3 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You Cope With Depression

depression

 

At its roots, depression can sometimes be caused by negative thinking. We often experience depression when we go back into the past and relive traumatic scenarios or anticipate a grey future based on what happened our past.

 While this sort of thinking can help us strategize and learn from our mistakes, it also has its flaws.  

Sometimes our memory is distorted or our interpretation of the past exists through a lense of self-criticism. As a result, instead of learning from the past, we blame ourselves for what happened and expect a future equally dreadful.

Mindfulness is all about stopping ourselves from becoming triggered by sad memories or anticipating the future and instead living in the moment.

Harvard researchers compared brain scans of patients suffering from clinical depression before and after a 2-month period where mindfulness was practiced. The results were astonishing: the scans showed changes in the thinking pattern inside the brain, specifically in the amygdala.

While it isn’t known for sure what aspects of mindfulness have the biggest impact on depression, there are some clues on how it works.

If you want to find out more about how mindfulness practices work and why they’re so effective, read on.

1. Not every problem needs to be resolved

 We’re problem solving-machines. And for a good reason, as we need this mechanism to evolve, learn from our mistakes, and progress through life. But what happens when there are problems we have no solutions to? Rumination is one of the biggest causes of depression. We go back and forth about what happened in an attempt to solve a problem that can’t be solved.What’s worse is that society itself deems those who leave issues unsolved as mentally weak or delusional. But the truth is that many problems stopped affecting us a long time ago. Some problems aren’t big enough for us to worry about, while others simply cannot be solved. Mindfulness practices help us zero in on the present by training our brain to let go of thoughts that lead to unresolved issues. This frees up more of our time and energy.

 

2. Distance from the inner critic

 Perhaps the most powerful use of mindfulness is learning to look at our thoughts passively and having the power to either engage with them or let them go. We can become observers rather than victims of our negative thinking,

 This means that when a negative thought pattern arises, we don’t act on it. Instead, we acknowledge its presence but we let it go. Mindfulness isn’t about “killing” negative thinking. It’s about leaving the room and refusing to engage in thoughts that don’t benefit us. The inner critic is usually one of the biggest issues people with depression and low-self esteem deal with. It can ruin our day at any given moment. However, instead of taking the inner voice’s words as gospel, we can distance ourselves by asking ourselves “Is the inner critic helpful?” If not, ignore what it says.

 

3. Improved focus

 One of the most noticeable effects of depression is a decrease in focus. How can we focus on studies or work when a war is happening inside our heads?Through meditation, mindfulness teaches the mind to have a better control over where and how resources are used. If we learn to stay focused on our breath or a certain object, we can also learn how to shift our focus on what we need to get done.

Wrapping up

There’s a lot of potential in using mindfulness practices with patients that suffer from clinical depression. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it can be a good option for patients who don’t want to rely on antidepressants.

If you want to talk with a specialist about your options when it comes to managing your depression, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Can Social Media Do Further Harm To Your Self Esteem?

social media and self esteem

 

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with your old friends and family members, but what happens when you find yourself wondering why everyone else is traveling around the world and you aren’t? What happens when instead of keeping in touch with old friends you envy the accomplishments of others and start competing for social validation?

These types of behaviors are a common occurrence. A study looked at how social media envy makes people more likely to spend their money on traveling so they can compete with their peers.

But what makes social media so dangerous for your mental health? In this article, we’ll explore how social media impacts our self-image.

 

1. Comparing yourself with others gets complicated

Back in the day, anyone could be the best, or at least the second best, at something. But these days, even if you’re a talented singer or good at math, a simple Google search can show you someone ten times better. The problem isn’t necessarily that you compare yourself with others, but it’s how you do it.

According to Leon Festinger, comparing yourself with others is a form of critical thinking. You look outside yourself to put yourself on a hierarchy of success and competence. But social media makes it almost impossible to feel good about your accomplishments because there’s always someone better than you at something.

2. You’re more likely to develop a false image of other’s lives

On social media, only the best selfies get posted. But who really knows how many tries and filters it took for your friend’s photo to get over 200 likes?

Because social media focuses only on the positives aspects of life, you’re more likely to feel ashamed of your current condition and aim for a lifestyle that’s unrealistic.

