Read the full article from Esperanza here: Maintaining Self-Care through Depression
Depression can make it hard to complete the most basic of tasks, but struggling with self-care doesn't make you weak or lazy. This article from Esperanza will help you learn to set small goals, practice basic self-care, and combat inactivity.
Read the full article from Esperanza here: Maintaining Self-Care through Depression
We start a family full of optimism and expectations, but the reality of parenthood can sometimes throw us for a loop. You may find yourself in the thick of things with limited time and limited resources. Becoming a parent can feel overwhelming, and at the very least, requires a period of change and adjustment, which can really rock the boat and leave you scrambling.
In these moments mental health and self-care may seem like luxuries, but in fact they are critical. Making time to care for your mental and emotional well-being is an investment. It will allow you to keep your cool, help you focus your energy on the things that are really important to you, and ultimately make you a better parent.
One of the most basic steps you can take to set yourself up for success is to start to prioritize. In an ideal world we would have time to cross everything off our to-do lists, but when you’re scrambling to just find a few minutes here and there, it’s nearly impossible. As you begin your day, ask yourself what really needs to get done? What is really important? What can wait? Try not to overcommit yourself, focus on the things you can get done, and let the rest go for now.
It’s also important that your priorities include scheduling a few minutes for self-care – something that helps you refuel. It’s a common misconception that self-care is only about taking a bubble bath or pampering yourself. It’s really much simpler than that. Make time, even if you have only a few bminutes, to do something that improves your day or brings you joy. It can be as simple as taking a shower or making a cup of coffee. Stretch or do some deep breathing exercises. It may seem like a poor use of your time (especially when it feels like there are so many pressing things to do), but remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Airlines remind you to put your own mask on before helping others. If you don’t make time to refuel, you won’t be able to function or parent effectively.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be afraid to ask for support or help if you need it. Ask a family member to lend a hand. Call a friend to chat. Needing support doesn’t make you a failure – it makes you human. Lean on your support system. Limit connections that drain you rather than build you up – including social media, which can lead you to compare and despair. Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media is full of parents who seemingly have it all effortlessly and perfectly together. Keep in mind what people tend to share are highlights, and not really representative of the whole. Instead of wasting time focusing on what you’re missing, focus on what you do have. When you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, try taking a deep breath and list five things you’re grateful for. Practicing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can help you refocus and stay positive.
We all want the best for our children. Parenthood can feel absolutely overwhelming, and the truth is that no one is perfect. Ultimately it comes down to doing your best, learning what to let go of, and what to hold on to. Prioritizing, making time for self-care and your mental health, seeking support when you need it, and choosing gratitude, all will help you perform at your best, and be the best parent you can be.
Even with the best of intentions, writes Robin L. Flanigan, we have a tendency to "get in our own way." Self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination, denial, or falling back into old thought patterns, keep us from moving forward and accomplishing our goals.
This article from BP Hope magazine, titled The Enemy Within: Tools to Stop Self-Sabotage, offers tools and advice for defeating your inner saboteur, which include self-acceptance, seeking support, setting realistic goals, and creating schedules (for sleep, medication, therapy, and more) that will set you up for success.
Read the full article at BP Hope: The Enemy Within
Feelings of guilt and shame, while fundamentally human, can often keep us trapped in a cycle of self-criticism and emotional distress.
In her article for Hope to Cope, Robin L. Flanigan writes, "Shame and guilt are two sides of the same coin, different things that often get experienced together and tend to feed our negative self-judgments."
Learning to identify our emotions allows us to begin to move forward, and break out the cycle of self-judgement and self-criticism. This article highlights the differences between guilt and shame, and offers strategies for moving past self-judgment and toward self-compassion. Read the full article by following the link below:
Shame & Guilt: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Depression & the Power of Pets
Struggling with a mood disorder? Research shows us that owning a pet can boost your self-esteem, improve your fitness and physical health, encourage you to be more outgoing, and offer social companionship, which will make you feel less isolated or lonely.* In short, life with a pet may leave you happier and healthier.
This article from Hope to Cope highlights some of the practical perks of pet ownership - for example, the responsibility of caring for a pet's needs may get you out of bed in the morning - as well as many of the less tangible benefits. Read more information by following the link below.
The Power of Pets
Source: Psychology Today
Stress, frustration and conflict can be major triggers for depression and anxiety, and leave us feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and unsure of how to move forward.
This article from Esperanza magazine offers several tools and suggestions to help you handle conflict, solve problems, and manage your mood disorder. Get the details and read the full article by following the link below.
We will find inevitably be faced with unexpected challenges, but we can do our best to be prepared by knowing our triggers, developing coping strategies, and having a system in place to tackle problems and symptoms when they arise.
The following suggestions will help you develop your arsenal of coping tools and strategies, and create a plan of action to help you find balance and get back on track.
