social media

Saving Your Happiness: How to Use Social Media in a Healthy Way

Today, it would be really difficult to find anyone who’s not using at least one form of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and many more became an inevitable part of our lives. And it can be great – isn’t the quick way to connect with your loved ones and share your experiences with each other in seconds amazing? Isn’t the opportunity to quickly consume any type of information you’re interested in, from educational to entertaining, simply awesome?
Yes, if you have a healthy relationship with social media. But, sometimes, it can be easy to forget what it really means.

Social Media and Mental Health

While some studies claim the relationship between mental health and usage of social media is still vague, others have found that higher social media use could have the negative effect on our mental health in forms of anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, more negative body image, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. Which effect social media will have on your mental health depends on numerous different factors, such as the way you use it or the amount of time spent on social media.

You already know that it’s easy to fall into a dark hole of scrolling through your social media feed for hours. You also know how awful you can feel afterward. But you don’t have to give up social media completely to avoid its negative effects. If you use it the right way and have a couple of things in mind, social media can have a positive presence in your life. Here are some tips to stay happy and healthy online.

 

1. It’s All a Filter – And That’s Okay

We all want to be loved. We also want to leave a good impression on people. It feels great when people see us as fun, smart, pretty, successful (be free to add your own ideal set of characteristics ). That is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with enjoying compliments and wanting people to think good about you – it’s our natural tendency – as long as:

A) …it doesn’t become an obsession for you, where you don’t let people see anything that is, by your standard, less than perfect or socially desirable. If this sounds a little like you, THIS is the article that might be useful.

B) …you’re aware that other people have this desire too, and social media allows them to fulfill it.

When scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook, always remember that social media allows people to show you only the parts of them they want you to see. You usually won’t see the photo of your neighbor brushing their teeth or having a headache. However, you WILL see them enjoying a cocktail on a rooftop bar or receiving an award for something awesome. Your friends on social media have a bunch of amazing and also not-so-great moments in their lives, but it’s such an easy thing to forget. It’s so easy to get caught in a trap of believing that what you see on social media is the whole reality. So, what should you do?

Imagine social media as a filter between you and other people that lets through only positive snapshots of their lives. That is what you see on your feed. It doesn’t mean people are lying or they’re “fake”; it just means they’re showing you only certain, chosen parts of their lives. Always remember to approach social media with this mindset.

social media happiness

2. Comparison is a Strong Weapon Against Your Happiness

If you understand the previous point – how people show us only a filtered picture of their lives on social media – then you realize that comparing yourself to other people online makes no sense. You’re different people with different set of characteristics, abilities, connections, life circumstances and many more! Comparing your whole life, including all its ups and downs, with a polished picture of someone else’s is not a fair battle.

Comparison opens door to envy, loneliness, bitterness and a whole bunch of other unhealthy emotions you don’t want in your life. Why, then, you let the comparison do it when it won’t increase the quality of your life in any way? The answer: because it’s an automatic reaction.

Comparison is pointless – unless you want to destroy your happiness – then it’s a powerful tool.
There are two ways to fight comparison. One is to consciously choose to notice when you start comparing yourself to others and stop. Yes, simply put an end to it right that moment. Log out, tell yourself you’re doing the pointless thing again, unfollow the person.

The other way is to turn this automatism into your advantage by reformatting comparison into an inspiration. Remember that someone else’s happiness does not minimize your own, nor you’re doing something wrong for having a different life than that person. Instead, set your own goals, and let some of the social media posts you see serve as an inspiration and motivation to pursue them. Instead of getting jealous and falling down the rut of self-pity, you can be grateful for the inspiration that moves you towards your goal.

Your only competition is your former self.

 

3. No, You’re NOT Missing Out

Do you automatically reach out your phone because maybe something interesting or exciting is happening online and you might miss it? What if others are having an amazing time and you’re not there to see it? If this sounds like you, you’re maybe experiencing fear of missing out or, popularly, FOMO.

FOMO is the type of a general anxiety over the idea that others are having more exciting and fun experiences elsewhere while we’re not involved. This term is in use for more than 20 years, but more and more people are experiencing it with the rise of social media. In fact, one study showed that FOMO is the strongest contributing factor to social media addiction among youth.

What is often happening when you’re glued to your phone searching for fun online is that you’re trying to escape the reality around you.

Are you satisfied with what is going on right now in your life? Try to pinpoint the reason why getting lost in social media feed is more interesting than being involved in the present moment. Writing it on a piece of paper might be useful. Now, what can be some possible solutions? Running away from reality is not one of them.

