Many women face significant challenges when it comes to mental health, including anxiety, depression, and other related issues. One critical factor that affects mental health in women is self-esteem. Low self-esteem can have a profound impact on women’s mental health, leading to negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can impede personal growth and overall well-being. Therefore, it is essential for women to understand how self-esteem affects mental health and to take proactive steps to improve their self-esteem and overall mental health.
Having a low self-esteem is something many people of all ages deal with. Low self-esteem is not considered a mental health disorder in and of itself. However, it can be a contributing factor to the development or exacerbation of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Additionally, low self-esteem can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, relationships, and overall well-being. Therefore, it is important to address and improve low self-esteem to promote mental health and overall wellness.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem refers to the value, worth, and belief that an individual has in themselves. It is a critical component of mental health and affects every aspect of an individual’s life. Self-esteem can be influenced by various factors, such as personal experiences, social interactions, and cultural value
Someone with a healthy or high self-esteem thinks positively about themselves and their abilities. They believe they are deserving of respect and have no problems setting healthy boundaries.
Individuals with low self-esteems do not feel very good about themselves. They constantly measure themselves against others and always come up short. They may not think they are worthy of love and respect and will typically not set healthy boundaries, allowing others to take advantage of them.
How Does a Low Self-Esteem Affect Mental Health?
Low self-esteem can have a profound impact on mental health. Women with low self-esteem often experience negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Low self-esteem can also affect women’s relationships, career, and overall quality of life.
Women with low self-esteem may struggle with making decisions, asserting themselves, and setting boundaries. They may also engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, disordered eating, or self-harm.
The following are some ways a low self-esteem can impact a person’s mental health:
Human beings are wired for connections. But when we have low self-esteem, we tend to not put ourselves “out there” socially and even tend to isolate, which can lead to poor relationships and loneliness.
Studies have indicated low self-esteem in childhood can lead to addictions later in life. Mandy addicts use alcohol and other substances as a way to cope with negative feelings about themselves.
Depression and Anxiety
Living with low self-esteem day after day, week after week, can very much take its toll and eventually lead to the development of depression and anxiety.
The Importance of High Self-Esteem for Mental Health
High self-esteem is essential for mental health and overall well-being. Women with high self-esteem are more likely to have positive self-talk, feel confident, and be resilient. They are also more likely to set healthy boundaries, engage in self-care, and pursue their goals.
Women with high self-esteem are better equipped to handle life’s challenges, including stressful situations, setbacks, and failures. They are also more likely to form healthy relationships, communicate effectively, and have a positive outlook on life.
Strategies to Improve Self-Esteem and Mental Health
Challenge Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is a common obstacle to self-esteem and mental health. Women can improve their self-esteem by challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with positive affirmations. This can involve reframing negative statements into positive ones, such as “I am capable and competent” instead of “I am not good enough.”
Self-care is an essential aspect of improving self-esteem and mental health. Women should prioritize activities that bring joy, relaxation, and fulfillment, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. Self-care also involves taking care of physical health, such as maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and limiting substance use.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals is crucial for improving self-esteem and mental health. Women should set goals that align with their values, interests, and abilities. They should also break down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps, which can boost self-confidence and motivation.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
The people we surround ourselves with can have a significant impact on our self-esteem and mental health. Women should seek out positive, supportive relationships and limit contact with toxic or negative individuals.
Seek Professional Help
If low self-esteem is affecting mental health, seeking professional help is crucial. A therapist or counselor can provide guidance, support, and treatment for mental health issues, including low self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a critical factor affecting mental health in women. Low self-esteem can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, while high self-esteem can lead to resilience, confidence, and overall well-being. Women can improve their self-esteem and mental health by challenging negative self-talk, practicing self-care, setting realistic goals, surrounding themselves with positive people, and seeking professional help when necessary. By prioritizing self-esteem and mental health, women can lead fulfilling, meaningful lives.
If you are struggling with low self-esteem or other mental health issues, seeking professional help can make a significant difference. Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy offers a safe and supportive environment where women can explore their thoughts and emotions and develop practical strategies for improving their mental health and overall well-being. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, please visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca or call us at 902-702-7722. Don’t hesitate to reach out – we are here to help.