3. Fear of missing out

Fear of missing out isn’t something that showed up once social media became popular, but it was definitely exacerbated by social media.

When you see everyday people going out, having fun, and traveling, you may feel uneasy about your lifestyle. What you have to keep in mind is that most of the content on social media only tells half of the story, and since there’s an incentives to boast, some people invest time and money into activities to make others envious.

If your self-esteem is keeping you from living your best, happiest life, we can help.

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Forgiveness And You

 

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Forgiveness is a tricky thing. It’s both an emotion and an act. It doesn’t always come and if it does, it doesn’t always make us feel better. However, forgiveness isn’t always about the other person. In fact, forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is a healing journey that can have endless benefits long after you’ve moved on from a trauma. If you’re struggling with forgiveness on your healing journey, here are a few things to remember.

 

1. Forgiveness Does Not Mean Forgetting

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re totally wiping the slate clean. It doesn’t mean you’re forgetting what happened. To move forward, you need to recognize the truth of the situation. When you can acknowledge and accept what happened, then you can start moving on. With this, you can find the motivation to heal.

 

2. Sometimes Forgiveness Isn’t Direct

What this means is that sometimes you can’t always direct your forgiveness to the person who hurt you for one reason or another. Forgiveness is for your benefit, never theirs. Forgiveness is so that you can feel better. Part of the forgiveness process is releasing the thoughts and emotions tied to this person.

 

3. Forgiveness is About Release

Forgiveness is about releasing regrets or resentments that consume you and your valuable energy. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to carry resentments and regrets around. Forgiveness allows you to become lighter, to release those, and to move forward.

 

4. It’s Okay to Feel

Forgiveness isn’t something that happens overnight. In fact, forgiveness is often a journey that takes time. This means that it’s okay to full experience every emotion that comes up during the healing process. This includes anger, sadness, shame, and fear, etc.

Forgiving someone else is sometimes easier than forgiving ourselves. That’s because forgiving yourself requires you to acknowledge and accept responsibility for something you might not be particularly proud or fond of. Fortunately, if you’re struggling with forgiveness, whether it’s forgiving yourself or another, counseling can help. A compassionate counselor can help you identify parts of yourself that you need to forgive. Additionally, counseling can help you find the strength to forgive someone who has caused you trauma. Our team of counselors can help you find the strength to forgive through a series of sessions that provide you the safe space to express yourself and feel through your forgiveness journey in order to heal.

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How Your Spending Habits Are Connected to Your Mental Health

 

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What you spend our money on says a lot about how you feel about yourself. While it’s okay to spend your money on alcohol, parties, etc once in a while when that becomes your main source of fun and spending money, it could be an indicator of a deeply rooted issue. There are many ways in which how you spend your money reflects your mental health. These 3 are some of the most common.

 

1. Relationships and Money

Money is one of the biggest stressors in a relationship. You can either be the person who is afraid of not having enough so you’re afraid to spend it or you could be with someone who uses yours or their money to manipulate and control the relationship. The challenges money can bring to a relationship can quickly diminish a healthy one. You may give your partner money often, potentially enabling a bad behavior or habit or you may allow your partner to control the spending of your own money. Neither practice is indicative of a confident and mentally strong individual.

 

2. Emotions and Money

impulsive spending habits are reflective of someone who may have grown up in a controlling home. Impulsive spending is a form of rebellion. While you may not consciously be thinking you’re spiting the person who controlled the finances when you were younger, subconsciously you’re reliving the time when you didn’t have control over what you wanted. Many people spend impulsively on alcohol, drugs, clothes, trips, etc. While an impulse splurge is okay once in a while, you’re allowed to live, it becomes a problem when you can’t control the impulse. The inability to control the impulse may indicate a deeper problem is going on. Something deeper than a 70% off shoe sale.

 

3. Core Beliefs and Money

Emotions are a reaction to something happening in our lives. A core belief is something you hold true to your heart. However, you can have emotional responses to your core beliefs. Growing up in a healthy environment you learned core beliefs like, “I am worthy” or “I am safe” which means that you never really felt like the world was against you. Those who grew up in an unsafe environment may not feel this way and their spending habits will reflect that. You might be afraid to spend because you have a core belief that people are not innately good or are out to get you.

