How to Stop a Panic Attack: 8 Powerful Coping Skills

Panic attacks SUCK. And if you’re trying to figure out how to deal with a panic attack, hi & welcome. If you’ve never had one, consider yourself lucky! Having a panic attack is a full-body experience that makes you feel like everything is collapsing inside and outside of yourself.

Sometimes they come out of nowhere, or they’re triggered by something that causes a person massive stress. One minute you can be fine, then all of a sudden, you’re smacked in the face with feelings of dread, anxiety, worry, sadness, and fear all rolled into one. It couldn’t just pick one awful emotion. A panic attack brings alllll of them to the panic party.

These feelings then start to show up in physical ways. Your heart beats faster, you start sweating, the world around you stops feeling real, and you can’t breathe. Your body is too hot, then all of a sudden, it’s too cold.

A weird tingling and numbness creeps into your limbs and your mouth starts to get really dry. It’s no wonder that some people feel like they’re dying the first time they experience a panic attack. This combination of these physical feelings and intense emotions rising all over your body all at once can be terrifying! 

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably had a panic attack before. Maybe you just had your first one! Well, we can reassure you that panic attacks are a totally normal physiological response to anxiety. We know that’s not much of a consolation because they feel AWFUL, but they’re normal.

What Is a Panic Attack?

The Mayo Clinic defines a panic attack as “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” And if you’re wondering how long does a panic attack last, it’s luckily only somewhere between 5 to 20 minutes! 

The Mayo Clinic goes on to say, “Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.”

So, if panic attacks suck so much, why do they even have to happen in the first place?

Well, they’re the body’s natural response to stress. Loooong ago when Woolley Mammoths were still a thing, humans developed physical responses to help keep us safe from predators and other dangers.

As we’ve evolved, we’ve kept these traits to try and protect ourselves from harm. We used to be anxious about being eaten by a bear, but now we’re anxious about so many other things that don’t cause us immediate physical danger.

Panic Attack Symptoms

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 to its close friends), panic attacks are a period of intense discomfort that includes at least four of the following: 

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate 
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering 
  • Feeling of choking 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Nausea or abdominal distress 
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint 
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) 
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy” 
  • Fear of dying 
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensation) 
  • Chills or heat sensations 

Panic attacks are actually different from anxiety attacks, despite the two terms often being used interchangeably to refer to panic attacks. While panic attacks are short episodes of physical and emotional discomfort, anxiety disorders are more broadly defined as when feelings of anxiety begin to interfere with day-to-day life. Unlike panic attacks, anxiety attacks are technically not in the DSM-5. 

We have an entire article about the physical signs of anxiety and why they happen, so check it out if you’re really curious about what’s going on inside your body when you have a panic attack. Long story short, panic attacks and all their physical symptoms are just your body’s way of protecting you from danger. 

We can rationalize our anxiety by saying that it’s just a response to stress, but that doesn’t really help us cope and DiveThru it, does it? Let’s see what else we can do. 

(psst if you’re in need of some stress management tips, we’ve got those too).

8 Ways to Get Through a Panic Attack

It can be hard to calm yourself down while your brain and body are trying to get a handle on the situation. The time to research how to handle a panic attack should preferably not be while you’re having one. And while there’s no magic cure to stop a panic attack immediately, here are 8 ways that you can help yourself get through one. 

1. Focus on a Target Spot

Fun fact: panic attacks can actually make you more aware of your surroundings! You can start to feel easily overwhelmed by all the things happening in your space. There can be too many bright lights or loud sounds around you, so it can be hard to reflect on what you need to get through this moment of panic.

Find one object in the room to keep your mind focused while you work through your panic attack. Maybe it’s your computer screen background. Maybe you look out your window to focus on someone cutting their grass.  

Whatever you decide to give your attention to, make sure that it’s calming for you in a moment when you’re definitely the opposite of calm! 

2. Close Your Eyes

Like we mentioned in the tip above, you can become easily overwhelmed while panicking if there are too many stimuli around you. So, take a second, close your eyes, and just concentrate on breathing. Ask yourself what you need at this moment to help quell this panic attack. 

3. Visualize Your Safe Place

While you’re closing your eyes, visualize a safe space. Think about your favourite place in the world. Imagine this one specific space in as much detail as possible. What sounds do you hear? What’s around you? 

You can personalize this imaginary space too! After all, it’s your safe place! If you’re on a beach, add a cozy couch that sits near the water. Maybe there’s even a side table for you to rest your books and coffee on. Make it comfy, make it happy, make it yours! 

Practice being in this safe space regularly and intentionally when you’re feeling calm (or, at least, you’re not panicking). This way, you’ll be able to more easily slip into this visual when your body and mind are in a heightened state. 

4. Take Deep Breaths 

There is one breathing technique called Equal Breathing that we love! To do this exercise, you breathe in through your nose for a count of four, pause when your lungs are full of air, then exhale through your nose for a count of four. Pause at the end of the exhale when you’ve emptied your lungs and feel the sensations that come with it. Repeat these steps for as long as you need. We’re practicing this as we write this article!

This is just one of many breathing exercises that we like to practice, but when you’re not in a panicked state, you should definitely take a look at different breathing techniques for anxiety and find one that really resonates with you.

5. Remind Yourself That This Is Just a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are usually accompanied by the feeling that you’re having a heart attack or that you’re going to die. Like, why do they have to be so scary?! 

When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, it’s important to repeat affirmations or phrases that can help you remember that you’re going to be ok.

These sayings can be along the lines of:

Panic can’t hurt me. This is only panic.

You got this. Just breathe. You got this.

They don’t have to be complex at all! Find one that really resonates with you and that you find helpful when you’re scared shitless.

If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of panic disorder, check out Dr. Justin Puder’s course “Understanding Panic” in the DiveThru app. You can learn why panic attacks happen, what happens physiologically during one, and why they feel so gosh darn intense. He also has some helpful long-term tips for coping with panic attacks. 

6. Remind Yourself That This Will Be Over Soon

It feels like we’ve given you a million things to think about, but let’s add one more to the list, shall we?

A panic attack can last for several minutes at a time. But in the moment, it feels like it’s never going to end, which can be terrifying.

We know that riding it out can seem like the worst advice anyone could give, but it’s true! Just go with the flow and know that you won’t feel like this for long.

Try to remember, panic attacks don’t last forever. If you’ve ever been through one before, think about how that one eventually came to an end. You made it to the other side, and you survived! 

7. Teach Someone How to Help You

If you’re anything like us, you probably hate the idea of having a panic attack in front of another person. But sometimes it’s really helpful to have someone there to support you during a moment when you don’t know how to support yourself. And vice versa! Do you know how to help a friend with anxiety

If you feel comfortable enough talking to a friend, partner, parent, or coworker, let them know what you need ahead of time, especially if you know there is a potential stressor/trigger coming up. This way, they can jump into action when you start to panic. It can be hard to ask for support when experiencing a panic attack, so having someone ready to support you can be an AMAZING help.

8. Get Medical Help 

Going to the hospital for a panic attack is a lot more common than you might think, and it’s actually super helpful! It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you feel like you need medical attention, see if you can have a friend of yours or a family member take you to the ER to get some help. 

Sometimes, the symptoms of a panic attack can resemble a heart attack, so if you think that you’re having either or, pleaseeee don’t hesitate to go to the ER! 

Doctors who work in the emergency room are definitely willing to help you out when you’re having a panic attack. They’re super understanding and sympathetic. They are also equipped to help treat anxiety in a variety of ways. They can monitor your vital signs to see how you’re doing and then help you out by calming you down with advice or medication. 

So, there you have it! We hope that you don’t have to experience toooo many more of these in the future because they are the opposite of a good time! But at least now you know what to do during a panic attack!

Breathe, remember that we’re on your side and that you can get through anything your brain throws your way!


Learning How to Recognize Signs of Gaslighting

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Hands up if you’ve heard these phrases before and may not have recognized them as signs of gaslighting.

Stop being so sensitive.

I never said that.

That never happened.

Why can’t you just take a joke?

No one is ever going to love you how I do.

Why can’t you let go of the past?

You’re exaggerating.

Why are you always so angry?

I’m sorry you choose to feel this way.

You have no right to feel like this.  

You actually don’t feel this way.

It’s not that bad.

Other people have it so much harder than you, stop being a victim!

You might have even used these yourself before without realizing the kind of impact they were having. That’s okay. You’re here now and you’re ready to learn. And because the term gaslighting gets thrown around quite casually, it’s important that we unpack it. 

Let’s start at the beginning. 

What Does Gaslighting Mean?

