5 Ways to Protect your Energy

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How often do you feel that your energy is low or completely depleted? Many people spend time getting swept away by the energy of others; spending time to make others happy, or putting unreciprocated effort in to friendships/relationships — all to eventually have their energy sucked away.

Being an empath and a highly agreeable person can cause for this sort of feeling. Having these traits can cause one to want to please and care for others more than what is reciprocated. Being highly agreeable, means that you are more likely to go with what others want and not really give an opinion of your own. When someone asks what you want for dinner, a person who is highly agreeable would most likely respond with “whatever you want is good with me”.

Being high in the trait of agreeableness has its pros and cons. However, in the regard of preserving ones energy, people who are highly agreeable are more likely to have their energy depleted quickly. People who are agreeable tend to have great difficulty saying “no” and are more likely to “go with the flow” rather than to put their foot down when they really should.

When efforts are constantly unreciprocated, we tend to feel drained. This can lead to greater feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and intense feelings of worthlessness.

Going in to the new year, it is time to protect your energy; because if you don’t, then no one else will!

5 Ways to protect your energy:

1. Try to be Less Agreeable

The next time someone asks you what you want for dinner, really think about it and choose what you want! Don’t always hide behind what others want and agree to go along with it. By speaking up about what you want, and saying “no” more often, you are preserving your own energy and only spending it on what you truly want. Learning how to draw the line with some people is very important as one cannot always be understanding and ignore their own needs.

2. Set Intentions

I have recently really gotten in to setting intentions for myself each week to follow and hold myself accountable for. Set an intention that you are going to protect your energy. Write it down or have this intention on your phone as a reminder to follow everyday. An example of this can be: “I intend to protect my energy and respond to others from a place of peace and power” or, “I intend to protect my energy by putting my own needs first”.

3. Trust yourself

Trust your own energy and power. Trust that you can make your own decisions, and put effort in to people/things that are worth it to you. Trust that you will spend time putting your energy in to people/things that will reciprocate your efforts. Trust that you will put energy in to your own growth and wellness before the wellness of others. By trusting yourself you are protecting yourself from feeling drained and depleted.

4. Reflect

Genuinely reflect on where your energy goes. Here are some prompts to help guide your self-reflection: How much time and effort do you spend trying to please others? How often are you understanding towards the needs of others whilst your own needs are ignored? How often are you reaching out to connect with someone when it is unreciprocated?

By reflecting on where your energy goes, you can identify certain behaviours and actions you take that should probably be protected instead.

5. Replenish your own Energy

Replenish your own energy! Take some time to indulge in self-love. At the end of the day, you are always going to be the one who is responsible to take care of and love yourself! Feelings of sadness and worthlessness because someone else wont reciprocate your efforts can only be rid by you! So take some time to do some self healing and remind yourself that you are worthy and deserve to protect your energy instead.

As we prepare for a new year, I realize it is imperative to protect my own energy, as sometimes it is easy to get drowned out by others. It is time to draw some boundaries and set limits on how agreeable we may be. By making our own thoughtful choices and understanding our own needs first we can maintain a certain level of powerful, peaceful energy. If you find that there are people in your life who don’t reciprocate your efforts, it is time for some change! Happy New Year, 2022!

Check out my previous post!

Holiday Season Stress

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The holiday season tends to stir up many emotions, and various research shows how Christmas time can negatively impact mental health.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the holiday season has been portrayed to be a time that families should spend together and make memories with one another. Cliché holiday movies always show big families or groups of friends getting together to celebrate the season and exchange gifts.

In the popular movie Home Alone, the main character Kevin is left alone during Christmas; his family accidentally leaves him behind to go for a vacation together. However, the writers portray those who are truly alone and without family during Christmas as beat-up looking criminals (Harry and Marv). Although Kevin is technically alone during the Christmas break, he is shown to have a huge family who is desperate to get home to him.

Despite this movie just being a comical display of what happens when Kevin is left alone in a big house; one may analyze deeper to wonder if the writers had any meaning in how they portray those who are alone during Christmas time (Harry and Marv). In the second movie, they again show another woman who is alone during Christmas time (pigeon lady) as someone who is dirty, estranged, living in an attic and only talks to birds.

Enough of rambling on about Christmas movies… But on a real note, there are a lot of people who do spend the holidays alone that aren’t criminals or pigeon ladies.