Psychotherapy (often referred to simply as therapy) can be a powerful vehicle for personal transformation. By speaking with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment, a person has the opportunity to explore their inner world and gain an understanding of their behaviours. This blog aims to share about the different types of therapy that are offered at Restore Renew Revive.
Research has now shown that individual psychotherapy can be highly effective at improving the symptoms of a wide range of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and it can also be beneficial for families, couples and groups.
There is much evidence that points to the therapeutic relationship being very important, if not the most important element in successful therapy. For this reason, I encourage you to read more about me to decide if you resonate with who I am as a person. I also offer free 15 minute new client phone consultation calls so we can discuss this at greater length whether we’d be a good fit to work together.
In addition to the therapeutic relationship, people are also often curious about the types of therapy that I am trained in. Because I have been practicing as a clinical social worker for 16 years, I have had the opportunity to learn many different modalities of therapy, some of which I love and continue to use and others that I have drifted away from over time. Here are some of the types of therapy offered at Restore Renew Revive so that you can become more familiar with the ways that I currently practice to give you some idea of what therapy sessions would feel like.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps people develop greater psychological flexibility and resilience. The goal of ACT is to help individuals live more fully in the present moment, while also recognizing and accepting the challenges and difficulties of life.
ACT is based on the principle that psychological suffering is caused by attempts to control or avoid negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Rather than trying to eliminate these experiences, ACT helps individuals learn to accept them and develop greater emotional resilience.
In an ACT session, the therapist will help the individual identify the values that are most important to them, and work to align their actions and behaviors with those values. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, including mindfulness exercises, cognitive restructuring, and behavior activation.
One key component of ACT is the use of metaphors and experiential exercises to help individuals develop a new perspective on their thoughts and emotions. For example, a therapist may use the metaphor of a bus driver to help an individual learn to observe their thoughts and emotions without being controlled by them.
The ultimate goal of ACT is to help individuals develop greater psychological flexibility, so that they can live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. ACT has been shown to be effective for a variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, stress, overwhelm and negative self-image.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a type of couples therapy created by a leading Canadian psychologist, Dr. Sue Johnson, about 30 years ago while she was at the University of British Columbia. It is an evidence based therapy, backed by extensive research that focuses on the emotional bonds between partners. The goal of EFT is to help couples improve their emotional connection and build a stronger, more resilient relationship.
EFT is based on the idea that the emotional bond between partners is the foundation of a healthy relationship. When this bond is strong, couples are better able to navigate challenges and build a strong sense of trust and intimacy.
In an EFT session, the therapist will work with the couple to identify the negative patterns of interaction that are causing emotional disconnection. The therapist will then help the couple develop new patterns of communication and behavior that promote emotional safety and closeness.
EFT is a structured therapy that typically involves 10-20 sessions. The therapist will work with the couple to identify their specific relationship goals and develop a treatment plan that addresses their unique needs.
One key component of EFT is the use of emotion-focused interventions. These interventions help couples identify and express their emotions in a safe and supportive environment. By learning to express their emotions more effectively, couples are better able to communicate their needs and build a stronger emotional bond.
EFT has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of relationship problems, including communication difficulties, infidelity, and intimacy issues.
Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy
Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT) is a type of therapy that is based on the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which is typically used to help couples improve their relationships. However, EFIT is designed for individuals who are struggling with emotional distress, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health issues.
The goal of EFIT is to help individuals develop a deeper understanding of their emotions and their underlying patterns of thoughts and behaviors. By exploring and processing their emotions, individuals can gain greater insight into the root causes of their emotional distress and develop more effective coping strategies.
In an EFIT session, the therapist will work with the individual to identify the negative patterns of thinking and behavior that are contributing to their emotional distress. The therapist will then help the individual develop new patterns of thinking and behavior that promote emotional regulation and well-being.
EFIT is typically a short-term therapy that involves 10-20 sessions, although the length of treatment may vary depending on the individual’s needs. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, including mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and experiential therapy, to help the individual explore and process their emotions.
