Dr. Levy's CBT Blog
Insights on Well-Being, Contentment, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Often times, it is hard to find the right therapist, at the right location, available on the right days, and at the right price. If you are having trouble finding someone with whom you can connect, keep looking. Ask your friends and medical providers for recommendation. Search online directories for psychologists near you, such as those from Psychology Today. Look through membership listings at national or regional psychology associations such as the American Psychological Association. Or, if you know you want an evidence-based provider using cutting-edge technology, search for certified TEAM-CBT therapists on the Feeling Good Institute website.
While you go through your research, you want to pay attention to your mood and well-being. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself while you wait for your psychotherapy to start:
Self-Care “While You Wait”
While you are waiting for individual counseling, you may want to implement these tips to try to alleviate some of your distress. (This is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to treat any conditions. These tips are not meant to be substitutes for mental or physical health counseling.)
Find activities that sooth and relax you. Relaxation improves the mind and helps the body recover from stress. Even 10 minutes a day would be helpful! Use deep breathing techniques--take a deep breath slowly and all the way down to your stomach, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly breath out by emptying your stomach of your breath. Tell yourself to “let go of any tension” as you breath out. Do this for at least 5 or 6 times in each sitting. Practice yoga, listen to some relaxation tapes, etc.
Do some kind of physical activity, even if you only have 10 minutes. Find a routine that creates a sweat and that fits your style (e.g., walk, swim, tennis). This will help with your stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.
Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings in various situations. Note any patterns or questions you’d like to discuss in therapy.
Pay attention to your mind and body. Nourish your body with nutritious food. Skipping meals robs you of the energy to cope. Nurture your spirit. Pray, meditate, practice whatever that fits your spirituality. Sleep and rest when you are tired.
Laugh, especially at yourself and Take time to play. Spend time with those who make you laugh. Watch a comedy or read a funny book. There is evidence that smiling changes your emotions to pleasant and your thoughts to optimism.
Nurture a positive view of self. Catch yourself when you start to think negatively or are putting yourself down. Actively replace these negative thoughts with a positive view. Create a list of affirmations for yourself (e.g., I grow and change; I am open-minded, etc.). Even if you aren’t convinced, fake it until you make it!
Make connections. This will take time to develop. Create and maintain contact with a small group of people you can call on for emotional support. Take turns talking and listening. Isolating yourself can make things worse.
In addition, here is a brief list of resources where you can obtain guidance and assistance in a crisis situation:
Adapted from SJSU CAPS
Dr. Daniele Levy is a licensed psychologist offering CBT therapy in Menlo Park, CA. Her background uniquely combines leading edge training in behavioral sciences with deep expertise coaching and mentoring working professionals in dynamic organizations.