What is writing for self-care?

Writing as a part of self-care is a way to express yourself! Through writing, you can reflect on your emotions and thoughts by cataloguing them. One way to do this is to use specific prompts, questions, or activities to practice self-writing with an underlying goal or objective. You can also journal and write your thoughts down without any prompt. The medium we use to write can also vary from pen and paper to digital forms of written communication.There is no right way to practice writing as a self-care exercise. Writing helps improve and maintain your emotional & mental well being and it can be a subjective experience for each of us! 

Why writing?

Multiple studies have been undertaken to understand the impact of writing on an individual's perceived stress, productivity & academic performance. The results show significant improvement in individuals who have practiced writing for self-care. Many therapists might also recommend writing as an intervention. It is a simple yet useful tool as it requires minimal resources, is highly accessible and available and is paced differently for each of us. Writing provides for a means of catharsis or a method to vent one's deepest feelings & emotions. 

In innumerable writing pieces from the past, it is evident that pen and paper were used as a means to cope with internal & external environments. Be it Anne Frank's diary during the Holocaust or Jane Austen's critique on social norms, their writings are not just literature; they add value to the readers and of course, to the writers themselves. 

Different Writing Techniques

Journaling often involves recording significant activities and experiences in one’s life, along with our thoughts and feelings about these events. It becomes an account of personal history and can help the writer understand and improve on the various aspects of their life. This can be used as an umbrella form of writing, which can then include other forms of writing.

Creative writing takes the shape of prose, poetry, fiction or nonfiction; anything that stimulates your imagination! This form of writing has been part of our culture in the form of folklore and fables which serve many purposes. Some look to invoke inspiration, while others create a sense of reflection & introspection. You can use this form of writing to let your imagination break free from reality or to express your perspective in a creative manner. 

This technique involves openly expressing thoughts, feelings & emotions on one's significant stressors throughout their life. The focus here is exclusively on the situations triggering specific actions or feelings, leading to stress. This writing method can help manage stress and identify the underlying cause and triggers for stress.

This method of writing is specifically for penning down thoughts on what they one is grateful for. The aim is to focus on the positive aspects of life, things or people we are thankful to have. This technique can help you develop a positive outlook, while enhancing & maintaining healthy self-esteem.

One can think of affirmation writing as a manifestation of a person’s wishes, motivation, intentions & expectations. This writing tool helps pave the way to change deeply rooted ideologies and bring a fresh, new perspective to the writer. Using this technique, you can initiate change, both mentally and behaviorally. 

Which form of writing should you choose?

It is first important to note that the list above is not exhaustive. If these writing techniques do not seem to work for you, feel free to explore more. You must first recognize the overall goal you have set for yourself. Based on the goal, you can choose one or a combination of writing tools to support your self-care routine. When in doubt, do reach out and ask for help! If any of the exercises seem to affect you negatively, pause and seek professional help if needed.

“A girl, a girl, thin, tall, and fair.

Her hair, her hair, was like a delicate colour of the ginger, delicate colour of ginger.”

It took me years to unlearn the meaning and intent of this rhyme which my girlfriends and I would often sing and march into school. I had to relearn that I don’t have to be thin, tall, or fair to be called pretty.

Unfortunately, rhymes like these are just one of the hundreds of rigid and unrealistic ideas of beauty that our culture has fed us since the very beginning. It was only when I studied Psychology I realised that I and almost my entire friend-circle was grappling with body-image concerns. It was then when I realised the notions of beauty fed to me by my parents, family members, and media were the ones who presented me with a distorted, unkind, and narrow definition of beauty.

Body image refers to “a person’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings about his or her body” (Grogan, 2008).  It benefits to have a positive body image as a negative body image is damaging effects like low self-esteem, rampant dieting, and eating disorders.

According to Naomi Wolf, “‘beauty’ is a currency system like the gold standard ... in assigning value to women in a vertical hierarchy according to the culturally imposed physical standards; it is an expression of power relations. Often men and women who are not called beautiful according to society's standards face stringent social and economic implications. According to research, "conventional attractiveness is a realistic route to power for women"; women deemed attractive are "more popular, more likely to marry men of higher socioeconomic status and maybe more often hired, promoted and even paid higher salaries.

Body image is no longer primarily a female concern. 30-40% of people with eating disorders are male (The Hindu, 2018). Emphasis on, and objectification of, the ideal male body is growing, so that the well-toned body, with a V-shaped upper torso, has become so muscular that it is as unattainable for the majority of men as the thin ideal is for women. (Pope et al., 2000)

 Causes for body image concerns 

Our society and most cultures have always valued the beauty of an individual, be it a man or a woman. Although each culture has its idea for beauty, one of the most popular is the thin idealization. It refers to idealizing the slim figure and finding it beautiful. Some of the main causes of thin idealization come from the culture, society, media, and western influence.  Factors such as those mentioned below also play a huge role.

