Psychotherapy  & Naturopathic Services in Etobicoke

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Coping in Uncertain Times with our ND

What wild times we are in right now! There is a lot of uncertainty, fear, stress and heightened emotions. It’s on everyone’s mind and many of you have questions – What’s next? What do I do? What’s going to happen?

Perhaps you are currently unemployed and financially concerned about the future. Perhaps you work in the health care industry and are having to respond on the frontline of this crisis. Perhaps you’re a mom at home with kids, trying desperately to keep them occupied but also trying to keep them safe and healthy.

Like you, I have been struggling to adapt to these extenuating circumstances. What made it easier for me was figuring out how I could take control of my situation and shift my focus away from panic to something more constructive. I’ve put together a list of 5 ways you can do the same.

1. Rethink your exercise routine

With social distancing in effect, many of us are having to rethink our exercise routines. Many studios and gyms have closed or restricted access. The beauty of technology is that these same businesses are adapting quickly and bringing the fitness to us! Businesses like Barre3  has a full library of online barre classes that you can do right from your living room with minimal equipment needed. Bliss Yoga in Etobicoke is offering virtual meditations everyday at noon and will have virtual yoga classes available next week. There are also a multitude of youtube channels offering workout videos like 5 Parks Yoga or apps like Nike Training Club for guided HIIT workouts with varying levels of equipment.

Having to avoid public spaces also presents another great opportunity; GET OUTSIDE! Toronto has a multitude of great parks (High Park, Cedarvale, Brickworks, the beach) where you can maintain your distance from others, get some exercise and it’s all completely free. There has been numerous studies to support that being in nature reduces cortisol levels (our stress hormone) as well as anxiety and depression. A 2015 study compared 90 minutes of walking in a natural setting vs. an urban setting and found that those in the natural setting had reduced rumination on negative thoughts. If you are ruminating over COVID-19, lace up your sneakers and head to your nearest hiking trail!

2. Stay connected

I’ve read some people calling for Social Distancing to be reframed as Social Solidarity. We are not isolating ourselves from each other out of desire to remove ourselves from our community; we are isolating ourselves to protect our community. We all have a moral obligation and responsibility to do our part to prevent the spread of this viral illness. But just because we can’t physically be with each other, doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to stay connected to the ones you love. There may be many negative things about technology but one thing that it does well is allowing us to stay connected. I’ve been having group FaceTime chats with my friends and family and sending messages to check in on others.

It is crucial that we remember to connect with those that are the most vulnerable right now. The elderly and those with mobility issues are some of the more obvious answers here but also the new moms who may already feel isolated or those suffering from mental illness. Reach out. Offer to help. It is good for the soul.

3. Keep yourself occupied

Many people are finding themselves with some extra time to spare these days. There are two options for how some may be responding to this abundance of time: more time to panic scroll through news releases and social media OR an opportunity to constructively keep yourself busy.
• Pick up a creative project that you have put on hold
• Re-examine your 2020 goals and how you could use this time to get closer to meeting them
• Write letters to your family and friends
• Organize your closets
• Take this time to rest, relax and practice some self care!

Give yourself a time limit each day to read the news (credible sources only!) and after that, engage in activities that fill you up and nourish your soul.

4. Boost your immune system

Due to the novel nature of this viral pandemic, we are still uncertain on prevention and treatment options. That being said, we know that those most at risk for contracting coronavirus are those that are immunocompromised. Many of you may be feeling a lack of control with respect to protecting yourself against coronavirus. So why don’t we focus on what we can control?
Boosting your immune system is something we can all do to optimize our chances of staying healthy (in addition to social distancing and hand washing of course). Here are 5 things you can do today to boost your immune system:

 

