No relationship is perfect, but sometimes what appears to be just a small communication issue might be hiding something deeper. Codependency and trauma are two issues that can wreak havoc in both romantic and familial relationships. People with codependent personality disorders and individuals who have experienced trauma can often have unhealthy coping mechanisms that may leave them feeling anxious, hopeless, or depressed.
If you’re in a relationship where you feel like you’re giving much more than receiving, fear conflict or rejection from your partner, or have difficulty expressing your feelings, wants, and needs, you could be traumatized or have a codependent personality disorder.
What is Codependency?
Codependency, simply put, is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one individual consistently puts the needs of others before their own. Codependent individuals tend to be passive “people pleasers,” and they will go to extreme measures to try to avoid conflict, abandonment, and rejection from others. Other symptoms of codependent personality disorder can include:
Those with codependent personality disorder can ignore their own needs for so long that they become chronically fatigued. Along with feeling exhausted, they may begin to feel hopeless, helpless, or even incompetent. They may try to “help” someone they care about in unhealthy ways, such as enabling. Enabling is a behavior that codependent people may use in an attempt to relieve potential tension in a relationship. Enabling includes making excuses for a person’s repeated actions, ignoring or belittling problematic behaviors, bailing someone out multiple times, or covering up a person’s illegal or dangerous activities.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is described as an emotional or psychological response to a stressful or disturbing event. Because trauma is subjective, it covers a broad range of different events. For example, a person could be traumatized from childhood emotional neglect, while someone else can experience trauma after escaping from natural disasters such as hurricanes. Due to the many types of traumatic experiences someone could have endured, psychologists have categorized trauma into three main categories in order to help victims:
Trauma can happen at any point in someone’s life, and each person reacts to a traumatic event differently. However, regardless of the type of trauma endured, trauma victims often share many of the same symptoms. These can include:
Differences Between Trauma and Codependency
Trauma and codependency share several of the same symptoms, but the reason behind the symptoms are entirely different. People who have experienced trauma may feel anxious or deeply depressed because they were hurt, witnessed a horrific event, or lost a loved one. On the other hand, those who struggle with codependency could feel anxious and depressed due to fear of being unliked or abandoned and constantly taking care of other people.
Pete Walker, M.A., discovered in his years of study that trauma victims and codependent individuals have different responses to the “four F’s,” which stand for fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. He notes that when confronted with stressful situations, trauma victims tend to “freeze,” or dissociate to distance themselves from the problem. Those with codependent personality disorder instead “fawns,” or tries to become as useful or helpful as possible in order to try and escape pain or punishment.
Coping with Trauma and Codependency
Candace Plattor, M.A., says the important first step is to start working towards a “healthy balance” of assertiveness. Saying “no” when you don’t want to do something and being ready to face potentially negative reactions from others can slowly ease you out of people-pleasing behaviors.
Coping with trauma and codependent behaviors can be difficult to handle on your own, but there is help and hope. At Oakville Wellness Center, there are trained therapists available to help you manage your symptoms and begin your recovery. Here, therapists are often covered by insurance, and there are evening and weekend appointments available. If you’re ready to take the next step towards healing from trauma or codependency, you can book your appointment online today.
Everyone you’re close to has likely disappointed you or hurt your feelings in some way at some point. Maybe your significant other forgot your birthday, or your friend accidentally said something hurtful. Occasional hurt feelings in close relationships are to be expected, and once your loved ones realize they’ve disappointed you, they will likely apologize and promise to be better in the future.
But what happens when your loved ones continue the same behavior after you’ve told them multiple times that it hurts you? It can be easier to continually say, “It’s OK” and forgive them, but it can cause bitterness and resentment to grow within you. On the other hand, standing up to the other person and explaining that their behavior is unacceptable can seem too harsh. Navigating this grey area between acceptance of your loved ones and expecting more from them can be a delicate process, but it is necessary to learn the difference between occasional human mistakes and toxic behaviors.
