Give us a Call
(647) 961-9669
Hours
Mon - Thurs: 8AM - 9PM | Fri: 8AM - 7PM | Sat - Sun: 10AM - 5PM

Self-Care in Our Technology Driven World

I admit, it is very tempting to throw around words like “self-care” in the context of therapy. Sometimes, what ends up happening when words are so easily used is that we forget their true intention and meaning.

Self-care as it is used today is about finding ways to attend to ourselves. In today’s busy world we really forget to pay attention to ourselves as boundaries and limits are blurred by technology and the mentality of always “being on”. Without giving ourselves any true time off, we tend to feel anxious, stressed, stuck, alone, unable to connect with others, and unproductive to name a few things. It is now more important than ever to use self-care strategies in order to maintain our physical and mental health, which ultimately helps to manage our stress.

Here are three self-care strategies to use in our technology driven world:

  • Unplug from technology. In theory, this is about taking time away from technology so we can have a few minutes of peace in our lives. It’s important to think about how you’ll unplug from technology. This can include:
    • deactivating a social media account for awhile (for example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)
    • putting your phone on airplane mode for at least an hour
    • putting your gadgets away in a drawer or another room – out of sight, out of mind
  • Use the time you’re unplugging from technology to do something you enjoy or used to enjoy. Go for a walk, read a book, go see family and/or friends, try a new hobby, take a nap, or maybe learn to practice mindfulness.
  • When you reconnect with technology, challenge yourself to delay responding to texts and emails unless if it’s urgent. This one can be tricky, because it’s easy to tell ourselves something is super important and needs to be responded to immediately.
    • Put your thoughts through a test: if you wouldn’t call someone that moment to respond to them, it’s probably not urgent and can wait.
    • By setting different expectations we ourselves can feel less of an urgency, which will make it easier to unplug from technology.

There are some very interesting pieces on the history and importance of self-care you can read about:

By taking time away from technology we are caring for ourselves and giving ourselves opportunities to connect with our internal needs. If you’re wondering about how to develop more strategies to help improve your life, you can always develop these strategies with a life coach, counsellor, or therapist. Please visit here for more information, or email vivian@balancedmindandwellness.com to book an appointment.

 

6 Tips for Overcoming Holiday Anxiety and Stress

It is known that a stable routine can reduce psychological problems like anxiety. Our daily schedule is safe and predictable. The end of the year involves an unavoidable change of routine. While we may look forward to the change, it can also cause us to feel unsafe and overwhelmed.

 

These six tips may help lower your stress levels during the holidays:

 

  1. Plan ahead

Create a list of people you would like to buy gifts for, and some ideas you have for them. Look up some fun recipes for meals or baking that you want to try this year. Have fun with it, too – pick up some decorations to get yourself in the spirit ahead of time!

 

  1. Stick to a budget

Decide what you want to spend over Christmas and stick to your budget to avoid anxiety over money. If your family and/ or friends are up for it, secret Santa (a draw) can also reduce anxiety by avoiding last-minute shopping and the need to find the ‘right gift’.

 

  1. Stay Social

Surround yourself with people you like. If being around your relatives provides stress, keep family gatherings to a minimum and celebrate with friends who you can just be yourself with.

 

  1. Learn to say no

You don’t have to attend every social occasion you’re invited to. It’s okay to put yourself first and balance what’s important to you this season. Make a list and prioritize your needs for the month or week ahead to ensure you’re taking care of (and enjoying) yourself.

 

  1. Don’t abandon healthy habits

It’s important to maintain some of your healthy habits. You may not feel like it, but there’s a lot of evidence that exercise can help with anxiety and depression. It will be worth cutting back on some of the ‘holiday hangover’.

 

  1. Take a breather

Take time to do things you want to do, rather than things you feel you have to do. When you feel overwhelmed, go for a walk, have a bath, or take that little break to spend some time with you.

 

If you have any questions or would like help with working to reduce stress and anxiety during the holiday season, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

Seasonal Affective Disorder: The Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. More specifically, entering the cold fall and/or winter seasons for us Canadians can be challenging. Long term changes in the weather, like harsh winters, can affect our sense of well-being. If you find yourself feeling very different dependent on the season, you may be experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or depression.

