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3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

As restrictions lift and our freedom slowly returns, some of us may be feeling differently than we thought we would for things to go back to normal. Regardless of whether you're feeling nervous about socializing after months of spending time alone or excited about returning to a more active role in society, here are seven tips to help you throughout this transition: 

  1. Set healthy and flexible boundaries.  Identify your comfort zone or your window of tolerance, where you can work, live, and socialize within. As time goes on and you adapt, you can adjust it as needed. That recovery and reentry is not a jump-in-the-pool experience; but more of a slow, gradual progression. 

  2. Consider your new priorities. For some of us, self-isolation was an incentive for self-discovery. It required us to pause and reflect on how we spend our time, energy, and money. Perhaps you've learned to value your alone time or discovered that you'd rather stay in on a Saturday night than go out. Take some time to reprioritize and build habits that align with your values.

  3. Plan and think ahead. If you're worried about seeing certain people or are nervous about interactions at work, take a step back. Social anxiety has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Allow yourself to evaluate what things might make you feel socially anxious or insecure. Play out these scenarios and ask yourself what you can do to establish some grounding or safety sense. A small amount of exposure to social situations at a time will ultimately help you adjust.

  4. Adjust your routine. Just as it took all of us some time to adapt and find ways of coping when lockdown began, we should expect that it'll take some time to find our way back. If you're returning to work, try to get into your morning routine at home beforehand-meaning waking up at a particular time, getting dressed, and planning for your morning commute. If you don't have any upcoming changes to your schedule, maintaining a routine and staying consistent with your time is always healthy.

  5. Allow yourself to feel worried or anxious. Uncertainty has been a significant theme throughout the last year. And as things start to shift, it's no different. It's normal to feel anxious or nervous, so embrace those feelings and validate yourself for having them. You may benefit from writing out your thoughts or talking to a friend. Chances are, they'll feel similarly.

  6. Practice self-care. You may feel that you have lost control of many things over the past several months, but it is essential to recognize the things you can control and take full advantage of them-such as self-care. It's necessary to take care of yourself to build resilience to change and manage daily stressors. Remember to take breaks throughout your day, and set aside some time for things you enjoy!

  7. Ask for help when you need it. If your levels of stress and anxiety start to interfere with your job, relationships, and other aspects of your life, please consider working with a mental health professional. They’ll help you cope with your symptoms and support you throughout this transition.

Envy and jealousy are two emotions often confused for one another as they are similar in nature. However, there is a difference between the two. So how do you tell them apart?

Let's take a closer look at the difference between envy and jealousy and what makes them similar.

What is envy?

The definition of envy is pretty straightforward: It's the desire for what someone else has that you'd like to have yourself. For example, if you envy your sibling for settling down and starting a family, you may blame them for their "unfair advantage." Or, you may begin to feel ashamed, inadequate, or unworthy of having what they have. 

Despite being an uncomfortable emotion, envy serves a purpose. If we emulate people we perceive as more successful than we are, envy can be a powerful motivator in achieving our goals. The trick is to keep envy within a healthy range rather than suppressing it. Examine the underlying shame or discomfort that comes with it with an open, curious perspective. 

We tend to envy people regardless of our relationship with them. Although the feeling itself is more prominent when it comes to a family member or a friend, it's not uncommon to envy people we'll never know-like celebrities or extraordinarily successful, wealthy, beautiful, or intelligent people. 

It is envy's irrationality that marks the most significant difference between envy and jealousy.

What is jealousy?

Jealousy is a complex, painful emotion in comparison to envy. Simply put, jealousy is driven by a fear of loss, specifically in relationships. We grow suspicious of other people's intentions to protect what we already have. 

For example, you may feel jealous when you see your husband joking around and laughing with a co-worker you didn't know about. In this case, jealousy arises due to the threat this co-worker brings to your relationship. 

Although jealousy is often used in the context of romantic relationships, it can arise in any relationship-whether it's a sibling getting more attention from a parent or a colleague receiving more praise from your boss. If envy can promote motivation to achieve a goal, jealousy can motivate us to preserve and value our relationships.

Similarities between envy and jealousy

It's easy to understand why the two get mixed up-both envy and jealousy have the power to bring up our deepest insecurities and anxieties. They can be a source of anger, hurt, and aggressiveness. In a sense, both are necessary emotions. But if ignored or suppressed for too long, the resentment can bite away at our mental wellbeing.

If you feel that your envy or jealousy is uncontrollable, consider working with a licensed therapist. These feelings can result in low self-esteem, depression, and increased anxiety if ignored. Understanding these emotions is the first step in overcoming them.

How Overthinking Can Cause Negative Thoughts to Spiral Out of Control

Are you an overthinker? If you are, you know how quickly your thoughts can spiral out of control. 

Overthinking can grab hold of us before we recognize it. This is why it's essential to recognize the process of our thoughts, and how they contribute to the way we feel and behave. 

What it means to be an "overthinker"

Overthinking is the act of mentalizing excessively and compulsively about a person, event, or situation. Someone that overthinks tends to think in extremes or absolutes, which can lead to several negative emotions. For example: if you fail an exam, your thoughts quickly turn into "I'm a complete failure – I will never succeed in life." One negative thought spirals into another one. So at what point does it get out of control?

