• Why is self-compassion considered important?

    Why is self-compassion considered important?

    Self compassion is allowing yourself to feel understanding and kindness towards yourself, despite your failures, disappointments, imperfections and shortcomings.

    This pressure may be more of a hindrance to progress than we anticipate. Some tasks or skills will take practice and patience. Growing up my parents refused to say the common phrase “Practice makes perfect.” Instead, we would say “Practice makes better.” Rather than trying to achieve perfection we can work towards being better.


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    Self-compassion is an act of the will, a choice to be kind and understanding when faced with personal failings.”

    Kristin Neff

    Dr. Neff defined self-compassion in three elements:
    1. Self-kindness vs Self-judgment — Understanding that we will inevitably experience failure and life difficulties but treating ourselves with gentleness is a way to accept it rather than self-criticism or ignoring our pain.
    2. Common humanity vs Isolation — Recognizing that suffering and inadequacy is a human experience that we all share. The common phrase “you are not alone” comes to mind here. You are not the only one that will make mistakes and our mistakes and failures can connect us just as much as our successes.
    3. Mindfulness vs Over identification — Be mindful of negative emotions and thoughts. Don’t ignore your pain but also don’t be consumed by it. Remember that self-compassion is not to be confused with self-pity, self-indulgence, or self-esteem. Practice compassion towards yourself.

    There are many ways to practice self-compassion. Some ways are to practice positive self-talk, exploring through writing, or creating healthier habits. Find an exercise that suits you and try to maintain it in this new year.

    Have a wonderful New Year!


    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Masters student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

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  • Achieving Your Goals: Setting & Reaching Your Goals for Success

    How many times over the years have we set goals and expectations and never really achieved them?

    Here are some reasons we don’t achieve our goals:

    1. Our goals are too big.
    2. Our goals are based on society’s expectation of you.
    3. We aren’t actually interested or invested in the goal.
    4. Our goals are based on others’ goals or accomplishments.

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    The key to success in any endeavor is setting meaningful, attainable goals. Goals give us something to strive for and help us stay focused on our vision. They help us stay on track and remind us of our desired outcome.

    1. Set realistic goals that are achievable and measurable. Don’t set goals that are too lofty or unrealistic, as they can be difficult to reach and lead to feelings of discouragement. Having accountability with others helps to keep goals achievable as well.
    2. Break down large goals into smaller ones. This makes it easier to stay on track and keep progressing towards your goal. Checking on your progress regularly help to keep it active.
    3. Make sure to celebrate your progress. Achieving small goals is just as important as reaching your larger goal, so make sure to recognize your successes along the way.
    4. Stay focused and motivated. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t reach your goal right away. Persevere and stay focused on your goal and you’ll eventually get there.

    Subscribe to get a FREE printable copy of our SMART Goals Worksheet.

    This workbook will help you create action plans for your success. Creating S.M.A.R.T. long-term and short-term goals will help you to reach your desired goals.


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    Setting new goals and creating new routines and habits can be scary. So it’s also very important to be mindful how we talk to ourselves as we work towards our desired outcome. Practicing daily positive affirmations is important to attaining our goals. Not letting fearful or unhelpful thoughts overcome your mental space is going to be something you work through on a regular basis. However, with the right supportive circle, determination and persistence you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

    “I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger”

    Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player

    Takeaway

    A fresh start is a powerful thing! The new year brings a new opportunity to define your goals for your personal life and your business. Take some time this week to consider where you’d like to see yourself in the next 3 months, and write out your goals. Make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T. Remember to think about why you are making this goal your goal.

    Comment below one of your goals for the new year.

