Am I growing cold?

For a long time, I could empathize with others to the point of stopping my daily routine or activities until they are okay. When someone was in such agony, I felt it in my heart as well. I would absorb people’s emotions to an alarming degree—whatever they felt, I felt as well, regardless of whether it was a crowd of strangers. Occasionally, I’d break down and sob over the well-being of someone else. And what’s even more interesting is that the person wasn’t shedding a tear. I was unable to discern my emotions from those of others.

I had the sensations of their pain and emotions as my own. I’d question myself, “Why am I like that?” especially that the emotions/feelings don’t belong to me. It was so awful that I was constantly exhausted and drained myself to the point of self-abnegation. But why did I feel responsible for their issues or distress if there was nothing I could do? Although I am an empath, I had to learn to discern my own sensations from those of others. Why was my empathic capacity unhealthy to a certain degree? – It had reached the point of continual burnout and I simply couldn’t handle it any longer. I was constantly emotionally depleted. I needed to find a way to balance the external influences, or else I risked dealing with my own mental health.

What is Empathy?

According to Merriam Webster, Empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Affective empathy and cognitive empathy are two distinct types of empathy that are studied by researchers. Affective empathy refers to the feelings we experience when we are able to relate to the emotions of others. There is a possibility that other people’s emotions could be transmitted: If they appear to be happy, you are happy; if they appear to be unhappy, you are unhappy; if they appear to be in pain, you are in pain. You may also become more sensitive about the welfare of others because of your ability to detect their emotional states. Affective empathy, on the other hand, can sometimes heighten your own distress when you face suffering, preventing you from effectively providing support.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to comprehend the thoughts and feelings of another on a mental level. For those who don’t like the idea of constantly absorbing other people’s negative feelings, some argue that cognitive empathy may be more advantageous. Somatic empathy, according to some, is the third type of empathy. In this case, a person can feel the bodily sensations that another person is feeling.

Who is an Empathy?

An empath is someone who is extremely sensitive to the feelings as well as emotions of others. Their capacity to discern what someone else is feeling extends beyond empathy, which is defined simply as the capacity to understand another’s feelings, to actually taking on those feelings; experiencing what the other person is experiencing on a deep emotional level.

As described by Dr. Judith Orloff, an empath is someone who soaks up the joys and stresses of the world around them like “emotional sponges.”  Emotional and energetic stimuli, good or bad, can’t escape from empaths, according to her book “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” which she published in 2012. This is explained further by Kim Egel, a San Diego-based therapist—Empaths are more sensitive to external stimuli such as sounds, large personalities, and hectic environments.  They bring a great deal of heart and concern to the world, and they are extremely sensitive to what is going on around them.

Empaths who neglect their own well-being can have a negative impact on themselves and those around them. I had to learn how to regulate my emotions and, more importantly, how to take care of myself as a result of the constant emotional drain and distress. Accepting that there is nothing I can do and learning how to let go without feeling guilty or distressed was a major part of my process of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I needed to establish boundaries to protect myself– Establishing boundaries around emotionally taxing situations helped me reduce the risk of reaching my breaking point.

Empaths have a hard time turning off their high level of emotional sensitivity. People’s emotional energy around you can cause stress or depression in some people. You can’t help but feel this way about your loved ones. However, recognizing and letting go of them can have a significant impact. You do not have to “lessen” your capacity for caring — you can increase your resilience while also cultivating concern for others.

Now that I’ve mastered the art of distancing and regulating my emotions from those of another– I’m able to experience what they feel while still shielding myself. It feels incredibly good–I have practiced and mastered emotional regulation, and I will never stop practicing because there is always something new to learn and improve upon. However, there are instances when I feel as though I’m growing cold, particularly in situations where I can’t do anything other than feel what is but also avoid dwelling too much on the situation. At moments like this, I have to keep reminding myself to practice mindful acceptance. It’s okay to be incapable of assisting– it’s okay to preserve oneself.


Creative Consultant | Licensed Therapist | North County San Diego, CA. (2022, January 5). Kim Egel.

The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. (2021, August 9). Judith Orloff MD.

Are You Highly Attuned To Other People’s Emotions? You Might Be an Empath. (2021, June 17). Verywell Mind.

Fisher, R. (n.d.). The Surprising Downsides Of Empathy. The surprising downsides of empathy – BBC Future.,them%20into%20aggression%20and%20cruelty..

Empathy. (n.d.). Psychology Today.

What Is An Empath? 15 Signs And Traits. (n.d.). What Is An Empath? 15 Signs and Traits.

Fisher, R. (n.d.). The Surprising Downsides Of Empathy. The surprising downsides of empathy – BBC Future.,them%20into%20aggression%20and%20cruelty..


Even the strongest struggle to catch a breath– sometimes

When I had a mental breakdown, I can remember exactly what happened to me at the time. It was so awful that I was afraid I would pass out. In the kitchen, I was preparing my usual breakfast of oats and two sun-cooked eggs. A sudden burst of tears rolled down my cheeks as I struggled to finish preparing my morning meal— I attempted to push through, but it felt so out of control that my chest began to ache, making it difficult to catch my breath. This time around, though, my resolute declarations to myself, “You’ll be OK, just take a deep breath” were so insignificant compared to what was going on. The other issue was, I had no idea what was truly happening, which terrified me. “What is going on?” I asked myself. Why is this happening? As my cries grew more ferocious, my inquiries grew more complex, and there were no answers to the simplest of them all, I felt increasingly out of control.

On that particular morning, it was my father’s birthday, and I remember waking up really eager to facetime him. In fact, I had awoken–I had texted him and planned to call him later, given how early it was. That did not happen– he ended up contacting me since he perceived it as out of character for me to not call him on his birthday.  I didn’t pick up the phone, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t want to spoil his day or even talk about what was going on– especially given, as I previously stated, I had no idea what was going on. In retrospect, even though I couldn’t place the source of my furor, I could see how repression, coupled with anything contemporary, must have been a trigger. It was more like something that’s on the verge of detonating.

