photo of a neat and tidy made bed with pillows on it

How to Calm Anxiety at Night

Most people are busy all day with work or school or social obligations. The nighttime is when things get slower and quieter. In this calmer, more solitary setting, your brain has far more space to focus on worries and concerns. There are far fewer distractions to silence your anxiety. This, of course, can result in sleep problems.

From there, a cycle can kick in. Nighttime anxiety interrupts your sleep. Feeling exhausted the next day makes you more vulnerable to anxiety. Daytime anxiety turns into nighttime anxiety and things go from there. Obviously, it is vital to have methods available to calm anxiety at night.

Yes to Routines and Rituals

You don’t have to structure and plan your entire life. But having routines serves the dual purpose of decreasing anxiety and enhancing your sleep patterns. Here are some suggestions and guidelines to consider:

  • Your routines during the day can set you up for peaceful sleep. Eating at the same time is a great way to start. Also, a regular exercise regimen burns off stress while creating a routine and improving sleep. Most of all, get to bed at the same time each evening.
  • Create and adhere to nightly bedtime rituals. It could be reading, taking a bath, meditating, or basically anything that is tech-free (scrolling is not going to help you nod off). Completing these rituals lets your brain know that it is time to get sleepy.
  • If you lay down but have trouble sleeping, get up. Train yourself that the bed is for sleep. So, get up and do more of the relaxing rituals mentioned above.
  • Awaken at the same time each day — even when you don’t have work or school.

How to Calm Anxiety at Night

Accept What is Happening

Anxiety is an incredibly common problem. There is no shame in feeling it and it’s best managed by first acknowledging its existence. Learn more about anxiety, its origins, and how to address it.

Try Using a Weighted Blanket

This is not just a hot Internet trend. A weighted blanket, thanks to its deep-pressure stimulation, can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

photo of a neat and tidy made bed with pillows on itWhite Noise

Another helpful tool is a white noise machine. Setting one of these up in your bedroom drowns out distracting noises. Study after study finds that static sound enhances sleep quality.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol and Caffeine

Both of these substances have the potential to increase your anxiety levels while negatively impacting your sleep. Ideally, don’t drink or eat anything too close to bedtime.

Develop Some Simple Relaxation Techniques

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Aromatherapy and essential oils
  • Listening to mellow music
  • Cuddling with a pet

These important tools can be helpful in both helping you wind down before bed and easing you into sleep after you’ve laid down.

Start Journaling

It has been shown that writing down your feelings can be helpful as a way of letting them go. You can make journaling part of your pre-sleep rituals. Just as effectively, add to your journal during the day to help process emotions before they can become nighttime obstacles.

Ask For Help When You Need It

Everyone has some level of anxiety in their life. But, if you find those anxious feelings getting to the point where they are negatively impacting your sleep, it could be time to talk to a professional. An anxiety disorder can affect your sleep and therefore, hamper your daily functioning. You do not have to struggle on your own.

Before this cycle can take hold, I invite you to reach out for support. Let’s get you set up for a free and confidential consultation for anxiety treatment.

photo of a woman biting her fingernails who is anxious

How Does ERP Therapy Help With OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S. Its hallmark is a pattern of intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead a person to perform repetitive rituals (compulsions). Everyone experiences unwanted thoughts at times. With OCD, these fears and the behaviors they provoke dramatically impeded one’s ability to function on a daily basis.

Fortunately, many different treatment options have been developed over the years. One of the most common and effective is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Put simply, ERP manages symptoms by exposing a person to their triggers.

More About ERP Therapy and OCD

One goal of OCD treatment is to reduce or prevent the person’s response (compulsions). Triggers and stimuli are inevitable. Dysfunctional responses are not. ERP is a behavioral designed to manage compulsions. This accomplished via specific ERP techniques, e.g.


This is when the client learns all there is to know about OCD. Such awareness demystifies the disorder and can build confidence about managing it.