Many of us have heard the term gaslighting. It’s been used in conversation, on TV, and it’s become well known over the last few years. The term originates from a play in the 1930s called Gas Light. In this play, a man tries to drive his wife to madness by turning down the gas lamps in their home and denies that the lights are changing at all. Eventually, she does go mad because her husband plays with and distorts her mind. 

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that makes survivors feel like their memories and experiences were made up and that their feelings aren’t real. It makes them question every memory that they have about certain events and traumas. Abusers use this as a way to gain power over another person and excuse their own behaviour because the abuse they caused “didn’t happen.”

At the very core of gaslighting are power and control. Abusers exploit their victim’s attachment to them and use that to invalidate their memories and feelings, all while keeping them in the relationship.

It’s most common in romantic partnerships, but it can appear in any relationship dynamic. The people who gaslight sometimes lack the self-awareness to even realize that they’re being shitty and abusive. They might have learned this behaviour from a past relationship or even because they grew up around it. Either way, it’s no excuse to act like garbage.

A survivors’ perception of reality is often completely distorted. They are continually told that they’re wrong or that what they experienced didn’t even happen at all! They feel like they’re “going crazy” because they’re constantly denied reality. What they know to be real is erased by the gaslighter and they start accepting this new reality formed by their abuser.

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Wow, That Sounds Brutal

It is. There are many reasons why some people don’t just say “Eff you!” and walk away from their gaslighter. If they’ve grown up in an environment being gaslit, they’re conditioned to think that this kind of behaviour is normal. When they then enter into an adult relationship, they don’t know that this isn’t what a healthy relationship looks like.

 Another reason is because most of us are nice people! We don’t assume that a person is gaslighting us because we rationalize their actions with things like, “Oh they probably didn’t mean it like that.”  

 Men most commonly are the gaslighters and women are the ones being gaslighted. That’s not to say that women can’t be a gaslighter — the numbers just happen to skew that way more. This is likely because society has taught women to doubt themselves, feel as though they aren’t good enough as they are, and like they have to constantly apologize for their actions – especially to their male counterparts.

Remember, gaslighting is not the same as being sensitive or having a genuine disagreement. It’s different because only one of you is considering the other’s feelings and perspective while the other is negating any feelings and saying that a reaction is “crazy” or irrational.

 Like we said, gaslighting can happen in almost any kind of relationship and it can be extreme or mild. Either way, it’s important to remember that gaslighting is a form of abuse.

 So, let’s break down the different ways that it can show up so that you can recognize the signs of gaslighting if it’s happening to you.

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Gaslighting in Romantic Relationships

People in romantic relationships who are victims of gaslighting experience many of the feelings that we just covered in the introduction. They’re made to think that what they know to be true is not. They’re told that they are just overreacting, their emotions and feelings are minimized and negated, and that they’re just being too sensitive.

Unfortunately, gaslighting in a relationship can manipulate a person into questioning their own sanity. Well, of course, they feel this way because their world is constantly being turned on its head!

Some people remain in romantic relationships with the person gaslighting them because they might have fear of abandonment. Even though they’re being hurt day in and day out, they don’t want to lose the person they love.

 This is a totally valid fear! Leaving someone or being left by someone is never easy, especially if your significant other has made you feel dependent on them and has diminished your sense of self-worth.

Gaslighting can often occur in conjunction with other kinds of abuse and is then used to make the victim feel like what they are going through isn’t “that bad.” But realistically, it’s all bad.

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Gaslighting in Friendships

This can look a little different than gaslighting in romantic relationships. Often, friends who are gaslighters love to gossip. They do this by taking any kind of information they can and use it against people.

They gossip, but only so that they can gain information that benefits them. Friends who gaslight also thrive on creating drama. Let’s be honest, we all love a little drama now and again, but they enjoy it a lot more than the average person.

If you notice that a friend is gossiping (like… A LOT), limit how much info you tell this friend because they will probably use it against you. If you’re hearing about other people’s lives behind their backs, this toxic friend is probably talking to other people about you behind your back too. They do this because, like we said, they love creating drama. Their goal is to see a fight and create conflict, just because they can.

Sometimes, if this friend doesn’t have any information to start this drama, so they might make something up! So, if you think your friend is a gaslighter and tells you information about a friend that will potentially start a fight — assume that what they tell you is false. They probably don’t really have anything to gossip about, so they’ll make shit up just to cause a stir. And if you don’t know how to deal with a toxic friend because you haven’t had one in your life up until now, it’s time to learn.

Watch out if you notice that this toxic friend is befriending your partner. They’ll likely gossip with them about you and say that you think you’re having relationship issues. They’ll talk to your partner and create unnecessary tension between the two of you and start the drama that they love so much.

Pay Attention to the Small Things

Gaslighting among friends can also happen with really small things. For example, a dish duty argument among roommates can turn into full-on gaslighting. If your flatmate has made a big mess in the kitchen as you ask them to clean it up, they might say something like, “I didn’t make that mess,” or “That wasn’t me.” This puts the responsibility on you for not only cleaning up the mess, but for the mess itself.

Being left out of plans is another example. A gaslighting friend might invite everyone but you to a gathering they’re having. Not only do they leave you out, but this person also invites everyone to the gathering while you are standing right there. You are blatantly and intentionally left out of this event, and when you confront your friend about it, they say, “You’re just being too sensitive.”

 In case you needed to hear it today, you aren’t being too sensitive and your friend was rude, unkind, and mean for doing anything like this to you. Your feelings are valid and you deserve to be respected and invited to things!

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Gaslighting in Parenthood

This is a really tough situation to be in and grow up with. A narcissistic parent uses this to create a certain kind of dynamic within their home and maintain power and control over their household. They are exceptionally conditional with their love and create a dynamic in their home that only benefits them.

If you grew up with gaslighting parents, you’ve probably experienced being either the golden child or the scapegoat child. The golden child can’t do much wrong in the eyes of the gaslighting parent. They aren’t punished much or at all, they’re always praised and lauded, and are very obviously the favourite.

 If you are the scapegoat child, you’ve probably been gaslit a lot by your parents. The scapegoat child is never considered to be good enough, their feelings are invalidated, and they’re mentally beaten down so much that they lose their sense of self or worth.

Often, the scapegoat child will feel like they don’t have a purpose and feel extremely lost and unsure of what to do with their life. This is because the gaslighting parent has manipulated and invalidated this child so much that they don’t even believe themselves or their experiences anymore. This makes a lot of sense because if you don’t believe yourself, how can you believe IN yourself?

A gaslighting parent wants you to rely on their memories more than your own. The same goes for opinions. To them, their child’s opinion isn’t valid, but theirs is. These parents want their kids to trust and follow what they say blindly, and if the kids don’t, they get punished and berated for it.

It’s All About the Parents’ Needs

Gaslighting parents also feel like their needs are more important than anyone else’s. For example, if your parent is depressed, they’ll make everyone know about it and have them feel sympathetic for what they’re going through. But when you go to your parent for the same issues of depression, they tell you “You aren’t depressed. Stop being so sensitive and suck it up.”

 They have the unrealistic expectation that they can control how you feel, what you like and don’t like, and that they’re always right and you’re always wrong. When you approach them about their behaviour, they become defensive and make it seem like you’re actually the one with the problem.

In their eyes, they can do no wrong. Gaslighting by parents has serious consequences.

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Gaslighting in the Workplace

This is a tricky and very sensitive situation. It’s one thing to experience gaslighting in your home, but the workplace is a wholllleee new territory because your mental health AND career are on the line.

 A gaslighter at work will want you to stop succeeding at all costs. They’ll sabotage your efforts and take credit for your good work. They’ll even try to pass the blame onto you if they ever fuck up so that they don’t have to take the fall for it.

One example of gaslighting at work is if your boss or supervisor was ever to harass you physically or sexually. When you confront them about it, they might say something like, “Wow, can’t you take a joke?” or “I didn’t mean it like that. You’re so sensitive.” or “That never happened!”

 If this is happening or has happened to you, be sure to write everything down. And we mean EVERYTHING! Document emails, conversations, and write it down in a place that isn’t on work property (like a locked folder on your personal cell phone).

If you confront your gaslighter, do it in a gentle way to avoid setting them off and becoming defensive. If they do become defensive and deny their actions and gaslight you more, take your evidence to HR or their supervisor.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your career for anyone. Especially not a gaslighter!

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How to Deal with Gaslighting When It Happens

There is no easy solution that will immediately stop a gaslighter from trying to manipulate you. Your best bet is to combine your efforts on multiple fronts and reinforce boundaries wherever they are being broken. But that’s really hard to do, you’re right. Let’s break it down into smaller things you can do on a daily basis to deal with gaslighting.

