How to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

How to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

There is a lot of information out there about napping and it’s confusing.  There are power naps, certain rules on the best amount of time to nap, when to nap, if we should even nap at all!  It’s honestly, too much for me to handle.

While everyone is proposing the new and latest best way to nap (or not nap) I’d like to address a helpful tip that honestly, has nothing to do with napping, but can make all the difference.

First of all, I don’t really give a shit if you nap for 10 minutes or if you nap for 3 hours.  Do whatever your little heart desires to do.  The catch is when you wake up.

When you wake up from a nap are you saying:

“Fuck!”

“Why did I take a nap I have so much shit to do!!”

“That was a complete waste of time”

“I”m lazy”

“I suck at life”

“Will I ever stop having the needs of a 3 year old?!”

Now you feel like shit.  Right? Of course you do you just berated yourself for listening to your body and doing what it needed to do.  You have now likely undone any benefit of your nap because you are in a negative mental space.

When we feel like shit we are more likely to say, “oh man I slept 47 minutes.  I should have either slept 20 or 90 according to that article I just read online.  That’s why I still feel like crap.”

Well, maybe?  But let’s be honest.  You are probably feeling like crap from all that negative self-talk you just vomited about yourself.  And now you’re running around the house like a mad person pissing everyone off in your path in order to make up for that 47 minutes of lost time in which you probably weren’t going to be productive with any of it anyways because you were too damn tired.

Panic attack ensues…

I (hopefully) painted a lovely picture for you.

How to take a kick-ass nap:

Take a nap whenever you want! If your eyelids are drooping and you just “can’t even” take a nap.

If you’re at work… don’t take a nap.  Someone will fire your ass.

If you have a small child who is outside playing… don’t take a nap.  Your kid will get seriously injured, lost, or die.

If you’re driving… don’t take a nap.  Pull the car over first in an area where it is safe to pull your car over…

Hopefully common sense can take over from here.  Otherwise, if you are tired and say “I need a nap right now” and if napping would not cause death or serious harm to yourself or another, or job loss or some other social catastrophe, then go ahead and take a nap!

Now for the real work…..

The real work comes in when you awake from your nap.  The first thing to do is just be mindful of your thoughts and observe them.  If you notice any negative shit floating around then recognize that and challenge the thought.

“I’m not lazy, I work really hard” (maybe even provide an example or two)

“I don’t suck at life, I’m obviously performing so well at it that I needed to take a break for a minute”

“Yes, I’ve got shit to do, but it isn’t the end of the world and now I feel better and have more energy to be productive.”

Get the idea?

Just like magic that nap was suddenly a grand idea, you’re not beating yourself up, you are refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.  Maybe even with a smile :)

And that is how to take a nap without feeling like you suck at life

You don't HAVE to be happy ALL the time. A blog about feelings

You don’t HAVE to be happy ALL the time

I am an advocate for re-framing negative thinking, use of positive affirmations, self-compassion and all the wonderful strategies to eliminate the negative and bring in the positive.  I see SO MANY positive memes out there on social media encouraging us to be grateful, thankful and happy.  In many ways this is a great reminder to put life into perspective and challenge that negative demon inside our brains.

The problem is that sometimes people take this to mean that they “shouldn’t be sad” or angry, disappointed, anxious, etc… So what do you do when you believe that you shouldn’t feel a certain way?  Stuff the feeling and replace it with the recommended feelings – happiness, gratitude, joy, love, etc. It is healthy to NOT become STUCK in negative emotions, but what happens when we don’t allow ourselves to feel them… or even worse, feel guilt or shame about feeling them!?!

The outcome of stuffed feelings can look different on different people and I can tell you it usually doesn’t turn out well.  Sometimes people stuff their feelings so that when the cup overflows they take it out on someone else. Other times they take it out on themselves and even a surge of uncontrollable symptoms appear (like a panic attack).  When done over and over again people can show signs of depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and other issues.

People can stuff for days, months, years, decades… I’ve seen a lot of stuffing in my therapy sessions.