 

What we recognize:

  • It is colder and darker out
  • You have less energy
  • You feel like ‘hibernating’, since it is harder to go outside
  • Social withdrawal: it is harder to make plans, or stick to them
  • You feel like sleeping all the time, or you are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep
  • You are tired all the time
  • Your appetite has changed, particularly more cravings for sugar and carbohydrate rich foods
  • You feel hopeless
  • You feel more irritable
  • You feel sad, guilty, and down on yourself

 

What is really happening:

  • Our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms are thrown off. Due to reduced levels of sunlight, our bodies feel a disruption to our internal clocks.
  • Our serotonin levels can drop, which creates a decline in positive moods, or happiness. The reduced sunlight this time of year can cause less serotonin production in our bodies. This can trigger depression, or depressive periods.
  • Our melatonin levels can become imbalanced time of year. As a result, our sleep patterns and mood change, making both unpredictable and more challenging to regulate.

 

You do not have to struggle with these symptoms. Break the cycle with tips from our upcoming article: How to Beat the Winter Blues.

To learn more about depression counselling and how to reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), visit https://etobicokepsychotherapy.com/depression-counselling-etobicoke/, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

Relationship Issues: Let Your Guard Down

One of the most common relationship issues is not being able to let your guard down. We become defensive when we don’t want to expose our feelings or ‘true self’. It’s time to be vulnerable and stop pushing people away! How? Read the following tips to being more open and stop shutting out opportunities!

1. Find the right people to trust

Have people let you down in the past? Chances are, this will prevent you from opening up to new people now and in the future. However, the harsh reality is: not everyone is like that, and there are other great people you can rely on… if you let them get to know you. That ‘if’ is key. Communication is key to building relationships and trust. Start looking for those people to build the relationship you want!

 2. Identify your comfort zone… and get out of it

There is comfort and security in keeping to yourself, but now it’s time to experiment by taking risks. Slowly, start exposing yourself by doing things you would not normally do. Introduce yourself to someone that looks friendly. The first step is not easy. Chances are, the other person will be glad you did!

3. Let your feelings show

Don’t be afraid of sharing your feelings with your friends and family. Letting them know what you are feeling and thinking can be a great release, and they can give you valuable advice. This doesn’t mean saying every single thing that’s on your mind – just let go of those worries and stresses you really don’t need to hold onto! Relationship issues often stem from not sharing or communicating enough, even with friends and family. 

4. Stop avoiding being vulnerable

Building a ‘tough’ appearance by holding everything in can be exhausting. You can be fiercely independent and full of emotions. You don’t always have to be on your toes. Stop equating expression of emotions as weak and helpless. Most people see and feel strength in showing vulnerability.

5. Be forward

There is no better way to let your guard down than by just being straightforward with others about your feelings and intentions. Try it – it really is quite liberating! After spending so much hiding your emotions, being straightforward with yourself and others can be very rewarding.

6. Stop being pessimistic and critical

One of the main reasons why many people put up walls is because they are afraid of getting hurt and used by people. This becomes a pattern where we make assumptions and form false perceptions of people who might be honest and sincere. People aren’t always selfish – they are often genuinely interested in you. Let others get to know you on another level – let yourself connect!

7. Give people a chance

Why not take risks and give people a chance? Let them in! It might be hard to do and you might get hurt at some point, but you can also reassure yourself that expressing your feelings or emotions with others is worth it. Risks are meant to be made, and all relationships have some element of risk!

Whether it is at work, in a romantic relationship, or with family and friends, let your guard down! Stop experiencing the same relationship issues when you are the one with the simple fix!

To learn more about relationship counselling and how to work on letting your guard down in specific relationships, visit https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/relationship-counselling-etobicoke/ , call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

 

Relationship Issues: Does Your Partner Know the Real You?

