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How to Overcome Perfectionism

How to Overcome Perfectionism

Be honest. Do you always want to be perceived positively by others?

Or are you afraid of failure? Do you struggle with not feeling good enough, no matter what you do? Are your expectations of yourself or others unrealistically high?If you can relate to these, you might be a perfectionist. And you’re far from alone.

Perfectionism is something I struggle with from time-to-time, so I wanted to create a list of some strategies that work for me and share it in hopes of helping others.

1. Instead of focusing on the end goal, try and enjoy the process.
I’m all too familiar with the highs I get from the sense of accomplishment for achieving something I’ve been focused on getting to.  However, this high is often short-lived because it comes at the expense of the “low”: the pain I put myself through to getting to a goal. One of the most effective strategies I’ve found to allow myself to embrace and appreciate the process of getting to a goal is actually making this process something I enjoy, and the focal point of my journey to growth.  I also find this takes the pressure off the result and makes the process itself feel worthwhile to go through.  I believe the key to this is being curious and excited about the things you can learn about yourself in the process of moving towards something that’s important to you. I find this helps remind me that things are worth doing, regardless of the result.

2. Practice self-compassion.
As a recovering perfectionist, I sometimes notice my inner critic coming out and shaming me for my perceived flaws and shortcomings.  Because my inner critic expects perfection (which is unattainable), no matter what I do, it will find something to pick on, making me feel inadequate and unmotivated.  What helps me when this happens is reminding myself that I am human, and as humans, we all struggle with imperfections.  Being able to catch myself in a “not-good-enough” shaming moment, identifying the negative thought, and then offering the thought loving kindness through compassion can be really helpful.  You can offer loving kindness by providing yourself the same compassion you would show to a loved one, through kind words and actions.

3. Re-evaluate your expectations and set more realistic ones.
Sometimes I don’t even realize how unrealistic the expectations I set for myself or others are.  It’s no surprise then that I am bound to feel disappointed and lose motivation because the expectations I have are completely unattainable.  A great strategy for this is to exchange those high expectations with more realistic ones, which are those that you and others can reasonably meet, taking into consideration what is and is not in your control.  If you’re noticing yourself constantly feeling upset or frustrated, it might be because you are holding onto unreasonable expectations.  It might help to talk this out with a friend or family member, who can help you reassess your expectations and look at ways to make them more attainable and realistic.  

4. Love yourself not in spite of, but for your imperfections. 
Embrace your flaws.  They make you, you. Once I was able to see that my striving to reach some unattainable standard to prove my own worth to others and myself was what was actually making me feel unworthy and unlovable, I was able to accept myself as I am and just be. This ability to be, helped lead me to a place of whole-hearted acceptance. Now, when I strive to make changes in my life, it comes from a place of wholeness vs not feeling good enough, and, regardless of the outcome, I still feel deserving, whole and complete.  This also helps with enjoying the process instead of being outcome focused.

5. Set boundaries and honour your needs.  
Often times what comes with being a perfectionist is wanting to people-please.  There’s nothing wrong with having the desire to make others happy but when it comes at the expense of your needs and your truth, you are not doing anyone any favours.  I sometimes have to stop and ask myself, “Am I being true to myself right now or am I saying or doing this to gain approval from the other person?”  I remember when I initially went through this process, it was challenging to know the difference because I had neglected my own needs for so long to instead prioritize the needs of others by saying or doing things so they would like me. I felt I lost myself and didn’t really know who I was anymore. I wasn’t speaking or living my truth. I wasn’t being authentic. 

Being able to slow down and reflect on what you are feeling in any given moment while also reflecting on what your values are or what’s really important to you can be a good way to help determine what your needs are and any boundaries that need to be set.  You might find that as you begin to express who you are and what your needs are, the people that stay around are really there for you as a person and not for what you can give them.  You begin to learn how to tolerate the discomfort that comes from realizing that not everyone likes you.  Being you and honouring your truth becomes more important than being liked or gaining someone’s approval.

Overcoming perfectionism is a process. Choosing to let go of perfectionism is choosing to love and accept yourself by choosing to let go of the need to prove your worth. 

