cope with sadness and anxiety after vacation

4 Tips To Overcome Post-Vacation Blues

Returning to your daily routine after a fabulous vacation can feel like an anticlimactic end to a life-changing experience. It’s like someone slowed down time and showed you all the stresses and chores you have to come back to, and all you can think of is “This is how I’m supposed to live the rest of the year?”. It’s like Sunday night blues on steroids. But, is post-holiday depression real?

Vacations give us the opportunity to escape the humdrum of our daily lives for some time and recharge our batteries… at least they are meant to. But what if, instead of feeling energized and ready for new challenges, we return home with an acute case of post-vacation blues?

What’s Up With Post-Vacation Blues?

Post-vacation blues, also known as post-vacation depression or post-holiday blues, are characterized by feelings of lethargy, anxiety, sadness, lack of motivation, and other unpleasant symptoms associated with the return to work after vacation.

According to the research from University in Rotterdam, people experience the largest happiness boost before their vacation, in the phase of anticipation and planning. Furthermore, shortly after the vacation ends, a significant number of participants reported increased levels of stress, anxiety, and aversion towards returning to daily responsibilities. And, ironically, the longer and more exciting the trip – the stronger these unpleasant feelings that characterize post-vacation depression are likely to strike you.overcome sadness after vacation

Feeling blue and unmotivated after a vacation is nothing unusual and is completely understandable. While you’re in vacation mode, you do far more of what you want to do in comparison to what you need to do. You focus purely on pleasure. And that’s great! A number of researches show that taking a vacation can significantly contribute to your mental and physical health. However, a sudden re-entry from ‘mainly pleasure’ mode to ‘more responsibilities’ mode can be a jolt on your mind and body. Thus, you need to take some time to go through this process of re-adjusting to your daily working routine.

Besides, although vacations help you rest, de-stress, and regenerate, they do not eliminate the source of problems that typically bug you in your usual daily routine. A good vacation may help you run away from your annoying boss or your overwhelmingly full inbox for a while, but they don’t fix the issue.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent post-vacation depression or at least minimize its effects. Here are 4 tips that can help you get back on track with a more positive attitude.

1. Mix your responsibilities with pleasurable activities, especially for the first few days.

In other words, give yourself some time to ease back into your daily routine. Getting back from vacation often means having to deal with a pile of chores like unpacking your suitcases, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, maybe some cleaning around the house, etc. But if boring responsibilities are all that waits for you after alluring beaches or calming nature, it can feel like a cold shower and make your life seem a lot more stressful than it actually is.

So, instead of jumping right in and setting your expectations too high for getting everything done immediately upon your return, it may be a good idea to give yourself some more time for post-vacation transition and fill it with little pleasures. For example, make yourself a fancy cocktail and play some music you love while doing the cleaning or sorting out the bills. Or, the first day after work – go to the movies. Having your first few days filled with small stuff that brings you joy and cheers you up can help you avoid the downward emotional spiral post-vacation period can effect.

cope with post-holiday depression

2. Plan something to look forward to – even if it’s the next vacation.

One part of why post-vacation blues hit us is because, for some time, the anticipation of that vacation brought us pleasure and pushed us forward. Now that this long-awaited vacation – aka the source of happiness boost – has come to an end, our mood drops. Having something to look forward to brings positive expectations and therefore positively contributes to our overall happiness. The above-mentioned research confirms it. Thus, what the authors of the research recommend as the best remedy to post-vacation blues is planning the next vacation, or at least the next weekend. Putting yourself in a holiday planning stage again should alleviate the perceived misery of returning to your ordinary working life and bring back the excitement about good times waiting ahead.

3. Make a list of everything you love about your life at home.

There is no place like home. And although you enjoyed your trip, returning to the familiar comforts of life at home is something to embrace and express gratitude for. It is probable that the life you live – your hometown, job, family, friends, your usual routine and habits – have a tremendous value to you. This is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate how you live and to notice things that you usually take for granted.

It’s easy to forget and minimize the little joys that make our ordinary day feel comfortable and homey. In that sense, it may be a good idea to take some time and make a list of everything you’re grateful for in your everyday life.  Perhaps it’s a view from your window while you’re sipping coffee from your favourite mug exactly as you like it, or the coziness of sleeping in your bed, or returning to your pet, or that grocery store nearby where the kind worker always wishes you a good day, or your neighbour who’s always ready to help. Whatever it is, noticing these amazing, valuable things you’re coming back to is a good way to change the focus from post-holiday blues to gratitude.

4. Evaluate what isn’t working.

If your feelings of anxiety and sadness are persistent a few weeks after your vacation has ended and you find yourself escaping into daydreaming about past times much more than being in the present moment, maybe it’s time to look at why home life is so hard to come back to. Is your job too stressful? Are you too busy? Do you lack interesting hobbies and pleasurable activities in your ordinary routine? Are you bored? And most importantly – what can you change? Asking these questions can help you understand what makes your daily routine so unsatisfying and what steps you can take to make changes and move forward to a more enjoyable life.

You don’t have to do this alone. If you need help and guidance in identifying what holds you back and creating an action plan for overcoming these obstacles, don’t hesitate to ask for help. We’re always here.

