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Starting off a new year is both exciting and anxiety-provoking. It is often a transition period for many – the start of a new school year, a new job, or trying to resolve issues from the previous year. Whatever you are feeling, it is normal to have a variety of emotions around the New Year.
It is important to be comfortable with your feelings – no matter what they are. Trying to suppress or deny them is of no use. It is better to acknowledge them, feel them, talk about them, and move on.
Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative.
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. They can cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.
Research shows that emotional health is a skill.
Here are some steps to build a robust emotional skillset:
Contact me to help you build emotional resilience - email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
What emotions come to your mind when you hear the word “holidays”? Are you flooded with a sense of excitement imagining twinkle lights, summer braais and family gatherings? Or are you consumed with feelings of stress, racing thoughts and what-if questions on how you are going to manage getting everything done in time?
Perhaps the holidays bring about a great sense of sadness or loss and are an acute reminder of what could have been? Realistically, you may feel all these things in one form or another at this time of year.
Here are a few ways to help carry your own mixed bag of emotions:
Contact me to make sense of this season - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Christmas is a time for festive fun and family dinners, but often brings about heightened emotions.
Spending some time coming home to ourselves and compassionately examining our true feelings, can lead to healthier emotions round the festive tree.
To avoid frazzling during the frenzied festive period, we need to put as much effort into preparing ourselves mindfully as we do decorating the house, buying presents, stocking up on food, and putting the final bits of tinsel on the tree.
Families failing to get themselves in the right frame of mind for Christmas may cook up a recipe for disharmony and an emotionally fraught few days.
In theory, Christmas should be a time to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones without having to worry about the stresses of work. Too often the furious pace of the build-up and the holiday period itself can leave many with lower tolerance; fatigued and frustrated.
A few helpful hints to get through this period:
Only spend what is truly affordable
Buy gifts with true intent and forethought
Give without expecting anything in return
If it didn’t work last year, does it make sense to want to do the same this Christmas?
Be prepared – buy things in advance – reduce any last-minute rushes
Only buy what’s really needed
Be kind to yourself
When we slow down, even just a little, and focus on our presence (be here, now), are kind to ourselves in mind and body, then our loved ones will notice peace in ourselves and appreciate some higher tolerance levels.
Social isolation can be more problematic at a time of year when relationships with others are magnified in their importance. Look for local community events you can attend, there are LOTS!
The Christmas/New Year period can often be one of reflection of the year gone by and contemplation of the year to come. Try to focus on the progress you have made and the positive things that have happened in the year.
Get outdoors and enjoy some exercise or some relaxing time in peaceful surroundingss; the park, the beach, a lake. Consume food and beverages in moderation. Overindulgence is detrimental to our health both physically and mentally.
Remember, Christmas is just one single day. Don’t place too much importance or emphasis on what you think it should be. Maintain realistic expectations. Remember your personal value.
Contact me to help you through this season - email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: grow.org.au; angliacounselling.co.uk
The definition of resilience is adapting and responding positively to stress and misfortune. Resilience isn’t an empty idea: individuals can and do respond differently to the challenges of life. This is particularly relevant to those who support others in the role as a care-giver – whether as a therapist, doctor, nurse, looking after elderly parents, looking after sick children, or just being a friend to someone in need. Resilience is an acquired skill. So how do you make sure you come out on top?
Here are some guidelines to building resilience:
1. Let yourself feel lousy occasionally. True resilience doesn’t mean you never get discouraged. If you never encounter painful struggle, you never get to discover your resilience. This is why pain is almost universal among the resilient - it happens. Resilience isn’t about masking your pain and pretending everything is fine - you’re human, not a machine. In short, what matters isn’t how you feel in the moment, it’s that you overcome it and stand back up.
2. Know that you’re the only one who can control your fate. Take decisive action. It’s tempting to use fate as an excuse for your future but take control as best you can.
3. Keep yourself value-centred. It’s all fine and good to make executive decisions, but if the right decision isn’t clear, it can be easy to make mistakes. Studies have found that having a moral compass - an internal system of values and ethics - goes along with higher resilience.
4. Recharge with a workout. Dealing with setbacks can be exhausting, so it’s important not just to push your way back too hard, but to rest and recharge along the way. Exercise is often a mini metaphor for life’s larger challenges: We set short-term goals that build mental momentum to reach larger goals in the long term.
5. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Challenge yourself and aim high but be fair to yourself.
6. Express your feelings.
According to a study of student nurses doing emotionally exhausting work in a literal life-or-death environment, those who were able to draw on support from friends and colleagues, and genuinely express their emotions from sorrow to frustration to joy, were less prone to burnout.
Tell people you trust how you really feel. Be honest and authentic rather than trying to please everyone and you’ll come out feeling relieved and sane.