You will notice that over time, as you become more and more kinder to yourself, you will begin to really see and feel that you are good enough exactly as you are!

Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Most people go to the gym or work out to improve their health, build muscle, and have a fitter body. However, exercise can have tremendous impact on our brain and overall mental health.

The next time you debate whether to go work out, consider the following benefits:

1. Stress Reduction

Tough day at work? Consider taking a long walk, or making a quick trip to the gym. The most common mental benefit of exercise is stress relief; it increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that regulates the brain’s response to stress.

2. Boosts Happy Brain Chemicals

The next time you think, “I hate the treadmill,” remember that your brain loves it. Exercise releases endorphins that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and happiness. If you suffer from depression, or are feeling a bit down, consider adding exercise to your regimen. You don’t have to spent hours in the gym to reap the benefits; 30 minute workouts a few times a week can do the trick. 

3. Confidence Booster

We often go into a workout kicking and screaming, but it’s rare to find someone post-workout who has regrets. That’s because not only do you feel good post-workout, but you often look it. Regardless of whether you’re seeing noticeable results, exercise can swiftly increase our perceptions of self-worth. As we continue, the obvious physical changes only solidify our positive relationship with ourselves.

4. Vitamin Gain

If you’re one who takes his or her workout outside, be prepared for more than just fresh air. Sunshine not only provides our body with Vitamin D, but it also helps reduce depressive symptoms. There’s more to just running to be done outside, too. Consider cycling, yoga, rowing, or a grab a few friends and consider joining a league.

5. Help Your Brain

As much as we hate to admit it, aging impacts the body and the brain. However, exercise has been show to have a remarkable impact on slowing aging of both, including helping to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s or even to combat Osteoporosis. As we’ve learned from recent research, exercise can even grow new brain cells. Even though you won’t be able to see it, exercise results in a healthier, sexier brain.

6. Maximizing Memory

Memory not what it used to be? Exercise can help with that. Just like with preventing diseases and aging, exercises knack for stimulating your hippocampus boosts your memory and helps you to retain information when learning new things. Studying a new language? Schedule in routine workouts to maximize your likelihood of success.

7. Controlling Addiction

Dopamine—the principal chemical responsible for pleasure—is also what drives addiction. We just can’t get enough of it. However, instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, or food for a dopamine release, consider exercise. Not only does exercise help in addition recovery, but it helps you prioritize your dopamine cravings.

Of course, regular exercise is just one strategy to promote mental wellness. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, or sadness, mental health counselling can be an essential part of taking care of yourself. However, the next time you’re trying to motivate yourself to hit the gym, remember: your body AND your brain will thank you.0 Likes

How to Take Care of Yourself When You Have Absolutely No Time

How to Take Care of Yourself When You Have Absolutely No Time

I want to share a secret. Something that far too many advice columns forget to mention when it comes to self-care. The truth is, you don’t need hours to take care of yourself.

Small quick changes can have a big impact. That’s important because it’s the busiest people who need self-care the most and the last thing you have time for is to feel guilty for having yet another thing on your to-do list you can’t seem to get to. 

Most of the time when we think of self-care we think of activities. Catching a yoga class, walking through a park, or reading a great book. All of these are fantastic but they are not the only ways we can take care of ourselves. Making a change to your internal monologue, focusing on the positives in your day, or genuinely accepting a compliment from someone else takes only seconds but can go a long way to feeling better. 

When it comes to self-care quick and often is better than long and infrequent. Can’t make it to that Zoomba class? Take three minutes in the morning and dance to your favourite song. Longing for a day at the Spa? Treat yourself to a fancier body wash or light your favourite candle for a few minutes before bed.

So what are you waiting for? Try one of these today. You deserve it! 

Starting today, I’m ready to: 

  • Make a point to smile at strangers while I walk down the street. 
  • Turn up the radio and sing as loud as I can while stuck in traffic. 
  • Send a text message to a friend to let them know I’m thinking of them. 
  • Close my eyes and take three slow breathes in and out while saying a positive message like, “I’ve got this!” or “I am strong and capable”. (Helpful trick: Say it out loud. It makes a difference!)
  • Focus on my own progress and growth rather than comparing myself to someone else. 

