Psycho what?

Sometimes people ask me what I do. Often, when I say I am a therapist, they ask what kind of therapist: massage? physical? No, I tell me, psychotherapist. Ohhhhhhh, I see, they murmur, as they slowly back away from me. I think some people get hung up on the “psycho” part. And if they are saavy enough, they may ask my specialty. And when I say addictions, if I am lucky, I get a chuckle and a story; sometimes I am suddenly standing alone.

Okay, it’s not always that bad, but some folks do think that therapy is for crazy people. The politically correct term would be Mentally Ill. Mentall Illness occurs on a spectrum from mild to severe, but is not the only reason someone would seek out therapy. Problems with addictions is one reason, whether you are an addict or alcoholic looking to stop using, or a a family member who is affected by addiction in the family.  A crisis or change in life circumstances is what brings many people in to therapy, where they can talk in a safe place, and develop emotional skills to bring their life back into balance.

Stress is a big reason someone might seek out psychotherapy. Life in general can be stressful, and techniques for dealing with stress make life easier. Just listening to the news today is especially stressful, to say nothing of talking to the neighbors and finding out who lost their job this week. And wondering if you are next. Or watching prices go up. Of worrying about the future for your children. Or just the overwhelming choices we face everyday, and to fit in all that we have committed to.  What if you have a child, or spouse or good friend heading for Iraq or Afghanistan? And…..well, I am sure you can fill in the blank for yourself.

One tip for dealing with stress is to learn to breathe. No, I mean really breathe. We tend to be high chest breathers, somewhat shallow breathing. If you take yoga or meditation classes, you are introduced to breathing. You can learn to breathe deeply, more slowly, giving your body more oxygen when the blood flows. A few deep, slow breaths can clear you head, even energize you.

Don’t think you have the time?   Make the time; it’s easier than you think. How about 5 minutes at your desk, instead of jumping up for a cup of coffee at break time, take off your shoes, sit back in your chair, drop your shoulders while you close your eyes and take in a deep breath. Slowly fill your lungs, count 1 to 5. Then slowly release the breath, counting back 5 to 1. Ahhhhhhhhh. Do that a few times, then open you eyes, put your shoes back on, and get on with the day.

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