Typically, I’m able to deal with things quite well, but this time it hit different. I was so terrified by this incident that I immediately dialed the mental health hotline and also contacted one of my trusted confidants. A lack of words and a dwindling supply of breath left me unable to speak at the time; as a result, I requested them to be on the phone with me as I lay down to try to fall asleep. I recall my confidant terrified saying– “Omg, I’ve never heard or seen you behave this way; what the fuck is going on with you?” I couldn’t possibly answer that question.

With my breath back under control, I took a moment to try and not think about anything– but you know how that goes, the exact opposite happened instead. But this time, I was in charge of my thoughts, or at the very least, I was able to organize them. I decided to take a break from everything in order to regain my composure and address the situation head-on. After a few days, I decided to talk to someone, and in the process, I broke uncontrollably–I understood that my suppression was much deeper than I had previously assumed. I had no idea how much had been suppressed until that moment. “I have so much rage and I’m not sure where it’s coming from,” I recall telling the assistant. In general, I’m a patient person who doesn’t become easily irritated. So where was this furiousness coming from?

Why did it choose that particular moment to occur? The body could no longer take it– It’s strange how the body works, but it does communicate when enough is enough. It does signal when we should rest and regain our composure. It does alert us when there is a problem. And occasionally, in fact, most of the time, triggers can serve as a stimulus. Despite our attempts to remain in denial and push it to the back of our minds – more along the lines of will process that later and get on with what is – the mind and body fight to give you what you ask. That does not imply that it has been forgotten.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown (alternatively referred to as a mental-breakdown) is a term referring to an extended period of mental or emotional stress. The person’s stress level is so high that he or she is unable to carry out everyday tasks. A nervous breakdown is not caused by a single factor. It can be triggered by anything that causes an excessive amount of stress. Feeling stressed and unable to deal with it can make it difficult, if not impossible, to go about your typical daily activities.

Stress is a natural aspect of life. However, when feelings become very overwhelming, they can precipitate a mental breakdown. Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life is not an unusual experience for humanity. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, speak with someone — this might be a family member or a friend, your therapist, or even your doctor. Allow yourself to explore any and all emotions that may be running through your mind. Mental breakdowns are not time-bound; they can occur at any time and to anyone. Communicating with another person can empower you in processing your thoughts and developing solutions to reduce your tension and anxiety. Always remember that it’s okay to feel it all– take care of yourself.

How do you deal with stressful situations/events?

The curiosity soul

Little children make a mess of everything in their quest to touch, feel, smell, and taste…their insatiable curiosity is unfathomable. They will go to greater measures to cry simply to obtain what they desire. They’re curious about the feel. They are fascinated by everything. Children are born with an insatiable need to learn. By nature inquisitive, they cannot be restrained from exploring as they attempt to comprehend their world. Everything is awe-inspiring.

For millennia, philosophers have grappled with the notion of curiosity, and have seen it in three distinct ways. Aristotle and Cicero defined curiosity as an innate yearning for knowledge. St. Augustine and Hume referred to it as a “desire for knowledge”. Bentham and Kant both referred to curiosity as appetitive, which corresponds to Ferubach’s view that curiosity is the outcome of an unfulfilled knowledge drive. Later philosophers arrived at what Loewenstein referred to as the “pre-modern agreement” on the concept of curiosity as “an intense, essentially motivated thirst for information”, which incorporates elements of all three of the earlier philosophical theories” generic definitions of curiosity. Many of these early theories equated curiosity with other urges such as hunger or thirst and did not address the issue of whether curiosity was unidimensional or multidimensional.

Among the first to recognize that curiosity has at least two fundamental dimensions, William James was among the first to see a) common curiosity, including the thrilled or angry sentiments brought on by novelty, and b) scientific curiosity, which is linked to more precise facts. Numerous following theories extended or expanded on this multifaceted picture of curiosity.

‘‘ Curiosity’ … is perhaps a rather poor term by which to designate the impulse toward better cognition in its full extent; but you will readily understand what I mean. … In its higher, more intellectual form, the impulse toward completer knowledge takes the character of scientific or philosophic curiosity. … Young children are possessed by curiosity about every new impression that assails them.’’

’ (James, 1899, pp 45–46)

I adore spending time with children–what transpires in their minds must be quite magical. As many as one hundred “why” questions are asked each day by toddlers. When they awaken, all they want to do is get out of their crib—they don’t care if they stay or not; they just want the fuck out. And then it’s as if their mind has caught fire. It’s as if neither yesterday nor tomorrow exist—as it’s if they only have now. As adults, many of us wake up drained, as if another day has passed us by– I’m exhausted, when does this day end but it’s only the beginning.

The mentality of a child has not been perverted by civilization. They are compelled to be curious. They went from climbing on the table to see if they could fall to climbing it again in the next minute to see if they could avoid falling this time. They’re curious: What will happen if I crawl approach that odd gadget on the wall? What if I climb to the top of that low table? What will happen if I accidentally touch this steaming cup of coffee? Then there’s the fact that they’re like human vacuums, sucking up every little thing that falls to the floor and putting it in their mouth.

‘‘Three-year-olds, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day, every day! However, by the time they are ten to 11 years of age they’ve pretty much stopped asking. Of even greater concern is that by the age of 25, only two percent can think outside the box. Curiosity seldom survives childhood. Adult creativity is still powerful, but there is just not enough of it. It can be said that the creative adult is the curious child who survived.’’