When to Set Boundaries
The difference between an occasional mistake and potentially toxic behavior will become apparent over time. For example, if a friend shows up late to meet you, and they profusely apologize while explaining what made them late, that’s a forgivable mistake. But if that same friend continues to show up late, week after week, it can start to impact your schedule when you spend time waiting for them to arrive. That’s a valid reason for you to assert yourself and ask your friend to respect your time by managing their own schedule better.
Another common example of toxic behavior can be found in the workplace. Your boss might routinely ignore your input in meetings, or you may struggle with passive-aggressive co-workers. In 2016, 62% of workers interviewed reported that they had been treated rudely at least once a month while at work.
Working in a toxic environment or navigating a troubled relationship can be exhausting, but the stress can be lessened by establishing healthy boundaries for yourself.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
The first step in setting boundaries is knowing your personal wants, needs and values. Boundaries should be set with your personal comfort level in mind. You might have both flexible and non-negotiable boundaries. For example, a flexible boundary could include your personal schedule; you may prefer to work until 5 p.m., but you can work until 5:30 if needed. A non-negotiable boundary relates to aspects of your life such as your personal health or your family’s needs. If someone in your life seems to be constantly infringing upon your boundaries, there are some steps to keep in mind.
Advice for Dealing with Difficult Relationships
When someone in your life continues to disrespect or hurt you, it can take a negative toll on your mental and emotional health. Beginning to start establishing boundaries for yourself can be a difficult process, whether you’re struggling with workplace tension or dealing with a negative friend. At Oakville Wellness Center, qualified therapists are available for individual and couples counseling to help you begin a better chapter in your life.
Some people believe that establishing boundaries means keeping people at a distance or pushing others away, but this isn’t the case. Dr. Dana Gionta says that establishing healthy boundaries means knowing your emotional, physical, and mental limits. When those limits are crossed, you may become uncomfortable or even resentful towards others.
Unhealthy boundaries can occur with anyone in your life, including your romantic partner, friends, and family members. Learning about the common signs of unhealthy boundaries can help you recognize relationships in your own life that may need healthy boundaries established.
Boundaries in Romantic Relationships
Boundaries can sometimes be hard to discern in romantic relationship because partners are inclined to share not only tangible items with each other, but also secrets, fears, and other personal emotions. Counselor Gary Gilles says that healthy boundaries should distinguish the responsibilities of both partners. He states that each person is responsible for:
Healthy boundaries foster better communication and responsibility for both you and your partner. But sometimes emotions can cloud your judgment and lead to unhealthy boundaries. Some common boundary infractions in relationships can include:
Boundaries in Friendships
Since each one of your friendships differ, your boundaries will likely vary as well. People will naturally let their closest friends know more about them, but be more guarded when it comes to new friends. Healthy boundaries between friends should include:
Have you ever had a friend who never showed up on time, or a friend that talked about you behind your back? These are common boundary violations that can occur in both old and new friendships. Other unhealthy boundaries can include:
Boundaries With Parents
As you grow older, boundaries between you and your parents are going to change. Whether you’re just about to move out of your parent’s house or if you’ve been living independently for years, stay tuned to signs of unhealthy boundaries such as:
How to Begin Establishing Healthy Boundaries
Standing up for yourself and talking to others about your limits is a challenging process. If talking about all of your boundaries sounds too overwhelming, that’s OK. Dr. Gionta recommends starting to practice being assertive in small ways first. You could begin by telling a friend “no” if you don’t want to do something. Below are some more steps you can take in establishing healthy boundaries.
It can also be helpful to seek support if you feel defeated by unhealthy boundaries. You can start by taking this relationship assessment created by Oakville Wellness Center to gauge your relationship health. If your results concern you, or if you just need support, Oakville Wellness Center has well-qualified therapists to help you develop the skills and confidence needed to start establishing healthy boundaries.
We all know how trying everyday life can be. The minute you roll out of bed, it hits you that you have a long day ahead of you: feeding the dog and letting him out, prepare breakfast or just some coffee to go, slaving away at work. You might not even remember the last time you could sit in total silence and just breathe.