Practicing Exposures

It may seem counterintuitive at first but someone with OCD can benefit from being gradually exposed to triggers in the presence of their therapist. If this is not possible at first, the therapist can guide the person through an imaginary scenario.

Learning to Tolerate Uncertainty

A person with OCD will experience an intrusive thought and experience distress over it. They fear the thought will come true so they create rituals to prevent this outcome. ERP guides that person to acknowledge the thought without engaging in the compulsion. Over time, this can acclimate the person to the inevitability of uncertainty and thus, neutralize the obsession.

photo of a woman biting her fingernails who is anxious

Response Prevention

Getting comfortable with uncertainty allows the treatment to move forward into response prevention. Two examples of this are:

  • Delaying the ritual: There can be immense value in lengthening the time between an obsessive thought and compulsive behavior.
  • Altering the ritual: Getting into the habit of changing the rituals around demonstrates that the compulsions are not as powerful — or necessary — as the person with OCD believes.

How ERP Works For OCD

The above techniques can:

  • Use habituation to reduce the anxiety created by both obsessions and compulsions
  • Make it apparent that the intrusive thoughts are not as unbearable as they seem
  • Help the person recognize that are far more capable of managing OCD than they might imagine
  • Most importantly, EPR can make it obvious that obsessive thoughts do not lead to terrible outcomes that require some kind of intervention

ERP is not a miracle cure and each person will progress at their own rate. But the National Institutes for Health (NIH) have found that about 50 to 60 percent of patients who “complete ERP treatment show clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms and treatment gains have shown to be maintained long-term.”

How to Get Started With ERP

If you’re interested in Exposure and Response Prevention and believe it can help you, it starts with finding a therapist with experience in this modality. Reach out to talk and inquire about their compatibility with you. For example:

  • You will want to find out if they have often worked with individuals with OCD
  • Ask how it will be determined that you are ready for ERP
  • Get specifics on the treatment frequency, duration, and the measurement of progress 
  • Find out as much as possible about ERP and what to expect

I would love to help you address and manage the symptoms and challenges presented by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Therefore, I invite you to set up a free and confidential consultation in which we can talk more about you, the treatment, and how we can support you with anxiety treatment.

young adult woman smiling at camera standing near a construction site

If You’re Anxious About “Adulting,” Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Alone

According to the notorious Urban Dictionary, “adulting” is a verb that means “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals.” But they add this caveat: “exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.” Translation: Adulting makes plenty of people anxious. If you’re one of them, you can take solace in not being alone.

Simply put, growing up is challenging — now more than ever. It is inevitable that you will feel anxious about it at times. A major step is to accept this normal tendency while learning the skills you’ll need to productively move forward into adulthood.

A Few Reasons Why Adulting Can Feel Scary

The Obvious

Almost always, adults have way more responsibilities and obligations. Their lives are busier and there is a much smaller margin for error. If that doesn’t give you pause, you’re not paying attention.

The Abstract

Separation anxiety is real. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your parents, you may fear losing the security of the family. Being an adult means a higher potential for loneliness. Also, it means less immediate support for all the new duties touched on above.

The Scary

Death anxiety is real, too. The transition from child to teen to adult means, of course, that time is passing. You may feel anxious about losing the people in your life. That anxiety can also be triggered by you losing the innocence of childhood. In addition, as you age, you accumulate more meaning in your life. This is great but it also symbolizes that you have more to lose.

young adult woman smiling at camera standing near a construction siteHow to Ease the Anxiety of Adulting

Again, Recognize That You Are Not Alone

Sticking with the theme of this post, let’s reiterate that adulting anxiety is not a sign that you are uniquely flawed. It is a sign that you are human. Practice patience and self-compassion. No one said adulting would be easy. This part of modern life and you will find your way!

