A Note on Reconnecting with Yourself During Motherhood

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Photo by DisobeyArt on iStock

Being a mother is an amazing journey full of joy, laughter, and countless memorable moments. From the excitement of holding your newborn for the first time in your arms to many diaper changes, first words, and years of schooling, each of these phases shows how great the mother-child bond can be!

However, with all of the pleasures and responsibilities that come with being a mother and caring for a family, it is easy to lose connection with yourself.

Therefore, as we celebrate Mother’s Day on May 12, 2024, why not acknowledge the value of reconnecting with yourself during motherhood?

Here are some strategies on how to reconnect with yourself during motherhood:

1. Engage in self-care

All mothers should engage in self-care! Whether it’s reading your favourite book, practising yoga, mindfulness, or having a long hot shower, engaging in things that refresh you is important, even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes every day. You can also try journaling for 15 minutes every day to gain insight into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and reconnect with your inner self.

2. Get back to your old passions

We all have passions that we forget about because of our rushed lifestyles, and this is especially true for mothers. Mothers focus on the needs of their families first and dedicate themselves to fulfilling their children’s dreams while neglecting their own. So, try to go back to your old passions – whether it’s dancing, singing, gardening, learning a new language, or anything else, find time for it at least once a week.

3. Draw some boundaries

It is acceptable to say no to additional commitments that may reduce your mental and physical energy. And, while it is okay to care for your children’s every need while they are very young, it is also important that they establish independence as early as possible so that they can carry out at least half of their given tasks. You may feel guilty at first for drawing some boundaries, but it is also good to not cater to the needs of your family members around the clock. It will then give you the necessary time to protect your overall well-being.

4. Bond with the community

Sometimes, as a mother with so many responsibilities, you will feel alone. One of the best things you can do is bond with the community, such as by joining a moms’ support group or an online community for moms that can be found on Facebook or Instagram. It will create a feeling of being related to, and remind you that you are not alone on this journey of motherhood. Not only that, you will also be able to share your lived experiences as a mother while gaining valuable insights from other mothers, particularly on how they navigated life’s challenges with effective coping techniques.

5. Ask for help from family and friends

When you need help, don’t be scared to ask for it from family and friends; it’s not a sign of weakness. We all become overloaded with various tasks in life, especially as mothers, therefore it is perfectly acceptable. So, make sure that you ask for the help of your partner, other family members, or friends so that you can relieve some of your duties and take some time for yourself.

6. Know that you won’t be perfect

Above all, let go of the idea that you have to be the perfect mother. This is because such thoughts can cause extra stress for yourself. Instead, accept yourself as you are, and work towards improving any shortcomings you may have. What is more important is to be attentive to your parenting strategies and to cherish those precious times with your children whenever possible.

Concluding thoughts…

Now you understand that motherhood is a new experience that can have an impact on one’s identity, particularly for first-time mothers. And while being selfless is great, it’s important to remember that connecting with yourself during motherhood isn’t selfish – it’s beneficial to both you and your child.

For example, taking time to care for yourself means you will be able to better manage the mental, emotional, and physical demands of motherhood while also being more attentive to your children’s needs. In this way, you can teach your children healthy coping mechanisms to manage the challenges that come their way. After all, children usually learn by observing others!

Furthermore, when children see their mothers valuing their own interests, they learn about the importance of self-worth. Therefore, they will understand that it is possible to go after what they love and connect with their inner self while also fulfilling their responsibilities.

So, let us embrace the exciting journey of motherhood by reconnecting with ourselves a little more and creating a balance between caring for our children – both on Mother’s Day and every day thereafter!

Alcohol Addiction: Supporting a loved one and prioritising self-care

Written by: Pansiluni Weerawansa

Photo by the National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Alcohol addiction is a complex and pervasive issue that not only affects the individual struggling with it, but also reverberates throughout their circle of loved ones. As those close to someone with alcohol addiction witness the gradual erosion of their physical and mental well-being, as well as the strain it places on relationships, they often find themselves grappling with their own emotions and uncertainties. In navigating this challenging terrain, it becomes crucial for loved ones to not only support the individual seeking recovery, but also priorities their own well-being. This article aims to explore the multifaceted impacts of alcohol addiction on loved ones, delve into the mental aspects involved, and offer guidance on fostering healing for both the individual and their support network.

The emotional rollercoaster induced by alcohol addiction is no picnic. Picture this: you’ve got this vivacious, beloved individual in your life, and out of the blue they’re caught in the web of addiction. Suddenly, you’re riding a wild wave of emotions – sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness – you name it, you’re feeling it. It’s like trying to navigate through a maze blindfolded. You’re there, trying to understand and support your loved one, but every twist and turn of their addiction leaves you feeling like you’re on shaky ground. And let’s not forget the constant anxiety and tension that comes with the territory. It’s like living in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Dealing with alcohol addiction is a real emotional rollercoaster ride, and sometimes, you just want to get off.