The consumer media is always showcasing unrealistically thin models. The problem arises when these models are shown to be living the happiest lives and are completely content with no problems in life. Hence, the message given out is that buyers should not only consume the actual product advertised but also its symbolic meaning. For instance, if you drink green tea like a famous Bollywood actress then you will not only lose weight but out of nowhere, your life will turn as glamorous, happy, and successful as her life is supposed to be. 

Idealized media models only communicate that affluence and beauty should be central life goals for everybody but they also define the parameters of what it means to be beautiful, successful, and happy. For instance, often advertisements define beauty in rigid terms like having fair and spotless skin and after the model in the ad becomes fairer, all aspects of her life improve, she gets a good job, gets married, becomes popular, etc. 

An Indian study (Hindustan times, 2019) found that a whopping 90% of women believe that films and television shows do tend to make fun of people who do not conform to the standard norms of beauty. 89% of women reported feeling uncomfortable about themselves when they read comments on social media about other people’s appearances.

Culture and society also propagate the thin idealization repeatedly to people from a very young age. It’s often seen that the Barbie dolls are of an unnatural and unrealistic size that her waist is 39% smaller than that of anorexic patients (Dittmar. H, 2007) whereas boys are targeted with toy action figures, who are extremely muscular.

A lot of countries have started idealizing the thin because of the west. India had earlier regarded heavy women as beautiful and healthy but western influence has been successful in propagating the thin idealization. Think about how unrealistically thin the world-famous fashion models are! 

Cognitive restructuring is one of the most effective ways to solve body image concerns by psychologists. This method requires the participants to counter their attitudes by speaking against the thin ideal of beauty.  This causes dissonance to the participant as they are acting opposite to their beliefs by speaking against their internalized thin ideal of beauty. For instance, a person who thinks they are on the heavier side, look into the mirror and say ‘ I love the way my body looks.’

Another strategy is to write a letter to a girl who is struggling with her body image to persuade the girl not to pursue the thin ideal.  So the arguments you give to the struggling girl will oppose your aspiration for the thin-ideal too and help you to move towards body positivity. 

The next exercise is the ‘Appearance facts or fiction exercise’ where participants review whether 6 statements were generally regarded as fact or fiction. Five of the statements reflected dominant beauty myths, (e.g., ‘Most models and actresses have a healthy weight’, ‘Attractive people are happier than less attractive people’), and one focused on the media (‘Looking at photos of models in fashion magazines can lead to feeling bad about oneself.). They are then given rebuttals challenging each beauty myth and asked to rework their original answers. For instance, the myth about attractive people being happier than less attractive people will be challenged by presenting statistics showing that attractive people also have their share of hardships and being pretty doesn't mean she will have a successful career... 

Another activity is to role-play to resist pressure to pursue the thin ideal. The facilitator acts like a severe dieter and participants make attempts to reduce their excessive dieting behaviour. For instance, the participants would give arguments like you must respect your body and nourish it or its important to have a healthy relationship with food. 

Often women fall prey to self-objectification where they internalise the notion of society, that her body is a sexual object and that her appearance is more important than her internal traits. For example, a boss praises his female employee more for her looks than the work she does. This makes a woman internalise the idea that she is more valued for her beauty than her functionality. Thus, making women aware of their body functionality is one of the most important approaches to positive body image. Research shows that making women realise the functions of their body like running, playing an instrument, body language makes them love their body and less focus on their appearance. The end goal is to stop associating women with beauty.

Apart from individually targeted interventions, a Macro-level Intervention strategy is required which involves work at multiple levels like policymaking, education, design, architecture and media surveillance. The School curriculum should include issues of body image, notions of beauty, effects of body image on mental health etc. They should be taught under the topic of Psychology and Sex Education. 

Further, there should be serious surveillance on the functioning of marriage portals. Women are described as a commodity in matrimonial columns of newspapers and websites, for example, ‘...looking for a fair, slim, tall, beautiful, homely girl…’

In sum, this goal will fall under the task of Gender Sensitising our policy framework. We need to analyse and make policies through a gendered lens because there can’t be any neutral lens and if there is one then that is from a male’s perspective.

It has taken a lot of years for me to come to terms with my body and I’m still under process as the internalization is very deep. Nobody should be made to feel ugly about their body. We are all beautiful in our way no matter what!

To quote Irvin D. Yalom“Members of a cohesive group feel warmth and comfort in the group and a sense of belongingness; they value the group and feel in turn that they are valued, accepted, and supported by other members.”

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead a group of roughly five to 15 members. It can be explained as a form of psychotherapy.  The psychologists/therapists work together to help the members work on their internal mental and emotional issues. This helps them move towards positive healthy change.

Why is Group Therapy important?

Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. You will be surprised by how rewarding the group therapy can be.

The word ‘group’ in itself means ‘together’. Groups can act as a support network. Members get better together with the help of one another realising that they are not alone. It helps one put their own problems in perspective and through this you see how other people tackle problems and make positive changes. This helps you to discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns and increases growth and self-awareness.

Where did Group Therapy originate from?

Dr Joseph Hersey known as the Father of Group Therapy organised in his clinic a tuberculosis class in 1905 where he worked with 8 patients. 

