Before the pandemic, many of us prioritized having work/life balance and perhaps took active steps to achieve it. In a pre-COVID world, this was as easy as leaving your work laptop at the office and heading off to a life outside of work. You may have been heading home to your family or a favourite TV show. Perhaps it was after-work drinks with friends before heading home.
For those of us who commuted to an office, there was a physical demarcation between life at work and life outside of work. By leaving the building, many of us were able to mentally unburden and leave work at the office. With the pandemic forcing us indoors, many of us are working from home for the first time. This is a huge transition and presents challenges as it relates to achieving work/life balance.
Work/Life Balance is Important for Your Mental Health
Rest and leisure are essential aspects of self-care. We are unable to perform our best work when we are burnt out, stressed or anxious. When we neglect one aspect of our lives, we tend to see the effects in other areas, too. We are unable to be whole and healthy human beings without balance.
Being able to separate work from the other aspects of life can be especially challenging when working from home. Here are some tips to help you achieve work/life balance as we continue to spend more time indoors.
1. Set physical boundaries for work/life balance
When working from home, it is important to have a designated location for working. This area should be separate from your resting or leisure areas. Even if you are in a compact space, you can achieve this by dedicating a small corner to work. It can be as simple as using a foldable desk, which can be stowed away with the rest of your work items.
It’s important to have a physical separation between “work” and “not work” within your home. This physical separation will also help to tell your brain when you are working and when you are not working.
Another physical barrier can be the clothing you wear. Though working from home allows for dressing however you like, you may benefit from designating specific work outfits. Be sure to dress comfortably, but still in a way that makes you feel confident and motivated to work.
2. Set time-based boundaries
Working from home does not mean that you are always on the clock. Set working hours for yourself and be sure to give yourself ample breaks throughout the day. Let’s say you have chosen 8:00am to 4:30pm as your working hours. When it’s 4:30, stop working! Close out all work-related windows, turn off the computer, and physically move away from the working area. There may be some days where you have to work additional hours to meet a deadline or complete a project. In general, make a habit of having defined working hours, just as you would in a traditional office setting.
3. Set mental and emotional boundaries
A key element of achieving work/life balance is setting mental and emotional boundaries. This simply means being able to mentally and emotionally “shut off” work at appropriate times. Remind yourself that there is a time for everything and that your work will be waiting for you when it’s work time.
Mindfulness is learning how to be present, without worrying about the future or past. When we are worrying about work during leisure time, it is helpful to practice mindfulness. This can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing to remind you to stay in the present moment. Take the time to notice the things around you and appreciate things just as they are.
Developing hobbies and interests is another way to set mental and emotional boundaries. When we take the time to enjoy our interests, it is a reminder that there is a life outside of work. When we are focusing on a passion project, we become so engrossed that we are able to unplug from work completely.
4. Set interpersonal boundaries for work/life balance
Finally, it is important to communicate our expectations to the people we work with. We can politely inform colleagues and clients of our working hours to manage expectations about response times. We can directly or indirectly make it clear that we are only able to answer phone calls or emails during certain hours.
When working from home, others may expect that you are “always on” or are able to handle requests at any time. It is important to be able to politely communicate these boundaries so we can maintain healthy working relationships.
It’s normal to face difficulty in achieving balance. The work we do is a fundamental part of who we are. Work-related stresses may affect your relationships, your home life, and your general mental health. The therapists at Flourish Psychology understand the impact of a fulfilling career on your overall wellbeing. We want to help you to do your best work so you can live your best life. Schedule a free consult today.
Depression is a debilitating, yet common, mental illness that affects over 240 million people worldwide. Treatment for depression is very effective for most people who seek it. However, most depression is left untreated due to factors such as accessibility, affordability and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Depression is not the same as short-term sadness or the usual mood fluctuations that come with day-to-day life. It’s a significant, chronic mood disorder that interferes with daily activities. Clinical depression, also known as major depression is considered a psychiatric disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Depression, when left untreated, can have devastating effects on all aspects of life. The good news is that treatment for depression is incredibly effective, whether through talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. Here are a few ways that your life can be improved by seeking treatment for depression.
