The benefits of being open about your mental health

It’s no secret that mental health is still stigmatized. In many societies, discussing your mental health struggles shows weakness. However, being open about your mental health can be beneficial in many ways. Doing so can help break the stigma, normalize conversations about mental health, and ultimately lead to better support for those struggling with their mental health. Here are a few reasons I believe being open about your mental health is essential.

Being open about your mental health can help you find understanding and support from others. We all may feel alone in our mental health journey from time to time, but something must be said to be honest and open about our struggles. By taking a moment to dive into our feelings and speak openly about them, we can help ourselves find understanding and support in those around us. It may seem intimidating initially, but even the slightest showing of openness can do wonders when alleviating tension in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. The power of connection that comes with being open about your mental health cannot be overstated – why not give it a try?

It can also help to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

Mental illness is a complex subject, and it can be tempting to shy away from the topic, but discussing it openly is one of the most helpful tools for supporting those with it. By removing the stigma surrounding conversations about mental health, we can create a more inclusive environment that promotes understanding and acceptance of different struggles while helping others feel heard and appreciated. After all, no one should face these issues alone — open acknowledgment is the first step towards creating more robust support systems for those facing mental illnesses daily.

Being open about your mental health can also help you better understand yourself.

Being open about one’s mental health is integral to a life of self-awareness and understanding. Instead of burying our troubles deep within us, we should confront them head-on and use them to learn more about ourselves. For those brave enough to take this approach, talking about your mental health helps bring clarity to our thoughts and allows us to gain perspective over our emotions. With this newfound insight, we can become the master of our destiny instead of being held hostage by our mental health issues.

Finally, being open about your mental health can lead to positive changes in your life.

With so much attention on the importance of physical health, it’s easy to forget that mental health is just as important. Unfortunately, our society still hasn’t embraced discussing mental illness with the same positivity and understanding as physical illness. Thankfully, things are beginning to change thanks to those brave enough to open up about their mental health struggles, which can often lead to significant changes for the better. Being honest about your struggle provides an essential sense of relief and allows for a more supportive environment. Of course, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but when we openly speak about our mental health, we give ourselves the opportunity—and permission—to improve our overall well-being.
Being open about your mental health is an excellent way to find support from others, reduce the stigma around mental illness, better understand yourself, and make positive changes in your life. So go ahead and be open about your mental health–you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Wishing you the best in your Wellness journey.

How to disclose your mental health condition to a new partner

One of the hardest things about starting a new relationship is deciding when – and how – to tell your mental health condition. Do you wait until after the first date? The third? Or do you blurt it out on the first date to get it over with quickly?

There is no easy answer, but there are some things to consider that may help you decide. Here are a few tips for disclosing your mental health condition to a new partner.

It’s not always easy to disclose your mental health condition to a new partner, but being honest about it from the start is essential.

It can be tempting to pretend that everything in your life is fine when you meet a new partner – after all, who wants to manage the stigma and misunderstanding that so often come with openly discussing mental health? However, staying true to yourself and being authentic is essential. Deviating from that could mean clear expectations need to be established, and relationship dynamics are based on incomplete information. Ultimately, despite any awkwardness or challenges, being forthright with your relevant mental health history can help build trust and create a stronger bond, setting the stage for a more honest and supportive partnership.

You can’t control how your partner will react, but you can control how you tell them and what information you share.

It’s easy to get caught up in our emotions when it comes to telling someone something we think might hurt them; however, if we take a step back and consider the most efficient way of getting our point across without damaging the relationship further, then it can go a long way. It’s important to remember that you have control over how you deliver your words. Include only the pertinent information and try your best to be honest but also find a way to approach an uncomfortable topic least harshly.

Be prepared for questions and be honest in your answers.

Trust is an essential part of any romantic relationship, and it starts with being honest and forthcoming with questions early on in the courtship. Whether you’ve been together a week or several months, be prepared to answer questions honestly when your partner asks. Don’t feel like all of your secrets must come spilling out at once; being honest doesn’t mean you need to rush into divulging every detail about yourself, nor should you overwhelm your partner with all your information upfront. Instead, be gentle, take your time and communicate when both of you are ready. That way, trust can grow naturally over time.

Remember that your mental health is just one part of who you are, and don’t let it define you or your relationship.

It’s important to remember that just because you experience a mental health condition doesn’t mean it has to control your life. Of course, it should be taken seriously and treated with care, but acknowledging its presence doesn’t have to take away your identity or make you any less the person you were before – and this especially applies to relationships. Don’t let your mental health condition be the only part of whom people see; let them meet the real you too. After all, mental health is just a part of our complex tapestry; there’s still plenty of room to bring forth who you are!

