Author: Tereza Aleksieva

Vulnerability is Not Weakness: Let’s See Why!

The most common misconception about vulnerability is seeing it as a weakness. However, this type of thinking results from a general misinterpretation of the word vulnerable.

According to the definition, vulnerable means being susceptible to an attack or harm, which could be achieved by using a security hole from the person’s characteristics. So for someone with lower emotional intelligence, vulnerability would mean precisely the same as weakness. 

But this is not an accurate way of interpreting and connecting the meanings of those couple of terms. They have a deeper meaning, and we are about to discuss them in a bit more detail below. 

Can Vulnerability Be a Weakness?

From a psychological and emotional point of view, vulnerability is anything but a weakness. Just on the contrary – it is often considered a rarely found strength. 

Knowing how to be vulnerable is a very important factor on the path to becoming your best you. Being vulnerable simply means having the courage to:

  • Be your most authentic self and not hide behind facades to impress others;
  • Hold onto who you are without allowing shame or embarrassment to stop you from being real;
  • Show your flaws without feeling like a failure and encourage others to show their letdowns without judging them. 

Or else said – vulnerability is the mindful determination to reveal yourself without fear and be self-confident enough to let others see you for who you are. 

How is Vulnerability Different Than Weakness?

Sometimes, it is hard to accept that someone wants to be good to us or express honest emotion with no second thoughts. So, normally, we keep our defenses too high, making it hard for us to form true friendships and alliances. 

This is where a vulnerability becomes a necessity for further growth. Being vulnerable is allowing someone else to know and love you purely. It requires you to be self-aware and conscious to improve your emotional intelligence. 

The most common vulnerability example seems to be sharing personal information that you normally would not share with someone. Vulnerability does not mean over-sharing – it’s a deliberate decision about who you are sharing with. 

How Can I be Vulnerable and Strong?

To be vulnerable means to let your guards down and be seen for who we truly are. There are a few steps you can go through in order to turn your vulnerability into your superpower:

Change Your Mindset

You are no longer playing the victim, and you need to stop using vulnerability as an excuse to feel sorry for yourself. That means deeply acknowledging a painful situation and your personal role in bringing it about without allowing things to define your identity.

Tear Down Those Walls

Reach out to others and share your story. When you stop playing the victim, you stop looking to others for consolation, and as a result, people will feel safer sharing their ideas because they won’t feel responsible for fixing you. So stop expecting others to swoop in and save you, and instead, use them as a source of inspiration. 

You’ll find that more people can relate to you than you think. And once you realize that you’re not the only one carrying a burden, you’ll feel its weight lift from your shoulders. Then, a sudden power that allows you to move forward will kick in. That’s the moment your vulnerability turns into a superpower.

Commit to the New Mindset

A good mindfulness routine is a perfect countermeasure. When you feel that victim mentality creeping up again, try doing some stream-of-consciousness journaling, gratitude journaling, meditation, and track your sleep to ensure you get those eight hours. These strategies lead to a heightened awareness of the good things in life that, when recognized daily, can stop you from falling victim to the bad kind of vulnerability.

Knowing how to be vulnerable requires you to analyze yourself, identify your existing capacities and focus on your desired ones. This process is called a capacity assessment. It will help you understand your personal needs and where you need to expand your capacity. Vulnerability and capacity assessment play an essential role in personal development.

Why is Vulnerability so Hard?

As we mentioned earlier, you need to take your guards down to allow yourself to be vulnerable. But it is not comfortable letting your guard down and allowing someone else to see your not-so-good side. That makes it hard. And that’s why vulnerability takes courage

Try to observe your conversations with your friends and family, for example. You may notice that most of them are so shallow, basic topics. They don’t go deeper. If you want to build deep connections with people around you, you need to have the courage to be vulnerable.

It is hard and embarrassing to tell people what you’re bad at. You will probably not feel comfortable in these emotions. But we all know that growth does not come from a comfort zone. We are constantly amazed by an example of failure we’ve read about. And still, we don’t want to experience the same things. We are afraid to share our own mistakes, often because of our pride and ego.

