Keeping Your Emotional Health
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.
Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to manage their negative feelings. They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor.
Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health and be happier.
Path to improved well being
Emotional health is an important part of your life. It allows you to realize your full potential. You can work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society.
It also affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight
There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.
Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers.
Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what it is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.
Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes, and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.
Things to consider
People who have good emotional health can still have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause. This could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can trigger mental illness or make it worse.
Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.
Questions to ask your doctor
What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?
Would medicine help me be able to cope better?
Should I see a therapist or counselor?
How does my physical health affect my emotional health?
What stress management techniques would work best for me?
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr M Williams
How to tell if you are in a bad relationship
Have you been dumped, betrayed or left so heartbroken that you didn’t ever want to love again? Are you still stuck on an ex and don’t know how to move on? And how do you know when it’s time to let go and look for love somewhere else?
If you’re “the other woman” who’s waiting for a man to leave his lover, don’t waste your time. “If he’ll do it with you, he’ll do it to you,”. The man you want lacks integrity and can’t make a commitment.
Are your standards too low? “What is it about you that causes you to settle for somebody that you know will cheat on you, know will lie to you, know will make a commitment and then break it? What is it about you that you believe about yourself that you’re willing to settle for that?” Recognize that you’re settling and that you deserve more. Set a higher standard for yourself.
Does he really even make you happy? Be honest with yourself about the extent to which he’s really meeting your needs. Chances are you’re longing for the relationship that you wish it could be, and that you want to be in love with the person you wish he was. “There are times when you break up with somebody and you start missing them and you start thinking about all the good things. And then you’re back with them for about 10 minutes and you go ‘Oh yeah! Now I remember why I hate you!’” Don’t kid yourself about what it was really like or glorify the past.
Don’t wait around because you think he’s going to change. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the chance that he’s going to ride in on his white horse and do the right thing is pretty slim. “To the extent that there’s some history, you don’t have to speculate, you just have to measure.”
Don’t put your life on hold. Every minute you spend focusing on your ex is a minute that’s holding you back from a better future. “As long you are obsessed on this guy, you will never put your heart, soul and mind into getting your life in order and starting another relationship if you want one.” Set some goals and start putting your life back together.
Ask yourself: Are you hiding in the relationship so you don’t have to face the reality of being on your own? Don’t stay with someone because it’s comfortable and safe. It may seem more secure, but it’s not healthy for you and it certainly won’t help you get to a better place. Why would you want to settle and waste your life away just to avoid getting back in the game?
Be clear with him. “You’ve got to say not just ‘no,’ but ‘hell no,'”. “‘Get out of my life. Stay away from me. Don’t call me.'” If you live together, it’s time to move out, or you may need to change your phone number. “Do what you have to do.” If the circumstances are more complicated or severe, you may need to get a lawyer in order to get child support or to hold him accountable for any other outstanding issues.
Don’t hold all men responsible for the mistake your ex made. Why should he pay for the sins of someone else who may have wronged you?
Learn to trust again — by trusting yourself. It tells a man who’s having a hard time letting women back into his life: “Trust is not about how much you trust one person or another to do right or wrong. How much you trust another person is a function of how much you trust yourself to be strong enough to deal with their imperfections.” Have enough faith in yourself to be able to put yourself on the line with someone, without any guarantee of what will happen next. If you’re playing the game with sweaty palms, it’s because you’re afraid of what you can or can’t do, or dealing with your own imperfections — it’s not about the other person.
Know that you will get hurt if you’re in a relationship. There is no perfect person without flaws. Even a well-intended guy is going to hurt his partner. He’s going to hurt your feelings. He’s going to say things that you don’t want him to say. He’s going to do things you wish he wouldn’t do and not do things you wish he would do. A relationship is an imperfect union between two willing spirits who say, ”I’d rather be in a relationship and share my life, share my joys, share my fun, share my activities, share my life than do it alone.” If you want to be in a relationship, know that getting hurt comes with the territory. You just have to decide that you are durable enough, that you have enough confidence in yourself that you can handle it.
Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. While it’s important to move forward, you need to take things one step at a time. Don’t put so much out there that you’ll be emotionally bankrupt if things go south.
Don’t beat yourself up. You got through your last experience, you’ve learned from it, and now it’s time to move forward. “You’ll move on and be a champion in your next endeavor as you did in your past … Life is not a success-only journey. You are going to get beat up along the way.”
Focus on yourself. All of us come into relationships with baggage, but you need to have closure on past experiences before you can start a new relationship with the odds in your favor. “Unless and until you’ve figured out everything you’ve got to figure out about that and you get closure, you will never come into a relationship with a fresh and clean heart and mind and expectancy and attitude.” You’re probably not ready to get into another relationship until you heal the wounds of your past.
Listen to what he’s saying. If he’s telling you that you want different things out of life and there’s no way you can work as a couple, don’t turn his words around into what you want to hear. He’s being quite clear.
Know the statistics. “There’s a 50/50 chance a marriage is going to work if both people are head over heels in love, passionate and willing to climb the mountain, swim the river and slay the dragon to get to each other. That’s with everybody crazy in love and running toward each other in that field that we see in the commercials. The problem you’ve got here is he’s running the other way in the field! So if it’s 50/50 when you’re running toward each other, what do you think it is when the other person is running out of the field and hiding in the woods?”
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M Williams
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Symptoms
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to an extremely stressful or life-threatening event — involving death, the threat of death or serious injury — with resulting intense fear, helplessness or horror. If you experience these symptoms for a duration of more than a month, you could be suffering from PTSD.
Persistently Re-Experiencing the Event Having recurring dreams about the event or having persistent and distressing recollections of the event. Feeling and acting as if the trauma was reoccurring — hallucinations or flashbacks — and experiencing distress when exposed to cues. For example, Dr. Phil’s guest, Shelia, was attacked at gunpoint in her house, so when she is at home, she often replays the event in her mind.
Avoiding Stimuli Associated with the Trauma Making efforts to avoid thoughts, conversations, people, places and activities associated with the trauma, and avoiding activities, places or people that arouse recollections of the trauma. Shelia makes every effort to avoid being inside her house. She often spends long periods of time at the mall and sits in her car outside her home so she doesn’t have to go inside.