    2 responses to “Achieving Your Goals: Setting & Reaching Your Goals for Success”

    1. literallylaurie Avatar
      literallylaurie

      This is helpful and aligns with my own thinking! I need to celebrate my success more! 🙂

      1. Chanelle Spencer, LCSW Avatar

        Yes! Celebrate those wins Laurie, you deserve it 💜

    Leave a Reply

  • Managing Anxiety During the Holidays

    The holiday season is often accompanied with stress and pressure. There are responsibilities that involve plans with loved ones, shopping, cleaning, and entertaining on top of maintaining your usual routine. Holiday anxiety happens commonly, and it can pose a mental health issue if left unchecked.

    close up photograph of two person holding sparklers

    “The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can quickly become overwhelming if you neglect to plan ahead.”

     Dr. Daisy Sutherland

    signs of anxiety during the holiday season

    1. Excessive worries that won’t go away
    2. Physical anxiety symptoms (rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, upset stomach, etc.)
    3. Social isolation or withdrawal
    4. Panic attacks
    5. Trouble sleeping or insomnia
    6. Feeling hopeless and helpless when under distress
    7. Change in appearance regarding less attention to self-care or hygiene

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    It is important to have healthy holiday boundaries if you know you are someone who often experiences holiday anxiety. The following tips are a guide to healthy holiday boundaries that you may try to establish this season.

    Guide to Healthy Holiday Boundaries

    • Be Empowered to Skip. Go Late. Leave Early or Drive Your Own Car to Holiday Parties
    • Ask For What You Want or Need
    • Say “No” Without Guilt
    • Say “Yes” Because You Want To, Not Out of Obligation or To Please Others
    • Let Go of Trying to Control What Other People Eat, Drink, Wear, Say, or Do
    • Express Your Feelings in An Assertive And Respectful Way; Avoid Passive-Aggressive Behavior
    • Take Care of Your Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Needs
    • Spend Time with Supportive People
    • Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness and Don’t Be a Martyr
    • Don’t Make Excuses for Yourself or Anyone Else
    • Act According to Your Own Values and Beliefs

    Takeaway message…

    Happy Holidays and I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!


    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Masters student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

  • “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

    Do you experience a change in mood during the shorter, gloomier winter days? This is colloquially called the “winter blues.” You might notice that you’re generally more depressed and lethargic during this time of the year.

    The winter blues may make you more unhappy than usual, but they usually won’t stop you from having fun. However, if your winter depression begins to impair every aspect of your life, including your job and personal relationships, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

    The emergence of SAD, a subtype of significant depression that occurs during the winter when there is less natural light, is indicative of the condition. Many people typically experience symptoms in the fall that last through the winter.

    Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

    There are some biochemical signs of seasonal affective disorder, yet the precise origins of these periodic mood changes are still unknown.

    • Serotonin, a crucial neurotransmitter for regulating mood, becomes unbalanced in the body when it receives little sunlight in the fall.
    • Similar to how fewer daylight hours tend to mess with your body clock and sleep schedule. Melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep, is overproduced due to prolonged darkness throughout the day.
    • Vitamin D deficiency, which is frequent during the winter months due to less sunlight, may be a cause of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
    • Women, teens, and young adults are more likely to experience the seasonal affective disorder, mainly if there is a history of depression in the family.

    Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

    The following are the main signs of seasonal affective disorder:

    • Depression
    • Sleep problems
    • Having frequent suicidal thoughts
    • Lethargy
    • Erratic eating patterns, marked by overeating and episodes of loss of appetite
    • Craving for carbohydrate-rich foods and consequent weight gain
    • Excessive sleeping and drowsiness
    • Irritability
    • Feeling down and unsociable.
    • difficulty paying attention
    • Loss of excitement for activities you once enjoyed
    • persistent feelings of worthlessness, despair, and regret

    Tips To Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

    If your mood dips in the winter, whether it’s a more severe depression or just the blues, here are some suggestions to lift it back up.

    1.    Soak in the sunlight

    If you are experiencing the “winter blues” or SAD, the sunlight you get in a given week may impact your mood.

    One of the main causes of seasonal affective disorder is a persistent lack of sun exposure since it results in hormonal abnormalities that might cause despair.

