Most people regularly schedule their therapy much like they do hair appointments. But are your mental health needs as consistent as your hair growth?
In this case, one size does not fit all. Good thing there are other approaches that deliver results! Shift is proud to partner with Maple to offer video sessions on demand so you can get support when you need it the most. It’s convenient and approachable support that fits your needs.
With on-demand sessions, the focus is on quality over quantity. It’s best to go into your session prepared. Follow these five strategies to get the most of your time!
1. Plan ahead
Prior to your session, think about what you want to cover. Spending the first ten or fifteen minutes making small talk while you consider what you want to talk about will cut into the time you have to actually dive into the issue.
2. Focus on one issue
While it can be tempting to try to talk about many related issues, on-demand sessions work best when you are able to identify a specific area to focus on. For ideas and examples of common topics addressed in on-demand sessions see this article on “What can be tackled in a single session”.
3. Set an agenda
Now that you’ve planned ahead and identified a key issue to talk about, it’s important to communicate this clearly to the therapist at the start of your session. By being direct at the onset you can make sure you focus on the issues that matter to you the most.
4. Focus on the now
When possible, try to focus on your current situation rather than your past experiences. Remember that your therapist is trained in short-term counselling and should be able to make sense of your story without needing extensive detail about your childhood or past experiences. Feel comfortable giving some information without detailed stories. For example, it can be helpful to say, “my parents’ divorce was very hard on me and I think it contributes to my issues with intimacy” or “I feel nervous with my team at work and believe it relates to being bullied in high school.” From there, you’ll be able to focus on your particular struggle today and how to best cope or address your concern.
5. Feel free to take notes
If anticipating there will be a lot covered, some people find it helpful to take notes either in their session or immediately afterwards. This will allow you to hold on to key insights you gained or helpful advice you received from the therapist.
Shift and Maple have partnered on our on-demand virtual therapy platform. Find out more and make an appointment here.
Many of us think of sleep as a luxury—something that we give to ourselves sparingly or even as a reward.
What’s important to remember is that sleep affects your health and mental wellness just as much as exercise, diet, etc. It affects learning, memory, mood, and even insight.
Are you cheating yourself out of a full 8-hours of sleep? Here are some of the benefits you’re missing:
There’s ample research on the correlation between sleep and memory. In fact, most scientists think that sleep embeds the things we’ve learned or experienced over the course of our day into our memories.
Learned something new? Want to store away that wonderful moment from your day forever? Sleep will help you retain that information.
Lack of sleep results in a lack of focus, impairing you to remember just where you placed your house keys. With so much of our mood associated with being able to get through the day without added stress, sleeping might help mitigate the stress and increase your mood.
Just like with memory, a sluggish mind means a lack of focus and a significant drop in productivity and comprehension. In youth, a lack of sleep often can result in hyperactivity or even the ability to focus in school.
3. Combatting Disease
One of the most recent breakthroughs in neuroscience is the realization that sleep actually keeps our brains healthy. Amyloid plaque is the sticky buildup that accumulates on the outside of nerve cells, creating beta-amyloid, which is toxic to our brains and now thought to be the cause of numerous brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
So, how does our body rid our brain of such damaging plaque? Sleep.
4. Psychiatric Disorder Deterrent
There’s an undeniable relationship between sleep and those who suffer from psychiatric disorders: they often don’t sleep. However, by ensuring 8 hours of sleep a night, things such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even ADHD often see an improvement of symptoms.
The verdict is in. If you’re not getting 8 hours of sleep, you’re not just missing out on benefits; you’re potentially setting your brain up for failure.
Some quick tips:
– No screens an hour before bedtime. That means no phone, iPad, computer or laptop, or TV. The blue light given off by our technological devices stimulates our bodies into thinking it’s still light outside and not time for bed.
– Consider taking Melatonin, a naturally occurring substance in your body that helps signal when it’s time to sleep. Unlike prescription sleep medications, melatonin is all-natural and non-addictive.
– Workout. If your body is tired, your mind will follow suit. Exercise not only improves your physical self but also your mental one.
– Meditate before bed. Finding your inner zen can help slow breathing and clear the mind, letting you fall into sleep easier than without it.
Often times we think of habits as being negative: nail-biting, skipping breakfast, or binge-watching Netflix. However, the power of habits can be used for good.
Imagine making a habit of flossing your teeth regularly, cleaning 15-minutes every day, or making your bed before you leave for work . . .
Take it one step further: imagine clearing your inbox every day, studying a language, or finally running that half-marathon you’ve always wanted to run.
The secret behind highly successful people is good habits—things that require hard work, discipline, and consistency. Grit, we know, is the key to success. As psychologists have learned, successful people are not always the smartest; they’re simply the ones who are willing to show up every day and put in the work.
So, how do those of us who don’t have the natural tendency for grit force ourselves to form a good habit? First, by understanding the process, and then by holding ourselves accountable.
Just like with most things, we have to understand the stages of forming good habits:
1. The Honeymoon Stage –
Just like with relationships, starting a new routine/habit may feel easy, exciting, and like no work is required. While it does have an expiry date, the feel-good beginning is crucial to getting you to commit. Use the enthusiasm to your advantage.
2. The Follow-Through –
As the inspiration wanes, it’s important to do the following:
- Recognize that you’re in the fighting stage.
- Ask yourself two things: “If I continue this, how will I feel?” and “If I stop this, how will I feel?” Let your own response be your motivator to continue.
- Envision the Future: If you’re still struggling, think about your life 2, 3, even 4 years from now. If you’ve continued with this habit, how do you think your life will look? Will you be better for it?
3. Second Nature –
After a while, you’ll find you’re in the rhythm of whatever habit you’ve tried to form. You’re bound to come across uncertainty, disruptions, and the illusion that you don’t need to continue your habit; if you start to falter, revisit the questions you asked yourself in step 2.
The second-half to habit forming is accountability.
To complement your journey, here are our Top 5 recommendations for goal-setting apps:
- coach.me app – A free habit tracking app to help you create and build good habits.
- committo3.com – Daily Focus, Accountability and Success. Achieve daily goals with support from your peers.
- productiveapp.io – Has all the tools you need to build a routine of positive, life-changing habits.
- streaksapp.com – A to-do list that helps you form good habits.
- thefabulous.co – A simple yet beautiful scientific-based coach that helps you to reach your health and productivity goals.
Depending on your goal/desired habit, you’ll find yourself surrounded by thousands of others who are working toward the same things and the possibility of having coaches along the way.
Simply open one of these apps, check in on your habit, and work hard towards becoming a better you.