Ask A Therapist

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Self-Awareness

Self-awareness, simply put, is knowing yourself well. If you think of yourself as an onion with different layers, the visible layer is behavior – the things you do or say. Below that are layers of thought, emotion, memory, body sensations and so on that are not visible, but that very much influence each other. Self awareness is knowing this onion deeply, from its outermost to innermost layers.

For example, binge eating is a behavior. Restlessness, anxiety about something and brooding might be underlying factors that push one to eat for release. The more self aware one is, the more one moves from ‘I have binge eating spells’ to ‘When I binge eat, I’m often feeling bad about something and not able to contain my feelings’, or, ‘I tend to get mentally stuck on something and worry about it all day. I also feel the worry in the pit of my stomach.’

Why is this important? Well, you can only help yourself deeply when you know yourself well! If one knows that everytime one cannot tolerate anxiety one tends to binge, it opens up doors to work with the anxiety. If on the other hand, one doesn’t know this, one would be caught in a cycle of simply binging and then feeling regret, over and over again.

The same thing applies to all situations. Even if there is no difficulty you are dealing with at present, repeatedly pausing to know yourself better is your best friend when it comes to making helpful decisions for yourself. Doesn’t it help to truly know what made you say something, when you are suppressing yourself, when you should take a timeout because you are now feeling very angry, why you said yes when you wanted to say no, when you need a break or when you need to push harder? Not knowledge from the books, but a true knowing of what you are feeling in the moment.

As human beings, we are wired to want to know more. We study our jobs well, we want to know our partners better, we pay close attention to our children. Sometimes we spend hours looking up places that we will be spending only a few days or hours in! Well, we spend our whole life with ourselves, it’s worth it to know ourselves better 🙂

Aggression

All of us have different ways in which we react when we feel a certain emotion. This way of reacting becomes automatic over time. 

It can be frustrating when crying comes out as an expression of anger. In this situation, what you need to do is try and understand what the anger is about? What is it trying to convey? What is the hurdle in expressing yourself in a more assertive manner?

 Another good question to ask yourself would be – What else am I feeling along with anger? This question is important because it will help you understand what feeling is contributing to the crying. 

This kind of reflection can happen when you are able to sit with your anger. Whenever you start getting angry, try to take a few minutes off. In these few minutes take a few deep breaths, drink some water or do what helps you in calming the racing thoughts and managing the impulse to cry for a few minutes. Once the mind is quiet you will be able to understand your anger and the emotion under it. Listen to what they are telling you without any judgments. Try to attend to the difficulty as best as you can. Take help from family and friends or from a professional if needed.

Just like all the other emotions, anger is important too . It teaches us to stand up for ourselves . All we need to do is let it come and listen to what it has to say. When we do so, the need to cry will slowly settle down.

ANXIETY

Feeling fear about the uncertainty of the future is very valid and understandable. Challenges feel endless and there is no clarity of the future. It can bring up feelings of helplessness, worry, lack of control, exhaustion and much more. The first thing to do here is to be as kind to yourself as possible and try not to judge yourself for feeling this way.

Living in the now will require you to slowly start identifying what is really under your influence on a daily basis and an attempt at working on them. It can be as simple as just showering or eating. This will narrow down your focus from a larger uncertain future to a partially certain present. 

Fear also means that there is a feeling of lack of safety. A good idea would be to start building on practices that make you feel safe and connected to yourself. It can be anything from speaking to a friend, hugging a pillow and sleeping, starting the day with a short meditation practice, sipping on a hot cup of tea, spending time in the day in the part of the house that feels safe, reading a book etc. Let the sense of safety be equally present along with the fear and allow yourself to relax into those safe moments. This way, the brain learns that not all is bad and with practice, it starts to relax into the moment more easily.

You can also pick up the practice of mindfulness to help you connect with your present and manage your worries about the future better.

Let’s begin by understanding what anxiety is.  Anxiety is typically an emotional response characterized by fear, apprehension and bodily symptoms of tension regarding an anticipated concern, danger or threat. The key word, anticipated, is what distinguishes general stress from anxiety. It is best described as excessive and persistent worry even when an external stressor may not be present.

Usually, anxiety is characterized by the tendency to engage in “what if ?” questions. Such future oriented questions may lead to feeling scared and unsafe. Very often, anxiety is experienced as an overall sense of uneasiness. At a thought level anxiety can manifest in the form of overthinking, a racing mind and difficulty in controlling thoughts. At a behavioural level, anxiety may cause one to be very sensitive to their environment and hypervigilant of any potential threat. This could also mean avoidance of things, places and/or people that fuel the anxiety. Most commonly, anxiety manifests in the form of bodily signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, heaviness in the chest, frequent headaches, muscular tension, restlessness, sweating, nausea, cold or hot flushes.

While mild levels of anxiety associated with a significant change or upcoming event could be helpful in allowing you to prepare for the same, if it is something you experience a lot more frequently you can benefit from seeking professional help.

