Category Archives: Stress Less

Quarter-life Questions

Quarter-life Questions | Think Like A Counselor

I recently celebrated my 29th birthday, and amongst the well-wishes from family and “you’ll always be older than me” jokes from friends, there were several questions about how I felt about the occasion. “Do you feel any older?” (Yes, but that was already happening well before my birthday, thanks to my perpetually achy joints and tendency to hurt myself doing mundane chores.) “Can you believe you’re almost 30?” (Well, I know how the progression of time works so I can’t say I’m surprised, but no, I don’t always believe that I’m a real adult yet.) And the simplest yet most difficult to answer: “How does it feel?”

I was discussing this question in greater depth with a friend (also on the cusp of turning thirty) who had read somewhere that “everything before 30 is like preparation for your adult life, and everything after is actually living it.” While we both agreed that this statement wasn’t entirely accurate, it definitely captured some of my feelings about the prospect of thirty and put my twenties into an interesting perspective. This idea makes sense of the missteps, confusion, and growing pains of the last decade of my life, without laying judgment or blame on any of it. Thankfully, I feel that I’ve found my way out of the most difficult part of my twenties (and most of the bad decisions contained therein). I am in a place of greater peace, self-understanding, and acceptance now, but this wasn’t always the case! Continue reading

My Worry Rosary

My Worry Rosary | Think Like A Counselor

Image courtesy of Britt-knee, via Flickr

I recently came across an article that listed thirty different questions to ask your best friend in order to get to know each other better. I loved the idea, so I started emailing a few each day to one of my best friends from college; she now lives in Chicago, so we don’t get to see each other often and this seemed perfect for us. Some of the questions are silly, some are interesting, and some are a little more serious. The question today was, “What makes you feel afraid?”

Hmm…wasn’t sure where to go with that one. Are we talking deep, primal fears? Daily fears? Little nagging fears? The question didn’t specify, so I just started listing things.

About a paragraph in, it became pretty obvious that I’m afraid of a lot of things! I don’t consider myself an overly fearful or anxious person, but all of these fears came tumbling out of me with very little thought or reflection necessary. They were right at the surface, swirling around in my brain, just waiting for a reason to come forward and name themselves. Some of the fears were deep-seated, emotional and irrational: things that will likely never come to pass in my life. Some were possible but not probable, and some were silly things that I deal with every day but still make me feel afraid. Continue reading

10 Tips for Tackling Your To-Do List

10 Tips for Tackling Your To-do List |

Photo courtesy of Courtney Dirks, via Flickr

(I’m pretty proud of this post title. In the words of the indomitable Paris Geller, “Never underestimate the power of alliteration, my friend.”)

As evidenced by the wild mood swings of New Orleans’s weather (ever switched your thermostat from “heat” to “cool” and back within one day? I have!) and my ever-sneezing nose, spring must be here, which means spring cleaning! I don’t know about you, but aside from realizing that I should probably move my couches and vacuum under them occasionally, spring is often the time when I construct a massive to-do list of things to accomplish around the house, at my job, and in my life. Sometimes I fare pretty well and mark off a few things before I lose my enthusiasm (or the list…), and sometimes I completely forget about it after one day. I can probably count on one hand the number of to-do lists I’ve completely finished in my life (other than lists of food to buy, I always finish those), but I’m getting much better at them. Here are some of my top tips for mastering to-do lists! Continue reading

Accentuating the Positive, or How I Used Cognitive Therapy at the DMV

Mental filtering and Cognitive Therapy | Think Like a Counselor

Image via Flickr

I have this occasional paranoia that I have a facial abnormality, like my face is completely lopsided or I’m cross-eyed or something like that, and have somehow made it my entire life without someone telling me about it. For some reason, my chosen medium for confirming or disproving this fear is the universally recognized, most unflattering picture of all, which highlights every flaw and exploits every possible wrong angle: my driver’s license picture. Why I do this to myself, I don’t know. Why can’t I look at my wedding pictures instead to decide how I look? We all have our mysteries. But every time I get a new license, I examine it like a holy text to try to figure out exactly what I look like to other people.

This compulsion isn’t helped by the fact that I carry a terrible family curse, handed down by my mother and her mother before her. We have a long history of hair disasters, lipstick fails, and jewelry malfunctions that have marred decades of DMV portraits: the treacherous lip that got snagged on a tooth mere seconds before the picture, or the earring that decided to get tangled and stick out at an odd angle several inches from an otherwise flawless face. Just a few weeks ago, I spent an extra 20 minutes making sure my hair and makeup looked perfect and practicing my smile in the mirror. This step is necessary: I have the tendency to look WAY TOO EXCITED in pictures—I recently had a TSA agent laugh at my passport and say, “I’ve never seen someone so happy to go through Customs!” Even so, I still walked out of the DMV with a picture that looked like I let a three-year old cut my hair and had a lazy eye (me, not the three-year old. Or maybe both of us…). Continue reading

The Road Less Traveled

Create New Roads | Think Like a Counselor

In my current job, I drive. I also do a lot of counseling, but some days it feels like I do more driving than counseling, because I meet clients in their homes or schools if they are unable to make it to our office. Prior to this job, I had a sadly basic navigational understanding of greater New Orleans. I knew my neighborhood fairly well, but Metairie was a bit fuzzy for me (do I take the Clearview or Causeway exit to get to Target? Causeway I think? Wait, that’s for the mall…is it?) and Kenner was a complete mystery (airport, car dealerships? That’s all I’ve got). I relied pretty heavily on my GPS for the first few months, still managing to get lost several times, but my brain gradually started to make connections and patterns and understand where I was in relation to other roads at any given time. I even started using navigational directions, like east and west and all that crazy stuff! My dad was so proud.

Slowly, a map of New Orleans formed in my mind that resembled a giant spider web of interconnected roads and routes rather than just a straight line of I-10 with a great murky swamp of mystery surrounding it. Then, an amazing thing began happening: I often found myself with multiple routes to choose from, and I could pick which one based on traffic, simplicity, or just for hell of it! I know this sounds simple, but for the directionally challenged, it was an amazing, empowering feeling. I learned the magic of River Road to Causeway, the bliss of Earhart Expressway, the chokeholds of I-10 at rush hour and how to avoid them—it was like learning a foreign language and suddenly I was fluent (okay, maybe just conversational). The point is, I had options now, and it made driving so much more interesting for me. Continue reading