1. Recognize That You’re Being Gaslit

Ok, first thing’s first. You have to realize that you’re being gaslit. If you’re reading this article, congrats! You’re already doing or have done the hardest part.

2. Write Everything Down

Keep a safe journal or a log of your conversations with your gaslighter so that you have an account of what’s really happened. That way, you won’t be made to feel like you’re imagining things or making things up and can determine the truth from the falsities your gaslighter is trying to create.

 You’ll sometimes feel like a detective looking through your own life while trying to fit the pieces of your memories back together, but having documentation of what’s happening can help you remember that what you know to be true is really true.

3. Feel All Your Feelings

This is a long and difficult process to work through. You’re going to have a lot of feelings, and all of them are totally valid!

 After having your world turned upside down and sideways for so long, it’s going to be hard to start believing in yourself again. So, go through all the motions. Cry if you need to! Do whatever you need to do to process this. We support you!

4. Focus on How You Feel Instead of Being Right or Wrong

It can be hard not to want to focus on being correct when you’ve been made to believe that what you think is wrong. But if your conversation makes you feel bad or second guess yourself, that is what’s most important!

Your gaslighter will likely still try to invalidate you during this process and keep trying their darndest to make you feel like what you experienced isn’t true or real.

They’re going to try to make you feel like down is up and that the sky is green, so focus on how you’re feeling during all of this because that’s the most important thing!

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5. Talk to Your Friends and Family

Talking to people who you love and trust can make you feel validated and help you remember that it’s not all just in your head. They can give you the kind of support that you need while you’re fighting for yourself and remind you that your experiences are real and that they’re valid.

6. Remain Defiant

Don’t give in. Stay strong! This allows you to trust your version of reality. You know what you know and no one can take that away from you, no matter how much they try to bully you.

7. Accept That You Will Never Get Accountability

Unfortunately, narcissists use gaslighting often to help them feel superior and to manipulate situations and people to benefit them. One key trait about narcissists is that they never think that they’ve done anything wrong.

They think that other people’s reactions to their actions aren’t their problem. Their logic runs along the same lines as “I intentionally stepped on your foot? Well, your foot shouldn’t have been where I wanted to step.” The blame will forever be put onto someone else other than them.

Unfortunately, this means that they won’t ever acknowledge that they did anything wrong. If you think that the person can respond to logic or reason, they won’t. You can try to get some kind of closure, but this is often a fool’s errand.

Being gaslit can be a really painful experience because you’re grappling with your own mind, reality, and a person who is telling you that you’re wrong. We hope that this article gave you some information about the signs of gaslighting and that it helps you be more confident in yourself and the truth. 

Here are some tips to minimize the risk of someone knowing that you’re researching domestic abuse-related topics (via Tech Safety):

  • If you think your devices or internet search activities are being monitored, access this information from a device that isn’t being monitored. That should be a device that the person does not or has not had physical or remote access. This is the safest thing to do if you don’t want someone to know that you are visiting these websites.
  • Sign out of other accounts, such as Google or Facebook, before visiting these sites.
  • Use your internet browser settings to increase your privacy, such as turning off browsing history or using the browser in-private mode.
  • If it is safe to do so, delete the websites URLs that you don’t want stored from the browser history.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to increase the security of your internet browsing and activity. 

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Why Mental Health Is Important When Living with a Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be hard.

That’s the understatement of the century. Sorry, let’s try that again. Ahem… Having a chronic illness can REALLY suck! Holy shit, does it suck! Obviously, some days are better than others, but the bad days can be really, reeeaaally bad.

 People who live with chronic illness or disease often struggle with their mental health because of their physical symptoms. Talk about a double gut punch!

So, let’s talk about what it means to have a chronic illness and dive thru why it’s so so so so important to have mental health resources available to you (like how to choose a therapist) when you have chronic conditions.

But first…

What Are Chronic Illnesses?

If you aren’t part of the chronic illness community, you might not be totally sure what a chronic illness even is. That’s ok! Simply put, a chronic illness is an illness or disease that lasts more than 1 year and requires medical assistance in order to manage it. 

This includes diabetes, some cancers, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, epilepsy, and mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, many chronic conditions are genetic and aren’t caused by anything a person has done or by the environment that they’re living in. 

Basically, it’s when a person is sick for a really long time and doesn’t have the promise of a cure to help them get better. It just fucking suuuucks.

Why Mental Health Is REALLY Important

The reality is that living with a chronic illness is extra hard on someone’s mental health. It’s draining, it’s exhausting, it’s infuriating, and you bet your ass it’s anxiety-inducing. And after all of that emotional toil, it’s even less encouraging to spend more time and energy seeking out mental health resources. But here’s why it’s important to do it!

1. The Chronic Illness Will Always Be There

People in the chronic illness community (also known as “Spoonies”) are twice as likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to physically healthy and able-bodied people. Some people with chronic conditions can even develop PTSD from their illness or medical trauma that they’ve endured.

 It can be emotionally painful to have to live through a disease that you know can’t be cured. We often need someone to listen to us lament and complain about our situations. It can feel really cathartic to talk about our experiences without any judgement or shame. But soooo many people try and offer advice from the goodness of their heart on how to cure chronic illness; however, it’s never as helpful as they think it is. Spoonies hear phrases like these ALL. THE. TIME:

 “Have you tried juicing?”

“Yoga cured my *insert medical problem here. *”

“Think positively and manifest your health.”

“I hope you get better soon!” 

 YES, we’ve tried all the remedies. We’ve tried every suggestion ever given to us. But the reality is that we won’t get better soon, or… ever. Comments like these can make us feel invalidated and remind us that we are sick. For like… ever. It’s hard accepting that there is no quick fix or magical concoction that will cure us. We need to grieve and mourn the loss of the life that we knew because it’s hard to accept that we’re going to be riding the struggle bus for the rest of our lives! That’s why it’s so important to have professional help and guidance.

2. The Physical Pain Might Never Go Away 

It can be physically taxing to always be in pain. Our bodies need rest and a lot of care when we are in pain. Pain, especially chronic pain related to chronic conditions, impacts a person’s mental health significantly! Chronic pain can cause you to lose sleep, miss events, miss seeing your friends, feel fatigued, and develop anxiety or depression. It’s hard on your body and your mind because you never know how you’re going to feel when you wake up.

Accepting the pain that your body creates can be difficult to come to terms with. That’s why it’s important to have a mental health professional for you to talk to. They might not be able to fix your pain, but they can certainly help you work through it.

3. Your Medical Treatment May Add Extra Stress

Keeping up with medical treatment can be physically and mentally draining because there is always so much to take into consideration. Did you take your medication today? Are your supplies prepped? How are you getting to and from physiotherapy if you’re in this much pain? It’s a lot to think about!

 Some people with chronic illnesses are taxed with what feels like a full-time job when it comes to taking care of themselves and receiving treatment. It doesn’t leave a lot of room to make sure that you’re looking after your mental health as well. Life can start to feel like a never-ending doctor’s appointment and that can be hard to process.

A person with chronic illness can have a lot of medical problems that they need to be constantly thinking about. You’re always having to prepare for the worst-case scenario and that can be scary and overwhelming.

Having a good mental foundation can help people with chronic illnesses cope with the constant care that their body requires. It’s hard to do it all on our own!

4. Job Security Is Always a Concern

Spoonies often face financial troubles. This is because of our inability to find work that is willing to accommodate our bodies and our physical limitations. Sometimes, a person can be so unwell that they aren’t able to work at all. This situation is so stressful! Especially if someone is wondering how they’re going to be able to pay for their treatment AND keep a roof over their head. What is this called? Repeat after me. This is called ableism. 

5. FOMO Is So Real

FOMO is real. Oh, man is it real! Spoonies wake up with a finite amount of energy that they’re able to expend in a day. We may have RSVP’d to an event or a dinner with a friend but woke up the day of only to realize that even taking a shower will put us on bed rest for a few days.

You know how everyone was complaining about being stuck inside at the beginning of quarantine? Well, us Spoonies were already experts on self-isolation! We have to make the hard decisions between our health and our social life. We often feel like we’re missing out on the world around us.

Mental health and wellness are SO. IM. PORT. ANT. for spoonies and people with chronic illnesses. It can help someone’s perspective shift in a really healthy direction or guide them through some of the most painful (literally and metaphorically) times in their life. Having a chronic illness is never easy, but using mental health resources to help us work through some really tough shit can change how we navigate our toughest times.