Numbing of General Responsiveness Pulling back and having a diminished interest in activities that are significant, and suffering low energy. Feeling detached or estranged from others. Displaying a restricted range of affect — unable to have loving feelings, or don’t want to become excited and happy or let scared emotions out.
Increased Arousal Symptoms Not Present before the Trauma Being easily startled, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Developing a heightened irritability and/or having angry outbursts. Becoming hypervigilant — behaviors you did not experience before the event.
Disturbance Impairs Other Areas of Functioning Experiencing significant impairment in social or occupational activities or any other important areas of functioning. Shelia has a difficult time working, because loud noises easily startle her.
If you have any questions or concerns about this or any area of healthcare please call us.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M Williams
Depression Harms Heart as Much as Obesity and Cholesterol
Depression is as big a risk for cardiovascular disease in men as high cholesterol and obesity, according to a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis.
“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases,” explained researcher Karl-Heinz Ladwig. “The question now is: What is the relationship between depression and other risk factors like tobacco smoke, high cholesterol levels, obesity or hypertension — how big a role does each factor play?”
To answer the question, German researchers analyzed data from 3,428 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74 years over a period of 10 years. They compared the impact of depression with the four major risk factors.
“Our investigation shows that the risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity,” Ladwig said. Only high blood pressure and smoking were found to be associated with a greater risk.
The researchers came to the conclusion that depression accounts for roughly 15 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease. “That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” Ladwig states. These factors cause 8.4 to 21.4 percent of the cardiovascular deaths.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and throughout the world, and accounts for about 1 in 3 deaths in America.
Depression is also prevalent in the U.S., affecting approximately 14.8 million Americans each year. Studies have shown that depression raises the risk of heart attack fourfold.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr Sylvia Hubbard
Is it really ADHD or is it Trauma (PTSD)
Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch.
Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.
When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.
“Despite our best efforts in referring them to behavioral therapy and starting them on stimulants, it was hard to get the symptoms under control,” she said of treating her patients according to guidelines for ADHD. “I began hypothesizing that perhaps a lot of what we were seeing was more externalizing behavior as a result of family dysfunction or other traumatic experience.”
Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behavior may mirror the effects of adversity, and many doctors don’t know how—or don’t have time—to tell the difference.
Considered a heritable brain disorder, one in nine U.S. children—or 6.4 million youth—currently have a diagnosis of ADHD. In recent years, parents and experts have questioned whether the growing prevalence of ADHD has to do with hasty medical evaluations, a flood of advertising for ADHD drugs, and increased pressure on teachers to cultivate high-performing students. Now Brown and other researchers are drawing attention to a compelling possibility: Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behavior may in fact mirror the effects of adversity, and many pediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychologists don’t know how—or don’t have the time—to tell the difference.
Though ADHD has been aggressively studied, few researchers have explored the overlap between its symptoms and the effects of chronic stress or experiencing trauma like maltreatment, abuse and violence. To test her hypothesis beyond Baltimore, Brown analyzed the results of a national survey about the health and well-being of more than 65,000 children.
Brown’s findings, which she presented in May at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication.
Interpreting these results is tricky. All of the children may have been correctly diagnosed with ADHD, though that is unlikely. Some researchers argue that the difficulty of parenting a child with behavioral issues might lead to economic hardship, divorce, and even physical abuse. This is particularly true for parents who themselves have ADHD, similar impulsive behavior or their own history of childhood maltreatment. There is also no convincing evidence that trauma or chronic stress lead to the development of ADHD.
For Brown, who is now a pediatrician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, the data are cautionary. It’s not evident how trauma influences ADHD diagnosis and management, but it’s clear that some misbehaving children might be experiencing harm that no stimulant can fix. These children may also legitimately have ADHD, but unless prior or ongoing emotional damage is treated, it may be difficult to see dramatic improvement in the child’s behavior.
“We need to think more carefully about screening for trauma and designing a more trauma-informed treatment plan,” Brown says.
Dr. Kate Szymanski came to the same conclusion a few years ago. An associate professor at Adelphi University’s Derner Institute and an expert in trauma, Szymanski analyzed data from a children’s psychiatric hospital in New York. A majority of the 63 patients in her sample had been physically abused and lived in foster homes. On average, they reported three traumas in their short lives. Yet, only eight percent of the children had received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder while a third had ADHD.
“I was struck by the confusion or over-eagerness–or both–to take one diagnosis over another,” Szymanski says. “To get a picture of trauma from a child is much harder than looking at behavior like impulsivity, hyperactivity. And if they cluster in a certain way, then it’s easy to go to a conclusion that it’s ADHD.”
A previous edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders urged clinicians to distinguish between ADHD symptoms and difficulty with goal-directed behavior in children from “inadequate, disorganized or chaotic environments,” but that caveat does not appear in the latest version. Unearthing details about a child’s home life can also be challenging, Szymanski says.
It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but the number could be nearly 1 million.
A child may withhold abuse or neglect to protect his family or, having normalized that experience, never mention it all. Clinicians may also underestimate the prevalence of adversity. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a years-long survey of more than 17,000 adults, found that two-thirds of participants reported at least one of 10 types of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction. Twelve percent reported four or more. That list isn’t exhaustive, either. The study didn’t include homelessness and foster care placement, for example, and the DSM doesn’t easily classify those events as “traumatic.”
It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but a study published in 2010 estimated the number could be nearly 1 million. That research compared the diagnosis rate amongst 12,000 of the youngest and oldest children in a kindergarten sample and found that the less mature students were 60 percent more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis.
Though ADHD is thought to be a genetic condition, or perhaps associated with lead or prenatal alcohol and cigarette exposure, there is no brain scan or DNA test that can give a definitive diagnosis. Instead, clinicians are supposed to follow exhaustive guidelines set forth by professional organizations, using personal and reported observations of a child’s behavior to make a diagnosis. Yet, under financial pressure to keep appointments brief and billable, pediatricians and therapists aren’t always thorough.
“In our 15-minute visits—maybe 30 minutes at the most—we don’t really have the time to go deeper,” Brown says. If she suspects ADHD or a psychological condition, Brown will refer her patient to a mental health professional for a comprehensive evaluation. “You may have had this social history that you took in the beginning, but unless the parent opens up and shares more about what’s going on in the home, we often don’t have the opportunity or think to connect the two.”
