Self-Compassion to Improve Emotional Health

by Gemma Charles
Freelance Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing Self-Compassion to Improve Emotional Health

Many of us are raised to analyse our flaws, to compare ourselves to others, and to constantly find ourselves lacking. We are taught that we should feel ashamed of our failings and that being as good as you can be isn’t always good enough. Unfortunately, developing this kind of self-criticism during childhood can have a dramatic impact on self-esteem in adulthood and can also have a negative impact on levels of emotional health and well-being. However, the good news is that it is possible to overcome these kinds of negative mental attitudes and to develop self-compassion: to be kinder to yourself, and stop judging yourself so negatively.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is a relatively new concept that is often presented together with mindfulness but, in reality, it is an incredibly simple one: show the same compassion that you do to others to yourself.

Dr. Kristin Neff, the founder of selfcompassion.org, has written several books on the topic, defines self-compassion as “acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself this is really difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”

Self-compassion is a learnable skill. If you find that you are being overly critical of yourself then you can stop and instead show yourself some kindness. Effectively, self-compassion is about cutting yourself some slack and relying on yourself for comfort when you need it.

Boost Your Levels of Self-Compassion

If you’ve experienced a setback, made a mistake, or are simply finding everyday life a challenge right now then there are plenty of ways that you can boost your levels of self-compassion to maintain your levels of emotional health. Individuals with high levels of self-compassion have been shown to have a much lower prevalence of depression and anxiety: being kind to yourself can help to protect your mental health. It is possible to make small physical changes to your daily routine that may help you to boost your levels of self-compassion: nourish your body by taking time out to make a healthy snack or meal, revitalise your body by laying down to have a rest, and physically stimulate your body by enjoying a massage. You could even massage your own hands or neck, if you don’t enjoy physical contact with others at moments of stress. All of these techniques will improve how you feel physically, which in turn can help to give your self-compassion a huge boost.

Compassion and Mindfulness

Other techniques that have been shown to boost individual levels of self-compassion include practicing mindfulness (there is a strong and proven link between compassion and mindfulness), and regularly taking time out of your day to give yourself some encouragement. We are often much kinder and more supportive of others than we are of ourselves. Think about what you would say to a good friend or family member who was having a bad day, had made a mistake, or was struggling with their self-esteem: frame that same message to yourself and give yourself a compassionate and nurturing pep talk and accept that nobody is perfect and that it is a mistake to aim for perfection or to compare yourself to others. Simply being you is enough.

The Science Behind Self-Compassion

Skeptical about how simply being kinder to yourself can improve your emotional health? Self-compassion has been proven to be beneficial to physical well-being . In fact, a study in the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal revealed that regularly demonstrating self-compassion lead to a reduction in the body’s cortisol levels: Cortisol is more commonly known as the “stress hormone.” As well as reducing your stress levels, practicing self-compassion was also shown to promote both the production and release of Oxytocin, a chemical that is widely known to increase happiness levels and decrease anxiety. Being self-compassionate doesn’t mean accepting mediocrity or not striving to be the best you can be. However, we all make mistakes and we all have failures: self-compassion encourages us to accept this and then let those failures go, so that we can move on with our life and continue to build positive mental health.

 

About Gemma Charles. Previous to starting a career as a freelance writer, Gemma worked for many years in business and finance. When she became a mother, she turned to writing to support her life, and now she pens articles on diverse topics from news and current affairs to pieces on money matters and emotional well-being. 

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Stop Self-Bullying

Catherine DeAngelis

Belongingness is the quality or state of being, an essential or important part of something – we all need to have a sense of belonging.

 

That intense need for belonging in family, with friends, at work, school, in cultural communities, can bellow out like an emotional titanic in our brain. This need brings a sinking feeling we are drowning because somehow, we got it in our head, we are nerdsdifferent or just don’t fit in. We become isolated.

We malign ourselves with words like “I am weird,” “I am born under a bad sign,” or “black sheep of the family.”  It doesn’t end there. It gets worse for many of us. That deep-seated pain is buried yet we have recall of the time that kid hollered “hey spider face.” What we used to be called during school recess in grade 5 by an all-pervading cliché bully does not have to be a recurring self-punishment.

Some of us take the “fight or flight response ” when these emotions arise in us – at holiday time, birthdays, family or other social gatherings. Anxiety permeates our flesh.  Those undealt with emotions surface to remind us the pain hasn’t gone away.