5 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

To reiterate: people with chronic illnesses have a higher likelihood of developing depression than their not-chronically ill counterparts. And if you have a chronic illness and you’re reading this article, we are soooo sorry friend. Our writer that’s writing up this article has about 7 chronic conditions herself so she understands your battle! 

We know that not everyone’s experience with their diagnosis is the same. Maybe you’re thrilled that you know what’s going on in your body, or you might be devastated. Either way, we want to make sure that you are as mentally healthy as you can be. Here are some tips on how to care for your mental health when you have a chronic illness: 

1. Take Time to Process Your Diagnosis

This shit is hard. You might be mourning the loss of the body and the life that you once knew. That’s totally ok and totally normal! You need to grieve in a way that lets you feel all the emotions you need to feel about it. CRY IT OUT! We’ll do it with you! Ready? *tears* 

2. Think About Your Self Care

We know that it can be hard to practice self care when you have a chronic illness. You might have terrible fatigue and pain and might not be able to move. Too many spoonies are lost on basic tasks some days so the thought of doing MORE for some self care is daunting. 

We’re gonna ask you to think about your definition of self care and find what it means for YOU. This could just be you listening to your body and resting. This could mean taking your meds or eating a bit of food to keep you going. It’s all about accomplishing the small things and celebrating those wins! 

3. Don’t Overdo It on Your Good Days 

When you feel good, you want to take advantage of your good days! Our writer Olivia finds any moment that she feels “fine” and does everything that she can’t do on her bad days. This is a lesson that she even needs to learn – don’t overdo it! Soooo many of us Spoonies use up too many spoons one day and then end up in a deficit the next. Try and pace yourself, even on your good days! 

4. Join a Community

Sometimes, you just want to complain without the people in your life telling you to try celery juice as a cure for your illness. Spoonies aren’t always looking for answers or cures, we might just want to feel validated in our experience. This is where joining a group of fellow sick people comes in handy! There are fantastic ways to connect with other spoonies! Lookup a Facebook group for people with your condition and see if you vibe with it. There is also a website/community called The Mighty where you can connect with others on specific message boards that focus on the topics you wanna talk about. 

5. Talk to a Mental Health Professional

There can be a lot of shit to unpack when you have a chronic illness. Sometimes, talking to your friends and family can only get you so far. Talking to a mental health professional can help you sort out your emotions and process what’s going on within your body. It’s hard! There are going to be good days and bad days when it comes to both your mental and physical health. You might need a hand sorting everything out and that’s ok! So many of us do!

Chronic illnesses aren’t simple. There isn’t a roadmap that helps us navigate our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s a confusing ball of bullshit that so many of us have to work through on a daily basis. 

If you’re a Spoonie and trying to figure out how to go about your life, you aren’t alone. If you’re someone supporting a Spoonie and you’re reading this article, support them and love them as much as you can in whatever way they need you to. Be patient with them because they’re trying their best to just exist. 

To all our Spoonies, we believe in you! You’re doing great, sweetie!

Am I Ready for a Baby?

Having a baby is a really big decision. Like, really big. In a lot of ways, you’ll have to put your life on hold by making your little bundle of joy priority #1. In order to raise them and care for them as best as you can, their needs will need to be met before yours 99.999997% of the time. You’ll have to make sacrifices and revolve your schedule around theirs. And changing diapers. Lots of ‘em. We think now is the time to ask yourself, am I ready for a baby?! 

Of course you’ll love the bebe (insert Moira Rose voice here) unconditionally, but things WILL change. Hey, that’s not a bad thing! It just means making some adjustments to your lifestyle. 

There are a lot of things to consider before making the decision to have a baby. And if you’re here, you’re ready to hear about them! Let’s dive thru it all together. 

A New Financial Responsibility

When you decide to bring a baby into the world, you’re committing to raising and caring for them until they can look after themselves. Anddd that comes with a price tag. A pretty hefty one. One that spans the eighteen years you’re in charge of this tiny human you’ve created.

It’s super important to take a look at your financial situation and plan ahead when you decide to have a baby. But also think about having to hold off on purchases for yourself, like upgrading to the newest iPhone, because it’s time to upgrade the car seat instead. Just #babythings.

Emotional Labour Has Entered the Chat

Having a baby isn’t just about putting them in the cutest outfits to post on the ‘gram (no hate, we love to see a baby rockin’ a beret). But you can bet there’s A LOT of emotional labour that goes into raising that tiny human.

There’s gonna be lots of crying, bodily fluids alllll over your clothes, and sleepless nights. Babies will demand all of your love and attention. At times, you might feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to figure out how to care for your baby and look after yourself, too. This is when knowing how to practice self-compassion can come in realllllyyyyy handy.

Your Career Will Be Affected

Whether it’s you or your partner (or both of you!) taking time off to care for your baby, your careers will be affected by this decision. On the smallest level, even the sleepless nights will have an impact on your work. On the biggest level, this new person in your life will change your relationships, your finances, your own self care…which naturally comes with a lot of stress.

If you have to work less hours than you’re used to, how will that make you feel? If you have to pass up a promotion in the short term because that means too much time away from your family, how does that make you feel?

Being a working parent is not impossible and having a baby doesn’t mean your career is toast. In fact, we know SO many working parents who are absolute rockstars. BUT, your career will be affected so you might as well consider the ‘how’ early on. 

Your Social Life Will Change

Your social life won’t be the same once you have a baby. It sucks, but it’s just the reality. If your friends don’t have kids yet, they’ll still be able to make plans on the fly. Maybe they won’t get that you can’t come out for dinner on the weekends because you couldn’t find a babysitter last minute. Also, the guilt of leaving your kid with a babysitter? Yeahhh, it’s a thing. Maybe they won’t understand that you had to cancel spin class because your baby woke up with a fever. Or that brunch isn’t going to work out because you know your baby is being fussy and something is wrong.

And your friends who DO have kids will also be busy with their own families sometimes. Getting together with friends might revolve around playdates to keep the kids occupied. Chances are, you’ll be spending more time with friends who have kids the same age as yours for that reason! Buuut sometimes you can barely finish a conversation while running after the kids, so that’s also hard. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s more convenient for you and your family. It may take more time and effort and organization to plan to see each other, but most parents will say it’s all worth it

Your Relationship with Your Partner Will Change

Once a baby arrives, there will be a shift in your relationship. For one, you’ll have way less alone time. And instead of being each other’s main concern, you’ll both be consumed with the baby. Most of your time and energy will be focused on caring after that little angel you created, and less on date nights. But making time for each other as a couple will still be super important! It’ll just take a little extra effort.

You’ll Need to Learn How to Ask for Help

Ever heard the saying, “it takes a village to raise a kid?” Well, it’s absolutely true! No parent can do it all. Now and then, you’re gonna need some help. Even if it’s just someone watching the baby for a few hours so you can get some rest. And if you’re new to the whole parenting thing, you best believe you could use some pointers! Do you have people in your life who can support you and help you out when the time comes? Are there any support groups you can reach out to for guidance? Who can you turn to if you need to focus on your mental health throughout the process? Spend some time defining your support system.

When it comes to deciding if you’re ready for a baby, just remember: the choice is YOURS and yours alone. We support you no matter what! 

How to Identify Signs of Narcissism

You’ve probably heard of narcissism before. A lot of the time, it’s used to describe someone who is full of themselves and cares way too much about their appearance. And those ideas aren’t totally off-base, actually! But as you’re about to see, signs of narcissism will go further than that. The word ‘narcissism’ actually comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out!

This condition goes a lot deeper than just being obsessed with looks, though. You might have dealt with a coworker, partner, close friend, or family member who shows signs of narcissism without even realizing it! If you do know someone in your life who has some narcissistic traits, chances are your relationship with them is… complicated. But don’t worry, we’ll get into it!

First of all, how do you know what narcissism looks like? Let’s get into what narcissism really is, how to spot it, and ways to deal with a narcissist in your life.

What Does ‘Narcissism’ Mean?

Sooo what is narcissism and what does it look like? No, it’s not just a term to describe someone who thinks they’re the shit… Well, there’s some truth there. Basically, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a diagnosable mental condition that shows an inflated sense of importance, lack of empathy for others and a need for excessive attention and admiration. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with NPD show five or more of these traits right here:

  • Lacks empathy
  • Needs for excessive attention/admiration
  • Acts entitled to special treatment
  • Arrogant behaviour/attitude
  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Exploits others for their own gain
  • Jealous or believes others should be jealous of them
  • Fantasizes about unlimited success, power, beauty or ideal love
  • Believe they’re special and can only be understood by others equally as special

…but wait, there’s more!