Another thing that might help you combat this unpleasant feeling of missing out is mindfulness. When you’re fully present, when you’re consciously paying attention to every moment of your life without judgment, you are making the active decision to enjoy things and people around you.

 

Being on social media can create some positive experiences in your life, but it can also become an additional stressor. If you feel that social media is impacting your mood more than it should, or you feel like it’s taking significantly more time of your day than you’d want and you find it hard to control, consider reaching out and speaking with someone. There is always a solution, and you don’t have to search for it alone.

 

Sources:

https://mentalhealthscreening.org/blog/how-to-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-social-media
https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174014451730517X#
https://www.ntu.ac.uk/about-us/news/news-articles/2018/06/fear-of-missing-out-driving-social-media-addiction,-study-suggests
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183915/

flirting-style

Featured Post: Psychology Today on Flirting Styles

Flirting defines as “to act as if one is sexually attracted to another person, usually in a playful manner“. Flirting is a behavior that both men and women can use freely to show interest in someone they are sexually, physically, or emotionally attracted to. People also often flirt just for fun, or for boosting confidence. 

Different people have different ways of expressing interest toward someone. If you’re trying to find the right person for you but it looks like nobody worth your attention is interested in you, look more closely. Maybe someone is flirting with you without you even realizing that. This happens often to people, as they sometimes find it a little difficult to recognize if someone is flirting with them, especially if that someone has a different flirting style than them. Als, check out the article: “10 Signs She’s Flirting With You”; it might help you recognize when someone is expressing interest towards you.

Renee Garfinkel Ph.D. wrote a nice article about styles of flirting on Psychology Today. She says that the way people flirt falls roughly into one of 5 categories:

1. Traditional Flirt

This style of flirting involves traditional roles of men and women – men are supposed to make the first move while women should be feminine and playing “hard to get”.

2. Playful Flirt

Remember when we said that some people are flirting just for fun? These people fall into this category.

3. Physical Flirting

This flirting style often sends the message of sexual attraction toward the other person. Spontaneous touches and putting an accent on attractive parts of the body are characteristics of this style.

4. Polite Flirting

Polite flirting is the least obvious style. It involves nonsexual behaviors and proper manners as tools for expressing romantic interest toward another person.

5. Sincere Flirting

People in this category tend to express sincere interest in the person they like, in order to create an emotional connection. These people will genuinely ask about other person’s favorite book or movie or about their hobbies.

Read the full article on flirting here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/time-out/201011/whats-your-flirting-style

 

How do you feel about flirting? Do you use any of the 5 styles of flirting mentioned in the article? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave your comments below.

 

 

individual counselling mississauga

Why Being Kind Is Important

Yesterday I was waiting for the bus to take me downtown for a meeting. As I was waiting at the bus stop, a lady walked up to another woman and asked her if she could use a free pass. The lady being asked, looked a bit surprised, as if she was shocked to have somebody offer her something like this. Those little acts of kindness can have a huge impact on people on the long run, especially in relationships.

Random acts of kindness go a long way.

According to research by Dr. John and Julie Gottman, the positive perspective keeps the ship afloat. In romantic relationships, they say that it takes 5 positive interactions to weigh 1 negative interaction. In other words, if the ratio of positive to negative interaction during the conflict was greater than or equal to 5:1 then couples were more or less stable and happy.

If you want to learn more about the 5:1, you can watch Dr. Gottman’s video here:

 

Have you noticed the 5:1 in your life? How do you feel after a conflict? Do you notice it takes time to heal the wounds?

Why not embrace the positive and share acts of kindness today!

 

How to Resolve Conflicts and Communicate Successfully

Have you ever felt like others misunderstand your words and intentions? Do you find yourself getting in similar conflicts over and over? Do you find it hard communicating with certain persons? If you’re finding yourself in these statements, you’re not alone feeling like this. Whether you’re experiencing conflicts in your workplace, with your family or romantic partner, it’s extremely stressful.

A Way To Learn to Better Communicate and Resolve Conflicts

Alan Sharland, according to his webpage, has spent over 18 years as a Mediator and Trainer in Conflict management skills. As such, helped thousands of people to resolve conflicts successfully.

In his e-book, he writes about helping people create more effective ways of communicating. For example, as conflict can bring about emotional difficulties, he writes about helping people find more creative ways of responding within their conflicts. What Alan shares is what to consider and become aware of when communicating with others, whether the conflict gets resolved or not, so that we can continue on enjoying what relationships should bring to our lives.

How do you feel about conflicts in your life? Have you read Alan’s e-book? It might be useful for you, check it out.

If you would like to learn more about conflicts and successful communication, you might want to take a look at our article: “Disagreeing but Staying Cool”. You’ll find 3 strategies to disagreeing on certain issues while still maintaining a good connection with the person you’re disagreeing with.