    The body produces melatonin and serotonin, which control the circadian rhythm, in response to sunlight. Melatonin, which is primarily in charge of regulating the circadian rhythm, is affected by light levels. Light directly influences the same neurotransmitters as antidepressants do, so in a way, it functions similarly to those drugs.

    Try to get as much sun as you can each day during the winter. Walk outside in the direct sunlight, draw the drapes back, or open the blinds. Try to choose light colors that reflect outside light, even inside your home.

    You could try to spend some time by the window while drinking hot tea and reading a book.

    2.    Exercise more often!

    The feel-good chemicals in your brain may be released by exercise. Start by parking a block away from the workplace. Or go bigger by enrolling in a dance class or joining a local gym. Making it enjoyable increases your likelihood of sticking with it.

    An early morning jog can benefit early risers and provide them with energy for the rest of the day. While the sun is shining, running offers both exercise and light therapy benefits.

    Yoga, gentle aerobics, and walking are some activities that improve your mood.

    3.    Examine your vitamin D intake.

    Depression and low vitamin D levels are related. One requirement for the body to produce vitamin D is sunlight, which might result in insufficient quantities in the body.

    The risk of seasonal depression may be reduced by taking a vitamin D supplement if you live in a region with little sunlight or have a life that prevents you from getting enough sun exposure.

    But before taking supplements, speak with your doctor about the ideal dosage.

    4. Spend time with both animals and/or people.

    Reach out to connect with others, including people and animals, if you feel alone.

    Studies have shown that interacting with people or animals can improve one’s mood. Remain in touch with the people you value. Visit social gatherings. Volunteer in an animal shelter.

    Accept social invites, even if you can only stay a short while. Never forget that social interaction fosters a sense of self-worth and community. A pleasant discussion with a kind friend can result in a smile on your face.

    5.    Spend a few minutes each day in meditation.

    Both the body and the mind are successfully relaxed during meditation, which increases the activity of the areas of the brain linked to happiness and decreases the movement of the parts of the brain related to stress.

    It has been demonstrated that meditation reduces stress and depressive symptoms while altering brain chemistry.

    Regular practice is more significant than extended workouts. Over time, 10 to 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. Start your meditation practice for a short while, then progressively extend it to at least 10 minutes daily.

    The final word – How can seasonal affective disorder be prevented?

    • Try color therapy to lift your spirits and evoke certain feelings throughout the dark winter months.
    • Bold colors and light will add some cheer to your home.
    • Finding a new pastime or interest can keep your mind engaged and help prevent the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
    • Think positively and maintain an upbeat outlook to chase away the winter blues.
    • To drastically raise your mood, listen to uplifting or optimistic music.
    • Traveling to a place with a warmer climate and an abundance of sunshine has a significant impact on your physical and emotional health.
    • Stick to your usual sleep routine no matter how much you want to sleep until noon.

    References

  • Gratitude is a Powerful Tool

    Gratitude is a Powerful Tool

    During the holiday season, being thankful and showing appreciation are often encouraged. We are thinking of gift ideas, ways to “pay it forward”, donating to different causes, and being intentional about returning kindness. This is a time to notice and appreciate the positives in life while finding ways to return kindness.

    Gratitude is a powerful tool for increasing life satisfaction because it amplifies good memories about the past and enhances social connections. The positive emotion of gratitude connects us to the kindness of others. Think of the people in your life—parents, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, employers, and so on—who have been especially kind to you. Reflect on their impact on your life and consider reaching out to express your gratitude. There is power in expressing gratitude to someone who has touched your life.


    “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good”

    Maya Angelou from Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer


    Easy ways to apply Gratitude:

    • Writing lists of several things one is grateful for
    • Thinking/writing about things/people one is grateful for
    • Writing (sometimes delivering) a letter to someone thanking them (for a gift)

    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Master’s level student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community, she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self-discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma-informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

  • Celebrate Yourself and Express Gratitude to Improve Your Quality of Life

    Celebrate Yourself and Express Gratitude to Improve Your Quality of Life

    When was the most recent time you paused, celebrated yourself, patted yourself on the back, and expressed gratitude? Far too many of us neglect to stop and appreciate ourselves, express gratitude, or think about our accomplishments, especially the small ones.