Emotional Pain

Emotional pain can create a kind of electric surge in us that we apply a self-criticism that we are not good enough. We have given ourselves the same treatment we may have been exposed to and continue the pitter-patter of thoughts in the mind. A take-over happens and the same thoughts repeat giving us the same lie handed down to us – over and over.

When do we become responsible for these feelings or emotions that arise from this all mighty thing we call name-calling, whether it came at us from the past or still present today?

We know who the name-caller is most of the times, but when it comes to ourselves, who can we blame?

How many of us have this bully-self that is a name-caller often creating havoc in our thoughts doing the same kind of personal damage that psychologists claim do to a bullied child?

We attach personal name-calling of another nature to ourselves, no different from what we battled in our school yard or for some, our parents, siblings, teachers who may have intentionally or unintentionally thrown stones, at our already fragmented self.

Sense of Belonging

We could be at any age range. Our desperate yet silent need for belongingness steals our right to trust we are who we are right here right now. We belong inside and out of our skin; we feel betrayed by a lie given to us somewhere, at sometime, in our lives.

Just as there is zero-tolerance for behavioral disturbances for bullying, victimization and standing by during bullying – this approach can be given the same respect to our internal messaging. How long do we stand and continue to bully ourselves without doing a darn thing about it? It strips self-esteem and tears at our confidence to create a concrete barrier to our success.

What was the lie is something we can ask ourselves? It is the lie that can fester and remind us we are supposed to be somebody more than what we are, because somewhere we were told we didn’t measure up. So what!

Simple it seems that the truth is a matter of consequence for we judge ourselves too harshly when we are unable to uncover the monster that looms underneath these trapped emotions — we plainly feel we are “damaged goods.”

On Being Human

Jean Vanier’s vision of belonging is described best in his book, Becoming Human,My vision is that belonging should be at the heart of a fundamental discovery: that we all belong to a common humanity, the human race. We may be rooted in a specific family and culture but we come to this earth to open up to others, to serve them and receive the gifts they bring to us, as well as to all of humanity.”

We can stop our self-bullying by reminding ourselves, those negative self-deprecating words in our head are a lie, and thoughts, they lie to us. Isn’t it time to stop belittling and devaluing ourselves?

More important than the need to be loved is the need to belong – for some of us it is an affirmation we need, over and over again, to kick out the old messages and replace the messages with new ones.

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”  ― Jean VanierCommunity And Growth.

Resources

Click here for a helpful resource on how to switch from negative to positive self-talk

 

 

 

 

Some SELF Affirmations

  • Fall in love at first sight with you every day – replace self-bullying, hurtful words with positive ones – weave them into a personal mantra like “I am energetic, healthy, physically and emotionally fit.”
  • Be mindful – let your eyes meet you in the morning and make it an instant attraction of SELF. Do this every day until it is natural part of you. Loving self is not bad, it is number one to bringing others to loving us more.
  • Allow love to happen – anywhere, anytime!
  • Find help – getting stuck in negative thought patterns can hinder you in your life in many aspects – don’t go it alone — ask for help – all kinds of talk therapies and support services are available – explore solutions.
  • Giving up is not an option – call 911 or visit closest hospital emergency in your area if ever self-talk takes you to a hopeless state.

No matter what, give a shout out “I am not damaged goods, and I too belong here.” Make you matter – affirm the positives, find ways to reverse belittling self-talk. When you get stuck in the negative thought streams, be accountable – know that we are all part of a common humanity – the human race.

Editor’s Note: this post was originally published August 23, 2013 and has been updated.

 

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Cerebral Palsy and Emotional Health

 

by Alex Diaz-Granados
Chief Editor
cerebralpalsyguidance.com

 

What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?

Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common disabilities of childhood, but it is also without a cure and persists into adulthood. Caused by brain damage at a very early age, cerebral palsy affects muscles, movement, coordination, and posture. It can also cause a number of complications, from hearing loss to intellectual disabilities. A child with cerebral palsy is also at risk for emotional and behavioral challenges.

Emotional Challenges and Their Causes

Researchers have found that children living with cerebral palsy are more likely to struggle with emotional and behavioral challenges than their peers. This may be explained as a direct result of the brain damage that caused the child to have cerebral palsy, but there may also be other factors at play. For instance, a child with cerebral palsy often looks and moves different from his peers. This can lead to poor self-esteem and low self-confidence, but also inappropriate behavioral responses due to frustration and embarrassment.