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Numerous studies examine how there is an increase in dysphoric moods (broad feelings of depression & discontent) during the holidays. Many people don’t have big families or groups of friends to celebrate the holidays with. Additionally, many don’t have the savings or steady income to afford the holiday expenses.

Christmas tends to be a very expensive time of year. Based on a survey distributed by the Retail Council of Canada, on average, Canadians will spend close to $800 on Christmas this year. However, I am certain that there are households that will spend much more! Spendings on gifts, decorations and on holiday party festivities can add up very quickly; and don’t even get me started on the stress that comes along with planning a holiday gathering!

Some of us may be dreading being alone this season or dreading seeing their in-laws. Either way, Christmas has become much less exciting versus when we were kids.

With the holiday season beginning, I urge you to be conscientious about checking in with your friends and family. Some may be struggling silently with the overwhelming feelings that this time of year brings. Try to practice mindfulness during this season and find peace within whatever it is you do.

Wishing all a very safe and happy holidays!

Understanding Relationships Using Attachment Theory

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A relationship between a parent and their child is special like no other. A parent’s relationship with their child sets the tone for all other relationships in that child’s life. Romantic relationships, friendships to the way we interact with our teachers and peers. It all connects back to how we were raised and the way in which we connected with our own parents.

Attachment theory, famously researched by Mary Ainsworth identifies 3 types of attachment styles that are observed as early as infancy.

1. Secure Attachment

The securely attached infant sees their caregiver as their safe base. In times of distress, the infant feels confident to trust that they will be safe with their caregiver. These infants know that their caregiver will meet all of their needs and they are easily soothed by their caregiver when upset.

In adulthood we see secure attachment styles in romantic relationships as well. This can look like a couple who communicate well, have trust and are open with each other. An important piece is that both partners allow each other the space to do things separately from the other without the fear of being abandoned. Additionally, couples who are securely attached enjoy the closeness of their partner but also appreciate their time alone. Partners who are securely attached don’t feel a sense of being suffocated by their partner.

2. Anxious/ambivalent attachment

The infant who has an anxious/ambivalent attachment does not see their caregiver as their safe base and does not seek support from them when distressed. Unfortunately, this is usually the result of a caregiver who was not sensitive and rejected meeting their infants’ basic needs. During distress this caregiver was usually not there for their infant, causing their infant to be unable to rely on them for safety.

In romantic relationships, an anxious/ambivalent attachment style may look like a partner who needs a lot of reassurance about commitment and love. These partners may be worried about abandonment because they were very often abandoned of their emotional needs as an infant. Additionally, when these partners feel anxious about their relationship they will frantically try to get attention by calling or texting numerous times or obsessively thinking about their partner.

3. Avoidant attachment

This infant does not seek out emotional support due to constant rejection from their caregiver. Caregivers may have avoided their children’s needs when they were vulnerable, teaching the child to suppress their emotions. This infant tends to be more independent and does not depend on their caregiver for safety. Since this caregiver tends to be inconsistent with their infant, the infant learns to be avoidant towards them.

In adulthood, these partners in romantic relationships generally feel safer keeping their intense emotions to themselves. They believe they are better off dealing with things internally and have difficulty expressing emotional intimacy. This is a defence mechanism that is a result of not having a close emotional connection with a caregiver during childhood. Avoidant attachment styles result in more shallow relationships and a desire to avoid something too serious.

Reflecting on your attachment style with your parents can allow you to understand common behaviours that you may gravitate towards in friendships or romantic relationships. Additionally, for any of my readers who are new parents or thinking of becoming parents, it is important to keep this research in mind when raising your child as their attachment styles form as early as infancy.

References:

McLeod, S. A. (2018, August 05). Mary ainsworth. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

Mindfulness: The Future of Therapy

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Did you practice mindfulness today? Mindfulness is a technique therapists use to promote the practice of good mental and physical health. Mindfulness practice has been said to allow people to be in greater control of their thoughts and actions, rather than being controlled by them.

Mindfulness was first explored in Buddhism and has been spread across Western rituals. It is a process in which we are aware of our present moment experiences. In addition to being aware, it is the ability to maintain openness and acceptance of our thoughts, sensations, bodily states and environment.

Mindless states and mind-wandering has been proven to be maladaptive! Instead, keeping our minds focussed on the present moment is associated with higher psychological well-being (2010, Kilingsworth & Gilbert).