Caelan Kuban, a psychologist and director of the Michigan-based National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children, knows the perils of this gap well. Four years ago she began offering a course designed to teach educators, social service workers and other professionals how to distinguish the signs of trauma from those of ADHD.
“It’s very overwhelming, very frustrating,” she says. “When I train, the first thing I tell people is you may walk away being more confused than you are right now.”
In the daylong seminar, Kuban describes how traumatized children often find it difficult to control their behavior and rapidly shift from one mood to the next. They might drift into a dissociative state while reliving a horrifying memory or lose focus while anticipating the next violation of their safety. To a well-meaning teacher or clinician, this distracted and sometimes disruptive behavior can look a lot like ADHD.
Kuban urges students in her course to abandon the persona of the “all-knowing clinician” and instead adopt the perspective of the “really curious practitioner.”
Rather than ask what is wrong with a child, Kuban suggests inquiring about what happened in his or her life, probing for life-altering events.
Jean West, a social worker employed by the school district in Joseph, Missouri, took Kuban’s course a few years ago. She noticed that pregnant teen mothers and homeless students participating in district programs were frequently diagnosed with ADHD. This isn’t entirely unexpected: Studies have shown that ADHD can be more prevalent among low-income youth, and that children and adolescents with the disorder are more prone to high-risk behavior. Yet, West felt the students’ experiences might also explain conduct easily mistaken for ADHD.
Kuban’s course convinced West to first consider the role of trauma in a student’s life. “What has been the impact? What kind of family and societal support have they had?” West asks. “If we can work on that level and truly know their story, there’s so much power in that.”
As a school official, West sometimes refers troubled students to a pediatrician or psychiatrist for diagnosis, and meets with parents to describe how and why adversity might shape their child’s behavior. In her private practice, West regularly assesses patients for post-traumatic stress disorder instead of, or in addition to, ADHD.
Though stimulant medications help ADHD patients by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain associated with pleasure, movement, and attention, some clinicians worry about how they affect a child with PTSD, or a similar anxiety disorder, who already feels hyper-vigilant or agitated. The available behavioral therapies for ADHD focus on time management and organizational skills, and aren’t designed to treat emotional and psychological turmoil.
Instead, West teaches a traumatized child how to cope with and defuse fear and anxiety. She also recommends training and therapy for parents who may be contributing to or compounding their child’s unhealthy behavior. Such programs can help parents reduce their use of harsh or abusive discipline while improving trust and communication, and have been shown to decrease disruptive child behavior.
Szymanski uses a similar approach with patients and their parents. “I think any traumatized child needs individual therapy but also family therapy,” she says. “Trauma is a family experience; it never occurs in a vacuum.”
Yet finding a provider who is familiar with such therapy can be difficult for pediatricians and psychiatrists, Szymanski says. Though some hospitals have centers for childhood trauma, there isn’t a well-defined referral network. Even then, insurance companies, including the federal Medicaid program, may not always pay for the group sessions commonly used in parent training programs.
Faced with such complicated choices, Szymanski says it’s no surprise when clinicians overlook the role of trauma in a child’s behavior and focus on ADHD instead.
Inattentive and hyperactive behavior can be traced back to any number of conditions—just like chest pains don’t have the same origin in every patient.
While there are few recommendations now for clinicians, that will likely change in the coming years. The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently developing new guidance on ADHD that will include a section on assessing trauma in patients, though it won’t be completed until 2016.
Dr. Heather Forkey, a pediatrician at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, who specializes in treating foster children, is assisting the AAP. Her goal is to remind doctors that inattentive and hyperactive behavior can be traced back to any number of conditions—just like chest pains don’t have the same origin in every patient. Ideally, the AAP will offer pediatricians recommendations for screening tools that efficiently gauge adversity in a child’s life. That practice, she says, should come before any diagnosis of ADHD.
When speaking to traumatized children inappropriately diagnosed with ADHD, she offers them a reassuring explanation of their behavior. The body’s stress system, she says, developed long ago in response to life-or-death threats like a predatory tiger. The part of the brain that controls impulses, for example, shuts off so that survival instincts can prevail.
“What does that look like when you put that kid in a classroom?” Forkey asks.
“When people don’t understand there’s been a tiger in your life, it looks a lot like ADHD to them.”
Health and Wellness Associates
Five Ways to Practice Happiness
When it comes to the quest for greater happiness, waiting and hoping are out. Learning and practicing are in. Here’s how to create your own happy reality — starting now.
We travel in search of it, marry for the sake of it, see coaches and therapists to enhance it, switch jobs to capture it, and sock away money to secure it. Yet, for many of us, happiness remains elusive. And even though we spend much of our lives chasing happiness, many of us would be hard-pressed to even define it in the first place.
So what is happiness? Where can we find it? And once we do, how can we keep it?
These are questions that have consumed philosophers, spiritual leaders and artists (to say nothing of folks like you and me) for thousands of years. In the past decade, though, the same questions have attracted the attention of a growing number of psychologists, neurologists, and other respected academics and clinicians.
These researchers are turning their attention toward the mechanics and chemistry of happiness, which they define (in simplified terms) as the emotional experience of having a pleasant, engaged and meaningful life. And their findings are having a dramatic impact not just on the field of psychology, but also on the way many of us are cultivating happiness in our own lives.
At first glance, the notion of investigating happiness may not seem particularly revolutionary. But, in fact, the new interest in happiness represents a relatively contemporary shift in psychological focus. Historically, it seems that psychology has been more interested in fixing mental-health problems and illnesses than boosting actual happiness. And so the problems got more than their fair share of attention.
GETTING PAST GLUM
“Sigmund Freud famously suggested that the goal of psychoanalysis is to make extraordinarily unhappy people ‘ordinarily’ unhappy,” says Darrin McMahon, PhD, a professor of history at Florida State University in Tallahassee and the author of Happiness: A History (Grove, 2006). In short, psychology tried to make life tolerable for people suffering from severe mental illness.
Yet today most psychologists don’t treat the severely mentally ill. Instead they primarily work with people who are dealing with everyday dissatisfactions and worries, and the classic “talking cure,” meant to remedy acute mental illness, remains stuck in the same old Freudian paradigm.