Robert Stokoe, director of the Jumeirah English-Speaking Schools in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Children are predisposed to be scientists. Children utilize the tools of science—enthusiasm, hypotheses, tests, and conclusions—to unravel the world’s mysteries, from the first ball they send flying to the ant they observe carrying a crumb. However, adults appear to have forgotten what came instinctively to them.

We are all born with an innate thirst for curiosity, but society has tamed it over time. As we become older, many of us lose our childlike curiosity. Many people become so preoccupied with their own sufferings that they lose their ability to think, leaving them with no choice but to carry out the bare minimum and perhaps endure what is. Certain social norms—whatever they may be—taint the minds of some people. It requires fortitude to continue asking the 100 questions per day as if you were a child, regardless of whether the other party thinks you are foolish or odd. It requires a courageous individual to never accept what is perhaps asking why things are the way they are.

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn their back on life. 

Eleanor Roosevelt

The future belongs to the curious, to those who are not afraid to poke, prod, and question it, as well as to those who can flip it inside out. As Albert Einstein stated, the critical point is to never stop questioning. Remember the child within you, reawaken that child, and breathe life into that inner child–the youngster who wondered why a tree is called a tree.

Due to the fact that the mind functions similarly to a muscle that grows stronger with continued exercise, the mental workout induced by curiosity makes your mind grow stronger and stronger. By being inquisitive, you can discover new worlds and opportunities that are generally hidden. They are concealed behind the surface of everyday life, and it takes a curious mind to peer beneath and find these other worlds and possibilities. When you are intrigued by anything, your mind predicts and anticipates more ideas on the issue. You will identify the concepts as they come. Without curiosity, ideas may pass right in front of you and go unnoticed because your mind is unprepared to identify them. Additionally, your life is never monotonous or ordinary — boredom is a hazy concept, while an adventurous existence is certain. Unleash your inner child.

Photo by Michael Morse on


James, W. (1899). Talks to teachers on psychol: And to students on some of life’s ideals. New York: Henry Holt & Company

Jirout , Jamie, and David Klahr. “Children’s Scientific Curiosity: In Search of an Operational Definition of an Elusive Concept.” William James, 29 Apr. 2012,

Stokoe R. Curiosity, a Condition for Learning. 2012 [cited 27 August 2020]. Available from:

 A quote by Eleanor Roosevelt [Internet]. [cited 27 August 2020]. Available from:

Engel, S. (2009, August 01). Is Curiosity Vanishing?. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry .

Does Our Curiosity Change As We Age?. (2021, February 25). FutureLearn.

Importance of Being Curious – Home | Anderson University.

The waiting human

Are you someone who waits for something to happen in order to be happy?
Maybe I’ll be happy when I finish school.
Perhaps I will be happy if I have a child.
I will be content if I begin my career.
Maybe I’ll be happy if I get married.
I’ll be content if I find the love of my life.
I’ll be content if I build a house.

Remember when you were a kid and the only thing you wanted to do was become an adult? “As children, we are indoctrinated to anticipate the future,” LaToya Gaines, Psy.D, explains to Shine. “How frequently are we asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ or we are told, ‘Get high grades so that you may get into a good college or find a decent job?” Thus, Gaines writes, “our minds begin to shift towards this future orientation in which everything we do is in the service of a “future aim.” She continues to say that as children, what if we were taught to enjoy learning or to focus on the things that brought us joy during the day? However, when we base our happiness on things that are not only external to us, but also in the distant future, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to experience true contentment. You are constantly pursuing something in order to be happy. When you arrive there, you’ll still be pursuing another high—the pursuit will never cease, and that’s Destination happiness.

The idea that happiness can be found elsewhere, rather than in the present, is known as the concept of “destination happiness.” In other words, it’s the attitude of never being satisfied with the way things are and constantly planning for what might happen if… We’ll never be satisfied with what we have; we’ll always yearn for more and better. Milla Lascelles, a wellness coach at Bamford Spa, says it’s a never-ending treadmill, but also that we’re not willing to sit in the present tense, which is where we want to be.

Psychologist Dr. Robert Holden wrote, “Do you live your life only to get to the end of it?” The majority of people say “no” when asked this question, but not everyone lives that way. ‘Destination Addiction’ is the frantic, neurotic behavior that many people display in our manic society. Success is hampered by this problem. Individuals who are addicted to Destination happiness believe that success is a destination. They can’t get enough of the idea that success, joy, and heaven will all be waiting for them in the future. Every passing second is merely a boarding pass to a better tomorrow. For them, time has no meaning; they exist in a realm of the ‘not now,’ ignoring all of their possessions. Destination Addiction is an obsession with the notion that happiness is found elsewhere. The quest for happiness is causing us physical and mental harm. As a society, we’re constantly on the go, moving, and on the move. It isn’t our goal to have a good time, but rather to get through the day. Before we can truly unwind and enjoy the present, we must first travel to another location. However, this is never the case. There is no such thing as an endpoint. We are perpetually dissatisfied people. The joy of accomplishment is postponed over and over again. It is as if we are always on the lookout for “some extraordinary bliss we have no idea how to find”.

I knew someone who suffered from destination happiness syndrome. It is unquestionably not a fun game—nothing is ever sufficient. Despite the world’s uncertainty, anxiety governs their world. Their mind is always preoccupied with anything and everything. Even the pursuit, or perhaps the journey, is not even pleasurable for them. They are constantly on the lookout for something. When they obtain whatever they have been pursuing—they are joyful for a little moment and then quickly return to being dissatisfied until they pursue and obtain something else. They deny themselves happiness and associate it solely with achievement—they ask, seek, and find yet are never satisfied.

Don’t get me wrong: one should not be content to the point of not trying to improve their life. It’s possible to be happy while constantly improving yourself—never stop improving yourself and evolving. More akin to how you live, perhaps savoring each and every moment. You take pleasure in the journey, all the more so because the destination is merely a stepping stone to another pursuit. It is simply impossible to arrive at any destination and choose to remain. That is, you may choose to remain there, but you will quickly drive yourself insane.