Coming out to your new partner about your mental health condition can be daunting. But it’s essential, to be honest, and remember that you control how much information you share and when. Be prepared for questions, but don’t feel like you have to give all the answers at once – take your time and do it when you both feel ready. And finally, don’t forget that your mental health condition is just one part of who you are; it doesn’t have to define you or your relationship.


The Lasting Effects of Compulsive Lying on Relationships

Pathological and compulsive lying can seriously affect personal relationships at home and in the workplace. Chronic lying is defined as a habitual pattern of dishonesty and deceit in which an individual intentionally lies regularly about matters that are generally trivial or insignificant. Compulsive lying is defined as an inability to stop oneself from repeatedly telling falsehoods. It is often associated with pathological and compulsive behaviour. Pathological lying is a long-term behaviour pattern involving frequent and habitual lying without clear motives or benefits. Let’s take a closer look at how this behaviour can impact relationships with family members, coworkers, friends, and even strangers.

The Impact on Family Members

Pathological and compulsive lying can significantly damage family relationships, particularly between spouses or parents and their children. Lying within a family can lead to mistrust, resentment, guilt, anger, confusion, and even fear among the other family members. If left unchecked, it can cause irreparable damage to the relationship between family members as trust erodes over time. In addition to causing emotional distress for everyone involved, pathological lying can also strain the family financially if the liar lies about money matters such as income or debt.

The Impact on Coworkers

Pathological lying can also hurt workplace relationships between coworkers who must interact with each other regularly to complete specific tasks or projects successfully. Coworkers may start to feel untrustworthy of their colleagues if they begin to question their honesty or motives due to lies that were told in the past. This lack of trust can lead to feelings of conflict and tension within the workplace that could hamper productivity levels or make it difficult for employees to work together effectively.

The Impact on Friendships

Pathological liars may find it challenging to form successful friendships because people tend not to like being lied to by their friends. Even if someone has only been lied to a few times by the same person, this may cause them enough discomfort to choose not to pursue further interactions with that individual. This means that pathological liars may have difficulty forming meaningful connections with others since people are likely wary of trusting them after having been burned by lies in the past.             

Treatment Options

Treatment options are available for individuals who suffer from a pathological or compulsive lying disorder, such as therapy sessions with a psychotherapist specializing in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying maladaptive behaviours, such as chronic lying, while teaching new coping skills so that patients learn how to better manage their emotions without resorting to old patterns of thinking or behaviour, such as chronic dishonesty, when faced with stressful situations in life or social interactions with others. Additionally, various support groups are available online. As a result, individuals suffering from similar issues can talk openly about their experiences while gaining advice from others who understand firsthand what they’re going through.
Pathological and compulsive lying can have severe consequences for personal relationships at home and in the workplace. It is essential to recognize when you or someone close to you may be engaging in this behaviour so that appropriate steps can be taken toward treatment options such as cognitive behavioural therapy to raise awareness; gain insight into their destructive behaviours or support groups. By accepting these proactive measures, individuals suffering from pathological lying disorder will gain more control over their emotions and learn how to better manage their thoughts without resorting to chronic dishonesty in various situations. With help, it is possible to break free of this destructive behaviour pattern and rebuild trust with those around them.

Wishing you all the best in your Wellness journey.

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Online Dating

This article was written through the lens of an anonymous client.

Dating – a fairly daunting task and concept. These days, society tends to pressure people into finding a partner, but it is a lot harder than it seems. There are so many factors: (mutual) attraction and interests, similar values and wants, overall compatibility and with online dating, the biggest of all, what each person is looking for. One of the biggest pitfalls of online dating, especially in this generation is it is seen and used more for hookups. If that is the route you choose to go on, great! There are plenty of options online whilst using safety precautions. My friends and I have dating apps including tinder and Hinge. While tinder is seen more as a ‘hookup’ app, it is still possible to find someone willing to go on a date. Even so, people on Hinge also ensue on the common theme of hookups only.  While these apps are proving difficult in finding a partner, there are upsides to online dating.