“As a clinician, I treated people with depression and anxiety,” explains Andrew Shatté, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and coauthor of The Resilience Factor: Seven Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles (Broadway, 2002). “The way that we defined success was that people would come in and we measured their symptoms: If they had 30 symptoms and we got them to five, we called it a success. If we got it down to zero, we said ‘mission accomplished.’” In other words, helping clients build more happiness into their lives wasn’t part of the picture.
But if plumbing the mind’s recesses and dredging up past miseries doesn’t necessarily promote happiness, what can it hurt? Perhaps a lot, says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., a prominent figure in the study of happiness, and the author of numerous books, including Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial, 1991). “Most people, when they ruminate about the cause of their wretchedness, become more wretched,” he says. “For most people, that’s just compounding their misery.”
A LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
Shatté and Csikszentmihalyi are just two of a growing number of psychologists who, as part of what’s known as the Positive Psychology movement, have shifted their attention to advancing the knowledge of what makes us feel satisfied, energized, hopeful — and happy.
What they’ve discovered is that while overall life satisfaction does have an innate component (some people are just born happier and are wired to stay that way), happiness is also something we can practice and cultivate.
Happiness hinges on our choices, attitudes and thoughts — and when we know more about how these choices, attitudes and thoughts affect the quality of our lives, we have a powerful recipe for cooking up more lifelong joy, meaning and satisfaction.
Below are five of the fundamental conclusions from “happiness studies” done in recent years. Many of them sound like commonsense realizations — principles you’d think that we’d all be acting on already. But when it comes to creating our own happiness, turning common sense into common practice is a step most of us have yet to make.
- YOUR MENTAL GAME MATTERS, SO SHIFT YOUR THINKING.
Studies suggest that each of us has a baseline for happiness. Positive and negative events — winning the lottery or suffering a spinal cord injury are two examples that researchers have studied — will knock us off our baseline. But over time, we tend to return to roughly the same level of happiness, whether we are millionaires or confined to a wheelchair.
Where this baseline is set involves our temperament and genetics as well as our fundamental belief systems and thinking styles, explains Shatté. “The thing about our belief systems is that they become habits of thinking,” he explains, “and often these thinking styles are inaccurate.”
To illustrate the point, Shatté describes an experiment he frequently performs at seminars. He flashes a series of “word jumbles” on a screen and gives attendees 12 seconds to solve each puzzle. What he doesn’t tell them is that none of the puzzles has a solution. After several minutes, he pauses the exercise to ask participants to chart their feelings about their failure — frustration, anger, embarrassment.
“Each specific kind of feeling results from habits of thinking,” he explains. “If you think you’re not as good as other people, you’re going to be sad; if you are looking for a violation of your rights, you’ll be angry; if you think you will lose standing, you’re embarrassed. The point is, every one of these thoughts was wildly inaccurate, given the truth that the puzzles are unsolvable. We make mistakes in our thinking and we pay a price for them.”
The takeaway? People who gain self-knowledge about their inaccurate beliefs and feelings, Shatté says, can permanently lift their baseline for happiness. The more you understand your thinking style and beliefs, the more you are able to see the inaccuracies for what they are and be less affected by them.
Happiness Practice: Pay attention to your instinctive emotional responses and begin consciously challenging the negative thoughts and limiting belief systems that underlie them. Develop a self-calming or hopeful mental mantra (“Everything is an opportunity.” “I get to choose my responses.” “This, too, shall pass.”) to get you through anxiety-ridden moments. (For more suggestions, see “Three Deep Breaths” in the October 2006 archives.)
- DON’T COUNT ON MORE MONEY TO MAKE YOU HAPPIER.
The relationship between money and happiness is a complicated one. Some studies show that living in a wealthier nation can increase your happiness, regardless of your income level, but that within those countries, the rich report only marginally higher levels of happiness. Other studies suggest even the poorest people of the world, like those who live in the slums of Calcutta, can achieve happiness.
How to explain these discrepancies? Well, it turns out that basic needs like food and warmth generally must be secured as a precursor to happiness. To that end, money helps. And another ingredient of lasting happiness is pleasure, which can also be bought. But pleasure by itself, untethered from meaning and purpose, doesn’t stay pleasurable — or promote happiness — for very long.
Research shows factors such as meaningful relationships with family and friends and a sense of duty and purpose outside ourselves are equally important in determining overall happiness. Lacking those things, no amount of money is going to up your happiness quotient.
In fact, focusing on money to the detriment of things like relationships, duty and purpose is a proven recipe for unhappiness. Study after study shows that the more stock you put in what psychologist Tim Kasser, PhD, calls “extrinsic” values like status, possessions or good looks, the unhappier you are. It turns out that materialism — a preoccupation with material goods at the expense of other cultural, social and spiritual values — is a highly reliable way to drive your happiness downward.
Kasser, a psychologist at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the author of The High Price of Materialism (The MIT Press, 2002), considers well-being to depend on the fulfillment of four psychological needs: safety and security, competence, connection to other people, and autonomy or freedom.
“Our research shows that when people have strong materialistic values, they tend to feel low satisfaction of those needs,” he says. “Fundamentally, they’ve hinged their sense of worth on what others think of them, so their [happiness] is always fragile and contingent.”
The key to sustained happiness, it seems, is finding a balance between pleasure and meaning — and knowing when enough material wealth is enough.
Happiness Practice: If you’re compromising your close relationships, authentic priorities or sense of inner purpose in the pursuit of material wealth, it’s time to refocus your energy. Make a list of your core values and the experiences that matter most to you, then start building more of them into your schedule and budget, even if it means making some financial sacrifices in other areas. Seeking meaning, and finding ways to be generous with your time, care and money, will bring you far more happiness than a pile of greenbacks. (See “For a Good Cause” in the January/February 2002 archives.)
- APPLY YOURSELF FULLY TO WHATEVER YOU DO.
If only you could take early retirement and spend the rest of your days in a hammock sipping margaritas — then you’d be happy! Don’t count on it.
One of the crucial ingredients of a happy life is what Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.”
If you’ve ever been so absorbed in an activity that you’ve lost track of time, you’ve probably experienced flow for yourself.