Don’t Settle

You will get plenty of advice urging you to make practical choices. There is some value in this, of course, but — through it all — move toward your passions. This is your life. You do not have to follow society’s blueprint. So, pay close attention to whatever brings you joy. What makes you lose track of time when you do it? And remember: You can fail at the “practical” option, too. Therefore, if life is fraught with risks, why not focus on that which lights you up?

Connect With Others

Find ways — in person and online — to interact with folks in your age range to share stories, doubts, plans, and more. Don’t hide away if you feel ashamed of what you see as slow progress. Open up and create a community. Surrounding yourself with peers is a chance to grow, learn, network, and evolve. It is how ideas are formed and nurtured.

Talk With an Expert

I’m not talking about a career expert (although that might help). I’m suggesting you reach out for counseling. There are many valid reasons why you are struggling to achieve independence. Some of these reasons might be tough to talk about. In a therapy setting, it is easier to share and be vulnerable. The more you explore your underlying patterns, beliefs, blockages, and dreams, the more capable you can become as an adult.

There is no magic formula to adulting. However, committing to therapy sessions positions you to develop the skills you need to thrive. If adulting has you stressed, I invite you to set up a free and confidential consultation at your earliest convenience for anxiety treatment. Let’s tackle this transition together!

Does Your Perfectionism Ruin Everything? How To Turn Things Around

A small measure of perfectionism can have its perks. It can be what motivates you in times of trouble. The problem lies in the reality that perfectionism rarely exists in small measures. Rather, it is the surface expression of an underlying fear of failure. It also displays a lack of self-worth. Perfectionists frequently believe that they must earn love or friendship through flawlessness.

In addition, perfectionism may manifest itself in the imposition of standards on others. Whatever form it takes, this mindset is self-destructive and toxic. Some may attribute it to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Far more often, perfectionism is a symptom of anxiety.

Two Examples of How Perfectionism Gets in Your Way

Fixation on Perceived Flaws and Failures

Even the tiniest of mistakes can feel as if it’s worthy of profound rumination. When you overthink like this, minor situations grow in stature. As a result, the perfectionist will view something inconsequential as a monumental failure.

Indecision and Inaction

You’re stuck between:

  • Making the perfect choice
  • Worrying that you will fail anyway

To the outside world, you may appear flaky or indecisive. Inside, however, you feel paralyzed by all the potentially imperfect outcomes.

The Perfection-Anxiety Link

In pop culture, we are conditioned to see perfectionism as admirable. After all, such striving is precisely how movie heroes overcome the odds, right? This is an inaccurate representation. Someone stuck in the cycle of perfectionism is far more likely to be struggling with an anxiety disorder. They are trapped by questions like “what will others think of me?”

It should be no surprise that people diagnosed with anxiety disorder display more perfectionist traits than those without anxiety issues. The daily stress—and inner voice—of anxiety leaves them believing there is no room for anything less than perfection.

Simultaneously, the feedback loop works in reverse. Individuals may present with a few perfectionist tendencies. This has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing unhealthy amounts of anxiety. Regardless of what came first, the result requires your attention and perhaps the support of a professional.

How To Turn Things Around

Self-Help Tips

  • Identify Your Thought Patterns: It is crucial to pay close attention to your emotional habits. Being aware of your specific version of perfectionism is a giant first step toward addressing it.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Such a practice can readjust your moods. You see beauty and joy in events and moments that do not qualify as “perfect.” Your standards will shift, and your actions will follow suit.
  • Stop With the Comparisons: You can always find someone who appears to be better than you at something. Put in the work to reject this frame of reference. It has zero value and can serve to ramp up your inclination toward perfectionism.
  • Make Mistakes: Not on purpose, mind you, but naturally. The only way to learn that imperfection is normal and not scary is to experience it. Try something new and let the mistakes guide you to a fresh set of skills.

How Therapy Helps

The above self-help tips can go a long way to ease the pain of perfectionism. But the underlying cause will probably linger. This is why so many people consult with a therapist. You can directly address the anxiety that drives your perceptions in your weekly sessions. Also, your therapist may dig deeper into the need to be perfect as it might pertain to:

  • People-pleasing
  • Parents who didn’t give praise
  • Your general need for approval
  • Fear of failure

If any of the above hit close to home, let’s chat soon about how treatment can help you with your anxiety.


