A year of isolation may have given many of us an opportunity for self-exploration and blossoming.
As we welcome our first Pride Month after over a year of COVID-19 precautions and protocols and moving through lifting of social distancing mandates, it can be a time for reflection on what this experience has been like for us.
Grief for the loss of a year without access to our loved ones and larger community. Craving connection, normalcy, and a sense of safety. Anxiety around adjusting to socializing as COVID mandates begin to lift. These are all common experiences for our clients right now.
Why Women Need Female Friendships
All humans need connection. Women in particular, as studies show, need connection with other women** (see note below).
Some research suggests this is due to biology and hormone differences for females. Combine biological predisposition with current factors (increased use of technology, a global society where people tend to live apart, and our ongoing need for social distancing due to the pandemic) and you have the perfect recipe for loneliness.
The solution? Make female relationships a priority.
The result? Happier, more satisfied women with community and intimacy.
How to Get the Most Out of Therapy
There are several ways to make your time in therapy effective. Showing up and sitting on the couch isn’t enough. If you are ready to make lasting change you have to put in the work. A good therapist will match your engagement every step of the way.
Speaking Up: Assertiveness for Women
I’ll never forget the first time I, REALLY asserted myself in a high conflict situation.
My voice and body were shaking. It took every ounce of willpower I had to square up to the combative and disgruntled man in my living room. I looked him in the eye and asked him to leave, now. I had recently taken Prevention Action Change's Empowerment Self Defense Class. I utilized the skills I learned in this class to advocate for what I needed effectively and with purpose.
Before this training and other personal growth, I avoided conflict like the plague. Women avoid conflict, feel guilty asking for what they need, and are more likely to have our boundaries pushed. This takes a toll on us. There are strategies you can develop to tune into what you want and ask for it.
Boost Your Mood by Giving Back
In last month’s blog post we shared ideas for coping with the ongoing pandemic during winter. One strategy we talked about was staying connected to others. This month, we are sharing safe ways to connect.
Try volunteering, giving back, or brightening someone’s day.
Join the Virago Staff in collecting donations for local women in Maine. We are collecting donations for the Safe Voices’ Safe House and trafficking outreach program . Safe House is a confidential shelter for survivors who are fleeing trafficking or sexual exploitation. They are looking for the items listed below.
I’m not a fan of looking for silver linings during tragedies or hard times. It’s invalidating to dismiss the pain of a situation by looking on the brightside. You need to feel anger, sadness, disappointment, to get through a hard time. But only staying in the difficult feelings isn’t healthy either.
Intentional self-care is more important than ever as the pandemic ramps up again. On top of political divisiveness and countries are starting to shut down. In Maine, our long and cold winter is on the horizon. Winter for anyone living above the Mason-Dixon line can be difficult on our moods. It can be an isolating time without social distancing.
It's imperative that you take care of yourself this winter if you are prone to seasonal affective mood challenges.
Women often struggle with feeling not good enough. They compare themselves to others, don’t say what they want, and tend to people-please. This is low self-esteem and low self worth in action. You can allow yourself space to make mistakes and be flawed when you have self confidence and self-acceptance. This can’t come from others it has to come from within.
You can read more about the way these challenges connect to interpersonal trauma in our last blog post. But even if you haven’t experienced interpersonal trauma, worthiness is a challenge for so many of us.
Here’s a classic example, you’re invited to some sort of celebration where there will be people you don’t know. You agonize over what to wear and wonder how on earth you’ll find things to talk about. You consider how long you need to stay before it would be rude to leave and think about feigning sick. This could be social anxiety, but for women, more than likely, it’s a self-worth issue.
Why women who struggle with feeling “not good enough” need to know about interpersonal trauma
Most people hear trauma or PTSD and they think one of three things: a military veteran who has served in a time of war, a major incident like a car accident, or a violent sexual assault. All of these are traumatic and cause PTSD but trauma is a vast spectrum that ranges from smaller experiences to more intense and impactful ones. And interpersonal trauma causes its own particular kind of harm, often leading to self blame, low self-esteem, and low self worth that can have serious impacts on our lives. Working with women in therapy, we see this everyday and we want to help women heal from those past experiences so they can feel better about themselves today.
Where We Go Wrong in Relationships
Humans are wired for connection from the beginning. There’s one primary way we fuel that drive. Relationships. Yet, most of us are feeling incredibly lonely.
Cigna released a study that showed loneliness took more years off your life than smoking. That is terrifying. We’ve seen this to be true for seniors. The elderly who have social contact live longer and do better than those in isolation. If it’s such a universal need, why on earth do we all struggle with it so much?
Even those surrounded by others can feel lonely. There are those wanting more relationships and then there are the difficulties in the relationships we do have. Family relationships, dating and marriage issues, friendship challenges, fights with neighbors, struggles with acquaintances. Odds are you’ve experienced at least one if not all of these are some point in your life.
Most of these battles are not the high conflict dramas playing out between two people but quiet, painful battles that play out in our minds that we often don’t talk about.
BIPOC Mental Health Month
July is BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) Mental Health awareness month. BIPOC women can have different or additional mental health needs as a result of their unique experiences in the world. For specific mental health resources for BIPOC folks, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Women experience discrimination, safety issues, oppression, and other challenges that impact their mental health. Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color experience the challenges of sexism coupled with racism, discrimination, and more.