I Come First: Healthy Boundaries and Avoiding Burn Out

Expectations are a part of everyday life. We have expectations of others and them of us. There are times where there is so much pressure and so much to do, that it may feel like we are running in circles trying to get things done. The constant bombardment with new tasks and added responsibilities can weigh us down. If we are constantly putting ourselves behind others, we get burnt out. There is this constant drained feeling that just overtakes our emotions and our bodies.

shutterstock_62127079  So why do we feel the need to make everyone else happy? The biggest reason may be fear; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, and even fear of being alone. These fears can cause us to do crazy and unreasonable things for those around us, while we need to be thinking of ourselves as well. Finding a healthy balance in between what we need to do for others and what we need to do for ourselves can be a daily struggle. How can you find the balance between yourself and others?

Maintain healthy boundaries. Know when to say no and let others know what you are willing to do. There is no reason for you to be bending over backwards to make everyone happy all of the time. There should be boundaries for the amount of responsibility that other people can put onto you and you onto them. It is important to shutterstock_89030563know that saying no to things is okay.

Take time out for yourself daily. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and just disconnect. Having time by yourself is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time to reflect and heal and replenish your energy. It can be 15 minutes, or it can be 3 hours. But it is important to have that bit of time alone with yourself each and every day.

Ask for help. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, ask for help. If nothing else, talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are taking on. Just getting it out can make a world of difference.

shutterstock_80333077Communicate your feelings to those around you. If you are feeling burnt out and under too much pressure, let those around you know. Communication is vital to every relationship and letting others know what you are feeling can open up doors to solutions you may not have thought possible. Just shutting yourself off from the world will not relieve any pressure, but it will create more problems for you in the long run.

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and burnt out. However, it is how you handle these times that says the most about you. Take charge, find ways to feel empowered, and take care of yourself. At the end of the day, life is much too short to spend it being anything but happy.

 

 

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An In Depth Look at Carbs and Cravings: Part 2

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There are many factors that influence our need to feed and overeat. The current obesity epidemic has experts exploring these factors. So what influences our need to feed? Being able to see and smell the food tempts us to eat, even if we are eating outside of meals and snacks. Dehydration and alcohol consumption also plays a part in our need to eat outside of mealtimes. Brain chemistry (unbalanced) also increases our need to eat excess, all in an attempt to increase the serotonin and dopamine in our brains. Excess eating may also be due to a lack of control over emotional distress (loneliness, stress, depression, boredom, etc). So what can be do to curb our cravings?

Well the first thing is to identify what is causing the craving in the first place. It could vary widely from person to person. However, commonly it is a hormonal imbalance (low blood sugar, low serotonin levels) brought on by stress, poor eating habits, and a variety of other things. Regulating blood sugar levels by being healthy and taking care of yourself is an easy way to ease these cravings. Other lifestyle changes like sleeping well and managing stress are good ways to also help eliminate cravings.

Preventing the craving from happening in the first place is quite clearly the goal, first and foremost. This can be done by ensuring that your meals are balanced and nutritious. Making sure that you are getting the appropriate amounts of protein is important for every meal, as well as making sure you never miss an afternoon snack. This is an easy way to prevent cravings in between meals and get you through the afternoon until dinner time.

If you are having a craving, it is better to choose a healthy sweet alternative rather than reach for the sweet cupboard. Having berries and other naturally sweet treats is a great way to get rid of your craving.

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Giving up carbs is a hard thing to ask anyone to do, but even reducing your carb intake can make a huge difference. A few ways that you can cut back on your carbs include:

  • Making sure that you are well rested and can manage your stress well

  • Have a healthy digestive tract

  • Have supplements on hand to balance your brain chemistry and to help manage stress.

Say no to the unhealthy carbs and yes to an overall healthier and happier you!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Other Compulsive Behaviours: Part 2

Picture this.

A house, filled with everything that has ever meant something to you. A memory attached to every item. When you have to get rid of something, you feel like you are losing a little piece of yourself. This in the end makes you unwilling to get rid of anything at all. Slowly but surely, the house starts to fill until one day you can’t see the floor. But that is okay. As long as you have your things, you will be okay. You are ashamed of letting others see how you live, so you hide it. You stay in your home, rarely going out unless it is absolutely needed. One day you get a surprise visit from a loved one. You are sleeping somewhere among the piles so you don’t hear them enter the house. They see what is going on and confront you. Your defenses go up. You become angry and aggressive because they have violated your privacy. You tell them to leave you alone, that you are just fine with how things are and that you don’t need their help. Your cover has been blown, soon everyone will know your secret. But where do you go from here?