How do you feel after a vacation? Have you ever experienced post-vacation blues? Share your thoughts and experiences down below in the comments! And if you like this post, please don’t forget to share it with your friends on social media – you never know who you might help.

Welcome home and happy summer!

 

 

Sources:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Chun_Chu_Chen/publication/258161384_Health_and_Wellness_Benefits_of_Travel_Experiences_A_Literature_Review/links/5a0a17b30f7e9bb949f96e31/Health-and-Wellness-Benefits-of-Travel-Experiences-A-Literature-Review.pdf

https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20093320218

Forget About Self-Esteem And Replace It With Self-Compassion

You probably heard that self-esteem is one of the most important things for leading a productive, successful, pleasurable life. But the term is a little confusing – does it mean self-worth? Self-respect? How do you know your self-esteem is too low and how much of it is too much? What is the optimal level of self-esteem?

Cambridge English Dictionary defines self-esteem as “belief and confidence in your own ability and value”. Self-esteem is also often defined as “One’s own sense of self-worth or personal value”. What is problematic in this concept is that it refers to “worthiness” and “value” of the human being.

The Illusion of Self-Esteem

Let’s stop for a second and see what value means: “The regard that something is held to deserve”. Indirectly, the term “self-esteem”, therefore, suggests that holding ourselves in high regard is something to be deserved. It suggests that we need to have certain traits or do certain things to earn to be “worth” of respect and love. It inevitably includes self-evaluation. But here is the thing…

You are “worthy”, “valuable” and “deserving”, if you want to use these poor terms, simply because you exist, because you are alive. There is no such thing as “more valuable” or “less valuable” person. Achievements, skills, talents, or some qualities or lack of those can’t determine our human value, because our worthiness is already set simply by our existence.

It is important to note that self-esteem is a concept different from self-efficacy, which refers to how well you believe you’ll handle future actions, it represents your belief in your own abilities. Someone can be appreciated by many people, accomplish great things, be successful in several areas, and those are all amazing things that are certainly pleasant. You may achieve greater happiness or more efficiency by achieving your goals or by believing in your abilities, but that doesn’t increase your intrinsic worth, nor do your failures can lower your human value.

Chasing Self-Esteem Won’t Make You Happier – Maybe Even the Opposite

Another problem with the concept of self-esteem, other than the fact that it is based on non-existent, or at least unhealthy, premises of “worthiness” and “value”, is that it also obliquely requires comparison with other people. Evaluation can’t exist without comparison to some “standard” or some external object. Therefore, determining our own worth means we first have to compare ourselves with others. As Albert Ellis, the father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) claims: “Self-esteem theoretically rests upon an often inaccurate and unstable global rating of the self in comparison to others”. This necessarily means that, to have high self-esteem, we need to feel above-average. You can easily see it in the simple fact that today, in our culture, being seen as average is considered an insult. But for every human being to be special and above average is logically impossible.

Trying to see yourself as better than others all the time is exhausting and can easily lead to self-criticism. To retain superiority, we have to meet very high standards. As soon as our feelings of superiority slip – which is inevitable because there are so many different people in this world and there is always someone better, smarter, prettier etc. – our self-esteem easily goes down.

self-compssion

For a long time, mental health professionals believed that high self-esteem is a predictor of greater happiness and life satisfaction. However, as much as this notion seems like common sense, research shows that there is no scientific evidence of a correlation between higher self-esteem and pleasurable living.

Another study states: “Self-esteem in the West is not based upon an unconditional appreciation of the intrinsic worth of all persons. (…) Research, in fact, demonstrates that high self-esteem displays associations with a broad range of psychosocial dysfunctions, including, for example, narcissism, poor empathy, depreciation of others, prejudice, aggression, and distorted self-knowledge”.

Okay, if not self-esteem, then what? Well, there is actually a healthier alternative to self-esteem that really predicts better mental health, greater life satisfaction, and overall happiness – self-compassion.

What Is Self-Compassion?

“Self-compassion means that the individual fully and unconditionally accepts herself whether or not she behaves intelligently, correctly, or competently and whether or not other people approve, respect or love her” (Ellis 2005, p. 38).

Self-compassion is the way of treating yourself – in a supportive and non-judgmental way, with kindness, understanding, and love. Being self-compassionate mean that you recognize previously mentioned notion about all humans having value simply by the fact they exist in this world, not by the set of traits and abilities they possess. Self-compassion encourages you to acknowledge your flaws and limitations, without forcing yourself to meet some high standards to feel that you are okay as a person. It allows you to look at yourself from a more objective and realistic point of view without evaluating or comparing yourself with others.

Why Nurturing Self-Compassion Over Building Self-Esteem?

Opposite to high self-esteem, studies haven’t found any negative effects of self-compassion yet. In fact, self-compassion predicts better psychosocial adjustment and resilience while avoiding the liabilities associated with high self-esteem.

Self-compassion gives us a more stable sense of self-love because it comes from within. On the other hand, as it’s based on comparison with others, self-esteem is unstable because it depends on external circumstances. This often results in having a more negative emotional reaction or protecting behaviours when people evaluate us negatively or even neutrally because we are trying to protect our self-esteem from collapsing. With self-compassion, in contrast, we don’t need to defend or protect ourselves from negative feedback, because we know that it won’t affect how we see ourselves as a person.