Below are some questions you could ask yourself to check for the presence of anxiety:

  • Have you been feeling nervous or on the edge more often than usual?
  • Do you find it difficult to control your thoughts?
  • Is it getting hard for you to relax?
  • Do you feel like you are getting irritated, upset or worked up easily?
  • Do you notice the presence of any of the above mentioned bodily signs and symptoms more often than usual?
  • Is is getting hard for you to engage in some routine tasks?

 If your answers to most of these questions are in the affirmative, you could benefit from consulting a professional and seek further support!

The worry of anxiety escalating into a panic attack can be even quite unsettling. Even the thought of experiencing a panic attack can lead to a lot of fear. This in turn can cause stress which might actually lead to a state of panic. All of this might feel like an endless cycle that is outside your control. With some support, self- awareness and practice, you can regulate your anxiety and minimize panic.

In the moment, it can feel almost impossible to take control of your breath, thoughts and emotions. So, a  helpful thing to make note of before trying to manage panic, is to know what it looks like. This can help you recognize the signs and intervene ahead of experiencing a full blown panic attack. Some symptoms that you might notice are shortness of breath, racing heart, nausea, headaches, feeling dizzy, sweating, sudden change in body temperature, numbness and fear of something happening to you.

If you have experienced anxiety or panic before, you might have noticed that your breath becomes fast and shallow? This breathing pattern over a couple of minutes can contribute to feeling panicked. Focus on your breathing when you feel the anxiety kick in. Try to take deep breaths even if it feels difficult to. Breath in for 4 counts (1..2..3..4), hold for 4 (1..2..3..4) and release in 6 (1..2..3..4..5..6). Do this a couple of times till you notice your breath settling down.

Some other ways to help regulate your anxiety could include engaging other senses.

  • Look at 5 things that you can see around you slowly, gently noticing each of these, the color, the texture and minute details.
  • Touch 4 things around you and notice how it feels for you.
  • Listen to 3 sounds around you. These can be obvious sounds or subtle ones.
  • Name 2 things you can smell in your surrounding.
  • Identify  1 thing you can taste.

 Finally, if you are feeling unsafe in your surrounding, it can help to close your eyes and visualize a happy place. A place that makes you feel at ease. It could be a place you would like to be at like the beach or the hills. Imagine this space in detail, trying to notice the smell, the sounds and surroundings of this space. 

If you experience anxiety often it can help to practice these grounding techniques regularly.

 

 

It can be quite difficult for your daughter to be experiencing all these concerns. As a parent supporting her in her journey of well-being can feel important and tough at the same time. Your presence and the comfort you offer to her at this time can be very supportive. Being there for your daughter by listening to her in your capacity as a parent can help her open up to you.

 Very often anxiety can be associated with difficulty in controlling impulses and body image related issues. Given that these concerns could be inter- related, it could help to increase your own understanding of what your daughter maybe experiencing. It could help to speak with a clinical psychologist for the same. This will give you better clarity and help you connect with her better.

 If you notice that she is sharing her thoughts and feelings with you, try to simply hear her out before giving advice. It can be helpful to ask questions like “how can I support you ?”, “is there something you would like me to do?”.  You could also gently encourage her to seek psychological counselling. If you notice that the distress is too high, you may also want to consult a psychiatrist and explore opting for medication.

 In the process of taking care of someone going through a lot, it will be very important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. It can always help to seek guidance from professionals. Being kind and compassionate to yourself will help you be more gentle towards your daughter and her journey of recovery.

 

MINDFULNESS

Let us do a simple check. How many times do you focus on your food while you are eating? For how long does this attention last? What about bathing? How many times have you been aware of the temperature of the water or the smell of the soap?

As you observe yourself in these moments, chances are that withing a couple of seconds you tend to get lost in other thoughts whereas you eyes, mouth, hands and legs continue to perform the task. We all usually tend to start performing these daily tasks on autopilot mode. This is the typical tendency of the mind. Like a monkey, it hops from one thought to another very quickly.

Being mindful, on the other hand, means being able to experience the moment as it is. So if you are eating a biscuit, being mindful would mean that you are completely aware of the flavors, the texture, the way it feels in your mouth and so on for every bite of the biscuit. Mindfulness is a gentle practice of staying and being aware of the present moment. It is about making a conscious choice to attend to what is important and healthy for you at any given moment, rather than getting swayed by the monkey mind. It is about being in the ‘here and now’.

Being mindful is a gradual and gentle practice. While it may sound easy, it can also be challenging at time. With everyday practices such as mindful eating and more intentional meditation practices you can build on your ability to stay with the present for longer.   

Download this free ebook https://innerspacetherapy.in/e-book/ written by our Founder and Chief Psychologist, Sadia Saeed for a more detailed understanding of the core pillars of mindfulness and how to cultivate it.

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present. A zen proverb describes the essence of the practice – ‘While walking, walk, while eating, eat.’

What has this got to do with stress? A whole lot. The mind has a tendency to constantly chatter. If you want to see for yourself, close your eyes for 3 minutes right now. Simply breathe and try to keep your mind in the here and now.