Diving into the wild world of alcohol addiction – it’s not just a matter of personal choice or sheer willpower, but a tangled web of biological, psychological, and social influences. While we throw around terms like alcohol use disorder (AUD) in clinical settings, let’s remember it’s more than just a fancy label. It’s a real-life experience that shakes individuals and their loved ones to the core.

As an example, picture your vibrant, beloved friend or family member suddenly caught in the claws of addiction. It’s like watching a drama unfold right before your eyes. Emotions run wild – from heart-wrenching sadness to fiery anger; from guilt trips to feeling downright helpless. You’re on a rollercoaster ride of empathy and frustration as you try to support them through it all. And let’s not forget the unsettled suspense of not knowing what’s going to happen next. The unpredictability and instability of alcohol addiction keep everyone on edge, adding layers of anxiety and tension to relationships.

Alcohol addiction throws a wrench into the gears of family dynamics and social connections. Suddenly, you’re dealing with breakdowns in communication, heated arguments, and heartbreaking betrayals. Trust flies out the window, leaving everyone feeling isolated and disconnected. It’s like trying to navigate a stormy sea without a compass, not knowing which way to turn or how to offer support without making things worse.

In the midst of the storm, however, there’s a glimmer of hope shining through the clouds. Loved ones, far from being mere bystanders in this tumultuous saga, possess the potential to emerge as silent heroes, guiding the individual through the shadowy forest of addiction. It’s a journey that begins with setting firm ground rules –  boundaries designed not only to safeguard your own well-being, but also to gently steer the individual grappling with addiction towards a path of accountability and recovery.

Honest and open conversation can go a long way. They’re not just dialogue; they’re transformative tools capable of creating a sanctuary for healing and growth. By combining empathy and understanding with clear, unwavering boundaries, you establish a safe space where both you and your loved one can navigate the complexities of addiction with courage and resilience.

Yet, supporting someone through addiction isn’t a solo expedition. Just as a tree relies on its roots for strength, loved ones must prioritise their own self-care to weather the storm. Whether it’s seeking solace in therapy sessions, finding camaraderie in support groups, or indulging in soul-soothing activities like yoga or painting, self-care becomes the anchor that keeps you grounded amidst the turbulence. After all, nurturing your own well-being isn’t selfish–  it’s essential for maintaining the strength and resilience needed to support your loved one through their journey to recovery.

Recovery isn’t a straight line. There are bound to be twists, turns, and maybe even a few detours along the way. But instead of seeing relapse as a defeat, see it as a temporary setback on the road to long-term sobriety. With unwavering love and support, both individuals and their loved ones can weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

Understanding the Connection Between Alcohol Use and Mental Health

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Photo by Canva Create Studio

Did you know that alcohol is one of the most extensively used addictive substances in the world? Its availability and acceptance within society are what lead to its widespread use, with many people using alcohol to relax and cope with various stressors. However, it’s important to remember that excessive alcohol use can negatively impact one’s mental health.

How Does Alcohol Use Impact Mental Health?

Alcohol use can negatively impact mental health in various ways, ranging from short-term effects to long-term consequences.

1. Depression and anxiety

Alcohol can indeed make people feel relaxed and euphoric. However, these feelings are temporary and can interfere with neurotransmitter balance in the brain over time. This means that if you already have anxiety or depression, you are more likely to trigger or intensify your symptoms with the use of alcohol. Previous research has also found that greater levels of depression symptoms are connected with earlier alcohol use, more frequent drinking, and intoxication in both Norwegian secondary school girls and boys (Johannessen et al., 2017).

2. Cognitive impairments

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it decreases cognitive functioning. Therefore, even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause cognitive impairments. Long-term and excessive use of alcohol can cause structural and functional brain damage, resulting in alcohol-related dementia (ARD). Cognitive impairments are most commonly found in visuospatial functioning, memory, and executive tasks, with the possibility of some recovery if abstinence is continued (Sachdeva et al. 2016).

3. Sleep problems

Alcohol may help people fall asleep faster, but it also interferes with the sleep cycle, resulting in irregular sleep patterns. Therefore, a variety of behavioural challenges, including sleep problems are reported in 35%–91% of patients presenting with long-term alcohol use. The most common sleep problems related to alcohol use are difficulty falling asleep, decreased sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness. These sleep problems also remain throughout alcohol withdrawal, but have been reported to disappear with continuous abstinence (Martindale et al., 2017).