Self-compassion provides emotional safety to see ourselves as we really are. Instead of labelling ourselves as good or bad, as of high-value or worthless, we should accept our flaws with an open heart, take responsibility for our behaviour and choices, and still be kind to ourselves. It’s okay that we are imperfect humans leading imperfect lives, and we don’t need to strive to be “better” than others to love ourselves or hold ourselves in high regard.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17484611

https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Stephenson2017.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1025098225171

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/try_selfcompassion

https://centerformsc.org/learn-msc/self-compassion-vs-self-esteem/

Ellis, A. (2005). The myth of self-esteem: how rational emotive behaviour therapy can change your life forever. Prometheus Books.

loving your body

Guest Blog: How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

Imagine how life would be if you loved the way you looked? Yes, including all those beautiful imperfections. Instead of wanting to change that certain part you dislike about your body, what if you came to completely accept it? What if loving your body became natural for you?

Living in a social media driven world, what’s online may make one feel anything but empowered and self-assured. Unfortunately, media has led us to believe that if we look a certain way, our lives will magically become perfect.

We get it, feeling confident in the modern world may not be easy but it’s totally possible. There are many women out there who love their bodies – and they’re all in different shapes and sizes.

Loving your body completely simply boils down to respecting yourself and accepting how you look. Using yoga as a tool, we assure you that the journey to this place is going to be an incredibly joyous one, and we will explain how in this guide.

Asana in yoga helps you reconnect with your body

Asana, or yoga postures, allow you to connect with your body via breath and movement. When you undergo yoga training India, you can help your body achieve a much easier state of relaxation through regular practices.

Postures in yoga allow us to separate different aspects of our body, comprehend their functioning and understand how these areas work together.

If you’ve suffered from negative body image at any point of your life, you’re probably aware that it largely involves avoiding and isolating oneself from aspects of the body that induce feelings of shame and self-loathing.

Yoga helps you extricate yourself from this escalating form of neglect by encouraging you to listen to your body. To perform any yoga posture, you have to acknowledge each part of your body and understand how it prefers to move.

 

Pranayama promotes peace of mind

Yoga comprises of two main parts: breath (pranayama) and posture (asana). Pranayama, or more specifically, Ujjayi, is a specific style of breath in yoga. It develops heat in the body while stimulating rest and the feeling of peace.

Ujjayi is a deep and potent type of breath that fires up the lungs and throat. While this may sound counterintuitive in promoting rest, one of the main purposes of Ujjayi is to relax the body. It is a long, smooth breath created by lengthening your inhale and exhale.

A longer breath signals your body to relax. Taking some time to rewind is a great way of promoting self-love.

Yoga is an excellent stress-reliever. A 2005 German study indicated that women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” showed significant improvement in their mood and overall sense of well-being after being treated with 90 minutes of yoga per week for 3 months. Well-being scores improved by 65%, and depression and anxiety scores improved by 50% and 30% respectively. Complaints regarding back pain, poor sleep and headaches had also been resolved.

 

Yoga encourages positivity

One of the key aspects of yoga is performing mantras. Contrary to popular belief, mantras are quite simple and can help you during meditation. They’re simply words or phrases, each with different purposes, such as helping you overcome challenges and showing gratitude.

Repeating mantras is a great way to understand the power of a positive mind. When you repeat a mantra every day, you start believing that it is true. With each passing day, the mantra and your belief in it become stronger.

“I love myself. I am beautiful, intelligent and unique.”

You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional mantras. You can even create your own. A mantra (such as the one above) that holds meaning in your heart and resonates deep within you can be easily brought to life by you. You are the creator of your positivity.

 

You’re always amazed

Just a few weeks of yoga is enough to fascinate anyone. You’ll be surprised to know that it is not the yogic postures, but watching what your body is capable of that will amaze you.

With time and practice, you become capable of moving your body in ways you never even imagined. With time, you’ll be able to effortlessly stand on one foot, wrap your arms and legs into an eagle, and even balance your whole body-weight on your arms.

Whether you’re performing an advanced posture or you’re in the process of deepening one, you’ll understand that your body is strong, flexible, and incredibly beautiful.

 

You’re grateful

Even though some magazine covers may make you think otherwise, yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a beautiful journey where you can witness your body’s full potential and truly appreciate what it can do.

In most cases, people never discover their body in their optimal strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is an invigorating experience which can make you feel like a warrior every day. Once you discover this strength within you, it’s hard not to feel grateful for the body that gives you so much.

 

Yoga creates communities of love

Yoga retreats, classes, and online platforms bring in several like-minded people, helping in creating a strong and supportive community. Practicing Yoga is not only fun, but it is empowering.

People join yoga classes for a variety of reasons. While some join it for physical reasons such as toning up and building flexibility, others join it to relax their bodies. Whatever your reason may be, you’ll soon realize that yoga brings about another essential outcome: feeling comfortable in your skin.

Almost anyone who joins yoga wants to learn to love his or her own body. Yoga creates a space where everyone, at the same time, is thinking about their connection with their bodies.