Research also distinguishes two types of narcissists, overt and covert:

  • Overt narcissism: arrogant, aggressive, lacks empathy, exploits others.
  • Covert narcissism: hypersensitive, defensive, low self-esteem, seeks approval and withdraws socially if it’s not given.

Okay, that was a lot. Now you might be wondering, what exactly causes NPD? Experts aren’t totally sure, but these factors can play a role (along with genetics, biology, you get the picture):

  • Abuse
  • Trauma
  • Excessive praise or pampering
  • Unreliable or negligent parenting
  • Extremely high expectations

Treatment for people with NPD can be really tough since narcissists are usually defensive and don’t like to hear criticism (same tbh). This makes it unlikely for them to seek treatment in the first place. It might take some convincing from friends and family before a narcissist decides to get help. If they decide to accept treatment, psychotherapy can be a great option to help adjust their behaviors and improve how they behave in personal relationships.

Righttt, so back to relationships. Because of the behaviors above, people with narcissistic personality disorder usually have troubled relationships with others. Let’s look into the different types of relationships with narcissists and how they affect the people in their lives.

Narcissism in Romantic Relationships

“I never trust a narcissist, but they love me.” – Taylor Swift

Being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist is a recipe for heartbreak. Actually, it’s next to impossible for narcissists to really fall in love and have lasting, healthy relationships. Ouch. But since narcissists lack empathy and are super self-absorbed, they just don’t make ideal partners. What other reasons make them a match made in hell? Ohh, let us count the ways…

At the start, falling for someone with NPD can feel super exciting. It happens so fast, it gives you whiplash. They’ll tell you all of the reasons you’re meant to be. Their attention and displays of affection will make you swooooon. They’ll shower you with compliments. Gifts. Dates. Maybe leave you love notes! You’ll feel like the star of a romance movie.

But news flash: it’s not. The overwhelming gestures are actually a manipulation tactic, and they won’t ever last. It’s called love bombing and it’s how a narcissist gains your trust and controls you. They’ll try to do it fast before you notice any relationship red flags. ‘Cause by the time you do, you’ve already fallen deep, making it 1000x harder to end it.

Another way a narcissist will control you is by making you isolate yourself from friends and family. They’ll guilt trip you for spending time with anyone else instead of giving them alllll of your attention. Maybe they’ll even pit you against other people: “Sarah said she hates how you treat me.” Sarah probably didn’t say that. It’s just another way to mess with your head.

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic person means you’re always wrong, and they’re always right. They won’t take responsibility for their actions or admit to any mistakes. And if you stand up to them or don’t play by their rules, look out! They won’t back down easily. There’s a blowup, or you get the silent treatment. Either way it’s gonna end up as an Error: No Healthy Communication Found.

Since narcissists are obsessed with being perfect, they will likely project that on you too. They might make degrading comments about your looks or criticize your smarts. Narcissists are also more likely to cheat, but they will gaslight you into believing it’s your fault: “I cheated because you aren’t fun anymore.” FYI, it is not your fault if someone cheats. But again, a narcissist loves to place the blame on their partners.

Narcissism in Parents

Growing up with a narcissistic parent can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and how you cope with challenges in your life. They will compete with their children, marginalize them, and place over the top expectations on them. Basically, kids of a narcissistic parent will always try to measure up but can never live up to their parents standards. Cue low self-esteem and anxiety.

Since narcissists love being admired and the centre of attention, you best believe they want their kids to outshine the rest, too. Stage parents are a prime example of narcissism in parents. Any parent who lives through their child’s success for their own satisfaction will probably not give a shit if their kid expresses how unhappy they are. All the parent cares about is using their child to make themselves look good.

On the flip side, narcissistic parents can act super jealous or feel threatened by their children’s success. Kind of a catch-22, huh? If their child gets more attention or praise than them, the narcissistic parent will go out of their way to criticize or invalidate their child. Like a playground bully, putting their child down makes them feel better about themselves. So messed up, right?

Anddd of course, manipulation. See a pattern here? Yep, manipulation by a narcissistic parent will look like guilt tripping you for not meeting their expectations, comparing you to your siblings or other kids, shaming you into thinking you’re not good enough, and blaming you for things that aren’t your fault. Oh yeah, and don’t forget putting crazy amounts of pressure on you to be perfect! The list goes on and on.

Another sad thing about narcissism in parents is that they use their love towards their kids as a reward. Wait, come again? You read that right. If you upset your narcissistic parent, they withhold their love and attention, causing you to freak out and try to please them so that you get on their good side again. Yikes.

Narcissism at Work

Having a narcissistic co-worker or boss can make coming into work a total nightmare. Just because it’s a professional environment, doesn’t mean their behavior will be any better. Narcissists are competitive and want to be the best, so you can imagine how that looks in the workplace. Let’s spell it out: U-G-L-Y.

A narcissistic boss or co-worker will be super competitive. When they want something, they will sure as hell go after it and don’t care about your feelings. They just want to win. Maybe they’ll give you back-handed compliments to mess with your head. Or they’ll try to exploit your weaknesses once they figure them out. Anything to get ahead and leave you in the dust. 

They might spread rumours about you at work to make you look bad. Maybe they put you down in front of your peers in the lunchroom. If a mistake is made, guess whose fault it is? Yours. If they’re pretty ruthless, they can try to ruin your hard work. Worst case scenario, they try to get you demoted or fired.

Dealing with a boss or co-worker who’s a narcissist might give you tons of anxiety and extra stress around your work. It could feel like you’re questioning your abilities and wondering if you’re not cut out for your job anymore. But this is exactly how a narcissist in the workplace wants you to feel. They’re trying to weed out any threats, and you’re a target!

You’re probably thinking: whoa, this is all a tad extreme. Yep, it sure is! But this is what you’re potentially up against when you’re working with a narcissist.

How to Deal with Narcissism When You Come Across It

Dealing with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder is… a lot. How do you handle it if it’s a problem in your life?

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Learning more about narcissistic personality disorder will give you a better idea of what you’re up against. You’ll start to notice the patterns and it’ll help you predict their behaviours and real intentions. They’ll try to charm you and win you over in the beginning, but keep in mind: it’s a facade. It’s harder to manipulate you when you take off the rose-colored glasses!

2. Stand Your Ground

Yeppp, there will be pushback. And don’t expect an apology anytime soon! But when a narcissist is playing games with you or putting you down, they want to make you feel small. Speak up for yourself and draw a line with their behavior.

3. Set Boundaries

Piggy-backing off the last point: you gotta set boundaries with everyone, especially narcissists. Since they are so self-absorbed, they’ll walk all over you if you don’t set clear boundaries about your feelings, time and space. Make sure you follow through when you set those boundaries. If you threaten to stop talking to them because they’re not respecting you, do it. Actually stop talking to them or they won’t take you seriously. And if you need to learn how to set boundaries with friends, we’ve got you covered.

4. Find Your Support Group

Keep those strong and healthy relationships close. You’re gonna need them to have your back when you’re up against a narcissist. It can really take a toll on your wellbeing! They’ll be there for you when you need to vent and talk through an issue with this person. Don’t underestimate the power of a great support group, or a therapist. You’re not alone.

5. Remember This Person Needs Help Too

Getting help for the narcissist in your life is NOT your responsibility. At all. But keeping in mind that someone with narcissistic personality disorder needs professional help will remind you to not take their behavior personally. This doesn’t excuse their actions or how they make you feel, though. You can suggest that they get professional help, but they might not want to. Either way, it is not up to you to fix this person. That is 100 percent their choice.

No matter what, dealing with someone with narcissistic personality disorder is gonna be a challenge. But by knowing the signs and how to handle their behavior, you can avoid a lot of heartache and pain. And remember: you are not responsible for someone else. You gotta take care of yourself.

8 Ways to Overcome ‘Working Parent’ Guilt

Being a working parent can feel like a juggling act, and everyday you’re just trying to keep all your elements from crashing to the ground. You probably wish you could spend more time with your family. Maybe you worry constantly that you’re letting them down. You might feel like you’re missing out on important moments, or you’re not connecting with your kids enough.

Good news! Your kids still love you, no matter what. And chances are, they see how hard you’re working to provide for their needs. And while your feelings of guilt about being a working parent may never fully go away, they are manageable. Here are a few ways to dive thru ‘working parent’ guilt!