We are designed to work as humans. It does not have to be a race between work and money. It could be anything, such as child-rearing. We quickly become bored if there is nothing we can offer the world. Consider retirees—it is fun for a certain period, right after that honeymoon phase; they eventually urge to do something with themselves, whether it’s writing, traveling, gardening, or simply renovating the house. You simply have to keep your mind active at all times.

Choosing to be happy is a daily practice, no matter what the current circumstances are, no matter where we are. It is a feeling of well-being, joy, or contentment that we want when we seek happiness. It is having a positive outlook on life.  Being happy does not imply the avoidance of unpleasant feelings– rather than suppressing them, you must allow yourself to feel them all. The smallest things can bring you the most joy. Being happy is simply appreciating the moment as it unfolds.

Photo by Belle Co on

Post-holiday syndrome

“Urgh, I wish holidays could go all year long,” my family and I often remark as we give our goodbye hugs and kisses as I return to my own place. Regardless of any squabbles that may emerge, the feeling of family togetherness is indescribable. For many of us, these are the people we see only once or twice a year — catching up for an entire year is always pleasant. Taking a break from your everyday routine is relaxing, and the fact that you don’t have to go to work is a pleasant change. After the holidays, do you often wonder why it’s so difficult to get back into the groove? Post-holiday blues are a real thing.

After the festivities of the holiday, it’s back to work and daily routine. The news may come as a welcome relief to some. Even with all the goodwill and joy, the holiday season may be a drain on your finances, physical health, and mental well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of adults report being affected by Christmas depression, and the stress of the season is the most common reason. Even if you’ve been on a high during the ‘happiest time of the year,’ it might be hard to come down from that euphoria and get back to work.

It’s impossible to generalize about sadness; it’s deeply personal. The things that make one person sad may not have the same effect on another. Stress, exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and over-commercialization are common causes of Holiday melancholy. The inability to spend time with loved ones due to financial hardship. Shopping, parties, family duties, and house guests can put a strain on the body’s ability to handle them all. Individuals who may not perceive themselves to be depressed may experience stress-related symptoms such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia. Post-holiday blues may strike others following New Year’s Day. This might occur as a result of the preceding year’s built-up expectations and disappointments, as well as stress and weariness.

Oftentimes, the holiday season is an emotional rollercoaster. After the excitement of the holidays has died down, many people fall into a funk or depressed mood and struggle to carry on with their daily routines. Mood swings that occur after the winter festive season are commonly referred to as “holiday blues,” “holiday depression,” or “post-Christmas blues.” There are numerous reasons why people experience post-holiday depression. It’s possible that the holidays didn’t live up to your expectations, that your plans fell through, or that your expectations were simply not met. Some people experience feelings of shame after overindulging on substances such as alcohol or food. You might also feel bad about yourself if you missed an event that you were supposed to go to. It’s comforting to know that we’re not the only ones experiencing these emotions.

Holiday blues may be the brain’s way of reorganizing itself in the midst of a jarring transition from one experience to another. Furthermore, the second half of December is essentially one long break from your usual routine. Another possible cause of post-holiday depression is the stress of coping with difficult situations and maintaining your composure in the midst of the holiday festivities.. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist and author of “Thriving as an Empath,” says that pretending to be happy can be exhausting. Dr. Richard O’Connor, a psychotherapist, believes that we “arm” ourselves with coping mechanisms to handle stress as well as difficult emotions during the holiday season.

During the holidays, we’re more likely to spend time with our loved ones. Spending time with our loved ones can also leave us feeling conflicted. We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt let down or treated unfairly by members of our family. This can cause sadness and even a sense of mourning in its own right. On the other hand, being with family can bring us great joy, and we may then miss them greatly when they return home. Holidays frequently rekindle memories of those who are no longer with us or with whom we have lost contact. It could be the result of a death, a divorce, or simply time passing. It’s not uncommon to experience a relapse of the mourning process around the time of the holidays.

Many of us return home after being away for a year, and it’s understandable if you’re worn out. While you’re away from home, you’re able to process and slowly regain the energy you expended keeping everything together. Feeling tired and depressed can be a side effect of exhaustion. Assuming you had a few days off from work, you’re now back at it every day. In order to take time off, it is possible to leave behind a mountain of work that can be overwhelming.

It is okay to allow oneself to experience any feeling. The post-holiday blues will not last indefinitely. And meanwhile, be kind to yourself. Compassionate toward yourself—Do not condemn yourself for feeling the way you do; allow yourself the time necessary to regain your equilibrium.


Holiday Depression And Stress. (2020, September 27). WebMD.

Angle, C. (n.d.). Post Holiday Syndrome. Post Holiday Syndrome.

Post-Holiday Blues: What It Is And How To Cope. (n.d.). Psych Central.

Understanding Post-Holiday Depression And Blues Post-Holiday Depression: Causes And How To Snap Out Of It. (2021, November 8). – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1996.

Handling Eating Disorders During the Holiday Season

“Eating disorders over the holidays are a living hell for me because I am constantly hiding and afraid, confused about life and hate every time that I am around food. So many people were staring and glancing at me, and I was bombarded with comments for days. My entire existence was in shambles. I was in so much anguish and guilt that I had no choice but to turn to my eating habit for comfort. The stress of having to eat and the fear of offending others were the worst parts of the experience”

The holiday season is a lovely time of year—  Festivities and socializing are typical at this time of year – as families and friends gather for food and fun. The season is meant to be a time of joy, happiness, and love. Nonetheless, the holidays may be a stressful time for many people with eating disorders. People who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder may find that the Holidays exacerbate their symptoms, which can lead to even greater psychological anguish and suffering. Possibly owing to the stress of the upcoming festivities and/or the prospect of the availability of tough (typically high calorie) foods in the weeks ahead.