How to Set Boundaries and Say No

How to Set Boundaries and Say No

Do you sometimes have trouble saying “no”, or expressing what you really want? Don’t worry—you’re definitely not alone.

Many people struggle to communicate their needs and express personal limits with others. Setting boundaries sounds so simple yet it can be quite challenging to execute if you’re not accustomed to doing so.

If you do have difficulty setting boundaries, you might find yourself either drained from not being able to say no or feeling isolated because you haven’t shared what you need from others. Also, if you tend to be inconsistent with your boundaries (sometimes it’s “yes,” sometimes it’s “no”), then you’re likely sending mixed messages and leaving those around you confused about how to treat you.

Boundaries teach others how to treat us and communicate what we find to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. In some ways, setting boundaries is also about honouring the relationships around you, whether it is with family members, friends, partners or coworkers. Rather than expecting the people in your life to read your mind (and then feeling resentful because you’ve pushed your needs aside), tell the person how you feel.

How to set boundaries

First, identify the behaviour or action that has affected you, and briefly describe how you feel about it; then outline what boundary you want to put in place.

1. Share how you feel with “I” Statements:

“When you _______ (identify the behaviour), I feel _______ (name the emotion)”

Examples:

“When you speak negatively about me in public, I feel disrespected.”

“When you look through my phone without my consent, I feel violated.”

“When you start working on your laptop during the kids bedtime routine, I feel alone and more stressed.”

“When you talk to the client before telling me, I feel caught off guard.”

2. Outline the boundary or make a request:

“I need you to…“

Example: “I need you to stop making comments about my weight”, “I need you to respect my privacy”

or “Could you please_________”

Example: “Could you please keep negative comments to yourself?”, “Could you please help me with the kids every night before you start working on your laptop?”)

or “I would appreciate it if _____________”

Example: “I would appreciate if you could ask me how long it would take before setting the deadline with the client.”

3. In some situations, you may need to state a consequence:

“If you continue to ______ (the behaviour), I will ______________ (your plan to protect the boundary)”

Example: “If you continue to speak negatively about me in public, I will remove myself and leave the room.”

Things to keep in mind when setting boundaries

  • Be short but specific when describing the behaviour, leaving little room for interpretation. Use simple language and don’t over-explain yourself.
  • Use a neutral, respectful, and firm tone
  • Avoid blaming or criticizing statements (“You” statements)
  • You are not responsible for how others react towards your boundaries
  • If there is an unpleasant reaction, remind yourself the other person is entitled to how they feel and try not to take it personally
  • Follow through with your boundaries and back up your words with action; if you are not feeling ready to act on a consequence, don’t put it out there until you are
  • Expect that you will have to reinforce your boundaries and be prepared for pushback
  • If you’re not sure about what your boundaries are in the first place, you may need to work on building self-awareness and understanding your priorities. Connecting with a therapist can help. They will help you gain clarity on what your limits are and why and get support in strengthening your boundary criteria for different areas of your life.

How to say no

Sometimes we just need to say no in simple terms, without identifying the emotion. Here are 6 ways to do it.

1. Polite refusal: Be gracious yet firm

Example: “No thank you. I prefer not to.”

2. Insistence: Emphasize your position with strength

Example: “No, I feel really strongly about changing the direction of this project.”

3. Be a Broken Record: Repeat the same sentence over and over.

Example: “No, thank you, I won’t be joining you all tonight”; “No, thanks, I won’t be joining you tonight”; “No thanks, have fun, I won’t be joining you all tonight…”

4. Partial honesty. If you don’t feel safe enough to be fully assertive, provide a version of the truth

Example: “I’m not able to come out tonight because I made other plans.”

5. Full honesty: Be 100% direct

Example: “No, I’m not interested.”

6. Buy yourself time: If you’re unsure of your position and don’t want to answer yet, ask for time.

Example: “I’ll have to think about that one and get back to you tomorrow.”