Children with cerebral palsy are also likely to feel more isolated and tend not to be included by their peers. They are also at a greater risk for being bullied, which can take a hugely negative toll on emotional health, even triggering depression or anxiety disorders. Finally, parents of these children are likely to experience more stress and parental stress correlates with emotional problems in their children.

Coping with Emotional Difficulties

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that cannot be cured. There are many treatments and interventions, though, that can help and make a real difference in children’s lives. For some of these children, there may be something physical that underlies behavioral or emotional outbursts. Pain, for instance, is common with cerebral palsy, but it can be managed or treated with medications, surgery, physical therapy, and other strategies.

Children living with cerebral palsy and struggling emotionally can also benefit from treatments that directly address those issues. Behavioral therapy, social therapy, recreational and play therapy, and even psychotherapy with older children, can all help a child learn to manage, cope with, and change negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Also crucial in helping children cope with the difficult emotions of living with cerebral palsy is the strong support of parents and other people close to them. When parents model and teach good emotional health strategies, such as talking about feelings, expressing emotions in healthy ways, and socializing appropriately, their children will be more likely to learn and develop those skills too.

Cerebral palsy is a disability that a child has to live with for the rest of his or her life. Childhood is the perfect time to learn how to cope with the emotional challenges that come with living with this disorder. And when a child does learn those healthy coping strategies, parents can ensure that their child will grow up to be a healthy and happy adult.

Alex Diaz-Granados is the chief editor for the blog at cerebralpalsyguidance.com. His life with cerebral palsy began in early March of 1963, born eight weeks before his due date. As a result, he suffered irreversible damage to the motor control center of his brain and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy some months later. Despite this, he has overcome many physical and emotional obstacles and is now a freelance writer for Examiner.com.

He is also the author of Save Me the Aisle Seat:The Good, the Bad and the Really Bad Movies: Selected Reviews by an Online Film Reviewer, as well as the co-writer of an unproduced screenplay with actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. He represents the cerebralpalsyguidance.com website because he believes in their mission of providing quality cerebral palsy information and assistance to families in need. For more information on vital guidance and assistant to parents of a child with Cerebral Palsy — Visit this link.

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Shame, Shame…

Catherine DeAngelis “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before – more sorry, more aware of my own … Continue reading

Improving Emotional Health

Strategies and Tips for Good Mental Health

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal Ph.D.
Last updated: May 2016 (Reprinted with permission)

Improving Emotional Health

People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behavior. They are able to handle life’s challenges, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks. But just as it requires effort to build or maintain physical health, so it is with mental and emotional health. Improving your emotional health can be a rewarding experience, benefiting all aspects of your life, including boosting your mood, building resilience, and adding to your overall enjoyment of life.

What is mental health or emotional health?

Mental or emotional health refers to your overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties.

Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Similarly, not feeling bad is not the same as feeling good. While some people may not have negative feelings, they still need to do things that make them feel positive in order to achieve mental and emotional health.

People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem
  • These positive characteristics of mental and emotional health allow you to participate in life to the fullest extent possible through productive, meaningful activities and strong relationships. These positive characteristics also help you cope when faced with life’s challenges and stresses.

The role of resilience in mental and emotional health

Being emotionally and mentally healthy doesn’t mean never going through bad times or experiencing emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress.

The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. One of the key factors in resilience is the ability to balance stress and your emotions.

The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states. Another key factor is having a strong support network. Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience in tough times.

Physical health is connected to mental and emotional health

Taking care of your body is a powerful first step towards mental and emotional health. The mind and the body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. For example, exercise not only strengthens our heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our mood.

The activities you engage in, and the daily choices you make, affect the way you feel physically and emotionally.

Ladies working out

  • Get enough rest. To have good mental and emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body. That includes getting enough sleep. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order to function optimally.
  • Learn about good nutrition and practice it. The subject of nutrition is complicated and not always easy to put into practice. But the more you learn about what you eat and how it affects your energy and mood, the better you can feel.
  • Exercise to relieve stress and lift your mood. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Look for small ways to add activity to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going on a short walk. To get the most mental health benefits, aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day.
  • Get a dose of sunlight every day. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day. This can be done while exercising, gardening, or socializing.
  • Limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. These are stimulants that may unnaturally make you feel good in the short term, but have long-term negative consequences for mood and emotional health.