Why are holidays such triggers?

Anxiety-inducing events such as holiday feasts have been found to be powerful triggers for people with eating problems. There’s evidence to support this theory, as research reveals that women with bulimia’s brains respond differently to eating when they’re under pressure than those who don’t suffer from the disorder. As a matter of fact, the design of holiday gatherings tends to raise the risk of holiday binging. People spend days running up to Thanksgiving either excited or worried about overeating at the Thanksgiving Day dinner. People with eating disorders are more likely to overindulge on Thanksgiving because the stress of either refraining or giving in to this delightfully gluttonous celebration may trigger more disordered eating for them. Anxiety surrounds holidays, especially since people suffering from eating disorders find it hard to conceal their challenging behaviors.   

“With my bulimia, Christmas is the most difficult time of year. Love and joy were all around, but they weren’t there for me, so I turned to food as a substitute. Before I made my way to the bathroom, I found it difficult to watch everyone in such good spirits. Because I felt unworthy of happiness, I was unable to enjoy it. Love and happiness were not mine to receive…”

You can get through it– When it comes to self-care, the holiday season is a great time to remember that. You need to figure out what is most likely to keep you grounded and unaffected. Taking care of oneself takes on various forms for various people. Allow yourself the freedom to do whatever it is that you need and whenever it is that you need to. Also, self-care is about being kind and forgiving to oneself. Allow yourself grace, avoid negative self-talk, prioritize connection with others or re-explore things you enjoyed prior to developing an eating disorder. What matters most is that you have a trusted friend or family member to turn to when things get tough.

How can loved ones offer support?

Avoid discussing diets, food, or weight in conversation. During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to casually comment on how “full” one is or how one will require a post-dinner workout. For someone who suffers from an eating issue, these kinds of remarks can be quite upsetting. Not only should you refrain from criticizing their appearance (even if it’s complimentary), but you should also refrain from urging them to consume more food. Again, these actions can be detrimental rather than beneficial. Set aside time for non-food-related activities. Going out to see the Christmas lights, playing board games, and watching movies can all be done without regard for food. 

Become familiar with the person’s specific disorder—the causes, the difficulties, and the coping mechanisms. You’ll be able to better understand their actions if you learn more about them.   Remind them of your love and affection. There are many ways you may show your support, from hugs and warm words to more subtle gestures such as making sure they’re part of the conversation and activities they’re a part of. The most important thing to remember is that you can only modify your own behavior, not theirs. You may help someone by supporting them in their journey, even if it means allowing them to make mistakes or face obstacles. By just being as thoughtful, empathetic, and observant as possible, you can assist them at every step.


Collins B, Breithaupt L, McDowell JE, Miller LS, Thompson J, Fischer S. The impact of acute stress on the neural processing of food cues in bulimia nervosa: Replication in two samplesJournal of Abnormal Psychology. 2017;126(5):540-551. doi:10.1037/abn0000242

Managing Holiday Meals When You Have an Eating Disorder. (2021, January 5). Verywell Mind.

Eating Disorders And Holidays – Mirror-Mirror. (2020, June 11). Mirror-Mirror.

Christianson, D. (2019, October 18). 5 Tips for Coping With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays. Center For Discovery.

How To Support Someone With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays | ResponseCenter. (n.d.). How to Support Someone with an Eating Disorder During the Holidays | ResponseCenter.

Coping With A Loved Ones’ Eating Disorder During the Holidays. (2006, October 18). Center for Change.

Different cultures’ perceptions of body image

As a documentary fanatic, I came across one that explored how people in different cultures view body image in detail. I was taken back by the breadth and depths to which people will go in order to acquire the ideal body image that society has set for them.

The one that intrigued me the most and was completely beyond my grasp was Mauritania’s culture. When it comes to Mauritania culture, the size of a female signifies how much of her husband’s heart she occupies. Every year, girls as young as five were exposed to the ritual of leblouh. Older women or the children’s aunts or grandmothers provide pounded millet, camel milk, and water in quantities that make them ill at “fattening farms” for girls from rural families. A regular typical diet for a 6year old will consist of two kilograms of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter and twenty liters of camel’s milk.

Unknown to her, the girl is taken away from her family. In spite of her pain, she is advised that becoming obese will bring about happiness in the long run. Matrons utilize rolling sticks on the girls’ thighs to break down tissue and expedite the procedure. Sticks are used to punish children who refuse to eat or drink, inflicting tremendous discomfort on them. A 12-year-old who has been successfully fattened will weigh 80 kilograms. If she vomits, she must ingest the liquid. She’ll look like she’s 30 by the time she’s 15. While viewing this documentary, I was amazed at the extremes that people will go to in order to conform to society’s expectations. Currently, my mind is in “wtf mode” as I write this.

Another interesting aspect of body image is the “cult of thinness,” which has been cited as a major factor in the rise in the incidence of eating disorders and in the prevalence of obesity. As Hesse-Biber succinctly states in her book, the majority of westernized women share one desire: they want to be thin–or thinner. And they are willing to go to extreme lengths, even to the point of starvation, to achieve that goal. Why are American women so obsessed with their weight? What has caused an unprecedented number of young women–even before they reach their adolescent years–to develop an obsession with weight, a negative body image, and disordered eating? Why are some young women able to resist cultural demands to lose weight while others are unable to do so? Are there societal elements at play in the current outbreaks of anorexia and bulimia in America? Hesse-Biber goes beyond conventional psychiatric explanations of eating disorders to critique the social, political, and economic pressures women confront in a weight-obsessed society–a culture that, strangely, is becoming increasingly obese while worshiping an increasingly thin ideal.