“It’s when you are completely involved in something that stretches you and forces you to use your skills. You’re so focused you don’t even know you exist,” Csikszentmihalyi explains. You’re not thinking that you’re happy at the time, he continues, “because being happy would distract you from what you’re doing. But after you finish, you look back on it and wish you could stay in it forever.”
Here’s one of Csikszentmihalyi’s most surprising research discoveries: The actual task doesn’t matter. He’s studied factory workers and fishmongers who take routine jobs and “turn them into a work of art,” he says. A person can cultivate flow whether organizing paint cans in the basement or preparing a seminal speech for a big client at work. Entering a state of flow requires no more than presence, a problem-solving attitude and the conviction that you are going to do the best job you can at the task at hand.
To get lost in your next undertaking, says Csikszentmihalyi, shift your mindset. “Instead of approaching [it] with the attitude ‘here’s another stupid thing I have to do,’ say, ‘I’m going to do it as well as possible.’” When you’ve found your groove, you’ll have found more genuine happiness.
Happiness Practice: Regularly stretch your skills and abilities and be willing to give your full attention and intelligence to whatever you’re working on (or playing at) at the moment. Seek opportunities to develop mastery in various areas of your life (for ideas, see “The Skillful Life” in the June 2008 archives), and begin swapping passive “sit around” entertainments for active, meaningful, challenging ones that allow you to apply your skills and to experience “flow” on a regular basis.
- EMBRACE VIRTUES, AND ENJOY THEIR REWARDS.
One of the most profound — and profoundly simple — tenets of positive psychology is that happiness is found not only through individual thoughts and behaviors, but also by connecting to a wider purpose and contributing to the well-being of others.
This idea has been with us for a long time, says history professor McMahon. “Before the 18th century, ‘happiness’ was not predominately a description of a feeling or an emotional state, but a description of a virtuous life,” he says. “When people began to think of happiness as a positive emotion and good feeling, it was a profound shift.” Today, positive psychology has rediscovered the value of “virtues” using the scientific method, he says.
Psychologists are still exploring the territory, according to Csikszentmihalyi, but new and emerging studies show that when a person feels gratitude, forgiveness or another classical virtue, she reports higher levels of happiness and satisfaction.
These studies seem to indicate that happiness is tied not just to living for yourself, but trying to do something for others.
One study, for example, found that senior citizens who tried to live out their faith in everyday life reported higher levels of happiness than seniors who simply went to church to socialize. Shatté’s studies in the workplace corroborate the findings: Those who are happiest feel they’re contributing to something important.
“We’ve compared people who make a million dollars a year to people making a tenth of that amount in the public sector,” says Shatté. The public-sector employees who believe they’re “contributing to the greater good” were, Shatté says, “more satisfied than anyone.”
Happiness Practice: Make a point of doing considerate, loving and generous things for others (“random acts of kindness”) daily. Seize every opportunity to do the right thing and to express gratitude for kindnesses you receive. Get involved with at least one organized cause that inspires you to share not just your money, but at least a little face-to-face time and effort. If you’re looking for meaningful ways to get involved, check out Web sites like http://www.idealist.org and http://www.volunteermatch.com to connect with organizations that might need your expertise.
- FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS AND CULTIVATE COMMUNITY.
Ed Diener, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one of the nation’s foremost happiness researchers, has conducted countless studies on the variables that contribute to happiness. His lab has explored many different cultures, including African tribes, the Amish and Calcutta slum-dwellers, as well as more prosaic groups, like American college students.
What do the happiest people have in common? Positive social relationships. Happy people cultivate friendships and tend to be married or in relationships.
Surprisingly, it isn’t necessarily the quality or the quantity of friendships that matter. One study of college students found that the happiest of them had a “best friend,” but that companionship — just hanging out together — was more important to their happiness than making deeper connections.
Happiness Practice: Make some time every day to connect with the important people in your life. Establish some weekly or other regular rituals that give you opportunities to interact with others in meaningful ways. (For more on building community, see “Community Matters” in the June 2007 archives.)
Not sure where to start? Form a happiness-seekers circle with some friends, and meet monthly to compare notes on the practices that are working best for you. Try a different practice each month, and by this winter you might just find that cultivating happiness is fast becoming your hobby of choice.
MORE THAN A FEELING
The field of Positive Psychology has made it clear that enhancing happiness is not about turning your frown upside down or ignoring life’s disappointments. And it’s not about trying to feel happy when you don’t. Rather, it’s about taking daily actions that shift some of your core behaviors and attitudes over time. Here are three simple places you can start:
Develop Your Strengths: Each of us has a set of core strengths that can serve as a foundation for building happiness in life. By identifying and claiming your strengths (as opposed to just obsessing about your wants and weaknesses), you’ll experience more success and satisfaction in bringing them to bear on your work, activities and relationships. To get started, you can take a free, detailed 20-minute test called the VIA Inventory of Signature Strengths at http://www.viasurvey.org.
Scale Back on Stuff: Mountains of material goods do not equal happiness. Look for ways to reduce your acquisition of material possessions and to declutter and donate the excess stuff you’ve accumulated so far. On his anniversary, psychologist Tim Kasser, PhD, writes a poem for his wife instead of buying her things she doesn’t want or need. “It’s zero consumption and it’s a direct expression of our love.” His suggestion: When you’re about to make a purchase, take the time to consider if it’s necessary and consistent with your values.
Start Asking Questions: Challenging our own assumptions (most of which are embedded with judgments, fears and negative beliefs) is a powerful way to begin experiencing more of the happiness that’s there for the taking. For two examples of highly effective inquiry-based approaches, explore Byron Katie’s The Work method in “Coming to Terms” (October 2004) and Marilee Adams’s Choice Map in “Lines of Inquiry” (December 2004).
Health and Wellness Associates
Top Five Warning Signs that
Your Child/ Young Adult is in Trouble
What causes people to make choices that could destroy their future, and why do they give
in to peer pressure? Could your child be headed down a dangerous path? Heed the
following warning signs:
#1 warning sign: Isolates from the family.
If your once social child/ adult starts spending an inordinate amount of time away
from home or locked in his or her room, this is a red flag. If your child/young adult starts withdrawing from you or your spouse, there’s a reason. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to identify what’s behind the change.