 

If you’re struggling with your spending habits, it could be something bigger. Self-control is not always innate and is often times learned. At North Brooklyn Therapy, we can help you objectively look at some of your spending habits and connect them to your emotions. If you’re curious about how your mental health is impacting how you’re spending your money, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

 

 

4 Things To Do When You Can’t Stop Beating Yourself Up

 

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We all have those days where it seems like you can’t do anything right. You spill coffee on your white shirt, you’re late to an important meeting, and you forgot your lunch in the fridge at home. As a result, you start to internally berate yourself. “I’m so dumb” or “I can’t do anything right.” If you find yourself stuck in this endless loop of beating yourself up, see how these 4 things work for you.

 

1. Thought Stopping

It might sound silly but literally stopping a negative thought is one of the simplest ways to get out of this habit. By imagining a stop sign or verbally say, “stop” when the thoughts come can act as a gentle reminder that you’re trying to change. This creates a new habit in exchange for your self-criticism.

 

2. Thought Replacing

Once you’ve successfully stopped a thought you need to replace it. Instead of saying something like “I can never do anything right” replace that with “I’m committed to learning and bettering myself.” You’re deserving of compassion, even from yourself.

 

3. Be Realistic

In the age of instant everything, it’s hard to remain realistic about trying to change bad habits. You’re not going to be free from your self-criticism right away. Additionally, you’ll likely want to spend some time analyzing some of your habits and daily activities. Just be sure that you’re doing so in a balanced way and staying focused on the present. You can’t change the fact that you never exercised enough in the past but you can focus on doing one active activity today.

 

4. Do Something You Enjoy

The problem with self-critical thoughts is that it’s easy to get stuck in them. In fact, they can be so bad you almost feel paralyzed by them. So get up and do something you enjoy! Do something that makes you feel good. Doing something you like boosts your confidence and makes you feel good.

 

Everyone is a little self-critical at times, which isn’t always a bad thing. Being a little critical allows us to improve ourselves. However, it becomes a problem when we become overly critical and allow that criticism to control our lives and our happiness. Self-criticism can result in anxiety, depression, and a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed. If you’re struggling with your critical thoughts, counseling might be able to help. By offering an outside view of your thoughts, you can gain better clarity. If you’re curious about how counseling can help you, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Self Esteem And Your Personal Goals

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Self-esteem is what separates your personal standards from another’s. Individuals with positive self-esteem tend to have high, yet realistic goals for their life. They’re not afraid to set high goals and go after them. On the other hand, those with low self-esteem set unrealistically high expectations for themselves or live with unnecessarily low standards.

 

Why is Self-Esteem Important?

Self-esteem is what allows you to put in the work to achieve the goals you desire. Whether those goals are personal, social, romantic or other, self-esteem gives you the power to achieve what you need to achieve in order to feel a sense of fulfillment.

 

What Does Injured Self-Esteem Look Like?

Injured self-esteem relates to the level of standards you set for yourself. Injured self-esteem can manifest as perfectionism or have no standards at all. Saying things like, “it doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care” when you actually do care and it actually does matter. Those without injured self-esteem can set realistic goals for themselves and don’t berate themselves for not moving a mountain in one day. For example, if you have a cluttered home it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to de-clutter your entire home in one day. Rather, it’s more realistic to clean and de-clutter one or two rooms at a time.

 

General Patterns of Injured Self-Esteem

A common part of injured self-esteem is low expectations. For example, dating the first person who shows an interest in you It can also manifest as settling for poor service, interviewing for a job in which you have no interest, and never making your preferences known. These low standards can show up in your relationships, friendships, and career. As a result, you may experience an increase in external and internal conflict and perpetuate a cycle of never feeling like you are enough.

 

Counseling for Healthy Self-Esteem

Too high or too low self-esteem can make living and enjoying your life nearly impossible. When your self-esteem is out of balance, you can set your self up in situations that are not conducive for living a happy, healthy life. If you feel like your personal standards are out of balance, counseling can help. By helping you create healthy standards, draw healthy boundaries, and set realistic and achievable goals for yourself. Choosing to adopt appropriate standards for yourself can help you to increase the overall quality of your life. Schedule an appointment today to discuss how you can improve your life with a healthy dose of self-esteem.