EFIT has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship difficulties. By focusing on the individual’s emotional experience, EFIT can help individuals develop a greater sense of emotional regulation, self-awareness, and resilience.
Somatic Therapy Therapy
Somatic therapy is a form of therapy that recognizes the connection between the mind and the body. It’s based on the idea that experiences and emotions are not only felt in the mind but also in the body. Somatic therapy seeks to address emotional and psychological issues by working with the body, helping clients to tune into physical sensations and become more aware of their body’s reactions. This type of therapy may involve a range of techniques to help clients process and release emotional and physical tension held in the body. Somatic therapy can be useful for a range of conditions, including trauma, anxiety, depression.
In a somatic therapy session, the therapist will guide you in exploring the sensations in your body, helping you to notice any areas of tension or discomfort. The therapist may use a variety of techniques to help you become more aware of your body and the sensations you are experiencing. These could include breathing exercises, movement, and self-touch. Through these techniques, the therapist will guide you in becoming more attuned to your body and your feelings.
As you become more aware of your bodily sensations and emotions, the therapist will work with you to explore and process any difficult emotions or memories that arise. This can involve talking through the experience and using various techniques to help you release tension and negative emotions from your body.
The ultimate goal of somatic therapy is to help you become more connected with your body and your emotions, so that you can heal from past trauma or emotional pain. The process can be empowering and can help you develop greater self-awareness and self-compassion
Trauma Informed Therapy
I am a trauma-informed therapist and have received specialized training in understanding the impact of trauma on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. A trauma informed therapist takes a holistic approach, recognizing that trauma can affect not just a person’s thoughts and feelings, but also their physical health and relationships with others. They work to create a safe and supportive environment for their clients and help them to build resilience and coping skills to manage the effects of trauma.
Holistic Integrative Mental Health
Holistic integrative mental health is an approach to mental health care that takes into account the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Rather than focusing solely on symptoms and diagnoses, this approach looks at the root causes of mental health issues and seeks to address them through a combination of conventional and complementary therapies.
Adopting a holistic integrative mental health approach means that I will work collaboratively with you to create a personalized treatment plan that considers all aspects of their health and well-being. I have taken additional specialized training in helping individuals achieve optimal mental health and well-being by addressing not only the symptoms of your mental health issues but also the underlying causes. I also work collaboratively with other professionals such as acupuncturists, nutritionists, naturopaths for support that is outside of my scope of practice.
If you are looking for a trusted mental health provider, Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy is here to help. I offer a variety of evidence-based therapy services, including somatic therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, emotionally focused therapy, trauma-informed therapy, and holistic integrative mental health. I am an experienced therapist dedicated to providing personalized care that meets your unique needs. To schedule an appointment or learn more about my services, please visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca or call us at 902-702-7722.
Understanding the Relationship Between Stress and Mental Health
Stress is a common experience that everyone encounters from time to time. Stress is a natural part of life, but it can become overwhelming when left unmanaged. While a little bit of stress can be motivating and helpful, too much stress can negatively impact our mental health.
High levels of stress can have a significant impact on mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and burnout. With the ongoing challenges of modern life, many people struggle to manage their stress levels effectively, leading to a negative impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between stress and mental health, common signs of stress, and effective strategies for managing stress to promote better mental health.
Signs of Stress: How to Recognize When Stress is Becoming Too Much
Stress is a natural response to the demands of daily life, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can have negative effects on both mental and physical health. Being able to recognize the signs of stress is essential to managing it effectively.
Physical Signs of Stress
Headaches and Migraines: Stress can cause tension in the muscles, leading to headaches and migraines.
Muscle Tension: Stress can cause muscle tension, leading to stiffness, pain, and soreness.
Fatigue: Stress can cause fatigue, leaving you feeling drained and lacking in energy.
Digestive Problems: Stress can cause digestive problems such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.
Sleep Problems: Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restful sleep.
Mental and Emotional Signs of Stress
Anxiety: Stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, worry, and nervousness.
Irritability: Stress can cause irritability, making it difficult to control emotions and react calmly to situations.
Depression: Stress can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair.