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Compulsive hoarding is just that. A compulsive need to collect things, and the unwillingness or inability to give those things up. These items take over rooms, apartments, and full houses, causing unsafe living conditions, posing severe health risks, and damaging relationships. This disorder is separate from OCD, however, like OCD many of those suffering are well aware of their irrational behaviors.

People will often collect things that other people would find not useful or of little value. Things like junk mail, newspapers, clothes that “might” fit one day, broken things and garbage. They will place high value on them, and this is likely the reason that it is so hard for them to try and give them up. People can also collect animals, becoming deeply attached to a large number of animals that they can not properly care/provide for.

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There is no one cause to this disorder. Like many disorders, the causes are multiple and vary from person to person. These causes can include:

  • Trauma

  • Anxiety

  • Another pre-existing disorder

  • Family History

Whatever the cause, compulsive hoarding wreaks havoc on an individual’s livelihood, and is an extremely difficult disorder to receive the proper treatment and support for.

Management and treatments for compulsive hoarding vary from individual to individual, depending on their situation. Behavioural therapy has often times been found to be effective. There are many processes that a therapist can walk a client through to come to terms with why the behaviour exists and develop a plan of action on how to approach treatment in a way that will make the client most comfortable. Often times the first thing that is needed is a gradual exposure to the anxiety experienced when trying to get rid of things. This will allow the client to begin to formulate a plan as to how they are going to get their living place cleaned up so that is habitable (if this is at all possible). Therapy to address the behaviours and anxiety is an ongoing process throughout treatment. Depending on the case, the client may be prescribed medication to treat any underlying disorders in order to be able to participate fully and cohesively in treatment.

Recovery and treatment are possible. It is a long and tough process, but with the right supports and treatment plan, anyone can go on to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Listed below are resources for OCD and other compulsive behaviours.

Alternative Solutions and Mental Health: Part 1

Bryce Wylde is a leading expert in alternative medicine. In addition to being a clinician, Bryce is also a highly sought after television host, educator, author and philanthropist. Revolutionizing the way we think about alternative medicine, through his writing and other endeavors, Bryce has made a significant contribution to the medical community.

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In July of 2011, along with 18 dedicated supporters of Markham Stouffville Hospital, Bryce and I were on a journey of a lifetime. We climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, in Africa to raise money for the expansion of the mental health department at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Our children and adolescents are suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. Youth suicide is a growing concern. The stigma surrounding mental illness keeps many people from seeking help. Raising awareness is key to overcoming the stigma.  The goal of the Climb to Conquer was to help improve the quality of life for children and adolescents struggling with mental illness by raising money for the hospitals Mental Health Program and by raising public awareness.

Mental health is an essential part of overall health. It is a part that is often overlooked until our mental health comes into question because of persistent and debilitating symptoms. In order to achieve overall wellbeing, it is important that we take a look at not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. The study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the body is referred to as Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). PNI links psychology, neuroscience, immunology, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, psychiatry, behavioral medicine, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and rheumatology, in such a way so that the connections
between the various systems in the body can be made.Brain

The link between mental health and physical health is very strong. The aches and pains of depression are just one sign that our brain is telling the rest of the body that it is in pain. Many times the aches and pains just get grouped together with the rest of the illness, but what if they are caused by something else all on its own? Part of Bryce Wylde’s practice is to take a look at the connections between the brain and the rest of our body, to identify the cause/effect relationship, and work on developing a strategy to work towards overall wellbeing.

An important part of our physical health is nutrition, and nutrition can also have a huge effect on overall mood and manner, as well as mental health. Bryce developed The Dopamine Diet, a list of dopamine rich foods that can help to lift your mood. There is a link in between your dopamine level and obesity, as explained in Bryce’s article (http://www.wyldeabouthealth.com/articles/view/59). Just simply eating healthier and being conscious of what is in your food is not something that your body will thank you for, but your brain will thank you for it as well.
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Dopamine is just one of the many important things that your brain needs to remain healthy. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, makes up a large amount of our brain and has been shown to improve intelligence and cognitive functioning, as well as mood. There has also been a link between DHA and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

For more information, please visit http://www.wyldeonhealth.com/ .

Self-Injury Awareness Day – March 01, 2013

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Many of us carry the scars of our troubles on the inside. But what about those of us who carry the scars on the outside? Self-injury, also known as self-harm, is a dangerous behaviour, in which an individual deliberately hurts themselves in order to deal with the emotional pain that they are suffering. Self-injurious behaviour is not only troubling because of the harm that they are causing to themselves, but because of the stigma that is attached to those who self-injure.

…Cutter…Emo…Freak…

Just a few of the many taunts and jeers that are ever present for self-injurers. These labels are not only hurtful, but often times they amplify the self-loathing behaviour. Bullying is a large contributor in the continuation of self-injury. However, it is not the only contributing force. Emotional turmoil, unresolved emotional pain, as well as past and present emotional trauma can trigger self-harming behaviour. It can be used as an escape, similar to drugs and alcohol. That is how the behaviour is most often described by those who self-injure.

