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How divorce impacts children’s mental health & Interventions to support emotional development?

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Divorce: the alteration of a family unit through parental separation. Divorce occurs for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to, growing apart and infidelity. Whatever the case may be for you and your ex-spouse, there is one thing that will always be in common: if children were part of the family unit, they will be experiencing the emotional and mental impacts of the divorce alongside you.

Kids can be impacted in many ways, but some of the most common areas to monitor are academic performance, social life, and emotional regulation as seen below.

Potential impacts of divorce on children.

  • Blame themselves for the divorce.
  • Attribute acting out (bad behavior) to the divorce.
  • Poor academic performance.
  • Experimentation with risky behaviors.
  • Behavior Regression.
  • Experience emotional outbursts.
  • Decreased mood.
  • Start fights with peers.
  • Lose interest in activities.
  • Suffer from separation anxiety from the parent(s).

Potential long-term effects of divorce on children.

  • Increased substance use
  • Psychiatric hospitalizations
  • Mental health symptoms and/or conditions
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.
  • Increased risk of divorce
  • Financial problems.
  • Employment difficulties.


The most important thing you need to know about the effects of divorce on children’s mental health is that the parents play an important role in how their children adapt. The parents’ relationships and behaviors can play a role in either increasing or decreasing the mental/emotional effects.

Here are some important interventions to utilize:

  • Minimize conflict and hostility around children.
  • Avoid putting children in the middle.
  • Maintain a healthy parent-child relationship.
  • Speak to children with warmth and encouragement.
  • Teach coping skills and help children feel safe.
  • Preserve appropriate discipline structure.
  • Have a support network for yourself and your kids.
  • Seek professional help (if needed to help you and/or the family unit adjust).


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Invisible plastics: Is your health at risk?

close up photo of plastic bottles

Here’s a fact you probably did not know: each year, the average American consumes a credit card’s worth of microplastics every year. In fact, some research has shown that we may ingest greater than 100,000 microplastic particles every day.

What are microplastics? How are we exposed?

Microplastics are toxic chemicals invisible to the naked eye.

Exposure can come from a variety of sources, including ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. Microplastics can appear in our food, water, and air. Additionally, these particles can be found in everyday products, like synthetic clothing, tea bags, laundry/dishwasher pods, paper cups, facial cleansers, cosmetics, and even in some medicines. Some of the plastics ingested are composed of toxins, such as pigments, flame retardants, water repellents, and phthalates. Moreover, particles spread through the air may be composed of dust, synthetic fibers, and industrial/traffic emissions.

What is the harm?

The full extent of the health impact is unknown because there are many factors at play, including the length of time the particles are within our bodies, amount and frequency of exposure, type of exposure, predisposing genetic factors, and more. However, microplastics have been found to potentially impact brain development and/or cause neurotoxicity, metabolic disturbances, and increased cancer risk. In addition, they may also double as endocrine disruptors impacting hormone function and (potentially) causing weight gain.

In the context of brain health, exposure to microplastics during periods of brain development can have a significant impact on learning ability, memory, and behavior throughout the lifespan.

What can we do to reduce risk?

Unfortunately, once these plastic particles are emitted into the air or food or water supplies, they are essentially impossible to get rid of. As a result, reducing plastic pollution now can make a huge impact in the future. However, this method is not easy and requires support from everyone. Another more attainable method includes educating yourself on what to look for when purchasing food or storage containers, avoiding storing food or water in plastic containers, refraining from microwaving food in plastic containers.

Here are 2 great tips to remember:

When purchasing an item contained in a plastic container, on the bottom there will be a number inside a triangle. Refer to code below.

1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

2: High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

4: Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

5: Polypropylene (PP)

6: Polystyrene (PS)

7: Other (PC)

Although the numbers listed above are related to recycling, they also offer us great insight as consumers. Numbers 2,4 and 5 are the safest among the 7 plastic labels. Numbers 3 and 6 should always be avoided, while 1 and 7 should be avoided or used with caution.

In the cosmetic industry, the ingredients list will include the names of plastics contained. Refer to the names of 22 plastic chemicals to watch out for below in your cosmetic products.