Automatic thoughts

It's hard to identify what that one thought was that started the spiral most of the time. They happen so quickly; they're known as automatic thoughts. These automatic thoughts "pop up" in your head; you don't have to do anything to make them happen; they just happen. But once you start to pay attention to your triggers or what caused the thought to appear in the first place, you'll be able to catch it before it gets out of control. 

Think about it this way: Negative thoughts are "appealing" to the mind. Naturally, we pay more attention to the worst-case scenarios, or potential threats, much more often than positive ones. Why? It's our mind's way of protecting ourselves. So once we give a negative thought the attention it's craving, we get caught. Our minds become confined in an ongoing process of "figuring it out."

Let's say you have plans to meet up with a friend for lunch. They're ten minutes late. They haven't texted or called. You reach out to them again, but no reply. As you're sitting there waiting, you might find yourself thinking:

  • “What if they’re ditching me”? 
  • "They're so inconsiderate."
  • "This stuff always happens to me."
  • "Well, I don't blame him for not showing up. Nobody wants to hang out with me."

As time goes on, you find yourself caught in a spiral of unrealistic, negative thoughts and worst-case scenarios. 

How does overthinking influence emotions?

Overthinking causes feelings of anxiety, depression, amongst other negative emotions. Negative thoughts heighten these emotions. For example, if your thoughts about your friend continue, you may start to feel:

  • Physically anxious-heart rate increasing, tightness or chest pain, muscle tension, or light-headedness. 
  • Irritated 
  • Angry or resentful 
  • Bad about yourself 

Like negative thoughts, stress and anxiety don't necessarily respond to our efforts to control them. The more you try to push your anxiety away, the stronger it gets. If we take the lunch example into context, you might start feeling disappointed, angry, or irritated about your friend not showing up. 

Acting upon your emotion

These thoughts and feelings may also affect your behavior. For example: 

  • If you’re feeling irritated with your friend for ditching you, you might send him an angry text and criticize them for being flakey.
  • You may also decide to give him the cold shoulder next time you see them. 
  • You decide to stop hanging out with this person altogether. 
  • Or, you may even yell at a stranger for driving too slowly on your way home. 

Putting a stop to the downward spiral

If you notice yourself constantly getting stuck in these cycles of overthinking, consider working with a licensed therapist or counselor. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy is an evidence-based, practical approach for obsessive thinking, worry, and rumination. They can support you in managing your overthinking and letting go of any unhelpful, negative thinking patterns. 

We all have a natural tendency to procrastinate. But while some people can accomplish their work with ease, others struggle to stay on top of their ever-growing to-do lists. And at the end of the day,  procrastinating results in unnecessary stress and tension.

The good news is, procrastination is a habit that you can change. To get started in overcoming those daunting, easily-avoidable tasks, consider the following 7 tips: 

Identify negative or unhelpful thoughts. If calling yourself a "lazy procrastinator" or a "failure," your first effort should be to drop the labels. So when you notice any negative thoughts or beliefs about your ability to get something done, practice self-compassion instead. Turn a thought like "I'm never going to get this done" into "I'm doing the best I can right now.”

Think "I get to do this" rather than "I have to do this." If we feel forced or pushed to do something, it's much easier to put it off. Similar to challenging self-defeating or negative thinking patterns, try to reframe the task as an opportunity rather than a chore.

Example:” I don’t have to wash the dishes today; I get to wash the dishes today." With time and repetition, you'll naturally start to view the chore as an excuse to take a break from work or listen to your favorite playlist. 

Start small. Thinking about all of the things you need to do can quickly become overwhelming- leading to more procrastination. If you don't know where to start, break things down into smaller, individual steps and write them down. Remember to consider how long it would take you to complete each step and cross it off once you’re done. Even the smallest of steps can feel rewarding!  

 

Consider the Zeigarnik Effect. If thoughts about an unfinished project have kept you up at night, you’ve probably experienced a psychological phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik Effect, or the natural tendency to remember incomplete tasks rather than the completed ones. The thoughts that constantly pop into your mind serve as reminders but also create mental tension. To put the Zeigarnik Effect to use, take the first step towards your goal, no matter how small. If you can begin focusing on something for just a few minutes, the brain's desire to complete it will take over. 

Discover your “peak times.” Tackle the most complicated tasks during your peak times. Everyone has different peak hours. Are you more productive in the mornings or the evenings? Figure out when you work and feel your best and tackle the most complicated tasks during those times. Not only will you improve your productivity, but you’ll save your energy for the things you want to do. 

Try a "power hour."  A power hour consists of putting away all distractions and working in parts of time (ex. 1 hour),  followed by short rest periods. Remember to balance focus time with relaxation for maximum efficiency.

Turn tedious tasks into appealing ones. Ask yourself, "How can I make this dreadful chore into something more enjoyable?" Whether you turn it into a competition with yourself or schedule time for a hobby afterward, there are various ways to trick your mind into believing something is more appealing than it is. Find what grabs your attention and utilize what strategy works best for you.

Breaking the procrastination habit isn't easy.

And while it might not be entirely avoidable, sometimes the most important thing you can do is get started.  Remember, every step you take is progress!

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!