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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.

 

 

“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.

Drawing the Line in the Sand: Boundary Setting (Part 2)

Asking for What You Need

Boundaries are important for our own understanding of our limits and what we’re comfortable with. When our boundaries are violated, we tend to feel uncomfortable, upset, distant, hurt, or angry (to name a few emotional responses). An important part to setting boundaries is knowing how to ask for what we need.

Some important guidelines to consider before asking for what we need include:

  1. Setting a boundary with an action to follow (e.g. be okay with walking away from a relationship if the other person continues to violate your boundaries)
  2. Being clear, direct, and firm in the words you use
  3. Limiting the use of debating, defending or over-explaining yourself
  4. Knowing and connecting with your support network
  5. Staying grounded in what you need by not giving in if this is important to you

 

Now, you’re ready to ask for what you need. A simple way to structure our conversations in asking for what we need is to use the DEAR MAN strategy:

DEAR MAN” is an acronym, with each letter representing its own skill. As you learn and try to use these skills, you’ll find that having hard conversations becomes easier over time.

Describe the situation (“I’ve noticed that …”). Stay factual and reduce YOU statements

Express your feelings (“I’m feeling …”). Name the emotion and don’t explain the rationale behind your feelings

Assert your needs (“I need …”). Be concrete and direct in your language. Remember you can’t force anyone else to feel a certain way, so try to keep it focused on your needs versus their response

Reinforce the outcome (“And by doing this …”). What will they gain by meeting your needs?

 

Mindful. Take a minute to check in with how you’re feeling. Ask yourself “what’s going on for me?”

Appear confident. Body language and postures are super important, so make sure you are standing or sitting up straight with an open posture. What do you need to do to appear confident?

Negotiate. Be open to making and hearing suggestions. See if you and the other person can agree on something that works for both of you. What is/isn’t negotiable?

 

Learning how to stand up for ourselves while still respecting the needs and limits of other people can take a lot of practice.  Remember to be kind to yourself if some of these interpersonal skills feel newer. Many of us have years of unhealthy relationship habits or patterns to undo. You can and you will undo them – you are making a choice now to do things differently.

It is recommended that you try applying this with someone you trust and can make small requests with before you start using this in more challenging situations.

Good luck!

Written by Vivian Zhang, Clinical Therapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

To learn more about how we can support you with developing healthy boundaries and communication tools, contact us at info@balancedmindandwellness.com or 647-961-9669.

Content from this blog post is adapted from DBT Skills Training: Handouts and Worksheets (Linehan, 2015).

Responsive Versus Reactive Parenting Styles

A Guide to Supporting You and Your Child When You Are Both Upset

 

Most parents can think of a handful of moments where they just “lost it” with their kids. These are moments when they were unable to keep their cool and be the bigger person in an overwhelming interaction where their child may have been misbehaving or experiencing a challenging emotion. When parents become activated or triggered by their children, they tend to step away from their preferred ways of parenting – calm, compassionate, curious, and wise. Instead, parents become emotionally flooded by their child’s behaviours or feelings and they react without much thought. Being able to know when you are triggered, attune to your feelings, and respond thoughtfully to your child in an overwhelming situation takes some practice – and it involves shifting your focus away from your child’s behaviour and towards your own internal experiences.

 

Reactive Parenting

 

A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. We react when the emotional centre of our brain is so activated that we go into fight, flight, freeze, or appease actions.

 

These reactions are unhelpful to yourself and to your child. They tend to be quick, avoidant, and based off of fear or anger. They give the message to your child that when you are overwhelmed, you make me overwhelmed, and I don’t know how to handle that. Alternatively, we want our children to learn that we can be a container for their emotions. We want to give the message that when you are overwhelmed, I will be there as a wise, calm, strong, and caring parent for you to depend on and learn from. When we deliver the latter message, children actually begin to learn how to manage their big feelings and communicate what’s going on for them more effectively.

 

Responsive Parenting

 

Responsive parenting involves self-awareness and an awareness of your child. It involves being able to hold your internal experiences and your child’s experiences at the same time. With responsive parenting, you are being mindful of how you may be triggered by your child’s behaviours, and how your feelings impact your perceptions of your child and how you are inclined to respond to them. Responsive parenting allows you to deal with your upset feelings, and then support your child through theirs. Here are 12 guidelines that can support you when both you and your child are overwhelmed and upset.

 

  1. Practice self-awareness. When you are particularly activated in a situation with your child, consider asking yourself the following questions: What emotion am I feeling right now? What am I feeling towards my child right now? What thoughts am I having about my child right now? Am I seeing them as a problem? What thoughts am I having about myself as a parent right now? Am I holding an expectation for myself or for my child that isn’t being met in the ways I hoped for at this moment? Can I be okay with that and work with my child rather than against them?

 

  1. Practice self-compassion. Self-compassion involves being empathetic towards yourself, especially during a difficult time. Acknowledge that your child’s behaviours are challenging, and that this is hard. Recognize that you are feeling angry, confused, overwhelmed, disrespected, or uncared for, and that those feelings are really hard to manage. Remind yourself that you are not a bad parent, but that you are going through a difficult moment.

 

  1. Remember that it is the relationship between you and your child that will build their capacity to regulate their feelings. When overwhelmed, children need to feel connected with their parents. By joining your child and coming together when they have difficult feelings, you fulfill their need for connection and closeness and you teach them to handle hard feelings in a safe and secure way. Your child will realize that they have an emotional container (you), who is bigger, stronger, wiser, and kinder.

