How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Who wouldn’t like to say that they have perfect relational boundaries?

While perfection might seem pie-in-the-sky, working on boundaries truly does strengthen them. The effort definitely pays off. Many times, the most difficult part of boundary work occurs when the boundary is established. Calmly and directly stating the boundary to your friend, colleague, or family member can seem intimidating; however, this step sets up the boundary to truly have a positive impact on your own mental health.

We all need healthy boundaries in our lives.

A boundary is where one person ends and you begin. If you feel yourself succumbing to agreeing to events you would rather not attend or people-pleasing your way through life, you need to take the first step and set a boundary.

Boundaries are not mean.

They help you grow and care for yourself. Many people and families have dysfunctional ways of relating, and in the beginning it can feel mean or generate guilt to establish firm boundaries. But, boundaries serve to strengthen the individual setting them and allow others to make decisions about their own lives, leading to more contentment and lower anxiety and depression.

An example of a simple boundary might be, “I am unable to attend the event this weekend.” Terri Cole, author of Boundary Boss lists in her “Boundary Boss Bill of Rights” that “you have the right to say no (or yes) to others without feeling guilty.” Taking the first step and deciding for yourself the best use of your time is boundary work that can reap dividends in peace of mind. 

Whether you are dealing with a co-worker who relies on your advice too often or a family member who is disrespectful, boundaries can make an impact on the quality of not only how you feel about your interactions with others and relationships in general, but also help your confidence increase as you begin to set healthy boundaries with those around you. 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Featured Provider: Meet Vanessa Bruce-Miller, LMSW

This month’s featured provider is Vanessa Bruce-Miller, LMSW.

Vanessa Bruce-Miller is a Jamaican-born Queer woman. Vanessa’s pronouns are She and They.

Vanessa (Vee) is a skilled Metalsmith and Clinician with formal training in working with LGBTQ communities. She holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from CUNY Hunter College. Vanessa lives and works in New York, NY out of their studio apartment that they share with their 30+ plant children.

As a Therapist, Vanessa addresses an array of concerns including: racial distress, anxiety, spirituality, work distress, multicultural issues, trauma, and LGBTQ affirming care. She has two interests: (1) Somatic and mindfulness-based work within communities with complex identities (2) Utilizing the power of creativity and art making within sessions.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to?

“I’m currently reading: Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to create jewelry as well as visit plant nurseries.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“The last few years have been a whirlwind, the best way to move forward is with patience & grace towards ourselves.”

Most memorable moment of 2021:

“Taking a family trip back to my homeland Jamaica for my cousin’s wedding. It was our first time seeing each other in a few years so it was really humbling & beautiful to be together again.”

Lesser known facts about you:

“I’m very spiritual & my spiritual practice helps to keep me grounded. “

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“Change is the only constant in our lives & when you change, everything changes. Let’s take your power back & work toward addressing the things you’ve been wanting to change together. You don’t have to do it alone.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Featured Provider: Meet Theodore Klein, LMSW

This month’s featured provider is Theodore Klein, LMSW.

Theodore, (you can call him Ted), is a person-centered and non-judgmental therapist who will work with your strengths to help you towards achieving your goals. Ted will assist you towards meeting your goals, and alleviating symptoms related to your mental health struggles and identifying and processing trauma. Ted utilizes an eclectic blend of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Psychoeducation, and other types of therapy, to create a two-way atmosphere for healing.

A graduate of The New School for his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences Touro College for his Master’s in social work, Ted is a Licensed Master’s of Social Work. He has worked with multiple populations, including substance use dependency, parole and probation, disabilities, and clinics. He can work with people who suffer from Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Substance Use Disorders, Disabilities and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

What is on your bucket list?

“My bucket list includes traveling to the following places: Japan, Maldives, Tahiti, Belize, Panama.

I also have a vision to create a few charities or programs to assist with housing and recovery, as well as paying off debt.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to watch The Mets (huge Mets fan), play with my daughter, binge watch shows with the wife, video games, anime, and make time for friends and my dog.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“Be patient with yourself, and set boundaries.”

Lesser known facts about you:

“I am a world traveler, going to places like China, Philippines, Russia, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Jordan to name a few. “

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“If you’re struggling, and looking for someone to talk to, please reach out. Taking that first step is important and necessary towards healing.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Achieving an Optimal State of Mind

Worry and anxiety are on the rise in our homes. We have been living in a state of seemingly insurmountable odds with the pandemic, a charged political arena, as well as everyday bumps along the road of life. While overcoming worry and anxiety may seem impossible, tried and true practical steps can be taken in order to live a life centered on contentment and growth. 