At the end of the day, setting boundaries is really about taking care of yourself and honouring your self-worth. You deserve to be heard!

5 Tips For Healthy Self-Care

5 Tips For Healthy Self-Care

We’re often told to prioritize our own self-care, but what the heck does that even mean?  If you’ve ever wondered what self-care means beyond a day at the spa, believe me, you are not alone.  

Check out this quick list to help you make sense of what self-care actually is.

1. Self-care is making yourself a priority
There is a reason why they say if you’re on an airplane and something happens, you first have to make sure you put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone; if you don’t take care of your needs first, you cannot effectively help others.  Making yourself Numero Uno and honouring your own needs first and foremost is one of the most important aspects of a healthy self-care practice!

2. Self-care means setting boundaries
Being able to set limits around your commitments and other people is important.  Sometimes this might mean saying “no” and that is perfectly ok. 

3. Self-care always feels nourishing
Self-care requires us to let go of feelings of guilt or the belief that we are not deserving.  A great way to determine whether something you are doing is a healthy self-care practice is to notice how you physically feel afterwards.  To help determine how nourishing something is, ask yourself, if your body feels depleted or more full and recharged afterwards.

4. Healthy self-care is proactive versus reactive
To prevent burn-out and running on empty, it’s really important to set time aside daily to engage in nourishing activities that make your needs a priority.  Note: this does not have to be time-consuming.  It can mean doing something as simple as taking a warm bath instead of a shower or starting off your day with a 3-minute meditation.

5. Self-care includes seeking therapy
If you find yourself reading this and wondering whether you struggle with self-care, perhaps because you feel guilty for making time for yourself or feel unsure about how to practice self-care, seeking out someone who specializes in mental health can be the very self-care practice you need!  Someone like a clinical therapist can help you learn more about yourself and understand the patterns of behaviours that might be getting in the way of making yourself a priority!

How Not To Sabotage Your Self-Care

How Not To Sabotage Your Self-Care

Several years ago, I received a speeding ticket while rushing to get to my regular yoga class. The class was important to me as it was part of my self-care regimen.

The combination of poor planning plus an inability to accept that I just wasn’t going to make it to class that day brought me to an important realization: self-care, or at least a hyper-focus on a self-care routine, can sometimes become counter-productive.

How Important Is Self-Care?

Self-care is essential for reducing stress and all its associated problems, both physical and mental.

That said, not everyone understands what it really is and many people aren’t sure what to do.

Here are a few places to start:

Dr. Kristen Neff offers some great advice in her book, Self Compassion. Her TED talks are also helpful. Guy Winch’s, Emotional First Aid, is another book that I recommend as well as his TED talks. For some further reading, I recommend this piece on self-care in the digital age and this list of self-care ideas.

Creating your own self-care regimen will help you to develop and maintain positive mental health and wellness.

You’ve Got This!

Self-care for ourselves or others can be deliberate and planned, but often we’ve already built some self-care into our daily routines. Going to the movies, talking to a close friend, or taking time to read a book can all be acts of self-care.

Self-Care vs. Self-Sabotage

Sometimes, we find ourselves avoiding discomfort by hiding under the guise of self-care. It can often prevent us from showing up, growing up, and increasing our self-efficacy and self-esteem. For example, is it self-care or avoidance if you take a break from study during finals? It’s a trick question, really, because it could be both.

On one hand, a break will give you some much-needed respite so that you can regroup and come back to your study with fresh eyes. On the other hand, too many breaks or breaks that last too long can be procrastination. It’s important to remember that avoidance keeps you stuck and prevents you from connecting to your feelings.

Ask Yourself: Is This Self-Care or Avoidance?

If the activity feels nourishing, helps you grow, and moves you forward towards your goal, it is self-care. If it takes you away from your goal, then it’s avoidance. Using techniques such as mindfulness can help you to acknowledge your feelings, and understand rather than avoid them.

Make 2019 the year you fine-tune your self-care routine (and avoid nasty surprises like speeding tickets).

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