When you join your first yoga class, be sure to introduce yourself to someone and ask them what brought them to it. Listen to their response and share your reason as well.

 

meera wattsAuthor Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/siddhiyogainter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

References

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I — Neurophysiologic Model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;1:189–201.

Catherine Woodyard. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-DecExploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.

Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998;27:563–8

McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.

Dealing with Dating Burnout in 5 Steps

“I’m done with dating. No, really! I don’t see the point of it anymore”

Is this something you have thought of or said aloud recently? You’re not the only one. Dating isn’t always as fun as it’s made to sound. It’s a lot of time and effort put together. You spend hours of your precious time and energy on finding someone you’re interested in. It is followed by working hard on making yourself presentable and then taking the time to get to know that person. Most of the time, if not all, it turns out to be a dead-end and with that emerges dating burnout. We sometimes get to a point in our dating lives where our mentality is all over the place and we no longer know what to do. When this happens, we might need top level advice to help us get through our slump. Rick Reynolds, founder of Reignite The Fire, aims to help people change their dating mindset and improve their luck in the dating scene. It might be a good idea to take a look at Rick’s website if you feel that you’re suffering from dating burnout.

Signs of dating burnout

1) It isn’t fun anymore. What started off as fun initially is not so anymore. The dressing up, the conversation to get to know the other or the texting that comes after the date has lost its appeal for you.

2) You have had one bad date after another in a series. Your date was obsessed with his/ her phone, had weird habits, was drunk or could not get the conversation going, whatever the reason; it just hasn’t worked out in the last few dates.

3) You have been complaining about it for a long time. Your friends, family and even your dog are tired of listening to you complain about the horrible dates you have been on. You’ve gone overboard and maybe a friend has not-so-politely cut you off letting you know you’ve been talking about hating the dating scene for a tad too long now.

4) You get sarcastic and even rude on dates. Some people love sarcasm, I get that. But do you think you are getting more defensive, sarcastic and even hostile on your dates lately?

5) Dating = exhaustion. The mere mention of dating puts you off and you feel terribly exhausted thinking about going down that road again.

If you fit the bill and are experiencing dating burnout, what should you do to get yourself back on track?

1) Take a break

This is the first thing you need to do once you realize you are experiencing dating burnout. You need to leave the scene and mix things up a bit before bouncing back. Taking a break would ensure you take the pressure off yourself. Take the time to be around people you like and enroll in that hobby class you have been thinking about. Getting off the dating cycle leaves you with plenty of time to indulge in yourself. Take advantage and have a life again. Dating comes with a lot of pressure. It’s often when the pressure is off and you’re going about your life that you find someone you’ve been looking for. Once you’ve had your break then it’s best to come back into the dating scene by trying something new. This gives new excitement to it so try something like speed dating ( get more info here) or get yourself set up on a blind date.

2) Assess what’s going wrong

Once you have taken a break from dating and are feeling good about yourself, revisit the past. Look at where you’re coming from and how it’s affecting your present. Do you harbour unresolved issues from your past relationships? Are you really ready to move on? Are you trying to find your ex in all your dates? If you think your ex may be holding you back, it’s important to close that chapter of your life before moving on.

How do your expectations from your date look like? Are you going overboard in wanting someone who’s good-looking, rich, sensitive, charming and funny all in one? Well, that might be a bit unrealistic, don’t you think? Chart it out. List down your priorities in order. Think of the bigger picture and what is it that you want at the end of the day? Too many expectations and running after an elusive perfection may spell doom for your dating life.

Do you find yourself in difficult relationships which have a common theme? Are your partners all unavailable, committed, need to be taken care of, or take undue advantage of you? If you seem to be choosing a wrong partner all the time, you need to assess what is going wrong in the dating phase itself and set it right.

How do you feel about yourself? Do you take hours getting ready for a date? Do you feel you don’t look good enough? How you feel about yourself reflects in how you present yourself and that may be a reason for dating being unsatisfying for you. You need to be confident and feel secure about yourself. When you are content being who you are, you will start attracting the right people.

3) Laugh it off

Humor helps in almost all situations. Do you think these bad dates would matter a year from now? Five years from now? I bet you’ll be sitting with the love of your life telling him/her about these misfortunate dates from your past and having a good laugh over it. Tuck it in for a funny memory down the line. Laugh it off.

4) Don’t take it out on yourself

Your last four dates didn’t work out. Big deal! Don’t fall into the trap and feel like the biggest loser on earth. You aren’t. There is nothing wrong with you and no, you aren’t doomed to be single for the rest of your life. Haven’t you heard that slow and steady wins the race? Or how about, patience is the best virtue? You’ll get there. Don’t put yourself down.

5) Don’t lose hope

Dating burnout leads to the feeling that there’s no one out there for you. Believe me, when I say, nothing could be further from the truth. Set your sights right. Get back from the dating break. The love of your life is out there and you will find him/her. Are you just looking for a bit of fun or are you looking for love?

Who knows, maybe your perfect match is just a click away?