Often, the cause of many relationship issues, is lack of communication. A main reason this happens is because we are worried about or ashamed of what the other person will think if we say what is actually on our mind. This is when we hold back and don’t necessarily show or express our values and beliefs to our partner. So what does it mean to be the ‘real you’ with your partner?

– Would you rather show your partner a ‘false you’ and keep a perfect image? Or would you accept your partner knowing the real, imperfect you, not having the most favourable at all times? If you turn the tables, what do you think your partner would want?

– Would you rather remain guarded and difficult to read? Or would you rather let yourself be vulnerable to your partner? What do you think your partner would want?

It can be intimidating to think deeply about these questions. Being your true self is risky: it opens up the door to rejection. But, ask yourself this: if you haven’t shared your inner feelings or been totally honest, then has your partner accepted a ‘false you’? Honesty and authenticity makes it possible to have a deep connection, supported by acceptance and understanding. Chances are, if you take the risk, your partner will, too. It takes courage to do so, but you will experience relief and a deeper sense of intimacy once you take the plunge.

Being yourself is associated with higher self-esteem and satisfaction in relationships. It is not only associated with benefits for yourself, but also for your relationship. While it is important to make a conscious effort to share more with your partner, it is equally important for you to encourage them to share more with you. Exposing your ‘true self’ to your partner leads to increased trust over time. If you worry about trust or have relationship issues related to it, then consider this as a step to gaining a more secure attachment. Trust drives overall relationship satisfaction and commitment.

Building a relationship in which you can comfortably be yourself may be a great start to a satisfying partnership. Communicate with each other, take a risk, and be yourself.

If you feel stuck and unsure of how to approach sharing this part of you with your partner, relationship counselling with a professional can be extremely beneficial.

 

Rise Above Stigma! Mental Health Awareness

Rise Above Stigma! Bell Let’s Talk Day: Wednesday, January 28, 2015!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 is an important reminder of how we should think about, talk about, act, and treat others with mental illness. Not just today, but every day.

WHY? Most people cannot afford treatment to or are on a wait list for months.

MESSAGE:

If you are currently experiencing concerns about your own mental health, having difficulty managing emotions, or having trouble creating or maintaining healthy relationships, please act now. Remember that it takes courage and strength to reach out for help from loved ones or a mental health professional. This help is one difficult, yet life-changing step away. Help yourself and get help from people who care about you (and want to help you)!

We all struggle in life from time to time in our own ways. Take the time to assess your own self-esteem and emotional well-being, noticing any negative changes in your usual behaviours. Awareness of such changes, a strong desire for the suffering to end, and a willingness to help others is that next step you need toward reestablishing more meaning and positivity.

TAKE ACTION:

Take care of yourself, first and foremost. Practice mental wellness. Do what it takes to make you happy. Actively set aside that extra time in a day, week, and month to focus on you and how you can continually contribute to your overall wellbeing.
-Spend less on takeout, and more on pampering yourself.

Refrain from judging or criticizing those who have been labelled with or who have symptoms of a mental health disorder.
-Be conscious to avoid derogatory or hurtful terms that may offend those suffering with a disease.

Talk about therapy and encourage those around you to go. Never judge or criticize those who are seeking treatment for mental illness.
-Why don’t question medication for physical illness?

Listen to those around you with mental illness and ask questions.
-Learn about what they are going through and how you can help them, or how you can help prevent others from experiencing the negative effects of a similar disease.

Educate yourself on how you can help to spread awareness of the life-threatening effects of a mental health disorder (and how it impacts you or loved ones).

FAQS

– Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism. (The Mental Health Commission of Canada)

– 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. (Canadian Institute of Health Research)

– At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression. (CMHA)

MOTIVATION TO END STIGMA:

**Make the choice to rise above stigma and be more aware of your acceptance and non-judgment, toward yourself, those around you, and society in general.

**We need to make mental healthcare more accessible, affordable, and acceptable. You, as members in society, as a collective, have the power to influence that. Start by taking care of ‘you’ and others around you!

