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4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

In a fast-paced world where others are depending on us, it’s easy to neglect our own needs. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t show up as your best self if your needs haven’t been taken care of. By neglecting self-care, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, we’re also less able to serve the people in our lives or perform well at work.

By now, you’re probably well aware that self-care is more than just your skincare routine or a trip to the salon. Self-care has been described as “taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others.” Real self-care isn’t about escaping the stresses of life. Rather, it’s about doing the things that are necessary to create a life you don’t need to escape from. This often requires doing things you may not want to do, to reduce future stresses and to make life easier in the long run. It may require difficult or uncomfortable tasks, habits, or conversations.

Are you taking a holistic approach to your self-care? Here are four aspects of self-care that are commonly overlooked or neglected.

Financial Self-Care

In a recent survey, almost 75% of Americans ranked finances as the most significant source of anxiety in their lives. For millennials and Gen Z’ers, there is an even greater likelihood of financial stress, given the harsh economic climate they were forced to come of age in. Millennials are more likely to be in debt, and less likely to have savings than Baby Boomers did in their 20’s and 30’s.

Financial self-care means doing the things that are necessary to reduce your likelihood of experiencing anxiety related to your money. This can include setting a budget, tracking your finances, reviewing your statements, and setting financial goals. Establishing an emergency fund can help ease anxiety because you’ll know that you can handle anything that may unexpectedly arise. By taking the time to keep your finances in order, you’re less likely to be stressed out by them. Financial stability brings a sense of ease and comfort.

Practical Self-Care

Practical self-care consists of the tasks that will help your life to run more smoothly. When these things are in place, you’re better able to show up as your best self for the people in your life. Practical self-care can look different for everyone, depending on their needs and lifestyle. Someone who has a tendency to skip meals during busy workdays may benefit from meal prepping and packing a lunch bag to take to work. Those who struggle to make decisions in the mornings may benefit from selecting their outfit the night before, to reduce the possibility of stress tomorrow. Consider the situations in your life that tend to cause the most stress and put practical measures in place to make things easier for yourself.

Other examples of practical self-care include taking care of laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks, getting your car serviced, and optimizing your electronic devices.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care includes those activities that nurture your spirit and help you to find meaning in the world. For some people, this includes practicing a religion, but there are many other examples of spiritual self-care. Practicing meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help to bring a sense of oneness with the world around you. Take the time to unplug from technology and read inspiring books or articles. Other examples of spiritual self-care include practicing gratitude, creating a vision board, dedicating time for self-reflection and journaling.

Professional Self-Care

Work is a big part of our lives and can affect our overall wellbeing. Finding fulfillment in your work and reducing work-related stressors are important for your mental and emotional health. Day-to-day examples of professional self-care include using tools and resources to improve your efficiency and productivity. Evaluate your workload to ensure you aren’t taking on more than you can handle. Take breaks throughout the workday to avoid getting burned out. Maintaining good relations with your coworkers also leads to a more fulfilling work life.

More “big picture” examples of professional self-care include taking professional courses, attending seminars or pursuing new qualifications or skills. Assess your long-term career goals and determine whether you are on the path to attaining those goals. By doing what’s necessary to get to a place of fulfillment in your work, you’ll reduce your stress and be better able to spend time with loved ones or pursue personal goals.

Self-Care and Balance

Stress can affect both your mental and physical health. In addition to increased depression, anxiety and substance abuse, stress can also lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, stomachaches and can even affect the menstrual cycle and immune system. When we’re stressed, we tend to be more irritable or quick to anger, which can impact our relationships. By neglecting certain aspects of self-care, we are likely to experience stress-related to those same areas of life. For example, when we neglect financial self-care, we are more likely to be stressed out by bills and missed payments.