Lack of Concentration: Stress can make it difficult to focus and concentrate, leading to decreased productivity and difficulty completing tasks.
Changes in Appetite: Stress can cause changes in appetite, leading to overeating or loss of appetite.
How Stress Impacts Mental Health
When we experience chronic stress, it can have a negative impact on our mental health. Prolonged stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and overwhelm. In addition, stress can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and mood disorders.
Stress can also have physical effects on the brain. Chronic stress can cause the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for our emotional responses) to become overactive, leading to heightened anxiety and feelings of stress.
Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare the body to deal with the perceived threat. While this response can be helpful in some situations, chronic stress can lead to an overactive stress response and have negative effects on mental health.
Here are some of the ways stress can impact mental health:
Anxiety: Stress can lead to feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension. In some cases, chronic stress can lead to the development of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.
Depression: Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing depression. It can also exacerbate existing depression symptoms.
Insomnia: Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to insomnia. Chronic insomnia can have negative effects on mental health, including increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Cognitive difficulties: Chronic stress can lead to cognitive difficulties, such as trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and decreased productivity.
Burnout: Chronic stress can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can lead to decreased job performance, decreased job satisfaction, and increased risk of mental health conditions.
Coping with Stress in Motherhood: Unique Challenges
Motherhood is one of the most challenging roles a woman can undertake. It is a demanding job that requires a lot of emotional, physical, and mental stamina. Stress can impact a mother’s mental and physical health, as well as the quality of her relationship with her child. It can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start in managing stress.
The Impact of Stress on Motherhood
Stress can have a significant impact on a mother’s mental and physical health. The following are some ways in which stress can affect mothers:
Mental Health: Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in mothers. It can also cause them to have difficulty sleeping, eating, and concentrating.
Physical Health: Stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue. It can also weaken the immune system, making mothers more susceptible to illnesses.
Mother-Child Relationship: Stress can negatively impact the relationship between a mother and her child. It can cause mothers to be less responsive, less warm, and less nurturing towards their children.
Effective Strategies for Managing Stress and Improving Mental Health
Cultivating Self-Care Practices to Combat Stress
In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become a common experience for many people. While it is impossible to avoid stress entirely, cultivating self-care practices can help individuals combat the negative effects of stress on their physical and mental health.
Self-care refers to the practices individuals engage in to promote their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engaging in self-care practices regularly can help you manage stress, prevent burnout, and promote overall well-being. Here are some reasons why self-care is essential:
Self-Care Practices to Combat Stress
Here are some self-care practices that can help you combat stress and promote overall well-being:
Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress by promoting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosters.
Meditation: Meditation can help reduce stress by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
Yoga: Yoga combines physical movement and mindfulness, making it an excellent practice for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Give Yoga with Adriene a try!
Spending time with loved ones: Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress by providing a support system and promoting feelings of happiness and joy.
Engaging in hobbies: Engaging in hobbies can help reduce stress by providing an outlet for creativity and promoting relaxation.
Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to promote overall well-being.
Eating a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can improve physical and mental health by providing essential nutrients and promoting overall wellness.
Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques
Mindfulness is a practice that has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. It involves paying attention to the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. By doing so, individuals can gain a better understanding of themselves and their emotions, which can help them manage stress more effectively.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. By doing so, individuals can gain a better understanding of their emotions and develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Mindfulness is a useful tool for managing stress because it can help individuals become more aware of their stress triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms.
Here are some mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques that can help you manage stress effectively:
Mindful Breathing: Mindful breathing involves focusing on your breath and observing the sensations of the air moving in and out of your body. This practice can help you feel more relaxed and centered. Give Insight Timer a try. It’s free and has so many great mindfulness activities to explore.
Body Scan Meditation: Body scan meditation involves focusing on different parts of your body and observing any sensations or discomfort. By doing so, you can become more aware of tension in your body and release it.
Mindful Walking: Mindful walking involves walking slowly and focusing on the sensations of your feet touching the ground. This practice can help you feel more grounded and present. Check out this 10 minute mindful walking meditation.