    Most times we tend to wait for our birthdays, major holiday, or some grand accomplishment to celebrate ourselves. But what if I told you we should be celebrating ourselves far more often than we currently do? What if I told you we should be giving ourselves figurative (and literal) roses on a regular basis?

    So, what is celebrating yourself?

    Self-celebration is recognizing and honoring who you are right now, not who you hope to become in the future or who you desire you could be. It is important to embrace, support, and empower yourself right now. You can enjoy being who you are anytime, anywhere, and for any reason. It isn’t boastful.

    Many individuals lose motivation quickly, but you can keep yourself motivated by committing to appreciating and celebrating who you are. Develop the habit of doing this every day. To rejoice in yourself, you are not required to have a grand cause or major accomplishment. Instead, enjoy yourself for who you are.

    Here are three reasons why it’s crucial to celebrate yourself:

    • It Teaches us to Appreciate the Journey
    • It Activates Our Gratitude
    • It Boosts Our Mood and Functioning

    In what ways can you celebrate yourself?

    These are the following ways you can adopt to celebrate yourself:

    • Take a look at your daily successes.
    • Think about your accomplishments over the years.
    • Give thanks for whatever you have in life.
    • Make a celebration playlist
    • Give yourself a break
    • Write a card or letter to yourself right now.

    How does the way you celebrate yourself relate to gratitude?

    The secret to leading a happy and fulfilling life is gratitude. One of the best presents we can provide for ourselves is practicing gratitude on a daily basis. To truly celebrate yourself, you must take the time to appreciate your existence.

    Unfortunately, it is simple to forget to be grateful. Many of us frequently lose sight of the simple pleasures in life because we are so preoccupied with what has gone wrong or only celebrating life’s highs. However, you may cultivate a spirit of appreciation that can change your entire outlook on life by honoring each day of your life.

    Here are some benefits of gratitude:

    • Reduce your unpleasant feelings
    • Keeps you in the present moment
    • Develop empathy & Build strong relationships
    • Gain a positive self-image
    • Lower stress, anxiety, and unhelpful thoughts
    • Enhance your energy and overall health

    Recognizing small wins while you wait for big ones.

    Do you ever celebrate your minor successes? It’s easier to focus on big wins these days and ignore small ones because we are not satisfied with them or because society has told us it’s not enough. We should remember that tiny victories will eventually lead to big ones, so we should be grateful for small ones.

    Everyone wants to accomplish their goals, but sometimes we need more inspiration to pursue our lofty, daring ambitions. This is why celebrating tiny victories along the way keeps us motivated to get beyond challenges and move forward.

     The Takeaway

    Celebrating yourself and your wins – big and small – is important to feel seen, heard, and validated. It is important to embrace, support, and empower yourself in this current stage of your life. It is not boasting to honor who you are at any time, anywhere, and for any cause. It is a celebration of what you are in your unique way and it can take any form you want. Self-celebration creates possibilities for how we treat ourselves, and consequently, how we live.

    Complete the form to receive your FREE Celebrate You, Gratitude Workbook.

    You’ll receive 15 prompts to complete actionable tasks to begin celebrating the wonderful person you are while expressing gratitude!

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  • Anxiety as a Mental Health Problem

    Anxiety as a Mental Health Problem

    By now we’ve all heard and/or used something like “My anxiety is really bad right now” or “I‘m so anxious about XYZ“. And that’s because the feeling of anxiety is fairly common.

    Anxiety is when you’re worried, tense, or afraid, particularly about things that are going to take place or that you think might happen in the future. Humans inherently have anxiety when they feel a sense of danger to their safety. It’s something that you can sense, think about, and experience.

