5 Tips for Dealing With Your Emotions in a Healthy Way Instead of Bottling Them Up

What do you do with your emotions? A lot of us bottle them up and pretend they don’t exist because we’ve grown up thinking it’s not okay to express problematic feelings like anger, or that strong people don’t cry, or that being too happy makes you look ridiculous. There are also people who swing to the opposite extreme and give all their emotions free reign, but that’s a different issue than the one we’re talking about in this article.

Emotions are a complicated subject. We all have them, but what are they really? And what’s the best way to deal with them? Those are questions typically answered by trial and error or by whatever messages regarding emotion we were targeted with as children. As such, we can make several mistakes when approaching emotions. We might see them as something that’s pesky and distracting rather than a core part of being human. We could make the mistake of thinking everyone has (or should have) the same emotional temperament as us. Or we might decide all emotions are negative and it’s better to hide our feelings than to process them.

As someone struggling with anxiety and depression, I often find myself stuck in negative emotions instead of working through them. In many cases, I also react to situations that could be positive in a negative way. But even people with great mental health can still struggle to process emotions effectively. And the more we bottle up emotions (particularly negative ones) without processing them, the greater the risk that we’ll reach a point where they’re released by something like a burst of out-of-place anger or by collapsing into tears for no apparent reason. So how do we avoid such problems and learn to process our emotions in a healthy way? Read more

5 Big-Picture Tips for Self-Care and Personal Growth as an INFJ

Do you ever feel like your self-expectations are wearing you out? You constantly want to grow and improve but it’s so exhausting that you don’t have the energy to do focused personal growth. Every time you try to improve something, you burn yourself out or get distracted by other things that clamor for your attention.

This is something any personality type can face, not just INFJs. And I’m sure other types (especially the other Extroverted Feeling types like ENFJ, ISFJ, and ESFJ) will relate to the feelings of guilt associated with not being able to do everything for everyone, including yourself. Even so, I’m mostly focusing on INFJs today because those are the most popular posts on my blog so I assume many of you readers will relate to this discussion. Maybe we’ll do a series of self-care and personal growth posts for the other types as well if it seems like there’s interest.

Often when we talk about self-care, it’s things like drink a cup of tea, make time for exercise, or get better sleep. Those are all great, but there are also big-picture things we can do for long term self-care and they’re closely tied to personal growth.

If we’re not working on personal growth in some form we can often feel “stagnant” and dissatisfied with our lives. If we’re not working on self-care, we quickly become burned out by everything going on, including our personal growth work. We need to take care of ourselves and encourage ourselves to keep growing at the same time.It’s my hope that these 5 tips will help you balance those two things as an INFJ.

1) Remember personal growth takes time

Many INFJs are also perfectionists. We want to get things right the first time and we easily get discouraged if something doesn’t work out as well as we hoped. But personal growth is one of those things that takes time. It doesn’t always happen in a straight line, either. Sometimes it may seem like we’re going in circles dealing with the same issues over and over again. We need patience with ourselves so we can stop negative self-talk about how we’re not growing fast enough. Talking to yourself in an encouraging way is an important part of self-care for INFJs.

Further reading: Working Through Cycles of Personal Growth

2) Give yourself permission to take care of you

Like other FJ types, INFJs prefer to make decisions based on what gets everyone’s needs met. Sometimes we forget that “everyone” includes us. One of the best self-care decisions you can make as an INFJ is to give yourself permission to tend to your own needs first. If it helps, think of it this way: you won’t be able to take care of others if you let yourself become worn down, ill, and unmotivated. So take care of yourself! This includes giving yourself permission to take the time to work on personal growth.

5 Big-Picture Tips for Self-Care and Personal Growth as an INFJ | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: Shahariar Lenin via Pixabay

3) Ditch the guilt and shame

You’re not too broken to find healing. You haven’t failed so badly that there’s no point in continuing to try. Not everything is your fault. INFJs often live with ridiculous amounts of guilt, and if you’re going to grow you need to address this issue. This is going to be a personal growth goal as well as part of long-term self care. Make sure that while you’re working on taking care of yourself in this way, you also don’t neglect more short-term self care like getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting recharge time by yourself. This isn’t a goal any of us are likely to reach all at once, so you’ll need to be kind with yourself while you work on it.

For more on this topic, check out my post Living With INFJ Guilt And Overcoming Cycles of Shame.

