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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Pride Month Ya'll, Amanda here.
My therapist once defined shame to me in a way that I will never forget. She said, “Guilt is the feeling that ‘I did something wrong.’ Shame is the feeling that ‘I am something wrong.’” This distinction was the first time I was able to understand and label this feeling that I had carried with me for so long. I wondered, if I was walking around bearing the heaviness of “I am something wrong” without even realizing it, how many others were?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Virago Wellness is taking the opportunity to let women know why it’s so important to prioritize mental health.
Mental health is relevant to everyone even if you’ve never needed therapy or medication. In the same way that everyone has to pay attention to physical health or dental hygiene, we need to take care of ourselves emotionally.
Women, in particular, are affected by mental health issues in different ways from men.
Women experience violence and therefore traumatic stress at higher rates. Loneliness is an epidemic and as women tend to be more relational they are more impacted more by loneliness. Women have higher rates of anxiety and depression. Women also tend to juggle multiple roles with lower pay which can negatively impact wellbeing. Keeping mental and emotional health cared for allows you to have more time and energy to focus on other important things.
We all have struggled with things from time to time but if you’ve ever wondered if it was time for professional help, here are a few ways to tell.
There have been several experiences in my personal and professional life that have taught me how resilient and strong people really are. I've worked in Wilderness Therapy with at risk youth, spending 8 days at a time in the back country facing wild weather and wild animals with teens struggling with significant issues. I've had personal and family traumas that have showed me just how much we can overcome. And I've volunteered as a Disaster Mental Health responder with the American Red Cross after natural disasters. I've stood next to people in the tornado ravaged rumble of their home as they tried to pick up the pieces, I’ve talked to a mother who held her small child in her bathtub as the roof was torn off her home, and I’ve sat in hospitals with families grieving loved ones lost. I’ve seen how individuals cope in crisis and after a disaster and I’m seeing connections in how people are responding to COVID-19. People are reacting normally to abnormal events. In this case we are trying to cope with a continuously unfolding disaster that we can’t predict what the toll will ultimately be.
So many of us are feeling the weight of this global pandemic that has now reached our little corner of the US. It’s one thing to watch an event unfold across the globe and it’s another to have it land in your own community. Both can be stressful and scary in different ways and many of us have been watching this unfold for weeks and are experiencing fatigue already. Just as it’s important to take care of your physical health during this time, your mental health and wellness are equally important. And, much like the world we live in, we humans are a mass of connected systems all interconnected and affecting each other. Our stress and mental health impacts our immune system and physical body and vice versa our physical body is hugely connected to mental health.
There's much we can do for ourselves and others to mitigate the long term negative affects of situations such as our current global crisis.
Do you ever find that you bully yourself?
Many of us do. I know I’d never speak to someone else the way I speak to myself when I’m upset. Our clients often talk about how hard this is and that they are trying to be more positive. They’ve heard somewhere that changing how you think can change how you feel. This is true but it’s not the whole picture.