During that time group Therapy used during WW2 to treat soldiers in emotional distress. Later, it was observed that people requested to be treated in groups as it helped them deal with the fear of “being in this alone”.

Listening is one of the most important and valuable skills needed to help each other cope and heal from their problems. 

Achieving positive change and growth through group therapy is a two-way stream. While sharing personal stories, it helps others to reflect on their concerns in life and in exchange people show empathy. This gives the empathizer a positive insight about their capabilities of being a kind human, which indeed boosts their self-confidence and self-worth.

Therapeutic Factors in Group Therapy

In his book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Irvin D. Yalom outlines few principles of group therapy, which he refers to as the primary therapeutic factors. These factors helped group Therapy gain momentum in society. These factors also help us to identify why group Therapy is important.

The other therapeutic factors are the existential factor, universality, development of socializing techniques, imitative behavior, interpersonal learning. 

Group Therapy is commonly integrated into a complete treatment plan when either the therapist or the client feels that a few sessions of group therapy might prove to be beneficial for the client.

Objectives of Group Therapy :

Group Therapy for Kids

As much as group therapy is beneficial to adults, it is also beneficial to children based on their needs.

Individual therapy is a wonderful resource for kids who need help learning to manage symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders, to process emotions, to work through a variety of stressors. However, some kids also benefit from group therapy. While individual therapy helps kids explore their emotions, responses to stress, and steps they can take to improve their emotional wellbeing, it doesn’t address the specific difficulties kids face in the classroom, on the playing field, or in small groups. Group therapy may address these specific difficulties 

It enables therapists to see how kids relate to one another when they are part of a group. Working among other kids gives the therapist an opportunity to resolve concerns related to social anxiety, poor social skills, or inattentiveness in other kids and help them learn how to tackle the obstacles that occur. 

When a child struggles with social interaction skills, group therapy aims to improve the child’s ability to communicate and connect with others. It helps them to express their wants and needs, and voice out their opinions. The therapist makes the group comfortable for every kid to talk through discomfort and at any emotional state of mind.

Children are also encouraged to work on issues that arise in the group therapy in their individual therapy. Those issues addressed and resolved in individual therapy can help them to be more understanding and socially comfortable in the group. Group Therapy is also open to those who require support and training. A specific concern is not necessarily needed for someone to be a part of a group. 

Group therapy uses many approaches of psychotherapy like Psychoanalytic psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Dialectic Group Therapy (DBT)and interpersonal group psychotherapy etc. sometimes paired with medication.

Types of Group Therapies

There are diverse types of Group therapies but they all are a part of an extension of these two types of group therapy.

It focuses on developing coping strategies and skills. The group is led by a qualified therapist who sets up certain goals and plans for the members to achieve through the given instructions. There is less importance given to members bonding as the therapist directs the session.

It is important that the members form a bond through sharing their stories and problems in a process-oriented group. It is led by a facilitator, enabling conversation in the group and making sure that the members develop communication skills and social skills. Being a part of these groups helps them feel a sense of belonging and increased self-confidence.

According to an article published by GoodTherapy, “People who wish to gain skills like parenting, caregiving, or stress management benefit from psychoeducational group therapy. Individuals seeking personal growth and development to deal with a major life transition, such as divorce, retirement, or ageing benefit from process-oriented group therapy.” 

Activities in Group Therapy:

  1. To promote communication, trust, and personal growth, activities that are dialogue-driven such as reading, story-telling and sharing stories are included in group therapy.
  2. Physically engaging activities, team-focused exercises like team projects, small events etc., help members in getting to know each other informally.
  3. Other activities like painting, acting, and playing music can be used to promote creative expression. These can also help group members develop confidence in themselves and people outside of therapy.

How does Group Therapy work?

In group therapy, the interactions and conversations become the focus of the group. It facilitates the participants to learn and perceive things from this focus, to encourage positive change and growth in themselves. 

So, it may not always be a pre-planned and structured session by the therapists. The conversation during the session between the clients can be the client’s experiences in daily life that come up in therapeutic settings. 

It generates responses and coping strategies that may be used in real life.

Although different approaches to group therapy have different goals and expected outcomes, the group as an entity is central to all of them, which then becomes active in the treatment process.

Group therapy facilitates giving and receiving support as members listen to each other and share their stories while offering support, guidance, encouragement and suggestions. It also helps them find their voice to share their opinions and say what they feel without having the fear of being judged, misunderstood or ignored, making them more self-confident.

Group therapy helps members to relate to others and themselves in healthier ways as the constant positive and negative feedback from the group makes it easier for them to self-introspect their behaviour. The reason why group therapy makes oneself feel comfortable and accepted is that participants feel a sense of ‘sailing in the same boat.' They can relate to each other better, enabling them to show their vulnerabilities without hesitating.

In addition to it helping members to build social skills and trust, it also helps them become braver and makes them take certain leaps in life that they might be dreading to. When they know they can report back to someone, a group of trusted individuals, who care about them and will listen to their experiences, they feel braver. This makes them take those opportunities and risks that they were previously unwilling to take due to lack of confidence because they know, if they fall, there is someone to catch them and get them up to their feet. Their group becomes their safety net. 