Are You A Perfectionist? You Might Be Interfering With Your Success!

perfectionism counselling mississauga

Are you the type of person who needs to do everything in a particular way? Or perhaps things need to be “just so”. It can be tough to let it go and let things just be but maybe it’s time to give it a try! New research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shares that perfectionism may lead to stress, burnout, and potential health problems. The researchers took a look at the results of 43 studies, over the past 20 years, and found that concerns about perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school, or on the playing field.

Fighting Perfectionism

When we think about it, those with perfectionism tendencies have a hard time accepting flaws. They can be hard on themselves, as well as others, because everything needs to be perfect. If you’re never pleased with your work, then things will never be good enough for you. It will be very difficult to stop working because you’ll always wish to make things better.

To work on reducing perfectionist tendencies, try setting realistic goals. Also, accept failures or less than perfect standards as learning opportunities that help you improve for the future. Most importantly, forgive yourself when you fail, and reframe failure as a growth opportunity, rather than defeat.

time-for-yourself

6 Reasons Why You Need To Schedule A Date With Yourself Now

Finding time for yourself is essential for a happy life. Yes, being ambitious is important, finding time for family and friends also, helping others as well. However, it’s important to take a break and to give yourself some love. Only this way, you will have enough resources for everything else that you strive to achieve. Look at that as a time to refill and charge your batteries. You can’t use your phone when its battery is empty, right? It’s the same with yourself. So, here are 6 reasons why you should schedule time for yourself now:

1. You Love You!

If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you know that before take-off during the safety demonstration the Flight Attendants remind you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping the person next to you. The same goes in every day life! You have to help yourself before you help others, which means unconditional, self-love, all the time.

2. You Have Hobbies to Enjoy

There’s something so exciting about scheduling into your planner that badminton class you’ve been thinking about all month that makes you feel giddy all over! Spending time doing hobbies; whether it’s working in the garden, sitting in the sun, reading a book, taking a class…whatever it might be you own it, and savour the time, for you.

3. Exercise is a Habit

Your exercise is such a habit that if you *don’t *schedule the time in to do it, you feel like you’re missing something. Your body feels like it’s missing the thorough work-out you give it 3 times a week.

4. Slowing…Things…Down

Between work, friends, family, your iPhone, your relationship, you’re always on the go! Scheduling time for yourself includes locking your phone in your sock drawer, unplugging and putting away your laptop/iPad, and actually listening to the sounds of the birds chirping in the distance, or, going for a walk along a new path. Sometimes, there’s a need to just be by yourself, in more of a present, peaceful way.

5. Prioritize Time to Set Goals

You know it’s easy to get carried away with life. Often you say to yourself, “where has time gone!” You think back to the days of your early 20’s and say, “that feels like yesterday”. You know that setting goals in all areas of your life helps you succeed, and that taking the time to visualize and plan where you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years is the key to your success.

6. Peace and Quiet

That’s right. Studies show that even today, women work as long as men and have more responsibilities around the home than men do. So, scheduling solitude for the tranquility that comes with quiet time helps you hone in on your creative skills, unwind, and find more pleasure in the present moment (which research says really does make people happier. If you want to find out more about mindfulness and great benefits of focusing on the present moment, read our article: “6 Reasons Why Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Life Is Helpful”. ).

 

And remember…

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

 

 

A New Perspective On Your Environment

We wake up each morning, thankful for the opportunity to see the beautiful day ahead of us. What’s the forecast for the day? Maybe there are clouds rolling through the sky, or perhaps the sun is shining down on you, filling your body with warmth, Vitamin D, and rays of love. As the day progresses, you start your day’s activities – take a shower, eat breakfast, go to work. As it gets later in the day, you don’t often realize how fast time has gone by, and how much life is happening all around you.

So often we consume ourselves with tasks – keeping busy makes us feel productive, “fulfilled”, and satisfied thinking that we are doing something we “should” be doing. Have you ever stopped yourself in the moment and thought, “Wow, where did today go?” or “Why is time going by so slow?”  We’ve been conditioned by our culture in Canada to keep at it, to work hard at our jobs and to give our company’s overtime: but at what cost?

I’ve spent the past year focused on being more mindful. Mindfulness is a state of focusing actively on the present, without judgment towards your feelings or thoughts. When you’re more mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without criticizing or judging them as good or bad. I like to imagine it as seeing your thoughts and feelings on a cloud in the sky. You see them there, but you just observe them as they float on by.

Taking a New Perspective Through Mindfulness

From my experience, practicing mindfulness takes time and patience. For the newbie, the concept of actively focusing on the present can seem difficult, or even daunting! “How do I observe my thoughts? I’m thinking about all of my day’s activities, troubles, concerns…it’s so hard for me to NOT think about them!” Well, it is true. It is hard for those just starting out. But, let me reinforce how valuable this technique is, the more you practice, and the more you integrate it into your life.

I heard an analogy once about learning something new. I think it relates very nicely to mindfulness, or even other techniques in personal development. In Canada, we drive on the right-hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the left-hand side of the car. Now, imagine you’re in Antigua, where they drive and sit on the opposite side. In this situation, we’re assuming you already know how to drive. But, you don’t have experience with driving in this type of environment. So how will you learn this new skill? Well, you’ll probably learn the rules and patterns of this different style of driving, and then get real experience behind the wheel. While driving, all of your focus will be on paying attention to the details around you (as it really should be when you’re driving!). After time, and practice, you’ll start to get the hang of things, and this new skill won’t seem as difficult.