1. Check In with Your Feelings

First of all, you’ve got to address how you’re really feeling. When your day-to-day schedule keeps you constantly busy, it’s easy to push away your feelings of guilt and convince yourself that you’ll get to that later, when you have time…

But acknowledging these emotions will be better in the long-run for both your own wellbeing and your family’s. State them out loud to yourself, or try writing it down in a journal: 

I feel guilty that I work because… 

I worry my kids are upset with me because… 

I feel that loving my job makes me a bad parent because…

Putting your thoughts into words will give you some much-needed clarity and allow you to face these emotions head-on.

 2. Be Kind to Yourself

Self-compassion is one of those things that sounds easy on paper but then takes a lot of effort to actually develop as a habit. It’s important to remember that above all else, you. are. human. Not just your job title, or label as a parent. Even though you carry a ton of responsibility both in the workplace and at home, you’re doing your damn best! 

Don’t fall into the trap of judging and criticizing yourself over every little thing. On days when it feels like you’re the worst parent in the world for being late (againnn) to your child’s parent teacher conference, give yourself a break. If you don’t expect your child to be perfect, why do you put those expectations on yourself? Learn how to practice self-compassion and be kinder to yourself.

3. Stop Comparing

Comparing yourself to other “perfect” parents in your life is a big no-no. Scrolling through social media might have you fooled that every other parent has their shit together, but that’s just not the case. Whether stay-at-home parents, working parents, or a mix of both are flooding your feeds with their smiling kids and fancy bento box lunches, keep in mind that everyone has their struggles. Just because you’re witnessing their highlight reels online, doesn’t mean you’re not measuring up as a parent. You love your family above everything, and that’s what matters – not just how it looks on the ‘gram.

If you need tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others, we’ve got those too.

4. Ask for Help

It’s okay to ask for help! It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help!

Even if it’s hard to admit when you’re struggling, your support systems are there for a reason. Reaching out to friends, family members, neighbours, school program coordinators, and other parents for help does not give you an F in Parenting 101. 

Looking to set up a carpool system for your kid’s soccer practice? Just ask! Need someone to fill in for you as a field trip volunteer? Just! Ask! Nobody can do it all – so don’t expect the people in your life to hold it against you. Chances are, they’ll need to lean on you for support at some point, too!

5. Focus on the Positives

When you’re overwhelmed and feel like you’re doing everything wrong, it’s hard to see what’s going right. Maybe you had to miss your kid’s spelling bee because of an important meeting at work, but they ended up getting 1st place. The positive? They’re doing great in school! 

Or maybe you had to cover a shift for your sick co-worker and couldn’t help out with the school bake sale, so your child baked cookies at their friend’s house instead. The positive? They still had fun and got to raise money for their class! Even when you miss out on things from time to time, try to identify the positives and you’ll be less likely to focus on what you see as shortcomings. And if you feel like you need to have a good cry? That’s okay too. Crying is part of self care.

6. Remember Your Values

Does it feel like work is getting in the way of you being the best parent you can be? Let’s unpack that. 

First, remind yourself what your values and priorities are. This can be a huge help in refocusing where your time is going. Try writing a master list of all of the things you value most as a parent navigating work-life balance. Then, look for ways to achieve those values in your day-to-day schedule. 

Maybe you want to prioritize going to more of your kids’ after-school extracurriculars, which means turning down other commitments. Or you value having dinners as a family, which means no phones (including answering work emails) at the table so that everyone can talk without interruptions. Figure out what works best for your and your family – and remember, nobody knows your family better than you.

7. Practice Self-Care

You might think that taking time for yourself is counterproductive to your feelings of guilt. Umm ya if I hardly have time to balance work and looking after my family, when exactly am I supposed to do things just for me?! But the reality is, if you aren’t looking after yourself, it’s gonna be pretty tough to look after anything else in your life. 

It might take a little extra planning to fit it in, but practicing self-care is a must if you want to maintain your mental wellbeing. Even if it’s little things like an extra hour of sleep, or treating yourself to your favourite lunch spot – find ways to take care of yourself and recharge. 

8. Accept That Your Best Is Enough

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. You might miss a game here and there, or forget that it was pajama day at school. Guess what? It doesn’t mean your kids are unhappy, or that your family is going to fall apart because of your work schedule. The fact that you love your kids is enough. The fact that you are trying your best is enough. And despite the feelings of guilt or shame you might be facing, you – as a parent – are enough.

We know some moments are harder than others. Any parent who has ever dropped off their children at daycare is familiar with ugly crying – both their own and their kids’. These moments are bound to happen and there’s no escaping the working parent guilt that follows. But as you acknowledge it and dive thru those feelings, it should get a little easier! 

10 Things You Can Say Instead of Ghosting Someone

It can be difficult finding the right thing to say to someone after realizing that they might not be “the thing you are looking for.” Whether it was a potential romantic relationship, or a friend that no longer aligns with your values, expressing your feelings about the relationship can be kind of awkward. Alright, it can be suuuuper awkward… which is why ghosting someone can seem like the better option. (psst, it’s not).

Oftentimes, we worry about how we might be perceived by the other person when we express our feelings. Are they going to think I’m an asshole? Do they know that I’m not trying to hurt their feelings? Is there a way to tell them how I feel without making them feel rejected?

These thoughts fester in your mind until you decide to ‘save them’ from the rejection they’d otherwise feel. But ghosting someone doesn’t help them get the closure they need (or you need, for that matter). 

Even though ghosting can eliminate the possibility of an awkward conversation, it doesn’t really help us communicate what our true intentions are. With this in mind, we’ve come up with 10 things you can say to the person that you don’t quite imagine yourself in a relationship with, romantic or otherwise. 

1. “I don’t feel this going anywhere romantically, but I would love to stay friends.” 

This one is for that person you’ve been on a couple dates with, but just don’t feel that spark. You might really enjoy their company and their personality, but you just don’t want to pursue things above a friendship level. This approach is a little gentler than some of the others we suggest, and it leaves the opportunity for a friendship. And we know it sounds cliche but honestly, it beats a total ghosting where you say nothing at all.

2. “Hey, I’m not in a position in my life where I can be in a relationship right now. I’ve realized my commitment is to other things at the moment.”

This is for those who don’t want to explain themselves further. The truth is, you’re busy and you’re focused on your priorities, which at the moment may not include a relationship. Even if all you wanted to do was dip your toes in (thinking that you might test out whether a relationship could be a priority), it’s okay to change your mind. This one is quick, easy and doesn’t require a huge explanation about every single commitment. You’re allowed to prioritize however you want. 

3. “I’m going through some personal stuff right now, and I need time to work through it on my own.”

Maybe you’re realizing you’ve got some shit you need to deal with. Maybe you’re just needing some alone time. Or, maybe this is just a turbulent time in your life. This text is perfect for those who are realizing that they might need some time to discover themselves a little more before jumping into a relationship. We think that’s super cool of you! Andddd there are a ton of things to do when you’re single that will help you find some answers!

4. “I’ve actually decided to start seeing someone more seriously so I’m no longer casually dating.”

This is a perfect response to that “wanna hangout again?” text. It’s clear and simple. It closes the door for that person to reach out again and it also indicates that your priorities have changed. You’ve made it clear that you’re no longer available, but it’s more than that. It’s a way to say hey look, I care about where I invest my time and effort.

5. “I had a great time getting to know you last night but I don’t think our values align. I wish you the best.”

This one is for that date that really didn’t go well. Like it went ok, but it wasn’t amazing. For whatever reason, you didn’t connect. Maybe it was because they said they like pineapple on pizza, or maybe it was their offensive tattoo. They just weren’t for you. And that’s ok.

6. “I loved going out with you yesterday, but I have to admit, I didn’t really feel that spark.”

Maybe the date was amazing. Maybe they were great company and you had a great time. Or maybe you appreciate all the time and effort they put into planning such a thoughtful date! But…you didn’t feel that spark that you anticipated. They might have seemed like a great person, they just weren’t for you. 

7. “Hey, I really don’t think we have a lot in common and I don’t see this progressing into a romantic relationship.”

It’s important to remember that someone’s dating profile doesn’t tell you what they’re like in real life. Maybe you met them and you had completely different views on things. Or maybe their profile said they loved the mountains and you had a rock climbing adventure in mind while they just wanted a stroll in a wooded area. It happens! Better to be honest about it and move on!

8. “I’m actually looking for someone who follows a similar lifestyle to me.”

Maybe you’re the type that would rather curl up with a good book and a cup of tea than go out to the bar, while your date just loves to party every weekend. Or have you ever dated a marathon runner? If that’s too ambitious for your Sunday morning, just be straight up about it. This text is perfect for realizing that your lifestyles might not be a great fit. 

9. “I thought I was ready to date again, but I’m not.”