    You can become anxious and unsure of whether your next move is the ideal one to make. Or you may feel anxious when you’re anticipating a new event, and you’re unsure what to expect. Many people occasionally experience anxiety. Anxiety is a common side effect when dealing with difficult situations or changes, especially those potentially impacting your life.

    When is our anxiety a mental health problem?

    So now you know anxiety is fairly common. The question is when is your anxiety a mental health issue? If your anxiety interferes with your ability to lead a life as entirely as you would like, it could be a mental health issue. Here are some other ways anxiety may be interfering with your quality of life:

    • Your anxiety symptoms are severe or persistent.
    • Your worries or fears are excessive, given the circumstances.
    • You avoid situations that could make you feel nervous
    • You worry a lot or find it challenging to regulate your anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks.
    • You find it challenging to carry out daily activities or engage in enjoyable activities.

    Common symptoms of anxiety

    Here are a few signs and symptoms of anxiety or panic attack:

    • Breathing difficulties or suffocating feelings
    • Heart Palpitations
    • Excessive sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Painful or tingling muscles
    • Upset stomach
    • Fear of impending disaster
    • Fear of passing away or being unconscious
    • Generalized fear
    • Social phobia or agoraphobia
    • Low self-regard
    • Health concern
    • Appetite changes
    • Self-harm

    What are some types of anxiety disorders?

    Social anxiety disorder:

    Fear or uneasiness in social circumstances is a symptom of a type of anxiety disorder known as social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia.

    You might find engaging in social interactions, making new friends, and participating in activities challenging. You will be concerned about being observed or assessed by others. Individuals will worry about being closely and continuously followed by others and judged by them.

    Panic disorder:

    Panic disorder comprises experiencing frequent panic attacks and constantly being on edge about having another one. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety condition that produces regular, unforeseen panic or fear attacks.

    Specific Phobias:

    This is characterized by extreme anxiety and unreasonable fear of a circumstance or an object, such as a fear of spiders or wide-open spaces. The irrationality of their terror may be known to those who suffer from phobias.

    Phobias can be brought on by genetics and environmental factors. If a close relative suffers from an anxiety disorder, children are more prone to have phobias. Disturbing events, like nearly drowning, can cause fear to grow. Phobias might develop due to contact with terrifying heights, tight spaces, wildlife, or insect stings.

     

    Six Tips for Managing Anxiety

    Here are 6 tips on how to manage anxiety:

    Know the symptoms

    Eat healthily

    Bad eating habits may result from hectic lifestyles. You should plan a time to eat a healthy breakfast or bring a meal loaded with fruits and vegetables to work with you.

    Learn relaxation techniques

    You might experience a reduction in stress and anxiety by learning specific relaxation techniques – deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, for example. Try the CalmiGo. This device is scientifically proven and uses 3 methods: breathing regulation, relaxing scent, and multisensory stimulation.

    Try something new

    It would help if you tried something new, like yoga, gardening, music, or any other pastime, to reduce stress and temporarily divert your attention from problems.

    Incorporate social interactions

    You should start interacting and spending time with your loved ones or join a group to meet people to practice being social. Others may be found who can offer psychological and practical support.

    Set goals

    Taking the time to make a plan may be helpful if you are feeling overburdened by financial or work issues. Set goals and priorities, then mark them off as completed. People who have a plan may find it easier to decline additional requests from others that make them feel uncomfortable.

    The Takeaway

    Anxiety is a form of stress response that is characterized by feelings of concern, dread, or discomfort around a particular circumstance. You may experience agitation, nausea, or the sensation that your stomach is turning. An anxiety attack can resemble an unexpected feeling of terror when there is no danger.

    People who have anxiety or panic attacks that interfere with their daily lives should consult with a healthcare provider to find out about available therapies.

    Try our Anxiety and Worry Management workbook!