Americans place too much emphasis on being skinny, according to Glenn Gaesser, a professor at Arizona State University and the author of “Big Fat Lies.” “We have had a fixation with weight loss and how to get skinny for decades now,” he declared. A skinny body is a desirable body, and a thick body is undesirable. This is a false dichotomy, and it has permeated our culture, from fashion to fitness, to health and wellbeing.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve thought that a healthy body may come in a variety of forms. This suggests that being fit is more essential than being slim, according to Gaesser’s findings: persons who are thick and in shape have superior health outcomes. “I believe that America as a whole is still not ready to embrace the notion that fitness comes in a variety of forms and sizes,” he explained.

Traditional African beauty highlights a woman’s curved and voluptuous shape, which is considered curvaceous among African heritage cultures. Many young people from ethnic minorities don’t look like the white women depicted in popular media since they don’t share their phenotype or culture. To avoid comparing themselves to White media representations, some girls of color may instead strive for standards of beauty that are more appropriate to their own cultural contexts. African American women, in particular, have provided some evidence to back up this claim in research. African American females and girls perceive mainstream media images to be less appealing and personable than their Caucasian counterparts.

Nonetheless, some individuals are under pressure to adhere to popular beauty norms and may feel self-conscious about their own bodies when compared to media depictions. In summary, while girls and women of color who identify strongly with their ethnic/racial group may avoid comparisons to Caucasian media images, girls and women of color who identify less strongly with their ethnic/racial group may compare themselves to Caucasian women in media. As a result, it is reasonable to speculate that ethnic identification may similarly protect young people of color from body image challenges. Indeed, research with African American women suggests that ethnic identification may perform a protective role.

Unlike the prevailing slim body image, Latina women have defined a “feminine curves” body ideal. It is possible that Latino culture values a “buen cuerpo,” or a “thick” ideal, which includes a slim waist, huge breasts, and hips as well as around behind, as opposed to the thin ideal of a thin body. In contrast, increasing acculturation into mainstream American society may drive Latinas to consider the overly thin body ideal depicted in mainstream media.

Asian cultures continue to integrate into a globalized and Westernized world that promotes cultural ideals of slimness but also maintains a non-Western traditional society – particularly the younger generation – which receives ideals of beauty from both the Western and their own culture and traditions. Young people may face significant conflict as a result of these disparate cultural ideals. Japan by far has the highest rate of body dissatisfaction. Japanese female teenagers ages 6-13 and 16-18 have a poor impression of their bodies and a strong desire to be skinny, regardless of their actual weight. Due to the fact that both sets of standards encourage people to be thin in distinct ways and for distinct reasons, the detrimental impact on Japanese adolescents’ body image may be greater than in other nations.

Greene, S. B. (2011). Body Image: Perceptions, Interpretations and Attitudes. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy, and Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber. The Cult of Thinness. Oxford Unviersity Press, 2007.

Fujioka, Y., Ryan, E., Agle, M., Legaspi, M., & Toohey, R. (2009). The role of racial identity in responses to thin media ideals: Differences between White and Black college women. Communication Research, 36, 451-474. doi: 10.1177/0093650209333031

Poran, M. A. (2006). The politics of protection: Body image, social pressures, and the
misrepresentation of young Black women. Sex Roles, 55, 739-755. doi: 10.1007/s11199-006-9129-5

de Casanova, E. M. (2004). ‘No ugly woman’: Concepts of race and beauty among adolescent women in Ecuador. Gender & Society, 18, 287-308. doi: 10.1177/0891243204263351

Schooler, Deborah, and Elizabeth A. Daniels. “‘I Am Not a Skinny Toothpick and Proud of It’: Latina Adolescents’ Ethnic Identity and Responses to Mainstream Media Images.” Body Image, vol. 11, no. 1, 2014, pp. 11–18.,

Body Image

Throughout our childhoods, we are exposed to a wide range of absurdities, and these experiences shape our views of what is and isn’t acceptable. We take up on what society has essentially established as right or wrong. We are subconsciously influenced by society’s standards and norms. Body image differs according to society. Many of us internalize messages about body image beginning in childhood, which can result in either a favorable or negative body image.

Concerns over one’s body image frequently begin at an early age and could last a lifetime. By age 6, girls begin to show concerns about their personal weight and shape–expressing anxiety about their weight or risk of becoming obese. Additionally, nearly half of adolescent females and nearly a third of adolescent males engage in hazardous weight-loss habits such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. It’s crucial to remember that each person’s experience with body image issues is unique, thus the onset age might vary widely.

What does body image mean?

The term “body image” refers to the collection of ideas and emotions about one’s body. Body image experiences can range from favorable to negative, and an individual may feel positive, negative, or a combination of the two at various times. Internal and external elements both influence body image. Your perceptual body image is how you perceive your body. This is not necessarily an accurate depiction of your true appearance. Your affective body image is how you feel about your body. While feelings can range from delight to disgust, they are sometimes summarized as your level of contentment or discontent with your shape, weight, and individual body parts. A person’s mental representation of their body is known as their cognitive body image. This might result in an obsession with one’s body shape and weight. Behavioral body image refers to the actions that you take because of your body image. When a person is unhappy with their looks, they may isolate themselves or engage in unhealthy behaviors in order to alter their appearance.

Positive body image means having a clear, accurate view of your shape; perceiving the various aspects of your body for what they truly are. Accepting one’s natural body shape and size and realizing that appearances have little bearing on one’s character or value as a person are all components of body positivity (or body pleasure). In contrast, having a skewed view of one’s body shape is indicative of having a negative body image. Feelings of shame, anxiety and self-consciousness accompany negative body image (or body dissatisfaction). Negative body image can also arise as a result of weight stigma, muscularity, sexual functionality, scars, noticeable face or physical differences, handicap, or changes in the body as a result of medical treatments or disease.