Let me help you build resilience - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Maintaining your health and wellbeing provides the energy and capacity to endure the challenges that you may face in your role of caring for others. Good health and wellbeing mean that you can provide the best care to yourself, your family and your clients. Carers need to maintain their health and wellbeing to provide the best frame of mind to care for another individual or group.
To ensure caregiver burnout does not occur, you must practice emotional care with the same diligence you take when caring for others.
Emotional care refers to the practice of being mindful of our psychological health and adopting short but frequent daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them. In your care-giver role – whether that is as counsellor, psychologist, coach, nurse or any other role where your main function is to care for another - burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways. A few common signs to look out for include: anxiety, depression, irritability, new or worsening health problems, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, drinking, smoking or eating more, or neglecting your self-care, health, and wellness.
Some of the most important tips for carers include:
The cumulative effects of stress can build over time and not be noticed until problems emerge. Apart from the above, there are plenty of useful strategies for managing stress, including:
Guilt, anger, resentment, fear, stress, anxiety, depression and grief are some of the emotions that will be encountered in your role. It is normal to feel as if you are going crazy at times, and it does not help to try to suppress or deny what you are feeling. The best way to deal with your feelings is to accept them, but make sure you can talk about your feelings with someone who understands, whether it is a family member, friend, counsellor or support group.
Depression is always a potential concern, and you should seek professional help if it becomes a serious issue.
Maintain an identity of your own separate from your role and keep your links to the world outside your job and role.
Contact me to assist you. HELP IS ONE CALL AWAY - email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: psychologytoday.com; synapse.org; blog.careacademy.com; caregiver.org; nih.gov
In psychology, resentment is when a person has ongoing upset feelings towards another person or place because of a real or imagined injustice.
Can you recall the last time you held a grudge against someone? Perhaps it was a friend who betrayed you, a stranger who wronged you, a lover who left, or a parent who unintentionally hurt you. Perhaps it is because you are in a role that requires caring and supporting people and do not feel appreciated.
What can we do to overcome these feelings and painful memories?
What can one do to overcome these negative thought patterns?
What can we do to relinquish ourselves from feelings conjured up by other people’s actions?
When we drill deep into the root of resentment and anger, the cause usually revolves around our ego and the mind’s attempt to protect it from extinction. We react from a place of ego, survival instincts and defense. We may lash out from a place of anger, or our anger turns inwards, and we become depressed and resentful.
We fight out of an instinct to survive, and to protect our ego-driven pride. In the end, nobody wins. Resentment, anger, and fear are all connected. We become trapped in a self-obsessed cycle of being afraid of the future, angry in the present, and filled with resentment over our past.
The keys to overcoming the emotion lie in understanding and forgiving. This seems counter-intuitive, since our instincts tell us that we need to defend ourselves, and possibly come up with ways to hurt the other person.
Understanding gives us insight into what the other person is feeling. Even before we reach the stage of forgiveness, understanding will automatically ease some of the emotional burden we’ve been carrying.
Before seeking to understand, we need to find a place of clarity within ourselves. Once we have understood the place from where we are responding, we can move to forgiving the other person and ourselves. Holding on to resentment is usually more harming to yourself than the person you hold the resentment against.
Use responsible methods for dealing with these uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions so that you are no longer slaves to the emotional reflexes of our animalistic instincts.
Contact me to assist you to move through these powerful emotions - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: psychologytoday.com; thinksimplenow.com; lifehack.org
Caring for others, whether as a career or in an individual capacity, is always a privilege. Being there for someone in their time of need enables us to connect with our true humanity and often provides a service when there is none.
It does, however, often take its toll if the carer doesn’t care for themselves. Nowadays, with the bombardment of people’s suffering, we are often exposed to pain that we would not encounter under other circumstances.
Caring too much can hurt. When caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviours can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions and substance abuse head a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder now labelled: Compassion Fatigue
While the effects of Compassion Fatigue can cause pain and suffering, learning to recognise and manage its symptoms is the first step toward healing.
Compassion fatigue used to be a problem that was most commonly seen among health care professionals. Because their work puts them in situations where they commonly see or hear about ongoing and sometimes unspeakable suffering, it is not unusual to see some of our most skilled, caring, and compassionate "helpers" fall victim to compassion fatigue.
However, in today's world, where every tragedy is instantly broadcast live in living colour directly into our living rooms (TV), laps (laptop), and/or hands (smartphone), compassion fatigue is no longer unique to certain professions. Signs of compassion fatigue include:
If you are feeling distressed, frustrated, guilty, exhausted, or annoyed, it is important to know that these feelings are normal. It can be easy to put your own needs last, but it is important if you are feeling tired or stressed to look after yourself, so you are still able to care for others. Seek help if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
HELP IS ONE PHONE CALL AWAY! Get the support you need - contact me at email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: compassionfatigue.org; psychologytoday.com
Building resilience has become a fundamental skill in today’s challenging world. The popular view of ‘tomorrow will be better’ is often a denial of dealing with our pain in the moment. Tomorrow is often better, but sometimes it is not. And even if it is, a day will come when our pain surfaces again and we go back into denial and push through the tough times at the expense of healing and finding deeper meaning and the true purpose of our lives.
Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. A person with good resilience can bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed. Everybody has resilience. It’s just a question of how much and how well you put it to good use in your life.
Everyone can learn to increase their resilience abilities.
All you need to do to increase your resilience is have the willingness to do so. Part of building resilience is about finding one’s purpose. What in the bigger scheme of life makes you realise your value to yourself and others? How do you find meaning in life, even when days are dark? We often need to question our values and behaviours to find our true meaning. This is not an overnight journey, but more of a life long one of discovery. It is not always a pleasant journey, often difficult, but always rewarding. It takes time and self-awareness to be conscious of the choices we make, how they impact our lives and the lives of others. Self-reflection in an honest and non-judgemental way is required as we walk this path.
As we continue our search for personal meaning, we will need to correct our thoughts and actions, and gently guide ourselves to a place of compassion and understanding, both for ourselves and others.
Building better resilience takes time, effort, commitment, and focus. It will not just happen to you overnight. It’s a process that will take time to learn and master.
Don’t be frustrated by this, because unlike your eye colour or height, resilience is not a trait but rather a skill that you can readily enhance with patience and training. This may mean the difference between a crisis-filled life or a life of meaning. The journey is worth it.
Let me assist you in your journey - contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
There is a growing realisation that mental disorders take an enormous toll on society. Statistics reveal just how dire South Africa’s mental health problem is: It is estimated that approximately ⅓ of South Africans suffer from some form of mental disorder, according to a SASH (SA Stress and Health) study conducted in 2003/4 and ratified in 2014. The stark reality is that more than 17-million people in South Africa are dealing with anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders (a major depressive episode, for example), as well as alcohol and drug use.
Neuropsychiatric disorders are ranked third in their contribution to the overall diseases burden in South Africa according to the National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 - 2020 published by the National Department of Health of SA.
All mental disorders are potentially fatal. Any disorder that has suicide as its potential outcome can be considered to be a terminal illness. We need to work hard to change the narrative around suicide to understand it as the terminal phase of a very serious illness rather than an act of either cowardice or criminality. A failure of the brain is just the same as a failure of the heart or liver or lungs.
Much of the stigma around mental disorders arises from the belief that people can “pull themselves together” to recover from a mental disorder.
In general, once a mental disorder emerges, the best route is both through medical intervention and therapy/counselling
Knowledge, awareness and self-care are all imperative to prevent or minimise the onset of mental disorders and relapses.
Support of the person with the mental illness and the family is desperately needed. Compassion and understanding are the new paradigm in treating mental illness. Take responsibility and seek help when you are feeling depressed, anxious or stressed. Seeking help is a strength and not a weakness – it will help you and your family get through difficult times.
Get the support you need - contact me on email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Mental health stigma can run so deep that we can second-guess ourselves when it comes to our wellbeing and self-care.
Take, for example, a rough day. You’re sitting at your desk struggling to focus on any one important thing. The anxiety kicks in, and you start to think about all the ways your next task could go wrong, how many mistakes you’ll make. The negative self-talk begins, and your depression hits you like a sack of bricks. You just know you’re about to have a panic attack and you can’t think of a single way to stop it.
Now if this were any other illness that had symptoms preventing you from functioning normally - a migraine or the flu - you wouldn’t think twice about calling it a day and going home to rest. No one could blame you for it - you’re sick, right? You don’t feel well. Go home. Feel better.
But this is not a migraine or the flu, this is mental illness. This is anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, which don’t carry the same severity in our society as other well-known illnesses. When we’re really suffering from mental illness, people tell us to stop exaggerating or to suck it up. So when we contemplate the idea of a mental health day, we beat ourselves up for it. Tell ourselves to man-up and get over it, to stick it out, just like others would tell us.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it is not self-caring at all. We must fight the stigma to not only help others understand that these illnesses we deal with are just as severe as other physical illnesses, but to also help us be kinder to ourselves. Giving ourselves time to rest and being kind to ourselves about what our limits are helps us feel better, just like rest helps us feel better when we have the flu.
If you need some time to re-energise, do it. Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your overall wellbeing, and you must take care of your brain like you take care of the rest of your body. Your good health depends on it.
Some tips for mental health care:
Don't let stigma prevent you from caring for yourself. Get the support you need - contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: psychologytoday, take5tosavelives
I use a meaning and value based approach to help people conquer their problems, challenges, fears and obstacles for a happier and more fulfilled life.