  1. Polymer
  2. Nylon-12 (polyamide-12)
  3. Nylon-6
  4. Poly(butylene terephthalate
  5. Poly(ethylene isoterephthalate
  6. Poly(ethylene terephthalate)
  7. Poly(methyl methacrylate) 
  8. Poly(pentaerythrityl terephthalate)
  9. Poly(propylene terephthalate) 
  10. Polyethylene
  11. Polypropylene
  12. Polystyrene
  13. Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)
  14. Polyurethane
  15. Polyacrylate
  16. Acrylates copolymer
  17. Allyl stearate/vinyl acetate copolymers 
  18. Ethylene/methacrylate copolymer
  19. Ethylene/acrylate copolymer
  20. Butylene/ethylene/styrene copolymer
  21. Styrene acrylates copolymer
  22. Trimethylsiloxysilicate (silicone resin)


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Panic Attack or an Anxiety Attack?

woman holding her head

The words “Panic Attack” and “Anxiety Attack” are often used interchangeably. The main difference is that experiencing panic attacks is considered a disorder by the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It classifies the experiencing of recurrent unexpected panic attacks as a “Panic Disorder.”

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is defined by the DSM-5 as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling or shaking,
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
  • Feelings of choking.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea or abdominal distress.
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chills or heat sensations.
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
  • Fear of dying.”

Anxiety Attack

Anxiety Attacks, on the other hand, have triggers. Common triggers are stress, trauma, and excessive worry or fear about a certain situation. Anxiety attacks do have symptoms that overlap with panic attacks. These symptoms include an elevated heart rate, shakiness, nausea, and lightheadedness. Although physical symptoms are common during an anxiety attack, the more common ones include elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and pain in stomach. Whereas, in a panic attack, many people compare the experience to one of having a heart attack.

Regardless of the type of attack you are experiencing, you deserve support. There are many methods of support available. Some may be as simple as learning to avoid triggers. Others may include learning new coping mechanisms, exploring and processing trauma, and/or medication. One treatment option is not better than the other, the best treatment depends on the person and their specific needs. Mental health professionals can help you assess and form a treatment plan that is right for you.

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Child Development According To Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory

In 1977, American psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner conceived the Ecological Systems Theory to explain how children’s development can be impacted by social environments. Bronfenbrenner hypothesized that by studying children in multiple environments (ecological systems), we can have a better understanding of their development. According to this theory, every ecological system that a child interacts with will influence the child’s development. (2019)

Bronfenbrenner breaks the influence down into 5 ecological systems: Microsystem, Mesosystem, Ecosystem, Macrosystem, and Chronosystem.


The microsystem is the most influential level of the ecological system because it encompasses those with direct contact to the child. A few examples include parent(s), sibling(s), and teacher(s).


The next level of the ecological system is the mesosystem. The mesosystem refers to how a child’s development is influenced by the intersection of the microsystem. The relationship between different individuals or settings that the child interacts with can have an indirect impact on the child. An example would be how the home environment interacts with the school environment.  


The ecosystem is encompassed by events that are not directly related to the child’s participation in the environment. This ecological system emphasizes how situations outside of a child’s decision-making process can impact their development. An example may be a child growing up with a parent working extra-long hours or a parent enlisted in the military. (Bronfenbrenner, 1979)


It is no surprise that the economic, cultural, and political environment a child grows up in can play an active role in their development. An example is the difference in development between a child growing up in a third world country versus the United States. (2019)


The last ecological system is the chronosystem. The chronosystem utilizes the dimension of time to understand phases of a child’s development. A few examples are parents’ divorcing, moving, and parent(s) losing a job.

How can this theory be applied to counseling?

I think the answer to this question will differ based on who you ask. In my opinion, I think the best way to assess an individual (whether minor or adult) is through a comprehensive background of their social environment growing up. I believe the best way to understand someone is to understand the factors that contribute to who they are and what they believe in.

One trend I see a lot is the idea that people do not change. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe every single person has the ability to change, to learn, and to grow. Yes, someone has to be willing to change. But another extremely important factor is connecting with people on a level they understand. Someone genuinely may not understand why arguing with you all the time is a big deal if that is the home environment, they grew up in. Likewise, if someone grew up in an area full of danger and fear, they may be on edge most of the time.

In counseling, a therapist can collaborate with a patient to form a treatment plan that respects the environmental factors that have contributed to their overall brain health, starting with the early development years. As a psych student, I truly value learning how to build comprehensive treatment plans that are in collaboration with the patient and offer support for why they reached out for therapy in the first place. However, never overlooking the developmental factors at play. If we do not acknowledge how the past shaped someone, then how do we expect to help break maladaptive behaviors or help the patient enforce boundaries, etc.?

What are your thoughts?


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

(2019) What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory? The Psychology Notes Headquarters.