Can anyone practice mindfulness? … YES! However, it is a skill that truly must be practiced till mastered. I am still learning and trying to get the hang of it.

Lets explore 4 things we can do to be a bit more mindful each day.

1. Set an Intention

The most simple step to start is by creating the intention in your mind that you are going to be more mindful. You are making a commitment, so now stick to it! By creating this intention, you are more likely to be aware of your mind wandering and recognize that you should shift your awareness to the present moment.

2. Recognize shifts in awareness

Recognize when your awareness is shifting and your mind is beginning to wander. Correct yourself when your thoughts are beginning to spiral to think about anything but the present.

Many of us tend to think of the past or the future. However, studies show that thoughts that wander away from the present are maladaptive. It can be important to plan for the future, but maybe we don’t need to make “big picture” plans. Look for what we can control and work on presently, this will set ourselves up for the future success we desire.

Therefore, we must learn to recognize when our thoughts begin to shift and quickly learn to shift back and be mindful.

3. Listen to others attentively

How often do you find that when someone else is speaking you are already thinking of what you want to say next? How does that make you an active listener? … It doesn’t!

Listen closely when others speak, this will allow you to pay closer attention as you will truly be taking in what the speaker is saying. Just by listening more closely you will connect better to what is being said and will eventually become more aware of the responses you decide to form. Ultimately this will improve your bond with that person and your communication skills. Listening closely is an important skill for one to stay mindful.

4. Focus on your breath

Breathing is something we naturally do every second of every day without having to think about! When your present mindedness is lost, you may simply refocus by counting your breaths. Focusing on your breath can significantly improve your mind and body connection!

If distracting thoughts arise due to mindless thoughts, try counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale slowly.

Although these are just a few ways of keeping mindful, I do plan to return to this topic again. Let me know in the comments what you do to practice mindfulness and focus on the present!

References:

Hoffman G.S., & Gomez F.A. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. 10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008

Killingsworth MA & Gilbert DT., (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. 330(6006):932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439.

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

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Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but sometimes it isn’t. In certain scenarios it can be very beneficial to be aware of an important piece of information. However, in others, you may benefit from the blissfulness of not knowing and enjoying the moment.

So then why do we equate ignorance to being blissful? Think about your childhood for a moment. Childhood holds a sort of blissfulness to it. Children are unaware of the burdens and responsibilities that adults hold. Parents hide the obstacles that come along, and therefore, children can go on with their daily life peacefully. Time is a difficult and strange construct for children; as quickly as obstacles come, they go, and they are back to enjoying their blissfulness.

Although these blissful moments are there during our early lives; the truth is, not all children are fortunate enough to always have that experience. Some children grow up in homes where parents are unable to hide their challenges from their children. This can create a sense of anxiety and fear. The bliss quickly turns in to terror as the child is constantly stressed out for the responsibilities that their parents hold. The more knowledge, awareness and understanding children hold about the world around them, the less bliss there seems to be.

Does obtaining awareness and knowledge about life too early take away from the childhood bliss? I would argue yes, that it does. However, I do believe that knowledge is power, and that the child that has some knowledge of stressful situations can grow up making better decisions than the child who grew up in ignorance. When faced with future adversity, the child who grew up in ignorance may not know how to handle it, whereas the child who obtained greater awareness and knowledge would be better prepared.

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For those of us who did grow up ignorantly blissful, I find now that as adults we dream of returning to that state of bliss. To that freedom of thought and mind. Where responsibilities are taken care of and don’t pile up. When I am surrounded by children today, I find it easy to reminisce on the past blissfulness of being a child. I think of ways that I can once again experience that calm and blissful ignorance. Where the most difficult decision I have is about what movie I am going to watch.

Will we ever return to that same ignorant bliss?

We probably won’t be able to return to that exact bliss. The bliss of running in the streets with our friends and playing as though we have no responsibilities in the world; but that’s okay. With the knowledge and awareness we have, we are equipped to make better decisions and face life’s challenges head on.

After writing this article, I almost don’t feel that ignorance is bliss anymore. The child that is well-equipped and exposed to adversity will overcome future adversity and achieve bliss much quicker than the child who lives ignorantly.

So maybe ignorance isn’t bliss after all?