Statistics for Group Therapy

According to an Economics Article, 

“A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that 7.5 per cent of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental health concerns. Mental illnesses constitute one-sixth of any health-related disorders and India estimated for nearly 15% of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden. WHO also predicts that by 2020, roughly 20% of India will suffer from mental health concerns. And to cater to this demographic, less than 4,000 mental health professionals are available.”

In a study done by The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), which took place across eight cities in India over 5 five months and involved 3,556 respondents, it showed that 87% of the respondents showed some awareness of the mental illness, which is a significant increase in the awareness percentage of mental health in India. People have started to see mental health being equally as important as physical health.

Based on the above facts, it is seen that if people do start being acceptable and open about mental health concerns, there will still be a long way until everyone has access to therapy. 

Here Group Therapy plays a very important role, as it can contain more than one client per therapist, making it easily accessible to the Indian population. However, due to the stigma attached to Mental Health disorders, it makes it difficult for a few people to open up to even a friend or a parent let alone an entire group of strangers. But, eradicating this stigma will help people to understand the importance of group therapy making it easier for them to choose it.

Why is group therapy effective in India?

Keeping aside the technical benefit of Group Therapy in India, the culture here makes conversations and communication between clients more fluid and easier. Indians believe in collectivist community culture, which has made them more open, free and empathetic towards fellow neighbours. This makes taking steps to connect the patients by forming a peer network easier so that they could listen and support each other. 

Where is group therapy not so effective?

All of these factors may account for reasons that group therapy might not be for everyone.

Group therapy tries to achieve these four common therapeutic factors: 

  1. Social interaction, 
  2. The orientation of group participants to reality, 
  3. The life review process, and 
  4. Remotivation.

By participating in group therapy clients get an insight into how they are seen and perceived by other members of the society, making it easier to come up with beneficial ideas. These enhance the decision-making process and ability to solve problems on their own. 

Members of the group therapy have an opportunity to get immediate feedback, letting the person share their story know that even if they have been through this, everything will be better eventually which is very reassuring. 

Other than verbal feedback, non-verbal feedback systems like understanding nods motivates and encourages members to practise better communication skills, making them feel accepted.

According to Forsyth, 

through group therapies, members gain encouragement through observation of the milestones achieved by members which show the success of past inadequacies which made them seek therapeutic services.

As Irvin D. Yalom said, 

“People need people - for initial and continued survival, for socialization, for the pursuit of satisfaction. No one - not the dying, not the outcast, not the mighty - transcends the need for human contact.”

IT IS IN SHELTER OF EACH OTHER THAT PEOPLE LIVE.

Knock knock. 

Who is there?

Goliath. 

Goliath who?

Go lie-th down. You look-eth tired. 

Humour is universal. We’ve all grown up around humour in one form or another. Maybe you read Archie, or watched Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Maybe dark jokes speak to you more, or maybe you like sketches or find humour in everyday observations. What one person finds funny may not necessarily be humorous to another. 

Through the 20th century, psychologists showed an ongoing interest in the study of humour and their curiosity led them to discover 4 different kinds of humour:

 

Affiliative humour

People who use self-enhancing humor seem to always find the humorous side of life. 

Not only is it having the ability to find the funny in everyday, but it is mainly a way of coping with any difficulty, and not letting negative emotions get in the way. 

“You’re still a rockstar!'' I whisper to myself as I take my multivitamin and get in bed at 9:00.”

Don’t trust atoms. They make up everything.

Aggressive humour-

Yes it is exactly as it sounds. It is mostly hurtful, ridiculing humour that includes teasing, sarcasm and putting others downs. Aggressive humour causes discomfort and conflicts among people. It’s often used by bullies. Aggressive humour is only funny when everybody involved has agreed to be a part of it. When you’re hanging out with your friends and pulling their leg, this is the form of humour you’re using. 

“I’m sorry I hurt your feelings when I called you stupid. I thought you already knew!”

Self-defeating humour

Clowns are the best example for self-defeating humour. Well, so are some of us. When we amuse others at our expense, we’re using this form of humour. Those who use self-defeating humour make themselves the target of their own jokes and laugh with those who put them down. This often affects low self-esteem and self-worth.

“The risk I took was calculated, but man I am bad at math!”

The use of humour is very contextual. The differences we notice in the different kinds of humour also depends on people, the kind of humour a person engages in depends upon various factors such as personality and gender.

How your Personality Affects your Sense of Humour

The relationship between personality traits and the use of  humour has been one of the widely researched topics. According to those researches, there is a unique relation between the 4 types of humour and the Big Five-Factor Model.

What is the Big Five-Factor Model?

The "big five" are broad categories of personality traits. It’s a set of 5 broad traits that help understand one’s personality. 

An average amount of people who are open to experiences, have a positive view towards life, they are outgoing and compassionate towards others. They usually engage in affiliative and self-enhancing humour. They have a good sense of self-esteem and have an internal locus of control (the extent to which people feel that they have control over the events that influence their lives) Their humour is light-hearted and they aim to bring happiness to people. 