If you try this, you will come face to face with how noisy the mind is. This is not just a 3 minute sample, this is what goes on in the mind all the time. 

Now think about this – how stressful are a few minutes of brushing? Or a few minutes of bathing?

How much stress is added because we are thinking while brushing and bathing? 

While we bathe, work, send emails, eat, mop the floor, drop off the kids to school, we are constantly thinking. We do this without even realizing how absorbed we have become in thought, in trying to fix or solve something or the other in our minds. A huge part of stress comes from this tendency of being unable to live and be in the moment. 

Mindfulness practice helps us recognize and gently work with this tendency. It helps us anchor our attention and energy more restfully in the present moment. The baggage that we constantly carry in the form of mental chatter comes down, opening up a lot of space and reducing stress.

The ultimate objective of the practice is what we all want in life – to be happy and content. Happiness is not dependent on a particular thing but is spread throughout one’s life. But one is unable to feel this contentment because of habitual ways of thinking and living in the past or future. 

To feel this contentment, we need to examine the way we live, what goes on in our minds and what we end up believing. We need to be able to notice these thoughts and emotions as they come but consciously pull ourselves back to the present moment. This is what mindfulness practice helps us with. 

For example, one of the practices teaches us to focus on our breaths in the present moment. The breath acts as an anchor and helps us come back to the present moment from any disturbing thoughts or emotions we are having. This signals our brain that the present moment is precious and there is joy in the moment. This helps to change the neural wiring of the brain and instead of finding happiness elsewhere where we can find it in the present moment itself. 

Our brain is wired to believe that unless we don’t get stressed about something we will not be able to achieve it, only if we worry can we achieve our goals. However, when we feel peace within us, our ability to decide what is important and what is not improves. We feel less afraid of missing out on crucial aspects of our lives, should that happen. We can choose tasks we want to do with more wisdom and less fear. Most importantly, we do not do these tasks only for the sake of it but enjoy the task while doing it which enables us to accomplish a lot more.

EATING DISORDER & BODY DYSMORPHIA

Many of us feel trapped in our bodies at some point. Almost all of us go through phases where we loathe certain aspects of our body from stretch marks, to weight gain, tummy fat, thick arms, heavy thighs, huge calves etc. Probably, we may even go weeks without having the confidence to look at ourselves in the mirror. It happens! The constant picture of ‘perfect beauty’ that is being persuaded by the beauty standards, fashion magazines, and advertising agencies can take a toll on our mental health and trap us into believing something that isn’t real. We tend to compare those highlight reels that we see on social media with our lives. Do you think that’s fair? Absolutely not!

The false notion of the ‘ideal body image’ that we have developed in our minds influences us to the extent where our behaviours and our eating habits are altered just to fit ourselves in. Most of our loathing for our bodies comes from how we feel others perceive us rather than what we truly feel about our bodies.

It’s extremely important to not be so hard on ourselves. It’s not just what we externally feed our bodies with but also how we talk ourselves through times when we are probably at our lowest with our body image – that makes the most difference. So ask yourself, what would you tell your friend who just shared some concerns about hating his or her body? You wouldn’t ask your friend to lose some pounds or stop him or her from eating. Would you? No right! You would instead make them feel good about themselves, isn’t it? So, why not do the exact same thing with your body? Why not nurture your body with love, care, and compassion? At the end of the day – what matters is how comfortable you feel in your body! You’ve been very hard on yourself for years and that hasn’t worked.  Be a loving and nurturing friend to yourself and watch your relationship with your body slowly change 🙂

Finding comfort in food is something that comes easily to a lot of us. Not eating up our feelings can be a big challenge because food is such an inseparable part of our lives and cutting it off completely is not an option. The good news here is you have already taken the first step. You are already aware that you are upset and that is what leads you to binge eat. The next step is to be very kind with yourself and work on your feelings and not just with your food habits. You can ask questions like-

  • What am I upset about?
  • What about the situation is feeling so difficult?
  • Are there other ways in which I can express my feelings?
  • Are there ways in which I can support this emotion better, so that I’m not as overwhelmed?
  • Once you understand your feelings better you can then look at developing healthier ways of coping like speaking to a friend or a family member, journaling your feelings, using art or dance to express yourself or just simply telling yourself that you are feeling a certain way right now and it is okay for now.

Once you express and work through your feelings, try and see if there is anything in your control to make the situation better and act upon it. Sometimes in the comfort of food a lot of us tend to forget that we have the power to influence at least some part of our life.

One very important practice that helps in binge eating is Urge Surfing. Here are the basic steps for this practice-

  1.     Identify and label the emotion that you are feeling while the urge to binge eat comes up.
  2.     Notice how your body feels/ what are the body sensations when this urge to binge eat comes up.
  3.     Any kind of urge acts like a wave. It reaches a high point and eventually passes away like a wave.
  4.     Once you notice your body, focus on your breathing while letting the urge to binge eat pass away.
  5.     Practice it to make the exercise easier.

Once your feelings feel heard and your body starts practicing navigating the urges, binge eating will slowly reduce and  your relationship with food will become healthy again.

