A Full-Week’s Work On Codependency

God, I’m exhausted. What a crazy ride. I’m grateful I’m now writing this post surrounded by a warm, fluffy blanket. I can feel the tiredness deep in my bones, but I also feel my body’s tight muscles starting to relax. Slowly, very slowly, I’m entering in that state of connection where time becomes elastic and breathing the most fantastic human experience. Breathe with me…

Continue reading “A Full-Week’s Work On Codependency”

7 Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person

In this blog post I will share with you 7 common traits among highly sensitive people.

Today I came home earlier to run away (again) from dealing with an energy that I can only tolerate for a short while at the moment. This energy is a mix of anger, frustration, and an achy sense that I’m still the odd one out at the age of 29.

I reached out a friend when I arrived home and asked her “Why can’t we be like everyone else?”. There are these moments in which the blessing of sensitivity transforms itself into a really ugly and bad curse. Then all I know is that being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is too hard, too much, and too painful.

Being highly sensitive, we know what people feel, think, and intend without even knowing them. We can feel what others are going through, even if they are standing on the other side of the road and separated from us by a high fence. This happened to me last Saturday: I went to my office so I could record some YouTube videos. As usual, the building was empty. I suddenly started to feel very anxious for no reason. I realised then that the campus was getting crowded, full of students and families. Freshers were settling in and I could sense the anxiety and fear of students and their families. That’s why I was feeling overly anxious too.

The feeling got so intense that I could not record or do any work here on my blog. I packed my stuff, took a foot path to come back home, and spent a few hours working on my energy field until I felt like I was back to “normal”. This is why sometimes the blessing instantly becomes a curse. As you may guess this way of functioning can be very debilitating sometimes. We become overwhelmed and distressed not necessarily because something happens to us, but because it is our very own nature to be in tune with what and who is around us.

 

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I believe HSPs come to this “overwhelming stage” every once in a while because no one taught us how to manage our energy field. I still don’t know how to handle it sometimes and when that happens I think we feel really isolated, because the majority of people do not understand the way we perceive and sense reality, and therefore can not provide us with the right support.

For all this, I thought it would be helpful for me and others to write a little bit more about the traits of HSPs and explain them the best I can. If our differences make us feel weird, we might as well use them to empower us, so here are what I believe to be the seven most important traits of highly sensitive people.

1. We Are Aware of the Invisible

My favourite book, “The Little Prince”, has a passage which says “what is essential is invisible to the eye” and HSPs feel this to be very true. We can tell whenever there is something going wrong with someone because somehow we assimilate, even though unconsciously, certain signs and details that give us a lot of information about others.

2. We Can Read People

We can indeed read people because of what I explained in the previous point – the fact that we are aware of subtle forms of expression allows us to know what other people feel and even think. I believe this has simply to do with our awareness and I also think that anyone can become highly sensitive as long as there is some kind of training of one’s own level of awareness. That’s why people who start meditating or doing yoga often find themselves more sensitive and aware after some practise.

3. We Are Affected by Other People’s Mood

The fact that we have access to subtler forms of information makes us very sensitive to other people’s states and moods. More often than not we do not control this and I believe that the more we, as a society, learn and accept the way HSPs function, the more we can advance in terms of understanding and finding effective ways to use this ability on demand.

4. We Spend a Lot of Time in Our Heads

Most of us are born-observers and we use or learn to use telepathy a lot. There is a giant, complex and unique world inside each HSPs’ head and that’s why we get lost so often. If there is too much stimulation, we also struggle to stop our thoughts and “hypothesis” test in our minds. This is when we need to get out of our mind and get into our body.

5. Loud Noises, Strong Smells and Tastes are a Big No

I was never able to deal with perfumes, something that most women adore. I also always run away from drugstores and any supermarket’s detergent section. Abrupt noises also annoy me a lot and make my ears and head hurt. I think I’m not so affected by strong tastes, but that’s probably because I use food all the time. I’m very sensitive nonetheless to spices and I can have a hard time with even “mild” flavours.

6. The Experience of Being Hungry and Uncomfortable is Magnified

This is so true… the only time that either being hungry or uncomfortable do not bother me much is when I’m doing something I love such as writing this blog post. Right now, I’m hungry, but my wish to write is bigger than the discomfort of starvation. In most cases, however, whenever I’m hungry or uncomfortable I don’t seem to be able to tolerate it. If the problem is being hungry, I easily become “angry”. If the problem is being uncomfortable, the experience in itself becomes very painful and more often than not bruises or aches do follow it.