  • Get 8 hours of sleep per night – with restricted sleep, there is a 70% drop in an immune cell called Natural Killer cells. With restricted sleep, genes that control our immune system are turned off and genes that promote tumors, stress and chronic inflammation are turned on. Dr. Matthew Walker’s TED talk Sleep Is Your Superpower is a great resource on the importance of sleep.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, lean protein (fish, poultry, legumes), whole grains and healthy fats (extra virgin oil and nuts/seeds). Avoid or reduce processed foods, fried foods and refined sugar as these contribute to systemic inflammation in the body which impacts our immune function. Go Mediterranean! The Mediterranean diet has great evidence to reduce cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, obesity and systemic inflammation.
  • Reduce stress! Stress raises our cortisol levels which suppress our immune system. Meditate, go for walks in nature and read a book.
  • Aim to get 150 minutes per week of vigorous exercise which are the current guidelines based on scientific evidence supporting the association of physical activity with health and well being, disease prevention and overall quality of life.
  • Consult your Naturopathic Doctor about supplementing with zinc, selenium, n-acetyl cysteine, spirulina and elderberry which have some evidence to support their use to boost the immune response to RNA viruses like influenza and coronavirus.

5. Reach out for help

During these challenging times, it is normal to experience heightened anxiety, worry and depression. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to your psychotherapists or social workers for help with coping strategies and processing these heavy emotions. Reach out to your Naturopathic Doctor for help with calming your nervous system, boosting your immune system and ensuring you stay on track with your health goals. At Balanced Mind and Wellness, we have adapted our practice to be entirely virtual so that we can continue to serve our community during these difficult times. You can book your appointment today here.

Virtual care is convenient, secure and our safest option for delivery of care at times of social distancing. You can stay in your PJ’s, get cozy on your couch and get the care you need right from the comfort of your home.

 

Staying Informed

If you would like more information on COVID 19 and the most up to date recommendations, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website here.

 

Written by Dr. Laura MacLeod, Naturopathic Doctor at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

 

To learn more about how we can support you during this challenging time, please contact us at 647-961-9669 or info@balancedmindandwellness.com.

Making the First Therapy Appointment

Even if you are a supporter of the benefits of therapy, actually finding a therapist can be anxiety-inducing itself. You can be passionate about something and still have to face a challenge when advocating ‘for you’. It can be hard enough to share your struggles with a trusted friend, let alone a stranger or therapist. Also, the second we commit to therapy, we realize we are also committing to making a change. And let’s face it, change is scary!

It is uncomfortable; however, we need to feel this uncomfortable feeling before getting to that ‘good’ or ‘happy place’. What if that awkward or uncomfortable feeling could be that breaking point for you?

 

Let us help you in clarifying that you are not alone if you have these thoughts pre-therapy:

– I don’t know what to expect

– Will it be awkward?

– Will they ask me tons of personal questions?

– Will I have to talk about stuff I do not want to talk about?

– How do I know if they will be the right fit for me?

– How do I share my story with a stranger?

– Will they even help me feel better?

– How do I pay for it?

– How do I fit it into my schedule?

– …when I am already feeling so low and/ or anxious that it’s hard to do the simplest things

– It’s hard to admit I need help, and can’t figure it out myself

 

You do not have to figure out all of these answers beforehand. That is why we are here for you – to guide you through the process. We do not expect you to know all of this – how could you?

 

Instead of focusing on all the reasons why you should put off making an appointment, focus on what you hope to gain from it.

 

Acknowledge that making the call, or even booking online, is not easy… and feel compassion for yourself. Pick a time and date, and we will walk you through the rest of it.

Think about those nights you could not fall asleep because your mind is racing. Now, imagine you were able to quiet that part of your brain. We can help you slow those thoughts, and find some sense of calm. Getting there means taking the first step. Change typically happens with small steps; however, a step still needs to be taken.

Even though your psychotherapist is there to help support you, YOU are in control of your mental health journey. If the therapist or style of therapy is not a good fit for you, you can and should leave and try someone else. That is why we, and most practices, offer a free consultation to ensure you feel comfortable with the therapist of your choice. A quick call lets you ask any questions you might have, tell us about what you are looking for, and/ or let us tell you how we think we can help you/ what therapy could look like for you.

 

You can start your therapy now – your only commitment and effort is picking a time and date, and we we help you from there!

 

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

To learn more about how we can support you in starting your therapy journey, contact us at 647-961-9669, book online, or email us at info@balancedmindandwellness.com.

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.

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.

How to Deal with Grief During the Holidays

Grief during the holidays is a common reason people come in for therapy in December.

Because of your grief, this holiday might prove to be a very difficult experience. It is important to focus on believing that you will come through stronger than before. If you need to scale back on some festivities, that is okay. People will understand, and if they don’t, it’s ok – you are doing what you know you need for yourself.