Individuals who have a high level of dissatisfaction with their bodies believe their bodies are imperfect in contrast to others, and these individuals are more likely to experience depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia aren’t caused by a single thing, but research has shown that body dissatisfaction is the most common factor in the development of both.

Body dissatisfaction

When a person has chronic negative thoughts and feelings about their body, this is referred to as body dissatisfaction. Although dissatisfaction with one’s looks is an internal emotional and cognitive process, it is influenced by external influences such as pressure to conform to a particular appearance ideal. Dissatisfaction with one’s appearance can motivate individuals to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors, most notably disordered eating. As a result, they are at an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. It is worth noting, however, that the majority of people who have body image problems or dissatisfaction do not have eating disorders, and some people who do have eating disorders do not have body image concerns.

In Westernized countries, body image dissatisfaction has become a major concern for adolescent health. More than 60 percent of females and 30 percent of males in the United States suffer from body dissatisfaction, which is a particular focus for adolescent health practitioners. In the 1980s, researchers around the world began studying the impact of a negative body image on eating disorders. Since then, the amount of research on body image has expanded tremendously. Many of these studies reveal that the type and degree of body image problems vary according to characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, peers, family, personal experiences, and socio-cultural influences. These studies provide a good starting point for further research. Women in Western cultures appear to be at the greatest danger, while those in non-Western cultures appear to be at the lowest risk, albeit this is more owing to a lack of relevant studies than a scientific conclusion.

A person is said to have a positive body image if they can accept, enjoy, and respect their physical appearance. You can feel unsatisfied with some elements of your body, but still, be able to accept it for what it is. This is not body contentment. In order to maintain a healthy body image, it is important to recognize and avoid the artificial and unattainable ideals of beauty and thinness depicted in the media. A healthy body image does not ensure good mental or physical health, but it can provide a protective barrier against poor self-esteem, disordered eating behaviors or yo-yo dieting, and, perhaps, other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder.

It’s becoming more and more common for people of various sexes, ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities, etc., to embrace their bodies as they are. Body variety must be embraced and all bodies recognized as valuable. In order to cultivate a healthy body image, it is important to understand and respect one’s natural shape, and then replace negative thoughts with positive ones that are affirming and accepting.

Greene, S. B. (2011). Body Image: Perceptions, Interpretations and Attitudes. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

“Body Image & Eating Disorders.” National Eating Disorders Association, 22 Feb. 2018,

Body Image. (n.d.). Body Image.

Athletes and eating disorders

When it comes to eating disorders, young athletes are particularly susceptible. Gymnasts, runners, ballerina, bodybuilders, rowers, wrestlers, jockeys, dancers, and swimmers are more vulnerable. There has been an increase in studies into eating disorders in athletes during the previous two decades. Over one-third of female Division 1 NCAA athletes reported having attitudes and symptoms suggestive of anorexia nervosa, according to research. While the majority of athletes with eating disorders are female, male athletes are also at risk—particularly those who compete in sports that place a premium on nutrition, appearance, size, and weight requirements, such as wrestling, bodybuilding, crew, and running.

While athletics are an excellent method to develop self-esteem, increase physical fitness, and teach the value of collaboration, not all sporting pressures are beneficial. The pressure to win combined with a concentration on body weight and shape can be lethal. Competition in the arena of athletics can also have a detrimental effect on one’s mental and physical health. When the pressures of athletic competition are combined with an already prevalent cultural emphasis on thinness, the likelihood of athletes developing disordered eating increases.

There is a correlation between eating disorders and disordered eating, although they are not always the same. While all eating disorders are characterized by disordered eating, not every disordered eating meets diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. When the term “disordered eating” was initially coined, it was considered a component of the female athlete triad – a diagnosis that also includes low bone mineral density and osteoporosis – and was characterized as “a broad spectrum of detrimental and frequently unproductive eating practices adopted in attempts to shed weight or achieve a lean appearance.” Later, the term “inefficient energy availability” was adopted to represent the function that insufficient energy plays in accounting for all physical activity, as well as in fueling regular biological processes such as growth and development, as well as in maintaining health.

Eating disorders are prevalent in all sports, but not equally so. As is the case in society, eating disorders are more prominent in women than males in athletics. One area where research findings are more conclusive is in “lean” sports, in which it is considered that a thin/lean physique or low weight provides a biomechanical advantage in performance or in performance evaluation. Women participating in these sports are thought to be the most vulnerable.

Athletes may face more stress than non-athletes because they must deal with not only the transition away from home and the responsibilities associated with college academic requirements, but also with the pressures involved with sport participation. Eating disorders are frequently used as a coping mechanism for such pressures. As society and culture place a premium on the “thin ideal,” comparable pressures exist in the sporting environment regarding being thin/lean and its alleged beneficial effect on athletic performance. This emphasis on body weight/fat loss to improve athletic performance may result in weight pressures from coaches (or even teammates) on the athlete, increasing the likelihood of restrictive dieting, as well as the adoption of pathogenic weight-loss strategies and disordered eating. Even the athlete’s notion that her coach believes she should lose weight can exacerbate weight-related pressures and raise the likelihood of developing disordered eating.

Athletes who wear exposing uniforms may be more self-conscious about their bodies and more likely to engage in unhealthy weight management measures. According to research, 45 percent of swimmers said their swimsuits were a stressor. Volleyball players’ self-esteem and performance were significantly impacted by their revealing outfits, according to a new study.

Female student-athletes have a more complicated relationship between body image and body dissatisfaction than the overall population. Disordered eating or an eating disorder can arise in either or both of sportswomen’s two body images, one in sports and one outside of sports. It’s also possible that a female student-athlete may feel uncomfortable about being viewed as too muscular based on cultural norms about femininity because she has a body that promotes sports performance but doesn’t fit the socially preferred body type.

