manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Contact us today to learn more and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

SF Stress & Anxiety Center Free Consultation

How to Find the Right Therapist

Whether you’re exploring the idea of therapy or are certain that it’s time to get some help to support your mental health, the first step can be a challenging one—finding the right therapist. With many different types of mental health professionals to choose from, and different types of therapeutic approaches to consider, just getting started may seem overwhelming. Breaking down the factors to consider can help you figure out how to choose a therapist, getting you on the road to meeting your treatment goals and improving your well-being.


The Importance of a Good Match

Therapy often involves discussing highly personal topics, opening up in ways you never have before, and reexamining old beliefs. By its nature, it tends to be an uncomfortable process that can dredge up unwanted feelings, leaving you feeling vulnerable as you work toward building more positive patterns of thought and behavior. It’s essential to have a therapist you trust and with whom you feel comfortable for therapy to be effective. In fact, research shows that the quality of the therapeutic relationship between a patient and therapist is a reliable predictor of positive outcomes, regardless of the type of therapy.

This means that as you’re searching for a therapist, you can’t ignore what your gut tells you. If you meet with someone who doesn’t feel like the right fit for you after a few therapy sessions, no matter how highly qualified or enthusiastically recommended, it’s okay to say so! Better to continue to look than to force a situation that doesn’t quite work.


Knowing Why You Want Therapy

The reason why you’re looking for a therapist is a key component to narrowing down your search. Are you struggling with a mental health condition like anxiety or depression? Are you having trouble dealing with stress, and would like help developing healthier coping mechanisms? Are you having trouble navigating a significant life change? Have you lost somebody close and are looking for grief counseling? Most therapists specialize to a greater or lesser degree in their practice, so you should check to see that the concerns bringing you to therapy are within their area of expertise.

Certain therapeutic approaches may also be better suited to your issues, goals, and personality than others. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that identifies negative patterns of thought and behavior and replaces them with healthier skills to improve well-being, is effective in treating problems such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and substance abuse. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is another type of therapy used to treat many of the same issues with a mindfulness approach that changes a person’s relationship with their negative thoughts, rather than trying to change the thoughts themselves. Both can potentially be effective, but it will likely depend a great deal on the individual. Thus, if a certain type of treatment sounds like it might work for you, finding a provider trained in it may also help you find a good fit for therapy.  


Professional Qualifications

As part of considering a potential therapist, you should confirm that they are properly licensed to practice. However, therapists don’t all hold the same credentials—professionals you might be considering could include psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, or licensed professional clinical counselors. In other words, not all therapists are psychologists, and the education level each specialist has will vary depending on the requirements for their professional licensure.

Is one type better than another? Not necessarily. The type of therapist that will be best for you will depend more on whether their specialty aligns with your needs and whether or they’re a good fit for you than it will on what degree is hanging on their office wall.


Finding Possibilities

People looking for a therapist can use any of several resources to find providers that match what they’re looking for. Sometimes, family and friends recommend therapists that they’ve had good experiences with—while that can work, keep in mind that those close to you may not have sought therapy for the same reasons you did. You should give those recommendations the same scrutiny you would to any potential therapist.

Another resource that can be used is the list of providers maintained by your insurance company, if your plan includes mental health coverage. While this can be helpful in determining who might accept your insurance, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find an available specialist in your area without a significant wait. In addition, insurance may apply additional constraints on the amount or frequency of your therapy sessions. Being willing to consider out of network providers may be your best bet for finding the right therapeutic fit both in terms of provider and course of treatment.

Online directories maintained by mental health organizations and other groups may also let you search for therapists in your area. Knowing what condition or issue you’d like to get help for can help refine your search results, but it can still require significant work to create a manageable list of providers who are accepting patients and have the right specialty, to say nothing of finding the right one.


Making It Easy to Find Your Match

Because we know that a good fit is such an important part of setting the stage for success in therapy, at SF Stress each patient starts with a complimentary call with one of our compassionate Care Coordinators. This fifteen-minute intake call is designed to explore what you’re looking for with therapy, what type of therapy is most suited for your needs and preferences, and ultimately, which therapist in our network of over 40 licensed psychologists and counselors will be the right match for you. Rather than waiting endlessly for providers to call you back, you can schedule your consultation right away—we’re usually able to accommodate same-day or next-day consultations. We offer both in-person and online therapy to make treatment accessible and convenient.

If you’re tired of waiting to get started on improving your mental health, SF Stress & Anxiety Center can help. Schedule your free consultation today to find the right therapist for you.

SF Stress & Anxiety Center Free Consultation

Get Help When You Need It: Depression Is Not a Moral Failure

Over the past several years, stigma around seeking help for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues has decreased.  And yet.  Partly because of the way depression leads many to self-criticize, many often think that depression is a stain, a black mark against their character, something wrong with them.  

It is time to disentangle depression from this idea of moral failure.  It is time to stop imagining that depression is synonymous with a person’s character.  

If you experience depression, you have symptoms that occur with that experience.  These can include sadness, stress, anxiety, sleep issues, negative self-talk, low motivation, feelings of hopelessness and failure to take pleasure in everyday activities, or anhedonia.  For severe depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts can also occur.  

These symptoms help clinicians like me understand your experience.  No one chooses to experience depression.  And confusion around where it comes from can lead to self-criticism, self-blame, shame and isolation.  These factors can make depression worse, and shut someone down emotionally, which can exacerbate depression.

Thankfully there are many approaches to help people who experience depression find relief.  


What will people think of me if they know I am depressed?

Many public figures, most recently Senator John Fetterman, have decided to disclose that they are dealing with depression.  According to this article in the New York Times (gift article that doesn’t require subscription), “Social scientists say there is demonstrable evidence that the public is growing more accepting of people with depression.”  Relatedly, more people recognize the usefulness of seeking help when they experience anxiety, depression or other issues.  


What if depression is just who I am? 

When you are experiencing depression, it can feel like your entire experience.  It can eclipse your sense of self, or even come to feel like your identity.  Disentangling your self-concept from depression is one fundamental step in therapy to help recognize depression as mental illness rather than identity.  Therapy helps you distinguish between depression and your identity.


You are not alone

Millions of people experience depression, with onset resulting from a wide range of interrelated factors.  People from all walks of life experience depression and many of them find a fresh approach to their lives through therapy.  While your experience with depression is unique to you, the symptoms are not, and there are many ways to help.  

It takes courage and humility to recognize you need help and then make the call. Therapy is private, confidential, informed and professional, creating a safe place to address and treat your depression 


SF Stress & Anxiety Center Therapists have deep experience treating depression

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are among the effective, evidence-based treatments therapists use.  Research shows that therapy helps people diminish the severity and frequency of their symptoms related to depression.  

Getting help to treat your depression is an act of self respect.  It is a decision to take care of yourself, and an assertion that you matter.  For many people with depression, seeking help can be undermined by depression itself.  Making that call can help.  

Ready to take the first step towards feeling better? Click the infographic below to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced therapists at SF Stress & Anxiety Center. Our evidence-based treatments can help you disentangle depression from your sense of self and live a happier, healthier life. Don’t wait, schedule your consultation today.

SF Stress & Anxiety Center Free Consultation