This one is for the people who are starting to date again after being in a relationship. Dating can be hard, especially coming out of a breakup. It’s more than okay to take time to yourself and realize that you aren’t ready to get back in the dating game…yet. Wanna learn how to practice self-compassion before jumping back in? Totally cool. Focus on yourself. Take your time.

10. “I’ve been recruited by a secret agency across the world to help build luxury houses for pandas.”

Okay, maybe this one won’t work as well as the others, but it might help you with a quick escapé after a bad date, or an encounter that did not go well at all. Leave them with a laugh and make a graceful exit.

Dating can be hard. Being open to new situations and meeting new people takes a tremendous amount of courage so you might as well borrow Gal Gadot’s cape. She’s happily married so she doesn’t need it atm anyways.

In all seriousness, have fun and don’t forget to communicate your intentions with other people. Xoxo, DiveThru

8 Tips on How to Deal with a Toxic Friend

Ahhh yes, the toxic friend. The one who makes you feel like hanging out with them is a chore. Drama is flying left, right and centre and is always holding you down…”omg did I tell you about Alicia??” No, and ffs you don’t need to. Do you have a friend who tries to control you and manipulate your time, your energy, your hobbies, your other friends, your everything else? Yeah, that really sucks and it crosses some important boundaries. And the hard part is that your friend probably has a lot of great qualities that you love about them. But just because you have things in common and tons of history, doesn’t make their toxic behaviour okay. Unfortunately, this means you need to learn how to deal with a toxic friend. Fortunately, this means you get to hang out with us for 6 minutes while you read this.

How to Deal with a Toxic Friend

If it feels like they’ve been given 13258 chances to turn things around, you’re probably stuck in a vicious cycle. You’ve set clear boundaries with them and explained how their behavior makes you feel. You’ve forgiven them over and over, even if they don’t deserve it. You’ve tried to save the friendship so many ways, but they aren’t putting in the same effort. And even though you really care for them, deep down you know things are just not. gonna. change. Let’s dive into what you should do when it’s time to finally let go.

1. Remember It’s Okay to Move On

If it seems like having them in your life is doing more harm than good, it’s probably time to say goodbye. Nobody wants to say goodbye to their BFF – the second F does stand for FOREVER, after all. But even though this is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do, it’s okay to part ways. Choosing your own happiness is never something you should feel guilty about. And as much as it really fucking hurts to leave a friendship behind, you deserve better. Your wellbeing should = priority #1.

2. Make Your Decision Clear

Now that you’ve made the decision to end a toxic friendship, it’s time to follow through. Look, confrontation sucks. It’s uncomfortable and scary, especially when you’re not sure how your friend will react. Chances are, it’s gonna be a pretty heavy conversation. But in order to move on, you’re gonna need to be honest. Explain how you’ve made this decision and why ending this friendship is what’s best for you. Be as clear as possible: “This friendship isn’t healthy and I need to do what’s best for me. Please don’t contact me anymore.” You don’t need to be mean, so avoid name-calling or accusations that could lead to a blow up. Remember: this isn’t a fight. You’re aiming for a level-headed, short conversation.

How you choose to have this talk is totally up to you. If you feel safe, in person is probably best. Try practicing what you want to say before you meet. But if you feel safer doing it over the phone or text, that’s okay. Conversations over text can be tricky so again: be blunt but fair. A brief message that explains your choice and asking to end contact is enough.

If the toxic friendship has been going on for a while, your friend might struggle a bit with accepting your decision. They might try to guilt trip you or ask for another chance. You have to choose if it is worth giving them another shot. But if you’ve been down that road a few times before, you have to make it very clear that this is the end.

Which brings us to the next tip…

3. Limit Contact 

In order to really move on, you gotta limit all contact with this friend. Even if your words were clear, your actions have to be clearer. Don’t answer their texts or calls. Unfollow them on social media. There’s no reason to keep any form of communication open or ways for them to infiltrate your life again. You might be worried of seeming petty but keep in mind: you’re cutting them out for a reason. And if worse comes to worst, you know where the ‘block’ button is.

4. Lean on Your Support Team

If you’ve been dealing with a toxic friendship, chances are the other people in your life know all about it. Maybe they saw the red flags even before you did! Ending a friendship is the worst, and you’re gonna need all of the support you can to get through it. Reach out to the people in your life who you can really trust. You’ll feel less alone during this tough time.

If your toxic friend runs in some of the same circles, make it clear to your other friends that you’ve ended contact with them. Don’t forget about those personal boundaries! Explain what you need from your friends to move forward. Maybe you ask that they don’t share any news about your now ex-friend with you, and vice versa. Remind them that you don’t want to show up to events where the ex-friend will be. If they want what’s best for you, they’ll respect your wishes.

5. Let Go of Bad Feelings

Saying goodbye to a toxic friendship also means letting go of all the pent up anger, frustration, resentment and overall shitty emotions you’ve been dealing with over time. And even if you’re hoping for some kind of apology from your now ex-friend, you have to learn to be okay without hearing one. Sometimes, we have to make the closure we need.

6. Give Yourself Time to Grieve

Let’s be real, friendship breakups aren’t any easier than romantic ones. Sometimes they’re even worse. So give yourself time to process. Even if it was the right choice for your mental wellbeing, you’re still dealing with a huge loss. It’s okay to remember all of the good times you had together. The friendship meant something to you. But take it easy – you will get through this!

7. Find Healthy Ways to Fill the Void

Toxic friendships can take up a LOT of your time and energy. Now that it’s over, maybe you have some extra space in your life for something new! This can be a fresh start and a chance to make time for yourself. It’s also the perfect time to meet positive people and develop better, healthier relationships that won’t drag you down. So get out there! You deserve to be happy.

8. Reflect on the Lessons

Even though this experience fucking sucks, it came with important lessons. Moving forward, ask yourself: What am I looking for in a friend? What does a healthy friendship mean to me? Maybe you also learned more about your personal boundaries or how to set boundaries with friends. Or how to recognize behaviours that are totally not okay, ever.

We know making the decision to let go of your toxic friend wasn’t easy. It’s as shitty, if not worse, than a breakup. It won’t be easy but years from now (maybe even months from now) you’ll look back on your decision and be proud that you took care of your wellbeing. Allllllllll of these lessons will help guide you in future friendships – and you’ll be able to recognize the good ones! 

Working From Home Essentials: The Mental Health Edition

We keep hearing the phrase, “unprecedented times,” over and over… AND OVER AND OVER! But, it’s accurate. Who could’ve predicted that a majority of people would be working and learning remotely in 2020? And did anyone have time to grab their ‘working from home essentials’ kit? Was mental health considered for the kit?

We’re all inside our homes trying to keep as safe as we can so that we don’t have to accidentally contract COVID-19 from one of our friends or colleagues. So, our homes and apartments have now become our offices. If you have pets, I’m sure they’re probably loooooving that you’re home 24/7 (that means they get scritches 24/7), but you might not be loving it as much as they are.

We’re now 7 months into this pandemic, so you’ve probably read every article out there on working from home and how to make the whole thing easier. But we’re not here to add to the mountain of information. Let’s talk about how working from home can affect your mental health instead!

We’re Working in Isolation

For many of us, our places of work are the environments where we have the majority of our social interaction. Workplace colleagues become best friends as the lines of professionalism start to disappear. It can make work SO MUCH FUN because it just feels like you’re hanging out with your friends all day. 

Working from home can take this social element away from us. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t really have a choice if we have to work remotely (thanks COVID) and it can really impact our mental health.

If you’re an introvert, this might be your dream come true! But if you loooove being surrounded by people and collaborating, working from home can be more difficult for you to adjust to.

Without going into an office every day, you can start to feel pretty isolated and view work as a lonely experience. This can really begin to affect your mental health, so make sure that you are continuing to connect with people however you can. This can mean Zoom hangouts with friends, backyard fires (six feet apart obviously), or phone calls to catch up with your family.

 Feeling connected to others used to take no effort at all! It was super easy to roll your chair over to someone’s desk and have a chat. But now, to avoid feelings of isolation, we have to put in a little extra work to keep our social side satiated (oooh that was some nice alliteration).

 So, stay connected! You’ve probably been doing this already, but we’re just here to give you a little reminder that connecting with people really matters and is SO IMPORTANT to maintain your mental health while working from home.

We See Burnout Looming Around the Corner

When you work from home, it can feel like you’re expected to work ALL. THE. TIME. When you aren’t in an office, you don’t have to abide by designated lunch hours or break times because you can take them whenever you feel like.

Taking time off to have lunch in your own home can feel like you’re slacking or dropping the ball. So, lunch breaks become eating lunch at your desk, and the mandatory 15-minute breaks no longer exist.

