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8 Ways to Stop Negative Thought Patterns

Negative thinking is the easiest way to slow down your progress and goals. But how do you get rid of negative thoughts? Here are 8 ways that can be helpful to shift your thoughts, and as a result, improve your mood.

 

1. BE CURIOUS

Practice curiosity, in trying to be aware of what else is going on when the thought comes up. Are you tired, stressed, or worried about something else?  When we try to ignore or push away negative thoughts, they hide for a small period of time, and then return. To counteract them, acknowledge them. A strategy that might be helpful is written or vocal recognition of the thought (to yourself).

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE

Your energy, and others’ energy, is contagious. Just as we know someone’s laugh can be infectious, it is most certainly true of positive and negative attitudes and conversations that we have around us or participate in. Notice who is around you – are their views and perspectives they project filled with optimism or pessimism?

3. REMOVE PERFECTION FROM YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Expecting everything to be perfect can be exhausting. Why continually feel as though you are disappointing yourself by failing your unrealistic expectations? It can be liberating to find a way to live on your own terms while not expecting a flawless path or end result.

4. POSITIVE MORNING ROUTINE

Thinking starts early in the morning. Negative thinking can slow you, your tasks, and your day down. What can be helpful and effective here is to start your day by replacing thoughts of fear with thoughts of hope and belief. A way to kick-start these thoughts is by reading something encouraging and positive every morning. If you prefer to listen to something instead, there are many podcasts that serve as quick mindful reminders, such as one from here or here.

5. JUST BREATHE

Building reminders and scheduling time in your calendar  to relax or to just breathe will bring you more self-awareness. In order to stop negative thoughts, it is important to first acknowledge and recognize which thoughts are negative or judgmental. The trick is not to judge yourself or get caught up in your negative thoughts. Here are some helpful relaxation strategies and techniques that may be helpful.

6. BE INTENTIONAL

Assuming a positive attitude is an intentional action that starts as soon as you wake up in the morning. You have the ability to acknowledge and remove negative thoughts, by shifting your attitude. You are able to choose to attract what you focus on, and to let go of that which does not serve your goals. The more you practice positive mind-shifts, the easier it becomes. For example, it may be helpful to create a 2 column chart, write the negative thoughts in the left column, and replace them with a positive thought in the right column. After both are complete, cross out the statements in the left column.

7. THE GOAL > WHAT IF

No matter where you are in your life path, there will always be room to let negative thoughts exist. When you start to feel negative, try to remember why you are there (at that time, doing that task, in that moment). Focus on where you are headed and why that is important to you. Think about the goal you have set, and where you want to be.

8. THE ROOT PROBLEM

Most negative thinking stems from a problem is hard to determine from the surface. These negative thought patterns are sometimes ingrained in us early on and have become part of our way of life. In order to overcome these negative thought patterns, it is helpful to figure out the underlying reason these patterns continue to show up. It is only then that you will be able to address and solve the issue. Therapists can help you with this.

 

You can’t get rid of negative thought patterns unless you can understand what they are. Get to know your negative thinking and how it gets triggered. Only with that self-awareness can you begin to identify when it is happening and make a choice to shift your perspective in time

 

Written by Carly Clifton, Director & Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

 

To learn more about how we can support you with developing positive thought patterns, and shift away from those unrealistic expectations, contact us at 647-961-9669 or info@balancedmindandwellness.com.

Trust and Relationships: Part 2

When we enter a relationship with someone new, when we feel hurt by another person’s actions, or when we hurt our partner, it is common to avoid certain conversations. However, when we pull away, we create distance in our relationship. We fear scaring the other person or pushing them away in the short-term, when in reality, talking to them could help narrow the gap in the long-term.

 

Here are 8 ways to build and maintain trust in relationships:

 

1. Accept the Effort

 

Do not assume you are worthy of or take the concept of trust for granted. We have to be willing to maintain trust within a relationship. It is important to make it a priority so that our partner feels connected to us, and vice versa. It is possible that we may lose pieces of trust from our partner, and it is crucial to be willing to rebuild those elements.