Get Quality Sleep

One such practical step is simply to document your sleep schedule. While we all have internal rhythms that may vary, many of us fail to realize the importance of adequate sleep. Sleep provides our bodies with essential time for maintenance and repair of many of our life-giving organs, including our brains. When we miss sleep, our minds are not able to function at the highest levels, and that off-kilter feeling can give way to both worry and anxiety. 

Make Easy Changes to Diet

Another practical habit to help you battle worry and anxiety is eating well. Anxiety induced by any number of toxins can take away a sense of balance and stability in your life. Take our addiction to caffeine for example. As a worried people, should we really be consuming vast quantities of products that increase our on-edge feelings? Sugar is also known to affect both our mood and our sleep patterns. Taking a close look at how your diet could be contributing to your feelings of worry and anxiety may uncover ways you can calm your mind and live a steadier life. 

Release Endorphins Daily

And the third in the practical ideas line-up is, of course, exercise. Spending time working out can help reduce worry and anxiety as well. Humans burn energy, and it seems we can either burn it through the exercise our bodies need or through worrying endlessly in the middle of the night about things often beyond our control. So get outside, get active, and release those endorphins- you will be amazed at how this one change can help you sleep better and have less anxiety! 

Again, these simple reminders – adequate sleep, diet, and exercise – may help you reduce worry and anxiety in your own life. A steady, prepared mind is something that we all strive for, and working on these three areas of your life will perhaps enable you to achieve that optimal state of mind.

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Understanding Codependency: What, Why, & How COVID-19 Has Made it Worse

Unless you have gone to therapy or been close to someone seeking help for codependent tendencies, your perception of codependency is likely inaccurate in some ways. Aside from popular belief, the term does not refer to the behavior of people who “can’t do anything on their own” or “had parents who did everything for them growing up.” In fact, it often means quite the opposite.

And, believe it or not, codependency doesn’t just affect a small portion of the population! Some estimates suggest that close to 90% of people demonstrate codependent behavior in relationships, with many having realized they struggle with codependency only during and after COVID-19.

So, what is codependency, why do so many of us experience it, and how has COVID-19 made it worse? Keep reading for the answer to these questions and more.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of behavior characterized by a mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual reliance on another person in a close relationship (e.g. spouse-spouse, friend-friend, coworker-boss, sibling-sibling, etc.). It can also be thought of as an imbalanced relationship in which one person (“the giver”) assumes the responsibility of meeting the needs of the other person (“the taker”) and, in doing so, cannot acknowledge their own feelings and needs to the point of personal detriment. 

Codependent people are typically empathetic, highly capable, and independent in that they take care of everyone, including themselves, without asking for help. The problem with this ultra-independence is that it is impractical; we all have needs, and they can only go unmet for so long. And while codependents can maintain complacency for extended periods of time (months, years, sometimes decades), they do eventually become resentful of the lack of reciprocation from others and explode—either internally or externally.

At their core, codependents want to feel secure and wanted for their true selves, but in pursuit of this safe connection, they self-sacrifice so much that they end up losing all sense of themselves. In other words, by making others “need”/depend on them, they make the very thing they crave, authentic connection, impossible. 

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency is not a personality disorder or clinical diagnosis but rather a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. Those who struggle with codependency usually developed the condition by watching and imitating other family members who managed situations of abuse, neglect, illness, addiction and other traumatic situations (usually within the family) the same way—by “fawning” (repressing one’s own needs in order to be loved and accepted, i.e. people-pleasing).
But it goes deeper than that. At its root, the compulsion to self-deny is the result of a complex form of attachment disorder and PTSD developed in childhood. As children, codependents received inconsistent attention, affection, and emotional support from their parents—a sort of hot and cold dynamic interpreted by children as a reflection of their own inadequacy. To cope and thus reduce these feelings of abandonment, they learned to attain more consistent love through people-pleasing, a softer form of manipulation and control.

Unfortunately, as these children become adults, the fear never goes away (PTSD), driving them to continue fawning in hopes of never being abandoned again. What they don’t realize, though, is they are still being abandoned—only now by themselves. For these reasons, codependency can be considered a symptom or defense against PTSD.