Loving-Kindness Meditation: Loving-kindness meditation involves sending positive thoughts and feelings to yourself and others. This practice can help you develop feelings of compassion and reduce stress. Here is one by Kristin Neff.
Mindful Eating: Mindful eating involves paying attention to the taste, texture, and sensations of the food you are eating. By doing so, you can develop a greater appreciation for food and reduce stress related to eating.
Seeking Support: The Importance of Connection and Community
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. While self-care practices and mindfulness techniques can be helpful in managing stress, seeking support from others is also crucial for maintaining good mental health. Connection and community can provide a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of isolation, and offer a support system during difficult times.
The Importance of Connection
Humans are social creatures, and our need for connection with others is essential for our well-being. Connection with others can provide a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improve our mood and overall quality of life. In times of stress, connection with others can offer emotional support, encouragement, and a safe space to share our experiences.
The Importance of Community
Community refers to a group of people who share common interests, values, or goals. Community can provide a sense of purpose and belonging, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and offer support and encouragement during difficult times. Joining a community can be an excellent way to meet new people, engage in activities that bring joy, and develop a support system.
Supportive relationships can help us manage stress and improve our mental health. A supportive relationship involves mutual respect, trust, and empathy. It is a safe space where individuals can share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment. Supportive relationships can provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
Professional support can be an essential part of managing stress and improving mental health. Professional support can include therapy, counseling, or coaching. A mental health professional can provide a safe space to discuss stressors, develop coping strategies, and improve overall well-being.
You Can Cope Effectively With Stress
Stress can have a significant impact on our mental health. Particularly in motherhood, managing stress effectively is very important because it can impact your mental and physical health, as well as the quality of relationship with your child. Effective strategies for managing stress and improving mental health include self-care, social support, mindfulness, time management, and seeking professional help. By implementing these strategies, you can better manage stress, improve your mental health, and create a healthy and positive relationship with your children.
If you find yourself struggling with stress and are in need of additional support, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist. At Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy, we offer a safe and supportive space for women to work through their challenges and develop effective coping strategies. Contact us today at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more about how we can help you restore balance, renew your energy, and revive your spirit. Take the first step towards a healthier and happier you today.
How the Nervous System Affects Your Mental Health: The Link Between Nervous System Dysregulation and Mental Health
Many people today struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. While there are many factors that can contribute to these conditions, one important factor to consider is the role of the nervous system. Our nervous system plays a critical role in regulating our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. When the nervous system is functioning properly, we are able to respond to stress and challenges in a healthy and adaptive way. However, when the nervous system becomes dysregulated, it can lead to a range of mental health issues. In this article, we will explore the ways in which the nervous system affects mental health and discuss some strategies for promoting nervous system regulation.
The Role of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems
Your nervous system is a bit like the Internet; it is a large network of specialized cells called neurons that “talk to each other.” These messages, which are really electrical signals, travel between your brain, skin, organs, muscles and glands. And all of the messages help your body to feel sensations, move and work correctly, and help important information get back to the brain.
The nervous system is divided into two main branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, which is activated in response to perceived threats or danger. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for the “rest and digest” response, which is activated when the body is in a relaxed state.
Once you begin to understand that the nervous system is what powers the rest of your body, all of its organs and other systems, you begin to realize how important it is to keep your nervous system healthy. Any hit to your nervous system can result in headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and more.
Nervous System Dysregulation and Anxiety
Anxiety is a common mental health condition that is often associated with nervous system dysregulation. When the sympathetic nervous system is chronically activated, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, and panic. This is because the body is constantly in a state of hyperarousal, which can make it difficult to relax and feel calm.
Nervous System Dysregulation and Depression
Depression is another common mental health condition that is linked to nervous system dysregulation. When the parasympathetic nervous system is not functioning properly, it can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. This is because the body is not able to activate its natural relaxation response, which can make it difficult to feel calm and content.
Nervous System Dysregulation and Trauma
Trauma is another factor that can contribute to nervous system dysregulation. When a person experiences a traumatic event, their nervous system may become “stuck” in a state of hyperarousal or dissociation. This can lead to a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Strategies for Promoting Nervous System Regulation
Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help to promote nervous system regulation and support mental health.
Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple and effective way to promote nervous system regulation. When we take deep breaths, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us feel calm and relaxed. Try taking a few deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and see how it affects your mood.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is another powerful tool for promoting nervous system regulation. By focusing our attention on the present moment, we can calm our sympathetic nervous system and activate our parasympathetic nervous system. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Consider exploring some of the mindfulness apps like Headspace, Calm or my personal favourite Insight Timer.
Regular exercise is essential for promoting nervous system regulation. When we exercise, we activate the sympathetic nervous system, which helps us feel energized and alert. But exercise also has a parasympathetic response, helping us to feel relaxed and calm after a workout. Even gentle movement like yoga can be very beneficial or a quick 7 minute workout like the 7 App
Getting enough sleep is crucial for promoting nervous system regulation. When we’re sleep-deprived, our sympathetic nervous system can go into overdrive, leaving us feeling anxious and irritable. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to keep your nervous system in balance. If you are having a hard time winding down, try yoga Nidra
5. Social Support
Having strong social connections can also help promote nervous system regulation. When we feel supported and connected to others, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Make time for social activities that you enjoy, and reach out to loved ones when you need support.
By understanding the ways in which the nervous system affects mental health, we can begin to take steps to support our overall well-being and promote greater resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues and want support in promoting nervous system regulation, consider reaching out to Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy. Our experienced therapist can help you develop practical strategies for managing anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental health issues. To learn more about our services, visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca or give us a call at 902-702-7722.
We all have an inner critic. What is an inner critic, you might ask? Your inner critic is that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. It’s the voice that points out our flaws and shortcomings, and makes us feel inadequate or ashamed.
This voice may have developed in childhood from overly critical or negative parenting. It may have developed as a result of childhood or relationship trauma. Perhaps it seems like its only recently developed out of stressful workplace situations. Regardless of the origin of your inner critic, learning to silence it, or at least not be led by it, is important.
While some degree of self-criticism can be helpful for self-improvement and growth, too much of it can be harmful to our mental health and well-being. Learning to silence your inner critic can be a difficult but important step in building a more positive relationship with yourself. In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why it’s hard to silence your inner critic, and offer some strategies for overcoming it.
The Problem of Self-Criticism
Self-criticism can be a pervasive and damaging pattern of thinking that can impact our self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. Whether it’s negative self-talk, perfectionism, people pleasing, or avoiding asking for your needs to be met in relationships, self-criticism can take many forms and can be a difficult pattern to break.
For many women, self-criticism can be a pervasive and damaging pattern of thinking that can impact their self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. Their inner critic is constantly judging and criticizing them, focusing on all their flaws and mistakes, and leaving them feeling inadequate or insecure.
The Perfectionism Trap
You may believe that by being hard on yourself, you can prevent failure and achieve success. Failure feels as though it’s a personal flaw or a reflection of your worth as a person and the solution to this is to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘t’ to make sure you get it right. While perfectionism may feel like a safe coping strategy that will help you avoid disappointing yourself and others, it is in fact a trap.
While in the short term it may have some pay offs (which is why people continue to do it), in the long run this can sabotage your ability to achieve your goals. Kristen Neff, a leading researcher on self compassion has found that “people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed, and are much more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about their future. In short, they have better mental health.” By recognizing the ways in which perfectionism contributes to self-criticism, we can begin to shift towards a more self-compassionate mindset.
Silence Your Inner Critic
Here are 5 strategies to help you cope more effectively with your inner critic;
1. Practice Mindfulness
Over time, your inner critic can become a deeply ingrained pattern of thought that feels automatic and difficult to control. You may have been criticizing yourself for years, and it can be hard to break the cycle. Your brain is wired to reinforce patterns of thought and behavior that are repeated over time, which is why breaking a habit can be so challenging. To overcome this, you need to create new neural pathways by practicing new patterns of thought and behavior. In order to silence your inner critic, you must first become aware of it. You cannot change what you are not aware of, right? And this is where mindful self-awareness comes in.