 

2. Stick to Your Word / Do as You Say

 

A large component of trust with your partner is trust relative to reliability. It is important that your partner knows they can ask you for a favour, or to help them with something, and feel confident that you will follow through. These items can be minor or major, and in the end, they add up to your partner knowing they can count on you. For example, if you ask your partner to bring toilet paper home on their way home from work, it is something they can reasonably expect you do (unless you communicate otherwise along the way).

 

3. Communicate Openly and in Person

 

Think about what you would like to know, and provide your partner with that same opportunity. When you are curious, your partner likely is to. In addition to being open, the method of which you choose to relay information is important. The meaning and tone of a message can be misinterpreted over text, or even on the phone. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall body language are very important pieces that your partner picks up on. Communicating needs can be hard as is, so removing the extra layers of communication over text can leave less open to interpretation.

 

4. Let Go of Judgments

 

Your partner may bring forth some information, a need, or a request that you may not understand. It is fair to not agree with every item your partner brings forth; however, it is important to acknowledge and try to see their perspective. You might not understand why something is important to your partner, but the fact that it is important is all that matters. Before you can trust, you must respect each other and your differences without judgment.

 

5. Be Vulnerable with Each Other

 

It is much easier to keep information in about yourself than to share it. The deep-seated secrets and fears that you may not feel comfortable sharing are those pieces that can bring you so much closer to each other. How do you feel when others share their fears and struggles with you? Those that share with you have let you in, and made it easier for you to share back. So, you will be amazed at what can happen if you do share one little piece. Chances are, your partner will tell you something new that you can learn about them.

 

6. Forgive Each Other

 

You may have a very solid base of trust between each other, and at the same time, it is possible that you may feel hurt or you may hurt your partner. We are imperfect human beings, and mistakes can happen. Know that it is unlikely your partner will say or do something to intentionally hurt you. Holding onto transgressions or mishaps will only erode the trust in the relationship. We should feel the ability to make mistakes and accept responsibility thereafter, without it being a constant source of contention. Letting go of the hurt, accepting the apology and moving on builds a trust based on honesty and love for the other person. If past betrayals surface, resist the urge to dwell on them. It will get in the way of fostering healthy relationships you are working to build now.

 

7. Self-development and Self-care

 

Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others. Taking care of you is the opposite of being selfish, as it strengthens you, and enables you to better support everyone you are connected to. In any relationship, it is important for the people in it to grow as a couple and as individuals. Personal growth helps maintain the relationship and trust in each other.

 

8. Be Supportive

 

It is important in any relationship to be supportive of the other person. Support may include being physically present and providing physical affection to the person, or it may be giving emotional comfort through validation and words of affirmation. To learn more about the type of support your partner appreciates, and to understand your needs better, take the ‘5 Love Languages’ Quiz. It is even more important to show that support when we are in a stage of building trust. This involves both parties in the relationship feeling comfortable to take a risk, be vulnerable, make mistakes or try new things, knowing their partner will be there to catch them if they fall. Supporting your partner creates a united team, easing the feelings of loneliness.

 

If we do not take the time to understand what our partner is looking for in a relationship, or express our needs and feelings, it can be difficult to build and/ or continue to grow a strong foundation of trust. Relationship counselling can be a helpful way to work through these issues.

 

See our previous article on ‘Trust and Relationships: Part 1’ to understand and check in relationship on some major aspects of trust. 

 

Written by Carly Clifton, Director & Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

 

To learn more about how we can support you with building trust in your current and/ or future relationships, contact us at 647-961-9669 or info@balancedmindandwellness.com.

 

 

Trust and Relationships: Part 1

Elements of Trust in a Relationship

 

Trust is a concept that almost always comes up in starting, working through, or picking up the pieces in all of our relationships. The reason it continues to be ever-present is because it filters through all avenues of our life. When you first think of ‘trust’, you might automatically think of it in relation to ‘fidelity’ or ‘infidelity’. While this is a very important aspect of trust, it is one of many elements that are important to foster in partnerships.

 

Trust is not a black and white concept. It is very unlikely that you fully trust a person or fully distrust them. It is far more likely that you trust certain people in certain respects and other people in other ways.