However, aggressive and self-defeating humour is associated with negative emotions about self. It is associated with rigidity, low self-esteem and manipulative behaviour. People who are rigid have less compassionate views of others and experience negative emotions like anger, anxiety or sadness engage more in aggressive and self-defeating humour. They often use humour as a defence mechanism to cope with their issues. The locus of control is usually external and they usually have low self-worth and self-esteem.

Gender Differences

Earlier, humour was not considered to be something that women could pull off. It was dominated by males. Studies reveal that currently, women use humour often. However, men still lead in using humour. They engage more in aggressive and self-defeating humour than females do and this is because of various factors like social skills, level of compassion for others, biological aspects etc. 

Women often avoid using humour in confusing situations. But it’s changing now. We can see a huge number of women who are stand up comedians, witty and satirical bloggers or authors and stage performers. This is the beginning of a shift from the dominance of males in the field to the equal contribution of women in the field.

Around the world!

Humour is a universal human activity. Most people experience humour often over a typical day and in all sorts of social contexts. At the same time, cultural differences influence the appropriateness of humour in specific situations and how it is communicated. For example, Indians being raised in a collectivistic culture, tend to engage more in self-enhancing and affiliative humour than the Western crowd.

In America and Britain, people use self-deprecating humour styles. Research shows that the West uses more maladaptive (unsuitable for the situation) humour styles while the East uses adaptive humour. 

Apart from the above-mentioned factors, there are several others that contribute to a person being humorous. 

Among that is experienced trauma, abuse, disasters and psychological abnormality. And it requires great importance. A lot of people who go through a serious trauma in their past use humour as a defence mechanism. Remember Chandler Bing from FRIENDS? They use humour to demean others or themselves which is also known as aggressive or self-defeating humour. In certain situations, they also tend to use self-enhancing humour to inflate their self-worth. 

However people who’ve had a good and secure childhood often engage in affiliative and self-enhancing humour. 

A lot of humour styles also depend on the response that is received.

“If someone is getting fame, attention and positive response on using a certain kind of humour, they will use it more often.”

A lot of psychologists, therefore, include humour studies in therapy. Use of humour is also a habitual pattern, a cognitive ability, involuntary response or an emotion-driven trait. 

All said and done, in my personal view, positive humour is necessary and leads to a harmonious and healthy society. It has its pros and cons like all the other things in the world but the right incorporation of humour in our lives helps in achieving psychological and physical well-being!
 “Gentlemen, why do you not laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Three words for you: Treat Yo Self” - Parks and Recreation

Self-care is all that you do to take care of yourself. It can be something as simple as ensuring you eat and sleep on time to something as elaborate as a spa day. What makes up well-being and self-care for a person, is therefore very unique to them. 

Anything that you like to do and brings you happiness and comfort is self-care, and this is not the same for everybody. So your self-care regime can be drastically different from your friends’, and that is OK.

 

Why is self-care important?

The nature of self-care is quite dynamic, with different elements coming to play with different aspects of your life. You may not be able to give your best at work on the days you have skipped breakfast because you’d be feeling hungry. Continuing to work without boundaries and without caring for yourself may lead to burnout. Burn out can feel like getting distracted from work, forgetting things, putting in a lot of effort but not much getting done and feeling exhausted. If your go to coping for these situations is continuing the work, stop. Take a break, go do something nice for yourself, take a nap, take a walk, paint. You wouldn’t keep trying to use your phone at 1% charge, right? 

Practising self-care promotes and improves your capacity to manage stressful situations and your overall well-being.

Demystifying Self-Care

When I say self-care, I know you think sitting in a tub with bath bombs and scented candles, or face masks and fluffy bathrobes. But that’s not necessarily what it is. Self-care can also be as simple as enjoying a hot bowl of sambar rice or getting a good night’s rest or taking that nice afternoon nap after a stroll in the nearby park. Self-care is not always expensive and elaborate. Sometimes it’s just taking a mental health day off. Let’s not get carried away with all the movies and TV shows.

Elements of self-care

Your well being can broadly be categorised into four different ones:

This doesn’t mean that they are separate from each other, but they are so dynamic & interrelated that in a few cases, it is difficult to define where one ends & begins. Let’s talk about how to meet each of these self-care needs. 

Physical well being is when you take the utmost care of your body. Be it exercising daily or sticking to a pre-decided routine of meal plans or even something as little as a manicure to keep your nails healthy. They not only help you be physically fit but also affect how you feel through the day. Have you noticed that on days you work out, the day somehow feels more productive? That. Or when you wear your favourite shirt, you feel better? Also, that. Listen to the needs of your body. Your body is how you do things. It only makes sense to care for it.

Mental well-being involves keeping in check the overall mental functioning of yourself - being able to maintain focus & attention on tasks. It involves being able to identify intrusive thoughts and allowing them to pass instead of pushing them away. Pay attention to your thoughts and journal them, take a break when you feel tired, and remind yourself you’re doing enough. 

