white iphone gold colored pen and round gold colored cup

Using a Therapy Journal and How to Maximize It

If you are participating in therapy, how are you tracking your progress? Do you have a therapy journal you are using to write down key questions, track your mood, or practice gratitude? If not, how do you even know if therapy is working for you?

healing journal by Analee Phang

Journal therapy is very much a thing, but even if you aren’t working with a therapist that specializes in this form of therapy, you can still use a journal to get more out of your therapy process. Therapy can take time from months to years, and tracking that journey can be a useful way to recognize progress along the way.

When you decide to bring a journal to your therapy sessions there are some key points to write down and keep track of…

Therapy Plan

example of treatment plan from Healing Journal

Keep track of your therapy plan. That includes who your therapist is, how to contact them, and their license. (You would be surprised how many times clients forget their therapist’s phone number.) It also includes what you want your treatment to look like. Therapist’s will often call this a “treatment plan” and note your diagnosis and therapy goals on their end. You should also know what you are working on and what your end goal is. Make note of little steps to your goals and check off progress you have made!

Safety Plan

Safety is a therapist’s number one priority in the therapy room, and ultimately it should be yours as well. If you have struggled with unsafe thinking in the past, it can be crucial to have a safety plan readily available as you navigate your mental health journey, so keeping one in your therapy journal can be super useful. Safety plans usually contain 4 key components:

Example of safety plan from healing Journal
  1. Warning Signs
  2. Coping Skills
  3. Support People
  4. Crisis Resources

Calendar

Example of calendar from healing journal

The most basic component of a good journal is a way to keep track of time. Having a calendar or at least a place to date your entries is essential. You will most likely be meeting with your therapist on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, so keeping track of upcoming events that may interfere with that regularity can be important. It can also save you from playing “phone tag” with your therapist to figure out a good time to reschedule or cancel. (Nobody likes getting charged a late cancellation fee.)

Mood & Self Care Trackers

Example of mood and self care trackers from Healing Journal

There are a couple universal things that therapists usually want to know about, and keeping track of them throughout therapy can be a clear indicator of how well you are taking care of yourself. Those things are your sleep, your eating habits, and your exercise routine. These are the basic, foundational components of our self care, so if these are not in a good place, all the other self care isn’t going to be as helpful as you may like it to be. In addition to tracking the self care in your life, tracking your mood can give you some sound data on what triggers certain emotions and how your sleep and other self care activities affect how you feel.

Additionally, making notes in a journal during or after a therapy session can help you remember homework assigned, important questions asked, and highlights from the progress you have made since the last session. You can also use a therapy journal to practice daily gratitude or write down affirmations that speak to your current journey. Making full use of a therapy journal can make your mental health journey that much more meaningful.

If you are looking for a journal that helps outline these key components (like the pages above) check out the Healing Journal! Here’s to hoping your therapy journey leads to peace, love, and happiness in your life!

peace, love, happiness, Lee
how to maximize your therapy journal
Healing Journal

Purchase the 90-Day therapy journal on Amazon!

woman in grey jacket sits on bed uses grey laptop

Top 3 Blogs of 2021 at Simplee Therapy

2021 has been a doozy of a year, and who knows what 2022 has in store. One thing is for certain though, we have all taken a look at how we can improve our mental health and relationships. Simplee Therapy has always been a space about making therapy simple and providing relatable information on how to improve ourselves and the relationships we keep. Check out the top three posts this year to reflect on some of the things we have learned!

concerned black couple sitting on bed in misunderstanding

Coming Together for Interracial Couples

2021 has been a hard year for a lot of couples. Navigating financial strains, health issues, loss of family, working from home, then toss in racial injustice on top of all of that, and some new questions and values may have been surfaced throughout the past 24 months. Take a look back on some important topics to be addressed in an interracial relationship.

Engagement Anxiety

Although 2021 had its not so great moments, there were also plenty of beautiful expressions of love. Realizing you want to spend the rest of your life with someone is a momentous occasion. Excitement may be the initial feeling for many, but anxiety can also show up for those approaching happily ever after. Take a look back on how to cope with a wedding pending.

You’ve Decided to Go to Therapy: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Scheduling Your First Appointment

So many individuals made 2021 the year to start their mental health journey, and what an important step that is! Maybe you were still on the fence about starting down that path of introspection, and that’s okay. Check out the three questions to help you start navigating your mental health journey with intention and openness to the process.

Take a look back and see what will be helpful on your therapy journey. Starting a new mental health journey? Check out the Healing Journal to track your therapy progress!

peace, love, happiness, Lee

Self Care Needs to Be a Priority

Learning How to Incorporate Self Care in Your Life

Everyone is talking about self care, but what is it really? Well as mental health has become a less taboo topic in many communities, so has the idea that taking care of yourself can be your number one priority.