  • Adult Friendships & Mental Health

    Do you have a friend with whom you can cry, laugh, and share your most private secrets? Or looking for a trusted friend to do life with? If yes to either of those questions, then you understand the importance of friendships. And you may have noticed that at some point in your life friendships were harder to maintain or to cultivate new ones – welcome to Friendships in Adulthood.

    What is the Impact of COVID-19 on Adult Friendships?

    Much like a plant or any living thing, the more care and attention are given to friendships, the stronger they grow and the more connected people feel.​ So when COVID-19 came along, and the term “social distancing” became the new norm, friendships were tested.

    The pandemic may have shifted your attention away from what you care about and who you are most likely to encounter. While it may have ended some friendships, others didn’t last long either. You may have also seen some relationships held by fondness and some fading away without an anchor.

    Wasn’t this the time when you realized the worth of friendships? Your friends are among the most important sources of comfort and support during stress. You might have felt lonely and emotionally troubled because of the limited face-to-face interaction that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders and physical distance requirements.

    Close ties are essential for assisting people in overcoming such obstacles. In addition to satisfying basic demands for social belonging, your strong relationships can provide much-needed emotional support and affirmation.

    Ways Adult Friendships Help Boost Mental Health

    Are you wondering how adult friendships can help with mental health and well-being? Adult friendships can benefit a person’s well-being in several ways, from enhancing confidence to fostering personal development.

    Here are some benefits of maintaining friendships in adulthood:

    • Provide emotional support

    Do you sometimes feel depressed, overwhelmed, or that you need emotional support while going through difficult periods in your lives? Well, telling a trusted friend who is a good listener about your terrible day or trying times can improve your mental health.

    • Boost confidence and self-love

    You may have some moments of low confidence where you don’t feel like doing anything. You may feel like the most demotivated person alive. But consistent, trusted friends can boost your self-confidence by complimenting you on your self-worth or on how hard you’ve worked on a project. Friendships typically go both ways, so offering your friends compliments, words of encouragement, and being there for them can make you feel purposeful and improve your self-esteem as well.

    • Help with personal growth

    You may occasionally experience feelings of not doing enough or that you haven’t grown much as a person. Having a supportive group of friends can aid you in seeing the progress you’ve made or motivate you to attempt new challenges and work on your personal development.

    • Prevent feelings of loneliness

    You may experience feelings of loneliness, especially during the isolation brought on by the pandemic, or just having busier schedules. Healthy friendships can promote social interactions and improve your mental health, whether it is through texting and catching up, in-person meetups, or the occasional Zoom or FaceTime check-ins.

    Why You Might Be Struggling To Maintain Adult Friendships?

    Have you recently lost friends but don’t know why? People can occasionally drift away, especially as life’s complexity and responsibilities increase. However, it’s not always the case. There are other reasons why you could be losing friends.

    • You Might Not Have Enough Time

    Adult connections are challenging, particularly given that everyone has their career, life, and obligations. Maintaining positive relationships and spending time with friends are harder and harder automatically. Always be sure to schedule regular time to check up with your buddies. If you have the time, talk to them in person, but if not, pick up the phone and inquire about how they are doing.

    • Your interests change

    And it’s all right! Friends can grow apart over time if they quit sharing the same interests and don’t have as many things in common. It simply demonstrates that not everything is intended to last indefinitely, and we must accept that.

    • Fears of Losing the Friendships

    Sometimes when we’ve been friends with someone for a really long time or we value the friendship we can unintentionally sabotage it. That could mean becoming extremely possessive and/or controlling or becoming more withdrawn, by “not wanting to bother them”. You can discuss it with your friend if you’ve been feeling a little self-conscious, restricted, or suffocated by the friendship. In a gentle manner, let them know what’s troubling you. If certain behaviors have caused you or your friend to withdraw, find out what is upsetting them and address it.