Emotional well being is recognising emotions and not blocking them. If you find yourself experiencing stress, anxiety, shame, guilt, etc. frequently, reach out for support. Practice grounding and journaling emotions, sit with your feelings and do at least one thing a day that makes you feel good. Practicing mindfulness, painting, gardening, playing a sport, eating a nice snack, meeting your friends can all be forms of caring for your emotional wellbeing.

Spiritual healthcare revolves around your relationship with a higher being. This needn’t be mixed with religious sentiments. However, this can be seen in different forms with different people. It is a relationship of complete self-reflection & introspection or a relationship with nature or passion like art forms of dancing or painting.

All four contribute to overall health, and by practising self-care, you can not only improve your well being but also maintain a healthy life.

Activity Time

Let’s try doing this quick activity to check what your self-care routine can be and if you’re satisfied with it. Grab a pencil and a paper or whatever it is that the cool kids are writing on. Done? Okay! 

Step 1: Make two columns

Step 2: In column A, write everything that makes you happy or feel better

Step 3: In column B, put down everything that you do in a day. 

Easy!

Now, check how many things from column A are in column B. Is it enough? Are there any? Which things from column A would you like to make time for in column B?

If you’ve got a great self-care routine going, way to go! We’re proud of you. If you are struggling and need support, reach out.

“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey.”

Remember when Anton Ego dug into his bowl of ratatouille? He is immediately transported back to how his mother’s cooking made him feel after a terrible day. That’s what comfort food can feel like. From digging into ice cream tubs and slurping Maggi to securing some good old wine bottles during the blues, the feeling of comfort remains pacifying. Be it a stressful day at work, break-up with your partner or fight with a best friend or even a bad day at school, eating comfort food at the end of the day or right in the middle, it gives you the power to keep going against the tide. 

What is comfort food?

The term comfort food, first appeared in 1997 in ‘The Washington Post’, refers to food items whose consumption gives people a sense of consolation and feeling of wellbeing. Research found comfort food has high calorific value and tends to be associated with childhood memories and happy times of life. There is a reason people say “there is no better feeling than a warm pizza box on your lap”

The Emotional Connect

Food can bring back strong feelings and memories from the past. The belief that comfort food can be linked to a specific person, place or time, with which the food has a positive association helps to explain why most people indulge in comfort food when experiencing negative emotions. This is also the most common representation of comfort food in the media, be it delving into an ice-cream tub after a break up or snacking on chips after a bad day. We attach our senses like taste, smell, touch to feelings. Some foods can take us back to memories with our friends, families or times we’ve felt warm and fuzzy. When you feel really uncomfortable and anxious, relishing a food you associate with comfort can be grounding. This is probably why chai hits different in the Dublin winters or Filter coffee brings back memories of Bangalore rains.

Rajma Chawal or McChicken?

While what can be comforting to one may not be to others. For some their grandmother’s Rajma Chawal recipe can be comforting, while it is the McChicken for me. And every time I savour it, I remember going to McDonald's with my family for happy meals. These visits in due time made and didn’t realise that in the process the McChicken became my comfort food. While it has been argued that eating healthy induces feelings of wellbeing. It is the emotional association that the narrow range of comfort food holds with people or memories which makes it the knight in shining armour.

Your Knight in Shining Armour

Quotes from favourite Netflix series, one-sided relationships with celebrities or even photographs and letters- each fulfilling a belonging need for a person feeling the lonely hues.  These non-human entities called social surrogates become a go-to for under-weather hues. Comfort food is thus, due to its amazing consoling capacity, considered a form of social surrogate: something to keep us feeling warm and comfortable when the world feels uncertain.

The pandemic blues

After the lockdown in several parts of the world, talks of a “new normal” soaring with uncertainties, changing almost all the daily routines including everyday activities like social interactions with friends at workplace or at gym, ordering and consuming comfort food had increased. There was also an increase in the variety of supplies stacked in grocery stores, as most restaurants and cafes remain closed for long and comfort-food is prepared at home instead.
In a time when the world felt uncomfortable with the new changes, food was a source of comfort for most.
I believe that while comfort food is helping people sail through their emotional disturbances, uncertain times may provide opportunities to add more items to their list of comfort food - I added cinnamon rolls and Pazham Pori to mine. What are you planning to add?

At its core, therapy was created to give people a safe space to express and discuss matters which were close to their heart. The reason each person seeks therapy is different. Some may seek it to manage the emotional turmoil caused by the loss of a relationship or a loved one, while others may wish to cope with the stress caused by physical or mental ailments.

Therapy allows your psychologist, who is trained to recognise behavioural patterns and cognition, to help you get in touch with your thoughts and emotions and bring about changes in your life which could make it more meaningful.

This definition by the American Psychology Association sheds light on the very essence of psychotherapy, or talk therapy:

“Psychotherapy is the informed and intentional application of clinical methods and interpersonal stances derived from established psychological principles for the purpose of assisting people to modify their behaviours, cognitions, emotions, and/or other personal characteristics in directions that the participants deem desirable.”