…AKA relationship addiction

When we think of addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are the first words that come to mind, but a less commonly known form of addiction is the addiction to people, which is codependency in of itself. As codependents begin to only think of the thoughts, needs, and desires of the one they are pleasing (“the taker”), they are no longer able to identify their own. This enmeshment means that their only sense of worth derives from the praise, recognition, or affection they receive from the other person. Over time, this creates an addiction to the highs of validation and affirmation, much like the highs you would see in any other addiction. The codependent looks for ways to help, and they are rewarded with praise in return. On the flip side, when their help goes unnoticed and the other person withdraws, the codependent fears the relationship will end and falls in a state of severe emotional distress until they feel valued again. With time, the caretaking becomes compulsive, and the codependent experiences feelings of helplessness in the relationship, unable to break free.

Signs of Codependency

  • A tendency to do more than your share all the time.
  • Never asking for help; overwhelming yourself with tasks that others could do.
  • Fear of losing relationships/abandonment.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Doing way more than the other person to hold onto your relationship.
  • An overwhelming need to be reassured and recognized.
  • A compelling desire to control others.
  • Lack of trust in yourself and/or others.
  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.
  • A tendency to love people you can rescue.
  • Excessive concern with loved ones’ behaviors.
  • Constant feelings of hurt when people overlook your efforts.
  • Guilt after asserting yourself.
  • A tendency to apologize to keep the peace.
  • Difficulty naming your feelings or fully feeling them.
  • Minimizing your feelings when you do feel them.
  • Worrying about what others think of you.
  • Problem with creating and keeping boundaries.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Dishonesty.
  • Doing things you don’t want to do to make others happy.
  • Poor communication in relationships.
  • Idealizing loved ones to the point of maintaining relationships that don’t fulfill you.

The Link Between Codependent Tendencies & COVID-19

COVID-19 has taken its toll on couples with underlying, previously unnoticable or manageable codependent tendencies. Without breaks from one another and access to other sources of fulfillment and support (such as exercise classes, lunch with friends, in-office work, etc.), many report feeding off of each other’s emotions more than ever and relying heavily on the relationship for every emotional need. Couples who don’t live together have also experienced strains on their relationship but for the opposite reason: not being able to spend enough time together due to shutdowns, quarantine, and limited date nights.

Amidst traumatic circumstances, slipping back into old ways—natural instincts—is normal. Just like with PTSD from childhood, PTSD from the accumulation of stresses caused by COVID-19 can cause codependent habits to resurface, worsen, or appear for the first time. If that is you, rest assured that there is hope. As mentioned above, codependency is a learned behavior, meaning it is possible to unlearn the compulsions causing you distress and negatively affecting your relationships. The best course of action is to seek help. A therapist can show you how to form healthy attachments in your relationships, establish your own identity, and assist you in healing from the triggering experiences you have had, whether in childhood or more recently.

The good news is, post-pandemic, our environments and circumstances are changing. With that, and professional support, how you are feeling will change too. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Featured Provider: Meet Tara Merchant, LMHC

This month’s featured provider is Tara Merchant, LMHC.

Tara is a person-centered, non-judgmental, relationship-based LMHC (licensed mental health counselor) who recognizes the intrinsic value of all people and holds positive regard for all her clients. Tara views counseling as a collaborative effort by providing psychoeducation and coping skills for the obstacles with which clients may be struggling, and clients provide insights as the experts on themselves. She believes that all thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected, having valid underlying factors. Tara seeks to help clients connect the dots, from both past and present, to have a greater understanding of themselves and their environments. She also fosters a safe space for clients to identify and embrace their feelings toward emotional catharsis.

Tara received her Bachelor’s Degree from Purchase College, State University of NY, and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University. She has an eclectic style that utilizes Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and psychodynamic modality. Tara aims to uphold cultural humility for ongoing learning and awareness that supports racial and social equity. She is experienced in working with relationship issues, anxiety, depression and child development.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to? 

“Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast. She is one of my favorite voices in the field and has sparked helpful consideration of what it means to be vulnerable in order to connect with others. And if I’m not watching TV or listening to my girl, Brene, I am absolutely reading the one and only Harry Potter. (I think my letter to Hogwarts or Ilvermorny got lost in the mail, but that’s okay, I’ve accepted muggle life…) ”

What is on your bucket list?

“I have to say that should we ever get out of this pandemic, I would love to travel more and see other countries, mostly to eat their food!”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to hang out with friends or family because despite being an introvert, I’m a person who needs people – none of us can go it alone. Also, I love watching TV shows, probably an unhealthy amount, but I count it as self-care.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“Don’t touch anything! We don’t need any more germs. Just kidding. My advice is that there are no “should”s. There are so many culturally imposed timelines, standards and internalized messages we live by, but if some of those aren’t working for you, it’s okay to challenge them.”