4. Aggressive behaviours

We are all familiar with how drinking alcohol impairs judgement and reduces inhibitions. This can then result in both verbal and physical aggression. However, it is important to understand that not everyone who uses alcohol becomes aggressive, and the degree to which alcohol enhances aggression varies depending on genetics, personality factors, prior experiences, and environmental conditions. However, alcohol use can be harmful to society, since evidence suggests that higher rates of alcohol use are associated with higher rates of homicide and violent crime (Fritz et al., 2023).

5. Risk of suicidal ideation and behaviors

Alcohol use is closely connected to an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behaviour. More specifically, alcohol’s depressive effects combined with impaired judgment and impulse control can lead to self-harm or suicidal behaviours. Furthermore, long-term alcohol intoxication can increase maladaptive coping strategies and impair self-regulation in those who are predisposed to risk-taking behaviour, raising the risk of suicide (Rizk et al., 2021).

What are the Strategies for Reducing Alcohol Use?

Reducing the use of alcohol is a difficult but attainable goal when different strategies and support systems are put in place, as explained below.

1. Setting clear and realistic goals for alcohol use is important. Whether it’s reducing the number of drinks per week or completely avoiding drinking alcohol, having a particular goal can increase your determination.

2. Keeping track of alcohol use can help people become more mindful of their drinking habits. Keeping a journal or recording the number of drinks taken in a smartphone app, along with the triggers of drinking alcohol, can provide useful insights and help you detect patterns in your drinking behaviour.

3. Minimising access to alcohol, such as not having it at home, or avoiding situations where alcohol is readily available, can help reduce the desire to drink.

4. It is important to identify other strategies for coping with stress, anxiety, and other difficulties rather than turning to alcohol. At times like this, you can try things like exercise, meditation, creative hobbies, or spending time with supportive friends and family.

5. Don’t forget to celebrate achievements and progress towards reducing alcohol use, no matter how little, because it can enhance your motivation and self-esteem to keep working towards your goals.

6. If you feel like you cannot reduce your alcohol use by yourself, it is always better to seek professional help from a therapist, counsellor, or support group.

In conclusion, alcohol use can have a significant impact on mental health, affecting mood, cognition, sleep, and relationships. By adopting healthy strategies into your daily routine, you can take active steps to reduce alcohol use and promote general well-being. It’s also important to remember that making changes takes time, patience, and effort, and seeking help from professionals and loved ones can make the road to abstinence easier and more rewarding.

References

Fritz, M., Soravia, S. M., Dudeck, M., Malli, L., & Fakhoury, M. (2023). Neurobiology of Aggression-Review of Recent Findings and Relationship with Alcohol and Trauma. Biology, 12(3), 469. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12030469

Johannessen, E. L., Andersson, H. W., Bjørngaard, J. H., & Pape, K. (2017). Anxiety and depression symptoms and alcohol use among adolescents – a cross-sectional study of Norwegian secondary school students. BMC Public Health, 17(1), 494. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4389-2

Martindale, S. L., Hurley, R. A., & Taber, K. H. (2017). Chronic Alcohol Use and Sleep Homeostasis: Risk Factors and Neuroimaging of Recovery. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 29(1), A6–A5. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.neuropsych.16110307

Rizk, M. M., Herzog, S., Dugad, S., & Stanley, B. (2021). Suicide Risk and Addiction: The Impact of Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders. Current Addiction Reports, 8(2), 194–207. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-021-00361-z

Sachdeva, A., Chandra, M., Choudhary, M., Dayal, P., & Anand, K. S. (2016). Alcohol-Related Dementia and Neurocognitive Impairment: A Review Study. International Journal of High-Risk Behaviours & Addiction, 5(3), e27976. https://doi.org/10.5812/ijhrba.27976

“I am a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me”– Maya Angelou

Written by: Pansiluni Weerawansa

Photo by Berru Doğa Nas on Canva

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. 

Women’s Day transcends mere observance; it stands as a powerful testament to the indomitable spirit, resilience, and countless contributions of women across the globe. Beyond its designation on the calendar, this day serves as a poignant reminder of the multifaceted nature of womanhood. It prompts us to dive deeper into its essence, exploring the array of unique perspectives and stories that define the female experience.

In navigating the complications of life, women encompass a multitude of identities shaped by factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. These are their journeys, imbuing them with distinct challenges, triumphs, and perspectives. This Women’s Day, it is crucial to amplify the voices of women, recognising their resilience in the face of adversity, celebrating their victories, and acknowledging the profound richness they contribute to our collective narrative. By uplifting women, not only do we acknowledge the depth of their experiences but also affirm their significant worth and dignity. Their stories serve as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and remind us of the importance of inclusivity and solidarity in our ongoing pursuit of equality and justice.