By creating more balance in your life, you will notice a reduction in your stress. Prioritizing self-care allows you to balance the various facets of your life, for a feeling of holistic wellbeing. Although it may sound easy, it can be quite challenging to establish consistent self-care habits in your life. By working with a therapist, you’ll have expert guidance and support, which can hold you accountable as you seek to prioritize self-care and reduce stress. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can guide you in developing the skills needed to reduce stress in the moment and long-term.

Contact us to schedule your first session.

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

In 2022, coping with uncertainty can feel impossible. The future has never been certain, but for those of us living through a global pandemic, it’s even more uncertain than ever. Even though we’ve just started a brand new year, COVID-19 is far from being over. Over 58 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and numbers continue to rise as the Omicron variant sweeps through the country. 

Besides causing uncertainty with regard to our health and the health of our loved ones, COVID-19 has impacted us in so many ways. We may be facing uncertainty regarding living situations, relationships, jobs, and finances. Scientists still aren’t quite sure how much longer we’ll be tackling the virus and most of us have accepted that there’s no “going back to normal” after this. 

This kind of uncertainty can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.  Anxiety is often triggered by uncertainty because we naturally have a deep desire for a sense of control over our lives. Uncertainty causes us to feel out of control, which can cause paranoia, panic, and stress. 

How NOT to Cope with Uncertainty

Before we dive into our strategies for dealing with uncertainty, let’s touch on some of the unhealthy ways. If left unchecked, our efforts to cope with anxiety can be harmful to us or those around us. For example, obsessing or ruminating is a common response to uncertainty. You may find yourself fixating on the subject of your anxiety, constantly seeking updates or spending lots of time researching the issue. You may even find yourself micromanaging the people around you as a means of coping with your feelings of uncertainty. 

Procrastination is another common method of coping with uncertainty. Being unable to predict the outcome of your actions can cause you to delay those actions altogether. You may avoid an important conversation because you aren’t sure what the other person will say. You may avoid looking at your bank statements because you feel a sense of uncertainty regarding the management of your finances. We covered strategies for reducing procrastination in a previous blog post. 

Coping with Uncertainty by Developing a Routine

During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to develop solid routines. Our daily routines are, for the most part, within our control and we should make them as supportive as possible. Your daily routines provide you with a sense of structure and stability in an otherwise unpredictable world.

Consider developing a morning routine to begin your days on a positive note. Try not to pack too many things into your routine and be sure to give yourself some flexibility. Your routine should help to support you, not control you. A simple morning routine can include a few minutes of stretching, making a cup of tea or coffee and making your bed. 

Find Ways to Stay Grounded

Being grounded means having a sense of stability in your life. We all have those moments where we don’t even know what day it is and everything feels out of control. Being grounded means that (despite whatever challenges you’re facing), you’re able to be at peace in the present moment. There are many simple exercises you can do throughout your days to feel more grounded. A five-minute breathing exercise brings a sense of calm and control when emotions are running high. Take a mindful walk and observe your surroundings. 

What does it take for you to feel grounded? For some, it’s having a clean and tidy environment. For others, it’s ensuring their bills are paid on time. These more practical tasks are beneficial for your mental health because you’ll be able to remain present without worrying about overdue or overlooked obligations. 

Make Self-Care a Priority 

During times of uncertainty, it can be easy for self-care to fall to the wayside. We may find ourselves not keeping up with things like therapy or doctor’s appointments, forgetting to take medication, and not sleeping enough. Other examples of neglecting self-care include forgetting to eat or consuming foods with little nutritional value, neglecting hygiene or overworking ourselves to the point of burnout. 

Be deliberate about self-care. If it helps, set reminders on your phone to remind you to perform acts of self-care such as having a meal, staying hydrated or attending to your hygiene. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, eating nutritious foods and moving your body daily are essential. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re having difficulties coping with uncertainty, it helps to talk to a trusted friend or loved one. It’s always good to have someone to rely on during difficult times. Feeling supported can bring a greater sense of control over a situation, while a lack of support leaves you feeling alone and overwhelmed. Your friend may be able to offer another perspective, solutions or emotional support. 