    • You Lack Energy or Motivation

    It may be difficult for you to keep up friendships if you’re going through a difficult period or are not mentally at your best. Your mental condition has already taken too much of your brain’s ability. The inverse is also true; if you notice your friends are withdrawing, they may be going through a difficult period. Be sure to check in with them and find out how they are feeling and what is truly going on in their lives. You might discover a lot, and continue building a strong friendship.

    The Takeaway

    Having a support system can assist you in staying committed to your goals, adopting healthy behaviors, and stepping outside of your comfort zone to have hard conversations. The people we trust and hold dear to us affect our lives and decisions. Be sure to offer your friends the care they require or to ask for it when necessary.

    More resources on adult friendships and mental health:

  • Life Transitions & Changes

    “Change is the only constant.” that’s what one of my high school teachers would say way too often during my high school years.

    *cue to my teenage self*

    Yes, I was rolling my eyes in class. As you could imagine, I didn’t like change, and I didn’t like hearing it was the only thing that would be guaranteed in my life.

    I’m sure you can relate: Change can be scary. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even stressed at the thought of things not being predictable or things deviating from what we’re used to. Fear of the unknown is a real thing.

    Life transitions can be anything from starting a new job, moving to a new house, having a child, or starting a new relationship. Even though these may seem like positive changes, they can still be stressful and anxiety-producing. Other transitions, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the loss of good health, are generally unwanted and unexpected.

    Over the years I’ve come to realize and accept that change is actually a normal part of life. Yet, we can still be resistant to change, and even feel vulnerable when we’re experiencing transitions in our life. But life transitions are not always bad; there may also be opportunities for growth through change. Yes, we can’t deny that there are sad and depressing transitions in our life.

    I get it, an unexpected and distressing situation is a bad combination. There can be a sense of grief and loss associated with change. So I want to provide you with tips and ideas on what you could do when going through a life transition – planned or unplanned; seemingly good or bad.

    Ways to Cope with Change and Life Transition

    We all experience changes in life, and it’s okay to need time to adjust and cope with the changes. Here are things you can do to help you work through life changes more efficiently:

    1. Prepare, if possible

    If you know change is pending and in the near future, begin to plan. Give yourself ample time to start to prepare for the change that’s about to happen. Set small achievable steps to begin to prepare mentally and physically for the change that’s coming.  Planning your way through your transition will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may be feeling.

    2. Establish realistic expectations

    Perfection is a myth, make sure you are adjusting your expectations to align with reality. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by enforcing unrealistic expectations of what is to come.

    3.  Create a routine

    We are creatures of habit. Whether we recognize it or not there are things we do habitually. Why not be intentional about it? Creating a new routine or habit will be helpful in starting to adjust to the change that is coming or that has already happened.

    4. Examine the way you talk to yourself

    I know we can be our own worst critic at times. So it’s important to note, the way you talk to yourself can actually make your situation better or even worse. Try positive self-talk to help you cope and adjust to the changes happening around you. Allow yourself that grace to adjust, we’re all a work in progress.

    5. Set small objectives

    Change tends to come with its own levels of stress so you don’t want to add to that by overwhelming yourself with too many tasks all at once. Don’t overwork yourself. Set small goals and work your way up. Larger objectives may lead to bigger disappointments; let’s save ourselves the additional headaches by taking things one step at a time.

    6. Maintain communication

    7. Exercise compassion towards yourself

    TAKEAWAY: How do you cope with change and life transitions?

    I’ve shared tips that have been helpful for me and my clients. But I can acknowledge that there might be several other ways to cope with change. I’d love to hear what coping mechanisms have worked for you when going through changes.

  • Let’s Talk About the Importance of Self-Care

    We’ve heard “self-care” thrown around a million times in the past year alone. It may come off as cliché at this point, however, self-care holds great importance. Everybody should regularly practice self-care. We should be actively engaging in activities that help us feel restored holistically. I know it’s been said time and time again, “I don’t have time for self-care” or “Self-care is too expensive“. But I want you to take a moment now, pause, and acknowledge your importance. How important are you? How much does your well-being matter?