Sports environments may also misperceive eating disorder symptoms such as diets, weight loss, and excessive training as “normal,” and personality characteristics/behaviors comparable to those of eating disorder patients, such as perfectionism and excessive training, as “good athlete” features.

In athletes, even mild variations of eating disorders should be treated immediately because they can have a negative impact on both their health and their ability to perform. For coaches and trainers, practical guidelines are provided on how to recognize the physical indicators of eating disorders as well as their psychological and behavioral manifestations. Athletes should be able to get the proper treatment and assistance when they need it through strong preventative and screening programs.


“Eating Disorders & Athletes.” National Eating Disorders Association, 27 Apr. 2018, – The Official Site Of the NCAA. (n.d.). – The Official Site of the NCAA.

David M. Garner, Lionel W. Rosen, Declan Barry, Eating Disorders Among Athletes: Research and Recommendations, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 7, Issue 4, 1998, Pages 839-857, ISSN 1056-4993, (

Eating disorders

“…compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day.”

 — Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

According to the American Psychological Association, eating disorders are behavioral problems marked by severe and persistent disturbances in eating patterns, as well as upsetting thoughts and emotions. 70 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from an eating disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Women between the ages of 15 and 35 are particularly susceptible to eating disorders.

Typically, eating disorders emerge throughout adolescence or early adulthood. Anorexia and Bulimia are rare disorders that develop before puberty or after the age of 40. 90% of instances are diagnosed before the age of twenty, while less than 10% of all cases occur before the age of ten. Clearly, adolescent stressful events, such as self-consciousness, puberty, and peer pressure, can contribute significantly to the onset of these diseases. An eating disorder frequently begins as a result of a stressful life experience. This could include exposure to violence, family conflict, school-related stress, or loss. It does not appear to be related to someone’s race or socioeconomic background. Rather, these conditions affect people of all ages and socioeconomic statuses.

Preoccupations with food, weight, or shape, as well as worry about eating or the consequences of consuming specific foods, are common symptoms of eating disorders. Restrictive eating or avoiding particular meals, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative usage, or compulsive exercise are some of the behaviors associated with eating disorders. Addiction-like behavior can be a result of these habits. They frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, most frequently mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and other drugs.

It’s important to know that there are many different types of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are only some of the most common.

When anorexia nervosa–also known as anorexia–is diagnosed, the patient has an unusually low body weight, a strong fear of gaining weight, and an excessively distorted perception of weight. Individuals suffering from anorexia place a great premium on maintaining a healthy weight and shape, often by severe measures that significantly disrupt their lives. People with anorexia often drastically restrict their food intake in order to avoid weight gain or to maintain their weight loss. Vomiting after eating or using laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas as laxatives are two common methods of restricting caloric intake. Excessive exercise may also be used as a weight-loss strategy. However much weight is dropped, the worry of gaining it all back persists in the person’s subconscious mind. In the end, anorexia isn’t truly a food-related disorder. It’s a dangerous and potentially lethal technique to deal with emotional issues. It’s common for people with anorexia to see thinness as a sign of self-worth.

Bulimia Nervosa; People with bulimia may surreptitiously eat enormous amounts of food and then purge, seeking to get rid of the excess calories in an unhealthy manner. People with bulimia utilize a variety of strategies to burn calories and avoid weight gain. It’s possible that after a binge, you’ll self-induce vomiting or take laxatives or weight-loss pills, or diuretics. Fasting, severe diets, or intense activity can also be used to burn calories and prevent weight gain.

Binge eating disorder– characterized by recurring bouts of overeating. Binge eating is characterized by feelings of inadequacy during the binge, humiliation, sadness, or guilt afterward, and the absence of unhealthy compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging). It’s the most frequent eating disorder in the United States, according to the CDC. It is one of the most recently identified eating disorders in the DSM-5.

Avoidant restricted food intake disorder – is characterized by an abnormal pattern of eating that results in a prolonged inability to achieve nutritional requirements and severe selective eating. ARFID is characterized by food avoidance or a restricted diet. Infancy or early childhood is a common time for food avoidance or restriction to begin, and it may continue until adulthood. However, it can begin at any age. ARFID can have a negative influence on families regardless of the age of the person afflicted, resulting in greater stress during mealtimes and other social eating situations.

Causes of Eating disorders

Eating disorders are extremely complicated illnesses, and scientists are constantly discovering their origins. Although eating disorders are always associated with food and weight difficulties, the majority of specialists now believe that eating disorders are triggered by individuals attempting to cope with overwhelming feelings and painful emotions through food management. Regrettably, this eventually has a detrimental effect on a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and sense of control. Some people are more likely to develop an eating disorder because they have a genetic predisposition, but these diseases can also affect people who have no family history of the problem.

An idealized body type in the culture places unnecessary pressure on individuals to meet unattainable norms. Thinness (for women) or muscularity (for men) is frequently associated with popularity, success, attractiveness, and happiness in popular culture and media imagery. When it comes to young people, peer pressure may be a tremendous motivator. Pressure can manifest as teasing, bullying, or scorn based on one’s size or weight. A history of physical or sexual abuse may also contribute to the development of an eating disorder in some individuals. Emotional Well-Being—Perfectionism, impulsive conduct, and problematic relationships can all contribute to a person’s low self-esteem and predispose them to develop eating disorders.

Various treatments are used to treat eating disorders. Individualized treatment regimens for eating problems are available. You will almost certainly be assisted by a team of providers, including doctors, dietitians, nurses, and therapists. Psychotherapy, medication, nutritional counseling, and weight loss monitoring may all be used as therapies.


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