Black woman practicing self care with her feet up on table and smiling

You’re probably thinking, “What?? I’m allowed to put myself first?!?” YES!

Self care is not equivalent to being selfish. I repeat, self care is NOT selfish. It is simply the term used to describe the fact that if you are in a healthy state both physically, mentally, and spiritually, then you are better able to show up in the many roles you may play in your life. Whether you are a student, employee, entrepreneur, mother, wife, caregiver, etc., prioritizing taking care of YOU means you are putting your best foot forward in all these areas. Ultimately you are serving those relationships better.

So how do I do this ‘self care’ you speak of??”

Well let me tell you, it is simpler than you think. Self care lives on a spectrum from merely meeting your basic needs to full on pampering yourself. It can be free or very expensive, but that is up to you. It is all about partaking in activities and being intentional about doing things that make you feel good.

“Where do I sign up!?”

Hold on. Before you start booking massage appointments and buying face masks, you need to identify what is it you really need. Pause and get in tune with your body. What are the things that would make your soul smile? Taking the time to really get a grip on your needs allows you to be more intentional about your self care.

Maybe you have been feeling really low, and been having a hard time even getting out of bed. Maybe your self care is just opening a window or taking a long shower. Maybe you have been pulling non-stop overtime at your job and what you really need is a vacation day or two. Maybe you are a new mom who hasn’t gotten a good nights sleep in ages and calling a family member over to watch the little one while you nap is what you really need. This is ALL self care!

“Wow. I didn’t even realize it was that deep.”

Yeah. Taking the time to prioritize yourself and shift your mindset can almost be more work than actually doing the things that make you feel your best, but once you figure this all out the relief it brings is so worth it. Consider getting some help along this process by finding a therapist that fits your needs and can collaborate with you on creating a unique plan for taking care of yourself. Having someone to talk to in and of itself can be just the self care you needed.

bath tub with candle and towel laid close by, How to actually implement self care

Engagement Anxiety

How You Really Feel After a Proposal

Has nervousness and anxiety crept up on you after a recent engagement? Whether you were recently proposed to or hoping to take your relationship to the next level, here’s some ways to manage the anxiety that often follows…

There are a lot of big moments in your life, and getting proposed to is arguably in the top 5. The society we live in has created a billion dollar business off of couples committing themselves to one another. You may be knees deep in bridal magazines, color swatches, Instagram feeds of brides and grooms and venues…oh my! And although everyone may ask you, “How did they propose??”, very few may ask, “How are you feeling about getting married?”

Cue the engagement anxiety.

Everyone expects you to be smiling from ear to ear for the next year or two as you plan the “biggest day of your life”, but you may feel as if nothing but stress and worry and doubt are flooding over you. Some brides-to-be (or Grooms-to-be) may start finding small things to nit-pick about their partner…”His teeth aren’t white enough.”, “Her toes are strange”, “They don’t understand me!” Things you didn’t even notice before become these huge question marks looming over your relationship.

Where does this anxiety come from? Is it normal? And what do you do about it?? Here’s 5 steps to resolving your engagement anxiety…

black woman looking off at ocean somberly, anxiety about engagement

 1. Be Aware That You Are Not Alone

Engaged women all over the world are panicking at this very moment about whether they should get married or not…they just aren’t telling anyone (other than their therapist). So you are not alone. You are allowed to have some anxiety about a new life transition and how your role in your relationship might change as a fiancé or spouse. There is no other time in life when you make a commitment to stay with one thing/person, literally forever…even kids leave the nest after 18 years. If there was a list of “legitimate reasons to be anxious”, this would definitely be on that list.

2. Recognize What Role Anxiety has Played in Your Life

Step 2 is to realize that anxiousness is present for different people at different times. Some people have dealt with crippling anxiety their entire lives, and are not surprised when this anxiety shows up in the middle of the proposal. Others have never felt anxious at all, so anxiety about their engagement feels extremely scary and completely new. Recognizing other times you have felt anxious allows you to recognize what skills you used to calm yourself down, and also allows you to recognize what may have been a trigger for this bout of anxiety. These questions you ask yourself may very likely be questions you also hear in a therapy session with your counselor.

woman doing yoga on hill at sunset

3. Do Some #SimpleSelfCare

When people hear “Self Care” they often think of a day at the spa or a vacation, but the key to good self care is consistency and small doses. Doing something as simple as buying your favorite coffee creamer to put in your instant coffee in the morning, or setting your alarm 10 minutes early so you can cuddle with your partner in the morning before you start your busy days. Those are the most effective ways to take care of yourself…what I call #SimpleSelfCare. Doing these little things will help reduce your level of anxiety and remind you that you are in control of how you feel. Being mindful of your breathing is another small adjustment that can have a big impact.