Seeking help from a therapist is an excellent way to cope with the uncertainty of these times. Since the start of the pandemic, the demand for mental health services has steadily increased. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology do more than just provide a safe space for expressing your fears. Therapists are trained and qualified in various treatment methods for reducing or eliminating anxiety and other mental health conditions. 

By working with a therapist, you’ll also learn important skills for managing your emotions. By mastering cognitive and dialectical behavioral skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenges as they arise in your daily life. Despite the uncertainty around you, you’ll be able to cultivate a feeling of calm, control and stability. Contact us to schedule your first session. 

Mental Health Resolutions to Make for 2022

Mental Health Resolutions to Make for 2022

The start of a new year brings the feeling of a blank slate and endless possibilities. As 2021 comes to a close, many of us are reflecting on the challenges and triumphs faced throughout the last twelve months. During the last week of the year, you’re likely giving lots of thought to your plans, goals and resolutions for 2022. While the most common resolutions tend to be in the realms of fitness, finances and career advancement, might we suggest turning your attention to your mental health?

If the last two years are anything to go by, it’s more important than ever to prioritize self-care, healthy boundaries and emotional wellbeing. Here are a few simple ways that you can improve your mental health in 2022 and beyond. 

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude 

You may have heard this one several times before, but it still bears repeating. Expressing gratitude is one of the simplest and most effective ways that you can instantly lift your mood and feel a sense of contentment. When you’re in a state of gratitude, you’re less likely to dwell on negative emotions such as resentment or regret. Over the long term, gratitude has been linked to decreased stress levels and improved psychological health.

How can you practice gratitude in your daily life? It can be as simple as writing a list of three things you’re grateful for each morning soon after you wake up. This can be done in the notes app on your phone or in a  dedicated gratitude journal or notebook. Throughout the day, look out for small things to be grateful for and make a mental note of them when they happen. If you found a parking spot in a crowded lot, take a few seconds to appreciate your luck before you exit your car. Gratitude also helps to enhance our relationships. Be sure to let your loved ones know how thankful you are for their support and presence in your life. 

Begin a Mindfulness Meditation Practice

Meditation has been a huge wellness trend for the last few years. This ancient practice goes back to at least 1500 BCE, but is still incredibly beneficial for our fast-paced modern lives. As meditation continues to grow in popularity, it’s also become incredibly accessible. These days, there’s no shortage of apps, videos and online courses to support you on your meditation journey. 

Mindfulness meditation is a special type of meditation that trains you to slow down and detach from racing or negative thoughts. With regular practice, mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, foster a more positive mindset and even improve your quality of sleep. To practice this kind of meditation, get comfortable in a quiet space where you’re not likely to be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice how the breath interacts with the body – the rise and fall of the belly, and the feeling of air entering and leaving your nostrils. If it helps, you can keep focused by counting your breaths. It’s normal to get distracted; just bring your attention back to your breathing. Try doing this for fifteen minutes each day to experience the full benefits of this practice.

Sounds intimidating? Even five minutes of quiet time each day can have surprising benefits. You can also try practicing mindfulness all throughout the day as you engage with the world around you. Instead of absentmindedly scrolling on your phone while you eat lunch, try taking the time to eat mindfully. Slow down, pay attention and really enjoy the taste, smell and texture of your food. When taking a walk, make the effort to be truly aware of your surroundings, including the little things like the breeze on your face and the crunching sound of leaves under your feet. Living in the present moment means you’re spending less time ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. 

Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health 

Even though this is a list of mental health resolutions, your physical health has such a huge role to play. The three key areas to prioritize are sleep, nutrition and movement. By improving these aspects of your physical health, you’ll also notice improvements in your overall emotional wellbeing. 