Test Anxiety? 5 Ways You Can Encourage Your College Student

The American Test Anxieties Association says that 40% of students experience test anxiety. It can be very frustrating for your college student when they have studied all of the material. They may call home looking for solace. They may come home looking to escape the pressure. Is there anything you can do to encourage them?

Resist the urge to rescue and help them face their test challenges with the following strategies instead:

1. Help Them Notice Unproductive Thinking

Do you sense that your student thinks about testing in ways that makes things worse? They may be prone to catastrophizing. This is worst-case scenario thinking that feels very real at the time.  This type of thinking can worsen test anxiety significantly.

Students sometimes think that they are doomed to get an awful test score or won’t remember a single fact on an exam. These thoughts seem true to them at the moment. Without judgment, ask them to take a  mental step back and gain a bit of perspective. Ask them to challenge the idea that the test is “all or nothing” and look for truths about what they already know and how they can study more.

This will help them slow their thinking and rein in racing thoughts. Finding more realistic ways of thinking about upcoming exams will serve to decrease test anxiety and support improved self-control

2. Promote Positive Self-Talk

There may be a persistent and critical voice inside your student’s head insisting that they are too unprepared,  too unintelligent, or too incapable of doing well. These unwanted thoughts and unhelpful self-criticisms only fuel test anxiety and the joy of learning. After a while, your student may start to believe them.

To prevent negativity from overcoming your student’s thoughts, encourage them with affirmation and validation of their strengths. Encourage them to fight the negativity with positive self-talk instead. Let them know that this test does not determine their worth or intelligence.

3. Encourage a Change in Study Approach

Your college student may think that all-night cram sessions will help them, but all it will do is drain their energy. A lack of sleep exacerbates anxiety and brain fog, not helpful for productive studying or test-taking.

How your student lays the foundation for success before a test begins makes a big difference. Encourage them to set aside time to study as well as schedule break times. More importantly, nudge them to use all of the tools available to them. Promote a learning mindset by assuring them that using a tutor, study sessions, a study skills specialist, and conferences with teaching assistants are all good ways to embrace college academics. There is no shame in seeking help.

4. Prompt Physical Health

Your student may be trying to be mentally strong while studying for a test, but wearing themselves down physically. Encourage fresh air, hydration, whole foods, and rest. All are things that were routine at home with you but may be lacking as they adjust to living on their own.

Suggest that a healthy balance of study and exercise will help keep calm and clarity in good supply. Not only will your student burn calories, but they will burn nerves and feel more confident. Conversely remind them that just because they can stay up all night, doesn’t mean they should. Advise at least a solid night’s sleep before the test.

Sometimes Anxiety Needs Extra Care

Taking control of test anxiety may be more than just a self-help measure for your student.  If your college student is still struggling, give them your full support by encouraging a session or two with a campus advisor or counselor.

Moreover, ask them to consider online anxiety therapy too. Normalizing mental healthcare can help them feel comfortable reaching out whenever they need help. This is a key skill for any adult. Let us help. Reach out soon so we can assist you and your student navigate test anxiety and more.

Terria McGee, MSW, LICSW

Terria McGee, MSW, LICSW

Terria is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and families. She is all about “meeting you where you’re at” to build a relationship and partner with you to explore life’s difficulties as they come. She is committed to be there with you on your journey towards healing, strength, and hope for the future.


Too Afraid to Reach Out? 4 Effective Strategies to Deal with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can be a vexing issue. Obviously, of course, there is the fear of social interactions. This can put quite a damper on your daily functions. In addition, social anxiety can become an obstacle when pondering ways to deal with it. You may prefer to avoid strangers and be the center of attention. Thus, reaching out for help may feel triggering.