Women’s Day serves not only as a platform for breaking stereotypes and challenging societal norms but also as a crucial opportunity to address the intersection of mental health within the context of womanhood. As we celebrate the women who defy convention and reshape societal expectations, it’s imperative to recognise the profound impact that mental health can have on their journeys. For far too long, women have faced stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues, often being silenced or overlooked. Being labelled as ‘weak’ or ‘over-sensitive’ when expressing emotions is off-putting for many women, who then suppress their emotions out of apprehension. The reality is that women experience mental health challenges at alarming rates, influenced by a myriad of factors including societal pressures, gender-based violence, and systemic inequalities.

It is essential to recognize the significant progress that has been achieved globally. Women have shattered barriers, challenged norms, and paved the way for gender equality in various spheres of life. Their contributions have propelled advancements in fields ranging from science and technology to politics and the arts, reshaping societies and inspiring generations to come.

However, despite these remarkable advancements, the journey towards gender equality remains unfinished. Across the globe, women continue to face systemic barriers and entrenched discrimination that hinder their full participation and contribution to society. From disparities in education and employment opportunities to unequal access to healthcare and political representation, the challenges confronting women are multifaceted and complex. In commemorating International Women’s Day, it is vital to not only celebrate the achievements of remarkable women but also to advocate for tangible change and commit to dismantling the systemic barriers that impede progress towards gender equality. By amplifying women’s voices, advocating for inclusive policies, and fostering environments that empower women to thrive, we can collectively strive towards a more just, equitable, and inclusive world for all.

This Women’s Day let’s shine a light on the courageous women who navigate mental health struggles with resilience and grace. Whether it’s the female entrepreneur or a stay-at-home mom grappling with depression while redefining notions of strength, their stories remind us of the importance of de-stigmatising mental illness and fostering a culture of empathy and support. Let’s use this day to amplify their voices, advocate for accessible mental health resources, and work towards creating a world where all women can thrive holistically, embracing their true selves without fear or shame.

Nourishing the Mind, Body and Soul: A Journey through RESET 2024, a Holistic Wellness Fair Organised by Kalyana Sri Lanka

Written by: Sabeeha Azmi

The beginning of the year marked a refreshing start for health enthusiasts and wellness seekers as they gathered at the annual holistic Wellness Fair hosted by Kalyana Sri Lanka, held on 20th January. RESET 2024 was designed to promote a holistic approach to well-being, featuring a diverse array of engaging sessions, sharing circles, workshops, activities, speakers, and exhibitors catering to the mind, body, and spirit. 

RESET 2024 centered on 5 main themes for inner well-being: Replenish, Reinforce, Relate, Reclaim & Reinvent based on the concept of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ which explores the foundational elements of human well-being: ‘physiological,’ ‘safety & security,’ ‘love & belonging,’ ‘self-esteem,’ and ‘self-actualization respectively. Kalyana curated unique, engaging and transformative sessions addressing each of these 5 themes. 

Attendees could select from a diverse range of wellness practices and therapies to replenish, de-stress, reflect, heal, and deepen their connection with themselves. From practices rooted in tradition like yoga to sleep hygiene, lifestyle medicine, parenting and relationship workshops, art and dance therapy, trauma recovery, conscious connection, sharing circles, free counselling, and dance fitness; there was something for everyone. 

The day unfolded with excitement and anticipation, drawing individuals from diverse backgrounds, all united by a shared interest in holistic well-being. Upon entering the venue, one was greeted by a sense of tranquillity, a calm and soothing ambiance enveloping the atmosphere. The air was filled with soft notes of gentle music and the subtle aroma of essential oils and sweet-scented candles lingered in every corner, to promote relaxation and set the stage for a day dedicated to holistic well-being.  

RESET 2024 featured 22 wellness practitioners and was attended by over 200 individuals, with over 300 session tickets sold, highlighting a growing interest in our inner well-being and holistic wellness. Families, friends, and individuals took part in sessions together, browsed local wellness and food vendor stalls, joined in the drum circle and dance fitness session. The inclusive nature of the event created a space where people of all ages and walks of life came together.

Kalyana RESET 2024 was much more than a wellness fair; it offered a platform for individuals seeking healing and transformation for their mind, body, and soul, and served as a reminder that investing in one’s holistic well-being is an ongoing journey and one worth taking. Attendees left the event with knowledge, practical tools, and a renewed sense of inspiration to embark on their wellness journeys. As the interest in holistic health continues to grow, events like these play a crucial role in fostering a comprehensive approach to wellness in our communities. 

