We hear about self-esteem and talk about it throughout our lives, but people rarely have a good understanding of what self-esteem is, how we get it, and what affects it. Self-esteem is a person’s internalized sense that he/she is valued and accepted. In short, it is a reflection of a person’s subjective sense of self worth. This contrasts with self-efficacy which refers to a person’s belief in his/her abilities to perform certain tasks. A lot of times people get these two mixed up because we tend to think of our self esteem being tied to our achievements and the things we are capable of doing. You might hear a person say “I have self esteem because I am good at soccer” when what they really mean is “I have self esteem because I know I am valuable to my soccer team and my family/friends who love me show up for my games.”
Did you know that your environment can affect your mental health? Lots of studies have shown that negative environments and/or environments that lack positive stimuli can have a strong negative effect on your health. One of the most observed cases of this are the effects of living in urban or inner city areas. Studies generally show increased stress, anxiety, hopelessness, and other mental health problems among people who live in such areas. Many researchers suggest that a primary cause of this is a form of what’s known as sensory deprivation.
Nightmares can be very unpleasant. They tend to come up more when we are stressed, anxious, or have had trauma in our lives. Research suggests that nightmares may actually be good for us.
How do you express and receive love in your relationships? This might seem like an odd question, but is an important thing to consider, and something I work on with most couples I see. In 1995 a relationship counselor; Dr. Gary Chapman released a book that detailed what he called the five love languages. His book has been wildly popular and the concept of love languages has been widely accepted and used by therapists around the world. The idea behind love languages is this: we all have different ways we perceive that we are loved and we tend to express love in those same ways. This means that what one might think would make their partner feel loved might actually not mean much to them. In this way, some couples speak very different love languages, and just like if they spoke two different verbal languages, they may not understand and receive the intentions behind their partner’s communications.
I found this video on youtube the other day and thought it might be a good addition to some of the videos I have posted on stress. Chronic stress effects us in many negative ways. Stress essentially turns on the brain’s fight or flight response and the body cannot maintain that state of alertness for long periods of time. I like to compare it to revving your car engine at a stop light. Doing so can give you a burst of force when you’re ready to go, but if you rev your engine for too long you’ll burn out your engine.
Do you ever get sad or depressed over the holidays? It turns out this is actually pretty common. Every year I see people get depressed over the months of November and December, and sometimes they disappear from counseling until the new year. When talking with people about their winter depression, there are a few themes that stand out.
A few weeks ago BuzzFeed observed a mental health awareness week. They posted several well made videos about mental health. Usually I choose one or two videos on a topic and incorporate them into a blog post, but BuzzFeed made so many good videos that I’ve decided to just compile some of them here. I hope one/some of these speak to you in a useful way.
There are many aspects of the human brain and body that we do not fully understand. The human brain is the most complicated organ/machine/computer that we know of, and our understanding of it has grown over the years. Despite this, there are many aspects of human neurology that we don’t understand, and many phenomena that have yet to be studied. One such phenomenon that has gained increasing attention over the past couple of years is what is known as the “autonomous sensory meridian response” or ASMR.
There has been a shift in addiction counseling in recent years. We used to think of addiction strictly from the perspective that it is something that happens to bad people with poor morals and ethical judgment.
Have you ever heard of the term Decision Fatigue? Its what happens to you when you have lots of decisions to make throughout your day and your brain starts to get tired from all of the work associated with making those decisions. Decision fatigue can result in all kinds of symptoms like irritability, anxiety, bad decision making, and general mental fatigue. Generally decision fatigue is associated with people who have to make lots of decisions throughout their day. Living in a world where we are frequently given numerous decisions, this is becoming more of a common issue.