#2 warning sign: An extreme shift in mood.
Is your child/ young adult garrulous and friendly one moment, then taciturn and angry the
next? Don’t just chalk it up to growing pains. he or she may be hanging out with the wrong crowd,
or experiencing changes — hormonally, neurologically or socially.
One thing to do is not to let it just go, because they get bigger, they get stronger,
they get more rebellious. It’s never too late.
#3 warning sign: He or she starts abusing drugs or alcohol.
Young adults often start experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol unbeknownst to their folks.
If you suspect your child is using drugs, know the signs to look for.
#4 warning sign: Family history of alcoholism and drug abuse.
There clearly is a higher incidence with teens if they’ve had this history in their family.
Maybe it’s genetic; maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just that the modeling is there.
#5 warning sign: Taking risks.
Don’t chalk your young adult truancy, vandalism or petty theft up to boys being boys, or kids never grow up. When your family member just seems to throw caution to the wind, not care about consequences — all around bad sign, It indicates a number of things, one of which is that they don’t have the ability to connect their choices with their consequences.
warning signs to look out for:
Declining grades, using street or drug language, a diminished interest in hobbies and a
lack of appreciation for family values.
You can’t be in denial about what’s going on. Don’t kid yourself that these bad
things just happen to other people’s kids. Know what’s going on with your
child. Make sure they understand the consequences of their actions.
Make sure they’re living consistent with the values you hold so important.
Health and Wellness Associates
P Carrothers- PM
312-972- WELL (9355)
Why Women Suffer From Anxiety More Than Men, Leading To Increased Risk For Depression And Suicide
Anxiety disorders – defined by excessive fear, restlessness, and muscle tension – are debilitating, disabling, and can increase the risk for depression and suicide. They are some of the most common mental health conditions around the world, affecting around four out of every 100 people and costing the health care system and job employers over US$42 billion each year.
People with anxiety are more likely to miss days from work and are less productive. Young people with anxiety are also less likely to enter school and complete it – translating into fewer life chances. Even though this evidence points to anxiety disorders as being important mental health issues, insufficient attention is being given to them by researchers, clinicians, and policy makers.
Researchers and I at the University of Cambridge wanted to find out who is most affected by anxiety disorders. To do this, we conducted a systematic review of studies that reported on the proportion of people with anxiety in a variety of contexts around the world, and used rigorous methods to retain the highest quality studies. Our results showed that women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men, and that people living in Europe and North America are disproportionately affected.
But why are women more likely to experience anxiety than men? It could be because of differences in brain chemistry and hormone fluctuations. Reproductive events across a woman’s life are associated with hormonal changes, which have been linked to anxiety. The surge in oestrogen and progesterone that occurs during pregnancy can increase the risk for obsessive compulsive disorder, characterized by disturbing and repetitive thoughts, impulses and obsessions that are distressing and debilitating.
But in addition to biological mechanisms, women and men seem to experience and react to events in their life differently. Women tend to be more prone to stress, which can increase their anxiety. Also, when faced with stressful situations, women and men tend to use different coping strategies.
Women faced with life stressors are more likely to ruminate about them, which can increase their anxiety, while men engage more in active, problem-focused coping. Other studies suggest that women are more likely to experience physical and mental abuse than men, and abuse has been linked to the development of anxiety disorders. Child abuse has been associated with changes in brain chemistry and structure, and according to previous research, women who have experienced sexual abuse may have abnormal blood flow in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in emotion processing.
THE ANXIOUS WEST
Our review also showed that people from North America and Western Europe are more likely to be affected by anxiety than people living in other parts of the world. It is unclear what could be accounting for these differences. It could be that the criteria and instruments we are using to measure anxiety, which were largely developed on Western populations, might not be capturing cultural presentations of anxiety.
Anxiety might be manifested differently in non-Western cultures. For example, social anxiety in the West is typically manifested as an intense fear of social situations, high self-consciousness, and fear of being judged and criticized by others during interactions and performance situations.
However, in Asia, a closely related construct is taijin kyofusho, which manifests as persistent and irrational fears about causing offence and embarrassment to others, because of perceived personal inadequacies. In addition, people from other cultures might feel too embarrassed to disclose symptoms of anxiety that people in Western cultures are comfortable discussing – this would mean that the figures reported in studies on developing and underdeveloped parts of the world might be underestimates of the true proportions.
Most of the research on mental health has also been done in Europe and North America, and very few studies have examined anxiety in other parts of the world. There could indeed be large differences in the burden of anxiety between cultures, but further research using better anxiety assessment methods is needed on this.
Either way, we now know that anxiety disorders are common, costly, and associated with substantial human suffering. We also know that women and people living in developed countries seem to be most affected. This awareness of who is disproportionately affected by anxiety can help direct health service planning and provision, and treatment efforts.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Anxiety disorders tend to start early in life, are chronic, and more than a decade can elapse between the time when symptoms develop and help is first sought from the doctor. At this point, the anxiety has become quite severe and other mental health problems, such as depression, have developed. This makes successful treatment of any of the disorders much harder.
Early recognition of symptoms is important so that treatment can be administered. Many people have turned to cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety. There is also medication, and there are lifestyle changes people can make to improve their mental health, such as engaging in regular physical activity, doing mindfulness meditation and yoga.
Many people who suffer from anxiety, are actually experiencing internal hives from food allergies. Just think of how hives are on the outside of your body, and you cannot itch them enough. Now, envision those on the inside of your body, on your organs and what do you do. You develop anxiety, bitchy, and possibly want to jump through your skin. Taking medication before this has been determined is a rather large error.
Always call us, or someone who can help you determine food allergies and addictions.
Health and Wellness Associates
The Art of Stillness
In a world obsessed with speed and rife with distractions, there are few things that feel better than sitting still, paying attention — and going nowhere. A celebrated travel writer explains how to get there.
When I was 29, I had the life I always dreamed of as a boy: a 25th-floor office in Midtown Manhattan, an apartment on Park Avenue and 20th Street, and an endlessly fascinating job. Writing for Time magazine, I covered the fall of apartheid in South Africa, the People Power Revolution of the Philippines, and the turmoil around Indira Gandhi’s assassination. With no dependents or domestic responsibilities, I took long vacations, traveling everywhere from El Salvador to Bali.