Kalyana would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who played a crucial role in making RESET 2024 happen. A shout out to our sponsors: Platinum Sponsors: Union Assurance, Informatics Institute of Technology (IIT), Mahesh and Shaila Amalean and Silver Sponsors: Sanjay Kulatunga and Sathya Yoga & Wellness. Thank you for being the driving force behind our successful Holistic Wellness Fair. Your support has made a difference in the lives of many, and we are truly grateful.

Kalyana would also like to thank the event partners for their invaluable support and commitment to holistic well-being which has left a lasting impact on all those who attended. Media Partner: Pulse, Event Partner: The Inner Reset, Mobility Partner: PickMe, Digital Partner: Echt Social and Radio Partner: Lite 87.8 FM.

For all those touched and inspired by their experience at RESET 2024, you are encouraged to sign up for future sessions with the wonderful practitioners by following Kalyana on Instagram @kalyanaslorg

Visit Kalyana’s official website at www.kalyanasl.org and take a look at our Event Calendar that highlights details about all the upcoming wellness events and workshops both in Sri Lanka and globally, and how you can sign up for them. 

Complementary and Alternative Therapy Methods to Improve Mental Health

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Do you know that complementary and alternative therapeutic methods have recently gained popularity all over the world? This is because they help in lowering stress levels, improving general quality of life, and promoting psychological well-being.

While standard treatments such as psychotherapy and medication remain essential for mental health care, including complementary and alternative therapy can bring extra advantages and facilitate holistic recovery.

In this article, we will look at several such methods, ranging from mindfulness meditation to weighted blankets, and talk about how they might help improve your mental health.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is based on Buddhist teachings, and the primary idea is to practise being in the present moment while growing awareness of oneself and the environment. You should also be mindful of your breathing habits, particularly how you inhale and exhale. As a result, the goal is to breathe deeply and slowly and to let go of distracting thoughts by focusing on your breathing. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while also improving emotional regulation and tolerance. You simply need to choose a quiet spot and the most suitable position for yourself (sitting, sleeping, etc.) to practise!

2. Yoga

Yoga is another effective way to boost mental health. The goal is to integrate the mind, body, and breathing patterns by using bodily postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to unite,” and has profound roots in Indian philosophy and spiritual practices. Yoga reduces symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while also promoting a sense of harmony and well-being. Furthermore, it improves flexibility, enhances sleep, and can even be used for recovering from addiction.

3. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of plant-derived essential oils to improve physical and mental health. These oils can have a variety of therapeutic effects when inhaled or used topically, including relaxation, decreasing stress, and enhancing one’s mood and sleep quality. It works best when inhaled because the aroma molecules in essential oils flow directly from the nerves that are responsible for smell into the brain, thus influencing the amygdala which controls the emotions in people. Some of the oils used in aromatherapy include lavender, peppermint, clove, chamomile, jasmine, lemon and rosemary.

4. Music Therapy

Music therapy uses music as a tool to address emotional, cognitive, and behavioural problems in a therapeutic setting. This could be listening to various styles of music or playing a musical instrument that you enjoy. Singing and dancing can also help you release feelings. For example, if you are distressed, you will sing loudly or play loud cheerful music under the guidance of your therapist. Music therapy helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and insomnia, while also increasing emotional regulation and social connection.

5. Art Therapy

Art therapy uses creativity and expressive arts to encourage healing and psychological development. Individuals can explore and share their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a nonverbal manner using a variety of forms of art such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. With its ability to promote self-discovery, resilience, and self-esteem, art therapy has demonstrated success in addressing symptoms of trauma, grief, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.

6. Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy, often known as nature therapy or green therapy, focuses on the natural world’s ability to improve mental health. Spending time outdoors in natural settings, such as parks, forests, or gardens, can help reduce stress, anxiety, and worry while improving your state of mind. Alternatively, activities such as community gardening might help you overcome feelings of isolation, meet new people, and feel closer to others. Another option is animal-assisted therapy, which involves interacting with trained animals such as dogs, cats, horses, or dolphins to boost mental health. You may read more about ecotherapy in an article written for our blog by Zafra Ali Aswar here.

7. Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets with equally distributed weights, usually constructed of glass beads or plastic pellets. The blanket’s gentle pressures help ease tension, anxiety, and improve sleep quality by raising serotonin, melatonin levels and while decreasing cortisol. Weighted blankets have become popular as a non-pharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders, ADHD, and sensory processing difficulties.

Conclusion

Complementary and alternative therapy methods are effective tools for improving mental health and well-being. From mindfulness meditation and yoga to aromatherapy and ecotherapy, these different techniques provide people with a variety of skills for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. However, to efficiently incorporate them into your mental health care practices, you must approach these therapies with an open mind, and ensure collaboration with trained professionals.