Let me know what you think down below in the poll and in the comments section! I’m interested to read whether you think ignorance is bliss or not.

The Fear of Trying Something New

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Are you a little too comfortable with your current life? Maybe you’ve lost motivation. It’s probably time for you to try something new, maybe something a little different that you usually wouldn’t.

It’s easy to lose motivation and feel comfortable amidst the monotony of daily life. I don’t imagine that waking up every day and doing the same thing over and over is good for anyone. A daily routine puts us in a sort of automation and causes us to lack stimulation.

Feeling extreme comfort within one’s daily life can lead to a loss of interest and happiness. Much like when people get too comfortable in relationships. The initial excitement disappears and more effort is needed to keep the spark alive… This happens in your personal life too!

It can be scary to try something new but it can empower you to experience further growth for yourself. I say this from honest and personal experience. Starting this blog has allowed me to experience greater personal happiness and sense of achievement. I feel excited for every post and no matter the number of readers, I am motivated to continue writing!

How can trying something new change my life?

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Trying new things allows us to create further purpose for ourselves which adds to the meaning of who we are. When we try something that we are usually afraid to, it allows us to step outside of our comfort zone. This will lead to learning new skills and finally breaking the daily monotony. As a result, we will feel emotionally and intellectually more stimulated.

Maintaining a habit of trying new things allows us to be open to different experiences. Pursuing a new hobby or skill will allow you to feel inspired. So don’t be scared! This journey will result in a healthier, happier, empowered and more creative version of you.

The next time someone asks you “What’s new?” be prepared to have an exciting response as hopefully by then you would’ve tried something outside of your comfort zone!

Living for Yourself

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When was the last time you made a decision by yourself and for yourself? I can answer that honestly and say that I really can’t remember the last time I was able to fully do that. It’s been extremely difficult for me to live just for myself as I am constantly haunted by the thoughts of my decisions impacting others. Some would say that is selfless and it is empathetic to consider others when living out one’s own life.

But I say by doing that I am no longer living for myself. Instead, I am cautiously making decisions to please others and am sacrificing my own being.

A common example is of the student who graduates from high-school and is then pressured by their parents to obtain further education in a degree that they have no interest in. How can this student be successful in completing a degree in something they didn’t choose?

The reality is that we cannot please everyone and if we are going to spend time trying to please someone it should be ourselves. It’s easy to get lost in the shadows of others and seek acceptance when making decisions. This is an essential psychological need as outlined by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (belongingness and love needs).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Photo from Pinterest

Abraham Maslow, a famous American Psychologist said that humans cannot reach self-actualization (achieve one’s potential) unless all their basic needs as outlined above are met. So basically, humans naturally seek acceptance and belongingness in order to advance to feelings of prestige and accomplishment to eventually reach self-actualization.

How Can I Start Living for Myself?

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It’s about time you asked!

Who am I?

  • First, you must figure out who you are and what you want. This tends to be the most difficult step.
  • Do you want to be an artist, a musician, an athlete, an engineer? Do you want to graduate university, write a book, run a marathon?
  • Or, maybe you just want to start taking more time to yourself and not feel guilty for doing so.

Self-Care

  • Taking care of yourself is the absolute best thing you can do!
  • Fulfilling your own needs in order to satisfy your happiness can be the most difficult step to take but I assure you that it’s worth it.

Planning

  • Next, you must brainstorm the steps needed to pursue your goals without worrying how it will impact those around you.
  • Remove and detatch yourself from others.
  • Focus on your own goals that are separate from others and how you can achieve them without seeking their approval.
  • What kind of standards must you set so that you can look back and think that you lived a life with few/no regrets.

Accept Change

  • Accept the change that comes with this new journey you are embarking on.
  • Since you will now be focusing mainly on yourself focus on adapting to a new mindset.

Be You!

  • Be yourself! Choose what it is that you want to do and make sure you are doing it for yourself.
  • If you feel the need to seek acceptance or approval then you’re probably doing it wrong and need to start over.

By following this process your happiness will flourish two-fold and you will begin to live for yourself. Although this post is about living for yourself, you will see that once you do, those who love you will be happy for you and their approval (although not necessary) will come naturally, as your success becomes the success of your family and closest friends too.

Be proud of the life you are living and begin to live for yourself & not others! Happy Friday!

Comment down below any thoughts or feedback! Make sure to share this post with your friends and family.