As you might imagine, you are not alone. In fact, it has been reported that nearly 30% of Canadians because the ages of 15 and 75 regularly experience high levels of stress at work. Of course, work is just one face of stress. Add children into the mix and their countless demands, and you must take away some more of your alone time. Caregiver for a sick relative? There goes more--if not all--of your opportunity to relax. Fortunately, as more research regarding the importance of self-care emerges, so do more clever tips to enjoy it--even for the busiest of people. Read on to learn all about self-care.
Self-Care in a Nutshell
Self-care is a fuzzy-sounding term with a relatively straightforward definition: it simply refers to anything you might do with the intention of improving your physical well-being or peace of mind, or both. For instance, perhaps even with your hectic schedule, you still set aside time to prepare yourself a healthy, well-balanced dinner. This could be considered an act of self-care. Other things people might do to improve their physical and mental health include going for a jog, meditating, taking a hot bath, or watching a favorite movie. In short, if it brings you some sense of pleasure, lowers your stress levels, and contributes to your general health, it can be considered self-care.
Why Self-Care is Important
Sometimes the things we find most rewarding are also the most exhausting. For instance, if you care for a severely ill parent, you likely take great pleasure in being able to provide for someone you love deeply. But there is one thing you have trouble admitting to yourself: it is hard, sometimes too hard. You might even feel as though taking a break to attend to your own needs would be selfish. Indeed, sometimes we think we need to wear our stress like a badge of honor. But understand that stress is not just a nagging nuisance to you. Below are some reasons you should take self-care seriously.
- Your Health Could Be at Stake. Yes, being overly stressed can actually affect your physical health. You might get frequent migraines, upset stomachs, even insomnia when all you want to do is sleep. Stress that goes unchecked for too long has even been associated with such conditions as hypertension and heart disease.
If you fall seriously ill, do you think you will be able to be the best caregiver you can be? Probably not. Not to mention, the people who care about you likely want the best for you. And that includes taking time for yourself.
- You Could Be Compromising Your Productivity. You might believe that doing more equals more accomplished. However, if you push yourself to the point of feeling ill or overly stressed, you could be harming your productivity rather than helping it. It has been established over the years that employees who experience the most stress take almost twice as many sick days as their less stressed counterparts. Even if you do not call off sick, can you really be performing your best if your mind is racing ceaselessly?
How to Practice Self-Care
Now that you know what self-care is and why you should practice it. But how can you get started? Below are some tips to help you develop your own self-care routine.
- Pamper yourself; practice great personal hygiene. Sure, even during times of stress, you might perform basic hygiene like brushing your teeth and showering. Sometimes, however, stressed people do not give themselves adequate time to attend to their grooming needs. Your self-care might involve a longer shower. You might even spend extra time styling your hair. It might not seem like much, but taking care of your appearance can help you feel more confident.
- Take time to enjoy healthy, satisfying meals. Most people understand the importance of healthy eating on both physical and mental health. But what about giving yourself the time to eat in the first place? Instead of wolfing down a bag of chips and sandwich at lunch, set time aside to prepare yourself a meal you will actually look forward to, one that ideally offers ample nutrition. Then, actually take your lunch break. Do not look at your phone. Do not try to sneak in work. Simply focus on eating and feeling satisfied.
- Spend time with the people you care about. Yes, sometimes it is hard to make plans when your schedule is packed. But even if you cannot go on a lunch date with your close friend, consider calling her just to chat. You do not have to discuss your woes; you can talk about whatever makes you happy, maybe even laugh a bit.
Want more advice about dealing with stress? Visit Oakville Wellness Center to get started.
A selfless heart can heal a thousand wounds, but first it must heal itself. There are over 43 million adults in the United States outside of the healthcare industry who have taken it upon themselves to care for another. Whether it’s an ill parent or an injured spouse, the call to action is second nature to these caring individuals. But while watching over others, it is easy to forget to take time of oneself.
Take Time For Yourself
The largest population of home caregivers are known as the sandwich population. These are often adults with both young children and elderly parents to take care of. Between ensuring the kids are doing their best in school, caring for their parents, and working, often full time, these caregivers find little to no time for themselves. If you have found yourself squished into this spot, it is important to take a breath and step back.