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A Guide To Enforcing Boundaries

concerned black couple sitting on bed in misunderstanding

Real Talk: There is absolutely no reason to set boundaries IF you do not enforce them.

Let’s face it: setting boundaries can be terrifying! If you are a “people-pleaser” or “go with the flow” personality type, the act of setting boundaries can be a challenging step to take. If you are willing to protect your space and set boundaries that help you build healthy, meaningful connections with others, then you deserve to reap the benefits of those boundaries.

If I create boundaries, won’t people just respect them? This is a multifaceted question. First, you have to share your boundaries clearly and explicitly with the other person in order for them to know where your boundaries are. However, secondly, people do not always believe that the boundaries apply to them, so they may not listen and act accordingly. Moreover, there are also people who will cross your boundary line simply because they can. If you do not enforce the boundaries you create, then many may feel inclined to exploit you and your boundaries.

But here’s the thing: you are allowed encouraged to draw a line between what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you feel uncomfortable. You deserve to feel good about yourself and your relationships. It does not make you a bad person for creating boundaries. Just remember to also respect other people’s boundaries as well!

So, once you decide on what your boundaries are, how do you enforce them?

Here’s my mini guide:

  1. Share your boundaries with the other person. Be clear and explicit. Examples:
    1. “It makes me feel uncomfortable when you touch my leg. I would appreciate it if you would not touch me without my consent.”
    2. “I feel hurt when you make fun of my intelligence. I understand you intend it as a joke, but I do not receive it that way. I would feel better if you would not make fun of me anymore.”
    3. “I am here for you, but right now, I am not in the right headspace to provide the support you need and deserve from me. I would love to help you find someone else who can be there the way you need.
  2. If they do not listen to your boundaries and cross the line, then remind them. Be forceful but polite. People do not often respond well when they feel attacked.
    1. “I told you before that this makes me uncomfortable. Please do not touch me again without asking if I am comfortable first.”
    2. “Please do not make fun of me. I have clearly explained that it makes me feel hurt.”
    3. “I am not in the right headspace as I mentioned earlier. I cannot provide the support you need right now.”
  3. Recognize that “no” is a full sentence. You do not have to explain yourself. We often feel like we need to give a reason after the word “No” or phrase “I do not want to.” You do not owe anyone an explanation. If you are not comfortable, if you do not want to, if you cannot, etc., you do not have to explain why. No is a full sentence and does not require justification.
    1. If you do not want to go out, you can simply say “No.”
    2. If you do not want to engage in an activity, you can simply say “No.”
    3. If you do not want to buy something, you can simply say “No.”
  4. Do not be afraid to change the nature of a relationship to protect the boundaries you have created. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it is okay to end or change relationships with people who do not respect you and your boundaries.
    1. It is okay to not spend as much time with someone who is emotionally draining you.
    2. You do not have to hang out with someone who is disrespecting your boundaries or even inadvertently causing you harm.
    3. Even if they are a family member or longtime friend, you do not have to compromise your own emotional health, space, or boundaries to satisfy them.
  5. Respect the other person’s boundaries. People tend to respond better when they also feel included and important. Someone is more likely to respect your boundaries when you also make the effort to respect theirs. Do not be afraid to ask them about their boundaries too!
    1. I want to also respect your boundaries. What are your boundaries?
    2. Is there anything I have said or done that has made you feel uncomfortable?
    3. How can I respect your boundaries?
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Does Social Media Impact Your Mental Health?

close up photography of smartphone icons

Social media is centered around connection. We are connected to people around the world 24/7. With the blessing of continued connection and access to everything happening around the world, there is also the impact of mental health. And the impact can be both positive or negative.

What is the positive impact of social media?

The three C’s: Connection, Community, and Change. Let’s think back to 2020, a time when the world shutdown and social media became the center of how we stayed connected. The power of social media is that we can keep up with our friends and loved ones, especially when we are not able to be there in person with. Furthermore, we can meet people from around the world!

We also find community on social media. Social media helps us to find pages, groups, and people with similar interests as us. For example, I have found an amazing community of mental health professionals and advocates on Instagram. The community created by social media helps many of us find a sense of belonging.

Lastly, social media also provides a platform for advocacy that can lead to change. Topics trending is one of the main powers of social media. It helps us to stay educated on what’s happening the world. And, when we disagree with what is happening, we can speak up about it and use our platforms for advocacy.

What are some disadvantages of social media?