But if you open up about your mistakes, you will connect with other people on a deeper level. Your failures are not a big deal. What matters here is what you have learned and how you’ve struggled. This will shape your personality, emotional well-being, and your ability to feel a genuine connection with the people surrounding you. You will enter a new world where you don’t feel shame for what you’ve been through in life. 

Instead, life will become a safe place to exchange experiences. And that’s something worth giving a shot!

How to Stop Overthinking: Your Full Guide

We all overthink situations in our day-to-day life. But if you overthink too much for too long, this might be a sign that you are an extreme overthinker.

If your thoughts are on repeat if you are worrying and ruminating, or even if you overthink about overthinking, then you’ll have plenty of hands-on advice in the paragraphs below.

So, how to stop overthinking and improve your overall well-being?

How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts?

Let’s say it how it is – people are rarely overthinking about their happiest moments, and overthinking is seldom associated with calmness and peace. So – how are you supposed to stop the automatic negative thoughts from creeping in?

First of all – try to rephrase.

The moment you catch yourself thinking about something negative, try to rephrase it in your head. For example, when overthinking, your negative thoughts might sound something like, “I’m alone, I feel lonely.” Try to restate this and replace it with “I will make time for myself to enjoy my company and practice self-love.” This technique will help you to see things from a different perspective. 

Also, allow yourself to ask for help. It is not embarrassing to see a therapist. We often make it through school and into our careers without ever being taught how to build and maintain healthy relationships with ourselves and others. And this is what a counselor or therapist can do for you.

What Triggers Overthinking?

You are overthinking when you want to protect yourself from your fears and past traumas – even if you don’t do it consciously. But it is very important to deep dive and understand what stands underneath your overthinking patterns.

Think about what wounds and fears you are trying to protect yourself from. It could be a fear of abandonment, rejection, embarrassment, fear of not feeling good enough, and so on.

Normally, you start overthinking, hoping it will safeguard you from fears and negativity. But in reality, you don’t feel protected in any way. Instead, it leads to quite the opposite – when you overthink, you are actually sabotaging yourself and your thoughts; you are not protecting yourself.

What is Overthinking a Symptom Of?

People who suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, and eating disorders share a common overthinking symptom. It is a narrative in your head you can’t stop playing over and over again.

When you are overthinking, your mental health and well-being begin to decrease. It lowers your confidence and increases your sense of indecisiveness.

As a part of your self-awareness journey, you need to be aware and accept that overthinking is not serving you in any way. It is not helping or protecting you. Instead, it consumes you by preventing you from growing, having self-confidence, and building healthy relationships.

Is Overthinking a Mental Disorder?

Overthinking is not by itself classified as a mental disorder. But it is a symptom of a mental illness like depression and anxiety. For example, people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder tend to fall into overthinking habits more often than not. It leads to restlessness, lack of concatenation, and irregular sleep. 

Though it might be easier said than done, a crucial first step for mentally healthy overthinkers would be to learn to let go. Don’t try to control uncontrollable things – instead, try to focus on things you can control, which is your current, present reality. If you train yourself to manage your perspective, beliefs, thoughts, and actions, overthinking can start slowly easing, and your quality of life will change drastically. 

How to Stop Overthinking in a Relationship?

It takes time to build mindfulness habits. But it is absolutely worth it if you wish to have a joyful, peaceful, and deeply connected relationship with your partner.

Your mind is an amazing network of unlimited energy and pathways, and they can lead you straight into relationship hell if you don’t know how to rein them in.

So, how to proceed?

Complete the story in your head and be okay with the outcome

Your mind wants to see the end of every story you play in your head. And if you don’t finish the narratives, your mind will bring them up over and over again. At the end of the day, this will become a rather negative and draining background in your head. 

Sometimes, the story in your head can be one of self-hate, where your mind tells you that you are not good enough for your partner. When you take a narrative to completion, your mind will know what happens at the end and how worse things could be. Your mind will know what fear it might be dealing with, and – paradoxically or not – you might feel way better where you are now. 

The stories in your head are all fiction

You need to be self-aware, and you need to come to a realization that the stories in your head are just thoughts. They are not real. They are all fiction. Your mind is creating them. That is its job. 