That is why Self Injury Awareness Day was created. To bring it to the surface. To allow those suffering in silence to speak out and be heard. To give them a voice they so often don’t have.

There are many questions that arise when it comes to self-harm. Especially from the loved ones of those that self-harm. What does it look like? Who is at risk? What do I say? What do I do? It can be a very confusing time for both the person who is self-injuring and their loved ones. The most important thing to remember is to remain open and understanding, no matter how hard that may seem. It is important that the person who is self-harming feels understood and not judged. It is also important to not condone the behaviour, as it is symptomatic of maladaptive coping skills.

So what does self-injury look like? It comes in many forms: cutting, bruising, scarring, burning, branding, and scratching. Any behaviour that one can use to intentionally cause harm to their own body is considered self-injury. While the injuries themselves are not always apparent, there are signs that someone is self-injuring. They might cover up the marks with excessive clothing (even in hot weather) or make up. They might seclude themselves more often, and gradually spend more and more time alone. If a loved one’s behaviour is troubling to you, the best thing that you can do is ask them if they want to talk. They may not want to open up, but just knowing that someone is willing to listen is often times more than enough. All you can do is be patient.

There is no one person that is more likely to self-injure. And it is hard to know the exact statistics about those who do self-harm, for obvious reasons. It was once thought that only young women self-harm, but the truth is that it is a behaviour that affects many people from many different backgrounds, ages, races, and of any gender. Anyone can engage in self-injury. And that is one of the most tough pieces of reality for people to accept. That is why it is so important to have Self Injury Awareness Day. It is to help dispel the myths and stigmas attached to self-harm and to let those that are self-injuring that they are not alone.

So what can you do or say when a loved one tells you that they self-injure? Or what should you do or say when you find out that they self-injure? There is no right answer. There is no one way to act or right thing to say. As mentioned above, the best thing that you can do is offer support and remain calm and understanding. The last thing that they need is to feel judged. And it is important that you make it clear that you will be there to help them seek out the help and support that they will need. Staying strong is a difficult thing to do when someone you love and care about tells you that they hurt themselves, but it is one of the most important things that you can do during this trying period.

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Hope begins in the dark; the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.
– Anne Lamott

7 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally


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Depression is a state of mood characterized by negative effects in our life that continue to spiral, depression can be reflected in one’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. The onset of depression can be marked by an array of causes; perhaps you have reached a hiccup in a relationship with your significant other, or perhaps you are undergoing the loss of a loved one.

What was once the focus of intrigue and marvel in life may quickly and abruptly lose its enticing properties for the depressed individual.

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

1. You can’t sleep or you sleep too much

2. You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult

3. You feel hopeless and helpless

4. You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

5. You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating

6. You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual

7. You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behaviour

8. You have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case) 

7 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally

1)     Exercise on a regular basis, I highly recommend it.  There are so many different forms of exercise (Yoga, walking, tai-chi, weight lifting) begin slowly.  Begin outside if you can, fresh air is the surest way to get the blood flowing and change-up your energy.  Even if it’s as little as 20 minutes a day to start, you will notice you feel better instantly.

2)    Diet rich in vitamins and minerals, healthy foods, vitamin B and calcium.  Cut out refined carbohydrates, fried foods and avoid sugar at all costs.  Make sure you speak to your doctor about getting the proper DHA’s and probiotics into your diet for a healthy mind and gut.

3)   Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies produce it when exposed to sunlight.  Ask your doctor to check and see if you are low in vitamin D.  People often feel better when they take vitamin D especially in the winter months.

4)   Herbal Supplements contain many medicinal powers and can heal a variety of ailments.  Seek out a great naturopathic doctor to discuss homeopathic remedies, vitamins, acupuncture, cupping and getting to the route of the issue by releasing toxins from the body.

5)   Get enough sleep and notice when your sleep is being disturbed by your mood.  The best thing to do is create a routine and stick to it everyday.  Take a Epsom salt bath to sooth and relax you, reduce TV and all stimulants.

6)    Talk it out with a therapist, counselor, friend or mentor. Depression is not the cause of hopelessness and extreme sadness — it is a symptom. If there is a specific problem you are having that is causing these feeling…face it, come up with a plan. Do not allow your problems to go unanswered. Hope can be found in moving, step by step toward addressing our issues.

7)    Be of service to someone else in need.  Often when we take the focus off ourselves and help another we stop running circles in our minds and we tend to feel better.

Most important of all, have hope and faith that “this too shall pass” and you do deserve to live a happy life.

Stacey Dombrowsky