There is a very large pool of individuals to choose from. Dating apps have a distance setting preference in which you can choose the maximum distance a potential person can be from you. This allows for plenty of options of people not too far from you yet people you would not have met otherwise. It allows for a greater variety than everyday life may give. For example, an 18-year-old in high school may be interested in dating but suffer from a small population of individuals within their school, so they choose to go online. I myself am in university, and while there are plenty of people to meet, you can never be sure who is interested and available and plenty of people you would never have known existed can be found online. Bringing me to my next point, online dating makes it easier to show intentions.

Being on a dating app itself breaks the ice that you are looking for a romantic relationship in one way or another. In contrast, in person, sometimes intentions can get lost in translation, such as being unsure if someone is interested in a romantic relationship or sees you as a friend. You are there for that exact reason on a dating app – to date or become intimately involved with someone. Another upside to online dating is social anxiety. Seeing someone you are attracted to in person can be very nerve-wracking and challenging to approach if you should or should not talk to them (but if the timing is correct and you are comfortable, I would say introduce yourself! You never know unless you try). Again, with online dating, intentions are more transparent, so you know they are available and interested, and you can text or call before meeting in person. Circling back to the app used mainly for hookups, it can be challenging for people looking for short- or long-term relationships to find a partner.

For me personally, I am looking for someone to start a relationship with, but I find with many of the men I match and message with, they are only after hookups which can be discouraging. It can be disheartening when you get along with someone and have an attraction to them and you two are not on the same page. It is not uncommon for texting to become sexual and explicit very fast. On the other hand, my friends who have these apps mostly for hookups have found great success. They are mostly happy with their experiences and both parties equally understand what each other want and expect consensually.

Ghosting or being deleted/ignored can also happen. In my case, when the people I am talking to realize they will not get a hookup, they will unmatch with me or do so randomly. I then get left thinking why, which can be unpleasant. Others will never message back after a time or at all. Another pitfall to online dating is the risk of fake people and accounts. On some people’s accounts, they take pictures from google or even screenshots of influencers’ social media accounts and use those as their own. Some are obvious; some are not. For example, I was messaging someone, and when they added me on Snapchat, their name was completely different than the name they put on their account. The excuses he made for the reasons were not believable. When I looked closer at the pictures, I realized someone else’s name was on them – an apparent screenshot of someone’s account. For me, this is why I ask people for their Snapchat. This way, we can accurately see pictures of each other and hear each other since tinder pictures can be deceiving and typically are the best versions of oneself.

Although online dating allows you to input specific preferences such as age, gender, height, ethnicity and more to find the most compatible group of people, it can still feel limited sometimes. However, I have a particular type of individual in mind that can be hard to find, primarily online. Therefore, my options dwindle because of how specific my preferences are. This can also be discouraging for people looking for any relationship. I enjoy meeting people in person – getting a read of them and an impression of them is much easier. Although sometimes, online dating can quickly go wrong, I stay hopeful that my person remains out there, whether it is online or not. But I know I’m doing my best and putting myself out there; I put my best foot forward to meet new people who could be my person. I tell myself as long as I am being safe, there is no harm in going on a date; it is all about trial and error. The biggest thing with online dating is learning how to overcome the disappointment – whether it be someone ghosting, turning out to be someone they are not or a failed date, it takes a lot of resilience. The best way to think about it is that each failed attempt leads you closer to your person. And who knows, maybe it was the universe helping you dodge a bullet, no matter how disappointing it is in the moment. All you can do is keep trying.

The perception of “Failure” Redefining Success

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Societal standards define clearly what the dream or goal should be. You should go to school (god forbid you to fail a class), find a job, be married by 25, and have children. This timeline does not leave room for error, thus condemning those who “fail” at any point. However, what if your aim or purpose was to grow as a person?
Personal growth can be maximized when you fail at something. Failing to meet your goals improves your critical thinking and problem-solving skills and gives insight into your ability to improve yourself.
We are all human. We have all failed from time to time. Recognizing that you cannot change what has happened but can change what you do with it will redefine your perception of failure.

There are two options:

  1. Internalize your failure, question your capabilities and possibly your value. You are creating a cycle of self-degradation and low self-esteem.  

2. Accept that you have failed, reflect on the experience and learn critical lessons.

You are creating a habit of showing yourself compassion allowing you to analyze the situation and develop from it.
To choose option 2, you need to allow yourself to recognize your personal power. It is straightforward to get caught up in day-to-day life, feeling like you are going through the motions with no control over what happens. And you don’t have control over the outcome. But perception is reality, and you can control your perception. You are in control of your life, values, and thought patterns.
Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly
-John F. Kennedy
Going through life with the purpose of self-growth enables failures to be a catalyst toward success. Failure is inevitable, so use it to your advantage; to empower yourself to develop your insight, resilience, and character. Although society tells us otherwise, failure is not something to be feared. Failure shows that you dared to try something and that you are not afraid to be vulnerable. Reflect on some of your “failures,” evaluate if you chose option 1 or 2, and evaluate how they shaped you as a person. Do not fear failure or let it hold you back in the future. Go through life seizing every opportunity with confidence in yourself and the reassurance that you can succeed, even while experiencing “failure.”