With all this in mind, it can be helpful to explore some effective self-help strategies. Your ability to self-educate and self-soothe can pave the way for outside support. It all begins with a realization that you have more power than you realize.

Social Anxiety Symptoms

You may dread situations like:

  • Asking a question in class or a work meeting
  • Eating in public
  • Using public restrooms
  • Talking on the phone

Such interactions can bring on physical symptoms, such as:

  • Shaky voice
  • Trembling
  • Nausea and other digestive issues
  • Racing heart
  • Dizziness
  • Blushing and sweating

As a result, psychological symptoms arise, e.g.

  • Social withdrawal and self-isolation
  • Intense worrying about any upcoming situation that feels scary
  • Fearing that others will notice your social anxiety and remark on it
  • Self-medication and substance abuse to dull the anxiety

For Starters…

The goal is never to try eliminating anxiety from your life. Anxiety is not only normal, it is essential. It serves to protect and guide you. It sets off responses that empower you to deal with legitimate threats. Problems arise when your mind and body react to dangers that do not exist. You can get stuck in the fight, flight, or freeze response and live in a state of chronic fear. This manifests as social anxiety when the perceived risks involve interactions with other people — especially people you do not know.

Fortunately, self-help strategies can effectively address this situation and thereby make it easier for you to seek out professional guidance.

4 Effective Strategies to Deal with Social Anxiety

1. Identify and Prepare For Your Triggers

A journal will come in handy to monitor and track your social anxiety triggers. Once you’ve compiled a list, you are better positioned to find ways to prepare in a productive way.

2. Learn Some Relaxation Techniques

As you can see from the above lists, social anxiety can cause some strong physical reactions. This can escalate the anxiety from fear of being noticed. To counter these trends, develop some stress management practices, e.g. meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.

3. Talk Back to Your Inner Voice

Anxiety is a persistent and convincing liar. But you can talk back and fact-check. When anxiety tells you a situation or person is dangerous, ask for proof. Challenge the negative thoughts and work to replace them with reality-based perspectives.

4. Engage in Random Acts of Kindness

Studies show that people with social anxiety can calm their minds by practicing acts of kindness — large or small. You get to practice social interactions in a setting that gives you power. The people you help gain a positive perception of you. And, of course, someone in need gets help!

When You’re Ready to Reach Out

You’ve already shown strength by accepting the situation and your need for help. Once you’ve integrated the above suggestions, you may feel more and more comfortable with the idea of contacting a counselor as the next step. In today’s digital world, this process can even begin with virtual sessions.

An experienced therapist can and will guide you through the process of managing and minimizing your social anxiety. Your anxiety therapy sessions will be your safe space to talk openly and roleplay for future events. We would love to help you along this path toward healing and recovery. Please contact us soon for support.

Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Although burnout and compassion fatigue are different, they often travel together.

If you are a caregiver or you work in a helping profession, burnout and compassion fatigue are occupational hazards. Burnout makes you feel cynical, tired, and callous toward your work or co-workers. You may be so dedicated to your responsibilities that you put your own health and wellbeing at risk to do your job.

You are more likely to experience compassion fatigue if you assist individuals who experience trauma, children in unfortunate circumstances, and people who are critically ill or dying. However, with the worlds’ traumas and dramas being continuously delivered to you via the internet, you can experience compassion fatigue just by focusing on all the suffering in the world. This can cause continuous tension, hypervigilance, and apathy.

How do you know if you’re developing burnout or compassion fatigue?

If your work no longer invigorates you the way it did in the beginning, you could be heading toward these problems.

Both burnout and compassion fatigue can rob you of the joy you used to experience when you did a good job. In either case, they can make you feel as if what you do isn’t enough or that your work is never finished. If you’re burned out, you may feel many of the symptoms associated with depression. Compassion fatigue, which is also known as secondary traumatic stress, shares symptoms with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Compassion fatigue and burnout can make you more self-critical which will make you feel less deserving of self-care and time for yourself. Then, if you stop taking good care of yourself, your feelings of defeat can expand.