Below, we have outlined 6 major parts of trust that deserve attention and energy in your relationship.

 

1. Fidelity

The first form of trust we think of in relationships is fidelity. It is important that, without previous transgressions among the two of you, you are able to provide that partner with full trust that they will be faithful to you and only you.

However, if elements of emotional or physical unfaithfulness do arise, it is important to accept that you will be able trust them again in this area, with time and effort. It will be harmful, not helpful, to hold grudges against your partner who might have slipped up.

It is important to recognize when your partner might be hurt, or when you might have hurt your partner. If the ‘betrayer’ wants to salvage the relationship, it will be beneficial to become completely transparent for a period of time (such as no secret passwords, meetings, etc). Over time, the ‘injured’ partner, will need to accept that the total transparency will not be forever useful, and will need to, one again, trust in the dark.

If you have not experienced incidents of infidelity in your relationship, it will be important to continue to provide words and actions that demonstrate your commitment and loyalty to them.

 

2. Physical Safety

Whether or not this has been a concern for you in the past, it is an important element of trust. This area emphasizes being able to feel safe in their presence (such as knowing they will not violate your sense of personal safety and wellbeing), being able to trust that they would prioritize your health and safety (such as driving safely with you in the car), and being able to protect you from harm or in dangerous situations (such as helping you to escape a crime scene).

If you live together, it is important that your home and space feel as though it is a safe environment. It is important that you do not worry about yourself or others in this space, or any spaces you may encounter together.

If you are in a situation where you fear your safety and wellbeing, please consider seeing a therapist for counselling, going to the police, or calling a local distress line that deals with such issues.

 

3. Financial Security

Most people in long-term relationships find ways to combine their financial resources, or have payments they are jointly committed to. This is a powerful from of trust, as our security is tied immediately to our financial resources.

Do you feel as though you can trust your partner with your financial security? Would you trust your partner with your banking account, your mortgage payment, and/ or your investments?

Regardless of whether you have combined your finances, it is important to reflect on the reasons, and reflect on if you worry about this sense of security in your relationship.

 

4. Emotional Predictability

Inconsistent emotional patterns can make it difficult to build a healthy, loving relationship. Sharing negative emotions is part of communicating openly in relationships, and it is critical to feel safe when doing so.

Take a moment to think about what it would be like/ what it is like if your partner was emotionally erratic. This can occur when a couple has a very pleasant and enjoyable exchange, and without warning, one partner acts randomly out of anger. It can feel unstable and unpredictable when your partner suddenly acts in what feels an irrational state with you without explaining themselves.

Are you able to trust your partner’s emotional reactions most of the time? Have you ever felt that you were unable to trust their emotional reactions?

If emotional unpredictability is part of your relationship, please consider thinking about what it would be like to suggest altering the language and reactions. Are you both open to using non-accusatory language, reducing blame and outbursts from your life? Couples counselling can be extremely beneficial to find the tools to build healthy strategies to express your emotions.

 

5. Truthfulness

It is important to feel as though you can trust your partner to tell you the truth in certain aspects of their life, and at times, you might need some affirmation that what they are telling you is, in fact, the truth. There might be times a ‘white lie’ comes up to protect you and hide a surprise that actually might be for you. These are not the times we are focusing on.

When your partner tells you something, do you believe them? Do you trust your partner if they come home late and tell you they had a last-minute meeting at work? Do you believe they are writing a work email rather than messaging someone else?

It is important not to feel as though you have to ‘check’ their words, actions, patterns to see if they are truly being authentic with you. The ability to trust that your partner is being honest with you is a critical part of building and maintaining trust.

 

6. Reliability

As an integral part of your life, yours and your partner’s needs will inherently cross over at times. When you have a difficult day, and would like help finishing one of your tasks, it is important that you are able to call your partner and ask them to help you, and know that they will follow through.

Your partner will likely want to depend on you during challenging times. You might also want some extra help, and to feel as though you can count on your partner to remember what they promised you. Do you trust them if they told you that they got the kids to school on time or that they made the deposit at the bank that you requested?