7. We Feel a Deep Urge For Being Creative

Our thoughts and feelings run so wildly that using creativity is often our favourite way to manage or balance our energy. From creative writing to painting, dancing, or any other form of creative expression, we do enjoy the feeling of expansion that such activities provide us. It is also a way for us to get “out” of our head and be more in our body.

 

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Sitting With Pain: Psychospiritual Meanings of Neck & Lower Back Pain

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For two days in a row, I have been sitting at my desk with a very spacey mind and a very achy body. While trying to relax yesterday in the office by doing some stretches, I managed to get a stiff neck. Coupled with my inflamed sciatic nerve, I can say I’m having the time of my life.

I can’t turn my head to the left and I can’t sit for long hours without a painful reminder on the right side of my lower back. I have been taking pain killers, which I don’t like at all, and instead of getting better it seems that my body is showing me the consequences of treating myself so poorly.

As spiritual as you might know I am, I dived deep into the web and searched for potential spiritual meanings of pain. I wasn’t very surprised when I read that pain might be a result of accumulated unhealed emotions and unforgiven hurts. I narrowed down my research to “neck pain” and “lower back pain”. In a nutshell, here is what I found out:

  • neck pain: it is usually related to taking too many responsibilities (check), having a hard time making decisions (check), and going in the wrong direction (check?)
  • lower back pain: fear for my survival (check), fear of losing freedom (check), fear of material loss (double check), feelings of not being supported enough (check), the belief that one has to “have it all” and not wanting to admit it (check!)

Now I’m indeed surprised with how all of these “symptoms” match with what I have been feeling over the last month. I believe that if the symptoms persist and the painkillers are not working, then I’m probably not doing a great job on managing the way I perceive and live life right now.

The astonishing truth is that deep inside I know I haven’t. There is still a lot of work to be done within. There is still a lot to learn – perhaps not so much intellectually but practically. I already know that prolonged negative emotions lead to dysfunction and physical manifestations. I guess what I don’t know yet is how to tame my own beliefs, emotions, and actions when everything becomes overwhelmingly confusing.

Struggling with Anxiety? Try this Meditation Exercise

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We become anxious whenever we feel triggered, and the reason why we get triggered depends on our life experiences and on the way we were raised. While some of us learned how to deal with difficulties and problems in a more balanced way (e.g. seeking and receiving support), others might not have had the chance of growing up with good role models in that matter or might have even faced specific traumatic situations in life that conditioned them into a “fight or flight” response.

The truth is that each person has his or her own triggers. The more conscious or aware we become of our triggers though, the better equipped we become in the future to respond and manage our anxiety or tendency for panic attacks.

Here are some of the feelings we go through during an anxiety/panic crisis:

  • a deep and sudden fear
  • helplessness
  • a sense of being ‘frozen’
  • a struggle to breathe

When we notice that we are struggling to breathe, we start thinking that we are not in control of our body and mind – that’s when we panic for real. In this Meditation Class I will guide you through an exercise that I find helpful to learn on how to deal with anxiety or panic attacks in the future by using the breathe and visualisation.

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How To Put Your Life Together

I’m in the aftermath of some terrible months which have essentially been marked by overwhelming feelings and a deep frustration because most things in my life seem to be stuck and unchangeable. And even though this seems very familiar when thinking about the past few years (to the point that it even became the ‘new normal’), it is certainly not the best way to live for me. So last week I sat down with my laptop and I started typing in a blank page under the title:

“Put Your Life Together”

Even though I’m no longer finishing my PhD in September (had a review meeting last week…), I decided that I can’t keep delaying the changes that I need for myself right now. I have been trying to focus on getting things done as much as I humanly can but the pressure has been so much that I found myself sacrificing my wellbeing again. That in turn makes me feel incredibly miserable and unhappy.

If you follow me on instagram, you might know that I that I have a tattoo on my back which says:

Love yourself. Love your day. Love your life.

And being fuelled by several cups of coffee during the day, working non-stop in front of a computer, and having no sort of positive human interactions are totally incompatible with those three sentences whose purpose was in the first place to remind me of how I should actually live! Instead I have been leading such a terrible lifestyle that I am even ashamed of saying out loud my blog’s URL.