So, as you’re going about your day-to-day business and activities, start to notice what in your life is on autopilot. Are you noticing your actions? Are you consciously aware of your activities and surroundings? If you’ve answered no to any of these then stop for a moment, and notice the sounds around you. Maybe the humming of a fan, or the sound of the breeze against the leaves, or the dogs barking in the distance. Next, stimulate your eyes! Tune in to the colours around you; let your eyes soak in life’s beauty.

As they say, “stop and smell the roses.”

 

mindfulness mississauga ontario

letting go psychology counselling

Letting Go

Jack Kornfield once said: “There is a place in everyone that yearns to love, that longs to be safe, that wants to treat others and ourselves with respect. Sometimes that place is buried underneath layers of fear, old wounds, and pain that we have used to protect ourselves from injury.” 

The path to health and inner peace is often not a path of adding to something. It is the path of letting go. This is a main principle of healing – rather than chasing happiness we simply choose to let go of that which makes us unhappy.

Let Go – it means just as it says. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance an idea, a thing, an event or a particular time – it’s an invitation to make room for our future by letting go our past, at least a part of our past. We all have made mistakes and bad decisions. We all have ‘baggage’ from our pasts – painful relationships and old beliefs.

How do we let go of such things? Letting go does not mean ‘getting rid of’ or ‘throwing away’ or annihilating them. It is more like setting down and letting them be. A close friend to letting go is acceptance. Accepting people and situations for what they are. This means we lay them aside – put them down gently without any kind of aversion.

Past Relationships

A breakup of a relationship can crush our joyful disposition and replace it with tearful despair. According to brain scientists, nearly 20 percent of us suffer from ‘complicated grief’; a biological occurrence that is actually rooted in our brain chemistry. It is a persistent sense of longing for someone we lost with romanticized memories.

When we break up with someone, words like ‘time heals all wounds’ might ring very hollow.

Losing a relationship can feel like a mini-death. We may find ourselves going through the process of grief:

Denial (‘It can’t be over’) – You are shocked and in denial. You don’t believe it is over and you hold out hope.

Anger (‘How could he/she do this to me?’) – Allowing ourselves to grieve – there is nothing wrong with having a good cry. We are free to express our feelings, but not drown in them.

Depression (‘No one will ever love me.’) – Don’t go down that road, there is nothing good down there! – Replace those thoughts with: ‘All pain passes eventually’. Yes, time will do its part. A cut on your skin will heal in time, but it hurts now. The same is true with an emotional wound. In the beginning, it hurts, but over time the pain passes.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it. There are steps we can take to lessen the pain. At first, we need to stop the bleeding and soothe the pain. Finally, we need to keep our wound from becoming infected with bitterness.

Acceptance (‘I’m going to be all right’) – When this process is over, try to remember: Letting go opens you up to new possibilities. Everything about holding on is torturous and an exercise in suffering. When we let go, we give ourselves peace.

Past Resentments And Hurts

Sometimes our lives are like driving. Driving down the road of life, we all look through our windshields; we focus on where we are and where we want to go. But we also look at the rearview mirror to see where we’ve been and what has happened behind us. But, imagine driving our car looking only into that rearview mirror.

What do we think would happen? We can’t see the good things or the bad things that are in front of us. We can’t see where we are going, and finally, it’s not a safe way to drive, and even, seems ridiculous.

It’s the same way in life. Often times we drive down the road of life focusing only on the rearview mirror. We can get so focused on our past that we are barely able to move forward or to see what is in front of us.

In our mind’s rearview mirror is where we can feel resentments, mistakes, bad decisions, and hurts. But they are behind us. We need to be aware of our past mistakes, but we can’t dwell on them.

forgiveness

When someone wrongs us, it is only normal to feel a degree of wrath. When we have, or feel that we have, been wronged, we could become bitter. Constantly thinking about the episode could result in our having negative feelings about others. We might close up, isolating ourselves and showing little interest in others.

Our heart is like an heirloom bowl or vase. What would we do if it became soiled or stained? Would our immediate response be to throw it away? Not likely. We would probably put forth the effort to clean it carefully. In like fashion, we can work hard to get rid of any feelings of annoyance toward those who offended us. With our heart cleansed of negative thoughts, we want to enjoy again the close friendship that had seemed lost for good.

Physical injuries may range from minor cuts to deep wounds, and not all require the same degree of attention. It is similar to injured feelings—some wounds are deeper than others.

There is a saying that ‘you can measure a man by the size of the things it takes to upset him.’ How do we measure up in this regard?

Do we really need to make an issue over every minor bruise we suffer in our relationships with others? Minor irritations, slights, and annoyances are apart of life and do not necessarily require formal forgiveness.

Forgiveness, it seems, is much like money. It can be spent freely and mercifully on others or can be hoarded stingily for oneself.

Positive Impact of Forgiveness and Letting Go

Scientists have launched research that has begun to demonstrate that forgiveness and letting go can positively enhance emotional and even physical health. Forgiveness is not just a good social lubricant but also good medicine!