In the midst of all the daily excitement and accomplishment, however, was a voice inside telling me that I was racing around too fast to really see or enjoy where I was going — or to check whether I was truly happy.
Indeed, hurrying around in search of contentment seemed a perfect way of guaranteeing I’d never find it. Too often, I reminded myself of someone going on and on about world peace in the most contentious and divisive terms.
So I decided to leave my dream life and spend a year in a small, single room on the backstreets of the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto. At the time I couldn’t have explained exactly why I was doing this, except that I felt I had enjoyed a wonderful diet of movement and stimulation in New York, and it was time to balance that with something simpler. It was time to learn how to make these joys less external and ephemeral and to learn the art of sitting still.
Going nowhere — as my boyhood hero, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, would later tell me — isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so you can see it more clearly and love it more deeply. These four practices can help you experience more quiet in your daily life, no matter where you are.
BE FOR REAL
One day — 4 in the morning at the end of December, to be exact — Cohen took time out from his meditations to meet me for an interview and talk about what he was doing at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles.
Sitting still, he said with unexpected passion, was “the real deep entertainment” he had found in his 61 years on the planet. “Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available within this activity.”
Was he kidding? Cohen is famous for his mischief and ironies. But as he went on, I realized he wasn’t joking.
“What else would I be doing?” he asked. “Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Finding new drugs, buying more expensive wine? I don’t know. This seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”
As I observed the sense of attention, kindness, and even delight that seemed to come out of Cohen’s life of going nowhere, I began to think about how liberating it might be for any of us to practice sitting still — clearing our heads and quieting our emotions.
You could start just by taking a few minutes out of every day to sit quietly and do nothing, letting what moves you rise to the surface. You could enjoy a long walk in the wilderness, or take a few days out of every season to go on retreat, exploring what lies deeper within the moment or yourself.
You could, as Cohen was doing, try to find a life in which stage sets and performances disappear and be reminded, at a level deeper than all words, about how making a living and making a life sometimes point in opposite directions.
TAKE THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
The idea of going nowhere is as universal as the law of gravity. “All the unhappiness of men,” the 17th-century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal famously noted, “arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.”
After Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent nearly five months alone in a shack in the Antarctic, in temperatures that sank to 70 degrees below zero, he emerged convinced that “half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.”
Or, as they sometimes say around Kyoto, “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
Yet the world in which Pascal and even Admiral Byrd lived seems positively tranquil by today’s standards. The amount of data humanity collects while you’re reading a book is five times greater than the amount that exists in the entire Library of Congress. Anyone reading my full book, The Art of Stillness, will take in as much information today as Shakespeare took in during his lifetime. Researchers in the field of interruption science have found that it takes an average of 25 minutes to recover from a phone call. Yet such interruptions come every 11 minutes, on average — which means we’re never caught up with our lives.
So the more data that comes streaming in on us, the less time we have to process any of it.
The one thing technology doesn’t provide is a sense of how to make the best use of it. The ability to gather information, which used to be so crucial, is far less important now than the ability to sift through it.
It’s easy to feel as if you’re standing 2 inches away from a huge canvas that’s crowded and changing every microsecond. It’s only by stepping back and standing still that you can begin to take in the larger picture and see what that canvas — which is your life — really means.
UNPLUG AND RECHARGE
I’ve always been surprised to find that the people who have worked to speed up the world are often the same ones most sensitive to the virtue of slowing down.
One day I visited Library of Congress headquarters to give a talk on the Dalai Lama book I’d written and, like most visitors, I was impressed by the trampolines, the indoor tree houses, and the freedom that workers had to let their minds wander off leash to wherever inspiration might be hiding.
Many Silicon Valley employees observe an Internet Sabbath every week, turning off most of their devices from Friday night to Monday morning, if only to regain the sense of proportion and direction they’ll need when they go back online.
There is now a meditation room in every building on the General Mills campus in Minneapolis. Congressman Tim Ryan leads his colleagues in sessions of sitting still, reminding them that, if nothing else, scientists have found that meditation can lower blood pressure, help boost our immune systems, and even change the architecture of our brains.
A growing percentage of American companies now have stress-reduction programs, and the number is increasing by the day. More than 30 percent of those enrolled in such a program at Aetna, the giant healthcare company, saw their stress levels drop by a third after only an hour of yoga each week.
The computer-chip maker Intel experimented with a quiet period of four hours every Tuesday, during which 300 engineers and managers were asked to turn off their email and phones and put up Do Not Disturb signs on their office doors to make space for “thinking time.” The response proved so enthusiastic that the company inaugurated an eight-week program to encourage clearer thinking.
After a similar seven-week program at General Mills, 80 percent of senior executives reported an improvement in their ability to make decisions, and 89 percent said they had become better listeners. Such developments are saving American corporations $300 billion a year; more important, they’re a form of preemptive medicine at a time when the World Health Organization has projected that “stress will be the health epidemic of the 21st century.”
It may be strange to see mind training — going nowhere, in effect — being embraced by forward-pushing organizations. And it’s true, the businesses that view mindfulness practices as opportunities for advancing their goals may simply be deploying new and imaginative means to the same un-elevated ends: searching for ways to squeeze ever more productivity from their employees.
To me, the point of sitting still is to help you see through the very idea of pushing forward; it leads you to a place where you’re defined by something larger. Its benefits lie within some psychological account with a high interest rate but long-term yields, to be drawn upon at the moment when a doctor walks into the room shaking his head, or another car veers in front of yours, and all you have to draw upon is the clarity and focus you’ve collected in your deeper moments.
KEEP THE SABBATH
The one word for which the adjective “holy” is used in the Ten Commandments is “Sabbath.” But keeping the Sabbath — doing nothing for a while — is one of the hardest things in life for me. I’d much rather give up meat or wine or sex than the option of checking my emails or getting on with my work when I want to. If I don’t answer my messages today, I tell myself, there will only be more to answer tomorrow (though, in truth, refraining from sending messages will likely diminish the number I receive). If I take time off, I somehow believe, I’ll be that much more hurried when I return to work.
Whenever I finally force myself away from my desk for a day, of course, I find the opposite: The more time I spend away from my work, the better the work will be.