I miss my yoga in the morning, my warm water with lemon, my smoothies and juices, my healthy food, and most of all I miss the overall feeling of being fit (I haven’t done any workout besides walking… and I’m now three sizes bigger because I keep eating to numb my feelings and thoughts!). And it’s because I miss all these good things that I decided it is time to stop letting my current situation (being stuck in this PhD process) overdrive my mood and my wellbeing goals. So while listening to one of D. Carnegie’s audiobooks (“How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”), I decided to put a four-step approach to change in practise on my Google Drive’s blank page:

  1. What needs to change?
  2. What can I do about it?
  3. What is my decision?
  4. What is the next action?

It wasn’t long until I a list of 12 items emerged. From finding a new house and applying for a different job in the local area to buying a gym membership and creating a saving account, the list revealed itself to be quite diverse. Under each item I then started to write a couple of actions that could contribute to the achievement of my overarching goals. I’m not going to share my detailed list, but here are my 12 items:

Put Your Life Together: #TheList

  1. Move house
  2. Change job
  3. Complete PhD thesis
  4. Buy a gym membership
  5. Book a massage
  6. Get a proper bike
  7. Invite JJ, W. and wife to have dinner in the new house
  8. Build-up a nice romantic relationship (forget this item!)
  9. Revamp my blog
  10. Work on my social business plan
  11. Create a saving account
  12. Visit family on a weekend asap

I can tell you that I already started to take action on some of these items. I showed interest in a house back in town, I applied for two jobs that I would sincerely love having, I have been writing up a lot in the last few days, and I also decided to only enjoy my friend’s love-life stories and stop thinking about mine. And… I also got a Thai massage taster today from my friend: actually I spent most of the time laughing because I realised that I’m really in a big physical trouble!

3 Reasons Why I Have Been Binging & I Was Not Aware Of

Right. Once again I was doing good, wasn’t I? I even wrote about going beyond the critical day 3 just a few days ago, and today I messed up for real: one litre of ice cream and an entire package of paprika crisps. Afterwards, of course, and as I always do, I desperately looked out for answers, for the trillionth time. 31956129_2086866341593273_4026763119693922304_n (1)

Seriously, I’m becoming sick of myself. I have been on this rollercoaster for decades and every attempt becomes a total fail. I have tried to buy new gym clothes, a sports watch, I downloaded different weight loss apps, I did counselling, I tried anxiety pills, weight loss pills, protein shakes… I already did raw food, vegetarian, protein only… I tried smoothies and immunological diets… I tried to stay accountable through a lifestyle instagram account, I started out an online group… why the hell am I still failing?

Well, apparently I have been dismissing three important things that I never consciously linked back to my binge eating. I am sure these three reasons are the ‘why’ behind my eating compulsion and they all have been secretly mining my recovery since I can remember. These are:

  • anxiety a.k.a. excess of future,
  • too many commitments, activities, and responsibilities,
  • no time to relax and do stuff that energises me (e.g. go to the beach on a Saturday instead of going to work)

All these relate to my earlier post on high performers. I was managing so well my work-life balance earlier this year, but as soon as my mid-year review deadline kicked-in, things went crazy. And now that I passed it with flying colours, my workload hasn’t reduced at all. In fact, it has been increasing exponentially, with 2 conferences to attend, 2 public speaking events, and 2 different workshops I’m co-organising between June and July, plus a thesis to be written and ready to submit by September. How the hell do I always put myself into such a big mess of things?

No wonder I use food to stop and relax; actually it seems to be the only moment in time that I literally stop! While I’m eating, I’m not trying to manage everything on my plate. While I’m eating, I force myself into a temporary state of pleasure and relaxation, just right before guilt and shame come in, and my body feels overwhelmed with the amount of food I ate in seconds.

This is all pathetic and ridiculous. I feel angry at myself and a big impostor. I feel like I should know better and at the same time I think I should stop torturing myself, accept my vulnerability, that I’m not bullet proof, and that no one is going to die if I fail at something that needs to be done. And in the meantime I need to allow myself to not do anything at all for a while – but God dammit, I have a presentation to deliver next Tuesday before my flight to Lisboa, reason why I spend the weekend in the office!

Oddly enough, the guy living in the room next to mine just muttered the following words “Relax your mind”… The question that now needs to be explored further is why do I overwhelm myself with so many ‘to-do things’?