With all the pros of social media, we have seen some major cons that affect one’s mental health. For example, as human beings, we often compare ourselves to other people. However, with social media, the level and frequency of comparison is amplified. With all the content we are exposed to, it is not surprising that we compare the way we look, the things we have, the lifestyle we live, etc. I will be honest, when I see a photo of a thin model with little to no body fat, the most gorgeous face, and an amazing wardrobe, it feels impossible not to question why I do not look that way. Or, when I see big families spending time together or public figures jetting around the world, I sometimes wonder why my life cannot be that way too. Comparing ourselves and our lives to others does not make us weak; however, doing it (all day) everyday weakens our self-esteem. And as we know, a weakened self-esteem can have detrimental effects on our mental health.

Let’s also talk about FOMO. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real! In the time before social media, if friends of yours were hanging out and you were not invited, chances are you probably would not have known. And, when summer came around and you were not in school, if people went on fun vacations or hung out, there is a good chance that you would not have known. But today, almost every time you open a social media app, it seems like you have found something you have missed out on.

We cannot talk about social media without mentioning how it has subconsciously trained us to seek validation from others. Is anyone else guilty of removing posts because they did not get enough likes?! I certainly am! Have you ever checked to see if certain people liked or commented on your posts? I have! It’s become engrained in our minds to see if someone cares for us based on how they interact with our social media posts.

Then, we have cyberbullying. Unfortunately, because communication is done behind a screen from one screen to another, it is hard to remember that there is a person on the other side. Lately, I, personally, feel like everywhere I look, someone has something negative to say about someone else. People cannot just share content anymore without being judged and picked apart. Without being able to see the person receiving the message, there is a lack of empathy. We are learning to interact without regard for others’ feelings.

Final Thoughts

The pressure to keep up, the worry over missing out, the fear of not being liked, the pain of being attacked in your comments or DMs, it all takes a toll on our mental health and emotional well-being.

You deserve to feel proud of who you are and where you are in life. You do not deserve to feel less than or inadequate. Be mindful of how your emotions are being impacted by the content and information you receive from social media. Take time to disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Social media is a powerful tool that provides us the privilege to be connected with the entire world, but you are important too. Make time to show yourself the same amount of attention that you show your TikTok.

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Why there should be a minimum standard of care across all psych wards

suit people woman laptop

Psych wards are designed to be a place where someone struggling can feel safe. Whether the person is having thoughts of suicide, struggling with self-harm, experiencing drug or alcohol abuse, attempted suicide, or just needs a safe space, a psych ward is supposed to be the place. Yet, people discharged from a psych ward are 100-200x more likely to die by suicide upon release.

Every psych ward is different, just like every hospital is different. Some have more funding than others, however, that does not mean the standard of care should be different. Many times, when you are admitted into a psych ward, you do not get to choose which one. Often times, it is hard to find multiple options for psych wards near you, if it is voluntary. Plus, you have to consider the financial cost, as it may vary based on insurance, type of hospital, etc.

Many psych ward visits are involuntary. Most people need serious intervention and support at that time. It does not matter who you are or where you come from, you are deserving of quality treatment that benefits you. Treatment that acts as a starting point in your recovery. You do not deserve to come out of the psych ward in a worse position. You do not deserve to be just a checked box that relieves the hospital / state of legal concerns. And you definitely do not deserve to be forced to try a medication that does not work for your actual diagnosis.

Imagine if we had a minimum standard of care that forced hospitals to allocate more funding toward behavioral health.

An individual hospitalized in a psych ward, whether voluntary or involuntary, deserves 1 on 1 time with a licensed mental health care professional that helps both parties get an understanding of the situation. Many struggling do not always know what they are going through and would benefit from exploring what they are feeling and experiencing with help. A lot of people do not have a confirmed diagnosis and may need support in learning what they are experiencing and what treatment options are available to them. When exploring the situation together, the psychiatrist may get a better feel for which medication options may be right for the patient, if the patient needs / wants medication.

Furthermore, group therapy could explore building a coping toolbox. Imagine if a group of people who are struggling with similar diagnoses were working together to explore coping mechanisms.  There could be mixed groups and groups for specific mental health symptoms / conditions / crises. People experiencing a mental health crisis often feel alone and being able to share their journey and their feelings with people who truly get it can be life-altering. Someone with schizophrenia and someone with anxiety disorder are both struggling with real mental illnesses but may need different treatment plans and different types of support. Customizing the experience for every patient to collaborate and connect not only with people experiencing similar situations but also to everyone there would be more rewarding than if it were just one or the other.

