How to Break a Bad Habit

I am sure at some point in our lives we have all struggled with a habit that was difficult to overcome or let go. If you have been able to break up with your unwanted habit-congratulations! If you continue to struggle and cannot seem to let it go, check out this short TED Talk about a simple way of breaking a pattern. I like this talk in particular because it is a little different from what we usually do when we want to let go of an unwanted behavior or change a routine.

The psychiatrist, Judson Brewer, emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and how learning to be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions can help you break your unwanted habit, addiction, or routine. I am sure you have heard about the benefits of mindfulness, such as learning to regulate your intense emotions, helping you overcome depression, anxiety, trauma, improve health and many other aspects in your life. What makes it even more worthwhile is that it also aims to help you break up with parts of your life that you are not completely satisfied with. 

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to change your unwanted patterns, do not hesitate to contact one of us at The Centered Life! We will be more than happy to help you create a more mindful and meaningful life. 

Happy Monday, 

 

Aneta

How To Overcome Burnout

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I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.

I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.

Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.

Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.

Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?

Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.

Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.

Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.

Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!

 

Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.

Sincerely,

 

Aneta

Burnout

Over time, I have learned that burnout is one of those hazards in life that does not discriminate against anyone. In my practice, I have not only seen clients who have experienced burnout in their careers, students who have pushed themselves to their limits, and caregivers who cared so deeply about their loved ones that they forgot to take care of themselves. Before we dive into exploring warning signs, let’s talk about what it is first. Burnout is chronic stress that often times leads to not only physical but emotional exhaustion, feeling of detachment from others,  sarcasm, feeling ineffective, and often times feeling discouraged. The nature of a burnout is difficult to predict and recognize because it creeps up on us over time.

Although it may be difficult to recognize, let’s talk about the warning signs that our bodies send us before we begin to experience the full blown power of a burn out.

 

Sleep difficulties. In the early stages of a burnout, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep though the night. At first it may be just one or two days per week, but the number of sleepless nights starts going up and you may find yourself having difficulty getting a full night sleep.

Fatigue. With lack of sleep comes another warning sign, which is having lack of energy and feeling tired most of the day. After that battle continues for a while, you may experience feeling not only physically but emotionally exhausted and every day seems to be a dread.

Difficulty concentrating. With inability to sleep and feeling fatigued, you may start to notice that your concentration and ability to remember things begin to interfere with your daily tasks.

Making mistakes. With all the above factors playing a major role in your performance, you begin to lose attention to those small details you used to pay attention to. That is simply because you have enough energy to focus on one task only-to get though the day. As a result, it is easy to make a small mistake that begins to add up to other mistakes that you did not realized you have made in the first place. You may be working longer hours but due to feeing stressed you may be less productive and began to notice the never ending pile of things that still need to get done.

Decreased immune system. Have you noticed that you have been getting headaches, feeling sick more often, or that cold simply does not want to go away? Due to the fact that your body is depleted of a good sleep, your immune system gets compromised making you become more vulnerable to colds, flu, infections and other medical problems.

Anger. At first you may feel more tense, irritable or experiencing more conflicts with others. If those feelings continue to stay present in your life you may begin to experience irritability and tension turning into anger outbursts and serious arguments with others.

Anxiety. With difficulty concentrating, missing deadlines, and decreased productivity, comes stress, tension and worry. With increased tasks and lesser time to get things accomplished you may find yourself feeling more and more anxious and unable to complete the usual tasks.

Depression. Often times than not, anxiety is accompanied with feeling hopeless and sad about the current situation which can lead to feelings of worthlessness and guilt. With feeling depressed we begin to experience loss of enjoyment, pessimism, isolation, and detachment. You may begin to emotionally and physically remove yourself from activities that you used to enjoy. As those feelings progress, you may find yourself more immobilized.

With anxiety and depression comes loss of appetite. At the beginning you may simply just not feel hungry due to all the things that you have to do, but with time you may actually lose appetite altogether and experience weight loss.

Unhealthy coping. With already feeling and experiencing all of the above factors, you may begin to cope with them by using unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or drugs or find comfort in food.

 

I would encourage you to take some time and focus on some of the warning signs of a burnout that I listed above. I encourage you to keep this list in mind remembering that burnout does not discriminate against anyone. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, please know that you are not alone and that there are people than can help you get back on track. All of our therapists at The Centered Life are fully committed to help you not only recognize the signs of a burnout, but also help you find healthy coping skills to balance life.