Setting Boundaries in the Holiday Season

Written by: Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa

As we transition into the New Year, we tend to reflect on our past and set out resolutions for the New Year. While common resolutions cycle among personal achievements and physical health goals, it’s extremely crucial not to overlook the significance of mental health and well-being as we set out these resolutions.

Let’s dive into setting healthy boundaries for mental health, especially during the holiday season.

First off, they serve as the invisible lines that define the limits of what is acceptable and comfortable for an individual. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a fundamental aspect of self-care. In this busy and fast-growing world where social engagement, familial expectations, work matters, as well as relationships, overlap each other, the urge to establish clear boundaries is profound. In the holiday season, myriads of social gatherings, family events, and meetups can often be emotionally draining. There is often pressure to accept every invitation that comes your way to fulfil everyone’s expectations. Establishing when to say yes and when to decline an invitation politely can help individuals to regulate their stress levels. Without clear boundaries, some of us may feel overcommitted with a busy schedule during the holidays. Learning to say no and setting realistic expectations is an essential part of setting these boundaries.

Boundaries also serve as a shield from emotionally draining and toxic friendships as well as relationships. Whether it’s managing difficult family interactions or balancing time between friend groups, having clear boundaries and prioritising oneself can help keep stress at bay and protect our mental health.

Before setting boundaries, it’s crucial to engage in self-reflection. Understand your own needs, priorities, and limits. What activities bring you joy, and which ones drain your energy? Self-awareness forms the foundation for effective boundary-setting.

We often struggle with learning to say ‘No’. It makes us feel guilty, especially those of us who are people pleasers who struggle heavily with declining invitations, gatherings, helping etc. People pleasers tend to accept every request that comes their way and often feel overcommitted and emotionally drained. Learning to say ‘No’ this season is a powerful and liberating act. It’s okay to decline invitations or requests that don’t align with your priorities or contribute positively to your well-being.

Effective communication is key to setting boundaries. It is a skill essential for maintaining healthy relationships and personal well-being. It involves transparently articulating your needs, expectations, and limits to those in your social and professional circles. The emphasis is on assertive communication, employing “I” statements to express feelings and intentions without assigning blame. Individuals take ownership of their actions by using “I” statements. Clear communication can act as a cornerstone of establishing boundaries that honour individual well-being and help maintain healthy relationships.

Whether it is alone time, a jog, or reading a book, remember to prioritise self-care this season. The New Year can often be exhausting and prioritising self-care allows you to engage in activities that bring you joy and peace.

As we step into the New Year, let us embrace the significance of setting and maintaining boundaries for our mental health. By doing so, we not only protect ourselves from the stressors of the holiday season but also lay the foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling year ahead. Boundaries are not a sign of weakness; rather, they are a powerful tool for self-care, empowering us to steer life’s challenges with resilience and grace. So, let this be the year in which we prioritise our mental well-being by setting boundaries that honour our needs and develop our souls.

Self-Care Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Being a stay-at-home mom is a journey full of love, happiness, and many rewarding moments. It’s no secret, however, that such a job comes with its own set of problems, leaving little time for yourself. Juggling the responsibilities of children, household chores, and sometimes even working from home can be exhausting, making self-care appear to be a faraway luxury. While caring for your family is certainly important, it is also important to remember that you matter too! 

Therefore, this blog post will look at self-care tips for stay-at-home moms so that if you are one, it will help you find balance in the middle of motherhood’s everyday challenges. 

Establish a good routine. 

Set up a good routine and start your day with it to feel better about yourself. For example, before other family members wake up, you can schedule some alone time. It will make a significant impact in your life whether you are enjoying a hot cup of coffee, doing yoga, or simply listening to your favourite music. It will lower your stress levels and you are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the ongoing demands of parenting and household chores if you have a good routine. 

Have a daily me-time! 

Everyone needs a me-time to recharge a bit. Perhaps you’ve entirely forgotten about your interests while caring for and satisfying others, such as your husband and children. So, try to set aside at least 30 minutes every day for yourself. No distractions – you can try to do whatever you like, for example, after your children go to bed you can maybe read a chapter of a book or watch some TV series. 

Talk to other moms. 

You might find that everything is easier when you talk to other moms who have gone through similar experiences. You can maybe talk with them, meet them twice every month or so. Alternatively, you could join an online community/group designed exclusively for stay-at-home moms. This will decrease your feelings of isolation and loneliness while also improving your interpersonal skills. You can even ask for advice from other moms anytime you face a life challenge. Or simply talk about the joys of being a stay-at-home parent! Remember that being a stay-at-home mom does not have to limit your ability to enjoy life and interact with others. 

Share household responsibilities. 