Although it may seem like you need to take care of everyone, you are likely forgetting the most important person-- yourself. According to researchers, caregivers who take no time for themselves can become extremely stressed. This can lead to harmful habits including smoking and excessive drinking. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, caregivers who spend 9 hours or more a day caring for someone else have double the risk of heart disease, and are 63% more likely to die compared to non-caregivers of the same age.
Physical Signs of Caregiver Stress
Because caregivers seem so resilient, it can be hard to notice the signs of stress. Even the most exhausted people can fake a smile and say “everything is alright.” There are some physical signs of stress that are easy to pinpoint. The first is constant exhaustion. A caregiver may try to ignore this symptom, saying they are just tired because they work too much. While this may be true, severe exhaustion is a sign of depression. If the caregiver feel tired even after getting a full night’s sleep, or uses exhaustion as a reason not to get out of bed, it is time to seek help.
Another physical sign is weight gain or loss. If a caregiver is ignoring their physical appearance, it is a sign they are stressed or overworked. If they are losing weight, they could be skipping meals, which can cause low-blood sugar. Again, this is also a sign of depression. If it is not addressed quickly enough, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress
Not all signs of stress can be seen by the naked eye. If you are worried about a caregiver, even if they look fine on the outside, it is important to have a conversation with them. Sometimes all anyone needs is an ear willing to listen. Some of the most common signs of stress include headaches, feeling numb, and trouble focusing. When the stress has reached this level, professional help may be required.
When someone you love is sick, it can be difficult to allow someone else to help them. You do not need to give up the reigns entirely, but hiring respite care is a great first step. Respite care is planned, temporary caregiver for your loved one. Hiring someone you trust to help out one to two days a week can help you relieve stress and find time for yourself.
Instead of spending 24 hours a day by someone’s side, make sure you are scheduling breaks. If being a caregiver is essentially your full-time job, treat it that way. Make sure you step a way for 10 minute breaks, and ensure you are eating lunch. It may feel selfish at first, but in reality, it is usually a benefit to all parties involved. By taking time for yourself, you will come back refreshed, ready to take care of your loved one.
It is important to also take care of your mental health. By talking to a therapist, you can clear your mind of stress. You can also talk through any burdens you are feeling. This is especially important if you are showing signs of depression or have had thoughts of suicide. It is never too late to get help.
Motivation is the thing that gets us up in the morning and keeps us going all day. At least, that’s the idea. The truth is that motivation can often be fleeting, and it’s very common for people to have trouble finding that spark to seize the day. There’s no simple cure for a lack of motivation because it can arise for a multitude of reasons. Factors ranging from your social life and family issues to your personal health can all have a significant impact on how you function from day to day.
Thus, the path to finding more motivation in your daily life is a personal one. Whatever your own struggles may be, we encourage you to consider these suggestions to see if any of them work for you. Some may be more helpful than others, and some may not help much at all. That being said, you may find that the simple act of searching for more motivation will help by itself, opening you up to new ways of looking at yourself and your world.
Clean Your Room
This piece of advice may sound like a chore, but it actually comes from psychologist Ralph Ryback of Psychology Today -- and a number of other important psychologists and researchers agree. Disorganization can loom over you and feel like an impending task (or a past failure of cleanliness) which can lead to a defeated attitude on a subconscious level. Other studies have even shown that people who have cleaner houses tend to be healthier: a finding that supports the notion that making one positive change in your life (such as tidying up) can inspire you to make a succession of additional positive changes.
Sometimes, the cumulative stress of our daily lives just becomes too much. If you find yourself just wanting to get away from it all, consider including exercise into your daily or weekly routine. In John Ratey’s book, Spark, the psychiatrist delves into the various benefits that exercise has on the brain. By elevating your heart rate for thirty minutes just three times a week, studies have shown drastic improvements in overall energy, social skills and focus. Additionally, there is significant evidence that shows how exercise helps to fight depression and anxiety, conditions that are all too common these days.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an “exercise person”, it can be relatively easy to implement a more active lifestyle. For example, going for a walk each day may make a significant difference in your motivation. Just like with cleaning your room, getting a workout in before starting your day can give you a sense of accomplishment to build off of.