“In a study of more than 4,600,” says a report in The Gazette, researchers “found [that] the more hostile, frustrated and mean-spirited the personality” was, the more unhealthy the person’s lungs were. In fact, some of the harmful effects were even greater than those of a current smoker!

Dr. David R. Williams, said regarding his research: “We found a particularly strong relationship between forgiveness of others and mental health among middle-aged and older Americans.”

Negative Impact of Resentment

Resentment is a heavy burden to carry. When we harbor it, it consumes our thoughts, robs us of peace, and stifles our joy. The offender, at the same time, may go his way oblivious to our turmoil!

Dr. Hans Selye pointed out: “It is not the hated person or the frustrating boss who will get ulcers, hypertension, and heart disease. It is the one who hates or the one who permits himself to be frustrated.”

Researchers report that caustic emotions like bitterness and resentment are like rust that slowly corrodes the body of a car. The car’s outside may appear beautiful but under the paint a destructive process is taking place. When a person is unforgiving, the resulting conflict creates stress. Stress can lead to serious illnesses. Statistics indicated that two-thirds of the patients who went to a physician had symptoms caused by mental stress.

Dr. William S. Sadler wrote: “No one can appreciate so fully as a doctor the amazingly large percentage of human disease and suffering which is directly traceable to worry, fear, conflict.”

forgive

Forgiveness, on the contrary, brings psychological benefits including less stress, anxiety, and depression.

Forgiving others is not always easy. The pain can be immense, especially when a person has been grievously wronged. ‘How can I forgive someone who viciously betrayed and hurt me?’ some may even wonder.

Professor Carl Thoresen of Stanford University says that there are “very few people who understand what forgiveness is and how it works.”

What Forgiveness Really Is

The Toronto Star report defines forgiveness as:

a) “Recognizing we have been wronged“ – Forgiving others does not mean that we condone, minimize, or deny the offense what others have done to us. It does not mean that we have to approve of their wrong behavior or minimize the damage it does. Nor does it mean putting ourselves back into an abusive situation.

b) “Giving up all resulting resentment“ – At times it may simply involve letting go of the situation, realizing that harboring resentment will only add to our burden. Forgiving, though, does mean letting go of any resentment for such wrongs and maintaining our own peace. By dwelling on negative thoughts and mulling over how badly they have been treated, some people let the behavior of others rob them of happiness. Do we harbor feelings of resentment and bitterness when some injustice causes us pain? Do not let such thoughts control us! Refuse to become trapped in a web of bitterness and resentment. This can easily happen. If we allow our emotions to dominate us, the result may prove more damaging to us than the injustice itself. Ask ourselves: Must we remain in severe emotional turmoil, feeling intensely hurt and angry, until the matter is fully resolved?

c) “And eventually responding to the offending person with compassion and even love” – Waiting for an apology that never comes, we may only get more frustrated. In effect, we allow the offending person to control our emotions. So, letting go is not only for their benefit but also for our own, so that we may get on with our life. Forgiveness brings peace – not just peace with fellow humans but inner peace as well.

We may never completely put out of mind what was done, but we can forget in the sense that we do not hold it against the offender or bring the matter up again at some future time.

Forgiving Ourselves

If someone else made mistakes, we might learn to forgive them or at least let go of the anger. But, when it comes to forgiving ourselves, we often struggle. That is because it is easier to forgive others. We all make mistakes, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that when we’re in the midst of them.

Perhaps we are overwhelmed by thoughts of past sins or mistakes that we have made. Some individuals continue to harbor guilt over sins for which they have actually been forgiven. We may feel guilty without really being guilty.

But, guilt is not a ‘useless’ emotion. Psychoanalyst Gaylin says: “Guilt is the emotion that shapes much of our goodness and generosity. It signals us when we have transgressed codes of behavior that we personally want to sustain. Feeling guilty informs us that we have failed our own ideals.”

Regret is a powerful emotion and our mind has a hard time distinguishing between true mistakes that we can learn from, and little blunders that are really just a part of everyday life. Beside this, forgiveness is often today confused with condoning or lack of accountability.

 

In order to let the past mistakes go, we must forgive ourselves officially.

 

Choose to see life as a classroom, not a testing center. We are all humans on intertwining roads to self-discovery, searching for a greater purpose. On our roads, we will inevitably make mistakes – every one of us.

Dr. Claire Weekes commented: “To let past guilt paralyze present action is destructive living.” Most of us hold on to past mistakes and let them affect our self-esteem for way too long. This is not healthy and does not serve anyone. Healthy psychology is to acknowledge a mistake and cope with it. There is value in being aware of our past mistakes, but we cannot focus on them.

We can try to do our best, but we will never be perfect – We live in a world with high-performance standards. People think they need to be perfect. To err is human. We’re always going to make mistakes. Accept that we may have made a wrong choice and then forgive ourselves.

Joretta L. Marshall, PhD points out that people often try to forgive themselves for the wrong things. According to Marshall, “people don’t have to forgive themselves for being who they are – for being human and making human mistakes. Forgiveness means being specific about what we did that needs forgiving.”