A change in sleep pattern is a common sign of depression. This can mean sleeping more or less than usual. The most common sleep problem associated with depression is insomnia – the inability to fall or stay asleep. The lack of sleep then exacerbates the depression, in a seemingly never-ending cycle. In other, less common, cases, people with depression sleep more than usual. Depression can be physically draining and it’s not uncommon to feel fatigued or to be unable to get out of bed. Some people with depression also use sleep to escape “the real world” and may begin using or abusing sleeping aids. Sleep deprivation is associated with memory problems, a weakened immune system and trouble with concentration.
By treating depression, you are likely to see improvements in your sleep.
Untreated depression will undoubtedly affect your work over time. If you commute to work, you may find it extremely difficult to get out of the house and get to work on time. If you work from home, you may find that you are not getting much done. You may be unable to concentrate on your tasks or may lack the motivation to work. Perhaps you’ve lost all interest in your work, though you may have enjoyed it in the past. Or maybe, your job is a major environmental contributor to your depression. Many employees are fearful of speaking up about their depression, due to concerns about confidentiality or victimization in the workplace.
Through treating your depression, you may be better able to cope with the challenges of your job.
3. PERSONAL HYGIENE
Depression (and other mental illnesses such as PTSD and bipolar disorder) can have a significant effect on your ability to engage in self-care. Tasks that once seemed simple, such as taking a shower, shaving or brushing your teeth, can feel overwhelming when you are severely depressed. This can also extend to taking care of your physical environment and you may avoid tasks like washing dishes or disposing of trash. Over time, many people with depression begin to feel ashamed of their appearance or environment, thus worsening the depression.
When depression improves, you’ll be better able to take care of yourself and your surroundings.
Untreated depression is bound to have a huge impact on your relationships. Quite often, depression causes you to be more isolated or withdrawn. You may be unwilling to engage in social activities, even remote ones like video calls, responding to texts or using social media. You may become less affectionate or disinterested in sex, which may have an impact on romantic relationships. In turn, the people around you may be unsure of how to help you, or may be unaware that you are depressed. It’s common to feel like a burden, which may cause you to further isolate yourself from loved ones.
You are likely to see improvements in your relationships after receiving treatment for your depression.
5. PHYSICAL HEALTH
Though depression is a mental illness, it can have significant impacts on your physical health. Changes in diet or eating patterns are common, resulting in weight loss or gain. Eating problems can lead to stomachaches, constipation and other digestive symptoms. Many people use drugs or alcohol to cope with depression and these substances certainly have an impact on the body. Depression, over time, also has the ability to affect the immune, cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
When depression is treated, you’ll be more motivated to take care of your physical health through exercise and healthy foods.
Depression should not be ignored or left untreated. The majority of people who seek treatment for their depression are able to overcome or manage their symptoms. When effectively treated, you’ll begin to see major changes in your mood, your ability to manage your responsibilities and your overall wellbeing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an especially effective treatment option that allows you to see changes in a relatively short time.
CBT helps you to overcome your depression by examining your thoughts and core beliefs. Ultimately, you will be able to form a new way of thinking that is more positive and compassionate. You will be better able to cope with whatever life throws your way, whether at work or in your personal life.
The clinicians at Flourish Psychology have years of experience and training in treating depression and other mood disorders. Click here to schedule a free consult to start seeing changes in your life.
If you’ve been scrolling through TikTok within the last few weeks, you may have noticed the sudden increase in content creators talking about ADHD. The conversation around neurodiversity has spilled over onto other social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, too. Many people with ADHD are speaking up about their experiences, in an effort to spread information and normalize the disorder.
Public awareness of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has seen a huge increase in recent years. These days, it’s common knowledge that ADHD doesn’t only affect children. There’s plenty of research into adult ADHD and how it affects everything from finances to relationships. It’s no surprise that the millennial and Gen Z populations are speaking up about it on social media.