One strategy for breaking the habit of self-criticism is to become more aware of your inner dialogue. Start paying attention to the thoughts that go through your head throughout the day. Mindfulness is really just the practice of being present in the moment and observing our thoughts and feelings without judgment. By cultivating mindfulness, we can become more aware of our self-critical thoughts and learn to respond to them in a more compassionate and balanced way. In addition, mindfulness teaches us that we are not our thoughts, we are the observer of them. Notice when you’re being self-critical and allow those thoughts to pass withouth holding onto them or idnetifying with them. This is a powerful shift that can change your life.
2. Diffuse from the Inner Critic
When we notice a self-critical thought, we can try not to hold onto it so tightly. This is referred to as diffusion in ACT (Acceptance and Committment Therapy) . Steven Hayes is a prominent psychologist and the founder of ACT. In his work, Hayes has emphasized the role of the “inner critic,” According to Hayes, the inner critic is a normal and natural part of the human experience, but it can become problematic when we start to believe its messages and allow it to dictate our behavior. In ACT, the goal is not to eliminate the inner critic, but rather to learn to relate to it in a different way, so that it has less power over our thoughts and behaviour.
When you’re caught up in your inner critic’s thoughts, it can be hard to see them for what they are – just thoughts. Defusion techniques can help you step back from your thoughts and observe them from a more objective perspective. Some defusion techniques include:
- Saying your thoughts out loud in a silly voice
- Imagining your thoughts written on a cloud that floats away
- Thanking your inner critic for its input, but acknowledging that you don’t need it right now
3. Embrace Imperfection
Perfectionism can be a major source of self-criticism, so learning to embrace imperfection is an important step towards reducing self-criticism. By accepting that mistakes and flaws are a natural part of the human experience, we can let go of the need to be perfect and focus on self-acceptance instead.
Part of embracing imperfection is also refusing to fall into the comparison trap. In a world where 24/7 social media would have us believe that everyone else is smarter, thinner, richer and generally better than we are, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. But doing so only gives your inner critic weapons to use against you.
Russ Harris is a well-known author and therapist who is also a leader in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In his book “The Happiness Trap,” Harris emphasizes the importance of avoiding the comparison trap, which is the tendency to compare ourselves to others and judge our worth based on external standards or achievements.
According to Harris, the comparison trap can be a major source of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, as it creates a constant sense of inadequacy and a never-ending cycle of striving for more. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, Harris suggests focusing on our own values and goals, and striving to live in accordance with them, regardless of how others may be doing. This helps us to embrace our imperfections but also to live more fully as the person we want to be.
4. Cultivate Self-Compassion
You would never treat others the way you treat yourself. Begin to treat yourself with the compassion you would a small child or a friend in need. No one is perfect. But all of us are worthy of love, kindness and respect. By learning how to show ourselves more love, kindness and respect through the practice of self-compassion.
Kristin Neff is a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion and has developed a model of self-compassion that includes three core components:
Self-Kindness: Being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than being harshly self-critical.
Common Humanity: Recognizing that suffering and feelings of inadequacy are a natural part of the human experience, rather than feeling isolated or alone in our struggles.
Mindfulness: Observing our thoughts and feelings with openness and curiosity, rather than getting lost in them or suppressing them.
Neff has found that increased self-compassion carries all the benefits of self-esteem (happiness, less depression, etc.) but without any of the down sides (not sustainable and can lead to narcissistic qualities). Social Researcher Brene Brown notes that self-compassion helps increase our likelihood of being more vulnerable and able to connect with others. Here are some interesting clips of Kristen and Brene talking together about self -esteem and self-compassion
On her website, Kristin Neff offers a number of beautiful exercises and practices for cultivating self-compassion, including guided meditations, journaling prompts, and other tools that can help individuals learn to treat themselves with greater kindness and understanding.
Finally, it’s important to remember that overcoming self-criticism is a process that can take time and effort. Seeking support from a therapist or counsellor can be an invaluable resource for learning to manage self-criticism and developing more self-compassion. If you’re tired of hearing that nagging voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough therapy can help you break free from a loud inner critic and negative self-talk and cultivate a more positive mindset. Discover practical tips and strategies for quieting your inner critic and embracing self-love and acceptance.