You may think that successful people are just naturally motivated. In fact, this is usually not the case. The difference is that many highly-motivated people have just learned how to best channel energy to their benefit. This is something that you too, with a little practice, can accomplish.
The biggest trick to staying motivated is not to rely on it. Motivation comes and goes just like happiness and sadness; it’s only natural. Accepting that fact is the first step to learning how to overcome it. Instead of relying on motivation, rely on discipline. By setting clear and attainable goals for yourself, you can fight a lack of motivation with sheer willpower and determination.
One way to do this is by using SMART goals. Originally invented as an ultra-effective way to set goals, it is now relied on by countless people in order to gauge aspirations and accomplish tasks. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting a goal while following these guidelines, you can ensure that you have the best chance at achieving it.
At Oakville Wellness Center, our expert therapists will always be there to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information or an appointment.
“Communication is the key to human interaction” -Amanda Schaumburgh, SLP
Becoming a new parent is the journey of a lifetime. From hearing their first breath, to watching their first steps, there are many “firsts” that will fill you with a sense of awe and amazement. Of course, one of the most exciting moments in the lives of new parents is hearing that first word. Not only is it a sign of growth and development, it’s typically pretty adorable!
While parenting does come with many exciting moments, it comes with a few challenges as well. For example, what if that first word never comes, or maybe it comes later than expected? Despite the fact that children develop at different rates, certain linguistic events are expected to happen within a particular time frame. When a child’s ability to communicate seems delayed, new parents are prone to start experiencing significant worries. Although these fears are completely understandable, there is no need to panic. There are professionals out there who can help.
If your child experiencing a delay in his or her speaking abilities, it may be time to see a Speech Language Pathologist. If you are unfamiliar with the term, these are licensed professionals who deal with speech impediments. Through intensive coaching and therapy, a speech pathologist can figure out the underlying cause of a child's inability to meet their speech milestones. If you would like to learn more about delayed speech and important speech milestones, we have developed this article. Here, we will highlight some of the warning signs that your child may benefit from a little extra help.
Lack of Social Interaction
Most parents look forward to their child reaching new milestones, especially when that child is an infant. Because each day brings something new, even the smallest achievements seem miraculous. It is particularly fascinating to watch you new bundle of joy interact with friends and family. As your baby grows, here are some developments you have to look forward to:
1. From 0-3 months: you should notice that your baby responds with smiles and coo-ing.
2. From 7-12 months: you will hear your baby react with pointing and clapping.
3. From 7-24 months: you should notice your child gaining the ability to respond to your talking.
If your child has passed these benchmarks without noticeable development of the above mentioned skills, a speech therapist will be able to uncover the underlying cause. Remember, early detection is always beneficial. If you are unsure whether or not your child is experiencing a delay that might indicate a speech disability, take him or her in to be checked out by a professional.
Inability to Understand Your Child
Studies have shown that between 18 and 24 months, parents should be able to understand what their children are trying to convey to them. Note: this does not mean your child will have a perfect vocabulary by age 2; we cannot stress that enough. Your child is expected, and even encouraged to make mistakes in syntax and diction. By making mistakes, your child is learning which structures are correct.
English is a difficult language, but, as linguist Noam Chomsky asserts, we are all born with a universal grammar. Simply stated, a universal grammar is the innate ability to learn language. By age two, if your child has not yet found his or her voice, seeking a speech therapist is highly encouraged. Every child has the ability to speak a language effectively. With that being said, about 1 in 12 children has some sort of speech related disorder. The need for extra coaching is quite common, and will produce significant results.
Difficulties With Sound Production
Between the ages of two and three, you should see significant developments in your child’s speaking abilities. Around this time, you may also start to notice that your child has difficulties producing certain sounds. Before you start to worry, remember that some sounds are more difficult to make than others.