Videos with the #adhd hashtag on TikTok have received over 2 billion views, with others like #adhdsquad and #adhdcheck receiving hundreds of millions of views. Popular themes for videos include “things I didn’t know were ADHD related” “a day in my life with ADHD” and “tips for managing ADHD.” A scroll through the comments will reveal thousands of people saying “this is so relatable!” and “omg do I have ADHD too?”
Maybe you’ve heard your friends talking about ADHD recently. Maybe you’ve wondered if you may have it, too. Why has there been such an increase in these conversations? How can you get help if you suspect you may have ADHD?
Why the Sudden Increase?
You may be wondering why everyone is talking about ADHD all of a sudden. A good guess is that the pandemic has something to do with it. Over the past year, we have all experienced significant shifts in our daily routines and structures. This lack of structure raises especially difficult challenges for neurodivergent people. While it may have been easier to manage the disorder pre-pandemic, many people with ADHD are finding it difficult or impossible to meet their obligations right now.
The pandemic represents a moment of reckoning for many people. These unprecedented challenges may cause you to realize things about yourself that were not so obvious before.
It’s not just ADHD. Content creators are speaking up about everything from borderline personality disorder to bipolar disorder. It can be tempting to self-diagnose when you identify with a blog post or video about mental illness. You may be wondering what to do if you suspect that you may have ADHD, bipolar disorder or another mental illness.
The Danger of Self-Diagnosis
Self-diagnosis can sometimes be an important step in getting the help you need. For many people, self-diagnosis prompts a visit to a professional who can make an official diagnosis. It’s very common to visit a mental health professional because you already have a suspicion about a particular disorder. You can then visit a psychologist to discuss your suspicions so you can get a professional opinion.
In all of this, it’s important to remember that a “self-diagnosis” is merely a suspicion. A true diagnosis can only be made by a trained and qualified professional.
Self-diagnosis is dangerous when you do not confirm your suspicions with a professional. If you believe that you have a particular diagnosis, you may be tempted to self-treat with over-the-counter medication, a change in diet or some other behavior. Doing this without a doctor’s recommendation can have serious consequences. Self-diagnosis can also wreak havoc on your mental health by increasing your anxiety. It’s easy to get lost in the Internet rabbit hole, leading to information overload or a feeling of doom.
There is also the risk of confirmation bias. You may already be so convinced that you have a particular disorder, so you start to identify with every symptom you see. A professional is able to be much more objective and nuanced when making an assessment.
Getting an official diagnosis is the only way to access an effective, proven treatment plan for ADHD or any other disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for ADHD
The most common treatment plan for ADHD is a combination of medication and talk therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is especially effective in adults with ADHD. Many people with the disorder face frustrating setbacks at work, with their finances and life in general. Unmanaged ADHD can manifest in missed deadlines, chronic procrastination, late payments and an untidy home. Over time, people with ADHD can start to see themselves as lazy, unproductive or slow. This could not be further from the truth. People with ADHD have unique challenges not faced by neurotypical people. When equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools, they can thrive in any environment.
Because of these setbacks and frustrations, adults with ADHD are often self-critical and pessimistic. Negative thought patterns, cognitive distortions and low self-esteem are extremely common. People with ADHD often experience feelings of failure or like they “never get anything right.” These demoralizing thoughts can prevent you from being happy and reaching your true potential. In this way, ADHD and depression are often comorbid, meaning you experience both at the same time.
Medication will treat the neurological aspects of ADHD. Talk therapy helps you to manage the difficult thoughts and emotions that come along with ADHD. You will learn how to challenge these negative thought patterns, many of which may have been with you since childhood.
CBT also provides practical skills and strategies for managing ADHD. You may notice improvement in daily challenges like time management and procrastination. During a session of CBT, you may be asked to consider the thoughts and emotions you have around a certain task. Maybe you will realize that you are procrastinating because of a cognitive distortion. For example, with “all or nothing thinking” it’s easy to believe that you can either be perfect or a failure and there is no in-between. You delay starting a task because you fear you will not be able to do it perfectly. Getting to the root of your procrastination is a crucial step in overcoming it.
If you suspect you may have ADHD or any other mental disorder, contact us for a free consultation. Our client services assistant will schedule your first therapy appointment. You’ll be well on your way to an official diagnosis and a treatment plan that best meets your needs.