In 2022, make the effort to develop a consistent bedtime routine to foster healthier sleep hygiene. Go to bed at around the same time each night and ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark and set to a comfortable temperature. Commit to reducing nighttime device usage in favour of more calming activities such as reading, journaling or gentle stretching. Lack of sleep or poor sleep hygiene has been linked to worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. By getting proper sleep, you’re laying a solid foundation for improving your mental health. 

Exercise is another well-researched contributor to good mental health. Moving your body not only releases feel-good hormones like endorphins, but can also fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Consider new and enjoyable ways that you can move your body in 2022. If you’re tired of the old gym routine, why not switch things up by trying out a new sport or taking up a dance class? The key is to find an activity that you genuinely enjoy, so that daily exercise feels like a natural part of your day. 

What about nutrition and your mental health? Just like all your other organs, your brain is affected by the food you eat. Diets high in refined sugar and processed foods have been known to cause a worsening of symptoms for many mental illnesses, including depression. On the other hand, healthy foods like salmon, avocados and whole grains are known to support brain function and can even help reduce dementia in older adults. 

Monitor Your Social Media Usage

We’ve written about the connection between social media and mental health in a previous blog post. While we may not yet have information on the long-term effects of constant social media use, we do have quite a bit of research on the shorter-term impacts. Many recent studies have explored the psychological impact of increased exposure to social media platforms and how this can contribute to depression, anxiety, self-harm and disordered eating. 

Although platforms like Instagram and TikTok can provide hours of entertainment and allow us to keep in  touch with friends and family, they can also encourage a few unhealthy habits. Comparing yourself to the highlight reels of your favorite influencers can lead to low self-esteem and FOMO, while endless scrolling makes it easy to fall into the procrastination trap. As 2022 approaches, do a digital detox by unfollowing accounts that make you feel unhappy or inadequate. Adjust your settings to eliminate anxiety-inducing notifications and disconnect from the 24-hour news cycle. Consider replacing social media scrolling time with other apps such as 

Set and Enforce Boundaries

Boundaries are a necessary component for maintaining fulfilling relationships and safeguarding your mental health. Simply put, a boundary is a limit or a rule that defines how other people are able to access and interact with you. It’s up to you to determine your boundaries and they may differ from relationship to relationship. For example, you may be uncomfortable with friends showing up unannounced to your home, while your romantic partner has a spare key to let themselves in as they wish. You deserve to feel comfortable and respected within all your relationships. Consider all your connections (work, familial, platonic, romantic, etc.) and determine whether any adjustments need to be made in terms of boundaries.

In addition to these healthy habits, working with a therapist is one of the biggest and most impactful steps you can take towards improving your mental health. Therapy can also equip you with the tools needed to improve your self-esteem, foster healthier relationships and achieve your career goals. At Flourish Psychology, our clinicians are trained in number of treatment modalities to address your specific concerns. Contact us today to get in touch with our intake coordinator or to schedule your first session.  

How To Handle Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder This Winter

How To Handle Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder This Winter

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is sometimes called winter depression. This type of depression typically creeps in during the cold and dark winter months. Symptoms of SAD are quite similar to those associated with major depression. The effects of SAD include feeling depressed for a prolonged period of time, low energy and motivation, feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest in your favorite activities. Seasonal affective disorder may affect your eating habits, which in turn leads to changes in weight. Sleep is also affected, with some experiencing insomnia (lack of sleep) and others experiencing hypersomnia (sleeping too much). 

Seasonal Affective Disorder During COVID-19

As you can imagine, the symptoms of SAD are exacerbated while living through a global pandemic. If you’ve been feeling especially depressed recently, you’re not alone. Millions of people across the world are currently coping with increased feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and fear.

The pandemic is far from over. COVID-19 can worsen the effects of SAD in a number of ways. Many of us are still unable to have the level of social interaction that we may have grown accustomed to pre-pandemic. Prolonged social isolation will lead to worsening symptoms of depression and feelings of hopelessness. Additionally, the pandemic has caused so much trauma – deaths, loss of jobs, loss of home, loss of relationships. These stressors are sure to have an impact on your mental health. All of this is coinciding with the holiday season, which can be an emotionally triggering time for many people. With all of these variables happening simultaneously, 

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder shows itself in many ways. Common signs and symptoms include oversleeping and a change in your eating habits. Many people experience increased cravings for carbs or sweets. Because of this weight gain is another common side effect of SAD. 