Some practice…breathe in (hold it)…1…2…3…4…5…breathe out. *Repeat until anxiety has subsided*

4. Communicate with Your Fiancé

Let’s be honest all this engagement anxiety is your partner’s fault. They just had to divulge their undying love for you in the form of a proposal. But really, if your anxiety is truly wrapped up in the engagement it is very important to talk with your partner about how you are feeling. Chances are they may already have noticed a shift in your demeanor or behaviors due to the anxiety. Discuss with them what is triggering to your anxiety and give suggestions on how they can help make you feel more comfortable. Whether that means them rubbing your back if you have a small panic attack or them chiming in when another person asks, “Have you set a date??” (*Side Note* that is honestly the most annoying question). Cluing your partner in to how you are feeling is a skill that is important now, and will be important for the rest of your relationship, so might as well get in some practice.

woman's hand holding man's hand, woman has engagement ring on, engagement anxiety

5. Go to Premarital Counseling

Last, but definitely not least…go to premarital counseling! I know that I am biased because as a therapist I recommend therapy for any and all things, BUT this is one of the most ideal times in a relationship to go through couples therapy (it’s also one of therapists’ favorite stages to see a couple in). Premarital counseling is ideal because (hopefully) there aren’t any real problems in the relationship yet. This is the stage that you can really take a look at your partner and say I want to love this person unconditionally, and I’ll take whatever tools necessary to make that happen. When couples come into therapy 4, 7, or 10+ years into a marriage with a laundry list of reasons they want out, therapists often spend most of their time trying to get couples back to this place of wanting to try their hardest. Go now, so you can talk about all those little concerns and start building your tool box of skills that help you communicate with and love on your partner in all the best ways!

peace, love, happiness, Lee
5 ways to handle engagement anxiety with wedding rings in background

“Out of Office”: Why Vacations are Important for Your Mental Health

Summer isn’t quite over yet, thankfully. But have you taken your vacation yet? As a kid many of us experienced yearly 1-3 month vacations from school, stress, and generally any responsibilities. Then we became adults and all those glorious breaks disappeared. Tragic.

Have you ever wished you took better advantage of those breaks? And if you had those breaks now, what would you do with them??

If you can think of even one thing to answer that question with, you probably could use a vacation. Vacations are a luxury, yes. But vacations can also be a necessity. A break used intentionally can make all the difference in your ability to work and interact with others.

coconut trees

Why take a vacation and what are you suppose to spend your time doing? The short answers, 1. Self care and 2. What you want to do, not need to do. Taking a break is all about taking a step back from all the duties and to do lists and really giving yourself some intentional lovin’. Vacations allow for intentional self care. The busy work weeks often leave minimal time to check in with yourself and how your mind and body are feeling. Vacation is free time to really dive deep into this self care and make yourself feel good again. Doing what you want with no time constraints or restrictions makes whatever it is you are doing more enjoyable. Cherish this time.

Giving your mind and body a break from the daily hustle allows you time to reflect on your goals, your values, and your desires. These vacations can be mini or extravagant. Whether you take a day off just to sleep in and head to the beach, or take 2 weeks off for massages and world travel. This time is about fulfilling those aspects of life that get put on the back burner throughout the rest of the year. You should feel refreshed, relaxed, and energized after a break.

You may be asking yourself, “How can I even afford to take a vacation?” Here is the key. Vacation is not about stunting on the “gram” or out doing your coworkers. Vacation is about you and how you feel during and after that time off. If you spend all your time focused on taking the perfect picture you are going to come back feeling just as stressed and depleted as when you left. If you really want to be intentional and relaxed plan ahead, and live within your means. Maybe you can’t afford a week off, but maybe you can afford a day or two tacked onto an upcoming holiday weekend. Put in that request now, and not only will you have something to look forward to over the next few weeks, but you will have all your coworkers jealous when you come back to work the day after them.

 

pexels-photo-1131575

Do you need to be a world traveler or can you just be a local tourist? My husband and I love using our vacation time to pretend to be tourists in our own city. We try out restaurants during the day that we don’t usually have time in the evening to go to, or we take off time mid-week when normal attractions are empty to feel like we have the whole place to ourselves. We use our time to connect with each other and have those in depth conversations that we don’t always get to have because the little one is needing attention. Parent hack: if you have a little one in daycare or school…leave them their! Take those 8 undisturbed hours to enjoy your partner! It’s cheaper, easier, and trust me they won’t even know you were having fun all day when you go to pick them up from school. 😉

Make vacation your own! Use the time to connect with yourself and your loved ones. Do the things that make your body and mind feel good. Get that dopamine flowing, and have some fun!

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