So – it would be best if you could stop identifying reality with your thoughts and stop assigning so much significance to your imagination.

Talk to your partner about your concerns

Be assertive in your communication so that you can work things out together as a team. This way, you will be building up respect, trust, and openness in your relationship.

The more honest you are – the better, even if it means you’ll show up as vulnerable. 

Ways to Stop Overthinking 

As we already clarified above, people often overthink to protect themselves from their own fears and suspicions. Allow yourself to feel these emotions, and don’t rush to oppose them right away. As long as you resist, they will persist. 

One way of accepting your fears and wounds is looking at the situation from a different angle. Force yourself to change the perspective of the negative thought – instead of feeling guilt or shame, ask yourself if you are facing fear from your past or the current reality. Often, these thoughts and stories are past traumas that you are projecting onto your present life. If you recognize this pattern, do your best to control and overcome it.

Long story short – when overthinking, we live either in the past or in the future. We miss out on our current reality and cannot be fully content and present. So remind yourself that you can’t change your past, and you can’t control your future. Try to be grounded and present as much as possible, and always bring yourself to the current moment when you start to overthink. 

Reading, writing, and meditation are also very helpful in building mindfulness. Eating healthily and exercising are crucial for overcoming this bad habit, and some daily exercises in Relaxify App will also bring you to create more beneficial inner dialogues. Because change comes gradually, and the results are worth it!

The Simple Pleasures in Life: Your Everyday Happiness Guide

Have you ever heard about intentional living? Except for core values, standards, and beliefs, it is about the ability to look out for the simple pleasures in life – all those little things that make life more magical, meaningful, deep, and fulfilling. 

These simple pleasures in life can inspire us, keep us charged with vitality, and make us feel genuine delight and satisfaction. So below, we are digging a bit deeper into why and how we should intentionally let ourselves love the world every now and then.

Is Happiness Something Extraordinary?

More often than not, people create a vision of happiness in their heads – an image or a “perfect-case” scenario taken out of a fantasy or a romantic novel. We know exactly what happiness should be like… But it seems like we have forgotten what it truly is.

We usually tend to aim for big, powerful, large-scale events in order to be delighted in life. But, as a result, we overlook the simple pleasures that surround us – ever expecting something tremendous and ever neglecting all that’s left. 

So, do we know how to be happy in everyday life? Or else put – can we be happy if nothing super intriguing and fascinating happens in our day-to-day lives?

The paragraphs below are a kind reminder to seek out simple pleasures in life. This means you don’t have to experience extraordinary, large-scale events in order to be comfortable with yourself and feel fulfilled. 

What’s Considered a Simple Pleasure?

Let’s say you buy something very common and typical for breakfast – like eggs, for example. You will feel nothing truly special, right? Eating eggs four times a week has already exhausted your fascination, and you’re considering it nothing but a dull routine. 

But suppose you buy some caviar for breakfast. In that case, you will be having something rare, exotic, and different, which will bring you happiness and satisfaction; you will feel like you are a successful person even if you are not currently working.

The same thinking pattern is applied at large-scale events like getting married, buying a house, and career growth – we are happy only during the period of these events. As a result, we are deeply pleased only when something extraordinary happens. And if not – we tend to feel miserable, unsuccessful, and unhappy. This is among the main problems in thinking patterns, leading to anxiety and depression.

A simple pleasure, on the other hand, is a great pleasure for you and not necessarily a significant one for others. It doesn’t need to receive a collective acknowledgment, and sometimes, it can’t even be communicated – it is a brief delight you feel inside of you that bright up your day.  

This pleasure may look very brief and simple – like eating a strawberry, having a nap, seeing a rainbow, smiling at a stranger as you are passing by, or scanning childhood photos. Yet, these sorts of things may be among the most moving and satisfying ones we can ever experience.

What Are Examples of Simple Pleasures in Life?

People can be deeply moved by different small details that mean nothing to others. So, there is no such thing as a universal list of simple pleasures that go equally well for everyone. 