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Openly discuss household responsibilities with your husband and children. You can, for example, divide responsibilities like grocery shopping and bringing up children from school with your husband effectively. You can also allocate specific jobs to your children, such as watering the plants, making the table, and cleaning some dishes, to ease some of the pressure on your shoulders. 

Make healthy practices a priority. 

As a stay-at-home mom, you will often forget to take care of yourself first. For example, you may not have a regular sleeping schedule or the time to eat a balanced and nutritious meal. However, such healthy practices are important to maintain good general well-being. To get a good night’s sleep, try to keep to the same schedule for sleeping every day, or take a short power nap during the day after completing household chores. It is always important to have a balanced diet, remain hydrated, and occasionally enjoy anything you want (for example, chocolates or sweets). You can also exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, whether through yoga or a basic workout, and the best part is you can try it all out at home by watching YouTube videos! 

Recognize that you are doing your best! 

Doing a household chore, such as washing clothes may not feel like the best activity to enjoy. However, these are your accomplishments, and you are doing your best. So remember to enjoy the simple things since they will increase your self-esteem and general value in life. You can always treat yourself with a girl’s night out, movie time, or a little shopping for all that you do for others as a stay-at-home mom. 

Conclusion

Remember that taking care of yourself should not be a luxury while you explore the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. It should not be something that you do occasionally. You also don’t have to feel bad about taking some time off for yourself. Therefore, make sure to follow these self-care tips. It will guarantee that you have a good general well-being and will help you be prouder of your motherly responsibilities. So don’t worry too much – you deserve to take some time for yourself every day! 

How Acts of Kindness Influence Mental Health

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga 

Every year, on November 13th, we celebrate World Kindness Day. The purpose of this unique day is to remind ourselves to treat people with more kindness and consideration. So, have you ever thought about how acts of kindness can influence your mental health? It turns out that being kind not only benefits those who receive it, but it also influences those who give it! 

In this blog post, we will investigate how acts of kindness influence mental health to make everything a little better. 

Increases the Love Hormone 

Kindness brings about the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” Individual acts of kindness have also been shown to generate new neural connections and release oxytocin and endorphins. According to data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, just thinking about compassion and kindness activates the brain’s emotional regulation system (Mathers, 2016). That is why oxytocin has been linked to emotional closeness, trust, and affectionate feelings. For example, simply hugging a friend or family member can cause the release of oxytocin, making you feel more emotionally connected to them. They will also feel a lot better if you do this; even if they aren’t particularly sad or worried, a hug can go a long way to make someone feel cared for. 

Improves Self Esteem 

Kindness can help you feel better about yourself. More importantly, seeing how good an impact your acts of kindness have on people will strengthen your belief in your own abilities and worth as a person. Consider the following scenario: You offer to help a friend who is having trouble with schoolwork. You become a source of comfort as well as motivation for them during these difficult moments. Not only will you boost your self-esteem, but your friend will glow with happiness at having you as a friend. This will in turn improve their self-esteem and mental health too! 

Promotes Healing 

Kindness has a powerful, scientifically tested ability to support emotional and physical healing. Kindness can be used as a form of natural painkiller. In one study of homeless adults who frequently visited the emergency department, researchers wanted to see if providing compassionate care through trained volunteers made a difference in how frequently these individuals returned for additional emergency visits. According to Redelmeier et al. (1995), patients who received compassionate care had a significantly lower average number of visits per month following intervention. This suggests that when homeless individuals see that they are receiving kind and compassionate treatment, they may be more satisfied with their initial treatment and not need to return as frequently. 

Enhances Resilience 

Individuals can develop resilience by being kind to others and receiving kindness in return. This is especially important during difficult times, such as when dealing with loss, illness, or other challenges. Knowing that you can be kind to yourself and others can give you the strength you need to overcome tough times. Beaton et al. (2021), for example, discovered that lower levels of self-compassion in adults with ADHD help to explain the higher levels of ill being (depression, anxiety, and stress) and lower levels of wellbeing (psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing) associated with ADHD. Furthermore, they have proposed that increasing one’s kindness to oneself could be used to support resilience and coping for those with ADHD who face difficulties because of executive function deficits. 

Creates Positive Social Connections 

According to research, kindness creates positive supportive and meaningful social connections, which in turn reduces stress response and fulfils fundamental, innate needs that are important for longevity and well-being (Fryburg, 2022). Simple gestures such as complimenting a coworker on their work can help to establish these kinds of connections. Furthermore, it has been discovered that even a few minutes of practising techniques such as loving-kindness meditation enhanced feelings of social connection and a positive attitude toward strangers (Hutcherson et al., 2008). 