It is important to understand therapy as a collaborative process where the therapist acts as a reflecting surface in your journey towards self-improvement and fulfilment.


Benefits of Therapy


What Therapy Is NOT

To understand what therapy is, we must also rule out what it is not — it is not a quick-fix to all your problems. Your therapist is an individual who doesn’t have all the answers. Through continued therapy, however, your therapist can help you develop useful insight which can help you manage your concerns more effectively.

And while on the subject, here are a few other myths about therapy that simply aren’t true:

How Therapy Works

Psychotherapy involves a range of treatments which help individuals get in touch with their emotions and cope with mental health problems, emotional turmoil, as well as psychiatric disorders. 

In therapy, you can find a safe and non-judgemental space to express your deepest thoughts, concerns and desires. Therapy gives you a  blank canvas (metaphorically speaking) where you can observe the nuances of your mind. With their years of training, a qualified therapist can help bring to your notice negative thoughts and self-talk patterns and replace them with positive alternatives, discover and work through your blind spots and prejudices, and can help you uncover interesting patterns about yourself which you might not have otherwise.

Through everyone’s experience with therapy is unique, it is based on the same values of unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and confidentiality. What it does do is engage the client in a journey of awareness, understanding, and acceptance, aimed towards a more fulfilling life.

Types of Therapy

The type of therapy you opt for would be based primarily on the nature of your problem as well as your comfort zone. 

Therapy Is NOT Enough IF

Therapy For ALL

What does a high-profile executive running a large multinational, a homemaker running a family of four, and a student in college have in common?

They can all benefit from therapy.

That’s right. Therapy is not first-aid for your mental and emotional problems but also a sounding board to gain insight into your life and yourself. Through therapy anyone – and we mean absolutely anyone – can work towards building themselves a better and more fulfilling life.

Working professionals seeking to enhance their work-satisfaction, or aiming to striking that golden work-life balance; or homemakers looking to invest in acts of self-care; or students who need help in deciding on a career path; or a young adult facing familial pressure to get married or start a family, can all find someone to talk to and to help them overcome the challenges they may be facing by seeking therapy.

You Don’t Have To Seek Therapy Only When You Are Distressed

Therapy is the perfect place to induce positive growth. So, even if you are happy and content with your life, a regular check-in with your therapist could help you solidify and enhance your strengths and further improve the quality of your life.

If you are intrigued by the prospect of therapy, or find yourself in need of a place to Heart It Out, feel free to reach out to us to book a session.

We look forward to taking care of you!

Apprehensions about your first therapy session can sometimes be overwhelming. Being prepared with what to expect will make it easier to step into the session and get help.

What will happen in my first therapy session?

Seeking therapy may sometimes be challenging and you may have a bunch of questions racing in your mind. One such question that most people have is: What will happen in my first session or what to expect from my first therapy session?

In your first session, your therapist will ask about you and your life and is usually an ice-breaking session where you and your therapist will get to know each other before proceeding. Your therapist may take this time to get to know you and discuss boundaries and goals. Therapy involves building a rapport between you and your therapist (often referred to as “therapeutic relationship”). The therapeutic relationship is based on trust and respect, so you should take this time to reflect on how you feel in your therapist’s presence and get comfortable. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have regarding therapy. Here are a couple of questions that your therapist may ask you:

You are allowed to feel however you want to about things/people in your life. Whatever you want to talk about, your therapist is there to lend a helping hand and actively help you process your thoughts and emotions. Therapy is a team effort and you play a big role in achieving your goals.

Please remember, that therapy isn’t a quick fix but a journey. Much like strengthening your body through exercise, strengthening your mind through therapy requires commitment and persistence. Your therapist’s top priority is to support you, be it in exploring concerns, examining options or helping you find coping strategies that work best for you.

And Now, A Word From Our Therapists!

We are nice and chill human beings (read as: regular people), without prejudice or judgements, and with the training and experience to help you get through and cope with some of life’s struggles and increase your well-being.

Come in with an open mind, we look forward to taking care of you! 🙂

Seeking therapy is not just for times when one is feeling low, or when you feel there is something bothering you psychologically. Going for therapy can offer you a fresh perspective on difficult decisions, or even help you understand yourself better. 

The traditional way of therapy involves interactions with a professional, whom we would meet personally. This includes booking sessions and traveling to a physically accessible location. These sessions would happen in a room, and meetings are fixed according to schedules. This is what is known as offline therapy.

Online therapy, on the other hand, can happen from wherever you are- the couch or the park. As the name suggests, this therapy happens on a virtual platform, via messages, calls, or video meetings. All one needs to ensure for such a session, is to have good network connectivity.

Read on to know some helpful guidelines that could help you choose between online and offline therapy.

Therapy is affordable for all:

We often hear that therapy can be expensive. But if you are a student or unemployed, therapists usually offer discounts for sessions. This is possible for both online and offline therapy. More so, there are several online counseling websites that even offer a certain number of therapy sessions at a fixed amount. If you feel satisfied with the sessions and want to continue, you can always renew your subscription.