Anyway, there are quite a lot of repetitive delights that people share, and some of them could be:

  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Seeing a rainbow
  • Walking on a beach
  • The first sip of coffee
  • Cuddling
  • Enjoying a meal
  • Cleaning up a mirror
  • Looking at the clouds
  • Having a warm aromatic bath
  • Listening to the rain
  • Sneezing
  • Watching a good movie by yourself
  • Afternoon naps
  • Lighting a candle
  • Painting or writing
  • Being called beautiful
  • Smelling clean sheets
  • Sleeping an extra hour
  • Talking to a grandparent
  • Someone playing with your hair
  • Discovering a new favorite song
  • A spontaneous haircut
  • A perfectly sharpened pencil
  • A great hair day
  • The warm breeze, etc.

This list is potentially limitless. There are many simple pleasures in this world to be happy about, and it’s absolutely okay to find yours – even if it has nothing to do with others’. 

Why are Simple Pleasures in Life Important?

Often, when we are feeling stressed out, or life gets really, really busy, the first thing that goes out of the window is looking out for those simple pleasures. We forget how important they actually are and as time goes by, we even stop noticing them. (1)

But when we stop detecting all the good things, we start noticing all the bad things instead. They start to slowly build up and bring us more stress and anxiety. We see the world as a very negative place. We become very negative, defensive, and skeptical. Often, we start subconsciously looking for things that are not favorable, which can spiral our lives down into a very gloomy loop.

When we consider positive things, obviously, our life gets a more optimistic focus than when we focus on negative things. So to protect ourselves from habitual negativity, we need to be more self-aware and start noticing when our life is headed toward that negative spiral. 

Then we have to do our best to push ourselves to the positive side. To do that, we can use the power of these simple little pleasures, which means we need to make it a priority to consciously think about them.

We can go outside and search for the little things surrounding us at any given time. We need to open up our senses so that we can enjoy these little everyday blessings. They are always there. It is up to you if you can see and cherish them as often as you deserve to. 

Once we train our brain to do this, it will really shift our whole paradigm. People who can look out for simple pleasures and enjoy them have more meaning, depth, and happiness in their lives.

Or Else Said…

Being able to appreciate small pleasures means trusting our own responses a little more. That means we don’t need to wait for everything interesting and charming for us to be approved and appreciated the same way by others. Instead, we have to trust our senses, open up to the muted signals we feel, and allow ourselves to relish the little life treats without worrying if they make sense to others.

At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to bring your conscious awareness to seek out these experiences, enjoy them, and appreciate them. Soon, you will notice the level of satisfaction in your life will go up to an incredibly elevated span. Staying in this positive mind space will help you continue on the path of your goals and feel much more motivated and fulfilled.

Can High Emotional Intelligence Make Your Own Life Better?

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient), was first mentioned in the second half of the 20th century and has been increasingly researched as a concept ever since. 

Suppose you’re not specialising in interpersonal communication or self-development strategies. In that case, you probably still consider emotional intelligence a trait that mainly benefits the people around you. 

Anyway, a person with high emotional intelligence is likely to experience some rather beneficial consequences of it. And today, we are telling you more about them!

First Things First: What is High Emotional Intelligence?

Looking for the shortest possible explanation to EI? Basically, that is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of the people around you.

In a fundamental writing on the subject, psychologist Daniel Goleman identifies five elements that add up to each other to build a high level of emotional intelligence, and these are:

Self-awareness

Self-awareness, self-assessment, and self-confidence are among the most fundamental emotional intelligence traits in an individual. 

These are the mindfulness-based mechanisms through which you understand yourself, recognize the impact of your emotions on your behaviour, and maintain a positive feeling of self-worth. 

Self-regulation

Recognizing your emotions is one thing, but controlling them is a world of its own. Self-regulation is all about staying in control and not letting your emotional dynamics mess with your overall values and definitions of acceptable behaviour. 

This high emotional intelligence element might require working on your anger-management skills, adapting mechanisms, and willingness to take responsibility for your actions. It’s not just about deep breathing – it’s about allowing yourself to stay yourself, even in the most challenging situations. 

Motivation

It also goes by the name of self-discipline, or the ability to keep your focus, even when your emotions are calculating some pressure. Motivation has a lot to do with goal-setting, achievement celebration, and keeping your sense of purpose – both personally and professionally. 