 We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to appear productive and that we can be trusted enough to work without supervision. 

This constant state of productivity can lead to excessive stress, and ultimately burnout. What’s burnout, you ask? It’s when you are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. It’s when you reach that point where you’re so uninterested in your job that you can’t even write a simple follow-up email. You feel like a raisin that’s had all the life sucked out of it. We don’t want this to happen to you. You should be a hydrated grape!

You can avoid burnout by doing a really simple thing. TAKE YOUR DAMN BREAKS! You are not a machine that is created to be on constant alert for 8 or more hours a day. This weariness from all the tasks you try to complete will catch up with you. Take the time to care for yourself, to unwind, to unload all those busy thoughts onto a piece of paper. Go for a walk without your phone, watch that shitty Netflix show, and most importantly, try not to feel guilty about doing it.\

You’re also allowed to take a mental health day if you’re beginning to feel like you need one. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to help yourself relax.

Preserving your mental health is so important! You still need to take care of it even if you’re working at home.

You’re Stressing to “Appear” Busy

When working from home, some people can start to feel a bit guilty. Why? Because you want to prove that you’re doing your job and that you’re doing it well!

Your home is usually a place of respite and relaxation, and combining this sense of calm with work can sometimes exacerbate this feeling of guilt. Imposter syndrome might even start to creep in and make you feel like you have to work relentlessly in order to be worthy of keeping your position.

But take a breath and realize that you’re the only one putting this extra pressure on yourself. You’re doing great work regardless of where you are located. Trust us!

Our Own (Tried + Tested) Tips for You

If you’re reading this and wondering how to look after your mental health while working at home, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are some ways that you can make sure you’re looking after your mental wellbeing: 

1. Keep a Consistent (Not Constant) Schedule

Have clearly defined work hours. Yes, you’re working from home, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be working from home literally all the time! Silence your phone after 5:30 pm or turn off notifications. Don’t check your emails after dinner. Your work hours should be for work, and after those hours are up, you can live your life.

Even though you’re living where you work, you still need to maintain a work-life balance.

2. Establish a Workspace and Personalize It

When you went to work, you probably drove, took transit, or biked to the office. This travel time told your brain and body that you were no longer at your house and that you were headed to work.

Try to create this feeling again by having a dedicated workspace and trick your mind into thinking it’s at the office. If you set up this space and mentally prepare yourself to work, your mind will begin to adjust to “work mode” when you sit down at your desk. If you’re working in your bed, you’re definitelyyyy going to want to take a nap.

Set up a space that is for working and for working only. Make it super inviting if you can! Decorate it however you want because, after all, it’s your office and it’s in your home.

3. Make Your Self Care a Priority

It can be hard trying to make sure that you’re looking after yourself when you work from home. Rolling out of bed at 8:55 am to get online for 9:00 am can be sooo tempting. Some people might do this and end up forgetting to take care of themselves, even in small ways. It’s easy to put self care aside when you get caught up in work, forget to shower some days, and not take proper breaks throughout the day.

But you HAVE to start taking care of yourself. Even a shower in the morning can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and about your work. Make sure that you’re still eating well, taking breaks, and being kind to yourself. Listen to your body throughout the day and see what it needs. Do you need to take a break? Do it! How about a walk around the block? Even do a little bit of yoga to stretch things out.

Transitioning to working from home can be a difficult change to get used to, but you have to remember that your wellbeing matters too! Don’t put yourself on the back burner. You can’t stop caring for yourself even if you’re in your own home.

Remember, working can be important, but your mental health matters just as much!

8 Ways Students Can Deal with Burnout Signs

Picture this… finals are approaching, the semester is almost (finally) over, and soon you’ll be on a much-needed break. Ahhhhh how heckin therapeutic is that to think about! But there’s a catch: you’re struggling and you’ve got major burnout signs and you don’t even know how you’re gonna make it through the next 2 weeks.

It’s not just you. Student burnout is a common response to constant stress over time, probably thanks to a never-ending list of deadlines, group projects, essays and exams. And on top of all of that, you might also have a job, clubs, sports and other activities that keep you super busy. Not to mention – oh yeah – a personal life. It’s a balancing act and seriously, it can be sooo hard!


The terms ‘burnout’ and ‘stress’ are usually used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Burnout is actually caused by stress and makes you feel unmotivated, detached and cynical. Maybe you’re also having a hard time focusing and being productive. Forgetting things that are normally NBD (wait – did I leave my wallet at home again?!) can also be a sign. You could be feeling super irritable lately and like the smallest things are getting on your nerves (roommate forgot to replenish the tp = RAGE). Sound familiar?  

But there are ways to deal with burnout, even if it feels like it’s impossible. Try these tips and before you know it, you’ll be back on track! And if you need to explore our ultimate guide to mental health for college students, here it is friends.

1. Get Enough Sleep

In case you needed a reminder: sleep. Your mind and body can’t function without enough rest. Easier said than done, right? You’re probably thinking: How can I even think about sleep when there’s so much to do and so little time and oh shit that’s due tomorrow??? Pause. Those assignments aren’t going anywhere, and neither are you if you don’t chill. the fuck. out.

Take a warm bath. Light some candles. Enjoy a cup of (decaf*) tea. Throw some clean sheets on your bed straight from the dryer. Do whatever helps you unwind and drift into a restful sleep. Figure out how to sleep better at night, and you’ll thank yourself later!

2. Talk It Out

Feeling totally overwhelmed? You’re not the only one! No, seriously, reach out to any friends that are fellow college students. It fucking sucks going through this alone and if you’re noticing burnout signs, chance are they’re dealing with the same shit. Talk to people you trust about what you’re going through. Opening up about your feelings will make you feel less alone and let out all of that anxiety you’ve been keeping inside. 

3. Learn to Say No

The idea of letting people down sucks, but remember that it’s okay to say no to any additional tasks or responsibilities. If something is gonna overflow your schedule and make you more stressed, it’s just not worth it! When your boss asks you to take an extra shift but you have an exam the next morning, it’s okay to say no. Especially if they pull out the whole “K I guess we’ll have to survive without an extra person on the floor.” Or when your school club asks you to plan the next meeting but you’re drowning in assignments, again – it’s okay to say no! (and if you need to learn how to say no without feeling guilty, we’ve got the perfect read for you)

4. Ask for Extensions (Ahead of Time)

As a student, time management is super important. But if you see a conflict in your schedule (aka 3 midterms in one day and a paper due the next), talk to your profs. See if any accommodations can be made! And if you communicate with your professors ahead of time, your chances will literally double. They’re people too (which students often forget) and the last thing they want is to look at your handsome mug and see burnout signs. If you notice tons of overlap in your academic calendar, see if you can work it out with your instructors. Just do it sooner than later!!

5. Make Time for Yourself

It’s easy to get so caught up in the #studentlife that you forget you still have other interests. Make time for study breaks to watch your favourite show or go for a run – whatever you enjoy doing in your downtime! That 3000-word essay will come along much easier once you’ve cleared your head. 

6. Cancel Your Plans, It’s Okay

If you don’t have enough time to do everything, it means there’s waaay too much on your plate. Having a social life and seeing your friends is important, but so is your wellbeing. And if going to that meet-up is gonna set you back and stress you out even more, it’s not worth it. Your friends have probably been there and will totally understand. Make plans to get together once you’ve handed in that big assignment or aced that exam – you deserve to celebrate!

7. Set Realistic Goals

By now, you probably already know how to set goals so we’ll leave you with this piece of advice instead. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Don’t try to cram in everything at once – it’ll only set you up to fail and you’ll feel even worse! Be realistic when it comes to setting goals for yourself. And it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead! If you know what your limits are and what you can manage, you’ll be on the right track.

8. Remember Why You’re Here

When you’re in overdrive, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re here in the first place. You have goals. Dreams. Ambitions. And maybe most importantly: passion. Remember that word? The thing that made you choose to pursue an education so that you can do what you love for a living/become an expert in your field/just because you wanted to learn more??? It’s still there. Right now, it’s just buried under 8 cups of coffee and -2 hours of sleep.

Take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Why is it that you’re working so hard to finish that one essay? What is it that pushes you to study for every single little quiz? What do you aspire to think and do and feel when you’ve completed your degree? Hold on to that feeling.

Igniting that fire again will remind you that all of your hard work is not for nothing. We don’t want you to ignore your burnout signs and just push through anything and everything…that’s notttt healthy. We’re not here to support the grind culture. But we are hoping that these 8 suggestions will help you manage your list of 8,968 things to do before you get to that burnout stage!