Self compassion is the deliberate practice of being kind, gentle and understanding with yourself. It entails being aware of your own suffering, challenges and shortcomings without judgment. It is often said that self compassion means affording yourself the same kindness that you would offer to a friend in a similar situation.
Research into the practice of self-compassion has shown considerable benefits for overall wellbeing. People who are more self-compassionate tend to have better physical and mental health and are less prone to anxiety and depression. Interestingly enough, the “tough love” approach tends to break us down over time. On the other hand, being gentler with yourself actually helps you develop emotional strength and resilience.
How you can practice self compassion
Self compassion begins with the knowledge that you are a human being who is trying their best. Everyone makes mistakes and will experience failures and regrets. Remind yourself that you are not the only one who is feeling afraid or uncertain. This is all a part of the human experience and you are doing the best that you can under very challenging circumstances. Self compassion involves recognizing that your mistakes, perceived inadequacies and suffering do not negate your value and worth as a person.
One of the easiest ways to show yourself compassion is to pretend that you are a beloved friend who is going through a rough time. Even if your friend was somewhat at fault or genuinely messed up, wouldn’t you assure them that it’s okay? Wouldn’t you let them know that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and that this too will pass?
You certainly wouldn’t berate your friend by telling them that they deserve to suffer because of the mistake they made. You would never tell a friend that their life is forever ruined because of one wrong decision. So why do we do this to ourselves?
Being a good friend to yourself
Ashley just found out that she didn’t get a job that she was really banking on. She feels hurt and rejected and her mind spirals with all kinds of thoughts. She tells herself that she will never get hired because she just isn’t impressive enough. The hiring manager probably saw her application and laughed. She should just give up the job hunt now because she will never find a good job.
Now, imagine that Ashley calls her boyfriend and tells him that she didn’t get the job. He responds by saying that he isn’t surprised because she simply isn’t impressive. He tells her that the hiring manager probably took one look at her email and deleted it. He tells her she should just give up on job hunting because she’s never going to find a job.
Ashley should dump that boyfriend, right? How could he be so mean during a moment of vulnerability?
It’s so easy for us to treat ourselves in ways that we would never tolerate from the people in our lives. It’s so easy to say unkind things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to the people we love. The next time you’re feeling low, ask yourself what you would want to hear from a close friend in that moment. Then say those things to yourself. It may feel strange at first, but soon it will become natural for you to treat yourself with gentleness and compassion.
Self criticism versus self compassion
Self criticism usually has good intentions. When we criticize ourselves, it’s often because we hold ourselves to very high standards. It’s easy to believe that self criticism helps to hold yourself accountable or keeps you in check when you mess up. But in the long run, self criticism can turn into a constant loop of self-loathing, leading to poor self esteem, depression and anxiety. You begin to fear your own brain’s mean comments, so you are constantly on guard and afraid to make mistakes or take risks.
Self compassion, on the other hand, provides a safe space where you feel empowered to try new things. You know that you can rely on yourself to be supportive during inevitable moments of failure and regret. This helps you to build emotional resilience over time. Self compassion is a source of inner strength that helps people to cope with the difficulties that life throws their way.
Self criticism cuts you down over time and can even make you cynical. Self compassion builds you up.
What self compassion is NOT
Self compassion is not the same as self pity. Self compassion comes from a place of empowerment, not victimhood. Self compassion does not mean that you do not accept responsibility for your actions or that you make excuses for bad behavior. Rather, self compassion gives you a safe space to be honest with yourself about your shortcomings without feeling ashamed of them. Self compassion reminds you that you messed up because you’re a flawed person who is doing their best. Self compassion gives you the strength to try again – and to do better next time.
Activities to promote self compassion
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective ways to challenge critical self-talk and embrace a more compassionate state of mind. This form of therapy helps you to identify and challenge negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors, so you can deal with them in a healthy way. You will explore and identify where there is a block in your life. You will also look at the beliefs you hold about yourself and how they affect your well-being. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology are trained in this kind of therapy. Schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.