 

  1. Give yourself a time out. If you are upset, it will be very hard for you to offer the connection, calmness, and understanding that your child needs. Remember that your child is not responsible for your emotions. If you are feeling angry, overwhelmed, confused, or disrespected in a situation, it is your responsibility to recognize what you are feeling and give yourself the care and soothing you need. If your child is not in immediate danger of hurting themselves or someone else, take a Time Out for yourself. Use this time to remind yourself that no matter how you feel, your child needs you. Remind yourself that you are bigger, wiser, stronger, and kinder than your child, which means that you can offer them patience, understanding, connection, and wisdom. You can also refer to #1 and #2. Return to your child when you are calm enough.

 

  1. Remember that your child’s emotional regulation abilities are less developed than an adult’s. When they are emotionally overwhelmed, their decision-making and behaviour control centre of their brain is deactivated. The way that they learn emotional regulation is through you. And they need a caring guide to calm them down enough in order to understand their emotions and come up with alternative ways of expressing themselves. Think of yourself as their external brain as they learn to emotionally regulate themselves.

 

  1. Maintain a calm tone of voice that is firm, reassuring, and kind.

 

  1. Look “under” your child’s behaviour. Every behaviour and emotion is a mode of communication. Young children don’t typically have the capacity to communicate their experiences verbally, particularly when they are experiencing a big, negative emotion. Ask yourself: What are they trying to communicate but are having a hard time communicating effectively? What emotion or feeling are they experiencing beneath their behaviour?

 

  1. Describe what you see and understand. It’s helpful to give children the language to describe and understand their experiences and feelings. It also demonstrates wisdom, empathy, understanding, and validation when you describe what you are seeing and what you are taking away from their behaviours. An example of this would be: “I can see that it’s hard for you that iPad time is over. Are you feeling mad? I understand that you love to play on the iPad and it makes sense that it’s disappointing to you that you have to stop.”

 

  1. Talk about your own feelings with respect to what just happened. This helps normalize and model effective communication about hard feelings. It also teaches your child that their behaviours have an impact on others. For example, you might say: “When you threw the book, I felt disrespected and hurt.”

 

  1. Stay with your child until they are calm enough.

 

  1. Avoid trying to “teach them a lesson” or correct their behaviour immediately. When children are emotionally overwhelmed, they are not in a place to learn or take in new information. Meet your child where they are at. You can let them know that their behaviour is not okay (e.g. if they are hitting, using mean words, etc.), but rather than punish or set a consequence, guide them through the emotional experience first (see #6-10).

 

  1. Talk about different ways of handling the problem next time. When both of you are calm enough, you can then offer your child alternative ways of communicating their needs and feelings with you. Next, help your child take responsibility for their part, and demonstrate taking responsibility for your part. Lastly, collaborate together on new options for how both of you can approach and deal with a similar problem in the future.

 

As parents, you may find it challenging to adopt these approaches in your relationship with your children. It might be helpful to seek out a family therapist to support you as you work on developing your responsive parenting skills. To learn more about how we can support you with parenting concerns, contact Nikki Sedaghat at nikki@balancedmindandwellness.com.

 

Content from this blog post is adapted from The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing Attachment in Early Parent-Child Relationships (Powell, Cooper, Hoffman, & Marvin, 2016) and Time-in Parenting: How to Teach Children Emotional Self-Control, Life Skills, and Problem Solving by Lending Yourself and Staying Connected (Weininger, 2002).

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.

New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again. We are almost two weeks into the new year, and despite well-intentioned resolutions that started full throttle, most of us are already losing steam and making exceptions, or excuses. As a result, we are well on our way back to old habits.

So, we ask: why do most resolutions fail and what helps some of them succeed? Some people lack the self-discipline it takes to maintain their resolutions. Others are not yet ready to change their habits, particularly the bad ones. Some people set unrealistic goals and expectations even before attempting them.

To execute resolutions, we need to change our behaviours. In order to change a behaviour, we have to develop a new thought behind it. Creating healthy habits involves creating thought patterns in the brain, which generate memories – the default for our behaviour when we have to make a decision.

 

To help change your thinking and make success happen, here is a list of 7 ways to follow through with resolutions and keep healthy habits:

1. Start small

One year is a strong commitment. Thinking about changing habits for an entire year may seem overwhelming. Start with one month, keep track and add another on, etc. If you can make it successfully through just the first month of a resolution, you are more likely to keep it as a habit through the rest of the year.

2. Be accountable

When you find it hard to hold yourself accountable, try telling somebody about your resolution. This will create a healthy sense of pressure to achieve it. When this person follows up and asks how it is going, this can help you check in with and track your progress.

3. Plan for setbacks

Going from point A to point B is not always a straight line. Think of it more like a treasure map with many twists and turns before the goal can be achieved.

4. Be specific

Instead of saying “I want to eat healthy,” make it measurable. Rather than stating you’ll get out of debt, be specific about how much per month you will pay off on your credit card.

5. Connect the goal to core values

When you can see how a goal may positively impact or improve a relationship, this makes the goal much more rewarding.

6. Focus on success

It can be easy to adopt the ‘glass half empty’ mindset. Instead, think about gains and small successes, rather than how much more needs to be done. Celebrate weekly and monthly milestones. Use a calendar or checklist to visually track progress.

7. Keep adding resolutions

You do not need to wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Improving ourselves is an ongoing process. Set monthly reminders in your phone, write them on your calendar, or have a meeting with someone who helps you set goals.

 

Counselling is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals and resolutions. If you have any questions or would like help with working to set goals and increase your mental wellness, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

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.

 

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