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    I hope you were able to acknowledge: You are important to yourself. You are important to your family, your partner, your friend(s), your pet(s), your coworker(s), and the list could go on. Remember: You matter and you are important. You deserve to rest and to feel restored. So you should give yourself the time and space to take care of yourself. And no, it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming).

    What is Self-Care?

    So the big question: what really is self-care even? The Anna Freud Centre described self-care as “things we do to look after our mental health”. Based on the National Institute of Mental Health practicing self-care is engaging in things “that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health”. I think all these definitions are true, and I would like to add that it is about taking care of our body, mind, and soul by taking part in stress-reduction and well-being-promoting activities regularly. I emphasize the word “regularly” because I believe self-care shouldn’t be a one-and-done event — it should be something we incorporate into our daily routine. So to preserve a good relationship with oneself, practice self-care. Our capacity to live fully, vibrantly, and on purpose is dependent on how we treat ourselves. Self-care also serves as a reminder to you and others that your needs are important and should be given priority.

    “When we care for ourselves as our very own beloved—with naps, healthy food, clean sheets, a lovely cup of tea—we can begin to give in wildly generous ways to the world, from abundance.”

    —Anne Lamott, author

     

    Types of  Self-Care

    Self-care needs differ from one individual to another. Everyone can take a different approach to how they practice self-care. It has to do with what you need to take care of your overall well-being so that you can fulfill your obligations both personally and professionally. The various facets of self-care are listed here, along with illustrative tactics that you can implement immediately.

    NOTE: The activities and suggestions below are a guide only and it is important to choose activities that are meaningful to you and your own goals

    Physical-Self Care

    Activities that keep you in shape, provide you the energy, and help to improve your physical health:

    • Establish a regular sleep schedule
    • Try to eat a balanced diet
    • Make time for lunch breaks
    • Utilize your sick time or mental health days
    • Regularly exercise

    Emotional Self-Care

    Allowing oneself to safely identify, process, and reflect on the entire emotional experience, can be done through these activities:

    • Practicing mindfulness
    • Engaging in affirmations; manifesting; positive self-talk
    • Writing in a Journal
    • Setting healthy boundaries with family, friends, and work
    • Talking things through with a supportive friend or therapist

    Practical Self-Care

    This type of self-care entails actions that support your ability to continually work at your optimal level of success. Here are some examples:

    • Clean or organize your space
    • Create a budget
    • Join courses on professional or personal growth

    Mental Health Self-Care

    Activities that provide you the mental clarity and intellectual acuity to tackle life stressors you encounter on a regular basis:

    • Keep a journal for reflection
    • Take part in leisure activities
    • Disconnect after hours, turn off your work phone and email
    • Read a book
    • Spend time talking to supportive friends and relatives

     Spiritual Health Self-Care

    You may or may not be religious, but thinking of spiritual self-care should be connected to practicing activities that have purpose and meaning.

    • Reflective exercises such as meditation
    • Be in nature
    • Visit a church, mosque, or temple
    • Try yoga
    • Be of service to others; volunteering

     Social Health Self-Care

    We are social beings, thus having meaningful connections with others is important. Being intentional about fostering a variety of relationships is a great way to practice self-care. Here are some examples:

    • Call a friend and meet-up
    • Spend time with your partner, family, and children
    • Attend your family’s and friends’ special events
    • Join social groups based on your interests
    • Play with your pet

    Create your own self-care plan or download the FREE Self-Care Checklist.

    • Choose at least one activity that you can use for each of the given types of self-care above. There may be some overlap, so try to choose differing activities.
    • Include self-care activities that you enjoy, that promote your well-being, and that would be easy to incorporate into your schedule.
    • Put your list somewhere you can see it every day. Keep it visible.
    • Share it with your boss, coworkers, friends, and family so they can encourage you (and join in!). Keep to your strategy and routinely practice self-care.