Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Cultivate Self Compassion

Health and Wellness Associates
EHS Telehealth

 

Cultivate Self Compassion

 

 

rosequartz

Life-changing strategies can help you be kinder to yourself.

 

Self-compassion not only helps you be kinder to yourself, but it also gives you the power to be kinder to the world around you.

 

These benefits have been empirically validated by Kristin Neff, PhD, one of the world’s foremost researchers on self-compassion. She established it as a field of study almost a decade ago, during her postdoctoral work at the University of Denver. In her book, Self-Compassion, Neff walks us through the scientific research underpinning the whys and hows of cultivating self-compassion. The volume is packed with both theoretical and practical goodness.

 

Neff’s basic argument is that self-compassion is made up of three components:

 

 

Self-kindness. We need to be kind to ourselves. Beating ourselves up is not helpful.

Common humanity. We’re not alone. It’s important to see that our suffering is part of a shared human experience.

Mindfulness. We want to observe our experience. We can learn to hold it in “balanced” awareness without trying to push our pain away or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Now let’s take a look at each of these elements in more detail.

 

 

 

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

 

“Self-kindness, by definition, means that we stop the constant self-judgment and disparaging internal commentary that most of us have come to see as normal. It requires us to understand our foibles and failures instead of condemning them. It entails clearly seeing the extent to which we harm ourselves through relentless self-criticism, and ending our internal war,” Neff writes.

 

“But self-kindness involves more than merely stopping self-judgment,” she adds. “It involves actively comforting ourselves, responding just as we would to a dear friend in need. It means we allow ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, stopping to say, ‘This is really difficult right now. How can I care for and comfort myself in this moment?’ With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds. We make a peace offering of warmth, gentleness, and sympathy from ourselves to ourselves, so that true healing can occur.”

 

I love the image of treating ourselves the same way we would treat a dear friend or family member. By slowing down and allowing ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, we actively comfort ourselves.

 

The first step is to stop the internal heckling. Quit beating yourself up with thoughts like Why am I such an idiot? or, I can’t believe I did or said that. Instead, replace that heckling with phrases like I feel my pain right now. This is tough. How can I best take care of myself right now?

 

In short, be nice to yourself. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but learning to do it can lead to huge breakthroughs in your life.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

 

Once we’re in the practice of being kind to ourselves, we can work on the second fundamental element of self-compassion: recognizing the common human experience.

 

Neff argues that seeing our common humanity “helps to distinguish self-compassion from mere self-acceptance or self-love.

 

 

 

“Although self-acceptance and self-love are important, they are incomplete by themselves. They leave out an essential factor — other people. Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means ‘to suffer with,’ which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering.

 

“The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect. Why else would we say ‘It’s only human’ to comfort someone who has made a mistake? Self-compassion honors the fact that all human beings are fallible, that wrong choices and feelings of regret are inevitable, no matter how high and mighty one is.”

 

In our hyper-individualistic, hyper-comparative society, it’s easy to always try to outdo everyone and feel disconnected — either better or worse than those around us. But what if, instead, we slowed down and appreciated our sameness? Doing so gives us the ability to see the threads of our common humanity. It leads us to recognize that we all struggle and can connect to one another through our shared triumphs and failures.

 

 

 

FACE UP TO REALITY WITH MINDFULNESS

 

 

 

One way to stay connected to our own experience and to cultivate our connection to the experiences of others is by practicing mindfulness.

 

For Neff, “mindfulness refers to the clear seeing and nonjudgmental acceptance of what’s occurring in the present moment. Facing up to reality, in other words. The idea is that we need to see things as they are, no more, no less, in order to respond to our current situation in the most compassionate — and therefore effective — manner.”

 

Like many wise teachers, Neff reminds us that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. How we respond to pain determines our level of suffering. Resisting pain by trying to wish away whatever is happening — whether it’s something mundane, like traffic on the way to work, or something more significant, like a serious illness or death of a loved one — only causes our suffering to grow.

 

 

 

“Our emotional suffering is caused by our desire for things to be other than they are,” Neff explains. “Once something has occurred in reality, there is nothing you can do to change that reality in the present moment. This is how things are. You can choose to accept this fact or not, but reality will remain the same either way.”

 

 

Mindfulness is one tool we can develop to appropriately relate to reality.