These strategies can help you get through the holidays while grieving your loved one:

  1. Trust that Grief is Part of Healing

Experiencing the pain, rather than constantly trying to escape it, can actually help you feel better in the long-term. Eventually, the holidays will get easier, but only if you allow yourself to experience the sadness of getting through it without your loved one.

 

  1. Set Healthy Boundaries

You do not have to do it all. Be willing to say no to certain traditions, but also try to engage in others. People will encourage you to participate, but you do not have to do it for them. Do what makes you happy.

 

  1. Focus on What You Can Control

There are some things that are out of our control, such as Christmas songs that surround public places in December. Things that you can control are the number of decorations you put up, where you shop for presents (online may be less overwhelming), and when you spend time with others. Be mindful that others will want to celebrate and enjoy this time of year.

 

  1. Plan Ahead

Often, the anticipation over how hard something is going to be is worse than the actual event. Create a simple plan for how you’ll get through the holidays with some tips here: “6 tips for Overcoming Holiday Anxiety and Stress” and “Holiday Social Anxiety: 6 Common Causes and How to Cope”.

 

  1. Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions

It’s healthy to cry, and let yourself express sadness, rather than hold it in. You do not need to be ashamed of this emotion, and those close to you will help support you. If you notice glimmers of happiness, let yourself enjoy those positive feelings. It is common to feel guilty for feeling happiness during a sad time, when really, those you are remembering would want you to be happy. You deserve to be.

 

  1. Find happiness in memories

Create a special way to remember the person you have lost. Whether you decide to watch their favourite movie or make their favourite food, this can be a helpful tip that, even though your loved one is gone, you can keep happy memories of them around you.

 

  1. Adapt, or create, new traditions

Some holiday traditions can sometimes serve as painful reminders of your loss. It is perfectly okay to create new traditions this year, too. You can also modify old traditions to adapt better to this new stage of your life.

 

  1. Acts of kindness

Even when you’re in the midst of grief, you still have something to offer the world. Performing a few acts of kindness, such as donating your time or gifts to those in need, can be really beneficial for the grieving soul.

 

  1. Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are struggling with getting through the holidays. You might want to reach out for support, or therapy.

 

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

How to Beat the Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. To understand more about SAD, refer back to our previous article here.

 

There are a variety of options available to help you combat the symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. You might find it helpful to try one or more of the following:

 

Light Therapy/ phototherapy

This is one of the first and most popular treatments for SAD. During light therapy, you sit a few feet from a special light box which mimics natural outdoor light. Over time, studies have shown that this treatment appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. It has been said that it generally starts working in a few days to a few weeks with minimal side effects. It is highly recommended to speak to a medical professional before purchasing a light box in order to determine what the best option for you might be.

 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is another option to treat SAD. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) can help to work through negative thought patterns that may be making you feel worse. A psychotherapist can also help you find healthy ways to cope, to reduce avoidance behaviour, and to manage stress.

 

Medications

If symptoms are severe, some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant treatment. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor or psychiatrist about some options that would suit your needs, and to revisit this discussion pre-season each subsequent year. Your medical professional may or may not recommend you continue taking this medication past fall/winter. It will likely take several weeks for the medication to take effect, and for you to notice the full benefits. Should you decide it is not for you, or that you are feeling better at the end of the season, it is important to wean off the medication properly to minimize side effects.

 

Other Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Relaxation techniques: yoga and/or meditation
  • Increase sun and light exposure: open window coverings; sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office
  • Spend more time outdoors during the day
  • Regular exercise: to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood
  • Healthy diet: to increase good nutrients and blood flow to the brain, and reduce junk foods that cause lethargy
  • Good sleep habits
  • Stay connected and social with your support network
  • Take Vitamin D due to less exposure to sunlight during these seasons

 

These recommendations have all been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression. If you have any questions or would like help with working to reduce symptoms of depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, 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

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/

Be a happier ‘you’ this holiday season!

Down in the dumps? Holiday blues? A lot of us feel more down in the winter season, especially around the holiday season. This time of year is naturally more stressful. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the general feeling in the air revolves around financial stress, what gifts to buy or will we be able to buy, or planning get togethers with people we do or do not usually see. That being said, why not take those extra steps to be happier and reduce stress as much as possible. Here is a list of tips to help bring about a happier mood.