For example, if your child has a hard time with trilling (rolling) their “r’s,” this is to be expected. On the other hand, if your child is experiencing difficulties with the bilabials, i.e the sounds P,B,K,G etc., it may be time to start seeking the help of a speech pathologist. To find out whether your child’s ability to produce correct sounds is further behind than average, check out some research on child language acquisition.
If you feel that your child is struggling to keep up, or has yet to reach the milestones that we have mentioned. Check out the Speech Pathologist at Oakville Wellness. Their SLP will work with your child on a wide range of needs and ensure that he or she leaves confident in their abilities to succeed.
Relaxation is an important part of human life. Everyone loves to take breaks and recuperate from time to time, and relaxation is shown to reduce stress and have several health benefits. Approximately 77% of adults regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. These symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, chest pain, and more, and they can lead to serious conditions like cardiovascular diseases and mental health problems. Making time for relaxation can help manage this stress and prevent it from manifesting physically. Techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and rest help produce a relaxation response in the body which can decrease stress and stress-related conditions.
However, as helpful as relaxation can be, the age-old adage “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” applies to relaxation as well. When people achieve relaxation in the wrong ways or over-prioritize it in their lives, there can be unhealthy consequences just as dangerous as having too much stress. Here are some signs that your relaxation techniques might be more problematic than they are beneficial:
You Achieve Relaxation in Harmful Ways
There are both positive and negative ways to achieve relaxation. If you use negative ways to reach a state of relaxation, you are going to increase your stress levels and cause more damage than good. Abusing drugs, alcohol, or other substances might feel helpful in the moment, but these coping mechanisms are unhealthy and can have significant health risks. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can cause physical and emotional problems that can lead to severe bodily damage and even death. You should avoid using substances to try and reduce stress.
Other negative ways people use to try and manage stress include unhealthy or excessive habits. Overeating and binge-eating can be disastrous for your health, which will lead to increased stress and health problems like obesity and heart-disease. Seek help if your stress-managing eating habits have become out of control. Over using entertainment and binge-watching television has been linked with depression and loneliness. While it might be helpful to set aside time to watch television, play video games, or use other electronics to take a break, when you spend hours upon hours doing these activities, you put your health at risk. Poor coping habits like impulsive purchasing can devastate people financially and mentally, and it can also ruin marriages and other relationships. Make sure to avoid these habits when you are trying to deal with the stressors in your life.
Emotionally or physically cheating on a significant other is a surefire way to poison a relationship. Destroying your health and the relationships you have with people you care about is never a good way to manage the problems you are facing in life. If you are participating in any of these activities in order to feel relaxed, your relaxation is harmful, not helpful.
You Over-Prioritize Relaxation
While relaxation can have wonderful benefits for people who make time for it regularly, it can be problematic for people who dedicate too much time to it. If you are relaxing when you should be working or you are slacking off instead of taking care of your responsibilities, you are relaxing in a harmful way. Like anything else in life, relaxation needs to be balanced among your other duties. If you are sleeping or participating in other stress-relief activities when it is time to for you to go to work or take care of your children, then you are not achieving a healthy balance. In fact, sleeping too much can ruin your sleep schedule and cause insomnia. Carve out time for relaxation, but make sure that you have time to take care of your other duties as well. Make sure to relax in moderation.
You Use Relaxation to Avoid Conflict
If you are in a partnership or friendship where there are unhealthy problems that need to be handled, you should not seek relaxation in order to escape or cope with the conflict in those relationships. Do not be so relaxed that you are afraid to confront someone. Avoid using relaxation as a form of escapism in order to prevent yourself from having potentially hard conversations with others. Practice good communication and address issues in your relationships when necessary. Communication is a healthy way to begin to address conflict, and everyone involved will be better for it.
Your Relaxation Promotes Isolation
While it is definitely important to carve out time for yourself and have alone time, be wary if your relaxation techniques only involve isolation. It is important to be around others and to communicate to your friends and family when you are feeling overly-stressed or you are having a difficult time coping with problems in your life. Actively avoiding others is not a beneficial way to relax and it can cause you to feel lonely and depressed.