ADDICTION

Losing social support in the form of family and friends can be a difficult and isolating experience. Please don’t blame yourself for the changes in people’s behaviour or your own behaviour while you are trying to cope with addiction. Addiction is a tricky difficulty to deal with and healing takes some time.

 People sometimes distance themselves because they might not know how to help the person in distress or are unable to cope with the behavioural and emotional changes that happen in the person dealing with addiction.

 To begin with you can first focus on improving your relationship with yourself and dealing with the addiction. You can seek help from a therapist, psychiatrist,de-addiction centre or be part of group therapies that support people working on addiction and related emotional difficulties. This will help you meet people who have been in a similar journey and who can understand you and be a support to you.

 Once you are doing better and feeling better you can slowly start working towards the relationships. Start by sharing your journey and progress with your loved ones. Take small steps. Start spending time with them over tea or a meal. Let them take some time to know the new you and slowly work towards the relationship they would like to eventually have with you. Go slow as too much change can be overwhelming for you as well. While you give your friends and family time to explore the possible relationship don’t hesitate to build new bonds.

 While working on the external support system, start giving time towards building your internal strength. Take up practices that help you regulate emotionally and give you purpose on a daily basis. You can pick up anything from yoga, reading, art, trekking, volunteering, meditation to exercising. Go slow and give it time.

OVER-THINKING

Sometimes when we start to think about events of the past or future, it sets the worry cycle or overthinking loop in motion. One thought leads to another. Before we realise we have strayed far away from the present. This auto pilot tendency of the mind can become quite frustrating, stressful and even draining. But the very fact that you recognize the presence of the overthinking loop is the first step towards change. While you may not be able to control your thoughts, you can control your attention towards them. Here are some simple practices that can help in redirecting your attention :

  1. Pause: when the mind is trying to run fast, it helps to take a breath and pause. In order to pause you could take 1-2 deep belly breaths. You could also look around your space and slowly name 5 things you can see. Once you feel a little more settled, you will be better equipped to work through your concern.
  2. Recognize the concern at hand: overthinking often leads us to go way ahead of time. Suddenly the concern at hand get magnified into what might happen a couple months or years later. In such moments it helps to ask yourself what is bothering me right now ? how does this concern make me feel ? A simple way to recognize the concern at hand is to write it down. Seeking help and talking it out with a professional can also be supportive.
  3. Avoid asking why questions: the overthinking loop tends to continue when we find ourself stuck with questions like “why is this happening to me ?” “why are things not getting better” etc. Instead it can help to ask, “what can I do to make things better ?” “given that this is happening, is there a way in which I can cope with it ?”
  4. Practice acceptance : while this may sound like a cliché’, there are some situations that we may have little or no control over. Thinking and worrying about the situation will make you feel even more helpless. So take a step back and check just how much of a role can you actually play in this situation. Accept and let go.
  5. Being in the present: Most of our time goes in mulling about the past that we wont be able to change or the future that we have not seen yet. Coming back to the present moment through a breath meditation practice like the one linked (https://youtu.be/PriMk7m99ds) can actually help in focusing on what is most important NOW.
  6. Distraction: sometimes despite trying the above we might continue to feel consumed by our thoughts. We might feel agitated and restless. In such moments, it can help to distract yourself by an activity that might need more attention. One where you can divert your attention towards.

 

Lacking confidence and overthinking are two common issues that people face and are often connected with each other. Overthinking occurs when a person tends to think or worry too much about a particular situation, whereas low self-esteem and confidence often occur when a person lacks trust in their own abilities. This could lead to feelings of guilt, fear, confusion and even shame. A feeling of low self-esteem and confidence can result from a number of situations. You could start by asking yourself what have the situations been in your life that have made you feel this way. They don’t necessarily have to be situations they can be some people as well.

For example, you might be feeling low self-confidence because your colleagues thought you did not work hard enough and did not appreciate you. In this case, you might want to challenge these thoughts by asking yourself some questions which you can reflect upon. You can ask yourself what exactly is going on inside you and whether you feel you are getting too caught up in other people’s judgements. Often, it helps to ask yourself what baby step you can take in this moment to raise your confidence. Is it possible to take a step back from your mind when its buzzing with thoughts of low confidence? Or recognize that people’s opinions keep changing? Or sit back and reflect upon what you truly think of your performance irrespective of the other person’s opinion? Whatever this baby step might be, take it. Take it again and again and slowly the pattern of feeling low self-esteem will shift.

When you tend to overthink or analyse something, ask yourself what are the kinds of situations you tend to overthink or analyse. For example, a loved one might have unexpectedly said something that made you upset. Here, you might tend to overthink why they said such a thing. Instead of this, it would be helpful to speak to them and let them know how you feel as this is something that is within your control. Doing what is in your control helps to step out of the overthinking loop. The practice of mindfulness could be useful here as it involves training the mind to come back into the present moment instead of remaining caught up in thought.

Try a few of these things and see how you feel then.