If you are struggling with self-criticism and would like support in cultivating greater self-compassion and a more balanced perspective in your thought life, Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy is here to help. Don’t let your inner critic hold you back from the life you were created for. Contact us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more and schedule an appointment today.
Throughout life it is inevitable that we will face challenges. Perhaps it is the stress from a divorce, anxiety from a move, or grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s obvious in these moments of loss or crisis that there are things that are hard and overwhelming. Our minds naturally give more weight to the difficulties, and I’m in no way encouraging toxic positivity or trying to silver line all your challenges with a “chin up” message, however, there are real mental health benefits of gratitude even during our trials.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the quality or state of being thankful, appreciative, and showing appreciation towards someone or something. It involves recognizing and acknowledging the positive aspects of life, including the things we receive, the people who support and care for us, and the experiences that bring joy and fulfillment.
Gratitude is often associated with a sense of humility, recognizing that we are not solely responsible for everything good in our lives, and that we are interconnected with others and the world around us. It can be expressed through words, actions, or a general attitude of appreciation and thankfulness. Gratitude is often cultivated through mindfulness, reflection, and consciously focusing on the positive aspects of life, even during challenging times.
What are the Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude?
Practicing gratitude has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It can improve mood, increase resilience, foster positive relationships, reduce stress, and enhance overall life satisfaction.
Here are some of the mental health benefits of reconnecting with gratitude:
1.It Helps Us To Value Our Lived Experiences
When we take time to recognize things in our life that we are grateful for, it helps us to mindfully appreciate that there are good, pleasurable or pleasing in our lived experience. Not that these things erase the hardships we might be facing, but it helps us to make space for pleasure and hardship to co-exist in simultaneously in our experience.
2.It Decreases Feelings of Stress
Stress plays a significant role in our mental wellness. Early in the COVID pandemic, when lockdowns were common, a study examined the impact of gratitude journalling on participants feelings of stress and distress. At the end of ne week and again one month later, people were asked about their distress, their positive and negative feelings, and their physical health. People who wrote about gratitude experienced a significant decrease in stress and negative emotions compared to the other groups, and these effects lasted for at least a month after.
3. It Improves Sleep
A study was conducted with 186 males and 215 females during which they engaged in gratitude journalling before sleep. The study found that engaging in a gratitude practice before bed predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. This is likely because having positive and soothing thoughts before falling asleep soothes the nervous system and helps shift into the parasympathetic nervous system response.
4.It May Improve Your Relationship
Research has found that giving and receiving remarks of appreciation (ie. feeling grateful toward your partner) can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, including feelings of connectedness and overall satisfaction as a couple, particularly for women.
5.It Helps Motivate Us Towards Self-Care
A 2013 study asked people to rate their levels of gratitude, physical health and psychological health, as well as how likely they were to engage in self care activities such as exercise, healthy eating and going to the doctor. Researchers found that people who practiced gratitude and were more likely to engage in these kinds of behaviours, suggesting that this habit also increases the likelihood of people to appreciate and care for their bodies.
How do I Practice Gratitude?
And while you can write things down in a journal to record what your are grateful for, there are also other ways you can document or reconnect with gratitude. Try taking pictures on your phone throughout the day of things you are grateful for and review them in the evening before bed. Or, you can use your imaginal thinking and put yourself mentally back in a joyful moment that you experienced earlier that day. If you are creative you can use art as a way to reconnect with gratitude by drawing, painting or crafting something that reminds you of something you are grateful for. There are so many ways to reconnect with gratitude.
I challenge you to experiment with practicing gratitude and to take note of what happens. If doing it on your own seems daunting to undertake, consider joining the Mayo Clinic’s free month long
guided gratitude program
If you’re interested in incorporating gratitude into your mental health journey, or if you need some additional help with your mood, sleep or self care, get in touch with me. I would love to discuss more how counselling may be able to help you with the mental health challenges you are facing. Our experienced counsellor can help you explore the benefits of gratitude and provide supportive counseling services. Contact us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to schedule an appointment and take a step towards improving your mental well-being today.