Here is more information on how psychotherapy or counselling can benefit you or those around you: https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/etobicoke-psychotherapy-counselling/

Steps to Build Your Confidence

We tend to get down on ourselves at certain times of the year, and the winter can be one of them. Take this as a healthy reminder to always work on yourself – there really is always room for self-improvement. It’s important to keep in mind that there are steps to build your confidence, rather than wallowing in self-created misery. Please read the following tips that are helpful to you or anyone around you. You create your own happiness, and you can increase your confidence with these simple suggestions.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Trying to live up to or compete with someone else’s personal standards is a losing game. Instead, focus on being the best YOU that you can be.

Compliment yourself regularly, either by looking in the mirror and noting something you like about yourself, writing it in a journal or cell phone note. Don’t tell me you can’t think of one thing every so often. It’s great to compliment others on their success, as long as we make sure to do the same for ourselves.

Exercise consistently, at least 30 minutes of exercise several times a week, to strengthen your body, to burn calories, and to relieve stress. Exercising also provides a sense of empowerment that can positively enhance your self-esteem.

Simply smile. The mere act of smiling changes blood flow to the brain and can actually makes you feel happier and relieve tension and stress. A smile sets off chemical and physical reactions within your mind and body, releasing endorphins that boost your mood and increase confidence.

Focus on your accomplishments. Forgive yourself for mistakes, let go of guilt, and focus on the positive by celebrating your victories. Consider writing down your accomplishments, so you can review them when you’re feeling down. This will help to renew or revive your confidence.

Get the support you need to succeed. Take steps, rather than procrastinating, to accomplish your wellness goals. For example, join a gym class, where fellow members will help keep you motivated.

Make a list of your positive qualities. Write down at least ten positive qualities about yourself and return to this list as often as needed to boost your confidence.

Find something special in each day. Even if it’s in a small way, do something pleasant and rewarding, like catching up on your favorite television show, calling a friend to catch up, or indulging in a bubble bath.

Eat better. Pay attention to your food choices and nourish your body. Buy healthier foods and prepare well-balanced meals that will help give you energy and feel like your best self. If you eat poorly and/or overeat, your mood and confidence will reflect this negativity.

Finally and most often forgotten: explore a passion. Whether it’s a side job, hobby, or volunteer work, any small effort can lead to a sense of purpose and significantly improve your overall happiness and quality of life.

For more information on self-esteem counselling and ways to improve your confidence, call 647-961-9669, email carlyclifton@gmail.com, or visit:  https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/

 

Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Are you struggling with your confidence lately? Do you find your self-esteem is lower than usual? It could be someone’s comments, or a certain event that made you feel this way. At times, self-esteem decreases due to certain triggers. Whether your self-esteem is still going strong, fading, or feels like it has disappeared, it is important for us all to take steps to maintain and increase our confidence. Here are some things to keep in mind.

– Recognize and embrace your positive qualities. Make a list of all your assets including skills, experiences, talents, and anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure to include compliments that others have given you as well (even if you don’t agree with them).

– Accept yourself as a whole package, rather than focusing on the little parts. Accept that you are not perfect, and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise. Remind yourself of the positive characteristics that define you and have made you succeed, even in the littlest ways.

– Trust that you are competent, and remind yourself of all the problems you have faced and come through. Find ways to learn new skills if you feel defeated or unsure of how to deal with a certain problem. Take the steps necessary to do so. Take on new challenges, acknowledge accomplishments, and make note of when you go that extra mile and how it made you feel.

– Believe in your own worth, and make yourself a priority some of the time. Think of something you want to do and do it. Be selfish when you need to be – it’s exhausting trying to be selfless all the time.

– Think about your mistakes, or perceived mistakes, in a positive way. See them as opportunities to learn, and change your ways accordingly. This is your chance to move forward – not to feel guilty or embarrassed.

Need help learning ways to increase YOUR confidence and self-esteem? Want to learn the tools and skills to achieving a happier way of being?