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!

 

Reference:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0870/abstract;jsessionid=BD693ED947514A22B0D85B59D8036966.f01t02?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

 

holiday stress

How to Reduce Stress Over Christmas and Holidays

The holiday season…

Cold weather ✓

Snow ✓

2013 coming to an end ✓

Deadlines approaching ✓

More family time ✓

More commitments ✓

Season of giving ✓

…as you know, the list keeps running. Most of our lives encompass some of these things right now. In my practice, I’m finding that there’s an increased level of stress and anxiety in people’s lives. Why does holiday stress happen?

Holiday Season and Stress

Research from the American Heart Association (2004) contends that this time of year there’s an increase in emotional stress about the holidays. Having to interact with family we may, or may not want to associate with, feeling the pressure of having to absorb financial pressures such as purchasing gifts, traveling, and/or entertaining. Also around this time of year, people are more likely to indulge in foods and beverages they may not usually consume. Consequently, if it interrupts normal healthy patterns, feelings of guilt or regret creep in.

5 tips for avoiding holiday stress:

  • Pick and choose your holiday activities
  • Ask for help
  • Say no when necessary
  • Everything in moderation
  • Set realistic expectations for the season

Try to relax and lower your expectations from yourself and from your family. You may find yourself enjoying holidays more than you expected.

 

References

Kloner, R. (2004). The “Merry Christmas Coronary” and “Happy New Year Heart Attack” Phenomenon. American Heart Association. Retrieved from: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/110/25/3744.short

 

Jennifer Lawrence and Social Anxiety

Making headlines today was the release that Jennifer Lawrence, from X-Men and more recently, the Hunger Games, suffered from Social Anxiety. Although our society is becoming more understanding of mental health issues, stigma still exists. When it comes to discussing mental health issues and getting treatment, there is still not enough openness regarding this topic.

For a celebrity like Jennifer Lawrence, to publicly share her challenges is inspiring for us all. It helps to reduce stigma and increases awareness about mental well-being.

Social Anxiety And It’s Prevalence

According to Statistics Canada, social anxiety, is one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social anxiety is

“a disorder characterized by a fear of situations in which there is potential for embarrassment or humiliation in front of others. There are generally two subtypes of social phobia: one involves a fear of speaking in front of people, whether it be public speaking or simply talking with a person of authority; the other subtype involves more generalized anxiety and complex fears, such as eating in public or using public washrooms, and in these cases individuals may experience anxiety around anyone other than family”.

In Canada, anywhere between 8-13% of Canadian’s will be influenced by social anxiety. The disorder is more common in women than in men. Also, there appears to be an environmental and familial link to the disorder.

Jennifer Lawrence’s story of facing her fear of social scrutiny head-on teaches us all one important thing. Facing the things that cause us anxiety is the best form of treatment. Hence, the best example is exposure therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

If you’d like to inquire about social anxiety treatment in Mississauga or Bradford Ontario at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.

Reference

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-619-m/2012004/sections/sectionb-eng.htm#a3

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20756991,00.html

I’m excited. I’M excited. I’M EXCITED!

The year was 2005.

I was in my last year of my Bachelor’s program, meticulously spending hours checking my research data and putting the final touches on my thesis defense. Night after night, I found myself ruminating over having to present in front of my professors, not to mention mine in front of my peers. Ever since I could remember, public presentations, regardless of size or length, caused me grief. I mean, not your typical 11th hour jitters, but…blushing, shaking, nauseous stomach, cold sweats – you name it, I had it.

So, the day had come. I was to defend my thesis. Although most of the day felt like a blur, a few moments still stick with me. The first was feedback from one of my peers as we were standing in the halls practicing our scripts. I shared with my friends how nervous I was, feeling unable to control the physical and emotional reactions happening in my body. My friend, Susan*, turned to me and said, “…instead of telling yourself you’re nervous and scared, why don’t you say you’re excited!”. I listening, and thought to myself – “heck, I have nothing to lose!” So, minutes before my hour of fame, I said, “I’m excited”, “I’M excited”, “I’M EXCITED!”. I think after the 3rd excited, I was starting to feel it. The reaction kicked in! Then, before I knew it, I was done.

I think that’s the second part of my memories of my thesis. My accomplishment. I “felt the fear but did it anyway”. There’s no better feeling then working through a tough obstacle. Or, overcoming a fear.

I encourage you to feel inspired, to reach out for help if you need it, and to “feel the fear and do it anyway” (as Susan Jeffers would say).

 

Enthusiastically,

Ashley J. Kreze