4) Embrace your authenticity

I feel like a lot of stress in many INFJs’ lives comes from not feeling comfortable letting other people see who they really are. We’re chameleons who try to figure out who we “should” be in each situation and then be that person. Many INFJs believe that being themselves hasn’t worked out so well in the past and so we try to avoid rejection by hiding our authentic selves. But that leads to dissatisfaction, as well as the aforementioned feelings of gilt and shame. Learning to embrace vulnerability and having the courage to be yourself is often a life-long challenge, but it’s one that will help you take care of yourself better and grow as a person.

Read more: The Importance of Living Authentically as an INFJ

5) Ask for help and stand up for your needs

If you need to take the time for some self-care and meeting your own needs (like having an introvert night once a week), don’t be afraid to tell people this. Learning to enforce healthy boundaries and stand up for yourself is one of the best things you can do as an INFJ. This doesn’t mean you need to do everything on your own, though. It’s okay to reach out and ask friends for help or to seek professional counseling. In fact, I highly recommend counseling if you’re struggling to work through something, need a trusted person to talk to, or want some help achieving your goals.


If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.

 

Featured image credit: Tabeajaichhalt via Pixabay

10 Self-Care Tips for Highly Sensitive People and Introverts

When was the last time you did something to care for yourself?

According to a definition used on PsychCentral, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” Most of us practice at least a little bit of self-care every day with basic tasks like brushing our teeth and making sure we eat something. But self-care should go farther than just enough to keep us functioning.

Self-care isn’t a selfish thing. It’s about recognizing and meeting our own needs and taking the time to recharge so we can bring the best version of our authentic selves into every area of our lives.

While self-care is important for everyone, I want to focus today’s post on self-care tips for highly sensitive persons and introverts. Even though there are highly sensitive extroverts, it’s still true that HSPs and introverts have similar self-care needs. It’s easy for both to get overwhelmed by the demands of every-day life and we need time to slow down and take care of ourselves. I hope the 10 tips in today’s post will help you do just that.

1) Listen to yourself

It’s amazing how easy it is to ignore what your own body is trying to tell you. We often keep pushing ourselves, trying to get through things without caring how it’s affecting us. Something as simple as taking a few minutes to pause and assess yourself can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It’s always good to catch negative feelings or stress early and take the time and do some quick self-care right then. The sooner you deal with something, the less likely it is to come back and bug you later.

2) Drink tea

I used to hate tea, but a couple years ago I discovered I just didn’t like (most) teas from the tea plant. Herbal teas on the other hand are a wonderful thing. Whatever type of tea flavor you prefer, consider picking one without caffeine so it’s more more relaxing and won’t increase anxiety. Read more

What Does It Mean to Be the “Best Version” of Yourself? and How Can We Use That to Live More Authentically?

I once really puzzled someone by talking about being the best version of your true self. They wondered how there could be different versions of you. Aren’t you “yourself” all the time? What else could you be?

In some ways, this young man had an excellent point. For example, if you do something that hurts a friend and then say, “That wasn’t really me,” because it’s something your ideal self wouldn’t do that doesn’t make your friend feel better. That might not be how your idea self would act but you actually did the hurtful thing in real life.

Other people interact with each of us based on the assumption that what they see is the real version of you. They might also see your potential and encourage you toward it, but for them who you are right now is the only version of yourself that exists.

But there are also different roles we play based on context. And many of us struggle with feeling like there’s a true self we hide from the world and then a different self that we show other people. We might also think about an ideal self we don’t measure up to yet. So even though who you are right now is “yourself,” you might also feel like your true/best self isn’t who you’re living as right now.

What is a “best version” of you?

The idea that there’s a “best version” of you assumes there are several different versions. There’s the version of you that your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures wanted you to be. There’s the version of you that fits in with the people you want to call friends. There’s the version of you that you don’t like very much when you look at yourself. There’s the version of you that makes you feel whole and authentic. I’m sure you could come up with others as well.

But are those really different versions of the real you? Or are you simply “you” and all those other “versions” are masks you wear or roles you choose to play?