Emotionally intelligent motivation has nothing to do with compulsive multitasking or designing the perfect burnout scenario. Instead, it has to do with keeping your integrity, even if emotional distractions get in your way. 

Empathy

Some people are natural empaths, while others learn on the way. This fundamental soft skill is all about genuinely trying to understand someone else’s viewpoint and walking a mile in their shoes before you act or react. 

Empathy involves a lot of active listening, emotion recognition, and compassion. This is especially important when you don’t share a background with the person in front of you – including cultural predispositions, religious views, or even a value system. 

Social Skills

Social skills and relationship management will play an important role in both your career development and your personal life story. So, the broader “social skills” term actually stands for:

  • Staying present and actively reading the air in the group of people around you;
  • Showing organisational awareness and the ability to motivate behaviours in people;
  • Building social networking and decision-making paths where everyone’s concerns are taken into consideration;
  • Adapting to a changing situation and helping others adapt stress-free as well;
  • Supporting others in their pursues, abilities, talents, and inspirations;
  • Resolving conflicts and disagreements in a collaborative and respectful way;
  • Helping people and groups feel safe, appreciated, and cooperative;
  • Building bonds between members of the group, yourself including.

The list can go on forever, but you already get the point – social skills are all about making communication a pleasure rather than a burden. 

And if all of the above sounds way too abstract for you – you can always take the professionally designed emotional intelligence test of Psychology Today to see where exactly you are standing on the scale. 

emotional intelligence elements

Benefits of High Emotional Intelligence

You can recognize a highly emotionally intelligent person by their ability to stay focused, present, and resilient in challenging situations. They seem to always find a way to demonstrate respect towards themselves and others, manage difficulties with dignity, and act as a reflector that shows everyone’s strengths and weaknesses in a constructive way. 

Yes – everyone loves being around these types of people, and everyone benefits from being this type of person. 

  • Showing high emotional intelligence in the workplace can easily make you a natural leader and opinion-maker in your professional community.
  • High emotional intelligence can improve your relationships with others, making you a preferred friend, relative, co-worker, partner, or significant other.
  • Being an emotionally intelligent parent will help you raise strong, confident, and respectful children with healthy boundaries.
  • High emotional intelligence is proven to enhance the overall physical and mental well-being of all genders, ages, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Research shows that people with high EQ will earn on average £22,000 more per year – so yes! – that self-improvement tactic is also profitable.
  • Emotional resilience and awareness will help you make smarter decisions and pursue your long-term goals without being trapped in short-term drama. 

At the end of the day, the EQ superpower will improve your performance in all areas of life and will help you act and feel like a valued member of society instead of a lone wolf that hardly keeps it together. 

emotion recognition and emotional intelligence

Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?

In contrast to conventional intelligence or IQ, emotional intelligence is something you can actively work on. Of course, different temperaments are not equally susceptible to radical changes. Still, a smart strategy and consistency can get you a long way. 

Some techniques for improving your emotional intelligence can be:

  • Practising emotion recognition with both friends and strangers;
  • Engaging in practices of mindfulness, meditation, and body scanning;
  • Working on your focus, concentration, and goal-setting;
  • Expanding your social bubble and staying open-minded towards diversity;
  • Practice active listening and focus on people’s statements rather on your replies;
  • Learn to give and receive constructive criticism without hard feelings;
  • Don’t avoid analysing your feelings and cross out escapism from your coping mechanism list.

Though easier said than done, these tactics will help you further improve your emotional response and enjoy all the benefits of controlling your feelings instead of letting them control you.

The good news? Your journey with RelaxifyApp will take you through all the steps described above with some fun and engaging games to play on the go. So – all you need to do is make the first step and walk the rest of them together with us!

Battle Stress and Anxiety With These 5 Types of Foods

Can stress and anxiety be regulated by minding the products you put on your plate?

First thing first – there is no such thing as a magical pizza that you can eat and immediately achieve the ultimate level of psychological well-being. Of course, any regular pizza can give you a fleeting feeling of happiness, but that is usually not a solid long-term strategy. 

Anyway, there is an extended research base that investigates all the ways our diet affects our emotional and cognitive well-being, and – unsurprisingly – some foods prove more beneficial than others. 