Those experiencing SAD will feel down for most of the day, on an almost daily basis. It’s common to lose interest in activities you typically and to feel sluggish or fatigued. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt or shame may pop up during this time of year. You may have difficulty concentrating, which can impact your performance at work or in your relationships. Some people will experience suicidal ideation as a result of SAD. 

Tips for coping with SAD During COVID-19

Self-Care Is a Must

During a long and dreary winter, the days tend to bleed into each other and you may find yourself neglecting self-care tasks. Be sure to keep up with your hygiene routines, stay hydrated, eat healthy foods and prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. Many people are more prone to illnesses during this time, so take extra care of your physical health.

Beyond that, you should also make time for those ‘extra’ self-care activities that just make you feel good. Whether it’s a bubble bath, time with a good book or cooking a favorite meal, you can help manage SAD by doing things that you enjoy. This is known as behavioral activation, and it’s an important element of cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Move Your Body

Exercise benefits both our physical and mental health. During the winter months, it can be hard to find the motivation to get moving. But by staying active, you’re helping to reduce the effects of SAD not only by releasing endorphins, but also due to behavioral activation, which we mentioned earlier. 

With the right gear, you can go walking or running outside during the colder months. Consider investing in a few pieces of winter exercise wear to encourage yourself to get moving. If you prefer to work out indoors and have access to exercise equipment, the treadmill and stationary bike are great options. If you don’t have access to equipment, there are endless apps, videos and websites that can help you to workout without having to leave your living room. 

Give Light Therapy a Try 

Light therapy is commonly recommended for treating seasonal affective disorder. During light therapy, you are exposed to artificial light that mimics natural outdoor light. Research shows that exposure to light release a chemical in the brain that lifts your mood and eases the effect of SAD. Light therapy lamps are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online. Try using the lamp within the first hour of waking up in the morning. 

Practice Mindfulness Daily

Mindfulness has been proven to be effective in managing the symptoms of SAD. Mindfulness meditation gives you a moment to be still and calm and to notice our thoughts in a clear and non-judgmental way. We often move through life so quickly that we rarely stop to notice our thinking patterns or negative self-talk. 

Meditation isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness. You can incorporate mindfulness into your days in simple, ways. When eating a meal or drinking a cup of tea, try to do it more mindfully. On your next walk, you can be more mindful by making the effort to observe and appreciate your environment. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

If you’ve been feeling down for a prolonged period of time, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Let your loved ones know what you’ve been experiencing. Your support system can be extremely beneficial in helping you to manage the symptoms of SAD. Having a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on go a very long way. 

Are you able to get help with tasks like cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry? For many people experiencing depression, these tasks are incredibly difficult to do. Are you able to get help from a partner, friend or family member? If you have the means, consider delegating these tasks to a grocery delivery service or laundry service. 

If your symptoms have been present for a prolonged period, it’s worth considering professional help. By working with a therapist, you’re taking a big step towards managing, reducing and even eliminating the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be an effective method of treating SAD because it teaches you to change the way you think.

The clinicians at Flourish Psychology are trained and qualified in aa number of treatment modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Contact us to schedule your first session. 

How to Handle the Holidays With an Eating Disorder

How to Handle the Holidays With an Eating Disorder

Holidays are celebrated as a time for gathering with loved ones, sharing meals and creating memories. But this time of year can be especially difficult for those dealing with an eating disorder or body image issues. Food is a central element of holiday celebrations and there’s often a lot of it on display. You may be expected to consume certain types of food or a large amount of food. Holidays may also force you to interact with relatives who have a negative impact on your mental health and body image, whether with their words, actions, or their very presence. Sometimes, the anxiety associated with going home for the holidays can even trigger a worsening of symptoms.