Most memorable moment of 2021:

“The most memorable moment of 2021 was when I found out my husband and I were about to become three! It was all rainbows for about five seconds and then reality sunk in and it was terrifying, but now it’s less terrifying :)”

Lesser known facts about you:

“Some lesser-known facts about me include that I love to sing! My original dream was to be on Broadway, but now I’m just one of those people who tries to actually sound good at karaoke. I also haven’t eaten meat in 13 years! My husband and I went mostly vegan in 2017 – people think it’s healthy, but we eat the Impossible sliders from White Castle.”

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“So if you want to have someone to talk to, please book an appointment! There are many benefits of therapy to consider. For one: being able to process thoughts and feelings with someone who is trained in how to respond therapeutically. Two: having a compartmentalized outlet to release opinions, anxieties, irrational thoughts, etc. without fear of judgment or impact on your inner circle. And three: there’s a magic to saying words out loud. Hearing yourself say a thought can either take away its power or reinforce your belief in it. The goal is to figure out which you want to do with it.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Childhood Emotional Wounds: How They Affect Us As Adults

Emotional wounds from childhood…the vast majority of us have them. In fact, roughly 60 percent of adult Americans report having experienced trauma or difficult relational dynamics as children—and that doesn’t even include those of us who have repressed these experiences.

But what is an emotional wound anyway, and why do they matter now?

An emotional wound is a negative experience, or series of experiences, that causes pain on a deep psychological level. It typically involves someone close to you: a parent, family member, lover, mentor, friend, or other trusted individual. It may be tied to a specific event or pattern of events, to learning a hard truth about life, or to going through a physical limitation or challenge. Most emotional wounds are associated with abuse, abandonment, loss, neglect, mistreatment, and inconsistency in close relationships, but even these terms can be defined differently depending on the person. We are all different in a myriad of ways, from genetic makeup to the circumstances in which we live, so what may have been traumatic for you may not be for someone else. Thus, the most important factor in identifying and understanding emotional wounds is not the world’s perception of what happened, but the individual who has them.
Childhood emotional wounds are particularly devastating because of who we were at the time: children. If adults have trouble processing these occurrences, just imagine the stress and overwhelm felt by a child trying to understand the same. Unlike adults, children are not yet able to analyze circumstances through the lens of education, social norms, and life experiences. All they know is that they are in pain, and without another point of reference, their conclusion is usually that they themselves must be to blame—that something inside them is inherently wrong, bad, or undeserving.
Unfortunately, these deeply rooted hurts and beliefs don’t just disappear with time. Even in cases where the conscious brain cannot recall the experience, the anxiety caused by it continues to be felt by our bodies to some degree. This is why emotional wounds come up later in life, particularly in relationships that mimic the ones in which they were caused (with significant others, family, and close friends): They can only stay hidden for so long. Such long-term, unresolved heartache has both mental and physiological effects. Not only does it chip away at a child’s sense of stability and self, damaging their self-worth and later producing feelings of guilt, shame, lack of belonging, and disconnection from others; emotional wounds can also lead to heightened anxiety, difficulty managing emotions, depression, and anger in adults. It isn’t uncommon for those with a history of trauma or painful relationships to develop struggles with addiction, chronic illnesses (cancer, heart disease, etc.), poor memory, and other mental disorders as well.
These effects ultimately dictate how we view ourselves, the world, and those around us, changing the way we interact with others. Many adults with emotional wounds have trust issues in relationships and develop victimhood thinking. This causes them to cap their own potential, compromising their success in careers, relationships, and other goals and dreams. For example, when self-expression and self-defense felt unsafe in childhood, unhealed wounds often manifest as passivity and subservience in adults. While these characteristics are sometimes viewed as positive, such people-pleasing behavior can have detrimental effects on the trajectory of one’s life as bottling up feelings instead of communicating can lead to resentment, blow-ups, and even depression. Moreover, people-pleasers’ “go-with-the-flow” nature makes them more susceptible to the exploitative intentions of narcissists and other parasitic people. Other adults may yell, lash out, be overly assertive, seek control, and push people away in times of distress. 

In situations where any form of child abuse took place, emotional wounds tend to show up as insecure attachment styles. These include:

  • Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: It is normal for some children exposed to abuse and neglect to fear close relationships. Now, as adults, those with fearful-avoidant attachment are distrustful, have a hard time sharing emotions with their partner and others and often avoid emotional intimacy altogether.

  • Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: When a parent or caregiver ignores or rejects a child’s needs, this attachment style results. As an adult, individuals with this style turn to ultra-independence to protect themselves from being rejected again.
  • Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Adults with this attachment style require repeated validation in relationships and at times, come across as clingy and needy. Due to a childhood in which their parents were not consistent in the emotional security they provided, these individuals never feel secure. Loving the child and then rejecting them over and over again causes the child to constantly question their place and the validity of the love they receive.

Although distinct, each of the responses mentioned above is a coping mechanism, first learned in childhood in order to function under difficult circumstances and now a pattern of behavior in adulthood used to manage fear, uncertainty, rejection, abandonment, and uncomfortable feelings of any kind.
In sum, emotional wounds run deep and have a profound impact on our beliefs and behaviors as adults, specifically on our self-image and relationships. These traumas, whether big or seemingly small, fracture our foundation and can taint our perception of what is normal and true. They are not easily overcome, but the good news is that they can be. If this article resonated with you and you are not currently seeking support from a mental health professional, contact us today. We would love to help you take steps towards healing—because even though these wounds may be part of who you are, their negative effects don’t have to be. 

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Featured Provider: Meet Lynette Miller-Volel, LCSW

This month’s featured provider is Lynette Miller-Volel, LCSW.

Lynette is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with sixteen years of experience working with youth and adults. Lynette has a warm, gentle, reliable approach as she listens to what’s important to you, learns about your unique experiences, taps into and cultivates your strengths, and collaborates with you to find effective strategies to improve your mood and successfully navigate life’s challenges.

Lynette specializes in treating depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship problems, communication, and self-esteem issues. Her work has included, providing psychotherapy, crisis management, conflict resolution, advocacy, supervision, and training. Lynette is a leader who is committed to coaching and developing others. She has supervised teams in an outpatient mental health clinic and a legal setting where she advocated through an anti-racist lens for criminal justice reform.

Lynette obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Hofstra University and her master’s degree in Social Work at New York University. She utilizes various treatment modalities including, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, psychodynamic oriented therapies, as well as holistic approaches. Lynette tailors treatment according to each client’s needs.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to? 

“I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients?

“I love to play with my dog Bembe and solve jigsaw puzzles which have helped reduce stress and increase positive energy, especially during the uncertain times of the pandemic.”

Lesser known facts about yourself: 

“I am a singer. I enjoy expressing myself through music and have performed at various venues in New York City.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“With all the stressors we’re facing daily, prioritizing your mental health is vital to your overall health and well-being. Your mental health impacts every aspect of your life. Be gentle with yourself and patient as you embark on new changes in your life.”

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“Therapy nurtures self-compassion, provides support, discovers solutions, is empowering and motivates positive change. Start your journey and schedule an appointment today.”

New Year: New Anxieties, Old Regrets

It’s a new year—a time to pause, plan, reflect, look forward, and dream before life picks up and the days and weeks start to blur together again. It’s what many would consider the second most wonderful time of the year—a fresh start, a clean slate, a moment of optimism. For others, though, the New Year isn’t so inspiring. It’s a reminder of setbacks and shortcomings, a reason to feel sorrow over decisions and events of years past. And, for at least 20 percent of the US adult population, it’s also a time of heightened anxiety over the months ahead. 

So, what’s the secret to actually enjoying the start of a new year—to fighting the regret and anxiety so many of us are feeling?

Be more positive! And no, we don’t mean “Cheer up, buttercup.” After all, emotions, whether positive or negative, aren’t bad. They’re just human. We mean finding a balance between the two by mitigating the never-ending flow of negativity in our lives in very intentional ways. This, research suggests, makes our minds more resilient, leading to less anxiety, regret, and an improved quality of life overall.

To help you get started, here are a few resolutions you can make to kick off your New Year right:

  1. Trade two for one. It won’t be easy to reverse your negative thought processes, but that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” really does apply here. When you find yourself ruminating on past failures—the school you didn’t go to, divorce you never wanted, 30 pounds you didn’t lose—remind yourself that the past is the past, and you can only work on today to have a better tomorrow. The same goes for negative thoughts about the future: When expecting the worst, speak truths about the situation to yourself, remembering the positive possibilities and the strength you’ve developed from situations in the past.
  2. Aim to replace every negative thought with two positive affirmations, observations, or gratitudes that counter it. By trading two for one, you’ll be teaching your brain to see situations in a better light.
  3. Similarly, practice thankfulness. If you’re tired of focusing on the past or future, redirect your mind to the present by listing the people and things for which you are thankful today. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep, a steady job, a friend who cares about you, your education, yummy lunch, the task you just completed, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just give thanks! Keep a list in your notebook or phone, and glance at it throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  4. Want to get out of a mental rut? Prove it in your posture. It’s old news that the body affects the mind and vice versa, but studies have found that it’s not just healthy eating and exercise that make a difference, but the small habits too—like posture. On the days when you’re in a lull and can’t break out, stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and stretch your arms out wide. This posture will not only get your blood pumping, but it will cause you to produce endorphins, much like exercise, that boost your positivity.
  5. To take this a step further, try power posing! A social psychologist at Harvard University found that there are “high power” and “low power” posture poses that affect our mood. By holding high power poses for about two minutes, we cause hormonal shifts in our bodies to take place, sparking feelings of self-confidence. The next time you need a coffee break, break into a power pose instead (like the Wonder Woman pose!), and feel more positive and empowered instantaneously.
  6. Set firmer boundaries. Distance yourself from negative people, and surround yourself with more positive ones—ones that are on the same journey towards self-improvement as you. We all know that phrase, “You are the sum of the people closest to you.” That’s because it’s true. Being around negative people for an extended period of time can rewire our neuronal connections. When this happens, the networks in our brains begin to respond negatively to situations that we once considered positive. These “re-wirings” can cause long-term depression and anxiety. It can take time, sometimes years, for our brains to learn to think differently again.
So, who uplifts you? Who pushes you towards your goals? Who is kind, patient, and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing? Choose them, and take measures to limit your time with the rest.
 
Last but not least, seek out a licensed counselor or therapist. Nobody should have to face regret and anxiety alone, and it’s important that one of the people standing next to you through these struggles has a deep understanding of their causes and effects. Friends and family are great for advice, consolement, and encouragement, but when it comes to chronic emotional distress, treatment is necessary. A professional will be able to break patterns of negativity on a more individualized basis—that is, according to your unique situation and needs.
So, begin implementing the habits above. If these feelings of regret and anxiety continue, schedule a time to talk to someone who can navigate these new habits with you, and maybe even help you identify more that will make this year worthwhile.
Here’s to a more positive 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours.

Recognizing These Six Signs of Depression

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate. This disease has affected the lives of over 300 million people worldwide. Just looking at statistics can be overwhelming, but it’s necessary to understand the magnitude of what’s happening to those around us. It’s imperative that we are in tune with the ones we love and cue in on the signs and flags they are metaphorically waving. 

6 Signs to Watch For:

Feelings of Worthlessness

When someone is constantly doubting themselves, never feeling confident in their abilities and their reflections are negative– this is a sign. 

Loss of Interest- 

When someone suddenly loses interest in activities that previously brought them joy such as sex, sporting events, hobbies, and social gatherings–this is a sign. 

Suicidal Thoughts- 

When someone feels they are no longer of use in this world, makes a plan, or speaks of taking their own life–this is a sign. 

Change in Appetite- 

When someone is overeating or undereating due to stress or anxiety, and these habits cause a dramatic change in appearance–this is a sign.

Trouble Sleeping

When someone begins to lose sleep due to daily stresses such as financial woes, work issues, marital or relationship problems–this is a sign. 

Fatigue-

When someone, rather they get enough sleep or not, has an overwhelming feeling of tiredness–this is a sign. 

Symptoms in children are quite similar, but we must keep a closer watch as 3.1 million children from ages 12-17 are experiencing depression. They might withdraw socially, suddenly become more sensitive, have unusual vocal outbursts, or feel overwhelmed with sadness. 

Regardless of the different outlets available to those who are depressed, 35% still receive no help. Listening is invaluable. Listen to your friends and family.  Check in on them and ask the questions that in a positive way, force an answer that will allow you to help. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

How can I best support you?

  • What specifically is hurting you? 
  • Who do you have in a supportive circle at work? At school? At home? 
  • What night can I bring dinner so we can talk? 
  • My calendar is open, pick a morning and let’s meet for coffee. 

Ask the questions, have the conversations, and tune in to those around you.

The flags will wave, it’s critical that you see them. Once seen, take the next step and have the conversations. Bring a certified professional in. Don’t be afraid to push them toward healing. At Southend Psychiatry, we offer services primarily online and in-person at flexible locations near you, and will be ready to support you and those you love on the path to mental wellness!