Everyone can benefit from a mental and emotional tune-up once in a while; so much so that we’re big fans ourselves of speaking to professionals who can equip us with mental and emotional tools to navigate life’s many twists and turns. With so much advice draw on, and so many different approaches to therapy, here’s the top advice that made it into our personal mental toolkit.
1 / 8
Daydreaming is a good thing
"Growing up I would daydream a lot to deal with the environment I was being raised in. Creating stories in my mind was a way for me to escape, and it was fantastic. As an adult I continue to daydream to this day. I often feel guilty about it, feeling I'm not being present and maybe not being productive. As a mom and wife with a full-time career, this could be problematic. Entering therapy this year (and I think a lot of people can say they entered therapy this year), I brought up my daydreaming-dilemma with my therapist and wanted to investigate how I could curb it completely. Her response was surprising – she told me to not stop daydreaming. She reminded me that I am a productive person, with a very full serving of life on my plate. Instead of trying to stop, she guided me to name my daydreaming when I am actively doing it, and to actually tell myself "now you are daydreaming." By acknowledging it, I can better manage it. She helped me understand that creating stories in my mind was an effective coping mechanism for me, a survival tactic, and it still serves that function. And she helped me make the connection that I took one of my biggest challenges in life and turned it into my greatest strength: having imagination, being creative, and establishing a career in storytelling." - Heather M., producer, HISTORY.ca
2 / 8
Seek what you offer
"Finding the right therapist is always tricky – and may change throughout different phases of our lives. I had this straight white psychiatrist I had weekly sessions with for eight years and the best advice he ever gave me was to "let my feelings sit." He was also the one to point out that I both "crave and fear intimate connections" as I prefer "brief, passionate affairs" and straight women. When the crazy returned with a vengeance this year, I found myself a therapist more aligned to where I'm at now – she's a registered psychotherapist and energetic healer. She's a retired nun and is also a lesbian – helping her to better understand my identity and context. In my last session, she suggested I be kinder to myself and maybe aim to only share my romantic energy with someone who can vibrate at my frequency." – Chloe T., editor, Slice.ca
3 / 8
Don’t forget who YOU are
"When I was going through my first real breakup, I stopped wearing makeup and dressed entirely in baggy sweatpants and hoodies. While this was a 'lewk' in high school, it was not my usual attire for therapy. My therapist knew this. She let it pass for a few weeks, and when I wasn't expecting it, she asked me what I was wearing. I was shocked. I didn't know what to say. So I said nothing and shrugged. She stiffened her position in her chair, leaned forward, and said, "This isn't you." She reminded me that I was not one to leave my home without wearing makeup and an outfit that reflected who I was, not for anyone in particular, but myself. At that point, I realized how far I had fallen. It was the most straightforward statement to snap me back to reality." - Ashani J., Slice.ca writer
4 / 8
Sleep advice for the weary
"When anxiety is keeping you up at night – get out of bed, sit somewhere dimly lit and do something relaxing for twenty minutes. Go back to bed when you've noticed yourself get more relaxed and sleepy. The reason is to associate your bed with restfulness and not stress, which could lead to even more troubles sleeping." - Lydia H., producer, FoodNetwork.ca
5 / 8
What’s the rush?
"The best advice I've received sounds so simple but is incredibly difficult to practice, and that is – S L O W D O W N." - Shorey A., Slice.ca writer
6 / 8
Is that response still serving you?
“Having experienced severe trauma at two formative points in my life, it’s been a challenge coping with PTSD, and this has made it hard not to tend towards catastrophizing situations to this day (though thankfully, this happens very rarely these days); experience has shown me things can go off the rails pretty quickly, and sometimes through no fault of my own, prompting me to be vigilant and to anticipate “the worst case scenario” as a way to prepare emotionally and mentally. But it is also a damn exhausting way to live day-to-day. The best advice my therapist gave me is to recognize that while these events did occur, and while this was a necessary coping strategy during these high-stress times, it may no longer be helpful for me to carry this “backpack”, as my circumstances are so different now. She taught me to put focus on recognizing when a potential trigger might be putting me on this fast track to catastrophizing, and to pay attention to the related blind spots this causes me to have. She also taught me to interrogate whether this situation really is like the ones before, or whether my brain is jumping ahead a bunch of steps as a faulty trip-wire self-preservation mechanism. She helped instill a sense of confidence that I am equipped to handle challenging situations, as they unfold, should they arise in the future.” - Anonymous
Related: 10 Affordable Self-Care Strategies.
7 / 8
Take them as you see them
"If someone shows you who they are don’t try to paint them in a different brush. When people who are less emotionally evolved than us enter our lives, we must stop insisting that they are more than they are. We want to help them evolve and see the best in them, and fixate on their potential. But that’s not currently who they are or where they’re at, so their behaviours still reflect who they are and not who they can be." - Anonymous
8 / 8
"I’m paraphrasing here, but my psychiatrist in Vancouver always said: “It’s a big deal, but it’s also not a big deal.” What does that mean? Sure, moving across the country is a big deal/big decision, but it’s also not a big deal – people move all the time. Sure, struggling with anxiety/mental health is hard and it should be taken seriously, but it’s also not a big deal – many people live (and thrive!) with anxiety. I repeat this advice to myself all the time: it’s a reminder to take care of myself and my feelings/thoughts/emotions, but also to not take myself so GD seriously." - Jen F., editor, FoodNetwork.ca