Large family gatherings present many challenges for those with an eating disorder. Maybe your relatives don’t know about it and you’re anxious about it being found out. Maybe you’re triggered by just the sight of a large display of food or constant conversations about food. Then there are the relatives who make comments about your body or your food. 

Here are a few coping strategies to consider as you navigate the festive season. 

Setting Boundaries with Relatives

Family gatherings can be especially stressful when our relatives cause us to feel uncomfortable. The holidays are often a time when friends and family provide unsolicited and unhelpful comments about your body or your eating habits. You may be forced to deal with remarks on weight loss or gain, and questions about the quantity or frequency of your meals. Sometimes, these comments are well-meaning and may be coming from someone who doesn’t understand how triggering they can be. Regardless of their intentions, the effect of these comments can still be detrimental. 

Anticipate these comments ahead of time and come up with a game plan for responding to them. For example, you can decide that you will say “I’m not hungry. Please stop trying to force me to eat that” and physically distance yourself from anyone who causes you to feel uncomfortable. If your family is aware of your eating disorder, is it possible to have a conversation with them before the big gathering?

Here are some phrases that can help you to politely, but assertively set boundaries during these scenarios:

  • I won’t continue this conversation if you keep making those comments.
  • No, thank you. 
  • I don’t want that.
  • I’m not comfortable discussing this topic.
  • You’re making me uncomfortable, so I’m going to leave.
  • Thanks for your concern, but I can take care of myself. 
  • Let’s talk about something else. 
  • I don’t like being called that name.
  • I didn’t find that funny. Please don’t say that again.

Rely on Your Support Systems

Who do you usually rely on for emotional support? Are you able to access them at this time? Sometimes during the holidays, we’re separated from our usual environments or social groups, as we head elsewhere to spend time with family. If a friend is your usual support system, but you’ll be apart for the holidays, be sure to let them know what’s happening. Inform them ahead of time of the difficulties you’re anticipating during this season, and that you’ll need their support. Texts, calls and video chat can all be incredibly useful tools for connecting with your support system. Knowing that they’re on standby can bring a feeling of comfort as you navigate this challenging time. 

Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Holidays bring huge changes to our daily routines and environment. With all these changes, it can be difficult to stick to your own routine and self-care may fall to the wayside. But during emotionally challenging times, we need more self-care than ever. If you have been prescribed medication, be sure to continue taking them as directed. Keep up with your hygiene habits and, if you’re menstruating, ensure you have everything you need to make yourself comfortable (such as a heating pad or pain medication). During stressful times, it’s especially important that you get enough sleep, water and nutrition. If you have a special hobby that brings you peace, are you able to engage in this hobby during the holidays? 

Financial self-care is important during the holidays, since this is often a season of spending. Check in with your finances to ensure you’re sticking to your budget, to avoid any undue stress come January. 

Remember to Recharge

This can be an extremely overwhelming time. How will you recharge your body and mind? It can be as simple as taking a ten-minute walk to clear your head before heading back into the gathering. Maybe you have a playlist that puts you in a better mood or you enjoy watching videos of cute animals online. Have these things at the ready for when you need a moment to catch your breath. Writing in a journal is an effective way of reducing stress and recharging. Spend a few minutes to check in with yourself by writing about how you’re feeling. Meditation, breathing exercises, coloring and taking a short break from technology are all simple ways of finding peace during chaotic moments. Bring along a good book, magazine or video game for a quick escape.

Flourish Psychology offers treatment for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other disordered eating and body image issues. By working with a therapist, you can equip yourself with the tools and resources needed to handle your day-to-day challenges. You will notice increased levels of self-esteem and a decrease in feelings of fear and stress. We want to help improve your relationship with your body, food and exercise.  

Contact us today to schedule your first session.