Improve mental and emotional health by taking care of yourself

In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up. Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if, and when, they arise.

Taking care of yourself includes pursuing activities that naturally release endorphins and contribute to feeling good. In addition to physical exercise, endorphins are also naturally released when we:

  • Do things that positively impact others. Being useful to others and being valued for what you do can help build self-esteem.
  • Practice self-discipline. Self-control naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness and can help you overcome despair, helplessness, and other negative thoughts.
  • Learn or discover new things. Think of it as “intellectual candy.” Try taking an adult education class, join a book club, visit a museum, learn a new language, or simply travel somewhere new.
  • Enjoy the beauty of nature or art. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. The same goes for strolling through a park or an art gallery, hiking, admiring architecture, or sitting on a beach.
  • Manage your stress levels. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance.
  • Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Try to avoid becoming absorbed by repetitive mental habits—negative thoughts about yourself and the world that suck up time, drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.

More tips and strategies for taking care of yourself:

  • Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
  • Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it—things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.
  • Get a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There is no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Animals can also get you out of the house for exercise and expose you to new people and places.
  • Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
  • Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for.Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

Everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.

Supportive relationships: The foundation of emotional health

No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and be your best. Humans are social creatures with an emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship—even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.

Social interaction—specifically talking to someone else about your problems—can also help to reduce stress. The key is to find a supportive relationship with someone who is a “good listener”—someone you can talk to regularly, preferably face-to-face, who will listen to you without a pre-existing agenda for how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt or judge or criticize you. The best way to find a good listener? Be a good listener yourself. Develop a friendship with someone you can talk to regularly, and then listen and support each other.

Tips and strategies for connecting to others:

  • Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Screens have their place but they will never have the same effect as an expression of interest or a reassuring touch. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to be in direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction.
  • Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like. Make spending time with people you enjoy a priority. Choose friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you. Take time to inquire about people you meet during the day that you like.
  • Volunteer. Doing something that helps others has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. The meaning and purpose you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life. There is no limit to the individual and group volunteer opportunities you can explore. Schools, churches, nonprofits, and charitable organization of all sorts depend on volunteers for their survival.
  • Be a joiner. Join networking, social action, conservation, and special interest groups that meet on a regular basis. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for finding people with common interests—people you like being with who are potential friends.

Risk factors for mental and emotional problems

Your mental and emotional health has been and will continue to be shaped by your experiences. Early childhood experiences are especially significant. Genetic and biological factors can also play a role, but these too can be changed by experience.

Risk factors that can compromise mental and emotional health:

  • Poor connection or attachment to your primary caretaker early in life. Feeling lonely, isolated, unsafe, confused, or abused as an infant or young child.
  • Traumas or serious losses, especially early in life. Death of a parent or other traumatic experiences such as war or hospitalization.
  • Learned helplessness. Negative experiences that lead to a belief that you’re helpless and that you have little control over the situations in your life.
  • Illness, especially when it’s chronic, disabling, or isolates you from others.
  • Side effects of medications, especially in older people who may be taking a variety of medications.
  • Substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse can both cause mental health problems and make preexisting mental or emotional problems worse.

Whatever internal or external factors have shaped your mental and emotional health, it’s never too late to make changes that will improve your psychological well-being. Risk factors can be counteracted with protective factors, like strong relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions.

When to seek professional help for emotional problems

If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and you still don’t feel good—then it’s time to seek professional help. Because we are so socially attuned, input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can motivate us to do things for ourselves that we were not able to do on our own.


Red flag feelings and behaviors that may require immediate attention

  • Inability to sleep
  • Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
  • Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life
  • Using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions
  • Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you identify with any of these red flag symptoms, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional.