Conclusion 

You now understand that kindness has the power to make life happier and emotionally fulfilling as well as to make yourself more resilient by increasing oxytocin levels, lowering stress levels, creating positive social connections, and much more! So, as we celebrate World Kindness Day, keep in mind that including kindness in your daily life can bring you and others happiness. 

References 

  1. Beaton, D. M., Sirois, F., & Milne, E. (2022). The role of self-compassion in the mental health of adults with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 78(12), 2497–2512. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23354 
  1. Fryburg, D. A. (2022). Kindness as a stress reduction–health promotion intervention: a review of the psychobiology of caring. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 16(1), 89-100. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1559827620988268 
  1. Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 8(5), 720–724. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013237 
  1. Mathers, N. (2016). Compassion and the science of kindness: Harvard Davis Lecture 2015. The British Journal of General Practice, 66(648), 525–527. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp16X686041 
  1. Redelmeier, D. A., Molin, J. P., & Tibshirani, R. J. (1995). A randomised trial of compassionate care for the homeless in an emergency department. Lancet, 345(8958), 1131–1134. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(95)90975-3 

7 Reasons Why Going to Therapy is Beneficial

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

In today’s hectic world, going to therapy has become a popular option for those seeking to enhance their mental health. However, you should know that therapy isn’t just necessary for those with mental health challenges; it also provides several benefits for people looking to improve their overall well-being. There are different reasons why going to therapy might be beneficial, whether you’re facing specific issues such as exam stress or simply trying to improve your relationship satisfaction. 

So, let us look at 7 reasons why going to therapy is beneficial, and how it may help you feel more fulfilled in life. 

1. Treating mental health challenges 

One of the most important benefits of going to therapy is treating mental health challenges. Therapy can help treat a lot of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more. It provides people with coping strategies and tools to help them enhance their emotional well-being. Major life transitions might also have an impact on our mental health. Whether it is a job loss, the end of a romantic relationship, or the death of a loved one, it is always a good idea to have someone to talk to as you begin your journey towards healing. 

2. A good start for self-exploration 

Therapy promotes self-reflection and awareness. It allows you to dig further into your ideas, feelings, and behaviours, and helps to gain more understanding of yourself. For example, with the help of a therapist, you can find out what causes your stress or anger, or what makes you joyful and at ease. This can lead towards a happy life! Not only that but going to therapy can help you set clear goals because the therapist will guide and motivate you throughout your life path. 

3. Developing good coping strategies 

Coping strategies help people in dealing with stress and unpleasant emotions in their life. However, not all coping techniques are beneficial; there are adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies. Exercising, journaling, talking with a friend, watching your favourite TV show, going for a 10-minute walk are examples of adaptive coping strategies. Anger outbursts, self-harm, drug use, and isolation are all examples of maladaptive coping strategies. So, with the guidance of a therapist, you can learn how to develop good coping strategies in a healthy and safe environment. 

4. Improving communication skills 

Therapy can help you learn how to communicate in a healthy, effective, and positive manner. Being able to properly communicate means that you can successfully manage almost all aspects of your life. Therefore, with the help of a therapist you can learn how to establish healthy relationship boundaries, communicate your wants clearly, and assertively demand the things you want from people. This is especially important for couples because it allows them to build up their communication and conflict resolution skills, allowing them to grow together and overcome hurdles. 

5. Allows for behaviour modification 

Our behaviours, like the thoughts we have, can be extremely damaging, not only to ourselves but also to people around us. They might make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships, think positively, and live a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps you struggle with substance abuse, binge eating, unsafe sexual practices, suspecting your partner for no apparent reason, or self-sabotage. Whatever it is, therapy can help you change the way you behave and make better decisions. 

6. Enhanced productivity 

We sometimes struggle to focus on one thing, whether at school, work, or in any other aspect of our lives. For example, maybe you are not happy with your job and do not want to go to work anymore. Or you can’t stay focused on work for more than 10 minutes! Whatever it is, therapy can help you understand and prioritise what you need to do in order to be productive. Your therapist can help you regain control of your life by making a daily task schedule, breaking down the job into smaller parts, or using more advanced approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

7. Improves your physical health 

Most of us don’t know this, but there is a close link between mental and physical health. This means that therapy can also improve your physical health. For example, therapy can teach you how to handle stress, which can lead to better sleep, lower blood pressure, and a more powerful immune system. This, in turn, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases and much more! And adopting healthy behaviours, such as exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and so on, will also greatly improve your physical health. 

You now understand that going to therapy has a lot of benefits. It can help with all aspects of life, not just mental health. Going to therapy, whether for a specific life challenge or simply to grow as a person, may be a transformative experience. Which is why you should give it a try at least once in your life to experience the benefits for yourself.