So my goal of this post is to say….  Stop Stuffing and Start Feeling!

EWWWW Feeling!!!! Yuck.

I hear you.  Feeling isn’t the best thing in the world… good stuff maybe.. bad stuff not so much.  Feeling feelings is hard work, exhausting and downright UNCOMFORTABLE!

So How do I even begin to feel feelings?

Start small!  I’m a supporter of small steps as learned about in “What about Bob?

Allow yourself to feel a little bit and when it gets just outside your comfort zone engage yourself in some relaxation and calm down again.  Then feel some more outside your comfort zone and calm yourself down again. Every time a feeling arises and you allow yourself to feel just past the comfort zone before relaxing, you slowly increasing your tolerance for emotion!

Now, there is no need to work yourself up and make yourself uncomfortable.  Life is good about giving us plenty of opportunities to feel shitty.  So when an opportunity comes your way, feel the feels and then go to your “calm place.” Slowly build that window.

When the feelings come in, the healing can begin.
Use affirmations, be compassionate to yourself, change your negative thoughts, but don’t let these skills stop you from feeling your feelings. Ignored feelings fester and turn into bigger problems.  Go past your comfort zone and allow the wave of emotion to ebb and flow.  Ride the uncomfortable roller coaster toward healing.

stop shoulding on yourself

Stop Shoulding on Yourself

Are you tired of scrolling facebook and seeing countless articles about how you SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be living your life?  I know I was and actually stopped following major blogging sites as a result.  I noticed I was feeling worse and the culprit wasn’t facebook envy.

I have a pet peeve with blog posts that contain the word “should.”  Especially posts that are intended to HELP people, but using the word should only passes negative judgment.  In starting my blogging adventure I vowed to myself to never use the word should in a title…. except for this fun variation ;-)

Should is a nasty word

It’s filled with negative judgement and shame.

“I should have done this/that” or “I shouldn’t have done this/that”

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda but didn’t”

I’m not exactly sure where this quote originates from other than from my brother.  He used to say it every time I stared “shoulding” on myself when I was younger.  I suppose it was the brotherly way to say, “What’s done is done, learn from your mistakes and move on.”

Now I’m NOT saying that no one makes mistakes…. it’s just that we can phrase things slightly differently and by doing so it has a surprising effect on our mood…..

What sounds better?

1. “I shouldn’t have eaten that bag of chips”

2. “I don’t feel good about eating that bag of chips.  Next time I will eat less to avoid feeling this way”

The first one is a JUDGEMENT on yourself.  Whereas the second sentence is not judgmental but yet an observation of the consequence of eating the bag of chips.  By observing the situation we can better LEARN from the mistake and work on acting differently to CHANGE the emotional response.

It might sound silly to some people, but by working to cut out or reduce these negative/judgmental words, depression symptoms will lessen and you will begin to feel better about yourself.

Try This:

Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend

We don’t should on our friends…. (sometimes we do) but often times when we are trying to be kind and compassionate to our friend who is shoulding on themselves, we help them see the positive, or help them reword their mistake to be less judgmental.

Therefore most people already possess the skill to change their thought patterns and negative self talk as demonstrated by doing it with others.  We just need to start practicing it on ourselves.

Next time you hear your voice shoulding on yourself, stop and think for a minute.  How can I reword this?  Is shoulding on myself helping me?

Answer: No it isn’t.  It is only make me feel WORSE.  How can I learn from my mistake? Move forward… and be happy :)

 

black and while shoreline with rocks

Take Charge of your Depression – Captain your own Ship.

Control is a big topic in most of my therapy sessions. People usually fall on either side of the line of trying to take too much control or feeling so overwhelmed they take no control. Today I’m going to talk about the side in which we are so overwhelmed and drowning, we just don’t even know where to turn…. also known as depression.

The truth of the matter is that storms happen. All the time. Set out to sea for a few days and I’m sure you will encounter some storms.

Life is the same.
We have hurdles, bumps, hills, mountains, valleys, etc. to combat often. One thing I CAN guarantee is that these challenges will continue to happen in life.