If you want your relationships to be more satisfying, fulfilling, and supportive, FEELING LOVED can help. Read: Feeling Loved: The Science of Nurturing Meaningful Connections and Building Lasting Happiness 2015

 

Resources and references


The Road to Resilience
– Guide to resilience, including ten ways to build your resilience, how to learn from your past, and how to stay flexible. (American Psychological Association)

Mind/Body Connection: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health – Learn how emotions affect your health and what you can do to improve your emotional health. (American Academy of Family Physicians)

Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health – Defines good emotional health, describes how stress affects emotions, and offers tips for avoiding problems. (American Academy of Family Physicians)

Making and Keeping Friends: A Self-Help Guide – Offers practical advice and tips on developing supportive friendships. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health – Parenting advice on how to provide the love, security, and boundaries every child needs for mental and emotional health. (Mental Health America)

Download Meditations – Download or stream a dozen free meditation recordings to help you cope with life’s inevitable hurdles. Comes with handouts. (Sitting Together)

Emotional Health – Written for college students, with special sections on adjusting to college life, how relationships factor in, and why it’s important to reduce stress. (Princeton University)

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: May 2016.

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On Being Stuck!

by Catherine DeAngelis

Wall
When you are thinking to yourself you are falling into an emotional abyss and you just don’t know how to stop spiraling downward! Is it that tyrant inside your head controlling your thinking that you don’t know what to do forcing you into a shut-down mode and paralyzing you from living the fullness of life?

Being stuck sucks because it is that silent oppressor that can cause depression, emotional outbursts, insomnia, indecision, procrastination, and addictive behaviors such as smoking, too much sex (not enough), drugs, alcohol, food, and exercise to spending or gambling compulsively!

What is it you use as a conduit to be in control of, or in distraction from, being stuck?

When you get stuck in the negative thought streams, find out what it is you can do. Make yourself accountable. Be responsible! Blaming others for your inaction only fuels the pain and it takes you further into this ineptness and inability to move forward.

The best way to unstuck yourself is to open up to the realization that it is okay to ask for help. Watch the taboo mind-set and avoid “what, me, I don’t need any help – I can help myself!”

Is it the stuff in your head that you think should or could or is not being done to lighten the pressures of having to do everything needed to be done right now at  this moment? The repetitive negative thinking pattern only gets you into a state of nervous agitation.

Think about what is getting in the way.  Stress might just be the first thing that deters you or makes you feel like you are knee-deep in mud. Think about your own stress level, your own health, and help yourself. Think about what are the stressors in your life. If you don’t spend time thinking about how to relieve that kind of stress, you will be stuck and those around you may have no idea what is wrong and then who will give you the love and care that you need?

Many think finding help is a sign of weakness or defeat!  Stay away from the shame or embarrassment. To admit that you are experiencing impact to your emotional and mental well-being is crucial. Seeking guidance and support meets your courage head on and makes self-awareness a start to pulling yourself out the kind of “mental sludge” that’s got you going like Whirling Dervishes!

Do what you can to make sure you are eating well, keeping physically active, and managing your stress ensures your brain will be healthy.  Check out this source if you don’t know where to start eatrightontario.ca.

Getting stuck in negative thought patterns can hinder you in your life in many aspects – don’t go it alone — ask for help. There are all kinds of talk therapies and support services available to explore solutions – if you don’t know where to start read about the resources available to you to get you on track and living life you are responsible for and deserve!

Get out of your way and make YOU matter! Affirm the positives, find ways to reverse the self-deprecation. Tools are available that work to halt the ongoing belittling or undervaluing of yourself.

Resources to Keep You On Track…

There are many sources available, able to give you answers and found within your community from life coach, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist to group supports, family practitioners or community services in your neighbourhood.

Overall most of us look to trusted family members and close friends or spiritual members of the community to give us the love, support and understanding we need. Take the path of support and lead yourself into being uplifted and out of the state of “going nowhere fast.”

Many communities have information centres that produce lists of available services which you can view at social service agencies or public libraries. Other sources of information include books about specific problems, also available at your public library or local bookstore and films, videos and audio tapes, courses and workshops offered through community centres, secondary schools, colleges and universities..

More Information: Canadian Mental Health AssociationMental Health America or Global Mental Health.

Contact Catherine DeAngelis certified master coach practitioner and founder of Out of Pocket Emotions  to ask about a complimentary offer for individual life coaching session – we promise to answer any specific questions you might have – please write info@catherinedeangelis.com  or call 416 246 0025.

 

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Emotional Eating

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal Ph.D.
Last updated: August 2015 
(Reprinted with permission)

How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. It usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating. Learning to recognize your emotional eating triggers is the first step to breaking free from food cravings and compulsive overeating, and changing the habits that have sabotaged your diets in the past.

Understanding emotional eating

If you’ve ever made room for dessert even though you’re already full or dove into a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to fill emotional needs, rather than to fill your stomach.