In addition, all patients should go home with a customized treatment plan. The treatment plan should include therapy / behavioral health facility recommendations, whether it is in-patient or out-patient. It should also include a list of coping mechanisms the patient feels comfortable with in addition to other coping mechanisms available to try. And the treatment plan should include a safety plan that helps the patient know what they can do if they experience another mental health crisis. 

Lastly, treatment should not be financially out of reach. When someone is held within a behavioral health facility, the cost (or a high portion of the cost) should be covered by insurance. The hospital should also charge a reasonable amount, rather than take advantage of the ability to profit on one’s mental health condition / crisis.

A standard of care within our psychiatric system is imperative to the success of our future. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death from age 10 to 35. People who need support should receive the help and support they need to jumpstart their recovery.

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How Do I Create A Safe Space?

women hugging and smiling

A safe space is essential for an authentic and supportive mental health conversation.

One of the primary reasons that individuals struggle in silence is the stigma associated with mental health. Essentially, we fear our loved one’s reaction. Will I be judged? Will I be invalidated? Will they not love me anymore? What if they do not understand? What if they do not care? What if they do not believe me? These are just a few of the questions that play on repeat through someone’s head when they want to reach out for help.

Often times, people do not want to struggle in silence. Yet, they feel like they have to, because opening up feels like a burden. In addition, it is devastating to be invalidated.

So, how do we let our loved ones know that we are here for them?

In my opinion, one of the biggest factors is how we discuss mental health on a regular basis. When we use words like “crazy, deranged, and psychopath” to label someone with a mental illness or who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, we are contributing to the stigma. Now, it may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but your loved ones will remember you using those words when they are struggling. This may cause hesitation on whether or not they open up to you.

Another factor, in my opinion, is the occurrence of honest conversations on mental health, emotions, and life experiences. How often do you engage in real conversations about how you are? And how often do you sincerely ask and answer “How are you?” When you show your own vulnerability, it creates a deeper connection. This connection allows someone to feel like they can also be vulnerable. Vulnerability has been given a bad reputation, but the most beautiful connections and conversations are created in the midst of vulnerability.

In addition to how and when we discuss mental health on a routine basis, the way we respond during a mental health conversation / check-in is essential.

Here is the thing: we are all continuously learning how to offer proper support and validation within mental health conversations. It truly is a learning process because the conversation is unique for everyone. Everyone experiences mental health conditions, symptoms, and crises in different ways; thus, the proper responses will vary person to person.

Here are some examples of variations:

  • Where does validation cross the line from helpful to harmful?
  • How much support should you offer? When is it the time to hold their hand and when is the time to just be there?
  • How often do I check-in? If I check-in too much, is it overbearing? If I do not check-in enough, am I being insensitive?
  • Should I share my ideas on what may be helpful, or should I stay out of it?
  • Do I tell someone else what my loved one disclosed to me or do I keep it to myself? What if it has to do with self-harm or suicidal thoughts? If I tell someone, will they never open up to me again?

In summary, yes, the conversation on mental health is very complicated. However, that does not mean the conversation is not necessary. If we do not talk about it, our loved ones will continue to struggle in silence. And silence is deadly.

Here are my tips to creating a safe space during the conversation.

  • Ask open-ended questions. This shows the person opening up that you are interested in a discussion and not ending the conversation.
  • Try to remove any judgement from your tone. If you do not understand, ask a question in a supportive manner. Ex. “I have never personally experienced X, and I want to be supportive, but I am not sure what the best thing I can do for you is. Would you mind explaining it more or how I can help?”
  • Emphasize support. “I am here for you. You are not alone in this. What can I do to offer my support?”
  • Validate feelings. “It makes sense that you feel …”
  • Follow up. The safe space should not end when the conversation does. Let your loved one know that you always have space for them.
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Are you content with life or is life about producing content?

person in white shirt with brown wooden frame

In an episode of the Normalize the Conversation series released on July 7, 2021, my guest, Alastair Ballentyne proposed this question to me: Are you content with life or is your life about producing content?

At first, I thought I was content with life. I am living my dream with Inspiring My Generation. I am obtaining my master’s in psychology. I have so many incredible things that I am beyond grateful for. I must feel content. Yet, my worth was still tied to my productivity. How much can I offer to others? What new resources or tools can I develop and share? How many blogs can I create? What more can I donate to the mental health community? How many different episodes can I produce? What else can I do? Where am I falling short? My entire thought process is “What else?”