This might just sound like nit-picking word choice, but there’s a difference between believing there are many versions of you and believing that you’re already your real self. If we go with the latter, being the best “version” of yourself isn’t about picking one of many versions that you want to be but rather about living authentically as the self you already are. Read more

How to “Be Yourself” as a Christian (and Figure out Who “Yourself” Really Is)

Today’s post is inspired by two comments I saw/heard last week. The first was a quote shared in a Christian group on Facebook. The quote is from Dale Partridge and it goes like this: “The motto ‘be yourself’ has become Satan’s counterfeit to God’s ‘be holy as I am holy’.”

Since the tagline for my blog is “Finding our true selves in the people God created us to be,” I don’t think it will surprise any of you that I have a different take on the advice to be yourself. Before we dive into that, though, I want to tell you about the other thing that prompted this post.

I listened to episode 45 of the Awaken With JP Sears Show, titled “Radical Self-Discovery with Jator Pierre.” In this episode, one of the key topics they discussed is the importance of being able to speak “your truth” and the dangers that PC culture poses to that idea. “Your truth” is part of who you are and what you have to offer the world. It’s neither healthy nor socially desirable to have people silence that.

While I loved the discussion, the idea of “your truth” is a bit problematic for Christians because it implies multiple versions of truth whereas God is very clear that He is the only source of truth. But when someone talks about the idea of having “your truth” as part of being an authentic weirdo is that really something followers of Jesus Christ should freak out about? Perhaps there is a way to be yourself and be an authentic Christian as well. Read more

Anxiety and the Endocannabinoid System

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp. One of their representatives sent me an email a couple weeks ago suggesting we could promote some of each other’s articles. I’d never heard of the topic for today’s article before, so I looked it up. There’s a system in our bodies that was discovered about 20 years ago which produces lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that help the body maintain a balanced state. The endocannabinoid system’s primary purpose is to interact with compounds naturally produced by our body, and these compounds are similar to some certain compounds found in the cannabis plant. I haven’t tried CBD oil myself, but I do find the research on it very interesting, especially as it relates to anxiety.

 

Anxiety is a normal coping mechanism; however, in excess, it can be detrimental. More than just a situational response, anxiety disorders are characterized by a persistent and oftentimes irrational dread of everyday situations which can interfere with daily activities.

Forty million U.S. adults are affected by an anxiety-related disorder; however, the prevalence of these disorders should not diminish their impact.

Excessive anxiety is a central symptom of several neuropsychiatric disorders including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety is a complex disorder that can develop through various factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Anxiety and Emotional Response

Anxiety is our body’s response to an emotional situation. Biologically, anxiety activates our “fight or flight” response to warn us of potential threats.

During such time, norepinephrine and cortisol flood our system to boost to perception, reflexes, and speed. These chemicals increase the heart rate, blood flow to the muscles, and air flow. With chronic anxiety, the response is never deactivated, and the physical and emotional effects of anxiety remain.

Anxiety and the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an integral role in regulating emotional response. Specifically, the ECS supports nerve activity that determines our response to emotional or aversive events.

An Introduction to the ECS

As discussed in a previous blog, the endocannabinoid system is a biological system responsible for maintaining homeostasis. The ECS is composed of endocannabinoids, degradative enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide (“the bliss molecule”) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) are synthesized, or created, by our body on demand in response to an imbalance. They interact with the cannabinoid receptors to direct the body back to proper functioning.

CB1 Receptors and Anxiety

CB1 receptors, which are primarily located on nerve endings, are one of the two major cannabinoid receptors. Studies have found the activation of the CB1 receptor produces anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.

When discussing conditioned fear, the effect of CB1 receptor activation is complex; however, CB1 receptor activation can reduce fear and prevent the activation of existing memories from the past. Additionally, CB1 receptor activation protects against the adverse effects of chronic stress, which can lead to anxiety. For this reason, CB1 receptor activation has been studied for anxiolytic drug development.

Endocannabinoids activate the CB1 receptor; therefore, a higher level of endocannabinoids can be beneficial for those with anxiety-related disorders. Additionally, chemicals that inhibit the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide increase endocannabinoid availability and are also being studied for their anxiolytic effects.

Living with Anxiety

There are many ways to manage anxiety; however, less than 40% of those with an anxiety disorder seek treatment. Still today, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness that discourages those struggling from seeking help. We can help end the stigma of mental illness by having open conversations about mental health, encouraging mental health education, and showing compassion to those with a mental illness.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an anxiety disorder, we encourage you to learn more about the disorder and the options for treatment.

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