One day, Mahatma Gandhi was said to have woken up and told those around him, “This is going to be a very busy day. I won’t be able to meditate for an hour.” His friends were taken aback at this rare break from his discipline. “I’ll have to meditate for two,” he explained.
I mentioned this once on a radio program and a woman called in, understandably impatient. “It’s all very well for a male travel writer in Santa Barbara to talk about taking time off,” she said. “But what about me? I’m a mother trying to start a small business, and I don’t have the luxury of meditating for two hours a day.”
Yet it’s precisely those who are busiest, I wanted to tell her, who most need to give themselves a break. Stress is contagious. If the overburdened mother could ask her spouse — or her mother or a friend — to look after her kids for 30 minutes a day, I’m sure she’d be more relaxed and have more energy and joy to share with her children (and with her business) when she came back.
Space, as Karl Marx explained it in another context, has been annihilated by time. This is especially true today. We feel as though we can connect with anyone, almost anywhere, at any moment. And the more we contact others, the more it seems we lose contact with ourselves.
When I left New York City for the backstreets of Kyoto, I figured I’d be growing poorer in terms of money, amusements, social life, and obvious prospects, but I’d be richer in what I prize most: days and hours.
This is what the principle of the Sabbath enshrines. It is, as the great Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel put it, “a cathedral in time rather than in space.”
The one day a week we take off becomes a vast empty space through which we can wander, without agenda. It’s like a retreat house that ensures we’ll have something bright and purposeful to carry back into the other six days. The Sabbath reminds us that, in the end, all our journeys have to bring us home.
It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, just as it takes courage to do anything that’s necessary, whether it’s turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut or tending to a loved one on her deathbed. And with billions of our global neighbors in crying need, with so much in every life that has to be done, it can sound selfish to take a break or go off to a quiet place. But as soon as you sit still, you find that it actually brings you closer to others, in both understanding and sympathy.
In any case, few of us have the chance to step out of our daily lives often, or for very long. Nowhere can become somewhere we visit in the quiet corners of our lives by just sitting quietly for 30 minutes every morning (a mere 3 percent of our waking hours). The point of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion and commotion of the world.
Because, in an age of speed, nothing can be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And, in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
Please share with family and loved ones.
Health and Wellness Associates
What Happens When You Eat 3 Whole Eggs Every Day…You’ll Be Surprised What It Does To Your Body!
Why eat more eggs? A few years ago, health organizations issued a warning about the cholesterol contained in eggs. Like many other foods such as coconut oil or avocados, eggs were mistakenly thought to be bad for your health.
While the average large egg delivers between 180-186 mg of cholesterol, your liver produces anywhere between 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg each day on its own.
Basically, when you consume foods that contain cholesterol, your liver adjusts itself by decreasing its own production. This means that eating eggs doesn’t increase the existing amounts of cholesterol in your body, you’re simply replacing one type with another. So would it be a good thing to eat more eggs?
Today, a closer look at this yummy breakfast food really shows 7 reasons why it’s worth incorporating more of it into your diet.
When it comes to nutritional value, eggs really give you the best bang for your buck. Loaded with vitamin A, E, B6 and B12, thiamin, riboflavin folate, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium and so much more, it’s hard to find other foods with such a varied nutrient profile (1).
The greatest criticism against eggs is that they contain high levels of cholesterol.
However, eggs contain high-density lipoproteins (HDL) which are actually vital for the body and brain.
HDL provides stability in every cell of your body and helps your body produce vitamin D and hormones like testosterone, estrogen and cortisol (2,3).
Unlike low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), which clings to the walls of your blood vessels, HDL cholesterol scrubs the inner walls of these vessels and prevents atherosclerosis. It also lowers LDL levels and does not contribute to heart disease or stroke in otherwise healthy people, so you can eat as many as you want (4,5).
Regular egg consumption can, however, increase likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease in diabetics (6).
So there you have it, the confusion surrounding the health status of HDL in eggs and high cholesterol has been debunked (7). You can eat more eggs with less worry.
To keep cholesterol levels controlled, it’s best to just avoid eating excessive amounts of sugar, exercise daily, maintain a healthy weight, eat more veggies and stop smoking.
Eggs are a great source of choline, an essential nutrient that promotes brain development and memory function. It’s actually a precursor for neurotransmitter called acetylcholine (8). It’s so important for the brain that pregnant women are highly suggested to take choline supplements to avoid developmental abnormalities in the womb.
Currently, roughly 90% of American are deficient in choline, making them more prone to muscle damage and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (9,10).
- Keeps Your Eyes Sharp
Eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid vitamins that are essential for your vision. Together, they reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which causes blindness in older age (11).
The cartenoids protect the eyes from sunlight damage, improve night vision and reduce risk of developing cataracts by up to 50% (12).
- Feed Your Muscles
2 eggs supply as much protein as 1 serving of meat, without exposing you to as much fat and acidity as most meats. Although many diets suggest eating only the egg whites for a lean, strong, protein source but half of the total protein in the egg is found in the yolk (13). So eat more eggs to gain muscle. It’s good on the wallet as well.
- Feeds Your Bones
Eggs contains both calcium and vitamin D, the building blocks your body needs to maintain bones, particularly for ensuring proper bone density. Vitamin D actually boosts your body’s ability to absorb calcium (14). Calcium is also necessary for blood clotting, nerves signals and muscles contractions (15).
- Promotes Weight Loss
Because eggs are nutrient-dense, they are more filling than most foods. They’re also low in calories, making them much more diet-friendly than most protein-rich foods. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition and the International Journal of Obesity both conducted studies that concluded that eating eggs during breakfast can reduce the amount of food you eat later in the day (16,17).
The habit also resulted in greater weight loss, greater reduction in waist circumference and greater reduction in body fat than other breakfast foods.
What all of this means is that adding eggs to your diet isn’t unhealthy. In many cases, eggs will benefit your body more than you think. While you shouldn’t try to eat 10 eggs every day, 2 to 3 eggs per day is perfectly fine in healthy individuals who are trying stay healthy.
Please Share with Family and Loved Ones. If you have any questions regarding eggs with your health needs, please call us and one of our healthcare professionals will be happy to assist you.
Health and Wellness Associates