In order to better understand the ways in which you can develop trust, take the time to explore which of these six elements are present in your current relationship, within both of your actions. There are likely areas where you rate your partner more highly than you do in other areas. This is natural. No one is perfect, and it is normal that you trust your partner more in some areas than in others.

 

*Stay tuned for our article next week on ways to build and maintain trust.*

Written by Carly Clifton, Director & Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

It takes time to build up trust in a relationship. The best way to start doing that is by practicing transparency. Let us help you grow trust within your partner, whether solely in individual counselling or together in relationship counselling.

To learn more about how we can support you with building trust in your current and/ or future relationships, contact us at 647-961-9669 or info@balancedmindandwellness.com.

“Sitting With” Your Emotions

Painful emotions can be challenging to sit with. In an effort to “feel better” and prevent our feelings from “taking over,” many of us try to push away our feelings by avoiding them. If we keep turning our backs to the emotions that are trying to get our attention, we end up ignoring important information about our internal experiences that can help us learn and grow. “Sitting with” our emotions invites us to consider the space between Self and Emotion, and focus on the relationship we want to develop with our emotions. This blog post outlines 5 ways to “sit with” our internal experiences.

 

 

  • Be mindful of the emotional experience you are having and the thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviours that accompany it. Turning towards our internal experiences allows us to be aware of what we’re experiencing and how we’re responding to that experience.

 

      1. Name the emotion(s) you are experiencing. Get as specific as possible. Use a feelings wheel to identify what feeling(s) are present for you.
      2. Notice the sensations in your body. Is there any part of your body that feels activated or tense? Is that sensation familiar? How long has that sensation been present? When was the last time you felt this sensation?
      3. Notice the thoughts that you’re having about your current experiences. Are there any strong or repetitive thoughts that are present for you? If someone else was inside your head in this moment, what would they hear? Are you experiencing any thoughts involving self-criticism, shame, or minimization of your current state?
      4. Notice how the thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions are inviting you to behave. How are these experiences impacting how you’re engaging with others? How are these experiences impacting how you’re choosing to spend your time? How are these experiences impacting how you’re handling or managing current stressors?

 

  • Give up the agenda to “stop feeling this way.” Demonstrating patience for, and acceptance of, our current state allows us to “be with” our experiences without the pressure to feel differently. Acceptance and patience does not mean that you ignore that this experience is difficult. Instead, it means that these difficult experiences deserve the space and time they need. It also reminds you that unpleasant feelings also deserve the attention, time, and space that you give to pleasant ones.
  • Now that you’ve recognized what your internal experiences are and how you’re responding to them, practice demonstrating compassion towards yourself and your experiences. Self-compassion involves responding to ourselves in times of difficulty in the same way we would want to respond to a loved one. When someone we love is going through a hard time, we typically try to respond with understanding, kindness, and patience. What we typically don’t do is respond with criticism for how they’re feeling, judgment about how they “should” feel, or by ignoring their needs. For more information on Mindful Self-Compassion, what it is, and how to practice it, click here.
  • Demonstrate a sense of non-judgmental curiosity towards your experiences, instead of self-critical interrogation. This approach recognizes that you are separate from your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and that you can build a relationship of curiosity, openness, and non-judgment towards these experiences. Some questions to ask the internal experience: What is it like to feel this way? When did you first start feeling this way? Was there something that happened that initially triggered you? Have you felt this way before? What function does this particular thought you’re having serve? What is it that this particular emotion, thought, or physical sensation is trying to communicate with me? What is it that you need most right now?
  • Reflect on what your emotions are telling you about your needs. If you’re experiencing a sense of sadness that is fuelled by a feeling of loneliness, this may tell you that you’re needing connection with others. If you’re experiencing anger that is being fuelled by feeling disrespected by someone, this may tell you that you need to set an appropriate boundary with this person. Whatever the feeling may be, there is typically an underlying need that you’d like to have met.

 

Written by Nikki Sedaghat, Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

How we relate and respond to our emotions are strongly impacted by our life experiences. It might be helpful to seek out a therapist to support you as you work on improving the ways in which you respond to yourself during difficult times. To learn more about how we can support you with emotional concerns, contact Nikki Sedaghat at nikki@balancedmindandwellness.com.