Using food from time to time as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower. Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.

Are you an emotional eater?

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger

Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful. As a result, it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for that can help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves fatty foods or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.

Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.

Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.

Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.

Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.

Emotional hunger vs. Physical hunger
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger comes on gradually.
Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly. Physical hunger can wait.
Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. Physical hunger is open to options–lots of things sound good.
Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach. Physical hunger stops when you’re full.
Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and shame. Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.

Stop emotional eating TIP 1: Identify your triggers

People eat for many different reasons. The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food?

Keep in mind that while most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress – Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, it leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.

Stuffing emotions – Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the emotions you’d rather not feel.

Boredom or feelings of emptiness – Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.

Childhood habits – Think back to your childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward good behavior with ice cream, take you out for pizza when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? These emotionally-based childhood eating habits often carry over into adulthood. Or perhaps some of your eating is driven by nostalgia—for cherishes memories of grilling burgers in the backyard with your dad, baking and eating cookies with your mom, or gathering around the table with your extended family for a home-cooked pasta dinner.

Social influences – Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.

Keep an emotional eating diary- You probably recognized yourself in at least a few of the previous descriptions. But even so, you’ll want to get even more specific. One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your emotional eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary.

Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked of the emotional eating cycle. Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward.

Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge. Maybe you always end up gorging yourself after spending time with a critical friend. Or perhaps you stress eat whenever you’re on a deadline or when you attend family functions. Once you identify your emotional eating triggers, the next step is identifying healthier ways to feed your feelings.

Stop emotional eating TIP 2:

Find other ways to feed your feelingsIf you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, you won’t be able to control your eating habits for very long. Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice, as if the only thing keeping you from eating right is knowledge. But that kind of advice only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when emotions hijack the process, demanding an immediate payoff with food.

In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally. It’s not enough to understand the cycle of emotional eating or even to understand your triggers, although that’s a huge first step. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment.

Alternatives to emotional eating

If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento.

If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.

If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.

If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).

Stop emotional eating TIP 3: Pause when cravings hit

Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because you’ve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isn’t up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.

Take 5 before you give in to a craving

As mentioned earlier, emotional eating tends to be automatic and virtually mindless. Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve reached for a tub of ice cream and polished off half of it. But if you can take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

All you have to do is put off eating for five minutes, or if five minutes seems unmanageable, start with one minute. Don’t tell yourself you can’t give in to the craving; remember, the forbidden is extremely tempting. Just tell yourself to wait. While you’re waiting, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s going on emotionally? Even if you end up eating, you’ll have a better understanding of why you did it. This can help you set yourself up for a different response next time.

Learn to accept your feelings—even the bad ones

While it may seem that the core problem is that you’re powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You don’t feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food.

Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandora’s box, once you open the door you won’t be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we don’t obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention. To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating.

What’s more, your life will be richer when you open yourself up emotionally. Our feelings are a window into our interior world. They help us understand and discover our deepest desires and fears, our current frustrations, and the things that will make us happy.

Stop emotional eating TIP 4:

Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.

Make daily exercise a priority. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer.

Make time for relaxation. Give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes every day to relax, decompress, and unwind. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.

How sleep affects cravings and weight gain

Ever noticed how when you’re short on sleep you crave foods that give you a quick energy boost? There’s a good reason for that. Lack of sleep has a direct link to stress, overeating, and weight gain.

There are two hormones in your body that regulate normal feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends signals to the brain when you are full. However, when don’t get the sleep you need, your ghrelin levels go up, stimulating your appetite so you want more food than normal, and your leptin levels go down, meaning you don’t feel satisfied and want to keep eating.

So, the more sleep you skip, the more food your body will crave.As well as making it harder to fight food cravings, feeling tired can also increase your stress levels, leading to yet more emotional eating.To control your appetite and reduce food cravings, try to get plenty of rest—about eight hours of quality sleep every night.

More help for emotional eating

Diet and Weight Loss Help Center: By developing healthy lifestyle habits and relieving emotional problems without the use of food, you can achieve weight loss success.