Journaling is an especially useful tool for encouraging self compassion. Take the time to write about a situation that is causing you distress, guilt or shame. Then write a response from the perspective of a loving friend who can see the situation more objectively.
Why not come up with a self-compassion mantra that you can repeat to yourself whenever you need to? Examples include “I am going through a hard time and I will be kind to myself.” Try to use your mantra to counter any intrusive or unkind thoughts. Be mindful of when you are being harsh or critical towards yourself. Sometimes these thoughts are so frequent and common that we don’t even notice. Stop and ask yourself whether you’re really being fair and whether you would be speaking to a friend in this critical manner.
Self compassion is a deliberate practice that becomes easier over time. It may be difficult at first, but it’s sure to have long-lasting effects for your mental health and wellbeing.
Everyone should be taking care of their mental health right now. With all the stressors of 2020, we believe that everyone can benefit from working with a therapist in 2021. If you want to start therapy for the first time, or if you want to return after a hiatus, there’s no better time than the present. If you’re fearful about taking this step, check out our last post on overcoming a fear of therapy.
At Flourish Psychology, we work with patients through depression, anxiety, grief, relationship issues and so much more. No matter your situation, you likely have a lot to process right now. You may be experiencing anxiety because of the uncertainty of the future, the continuing pandemic or the political climate. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or a job. There are so many things impacting your mental health at any given moment. Here are just a few reasons you may want to consider seeing a therapist this year.
1. To process stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the entire globe, so it’s no surprise that it’s number 1 on our list. The pandemic has been life-altering for everyone in many ways. How have you been affected? Maybe you’re experiencing anxiety related to constant news cycle or maybe you’ve been affected economically. We believe that after surviving such a difficult year, we could all benefit from a few sessions with a therapist.
Seeing a therapist is an ideal way to process any COVID-related stress and anxiety. Our sessions are now online, so you can start therapy from the safety and comfort of your home.
2. Help with feelings of loneliness
With the pandemic came lockdowns, quarantine and isolation. Many of us have lost our usual sources of socialization and are feeling the effects of loneliness. Loneliness can be devastating, especially for those who are single or who live alone. When you start therapy, you will be better able to process feelings of loneliness and find coping strategies.
3. Help with feelings of hopelessness
It’s completely understandable to be feeling somewhat hopeless or nihilistic right now. With so much fear and uncertainty in the world, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless about the world the future. These feelings of hopelessness may be happening within ourselves about our own lives and futures. This can easily lead to depression or even suicidal ideation. Working with a therapist can help you to become more resilient in the present and hopeful for a better future.
4. Heal after the loss of a romantic relationship
The pandemic has affected our relationships in many ways. For some, they may have started spending more time with their partner as they quarantined together. Others may have been separated from their partners. Many people have made the difficult decision to end a relationship and may now be experiencing difficult emotions. Seeing a therapist after a breakup is one of the healthiest way to process your feelings. Your work with a therapist can help you to move forward from a place of healing and self-love.
5. Get support while you are grieving
The pandemic has taken many lives and many people have faced devastating losses. The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things that we can face. Losing a loved one can leave you confused and angry, even while you are grieving. Grief can affect your work, your ability to take care of yourself, and your outlook on life. We can guide you to develop healthy mechanisms to cope with your loss and manage your grief.
6. Deal with work-related stress and anxiety
The pandemic has affected our work lives. Some have lost jobs, changed jobs or have had other significant changes to their working lives. With many of us working from home, there is a huge adjustment to be made in the way that we work. How have you been feeling about work? Are you overwhelmed by your workload or doubting your abilities? Are you finding it hard to separate your home and work life while working from home?
The work we do is a fundamental part of who we are. Work-related stresses do not stop at the office and may affect your relationships, your home life, and your general mental health. The therapists at Flourish Psychology understand the impact of a fulfilling career on your overall wellbeing. We want to help you to do your best work so you can live your best life.
Whatever your reason for wanting to start therapy, you should feel proud of yourself for taking this step. We want to make sure you are paired with the best therapist to meet your needs. By scheduling a free consultation, you’re well on your way to making positive changes in your life.