Understanding and Reducing Anger and Resentment

Many people seem to be carrying their anger and resentment wherever they go. Carrying these heavy, negative emotions weigh you down and demand considerable attention and energy. At times, this negative feeling can impact more than just ‘you’ – it can also impact your actions toward your career, your family, your friends, and/ or your romantic relationship.

Is it Wrong to Feel Angry?

The answer is no. Anger is a normal, natural emotion. In many situations, it’s a healthy and appropriate emotional reaction. Anger is an emotional response to a real or imagined “wrong” or injustice, but sometimes people get angry simply because things took a different course than they feel they should have. Anger can be destructive, as we can experience it as a push against present-moment reality. In a sense, we experience thoughts representing a refusal to accept what is.

Most often, anger is a secondary emotion. It can take shape instantly, and sometimes unconsciously, in response to feelings of being hurt, fear, and/or feelings of inadequacy. When most people experience these primary emotions, they feel vulnerable, and might withdraw, experiencing their feelings internally. This way, it is easy for most to avoid expressing these more difficult emotions, as they can make us feel ‘out of control’. For many people, this revealing of vulnerability creates so much distress that the underlying emotions are automatically transformed into anger, a feeling people are more comfortable with expressing externally/ outwardly. Expressing anger outwardly is often associated with a feeling of being ‘in control’, by projecting focusing on projecting feelings onto others, rather than processing the primary emotion.

Resentment

Resentment is closely related to anger. Resentments are negative feelings, basically ill will, toward someone or something as a result of a past experience. Resentment is the re-experiencing of past injustices. Some people hold resentments for many years, and choose to not let go of them. The trigger for resentment has usually left, while we still may hold onto the emotion connected to it. It is important to note that the stronger the resentment is, the more time you spend thinking about it, caught up in the anger connected to it.

Ultimately, the person holding the resentment is the one who suffers most. If you allow yourself to become angry or resentful whenever situations do not end up how you want or expect them to, then you are effectively giving control of your feelings to others.

Here are some tips on how to address feelings of anger and resentment in more healthy and helpful ways:

1. Practice identifying and allowing yourself to feel the primary emotions underneath the anger. 

2. Be conscious and present with your anger and resentment. Notice the thoughts, push and pull of different feelings and urges, and/or physical sensations.

3. Identify how you may have contributed to the situation(s) that you are angry or resentful about. Look inward and identify an alternative perspective of the situation which makes you feel anger.

4. Try an alternative method of expressing anger and resentment. Share these feelings with supportive individuals whom you trust. Journal or write about them. Choose a physical outlet, such as going to the gym, walking/ running, going to yoga, etc.

5. Learn and practice relaxation and self-calming techniques. Examples include deep breaths, mindfulness, meditation, and/or detaching from social media.

6. Although challenging, it can be helpful to create an opposite shift in urge and action. Try treating those you feel anger and resentment toward with kindness and compassion. This shift can create a circular effect in that it can also influence their actions in a positive way toward you.

7. Do not give into acting as an avenue for others’ anger and resentment. Try not to get stuck in the toxicity of interactions filled with negative emotions. Disengage from negative, unhelpful thoughts and actions.

8. Remind yourself that you cannot change the past. Acting in anger and resentment will not change or undo what has upset you. Accepting this will enable you to be more present and less stuck in the past.

If you find that you have difficulty letting go of angry feelings, consider consulting a mental health provider to move forward with anger management counselling. Angry thoughts and feelings can be isolated, or they can be part of a mental health disorder that professionals can treat effectively with psychotherapy. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), among other therapies, can help to work toward enhancing skills for regulating emotions.

If you have any questions or would like help with working to increase your mental wellness, call our Director, Carly, at 647-961-9669, or email us at info@balancedmindandwellness.com

Supporting Someone with Mental Health Issues

When it comes to talking to a loved one about mental health, it can be very uncomfortable. As a society, we are still living with a lot of stigma when

 it comes to mental health. There is not enough information out there to help us know how to start; however, we are making some great strides in mental health awareness, for example, with Canada’s annual Bell Let’s Talk Day this past Wednesday.