For more information on how to increase your self-esteem or confidence, please see https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/, or call 647-961-9669/ email carlyclifton@gmail.com

What is Social Anxiety? Learn more for you or someone you know

Social anxiety is one of the most common psychological disorders that is affecting more people than we may realize. It is important to be aware of you or people around you who may be showing variations of these symptoms. Extreme shyness is one way to think of social anxiety. Social anxiety exists along a continuum, ranging from normal shyness to high degrees of social anxiety. Social anxiety can be characterized by an intense fear of specific or all social settings. This usually also involves a heightened self-focus, and avoidance or escaping social situations. Sound familiar? This could be finding excuses not to attend a certain party or to socialize with certain people that make you feel uncomfortable. And if you do go to an uncomfortable event or surround yourself with people who make you feel this way, you may often leave early.

People who experience this social anxiety are extremely attentive to other people’s feelings, but they misread them, over-interpreting anything that could be taken as a negative reaction. They are oversensitive to criticism or negative comments. As a result, people who are highly sensitive tend to be overly aware of one’s behavior and how they think they should act in certain situations. They are so caught up in how they may appear to others that they often do not enjoy many simple experiences, for fear of negative evaluation by others.

This anxious feeling and desire to avoid an event manifests in physical ways, even before they encounter the social situation. This could be shortness of breath, faster heart rates, sweating, and stomach pains. Of course, then one would worry that people around them notice these physical signs of what they are thinking and feeling. After the encounter, they replay the situation over and over in their mind. They are so hard on themselves, and falsely accuse themselves of being ineffective or appearing insecure compared to others. Consequently, these individuals want to avoid situations with people and in places that these situations have occurred in the past.

Social anxiety is highly linked to eating disorders as well. This comes from the fear of people negatively evaluating them as overweight or unattractive, leading to dietary restriction and purging behaviours. (Please see https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/eating-disorder-counselling-etobicoke/ for more information on eating disorders).

There are many basic techniques that you can work on to feel more confident and worry less about what others think of you. Please be aware if you or someone around you seems to be displaying signs of anxiety or social anxiety. Start enjoying, be comfortable with, and stop avoiding social events and people where you want to be yourself!

 

Immediate Gratification and Addiction

Immediate gratification is the need to have, do, or ingest something in the moment, and is a component of addiction and people who suffer with addictions. People with substance abuse are in continual conflict with themselves and their decision-making. Immediate gratification is also seen as indulgence for the immediate self, and prudence or guilt for the future self.

Our behavior seems to be controlled by the need for immediate gratification and the need to be concerned with the long-term satisfaction. Individuals suffering from an addiction do have both these needs, and also have a hard time balancing them. Having just a plan or goal is not enough. We are at battle with two sets of interests or ideals, and the interests of these two selves do not always coincide. Many psychologists like to view it as the mind consisting of multiple-states that may to varying degree be in conflict with one another. In this case, there is no one executive decision maker in the mind, and every decision is a cooperation of different self-states. Those with addictive personalities tend to suffer in this cooperation of self-states phase.

This problem with self-control and immediate gratification explains why we are conflicted and inconsistent in our decisions and actions. The inconsistencies of self-control is mainly about conflict between two selves (ex: the one who wants to be sober and the other who wants a drink right now). This conflict is ultimately between a person who is both motivated to act in some particular way and who is also motivated to restrain that action. The conflict in decision is there as a matter of timing, which may be impacted by a current physical or emotional state. The decision to drink, or give into another addiction, may be exacerbated by a vulnerable point in time, such as an emotional crises or a time of personal stress.

The best way to handle this self-conflict or inability to avoid immediate gratification is to increase self-awareness. It is about being aware of this change in desire before it happens, and understanding what vulnerabilities we may have to making choices we may later regret. Ultimately, we must win the battle of the good and evil, and not give into temptation. People with addictions must make conscious choices to prevent themselves from making the wrong choice if given an opportunity later. If it is going to bars that create the ultimate temptation for immediate gratification for alcohol, then it is time to avoid bars until you feel confident in your self-control. Stop yourself and think about the longterm consequences before running to what is best right now.

Please go to https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/addiction-counselling-etobicoke/ for more information or to speak to someone regarding yourself or someone you may be concerned about with an addiction or substance abuse problem.