The Pangs of Rejection and Overcoming the Inevitable

Applying for a new job. Swiping right on a potential match. Putting in an offer on a new home. Reaching out to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Proposing to your significant other.

These scenarios put you in a vulnerable position with generally one of two outcomes. You’ll either get the response you want, or you’ll be met with rejection. Many of us fear the latter outcome the most, as there is nothing about being rejected that feels good. We have a natural, emotional reaction to being rejected, which can complicate things because rejection is inevitable whether we like it or not. It’s a part of life, something we can experience when we begin to feel and understand our emotions.

Since you have to live with it and can never tell when it will hit, it may be worth understanding the concept of rejection, your body’s reaction to it, and how you can use that pain to your benefit. Chances are you can recognize when you’ve been rejected, but do you understand what happens after it sets in or why you feel how you feel after being rejected?

The Pain of Rejection

The concept of rejection sounds pretty straightforward. After you’ve been rebuffed, your body undergoes an emotional response that causes you to feel a perceived pain. That pain, mainly driven by social rejection, can lead to increased anger, depression, sadness, and anxiety. However, you may not realize that the pain associated with rejection is not dissimilar to the physical pain you may experience with a broken finger. Your brain will react similarly, releasing cortisol and adrenaline and shifting your blood flow. This physical reaction causes symptoms like body aches and decreased appetite.

The reason our body reacts this way is mainly because of how much we rely on social acceptance. But there is a bit more to it, especially when you think of how much people, in general, value the opinions of others and use them as a means of validation.

Craving Acceptance and Overcoming Rejection

Just like our bodies crave food and water and will react negatively if neither is provided, our minds crave social interaction and acceptance. Without them, we undergo physical and psychological changes.

What’s important is that you don’t allow that rejection to cause you to spiral. You don’t have to sit with the pangs of guilt, sorrow, and regret that can come with rejection. There are a few things you can do to both use rejection to better yourself and minimize its effects.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Regardless of where the rejection came from, you’re feeling it, and it’s real. Don’t try to bury the way you think. Instead, acknowledge your feelings and validate them. Talk about them with confidence and deal with the issue head-on.

Find the Opportunity to Grow and Learn

Take this experience and learn from it. Reflect on what may have happened and determine what you may be able to change for the future. For example, if you didn’t get a job you applied for, review your resume and see how you can change it. If you were rejected by a date, take a long look at the type of partner you’ve been pursuing and determine if you should change.

Put the Rejection Into Perspective

One rejection does not guarantee another. Remember that just because one thing didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean another won’t as well. Also, consider why you were rejected. It’s possible it wasn’t an issue with you but an uncontrollable external factor.

Practice Self-Love

If we feel good about ourselves and have high self-esteem, rejection won’t hurt as bad. Even when things go awry, talk yourself up rather than assign self-blame. Rejection doesn’t define you, but how you feel about yourself can.

An Inevitable Part of Life

Knowing that rejection is a part of life doesn’t make it easier to handle, but it does allow you to prepare yourself for when rejection may be a possibility. It would be best if you didn’t let rejection set you back. Instead, learn from what’s happened, put everything into perspective, and continue showing yourself self-love. You may mitigate the effects of rejection when you do experience rejection.

Happy Thanksgiving: A Reminder to Practice Gratitude

Wouldn’t you agree this has been one of the worst years yet? The isolation created by the COVID pandemic, and everything surrounding it? Depending on who you talk to the answer to this question varies. Some become engulfed in the negativity of their surroundings, spiraling into a toxic cycle of thought. While others who practice gratitude may tell you something different.

We all have unique experiences, among the shared one that is the pandemic. I am sure we are all familiar with our own personal struggles brought on or worsened by it. Many clients I have talked to have highlighted the isolation caused by the pandemic, with the majority focusing on the negative effects of it. However, some have recognized the opportunity for self-improvement and reflection that has been provided by this isolation.