 

Try these R-E-S-P-E-C-T tips to support your loved one with mental health issues:

 

Realize it will take them time to understand where you are coming from.

When you approach the topic of mental illness with a loved one you know/ suspect are struggling, they might be having a hard time coming to terms with their mental health condition. Some might experience “anosognosia”, a symptom where one does not have self-awareness of the condition they are experiencing. Their acknowledgement of your concerns may take time. This TED Talk by Dr. Xavier Amador might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXxytf6kfPM

 

Educate yourself and others.

It can be really helpful to speak to a professional about your concerns and what you are observing. While you may not be suffering from mental health symptoms as a primary patient, you certainly experience secondary symptoms, which are equally deserving of support and conversations with a professional.

 

Say to yourself “it’s okay to feel what I’m feeling”.

It can be really challenging for family members to support a loved one with mental health concerns. Caregiver burnout is a feeling of mental, physical, and/or emotional exhaustion due to the demands of providing care. It is important to have support if you relate to feelings of this ‘caregiver burnout’. Your loved one needs you to be healthy in order for them to be healthy.

 

Patience is a virtue, and definitely hard to practice.

Not only will you need to be patient with your loved one, but it is also important to be patient with yourself and the difficult feelings that might come up for you. We want ourselves and others to stop feeling bad right now, and we want the solution to our problem to come more quickly. Remember: recovery usually takes longer than we thought it would, and it can become frustrating… but you can push through. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

Expect that there will be good days and bad days.

In supporting a loved one with mental illness, it is important to know that healing is not a linear path. There are ups and downs and some days feel like you are taking 10 steps backwards instead of forwards.This can trigger feelings of anxiety and/ or depression. When we are not intentional in caring for our mental health, we can be more susceptible to experiencing bad mental health days. Remind your loved one of the simple self-care items they could try to get back on track.

 

Crisis plans are important.

A crisis plan is a plan that is discussed in calm moments to decide which supports (personal and professional) to access and how we can keep our loved ones safe. Here is a great template to use: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/samhs/mentalhealth/rights-legal/crisis-plan/home.html.

 

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Think about who to involve in your “team” to support your loved one and you as well. List out people like mental health professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, family doctors, therapists), peer support (e.g. groups, crisis helplines), and family and/or friends. It can be a lot easier, and less painful, if we all contribute to one’s healing together.

 

To learn more about how we can support you in managing your stress and feelings of anxiety about your loved one, please contact Vivian Zhang at vivian@balancedmindandwellness.com.

Please see our previous blog post for some more tips on how to talk about mental health.

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

WHAT: Bell Let’s Talk provides the largest corporate fundraising commitment to mental health in Canada. Since its launch in September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 900 organizations providing mental health services throughout Canada, including major donations to hospitals, universities and other care and research organizations.

WHY: The overall goal of this initiative is to reduce the stigma around mental health, and to help those struggling with mental illness to access mental health services.

WHEN: On Wednesday, January 30, you can be part of eliminating the stigma around mental illness, by taking part in the Bell Let’s Talk program.

Here’s HOW Bell has made it easy for you to help!

You watch, Bell donates!
With just a tap, click, or text…
you can help fund Canadian mental health!

Bell will donate 5¢ each time that you…

View the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on 
Instagram (@bell_letstalk),
Facebook (BellLetsTalk), or
Twitter (Bell_LetsTalk)
Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
Snap using the Bell Let’s Talk filter

For Bell customers, every text message (turn off iMessage) sent, and each mobile and long distance call made

To find out more about the impact your donation will have, and other ways to help, visit Bell’s page.

IMPACT: Overall, 87% of Canadians say they are more aware of mental health issues than they were a few years ago. What is even more impressive: 85% believe attitudes about mental health have shifted in a positive direction, and 75% believe the stigma around mental illness has been reduced. Source: BCE

To find out how to talk about mental health (from how to help someone with mental illness to how to tell someone you need help), see our previous blog post here.

To learn more about mental health, or to receive information on mental health services at Balanced Mind and Wellness, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com. We are happy to help you take the next step in your, or someone else’s, mental health journey.

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