Creating Your Action Plan
Be Prepared: It’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, but identifying and knowing your triggers can help you stay one step ahead of your symptoms. If you’re faced with an interaction or situation you anticipate may be challenging or triggering, take a few moments ahead of time to prepare yourself. Visualize the interaction, and practice your responses. Plan to take a few moments after the interaction to process and decompress.
Hit Pause: Implement the “24 hour rule.” After experiencing a major emotional event or strong trigger, ask yourself whether this is something that requires an immediate response. Might you take a day to process the event and form your response? If you have time – use it.
Taken by surprise? Before reacting, hit the pause button. If possible, excuse yourself for a minute to step outside or visit the restroom. Take a few moments to practice some deep breathing, and check in with yourself. What are you feeling? What do you need in this moment? What is the best way to approach or handle this situation without compromising your mental health?
Refresh: Neglecting to address your basic needs and practice self-care leaves you operating at less than your best, and not only makes you more susceptible to mood swings and your symptoms, but makes it far more difficult to get back on track. Self-care starts with the basics, so set yourself up for success. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Take time to be active and move your body. Fuel your body with a diet that is balanced and nutritious.
Refocus & Reflect: Take a few moments to reframe, and practice your attitude of gratitude. What are you grateful for? Dedicate some time to self-reflection. What can you do going forward that will help set you up for success? What tools or coping strategies can you add to your repertoire that will help you in the future?
Get Moving: Put your plan into action. When you feel overwhelmed by your symptoms, it’s easy to feel stuck. Tempting though it may seem, don’t rest on your laurels; challenge yourself to keep moving. A mantra will help you keep going when the going gets tough. Remind yourself,
This is only temporary.
This too shall pass.
I am strong and capable.
One day at a time.
Depression can be a slippery slope; in spite of our best intentions, a challenging day or difficult interaction can often send us into a downward spiral of negative feelings and negative self-talk.
In this article from Hope to Hope, Leadership Coach Owen Ashton shares his personal struggle with managing his depression, and offers suggestions on how to cope when you feel yourself slipping into a pattern of negative self-talk.
Learn more and read the article from Hope to Cope by following the link below:
Depression & Rising Above Negative Self-Talk
When we know the circumstances that can trigger our depression, whether it be a time of year, our surroundings, or perhaps an experience that brings to mind a past experience or strong emotions, we can better equip ourselves to handle them. In this article from Esperanza Dr. Deborah Serani highlights ways in which we can identify our triggers, as well as prepare ourselves for when we encounter them.
Read the article by following the link below:
Recognizing Your Depression Triggers
Managing Holiday Stress
The holiday season is a time for joy, family, and reflection, but between the stress of worrying about planning the perfect family event and concern over holiday spending, they can also be a source of stress and anxiety. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year just around the corner, it’s understandable to feel a little overwhelmed. The strategies below will arm you with tools to tackle any potential stressors, and help you keep holiday stress at bay.
Tools for Tackling Holiday Stress
Family First: Put your worries about work and the office on hold and engage in family activities. Instead of plugging into the TV or football game, make time to spend with the kids, and support your partner by helping with holiday preparations. When it comes to the holidays – family comes first.
Plan Ahead: Get ahead of the stress by putting together schedule for holiday plans, trips, meals, and shopping. Select menus, recipes, and create grocery lists ahead of time – saving yourself a frantic trip to the store the day before an event. Create a holiday shopping list and budget to help mitigate some of the anxiety about overspending. You may not be able to plan for everything, but by creating some structure you can focus on taking one week or day at a time – avoiding feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling your entire holiday to-do list in one go.
Don’t Over-Commit: Feeling stretched too thin? Don’t over-extend yourself or bend over backwards for things or people that are not a priority. Know your limits and stick to your guns. It is okay to say no.
Ask for Help: Even with the best intentions and meticulous planning we can sometimes end up with too much on our plates. If you feel you’re struggling, reach out. Ask your partner, a friend, or a family member to help pick up some of the slack. Don’t feel too embarrassed to ask for help.
Lean on Healthy Coping Strategies: Set yourself up for success and keep your moods stable by using healthy coping strategies. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Make time to stay active and get outside. Schedule some time for self-care to decompress: take a walk outside, splurge on a nice cup of coffee, take a long bath, or treat yourself to a massage. Make healthy choices. During the holidays we expect to overindulge, but balance is key (for both your mental and physical health). Enjoy that slice of pumpkin pie, but keep your fridge stocked with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Be Thankful: Spend a few moments each day thinking about your blessings. What are you thankful for? Practice your ‘attitude of gratitude’ by focusing on what you have rather than what you feel you’re lacking. Shifting your perspective and remembering the things you have to be thankful for will help you stay grounded, positive, and in the holiday spirit.
Focus on What Matters: Try to let go of the fantasy of a “perfect” Thanksgiving or Christmas. Enjoy spending time with your family, and focus on taking each day at a time. Things may not go to plan, and that’s okay! Remember the 5 by 5 rule: if it’s not going to matter in 5 years – don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it now.
Dr. Craig Alan Brown has been providing the highest quality of care and support to the San Diego community for over forty years.