TRAUMA

It is very important to understand what feeling triggered really means. When someone is in a threatening situation, one usually feels helpless which can cause post-traumatic stress reactions.

Often we do not process our emotional experience coming from difficult and intense situations fully. Unprocessed experiences leave us feeling vulnerable in the face of a threat and in turn triggers stress reactions. Our brains are designed to keep visiting past experiences till we have processed them completely, given meaning and closure to our experience. In essence, the best way to stop feeling triggered is to process the difficult emotions related to the past experience that is causing the trigger in the first place. It is definitely meaningful to consult with a psychotherapist to help in this kind of processing. It helps one work through the trauma while minimizing overwhelm.

Following are a few things that can help to bring down overwhelm in those moments when you are feeling triggered:

Ask yourself, “Is this an emotional flashback?” These memories and feelings are very real, but can’t hurt you “right now”. 

Remind yourself, “I am feeling afraid, but the danger is not real, I am safe at this moment” 

If you feel extremely irritable or afraid then seek comfort by talking to a therapist who will provide a safe space for you. 

Remind yourself that your feelings are valid and real, but can’t hurt you anymore. What happened is in the past, the memories may be hurtful, but in the present you are safe! If it becomes difficult for you to come back to the present then you can take the help of your senses to orient yourself back to the present, for example: 

* Call out 5 things you can see 

* Focus on the sounds you can hear in the present 

  • Take deep breaths or smell a comforting scent
  • Sip on water or take a few gulps of your saliva
  • Try to feel the air on your skin or how the clothes feel on your body. You can also put your hand under running water. 

Reiterate to yourself that even though this emotion feels endless, you are safe now, and you are working on helping yourself. Thank yourself for being present in the now.

Take a few deep breaths, if you feel like crying, it’s okay to let it all out. 

Practising ways to relax your body and mind like yoga, breathing techniques or simply confiding in a loved one will help you feel safe and supported while you process the deeper emotions.

THERAPY

Therapy is a collaborative process of understanding one’s feelings, thoughts, behaviours and beliefs in a non-judgemental and supportive environment. Contrary to popular belief, therapy is not only for those dealing with a mental disorder but for any and everyone who wants to bring about a change in their perspectives, behaviours or way of life. Therapy helps one to become more mindful about themselves and the environment. 

One can seek the help of a mental health professional simply to understand themselves better, to be able to set relevant goals for themselves. It also helps one to become stronger mentally and emotionally.

Moreover, a lot of us reach a point in our lives where we feel confused about ourselves or our values, often describing it as “feeling stuck”. Therapy can relieve this feeling by helping one understand their true selves and elevate their self-worth. 

If you have noticed the following changes in yourself, then we are here for you!

  • A change in your diet: Have you been binge eating lately or skipping meals?
  • A change in sleeping pattern: Have you been sleeping too much or too little?
  • Has worrying and overthinking kept you on your toes lately? or are you bothered by the same loop of anxious thoughts in your head?
  • Do you feel purposeless in life?
  • Is it difficult for you to focus and concentrate on a task for a period of time?
  • Have you been feeling distant from your loved ones?
  • Have you lost interest in your favourite activities or hobbies?
  • Do you often feel an intense urge to consume alcohol/drugs or splurge in shopping or gambling?
  • Is it difficult for you to express your emotions
  • Do you think of harming yourself? 

If any of these is true for you, then it’s a sign that you need to visit a therapist! 

Don’t be afraid, we know seeking help can be challenging and overwhelming but it’s the first step to becoming the healthiest and happiest version of yourself!

MOOD PROBLEMS

Taking care of someone who is going through severe depression can be a long  journey. Depression doesn’t only mean low mood but it can be a mix of low mood , crying spells , hopelessness , anger outburst and a lot more . It is like a roller coaster ride. 

To take care of someone who is going through so much , you need to take care of yourself physically and emotionally . Make sure you are taking the best possible care of yourself. Recognise what is in your hands and what isn’t. This will help you avoid any kind of burnout . 

Increase your own understanding of depression. This will help you know better what your loved one is going through, giving you better clarity and helping you feel more compassion for them.

Try and share responsibilities if possible. Taking things off your plate can help you have more space and energy to look after your loved one.

Encourage your loved one to seek psychological counseling.If the distress feels too much then opting for medication under supervision of a psychiatrist is recommended. 

If all these steps have been taken then remind yourself  that you can do what is in your control and at the same time let the other person walk on their journey one day at a time. 

Do the best you can and be kind to yourself. This will help you take care of this person in a kind manner too.

We wish you and your loved one the very best 🙂

Inaction or laziness usually does not spill over into all aspects of life. Moreover, it is not accompanied by an overarching sense of gloom and disinterest like depression is. For example, I could be very lazy about work or exercise but feel enthusiastic about my relationship. However, if I’m depressed, I’m likely to feel an overarching drain of energy and interest across work, meeting my partner and eating dinner even that I cannot seem to help.