Below, you will find the top five groups of foods that demonstrate a positive effect on the psychological state – as well as the ways they actually achieve that.

Magnesium-Rich Foods for Managing Stress and Anxiety

Magnesium is a well-known mineral that relieves muscle tension and promotes overall relaxation in the body. Moreover, it plays an important role in metabolizing cortisol – one of the main stress hormones, along with adrenaline and norepinephrine. 

Now that science has spoken, here are some of the magnesium-rich foods you can add to your diet in order to naturally battle stress and tension:

  • Pumpkin seeds;
  • Cashews and almonds;
  • Broccoli and spinach;
  • Bananas and papayas;
  • Dried figs;
  • Avocados, etc.

And – take this as a bonus – dark chocolate!

Probiotic Foods

In 2020, the University Health News published an article on the so-called “psychobiotics”. Put shortly, these are a type of probiotics that are shown to have a positive effect on patients that suffer psychological distress or psychiatric illness.

Psychobiotics improve the gut-brain connection, thus boosting the mood, relieving the episodes of anxiety, and even easing depression to a certain extent. If you want to enhance your gut microbial diversity and enjoy the side perks, you can boost your diet with:

  • Natural and unsweetened yogurt;
  • Fermented vegetables;
  • Probiotic drinks such as kefir and kombucha;
  • Soft cheeses and sourdough bread.

Of course, there are multiple probiotic products available as a food supplement. You can choose and take such a product after you meet up with your doctor and get their personalized recommendations. 

High-Fiber Foods

Dietary fiber improves your peristalsis, feeds the good bacteria in your intestines, and can also prove beneficial for your weight control plan. In addition, recent research suggests that a fiber-rich diet can be surprisingly good for brightening your mood and balancing your behavioral patterns.

More specifically – in research published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, fructooligosaccharide and galactooligosaccharide actually improved anxiety and depression in participants that consumed around ≥ 5 g per day.

Some of the healthiest (and yummiest!) fiber-rich foods against stress and anxiety are:

  • Whole grains and beans;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Virtually all types of raw fruits and vegetables.

If you’re looking for a guilty fiber pleasure here, keep in mind that home-made popcorn now has a legitimate place in your well-being program!

Omega-3s

Modern nutritional sciences have already spread the word that not all fat is bad for your health. On the contrary – healthy fats are just as vital for your well-being as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Omega-3 fatty acid, for example, is proven to reduce inflammation, support the proper blood flow in the brain, and regulate neurodevelopment through serotonin. Long story short – this fatty acid is even officially used as a supplement in treating conditions like depression, generalized anxiety, and schizophrenia. 

You can get your daily dose of Omega-3 support from natural sources like:

  • Fish, caviar, and other seafood;
  • Seeds and nuts;
  • Cold-pressed plant oils;
  • Seaweed and algae;
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Also, many products on the market come fortified with Omega-3, and this may include yogurt, juices, traditional and nut milk, etc. 

Herbal Teas and Spices for Stress and Anxiety

Finally, traditional herbal medicine has been used for balancing the mood and the nervous system for millennia now. There are multiple medicinal plants and local spices that your grandma has probably told you about, but – surprisingly or not – modern science actually confirms. 

The active ingredients in these plants have adaptogenic properties, stress-reducing effects, and an overall positive impact on brain function and mood-regulating hormones. Your natural artillery can include – but not limit itself to – the following:

  • Valerian root;
  • Passionflower;
  • Chamomile;
  • St. John’s wort;
  • Lemon balm;
  • Rhodiola;
  • Licorice;
  • Lavender;
  • Ashwagandha, etc.

Also, mood-balancing spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and ginseng now come in the form of capsules and powders that you can easily add to meals, smoothies, and even juices. 

So, will your psychological state magically reach an all-time peaking level of serenity once you add these foods to your diet? Probably not. 

But will you start feeling a mood boost once you have these as a long-term part of your daily diet? Most probably yes.

Add regular physical activity, quality rest, and a supportive social environment, and you will have all the prerequisites of doing better than you are today. Just because being well always begins with eating well, and the rest is up to you and your intelligent self-care routine against stress and anxiety. 

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