Letting go our mistakes is like a technique we use to correct a problem with our computer. It is as close as we come to a system-reset button – we lost the mistake, but not the data in the memory.

Love Yourself

Many people have little sense of what it means to have love and acceptance for one’s self. This is not the self-centered love of the mythological Narcissus. It’s not being selfish – it’s being selfish not to love yourself. It is necessary to love yourself before you can love others.

Loving yourself is all about accepting your strengths and weaknesses and even going a step further by loving yourself the way you are. Modern psychology knows this. The great psychoanalytic theorist Donald Winnicot said, “Only the true self can be creative and only the true self can feel real.“

Can we look in a mirror and love ourselves unconditionally? People often learn to love themselves based on the feedback they receive from others. But this is conditional, not unconditional, self-love; self -acceptance based upon external achievements.

But unconditional self-love is learning to accept and love the unlovable in you. Learn to be kind to yourself in situations where you usually have been harsh. When you are down, talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend and move from criticism to self-compassion.

 

Yes, we can find inner peace. Rather than turning our attention to the past, we must keep our eyes focused on what is yet ahead. Life is a choice – the bad experiences in our rearview mirror are meant to be valuable lessons. Although it is not wrong to meditate on the lessons we have learned from past experiences, we need to maintain a balanced, realistic view of the past.

Letting go is never complete unless people and relationships are transformed in the process. At some point, we reach a turning point. Something shifts – we feel less burdened, we have more energy. We live longer and have better health.

We live in exciting times. Wonderful events are happening now and more lie just ahead.

References:

Jack Kornfiel: Meditation for Beginners, 2004, 2008, p.61

Six Keys to Personal Success – Awake!— 11/2008, p.7

www.ns.umich.edu/Releases/2001/Dec01/r121101a.html (Dr. David R. Williams)

www.seekingwellnesstogether.com/does-your-attitude-affect-your-wellness/ (Dr. Hans Selye)

forthright.antville.org/stories/782226/ (Dr. WilliamSadler)

forgivenessfoundationinternational.org/what-you-need-to-know/latest-discoveries/ (Professor Carl Thoresen of Stanford University)

wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2000488 (The Toronto Star)

nytimes.com/1983/11/29/science/guilt-or-why-it-s-good-to-feel-bad.html (Psychoanalyst Gaylin)

www.scribd.com/doc/168686686/Claire-weekes-hopeAndHelpForYourNerves-by-Kuryuka (Dr. Claire Weekes)

www.webmd.com/balance/features/learning-to-forgive-yourself (Joretta L. Marshall, PhD) Donald Winnicott, The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, p.148

overcome shyness

6 Tips for Shy People to Make New Friends

Shyness is the feeling of awkwardness or apprehension when approaching or being approached by unfamiliar people. Shyness is not the same as introversion. Introverts feel energized by time alone. Differently, shy people often want to sincerely connect with others, but don’t know how to approach. Also, they can be fearful of the reaction or results that will come by making the first step or initiating contact. In other words, they want to get in social situations, but often don’t know how to overcome shyness.

The experience of shyness can occur at any or all of the following levels:

  • Cognitive (e.g., excessive negative self-evaluation)
  • Affective (e.g., heightened negative emotion)
  • Physiological (e.g., racing heart, blushing)
  • Behavioural (e.g., failure to respond appropriately, avoiding certain situations).

Most shyness tends to occur around interactions with authorities and strangers, or, one-on-one opposite-sex interactions. In addition, unstructured social settings can also precipitate shyness.

Here are 6 Tips on How to Overcome Shyness and Embrace Your Socialness:

  • Visualize a Positive Outcome
  • Turn Self-Talk to Positive
  • Do something uncomfortable and get out of your comfort zone. Just Do It!
  • Ask Questions
  • Remind Yourself Of Your Strengths
  • Worry Less About What Others Think

Go ahead, you got this!

negative beliefs

Negative Beliefs

Have you grown up with certain beliefs about the world? You know how life works, what is possible and what’s not, what you can expect and what you can only dream about. Hence, you think you have a clear picture of the reality, right? Well, think again. Maybe the world is not exactly how you look at it right now; maybe if you change your perspective, you’ll find out that what you believed as a definite truth is actually a lie. We lived our whole life with a certain set of rules and a certain set of beliefs. However, some of these beliefs are not helping us grow. Additionally, they are simply wrong. These are called Negative Beliefs, and they can stand in your way to be happy.

Psychology Tomorrow Magazine posted a great blog about Negative Beliefs. Read it here.

Snigdha Gharami gives some good examples of negative beliefs and how they are wrong. For instance, the idea of “never changing” in life is a false belief- some people have a habit of not accepting changes, but changes are actually good for us. Or, here is another example – some people believe admiring something (even something good) will create a lack of self-control. However, it is also false, because you cannot lose your value by admiring something good. There are other good examples in the article, so take a look; maybe you find yourself in it, and challenge some of your beliefs.

In the end, she wraps it all up well: “It is you who makes and breaks these patterns. Take a chance, live life your way because you only have one- this opportunity and this day will never come back.

Embrace change, take a chance and live big!

 

Happy Holidays!