Depression could lead to inaction but is never usually an excuse for inaction. If you are feeling like – “if I could, i would”, you are not making an excuse. You’re probably struggling with something. And struggle is always genuine 🙂

What could be common to inaction and depression is a deep sense of stuckness. Are you feeling stuck about who you are, what truly gives you meaning? Do you struggle to feel good about yourself? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, addressing it will help both- the depression and the inaction.

We wish you the best 🙂

Experiencing so many emotions in such a short span of time can feel exhausting. I can understand when you say that you don’t like what it does to you.

When our internal weather is so difficult to manage external factors even the smallest one can feel like a challenge to manage or ignore.

Firstly try and slow down. Understand that you are going through a lot of emotions that are showing up all together. To try and understand what these emotions are trying to tell you , spending some time with them is important. You can ask yourself – 

  • Why am I feeling this particular emotion ? 
  • If this emotion had a voice what would it say ? 

This can be done on your own or along with family / friends or a therapist.

Exploring the cause of emotions can feel scary. Hence try and have no judgements around what comes up. 

You can use some simple practices to feel temporary relief are while you are understanding yourself –

  1. Taking deep breaths that fill your belly 
  2. Spending 10 mins stretching or walking slowly 
  3. Journaling or talking about how you feel with an intention to simply express

The overwhelm that you might be feeling is understandable. Use your understanding of what the emotions are trying to tell you to then further work on them. So much emotional turmoil usually happens when there are a lot of suppressed emotions over time . Consider consulting a trained psychologist , psychiatrist and a general physician too . Sometimes vitamin and hormonal deficiencies can also aggravate difficulties in mood.

CONCENTRATION AND ATTENTION

Paying attention completely to what we are doing for a long period can be difficult. This difficulty comes up because our mind has been trained to jump from one task to another while multitasking as well as trying to do too much in a limited period of time.

You can improve your attention in two ways-

  1. Using some practices to bring back your attention while listening to the lecture
  2. Practices that will help you in general improve your attention span

Here are some suggestions to help you bring your attention back –

  •       Whenever you find yourself getting distracted take three deep belly filling breaths with full focus on the breath and bring your mind to the lecture
  •       Drink water with full attention. Notice the taste of the water in your mouth and be aware of your throat, chest and stomach as the water goes down. Drink each sip slowly.
  •       Every time your mind goes into a spiral of thoughts, loudly ask yourself to stop either verbally or in your head and bring back your attention.

Remember that distracting is a habit that the mind has developed over years and hence training the mind to sustain attention is going to take some time. Sitting in a brightly lit room and in an attentive posture also helps with paying attention.

To work on your ability to sustain attention It will help if you do the suggested practices multiple times in the day. Along with the practices have a regular meditation, pranayama or some kind of attention improvement practice like zentangles

Sometimes difficulty in sustaining attention can also have reasons like lack of motivation, lack of sleep or in general not feeling too well emotionally. If there is a deeper reason for difficulty in sustaining attention, please consider speaking to a therapist.

Guilt

Trying to balance kids, home and holding a job can be exhausting. It is like trying to play multiple roles at the same time.

Having a kid is a wonderful journey but it also adds another responsibility to our already full lives. The expectation to be a certain kind of parent also takes a toll. It is natural to feel exhausted.

When we try to be present in so many roles fully, resting or slowing down can become difficult. Feeling of guilt and not doing enough can come up very easily. These feelings of guilt and exhaustion can then make us feel like giving up that one role that we see as the least important part of our life.

In an attempt to do a lot, we aren’t able to do anything fully.

There is nothing wrong in whatever you choose to do. Be kind to yourself. Make sure that the choices that you are making are not only right for the child but also involve your care. Only when you feel okay will you be able to take care of your child and everything around.

Reach out to people around. There is not shame in delegating and seeking help. Multitasking and trying to do everything on your own will soon cause burn out which will leave you with very little ability to function. Remove some time in the day just to take care of yourself. Remember to fill your own cup with care and compassion first.

Bullying

Hi, we did not receive your whole question. However, we’ve answered based on what we gathered from it 🙂

Its very difficult to grow up believing that you are not enough. Constant comparison definitely makes one feel like they are inadequate and that they have to keep measuring up. It’s also difficult to change these patterns as an adult because one’s brain has become used to reacting in a certain way. However, the good part is that as an adult, one is able to recognize that these comparisons were unfounded, and that it is really okay to be you. The analytical part of the brain knows this, it’s just difficult to internalize it. Some of the following may help with this-