My Anxiety is Dictating my Life

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Are you living in fear? Do you *flop on plans with your friends because you feel so anxious to go? This one is a classic… you agree to plans that were made days in advance, but hours before, your anxiety feels debilitating, you begin to catastrophize and you cancel. Then instead of trying to enjoy your time alone after cancelling, you think about how lonely and isolated you feel. You then blame yourself, end up wishing you had gone and feel worse having cancelled.

Another common scenario is right before a shift at work. You feel anxious to go to work, anxious to see your managers and coworkers. You begin to ruminate on scenarios that have happened at work in the past. So hours before your shift you decide that it’s best to call in “sick”. Then instead of having a productive day after calling in “sick”, you reflect on your unprofessionalism and end up feeling worse than how you would have felt if you had gone in.

These anxious thoughts are dictating our behaviours to the point where we can’t do simple tasks that we might need to do. Doing groceries gets put off because you’re scared that people are watching what you buy, going to school is daunting because you’re afraid of what others think of you or you’re stuck thinking of a situation that happened in school years ago, you fear taking exams because you believe you will fail. The list of situational examples can go on and on.

Self blame, ruminating and catastrophizing have been shown to be positively associated with symptoms of anxiety.

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3 Reasons My Anxiety is Dictating My Behaviours:

1. Self Blame:

Self blame is when we put the blame of things we have experienced on ourselves. Suddenly we are personally responsible for everything that happens around us.

2. Ruminating:

Ruminating is when we are continuously consumed with the same thought over and over. Ruminating is usually associated with reliving negative and unpleasant moments through a series of thoughts. This can cause people to relive emotions and feelings previously experienced. Additionally, this can cause deep feelings of guilt, shame, regret and can lead to more severe consequences such as chronic depression or anxiety.

3. Catastrophizing:

Catastrophizing is when we believe that all situations have negative outcomes. This results in emphasizing the terror in the outcomes we believe to be possible. We believe that the worst will happen to us no matter what the situation.

How To manage Anxiety IN 3 Steps:

1. Awareness/Acceptance:

Becoming aware of our negative thoughts is really the first step towards finding peace. Being able to pause and realize “my thoughts are really spiralling out of control right now” is a skill that seems so easy but is actually very tough. By accepting negative thoughts that are related to negative events we can reassign ourselves to what has happened instead.

Instead of ruminating about what has happened and catastrophizing about what will happen, we can accept situations that we have dealt with and begin to move on to the next step.

2. Refocus on Planning

A refocus on planning can allow us to take a step back and refocus on the steps we need to take to plan and take action of how we are going to deal with negative events. How am I going to direct my thoughts towards a better direction? How am I going to go grocery shopping comfortably and not catastrophize about what is going to happen? How will I take an exam and not catastrophize over what my results will be?

An example of this can be that you will create a grocery list before you go out so that you can map out your path and know exactly how long you will be there for. This allows you to be actively working towards relieving catastrophic thoughts about spending too much time in the grocery store.

Additionally, studying for an exam weeks in advance, feeling prepared and trying your best should diminish catastrophic thoughts, as you are taking action towards obtaining a positive outcome and your thoughts are refocused on studying.

3. Positive Reappraisal

Practicing positive reappraisal allows us to create positive associations and meanings with negative events. This can allow for self-growth and realizations in the darkest of thoughts.

For example, when dealing with a break-up (romantically or with a friend), concentrate on how you can refocus your negative thoughts towards growth that was experienced as a result of that relationship or that you will experience as a result of accepting the end of the relationship. Through acceptance, planning and positive reappraisal, negative or difficult events can always result in positive associations and moments of growth.

So don’t flop on plans with friends because you’re catastrophizing about what might happen if you do go, or because you’re ruminating on a previous negative experience. Don’t let your anxiety dictate your life!

*Flop = A slang word for when someone bails on plans at the last minute.

Have you ever found yourself to be catastrophizing, ruminating or placing blame on yourself? Comment down below if you can relate to these symptoms of anxiety! Also please comment some additional ways that helps you to improve your mental state in times of anxiety.

APA Citation:

Legerstee, J. S., Garnefski, N., Verhulst, F. C., & Utens, E. M. W. J. (2011). Cognitive coping in anxiety-disordered adolescents. Journal of Adolescence34(2), 319–326. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.04.008