The Consequences of Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of burnout or compassion fatigue and they’re not getting better, you likely don’t have the skills you need to prevent or recover from burnout or compassion fatigue. You may wish you could quit your job and you may even do it. You may also be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, sex, or food to escape from your feelings.

If you stay on the job, you’ll still have your technical skills, but you won’t feel connected and engaged the way you once did. You’ll be surprised by how many mistakes you make; the high stress caused by both burnout and compassion fatigue can make it difficult to think clearly.

Caregivers need care, too.

The way you mentally process your experiences has more influence over whether you become burned out or suffer compassion fatigue than the situations you experience. Some people succumb faster than others, and some don’t succumb at all. The difference is in how they think about their experiences.

Therapy Can Help

You don’t have to leave a profession you worked hard to enter. You can recover from or prevent burnout by developing skills that help you process the stressors you experience as a caregiver. Many of the same skills help prevent and heal compassion fatigue. With the right skills, you can care more without taking on the emotional burdens of being a caregiver.

In therapy you can work through healthy ways to process your experiences in order to reduce the amount of stress you experience each day. It can help you learn how to create healthy boundaries that allow you time for self-care and to enjoy your life. When you understand how your habits of thought influence your reactions, you can choose your perspective based on whether it supports you or makes you vulnerable.

If you’re ready to learn how to cope with, and improve, the stress associated with your caretaking roles, reach out to us. This is work we do with clients every day, and we want to help you, too. You can reach us via email or text, or by making an online appointment.

Negative Thinking and Core Beliefs

Over your lifetime you have developed deeply-held core beliefs that guide how you think, act, and relate to the world around you. These core beliefs do not always originate from explicit messages you’ve been taught (though they may), and many times you may not even be aware what these core beliefs are. When these core beliefs about yourself, others, or the world are negative, your life will be less fulfilling than it could be.

What are the effects of negative thinking?

Negative thoughts are stressful. And when your core beliefs are negative, you think a lot of negative thoughts. That means you are chronically stressed, which is unhealthy for your mental, physical, and relationship health.

The more negative core beliefs you have, the more fear and self-doubt you will experience.

And the more scared and uncertain you are, the more comforting your comfort zone will feel—even if your comfort zone isn’t logically something with which you want to be comfortable. For example, someone with a negative core belief that “I’m not worthy of being treated well by others” may remain in a toxic relationship because it fits their belief system. In that way, the toxic relationship feels comfortable because it supports an existing belief system, even though it is obviously anything but comfortable.

If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, it is a sign that there may be an underlying negative core belief that is causing you to interpret the situation in a painful, pessimistic, or self-critical manner. You will naturally defend your beliefs because they feel true to you, and you have been looking for, and found, much evidence for holding on to that negative core belief. That problem is, you haven’t been looking for evidence to the contrary.

Do you wonder why other people seem able to handle change easier than you do?

Negative thinking focuses on problems rather than solutions. Negative beliefs spawn negative thoughts that trap you in situations you would like to leave. They also make situations that could be good feel as if they are bad.

In comparison, a person who has positive beliefs about their ability to successfully escape an uncomfortable situation is much more likely to be able to do so. This because they have been spending time planning, envisioning a way out, imagining a better future for themselves, and believing in their ability to get there. This creates an upward spiral. It provides the energy for the person to begin taking steps forward and then feeling the benefit of those positive steps, which provides more motivation to keep moving forward.

Do you feel stuck?

Are you stuck in a job, career, or relationship you are afraid to leave? Are there things you want to do but tell yourself you can’t do them even though others with similar resources do them?

People with negative core beliefs often hold beliefs about themselves that feel true for them even while they recognize those beliefs are not true for others. Thoughts like, “I’ll never measure up” are thoughts people routinely have about themselves. However, they would never say that about a friend or family member! They might even hate the thought of that friend or family member ever thinking that way. Yet they will direct those same thoughts towards themselves with great frequency.