  1. Learn to watch your mind rather than believe it – the brain, or, the mind, has simply gotten used to thinking in a certain way. For example, it reacts with fear whenever you dont ‘measure up’; it keeps coming up with thoughts of how it won’t end well if you don’t match up and so on. However, these thoughts are occurring only out of habit. These thoughts are not the truth. The truth is that you can very well be different, smart and naive in your own way! Slowly learn to gently watch the mind and then step back from thoughts instead of believing them. The practice of mindfulness is incredibly useful here.
  2. Recognise and breathe into fear – this follows from the first point. Whenever you feel caught up in trying to be good enough, you will notice that the body is afraid, sometimes subtly so. You may notice a tightness in the chest, a lack of ease in the body, that the neck or shoulders have gotten stiff or that the jaw has tightened. Learning to tell how your body is feeling and breathing into the body is a very useful practice because it helps to ease the body along with the mind. When the body feels more open, you get a window to pause and recognize that this is just habitual fear, and that you have full permission to be you. Know more here. 
  3. Slowly access your own truth – when you do the above practices, you will slowly see that sometimes, you seem to genuinely believe that it’s not a sin to be late! Or that you have some beautiful qualities; that you like you! Stay with that. Stay with those feelings. It helps you slowly access your own feelings about what is healthy for you and how you truly see yourself. You may be far more forgiving of and loving towards yourself than you realise.
  4. See others’ opinions anew – Many a time, others are merely being reactive when they make comparisons. They are not being objective. What’s more is, their opinion keeps changing based on what works for them moment to moment. For example – if someone’s smartness is costing them in the moment because the smarter person is arguing with them, they are likely to criticize the smarter person and praise the quieter one. Vice versa if they need an errand to be run for them. Seeing how flippant and subjective opinions are in general can help you loosen the grip that your mind has over them.
  5. Make a choice – make a choice, over and over again, to honor your own truth. See what you genuinely believe about yourself, beneath all the fear and habitual conditioning. Easier said than done, we know, but it’s worth it. People around will keep saying and believing what they are driven to believe. Make a choice, again and again, to slowly keep coming back to yourself. As children, we didn’t have this choice, but as adults, this is available to us. If all of us have quirks, so can you! 😊😊

Brene Brown is a good author to look up. She has written some wonderful books on shame and self esteem. You can look at her work and probably pick up whatever resonates with you!

We wish you the very best!

SELF ESTEEM & CONFIDENCE

Lacking confidence and overthinking are two common issues that people face and are often connected with each other. Overthinking occurs when a person tends to think or worry too much about a particular situation, whereas low self-esteem and confidence often occur when a person lacks trust in their own abilities. This could lead to feelings of guilt, fear, confusion and even shame. A feeling of low self-esteem and confidence can result from a number of situations. You could start by asking yourself what have the situations been in your life that have made you feel this way. They don’t necessarily have to be situations they can be some people as well.

For example, you might be feeling low self-confidence because your colleagues thought you did not work hard enough and did not appreciate you. In this case, you might want to challenge these thoughts by asking yourself some questions which you can reflect upon. You can ask yourself what exactly is going on inside you and whether you feel you are getting too caught up in other people’s judgements. Often, it helps to ask yourself what baby step you can take in this moment to raise your confidence. Is it possible to take a step back from your mind when its buzzing with thoughts of low confidence? Or recognize that people’s opinions keep changing? Or sit back and reflect upon what you truly think of your performance irrespective of the other person’s opinion? Whatever this baby step might be, take it. Take it again and again and slowly the pattern of feeling low self-esteem will shift.

When you tend to overthink or analyse something, ask yourself what are the kinds of situations you tend to overthink or analyse. For example, a loved one might have unexpectedly said something that made you upset. Here, you might tend to overthink why they said such a thing. Instead of this, it would be helpful to speak to them and let them know how you feel as this is something that is within your control. Doing what is in your control helps to step out of the overthinking loop. The practice of mindfulness could be useful here as it involves training the mind to come back into the present moment instead of remaining caught up in thought.

Try a few of these things and see how you feel then.

CAREGIVING

It can be quite difficult for your daughter to be experiencing all these concerns. As a parent supporting her in her journey of well-being can feel important and tough at the same time. Your presence and the comfort you offer to her at this time can be very supportive. Being there for your daughter by listening to her in your capacity as a parent can help her open up to you.

 Very often anxiety can be associated with difficulty in controlling impulses and body image related issues. Given that these concerns could be inter- related, it could help to increase your own understanding of what your daughter maybe experiencing. It could help to speak with a clinical psychologist for the same. This will give you better clarity and help you connect with her better.

 If you notice that she is sharing her thoughts and feelings with you, try to simply hear her out before giving advice. It can be helpful to ask questions like “how can I support you ?”, “is there something you would like me to do?”.  You could also gently encourage her to seek psychological counselling. If you notice that the distress is too high, you may also want to consult a psychiatrist and explore opting for medication.

 In the process of taking care of someone going through a lot, it will be very important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. It can always help to seek guidance from professionals. Being kind and compassionate to yourself will help you be more gentle towards your daughter and her journey of recovery.

 

RELATIONSHIPS & MARRIAGE

Marriage is a commitment that takes place between two people. It goes through various stages where partners willingly work towards different phases as a team. You’re unhappy in your union, however, you’ve decided to stay. Please understand it takes a lot of soul-searching and courage to make such a decision. When two people are married for quite some time, making this choice can be challenging. 

To begin with, know that despite being in an unhappy marriage, there are many reasons why couples choose to stay. Some may be – if there are kids involved, fear of financial instability, not wanting to stay alone, the distress and stigma around divorce, or probably not wanting to invest in another relationship.