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4 Signs It’s Time to See a Therapist About Your Perfectionism

 

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your work and striving to do your best. Everyone, to some degree, suffers from perfectionism. If you’re not sure if you do think about a time you were afraid to start something because the conditions weren’t perfect. Or a time when you thought something looked like fun but you were afraid to try. Perfectionism can manifest in different ways and it can truly suck the fun and the life out of you. Perfectionism can cause depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. The following are some warning signs to look for:

 

1. Setting Extremely High Standards for Yourself

Do you find yourself giving your friends and family a pass in life but holding yourself to completely different standards that are almost impossible to live up to? Having high standards for yourself is not the problem, it’s the unrealistic expectations to never fail or mess up that makes these standards so dangerous and impossible.

 

2. Frequent Procrastination

Perfectionism often manifests as procrastination because you’re afraid to move forward with something out of fear of nothing being “perfect.” This can cause problems with you achieving your highest goals and even simple daily goals.

 

3. Spending too Much Time Completing a Task

If it’s taking you hours to complete a simple task you may be letting your perfectionism get the best of you. Your excessively high standards are preventing you from completing tasks in a timely manner and moving on with your day.

 

4. Ruminating Over Mistakes

Reflection is an important part of life and it’s good to reflect on your past mistakes. However, ruminating over these mistakes and beating yourself up about it could be a negative result of your perfectionism. What’s done is done and beating yourself up now about it won’t change the outcome. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

 

Imperfection is what makes every person unique. Mistakes and failures are opportunities for you to learn and grow when you can view them in a positive way. Unfortunately, perfectionism can capture your essence and hijack your mind, making you feel inadequate and a failure. Perfectionism effects men and women of all ages and at every stage of life. If you’re noticing perfectionism negatively impacting your life, you might benefit from counseling. Schedule an appointment and get your life back! You deserve to live happily, imperfections and all.

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5 Myths About Therapy

 

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For many people, therapy has become stigmatized and polarized. You’re either crazy or something terribly traumatic has happened to you. But what about everyone else in between? You don’t have to have experienced something traumatic or have a mental illness to seek out and benefit from therapy. In fact, many people would be totally surprised to realize just how beneficial 6 months of therapy or counseling can be for them. The floor is opening up and people are addressing the fact that therapy is helpful for all ages and genders. However, despite this, there are still some seriously harmful myths floating around.

 

1. Therapy is for Crazy People

A therapist or counselor can provide and open up a whole new world of support and self discovery. The idea that therapy is for crazy people is a total farce and has been perpetuated throughout the media for years. Yes, therapist can help those suffering from psychological illnesses. But the reality is that they also help generally healthy and functional individuals. Many people choose to puruse therapy because they want to know themselves better, want to feel better, trying to improve a situation, or just want to make sense of their lives up until this point.

 

2. Therapy is About Being Analyzed

“And how does that make you feel?” is usually a phrase associated with therapy. This phrase often makes people feel analyzed, which is one of the (many) reasons why people are afraid to seek out therapy. In actuality, therapy is a team effort between you and your therapist. The whole being “psychologically disected” trope is just simply not true. Therapy focuses on gaining self-knoweldge and creating respectful and healthy dialogue between client and therapist.

 

3. Therapy Keeps You Stuck in the Past

While it’s not totally uncommon to discuss past events to connect them to current behaviors, the purpose of therapy is not to keep you stuck in the past but to help you move on and feel good about it. Therapy is a dynamic process that involves an understanding of past to better understand present day challenges.

 

4. Therapy Takes Forever

The length of time therapy takes is completly up to you and your therapist. For some people, all they need is 1 session that allows them the space to openly discuss an issue to gain perspective and that’s it. For others, it may be longer. The idea that therapy requires 5 sessions a week for a life time is simply false.

 

5. Therapy is Expensive

Many therapists take insurance, work on a sliding scale, and offer discounted group therapy sessions in lieu of private individual sessions. If they don’t accept your insurance, they’re likely to refer you to another office that does. What many people don’t realize is that therapy is an investment in yourself and you are your greatest investment and therapy is the asset that will pay out in dividends for many years.