Enjoy the moment. Look around your environment and take note of one thing that you need to appreciate more, and maybe that you do take for granted. Bring mindful attention and awareness to it. Notice the positive feelings and associations that go with it.

Practice non-judgmental awareness of yourself and others. Take the time to notice when you are and are not judging yourself or others around you. We often do it without noticing, even if it is just a mental note when someone walks by. If someone is short with you, don’t follow suit. Just remember when you are having a bad day, and accept that this person may be experiencing a loss (job, person) or some other negative event in their life.

Connect with others. Since this is a stressful time of year, positive influences can only help. Think about some positive people in your life that you have been procrastinating to see. Connect with them. Even if you feel down, you will most likely feel happier after reconnecting. There is at least one person who makes you feel good and who you know you enjoy spending time with.

Resolve conflicts. This time of year can be emotional and upsetting for a lot of people, especially if ties have been broken or relationships have ended. Take the time to repair these relationships. Be the bigger person: forgive someone or apologize to someone that hurt you in the past. Chances are, they are feeling the same way.

Make your health a priority. Exercise, eat healthy when you can, sleep at least 7 hours per night, be kind to yourself, and develop good boundaries. If you’ve been meaning to get to the gym, and keep procrastinating, just do it! Take little steps. Whether it’s a 5 minute workout or a 30 minute workout, something is better than nothing! (And you’ll probably stay for longer than you thought you would, once you get your gear on).

Be thankful and express your love. Make a phone call, meet with someone, or write them a nice letter. Show your appreciation for others. Why not brighten someone else’s day?

Focus on the good. If you find yourself to be more down than usual, write down or take pictures of 2-3 good things that happen each day. This will remind you to think more positively, and consequently, to be happier!

Have fun and laugh. Stop being so serious! Laughter has many physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Whether it is watching a movie, talking to someone that makes you laugh, or just reminiscing about a funny memory, laughing will increase your happiness.

Simplify. Too many things, too many to do lists, and too many unattainable goals lead to a very complex life. Complex lives mean stress and unhappiness. Try to simplify your life by having more realistic expectations and standards for yourself, your job performance, and in your relationships.

Live an authentic and meaningful life. Be true to yourself and live in line with your values. Don’t fall accustom to someone else’s values and someone else’s way of living. You define and create your own happiness!

 

How Social Comparison is Related to Anxiety and Depression

Technology provides various forms of social comparison that can be taxing on our mental health and wellbeing, such as anxiety. It’s no wonder that youth today are experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. The platforms provide so many ways for us to compare ourselves to the people around us. And of course, most want to publicize and upload visions and notes on their most positive experiences and moments. These sources are constantly updated by the second, providing no escape from viewing others’ happiness. We are continually dissatisfied, as we are comparing ourselves to someone we think is or who has something better. But hey, who says the numbers of ‘happy’ pictures and notifications we send out determines our happiness?
Social comparison is part of human nature, and social media and technology have made this inescapable. We tend to rank ourselves according to social groups or classes, which can be determined by behaviours or hobbies (constantly posted on social media). Trends and fads can be picked up from following different sites or people online, and we choose to follow specific ones. This means that sometimes we are selecting unrealistic forms of social comparison (such as celebrities), which can cause great stress and anxiety. At times of unemployment or stress, some people may feel hopeless when they see large amounts of success. This feeling of being overwhelmed can lead to a downward spiral into depression. As a result of constant social comparison, we aren’t happy with ourselves and have low self-esteem.
If you haven’t thought of this, take note that people who post excessive happy notes and pictures sometimes do this as a form of insecurity. Even if this is not an insecurity, chances are, they aren’t always as happy as they appear in social media. It’s doubtful they would post a picture of a moment where they felt depressed.
It is important for us to learn to gain a healthier perspective on how we do compare ourselves to others. We must remember our strengths, and ask ourselves if our desires and goals are realistic. We need to be more accepting of what we have and who we are. We need eliminate feelings of anxiety, by creating goals for the future based on our strengths and abilities.

You determine your success, which should not be measured by social comparison. You determine your happiness – not anyone else.

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