Sometimes storms seem never ending and they can happen consecutively.
When this happens people sometimes experience learned helplessness. This is common in depression when people cannot improve their situation, cannot get out, and feel stuck.

When people get stuck it is really hard to try and take hold of the wheel. Sometimes we just run in circles exhausting ourselves and look in all the wrong directions for the answers. That usually makes things worse and the learned helplessness and depression becomes stronger.

The problem is, if you don’t grab a hold of the wheel the ship, car, bike, what have you, the situation can be dire. I don’t know anyone that would set his or her car on cruise control and go in the back seat and take a nap. You know your car will eventually go off the road and you will end up in a ditch, or worse. So why live your life this way?

OK. So I have to take on the wheel of life, but Stacey, I don’t know where to begin?!?!

Well the answer to that is more complicated because it is different for everyone! A therapist is a trained professional who can help you to navigate through your situation in a few different ways.
Here are some areas that I may focus on with you in sessions:

Work through your ambivalence

People who struggle with depression do not move forward nor make decisions because they’re stupid. Rather, it comes from feeling overwhelmed and valuing two or more options (ambivalence). Therapy will help you to fully explore your feelings about your ambivalence to get a clearer picture of what is your strongest value and what it is that you need/want in your life right now.

PROS and CONS

This might sound simple, but it is actually really helpful. Making a PROS/CONS of EACH situation you are exploring can be eye opening! Beware of quantity over quality. Just because you have MORE listed on one side doesn’t mean it is of more VALUE. Try rating each item on a scale of 1-10 and add up the value in the column for more insight.

Understanding the Deeper Meaning

Therapists get a bad rap for making things more complicated, but hear me out. Our wants and desires are sometimes influenced by deeper psychological needs that often go back to childhood attachment. It can also go back to other relationships and significant life events. Therapy can help people to understand how events in life can shape current feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs. Once a deeper understanding occurs, one can make a more informed decision (and decrease depression!)

Those are a few examples of what I may explore with you if you come into my office with symptoms of depression. It is nice to know there are ways out and that you’ll be steering your ship once again.

Empty chair on a porch featuring an article written about suicide.

Lets take the ‘Selfish’ out of Suicide

This past weekend I was watching season 3 of House of Cards when there was a particular episode that mentioned suicide a couple of times. I noticed how suicide was viewed by some characters on the show as being a selfish act. As a mental health professional, I disagree.

Of course those left behind by a friend or family member who committed suicide are often distraught, upset, sad, guilty and angry. Calling someone selfish is a pretty angry thing to say and I want to note that it is OK to be angry!!. It is normal that we are mad at them for leaving us to grieve their loss! We are mad they chose to do what they did and wished they could have gotten better. Anger is a very normal part of grieving. However, once we feel our anger and begin to move forward, it’s helpful in the healing process to work on empathizing with the person who was lost.

Labeling suicide as selfish continues to stigmatize mental illness and the people suffering from a horrible disease.

Throughout my career, I have worked with some very high-risk populations. As a result, I have experienced two client suicides. Looking back on these situations I recognize how far into their illness these individuals were. They were experiencing clinical depression along with other diagnoses as well. They were battling with extreme hopelessness, helplessness and negative outlooks on the future. They did not see a solution to their problem. They did not see it getting better. There is nothing I could have said or done at that point to change their minds.

Does that make them selfish?

Did I know they were going to suicide? Of course not. They didn’t reach out for help in their final moments. The pain was too much to bear and they did not see life getting any better.

I recently heard a story of a woman who chose to go off life support in the final stages of battling with a brain tumor. Was she selfish? How is her lost battle to a brain tumor different from a lost battle to mental illness?

Sometimes it’s helpful to compare it to a physical disease because it makes more sense when it’s physical. The unknowns of suicide make it difficult for us to make sense of so when we try to make sense of it, we can’t and then label it instead. So looking at it similarly to a physical issue, it helps us open up to the fact that there was a mental issue and the person was in fact suffering quite a bit, but maybe we just didn’t know about it.