Are you the same person as you were before COVID? What changes have you noticed? Instead of going to the negative (as our minds often do), try to put a name on the positive changes you have noticed in yourself: have you become stronger? More resilient? This type of thinking is characterized as challenging negative thought processes.

How we perceive things is our reality, which is why challenging these negative thought processes and practicing gratitude is critical to our well-being and happiness. When I notice myself spiraling into negative thought processes, I consciously make the decision to stop myself and list a few things that I am grateful for (however big or small). It can be difficult at first to recognize negative and unproductive trains of thought, but the more this is done the easier it becomes.

Here are some simple ways to practice gratitude:

  1. Watch inspiring videos that will remind you of the good in the world.
  2. Call your loved ones more often
  3. Add to your gratitude list daily.
  4. Challenge your inner critic.
  5. See the opportunities for growth and development in your mistakes.

Finally, do not forget to be grateful for yourself! For all your capabilities, your passions, and even your quirks. Reflect on all that you have accomplished in your life, and those who have supported you along the way.

Wishing you all the best in your Wellness journey.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is GAD?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.

Mental Symptoms of GAD

  • Persistent worrying about things that are out of your control
  • Believing an unproportionally negative outcome of events (worst case scenario)
  • Catastrophizing 
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Fear of making the wrong decision
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fear of failure, can cause excessive procrastination

Physical Symptoms GAD

  • Exhaustion and/or trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Chronic nervousness (easily startled)
  • Irritability
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Panic attacks

Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to cope with GAD

GAD programs your brain to think in a certain way, and deeply affects your thought processes. CBT is a method of challenging those thought processes, until they are no longer influenced by GAD. A method that many find to be very useful is challenging your inner critic. Your inner critic referring to the voice in your head that tells you things like everyone is judging you, you’ll never be good enough, etc. Instead of accepting these thoughts and allowing them to affect your mental health, contradict them. (1) Identify the anxious thought. (2) Break it down into its core components. (3) Truly consider the reasoning behind this thought. (4) Come up with a list of facts that disprove the thought. The more you use this method the easier it becomes, until it is second nature; rendering these negative thoughts powerless.

When to seek medical help

  • When your worrying (anxiety) interferes with your social life, work, mental health, relationships.
  • If you feel chronically depressed or anxious
  • If you are struggling with substance use as a method of coping
  • History of other mental health concerns
  • Have suicidal thoughts or behaviours- seek help immediately (833-456-4566)

GAD Related Shame
Diagnosed or undiagnosed, having GAD can feel debilitating. It can cause you to feel like there is something innately wrong with you, and you are less than capable. This is not the case. It is estimated that over 700,000 adults in Canada struggle with GAD, it is one of the most common mental illnesses. Its effects are also as real as any other illness. For example If you had a heart condition that affected your daily life, you wouldn’t blame yourself. Do the same for GAD, it is a physical chemical imbalance in your brain, you cannot control it, you can only control how you deal with it.

Accepting GAD
It is easier said than done but the first step is accepting that you have an illness that can affect your ability to function. Then decide: what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to spiral into the negative thoughts? Or identify what parts of the illness you can control? Seek out resources. And continue being a functional happy person; because it is what you deserve. If you just went through the above thought process and chose the second option, congratulations you just practiced CBT successfully. Keep at it! Your mental health will thank you.

Carrying the Weight of “Diet Culture”

Have you ever tried dieting? Like most, I have tried diets from time to time. When done in moderation and carried out sustainably diets can be a good way to maintain a healthy psysique. Dieting can become dangerous when the motivation to diet originates from negative internal or external beliefs. Diets driven by negative thoughts or feelings towards oneself are becoming increasingly common, one of the drivers of this is diet culture. Diet culture is a set of beliefs that idealizes thinness and equates it with health and moral virtue. It has become one of the most dominant cultures we are immersed in, with many individuals unaware of its existence and influences.

The Importance of Awareness
It is critical to be aware of your motivation for dieting, and the influence of diet culture on your thought processes. Being aware is the key to changing these thought processes and achieving your ideal physique in a healthy way.

Your diet may be coming from an unhealthy mindset if:
• You have persistent negative thoughts about your body
• Your diet is unsustainable (i.e. too restrictive)
• You feel shame around eating
• You obsessively count calories/exercise to a point that it becomes overwhelming.