For more information or for help finding positive relaxation and coping techniques, visit Oakville Wellness Center.
Giving compliments to others is a great way to build relationships and strengthen bonds between friends. People tend to enjoy receiving compliments because kind words and positive feedback are encouraging and motivating, and they boost self-esteem. In addition to making a person feel good about themselves, flattering words also have numerous health benefits for the recipient. People who receive positive words frequently are shown to higher levels of productivity and decreased levels of stress, and they experience the same emotional payoff as they would have if they received a tangible reward instead. Researcher Norihiro Sadata, one of the creators of a study about the benefits of receiving compliments, says that getting a compliment is “as much as a social reward as being rewarded money.” With the evidence of how money is a key motivator, it is no surprise that people who receive praise have high levels of performance.
Although the recipient of kind words seems to benefit the most from compliments, giving compliments can be equally rewarding. However, while everyone loves to receive accolades, praising others does not always come easily. Sometimes giving compliments can be intimidating because people are not sure how their words will be received, or they are afraid they will come off as disingenuous. It can also be difficult for someone who has social anxiety or someone who is nervous around others to approach someone and commend them. If you struggle with any of these insecurities, giving a compliment might be a challenge, but with practice, you can become skilled in this area and reap the benefits of boosting others up with kindness. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work on becoming more confident when giving compliments.
Avoid giving compliments randomly or without meaning. Compliments come across better when they are sincere and the recipient knows you truly mean what you are saying. Always make sure that you are being moderate with your praise. You do not have to be over-the-top with your compliments to be genuine. Inflated praise will make your comments seem insincere and might make the recipient uncomfortable. Take the time to truly acknowledge someone’s strengths and approach them with genuine kind words. A genuine compliment will go a long way because it will be more significant to the recipient.
Make sure your motives for giving the compliment are pure so that you do not give backhanded compliments or seem like you are giving praise for your own benefit. Empty flattery and kissing-up are not helpful for you are the person you are complimenting. Make sure you are not offering your words in order to receive a compliment in return. When you offer words of admiration, you should be doing it solely for the benefit of the other person.
Regardless of how sincere your intention is, a general compliment will not be as significant as one that recognizes something specific. Instead of praising someone for doing good work, praise them for the specific action or project they completed that demonstrated their good work and include examples. Saying, “Your presentation was great” is not as meaningful as saying, “The information you shared in your presentation today was insightful and well-organized, and I learned some helpful new skills I will be sure to implement.” Try and focus on character traits and behaviors rather than physical attributes, and be as specific as possible when highlighting these characteristics.
There is nothing more sincerely flattering than knowing someone sees you and that they can specifically pinpoint something they appreciate about you. Take the time to pay attention to those around you so that you can notice their personal strengths. As you focus on others and their positive qualities, genuine compliments will come to you more naturally. Make it a priority to be present when you are spending time with others and actively look for opportunities to offer praise.
Many people are afraid to praise others because, in their mind, they see compliment giving as ambitious, grandiose gesture. Giving a compliment does not have to be complicated or overly formal. When you see an opportunity to offer someone a genuine compliment, simply walk over to them and casually give them your positive remarks. Notice and offer admiration for small actions. If someone has a new haircut that looks good on them, let them know. You do not have to wait for someone to do something major or for them to have some sort of big accomplishment in order to recognize them. It will be less intimidating to give compliments when you see them as quick, casual remarks rather than grand gestures.
Be Open to Receiving Compliments
If you are not able to receive compliments well, you might struggle to give them to others. Learn how to take a compliment in stride. When someone praises your work or offers you a positive remark, smile and say thank you. Resist the urge to diminish their compliment by denying or negating their kind words. Do not automatically return a compliment unless it is sincere. When you receive a compliment that is truly flattering, consider the way they gave their compliment to you and allow that experience to influence how you give compliments to others.
For help communicating and building positive relationships with others, contact Oakville Wellness Center and visit their blog.