Talk to a therapist, at your convenience:

Being stuck with deadlines can get stressful. Especially if you have your own personal problems going on. Therapy has made it possible for each and every one of us to heal from whatever may be bothering us. You can talk to a therapist online, no matter the time or place. This can be helpful for students overwhelmed with exams too. And if you feel you need to spend more time at a session, you can go for offline therapy to let your thoughts flow out.

Therapy exercises and your comfort:

Therapy for any mental illness usually involves exercises and assignments that help in the healing process. Online therapy includes phone calls, video meets, and messages. This makes it easier to share progress and discuss them with your therapist. Most of you might be fine with this. But for some who prefer personal interaction, can always opt for offline therapy. Seeking therapy and going through its process is all a matter of where and how you feel more comfortable.

Privacy and confidentiality:

Different people have different thoughts to share with a therapist. And the reassurance of confidentiality is what makes therapy more effective. When going for offline therapy, your therapist lets you know that it is a safe space.  Anything you share would stay within the walls of the room. Even online therapy follows ethical guidelines and regulations regarding client and counselor confidentiality. Being able to entrust somebody with your thoughts is important for mental health wellbeing.

Therapy, for you and your loved ones:

Therapy is for everybody. Many wish to go for family therapy and work on the differences in family dynamics. Couples opt for couple therapy to learn about new ways of strengthening their relationship. This is possible via both online and offline therapy. When everyone is in the same place, going for offline therapy seems to be the best option. But if there are differences in schedules, online therapy has made it possible for you and your loved ones to have your session from where you are. You can even meet your therapist online when traveling. All this is possible with just the click of a button. 

Accessibility for people with limitations:

Going for therapy is important. We can go for offline therapy without much hesitation. Even online therapy is accessible when it comes down to busy schedules. However, online therapy is definitely a more convenient option when it comes to physical limitations. Even people with social anxiety would prefer to communicate from behind their digital screens for the introductory few sessions. This way, you or your loved one can still have access to better mental health.

Therapy in itself is a sensitive topic for few. Being able to understand the variance in therapy platforms can help one take the next step towards better mental health. Choosing between online and offline therapy depends completely on the individual. And it is okay to try out different methods, and therapists till you find what suits your requirements. 

We at Heart It Out offer our services both offline and online, and your mental health is our priority.

Start your journey towards mental health wellness with just a click now.

Take care!

Who isn’t familiar with nervous jitters before a presentation or the nerve-wrecking anticipation before exam results? But what happens when this anxiety goes beyond being a reaction to a default setting? Individuals who suffer from anxiety often report a sense of restlessness that accompanies them in everything they do. Day-to-day concerns such as “what do I wear” or “I need to book a ride” can course a sea of nervous thoughts through one’s head, causing a lot of stress. If you, like the 300 million others, relate with that little narrative, here are some ways you can cope and, with time, overcome anxiety.

Seeing the people we love suffer from anxiety can make us feel powerless. We want to reassure them that things are alright, that there is nothing to worry about – but that isn’t enough, is it? Helping someone suffering from a Mental Illness can be intimidating and tiring at times, Here are a few ways you can be there for your loved ones through their Mental Health journey.

Lifestyle changes

The first step towards managing one’s anxiety is acknowledging its presence in your life. Understanding the signs of anxiety plays a key role in this. Do you get sweaty palms when you get anxious or start pacing around? Do you find it harder to sleep or develop headaches? Understanding what reaction you display towards anxiety can help you know when to stop and ask for help.

Once you have understood the signs, you need to pin down the triggers. Is there something that makes you anxious? Stress at work? An upcoming social event? Consuming alcohol or caffeine? Once you can pinpoint what is causing it, you can make attempts towards cutting it down.

A lot of people also find it helpful when they engage in mindfulness. This can range from practicing meditation and yoga, engaging in aromatherapy, or picking up relaxing hobbies such as painting, writing, or gardening.

Reach out to family and friends or volunteer in social groups. Not only will this help you find the right emotional support, but it would also help you develop a more grounded sense of self.

Counseling

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a field of psychotherapy based on understanding human thought and behaviour patterns and altering them in order to promote better mental health. Psychotherapists address the issues underlying the feeling of anxiety and work towards changing the way individuals perceive them.

Medications

In therapy, if your psychiatrist deems it fit, you could be prescribed anxiety medication that will help reduce the intensity or occurrence of your symptoms. Some of the medications that are prescribed to individuals suffering from anxiety include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, tricyclics, beta-blockers, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and buspirone. However, since psychotherapy aims at building self-reliance, it is recommended that you try altering your lifestyle and engaging in psychotherapy before opting to medicate.

Help at Heart It Out

If you are looking for reliable practitioners to help you cope with your social anxiety, you can get in touch with our Psychotherapists at Heart It Out here for the best available treatments for social anxiety. You can message us on Whatsapp, call us or book a session through our website.

Coping with social anxiety is a challenging task, no doubt, but with the right support, it can be overcome.

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