It might be extremely difficult for you to cope and live where you’ve lost trust and respect for your partner. However, you can always equip yourself with ways that help you stay in an unhappy relationship. Engaging in activities that channel your thoughts, feelings, and emotions positively can be a good start.

If you’ve tried your level best to revive your marriage and it feels like it’s not possible to connect with your partner, then detachment helps.

Detachment is basically letting an individual be who they are but at the same time protecting yourself from their actions and consequences. Detachment works when there’s verbal abuse, constant criticism, drinking or drug use, difficult habits, problems that are irreparable, behaviours you want to change, or when there’s aggression involved.

Practising detachment gives you an emotional space between ‘you and something that’s troubling you’. As a person, it provides you with the option to walk away and take care of yourself instead of trying to mend it. When you do this, you let people be who they are without trying to fix or change them. A lot of times, this has helped improve relationships since when you detach, the possibility of arguing comes down.

When detachment becomes a part of your life, you’ll realize that you’re treating your partner with kindness, you abstain from giving advice or trying to alter their behaviour. You also begin to let go of the small stuff and let them make their own choices or decisions.

This helps as you have more energy for yourself and your family members. There are also fewer arguments since no one’s trying to change anyone. There’s no anticipation towards your spouse to meet your needs and you’re letting go of what isn’t working for your marriage while keeping realistic expectations.

What you can do is look for neutral ways to connect with your partner. When two people are unhappy in a marriage, family rituals take a backseat. So, try and keep certain things going like being as kind to each other as possible, or have a routine like eating breakfast together. You could also engage in topics that you know are safe to discuss to simply make conversations light-hearted and pleasant.

Reconciliation may or may not take place but either way, these suggestions could be of help.

You could also take better care of yourself by joining a gym or any other exercise routine, keeping yourself busy with either work or a hobby, or by just going out with friends.

Coping with an unhappy marriage can weigh heavily on your heart but it can also lead to you redefining your life and that’s when the way you think becomes essential. When you find yourself ruminating about the problem, let your mind shift to alternatives that will help you manage your anxieties and concerns. By doing this, you’ll be able to have hope once again. Also, try and get enough support by reaching out to a mental health professional or a support group as it will make you feel connected and a little less helpless and lonely. 

P.S. The suggestions above won’t be enough if you are in an abusive relationship. Please reach out for help at the earliest.

Anxiety regarding relationships, especially a romantic one, is common and understandable. As human beings, we worry about the things we care for and relationships tend to top this list!

Going through relationship anxiety doesn’t necessarily equate to you being in a bad relationship. However, it may turn problematic when it lingers long enough to impact your mental health and your bond with each other.

You mentioned your partner is a sweet person, but he’s not always there. This could feel like a painful and lonely predicament. Sometimes, partners end up feeling isolated in a relationship and that inadvertently pushes them farther away from each other.

Every romantic relationship has its ups and downs and there could be umpteen reasons to it. Sometimes partners aren’t available because they are caught up with other things, remain preoccupied with something, or because of deeper factors. These factors are usually past experiences that have slowly wired them to be less open emotionally. If you could gently ask your partner to think deeper about this, it might help you both understand where the lack of availability is coming from. 

When you feel frustrated with your partner’s lack of availability, it may seem tempting to tell him that it’s his fault. Instead of doing that, try and focus on how ‘you’re feeling’ and gently convey it to him. It takes practice, patience, and time in expressing your emotions, especially to a significant other.

Working on all these things may not happen instantly. In the meantime, engage in positive interactions. You can always do things together to feel emotionally connected like going for a walk or having a date night. Try and find ways to spend time with each other. Avoid using this space to bring up past problems or conflicts.

It’s essential not to regard your partner’s lack of availability as ‘his’ problem. A relationship involves 2 people and you’re a part of the overall dynamic as well.

One way of getting a partner to open up is by letting them know that you see your part in the relationship’s struggles. In case you catch yourself getting angry or criticizing your partner, acknowledge that’s happening and take responsibility for your actions.  This helps them feel less blamed and more assured that you see the relationship as a joint process.

When you see your partner shutting down emotionally, it can get challenging to revive yourself. It’s important to address this concern sooner than let it linger and turn dysfunctional. If you notice your conflicts aren’t getting resolved, try and reach out to a mental health professional. It’s always better to get a clear perspective than to wait until the damage is done.

A few pointers about Anxiety-

Many-a-times, worry, and fear have their roots in not wanting to experience something unpleasant or being afraid to show your vulnerable side because of past events, sometimes even patterns from childhood. It might help to ask yourself, what is it that is giving rise to feelings of anxiety when it comes to your relationship?

If you find yourself constantly ruminating and are experiencing perpetual anxiety, then you could try and speak to a mental health professional. However, if that’s not the case, please know this that relationship anxiety can feel challenging, but is manageable. Pausing to breathe and practices like mindfulness meditation can greatly help with anxiety. These practices regulate the nervous system and give you more space to think through the situation and respond.

 

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