Mental illness is often the result of a complicated interaction between our genetic makeup, lived experiences and the environment we inhabit.
Scientists have yet to precisely identify the root of the difficulties 1 in 5 Americans face in a given year (National Alliance on Mental illness, 2017).
Advances in the area of mental health research are vitally important as they can help to inform new treatments.
Researchers at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn in Germany recently discovered that a gene called “SLC6A4” was strongly correlated with someone's chances of suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD). Initial findings have been published online in the journal of Psychiatric Genetics.
SLC6A4 is involved in transporting serotonin in the nervous system. Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone” as it is involved in feelings of positivity and wellbeing.
The fact that some people are born with an innate disposition towards suffering from SAD is extremely interesting, particularly given its high prevalence rates in the American population.
Anxiety disorders are amongst the most common mental illnesses affecting up to 18% of the population (Anxiety and Depression association of America, 2017).
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
SAD is often minimized by people confusing it with “shyness” or simply being introverted. In reality, SAD is an intense and persistent fear of social situations. Those with SAD may experience bouts of anxiety over simple everyday things such as answering the phone or being asked directions on the street.
Whilst many of us may experience mild anxiety over social situations, those with SAD will experience chronic worry before, during and after the social scenario. They particularly fear embarrassment or social rejection.
SAD is often apparent from an early age and first manifests itself in childhood or adolescence. It is also almost twice as common in women as men, with prevalence particularly high in Europe and North America.
Scientists are not fully sure why women are more prone to anxiety but some have theorised that this propensity may be linked to differences in brain chemistry and hormone fluctuations.
Women are also more prone to stress and tend to mull over stressful situations more than men, who tend to pursue more active coping strategies.
So what does Social Anxiety Disorder look like and how is it diagnosed? Here are some of the signs:
Some individuals who suffer from SAD also experience panic attacks.
Panic attacks result from fear of social situations that becomes overwhelming, leading up to a physical response. Although panic attacks usually only last a few minutes, they are extremely unpleasant.
The individual may feel nauseous and experience trembling, palpitations and a shortness of breath. Although panic attacks don’t lead to any long- term physical difficulties they are extremely alarming.
SAD often co- occurs with other disorders such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder and post- traumatic stress disorder.
What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
As previously discussed SAD is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although certain genes may significantly increase the likelihood of SAD, this may not be enough for the disorder to manifest itself.
Researchers have linked parenting styles to the likelihood of developing SAD. As SAD may have a genetic root, parents may be more worried or anxious, translating poor coping styles to their children.
Getting Diagnosed with SAD
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the tool most commonly used to diagnose mental conditions including SAD. Criteria includes:
Persistent fear of and/ or intense anxiety about social scenarios in which you believe you may be judged or act in a way that's embarrassing.
Avoidance of social situations and/or intense anxiety when present in social situations
Anxiety that's out of proportion to the situation
Anxiety or distress that impedes your daily living
Fear or anxiety that cannot be explained by a different medical condition, medication or substance problem
These criteria should be present for 6 months or more
How is SAD Treated?
SAD may be treated with medications and/ or psychotherapy. Psychological counselling is highly effective for those suffering from SAD. It can help the individual learn ways to deal with stress in social situations and build self- confidence.
One of the more commonly used treatments is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). CBT may help the individual to see that their fears are irrational and help them to gradually work up to facing the social situations they fear the most. One tactic that is often employed is role- playing, whereby the individual can practice being in social situations and build up confidence in a safe and secure environment.
SAD can be all- consuming for the sufferer, as being crippled regarding ones social life and interactions limits our ability to form relationships, push our personal boundaries and live a happy and fulfilling life.
It has a remarkably high prevalence rate and many suffers stay under the radar undiagnosed.
SAD responds remarkably well to treatment, however, and if you suspect you may have SAD, please seek out a local mental health professional and learn to tame the anxiety you face daily.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Turk, C. L., Heimberg, R. G., & Hope, D. A. (2001). Social anxiety disorder. Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual, 3, 114-153.