 

If you’re curious about counseling, there’s no better time to reach out than now. Give us a call today to schedule your first appointment. You might love it, you might hate it but the point is, you tried it.

Can You be too Old to Benefit from Therapy?

 

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The short answer is no, you’re never too old or too lost to receive all the wonderful benefits therapy gives you. Today, we have a collective fear of aging. Often feeling as if we’re “too late” to enjoy certain aspects of life. Fortunately, that’s just simply not true. It’s never too late to enjoy life. In fact, therapy can help you come to terms with aging. Here are some ways therapy in your later years can help make aging easier.

 

1. Better Understanding of Aging and Geriatric Issues

Life is a series of transitions and some people look forward to their final transition into their golden years. But with like any transition, there’s a load of issues, changes, and difficulties that come along. For many people, aging means spouses have passed on, friends pass on, health issues become more apparent, and the idea of having to live in a home sparks fear. Therapy can help you with these new challenges and changes.

 

2. Medical Issues with Aging

You might still feel like you’re 20-something but the reality is that distinguishing the normal effects of aging versus physical or mental illness becomes increasingly difficult. You’re likely to experience some changes in cognition and this in itself can be difficult. Medical issues can cause anxiety and depression, which therapy can help manage.

 

3. Mental Health Concerns

Depression, paranoia, and anxiety are just some of the mental health issues that come along with aging. Additionally, dementia can impact aging adults. Mental health concerns associated with aging can come along as early as your 40s. As a result, you may experience insomnia, fatigue, substance abuse issues, and behavioral concerns like aggression. Therapy can help you find healthy ways to manage your mental health so that you can live happy and healthy.

 

Therapy is for all Ages

The reality is therapy is beneficial for all ages. You’re never too old to seek the help of a professional counselor. The fear of getting older can set in as early as in your 20s or 30s. So, whether you’re still in your youth or well into your golden years, seeing a counselor can help you obtain real results and relief from anxiety, depression, and stress. If you or your parent or your grandparent is suffering with grasping the reality of aging, talk to them about therapy. You can schedule an appointment with one of our trained counselors to help you and your loved one heal no matter what stage of life you’re in.

 

Shame and PTSD Recovery

 

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During C-PTSD recovery it’s not uncommon for patients to feel shameful. The trauma experienced and the reality the trauma continues to create is full of lies, myths, and distortions. Losing right of what’s real and what’s not is extremely common and is usually when the shame emotion begins to sink in. Shame often drives the feeling of not being good enough and an overwhelming sense of humiliation. The feeling of shame is driven externally by the fear that others will discover what you’re trying to hide. Shame is extremely isolating and can have adverse effects on your overall physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Here are a few ways to help resolve shame as you continue with your C-PTSD recovery.

 

Explore the Shame

Exploring your shame in a way that allows your name, clarify, and organize your thoughts will help you to begin working things out. Asking yourself questions like

  • What is this shame about?
  • When do you first remember feeling this way?
  • Is this feeling tied to a specific person, place, or situation?
  • Are there any perceived personal defects that this shame stems from?

Doing this will help you organize your thoughts and help you base your thoughts in the current reality rather than from the distorted reality the shame is making you see.

 

Define and Describe

What does the shame mean to you? Writing down what you feel shameful about and what it means to you can help you clarify the subject. It also helps you to separate yourself from the emotion to be able to look at it from an objective point of view. From here you can view how accurate what you’re feeling is saying about you actually is. The truth is, there’s so much more to you than what the shame is making you feel there is.

 

Form a Statement

Many times shame makes you magnify your perceived defects. You begin to think and feel that everyone can see these defects and knows about them. The fact of the matter is, most of these defects are perceived and totally invisible to the world. Forming a statement that reminds you that you’re more than your perceived defects and reading it or repeating it to yourself every time you start to feel a shame spiral start can help pull you out.

 

Dealing with C-PTSD is not easy to do on your own. Although it is possible, professional counseling can have a dramatically positive impact on the success rate of healing. However, it is important to remember that healing is a journey. Some days you may feel like you’ve taken 5 steps forward and other days you may feel as if you’ve taken 20 steps back. There’s no universal right or wrong way to heal. Schedule an appointment today with us to discuss the healing journey that’s right for you.

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