Emotional eating help

Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress
Easy Ways to Start Exercising: Making Exercise a Fun Part of Your Everyday Life
Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief: Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You
How to Sleep Better: Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Stress Relief in the Moment: Using Your Senses to Quickly Change Your Response to Stress

Resources and references

Free Emotional Eating Diagnostic – A tool developed by emotional eating specialist Roger Gould, M.D., that will convey whether you are an emotional eater or not. (ShrinkYourself)
Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating – Find out how emotional eating can sabotage your weight-loss efforts and get tips to regain control of your eating habits. (Mayo Clinic)
Emotional Eating – Covers emotional eating, the difference between physical and emotional hunger, and ways to break the cycle of emotional eating. (The Nemours Foundation)
Do Food Cravings Reflect Your Feelings? – According to weight-loss specialist Linda Spangle, people’s food choices tend to correlate to the type of emotions they’re experiencing. Learn how to identify those feelings and find alternative solutions to eating. (WebMD)
Study Offers Clues to Emotional Eating – Learn about a 2011 study that demonstrates how sugar and fat feed our emotions on a physiological level. (CNN Health)

 

With Sincere Gratitude to the Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal Ph.D.
~ All rights reserved ~

Power in Change

3f3138916-f636-44af-93f3-260117d7c31a.2

What is Out of Pocket Emotions?

 

 


How It Works!

STEP 1 – Arrange for a complimentary phone interview. Individuals are free to ask questions of the Coach and it is a chance to get to know one another, see if it is a good fit as you find out more about  the benefits of personal life coaching. The Coach will answer any questions regarding fee structure, including savings available from hourly to monthly package; a sliding scale is also available, the point is to get started as soon as possible.

STEP 2 – On first assessment individuals will answer a short questionnaire this is to secure there are no medical concerns before agreeing to the Five-way Life Coaching Approach®  

STEP 3 – Work personally with the Coach to uncover your personal goals. The program is customized to explore immediate needs by defining life goals.

More information:

Call or Write Today!

Arrange a complimentary consultation:

Catherine DeAngelis
Individual and Group Life Coach Practitioner
416 246 0025
email: info@catherinedeangelis.com

 ~ all rights reserved ~

 

Belonging – The Search for Acceptance

by Catherine DeAngelis

“My vision is that belonging should be at the heart of a fundamental discovery: that we all belong to a common humanity, the human race. We may be rooted in a specific family and culture but we come to this earth to open up to others, to serve them and receive the gifts they bring to us, as well as to all of humanity.”     Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 36.


Jean Vanier
 has been acclaimed as “a Canadian who inspires the world” (Maclean’s Magazine) and a “nation builder” (The Globe and Mail), he is the founder of the international movement of L’Arche communities, where people who have developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them create homes and share life together.


Winner of the 2015 Templeton Prize

The 2015 Templeton Prize was awarded in March to Jean Vanier and cited for “his innovative discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just, inclusive and humane society. The Templeton Prize, which has previously been awarded to Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and others, is one of the most prestigious honors in the world, and is valued at close to 1.7 million USD.”

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

The 2015 Templeton Prize Laureate, Jean Vanier, speaks on the Big Question: “What does it mean to be fully human?”

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Jean Vanier is a Canadian humanitarian, spiritual leader, and internationally esteemed pioneer in the field of care for people with intellectual disabilities. Born in 1928, he joined the Royal Navy at age 13 and left it at 21 to begin a spiritual quest and to study for his PhD. Appalled by conditions of institutions where people with intellectual disabilities lived, in 1964 he welcomed two men to share a home with him. Thus began what has become the worldwide movement of L’Arche. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light, an international support network for families.

The Inspiration and Story of L’Arche

Jean Vanier took as his inspiration the biblical passage from the Beatitudes that declares that the poor are “blessed.”

L’Arche believes that every person is blessed with important gifts to offer to others and that we are called to create a society in which each one’s gifts can be given and recognized. L’Arche communities reflect the cultural and religious make-up of the locales where they were founded. Thus, while in France L’Arche drew largely from a Roman Catholic population, Canadian community have welcomed people of various Christian denominations and also sometimes people of Jewish, Muslim or other faiths as well as people with no faith affiliation.

More important than the need to be loved
is the need to belong.~

“Learn more about the L’Arche Foundation and its continued efforts to improve the lives of those with disabilities by visiting the
Love and Belonging website.

 

Copyright© 2015 Catangelis Communications – Unauthorized use and duplication of this material without written permission from site owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided full credit is given to owner or to any other copyright materials used by owner is also quoted with appropriate direction to original content.