 

All my best,

 

 

Aneta

Let’s Talk About Those Boundaries…

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I have learned that in order to have a healthy and positive self-image, we need to learn how to set personal boundaries. This way, we will be able to tell not only ourselves but others that we have self-respect and self-worth, and will not allow other people to define who we are or what our values are. Being able to have clear personal boundaries is the key to ensure mutually respectful and caring relationships. They allow us to separate ourselves from others, define who we are and allow us to think for ourselves. They help us preserve our integrity and most importantly make us take responsibility for who we are and allow us to execute some aspects of control in our lives.

If you at some point felt uncomfortable by how others were treating you, it may be time to re-examine your boundaries and set new ones. If you think about it, having weaker boundaries will not only make you feel taken for granted, but also may make you feel more vulnerable. Having poor boundaries makes us derive our sense of self from others. No one wants to feel less than, so let’s talk about how to work on resetting your boundaries.

There are many kinds of boundaries, but the main ones I want to mention are: physical, emotional, mental and/or intellectual, energetic, and spiritual.

Physical boundaries define how much space you want between others and you. They help us shape our tolerance for all sorts of touch and affection with others.

Emotional boundaries make us question how we would like others to speak to us and if we can allow others to experience their hurt emotions without having the need to save them. Are we able to allow ourselves to feel sad, angry, hurt or fearful without putting the blame on others?

Mental and/or intellectual boundaries dictate us to respect other people’s beliefs, ideas and preferences even though we may not agree with them. This type of boundary may be challenging if we think we know “best” about something. Remember that your perception may not be someone else’s reality!

Energetic boundaries define what kind of people you want to surround yourself with and what kind of people you want to stay away due to their toxicity. They make us question what sort of situations do you often find yourself in; are they calm, loving and peaceful or chaotic, messy or abusive?

Spiritual boundaries allow us to question our own morale and challenge us to think if we can allow others to have chosen their spiritual life without feeling the need to convince them that they are wrong. They make us think if we can honor our own spiritual or lack of spiritual beliefs and not have to explain or justify ourselves to others.

Now that you have had a chance to examine your boundaries, you may think to yourself: how do I begin to establish healthy personal boundaries in some of the above categories? Here are some of the points I like to focus on when examining boundaries.

  1. One of the most important things is knowing that you not only have the right to have healthy personal boundaries, but you must also take responsibility for how you allow other people to treat you.
  2. Learn how to say “no”. We like to think of ourselves as being nice and wanting to help others and that is okay from time to time. However, if you find yourself trying to accommodate everyone and have been finding yourself being placed at a disadvantage because you have been saying “yes” too many times, you may want to re-examine those situations. I encourage you to start prioritizing your needs and not please others at your own expense.
  3. Trust and believe in yourself. Not only do you know yourself best but you also know what your needs and wants are. With that being said, do not let others make all the decisions for you. Allow yourself to respect your strengths, values, and abilities.
  4. Examine your behaviors and actions and identify those that you find unacceptable. When you feel that your boundaries have been violated, let the other person know that they have crossed the line and made you feel a certain way.

When we experience healthy personal boundaries, not only are we more in touch with ourselves but we also experience increased trust and stability in our relationships. We are able to cope with problems more effectively and can communicate better with others. Healthy personal boundaries help us have a higher self-esteem and self-worth. This means that you can be yourself to a greater extent! It is never too late to work on start working on them!

All my best,

 

Aneta

Why Do We Feel The Need To Control Things

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Ever felt like things are spinning out of control? It must have been an unpleasant experience to say the least… We as humans have a deep need for a sense of control. When we feel out of control, we experience a range of powerful and very uncomfortable emotions, including tension, feeling powerless, of being unable to do anything about it. In reality, we do not actually have to be in control of things all the time; what we really seek is a sense of control. For example, when our parents controlled us when we were younger, we perhaps felt content because we trusted them to provide us the control we were seeking in our lives. Once we leave the nest, we continue to seek some sense of control by looking for advice from professionals, experts, and people in authority. When we experience a sense of control, we experience a sense of certainty, an understanding how things work, we are able to predict what will happen next, we are able to complete things, and hold on to the belief that people are consistent in their action.

Control is embedded in most of what we do. Think about rituals. Not only they are everywhere but they are intended to reassure us that everything is as it is and provide familiar framework for our daily lives. In addition to that, social norms and values tell us what to do, how to do things, what is right and wrong, what is good and what is bad. When everyone in a group follows the same norms and values as you do, you feel a sense of control. When you feel the sense of control, not only do you feel better, you feel happier.