Thoughts that may be encouraged by diet culture:
• Your weight defines your self-worth
• You value being thin over your mental and physical health
• You are not happy with your body because it is not the “ideal” size

The Dangers of Unhealthy Dieting
Unhealthy dieting occurs when the motivation behind the diet is negative. This can mean negative thoughts, poor mental health, related mental illness, etc. The main risk of continuing with an unhealthy diet, is the reinforcement of negative thoughts about your worth and body. Continuing with an unhealthy diet increases your risk for an eating disorder. Those who diet moderately are five times more likely to develop an eating disorder, while those who restrict food intake extremely were 18 times more likely (Golden et al., 2016). (If you are struggling with an eating disorder, contact the Eating Disorder Federation of Canada toll-free 1-866-633-4220 Toronto 416-340-4156).

How to Diet Healthily
Before you begin dieting do a self-check-in, make sure your mental health and body image is in a good place. Consider your reasoning for dieting, the main motivation should always be your health, not meeting unhealthy standards. Do your research. Make sure your diet is sustainable, healthy, and manageable. Lastly, consult your physician to ensure the diet is healthy for you, everyone’s body is different. Regularly check-in with your doctor to make sure you are within a healthy weight range.

How to Mitigate the Impacts of Diet Culture

  1. Consider a weight-neutral approach to health. Do not define your health by how much you weigh. Instead consider your happiness, mental health, and physical health as a measure of your overall health.
  2. Curate your social media. Seeing ads for detoxes and cleanses that are essentially laxatives promoted by people of the same excessively thin body type does not reinforce a body inclusive/positive mindset.
  3. Eat for you. Remember that you deserve to be happy and healthy, food is your way of fuelling your body.

Lastly, remember that everyone has a different relationship with their body and food. What works for you may not work for someone else. Having a healthy relationship with yourself and your body takes time and work, as does anything that is worth doing. Remember that you deserve to feel comfortable in your body, so educate yourself, work on having a healthy mindset, and remember to love yourself at whatever stage in your body positivity journey you are at.

Insight into the life of a shopaholic

What is Addiction?
What do you think of when you hear the term “addiction”? The first thing that comes to mind for most people is alcoholism or gambling. In reality addiction encompasses so much more. By definition addiction is a behaviour or activity done repeatedly, that causes harm to the individual. The harm caused by the activity does not need to be physical to fall into this category. In my experience many addictions come from the same source: avoidance. Avoidance of memories related to trauma, negative thoughts, negative emotions, etc.

Why are certain behaviours addictive?
When we engage in enjoyable behaviours dopamine (the happy or feel-good chemical) is released in the brain. Increases in dopamine release can be due to substance use, or certain (enjoyable) behaviours. [Behaviours related to dopamine release are not always negative, for example: exercise, getting a promotion at work, or socializing.] Although dopamine is not considered addictive, the feeling it provides is one of the main drivers behind most addictions. Release of this chemical can effectively help us avoid negative emotions and thoughts.

Am I a Shopaholic?
As said in Time magazine: “The Science of addiction”, almost anything deeply enjoyable has the potential to be addictive. Shopping is a fun pastime for most, for some it is a compulsion.

I am sure we have all thought to ourselves at one time or another: “am I a shopaholic?”, particularly after a shopping spree.
Below I have listed some of the signs of a shopaholic:

  • Do you shop when you feel upset?
  • Has overspending created problems in your life (personal or financial)?
  • While shopping do you feel overly happy or anxious?
  • Post-shopping do you feel embarrassed?
  • Do you feel the need to hide your shopping habit?
  • Do you buy things that you do not need?
  • Do you think about money often or all the time

I am sure you have all heard the term “retail therapy” to describe shopping after going through something emotional (ie. loss of a job, a breakup, or a difficult week at work). When done in moderation this is not an issue. It is when it begins to affect other areas of your life (home, relationships, financial stability) that it should be considered a problem.

To begin moving past any addiction it is important to understand what is driving it. If you think you have a shopping addiction use a journal, to keep track of when you go shopping, how often, and how you are feeling before and after. Another helpful method is to reach out to a therapist, who can help you determine which negative feelings are associated with your addiction. Working with a therapist in this way can help you get to the root of the problem. Understanding the cause is the first step, after this you can begin to mitigate the cause of the addiction and start to change negative behaviours.

Addiction-related shame
Throughout the recovery process one of the most important things to be aware of is shame. Shaming yourself for any addiction is counterproductive. The negative feelings associated with shame can make you feel worse, which continues the cycle of addiction. If you are struggling with addiction know that you are only human, people make mistakes, and the best you can do is reach out for help and change your habits. While doing so, you should be nothing except proud of yourself. Proud for taking steps to better yourself, and the strength it takes to do so.