I was so consumed with production and content that I often woke up in the middle of the night and start working. My anxiety was often triggered by taking time away from working to rest or socialize. There were periods of time where I would go more than 24 hours without rest. And this all felt normal to me. The only way to move forward is to continuously push yourself beyond your limits, right?

Our society is obsessed with overwhelming productivity.  

From a young age, we teach our kids to do more. Play more sports. Join more school organizations. Take on more after school commitments. Without it, you will not get into college. If you do not get into a good college, you will not get a decent job.

Then, we get to college. Now, it is all about earning good grades. Participating in school organizations. Joining Greek Life. Maintaining a social life. Resume building. Internships. Real life work experience. Job hunting.

When we enter the work force, taking days off to rest is selfish and it may get you fired. Working past 9-5 hours is expected. You are expected to have it all and do it all.

We are constantly telling ourselves that we have to do more and be more. Our life is consumed by how much we produce. It is not what we can do for ourselves, it is all about what we can offer to everyone else around us. But, in the midst of running ourselves empty trying to live up to society’s expectations, where does that leave us?

Watch the FULL episode to learn more:

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How is self-esteem tied to mental health?

i hate nothing about you with red heart light


Self-esteem is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.” In other words, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. When someone has high self-esteem, they have positive feelings about themselves. On the other hand, someone with low self-esteem has negative feelings about themselves. For example, someone with low self-esteem may believe they are not worthy of love or happiness.

Conversely, mental health encompasses our emotional and psychological well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It is easier to understand mental health when you look at it as a scale ranging from wellness or illness.

How does low self-esteem affect mental health?

Self-esteem impacts every piece of our life. It not only affects how we value ourselves as a person, but also how we take care of ourselves. Someone with higher self-esteem may make more time for self-care and rest. Furthermore, people with higher self-esteem are kinder to themselves, recognize their strengths, and advocate for themselves. On the other hand, people with lower self-esteem may focus on the negatives in their life, make it difficult to move beyond mistakes, and believe they are not good enough.

Lower self-esteem is linked to increased risk of depression and anxiety. We may begin to feel worthless because we believe we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. It can also impact our relationships. When we question our own worth, we often act in ways that demonstrate our insecurities. We may feel like our partner does not love us or feel paranoid about their fidelity.

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is a key part of self-esteem. When we constantly look for validation from external forces, like people around us or our followers on social media, our self-esteem and mental health will be negatively impacted. Thus, our self-esteem develops within ourselves.

What causes low self-esteem?

Often times, we can trace self-esteem damage to rejection and / or lack of positive reinforcement. When our parents, our friends, our partners, or other important figures in our life engage in abuse (whether it is emotional, physical, or sexual), we may feel like we deserve the pain. When we are constantly told our faults, especially by someone we care about, we tend to believe them. Low self-esteem can stem from manipulative relationships, where we are cheated on and / or gaslighted. It can also come from mental health conditions, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Depression. Recently, we have seen social media play a huge role in children’s self-esteem. We often compare ourselves to everyone around us—from our bodies to materialistic items to followers to likes.

Someone with low self-esteem may fear rejection, abandonment, or change. They may also seek approval from everyone around them. Low self-esteem is often hidden by using humor to point out their perceived flaws.

How can you build self-esteem?

Building self-esteem is important. However, shifting the feelings we have about ourselves is not an easy task. Often times, it involves discovering the underlying reasons behind our negative thoughts and learning how to adapt them. Therapy can be a great tool for this! Therapists can guide you through processing and lifestyle changes to build your self-esteem.

However, if therapy is not accessible to you, there are life-changes you can make now. There is always something you can do for yourself. Healthy lifestyle changes are crucial! Taking care of your body is taking care of your mind. Therefore, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and allowing your body time to rest is a great place to start. It is also important to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. The more time you spend with people who make you feel not good enough, the more your self-esteem will decline. Remember: what you put in your body, on your body, and around your body affect your physical and mental wellness.

Here are some other things you can do to build your self-esteem:

  • Celebrate your accomplishments. Even the small ones, including making your bed, finishing an assignment at work / school, or eating a balanced meal.
  • Focus on cultivating your inner happiness. Setting boundaries can be very helpful. You do not have to please everyone around you, especially not at a cost to yourself. When you attach your worth to someone else’s happiness, you have no control over your own happiness.
  • Be understanding of yourself and your emotions. It is okay to feel. Whatever you are feeling is valid, but it may not be true. Ask yourself where the thoughts come from.

Having a healthy self-esteem is vital to your quality of life. You deserve to love yourself as much as you love those around you.