I value the importance of having a sense of control because it has been linked with physical and mental health. People who feel in control of their lives report to feel happier, have better health, experience less physical aches and pains, recover faster from illness, and live longer. In conclusion, it is very important for us to feel in control even if we are not. Therefore I want you to ask yourself: “What I am in control of?” and “What are the things that are outside of my control?”

 

All the best,

 

Aneta

Why should we even bother to practice gratitude…

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I can speak for myself when I say I rarely have time to sit back and just be mindless, not think of all the tasks and chores and a to do list. I wanted to talk about gratitude because I realized that those of us, who are busy, rarely slow down and reflect upon things. We are often too occupied to sit back and reflect upon our lives. In those times when we actually have the chance to sit down and think back we have the chance to stop ourselves and realize that days, months, years have been irreversibly passing. Then, we often ask ourselves, where did the time go??

In my clinical experience, I often saw a positive shift in a client’s mindset when talking about gratitude. Expressing gratitude has changed the way I view things and how that allowed me to slow things down.

Gratitude, right? Sounds cheesy but here are some of the benefits of it. Those, who regularly practice gratitude by taking their time to notice or reflect upon the things they are thankful for, tend to feel more alive, have more positive emotions and express more compassion for others. It was even discovered that it boosts immune system and improves sleep. The fun thing about practicing gratitude is that you do not have to devote extensive periods of time to do it and you do not have to reserve time for momentous occasions. It can be done anywhere and at anytime.

Often times, we are grateful for a nice promo at work or for a nice house or car that we own. I want you to go even deeper and focus on those precious moments you have every morning when you wake up, even for the chance that you were given by just waking up and being healthy. I want you to challenge yourself even a step further and be thankful for the fact that you have food on your table and for all the hard work it took for that food to arrive on your table each day. Think about all the hard work it took for that food to appear in your fridge: the farmers that needed to harvest their fields, people who work in factories who were able to make your food and for those drivers who were able to deliver that food to your store. You can let your imagination take you anywhere you want to go with this but in those moments where you find yourself reflecting upon those things, you are also learning how to be mindful.

After reading this you would think that those benefits are compelling enough to motivate you into action. But if you are anything like me, this motivation lasts about a week until practicing gratitude is lost to watching new series of shows. I encourage you then to challenge yourself and consistently practice gratitude for 30 days. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit and 3 days to break it. So let’s maintain this good habit for the long haul. Here are some ways to practice gratitude:

Morning drink gratitude: While you are enjoying your morning cup of coffee/tea/juice, just spend a few minutes thinking of all the things you are grateful for. If that is a challenge, start with enjoying the warmth or coldness of the drink you are holding, the aroma of the drink, the first sip, and the beginning of a new day that may be full of promises

Things you take for granted: Let’s try to focus on all the things we do take for granted, our ability to walk, hear, see, hear or having anything that gives you comfort. Consider not having any of those things and then step by step practice being grateful for having all of our senses being fully functional

Questions to ask yourself: Anther great way to bring gratefulness to the forefront is by asking yourself those 4 questions:

  • Who or what inspired me today?
  • What touched me today?
  • Who or what put a smile on my face?
  • What is the best thing that happened to me today?

Gratitude inventory: Create a list of things you are grateful for. If you find that a bit challenging, you can divide that list into categories (but don’t limit yourself):

  • People (your relationships)
  • Assets (things that you have)
  • Experiences (thing’s you have done, places you have seen)
  • Personal qualities

Practice to put things in perspective: Life is challenging and things will not always go your way. In those moments when things go wrong you can use the power of gratitude to release some of those negative emotions that you may be feeling. After a negative experience, learn to put things in perspective by remembering that “every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” – Napoleon Hill. When faced with a challenging moment, ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What’s good about this?
  • Is there something about this occurrence that I can be grateful for?
  • How can I benefit from this?

Gratitude journal: Before going to bed each night, write a list of three things about that day for which you are grateful. Some days you will have exciting things to write down and some days you will be talking about simple joys.

The key of practicing gratitude is to be consistent. Now that you know how to start practicing gratitude, I want to encourage you to start today. Why not begin by living a happier, more enjoyable life by using tools that we are capable of learning and setting a part of our routine. As Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

All the best,

Aneta