Your beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Those beliefs shape your thoughts, words, and actions. Essentially, you get what you expect. When you work on changing a negative belief, your life will change. The change will create a better future and it can rearrange your past in ways that reduce or eliminate painful memories.

The Benefits of Improving Negative Thinking and Negative Core Beliefs

What would your life feel like if you began seeing the silver lining in the traumas and dramas from your past? Resilience is the ability to keep going when you face adversity. Resilient people aren’t stronger than you. Resilient people think differently. They have healthy self-esteem, self-compassion, and they are optimistic about their ability to overcome obstacles. Every one of those characteristics requires supportive core beliefs.

Each of those perspectives can be learned. Negative beliefs are only self-fulfilling prophecies because you believe them. They aren’t true for people who don’t believe them and when you change them, they will stop being true for you.

Therapy Helps You Change Negative Core Beliefs

Developing self-supporting beliefs and healthier, positive habits of thought is one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself. At Affinity, we help you choose which beliefs to cultivate and help you learn skills that make the process easier for you. Reach out to us today to begin creating the new, improved version of you free from anxious thinking.

Career Development and Navigating the Work-Life Ratio

Pressure to achieve success further and faster comes at us from every angle.

You’ve worked hard to prepare yourself for a successful career. But it seems so much more difficult to meet all the demands on your time at work and at home than you anticipated. The pressure is never ending and when you zone out on social media, seeing friends’ careers take off adds to the never-ending pressure.

You wonder if it will ever end. Is work-life balance an achievable goal? You want a successful career, but you don’t want to sacrifice all the things that will make it meaningful, including friends, family, and time for fun. Having a more satisfying work-life ratio seems elusive to you, which creates a daily feeling of never having enough time.

Work-Life Balance Isn’t a SMART Goal

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Because a goal to achieve work-life balance isn’t a SMART goal, studies show it increases stress. It causes people to feel frustrated and unsatisfied with themselves, their jobs, and the time demands their family requires.

If your life feels harder than it was for prior generations that’s because your life is harder than theirs in many ways. Completely disconnecting from work is challenging. Your boss may expect to be able to reach you and communicate at all hours.

If you manage to get work under control, your family complains you aren’t paying attention to them. When you pay attention to your family, work spins out of control. It’s difficult for you to feel competent in either place because competing priorities keep you feeling off kilter.
You want a happy medium but despair that you’ll ever be able to achieve it.

You Can Find the Right Ratio for You

Ratio is a more appropriate term than balance for two reasons. First and most importantly, because to balance is to be static, and your life is anything but static. Secondly, because ratios recognize individual and situational differences.

If you are pursuing a world-changing passion career, you may want to spend almost all your time on your career. If that’s you, the expectations of people in your life who aren’t part of your career need to be managed. Whereas if your definition of success is financial stability because of its benefits to you and your family, you will likely want to devote more time to your home life.

You get to decide the right ratio for you. The right ratio for you today may not be the right ratio at another point in your life. Attempting to achieve perfect work-life balance can add more stress without helping you achieve any of your goals.

How Therapy Moves You Towards More Satisfaction and Less Stress

Instead of a work-life balance goal, we spend time helping you identify the work-life ratio you would like to achieve. Once you know your ratio, there are two ways to help ease the frustration and anxiety the quest for work-life balance created. One is the use of problem-focused strategies that modify things in your environment by identifying the priorities that matter the most to you.

The second is helping you develop transformational stress management skills that will allow you to feel better and relax more. The degree to which you understand how your brain works and how well you use that knowledge can reduce the amount of stress you experience without changing your circumstances.

Learning psychological tools that increase your psychological flexibility will help you feel less stressed at work and at home.

If you want to master the art of having it all without killing yourself with the anxiety of trying to achieve it, we can help. Contact us for answers to your questions or schedule an appointment online.