 

 

 

TAKE NOTE

 

Neff’s “noting practice” is one of my all-time favorite tips for building mindfulness. She writes that “the idea is to make a soft mental note whenever a particular thought, emotion, or sensation arises. This helps us to become more consciously aware of what we’re experiencing.”

 

Noting is a simple way to create awareness, and I love to use it during my own meditation sessions. For example, when I observe my mind wandering off into strategizing or planning, I softly say the word “strategy” to myself  and then bring my attention back to my breath.

 

Give it a try and see if noting helps you become more conscious of your life experience.

 

Using the three components of self-compassion improves our chances of reaching our goals and living the profoundly beautiful and fulfilling life we all deserve.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr Mark Williams

312-972-Well

Healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

Advertisements
Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Signs of an Evil Person

evilperson

Signs of an Evil Person

 

The Evil 8 and the Nefarious 15

 

 

Evil 8 (signs)

1.) Arrogant Entitlement

2.) Lack of Empathy

3.) No Remorse

4.) Irresponsible/Self-Destructive

5.) Thrive on Drama

6.) Brag about Outsmarting

7.) Short-Term Relationships

8.) Fantasy World/Delusional

 

Nefarious 15 (More Signs)

1.) Infiltrate your life

2.) Create Conspiratorial Conflict

3.) Depend on Approval

4.) Build a file

5.) Misdirect and Obfuscate (Obfuscation (or beclouding) is the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous, and harder to interpret.)

6.) Blame Others

7.) Lie

8.) Frauds/Cheaters

9.) Isolate Victims

10.) Abuse Authority

11.) Press Hot buttons

12.) Revisionist of History

13.) Two-faced/Gossip

14.) Paranoid

15.) Passive-Aggressive

 

This list explains the similarities between narcissists/ sociopaths/ psychopaths

I agree with this list and sadly, it explains the similarities between all those who have abused/harmed possibly you and others.

 

It is wisdom to not ignore potential issues in people.

It is wisdom to sit back and watch their behaviour over time, to discern who they are and what their motivations are.

 

Do Not Give People the Benefit of the Doubt!

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr M Williams PhD Psych

312-972-9355

Dr Phil McGraw

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

panicattacks

Natural Remedies for Anxiety & Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can strike some of us more than most, but we all go through it sooner or later. Working to beat a deadline, pay a bill, especially in this economic recession paying attention to your mental health is important!

Some natural remedies for anxiety and panic attacks include supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and SAMe. You can also use techniques like meditation or yoga. These alternative techniques have already changed the lives of many of the 40 million Americans afflicted by anxiety and panic attacks, which needless to say can be very disruptive in your life.

 

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is one type of anxiety order, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In this day and age I think most of us have experienced this. People suffering from panic attacks don’t experience the type of anxiety everyone feels from time to time though, necessarily. People who have actual panic attacks are dealing with a mental illness. There are physical symptoms to panic attacks, and not just mental, these include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and chest pain which many experience as feeling like a heart attack. Some may even think they are dying; these attacks arrive suddenly and unpredictably.

 

Natural Remedies

You can treat panic attacks naturally by learning mind and body relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, and also fights depression and anxiety, and you can try SAMe, a supplement that replaces what is lost as we age, which looks as the most promising natural remedy for panic attacks.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Walnuts and Flaxseed)

We’ve all been told (hopefully) that Omega-3 fatty acids are good for cardiovascular health. This natural remedy is also great for anxiety disorders. In fact in places of the world where people eat a lot of Omega-3 rich foods (such as fish), we find less anxiety orders and depression. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Flaxseed, and Walnuts! Try adding one or more of them to your diet!

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

It’s been proven that natural relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation, will be of great benefit to anybody troubled by anxiety orders, and they will improve energy, concentration, and mood. By learning to calm and balance your mind and emotions your heartbeat will benefit and you will suffer from less panic attacks.

SAMe

SAMe is a long name, (S-adenosylmethionine) and what it is is a molecule within our bodies, but as we age, less is produced. In theory this can help treat depression holistically with very few side effects. A downside is that it is expensive and may interact badly with certain other medications. As always ask before taking anything.

 

Please share with family and loved ones.

Health and Wellness Asssociates

Dr M Williams

Archived

312-972-Well  (9355)

 

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

How to Take A Mental Health Day

how to take amental health day

How to Take a Mental Health Day

Sometimes, you just need a break. Some folks call this a “mental health day,” but I like to keep things in a positive light (and out of respect for those who do have legitimate mental health diseases), so let’s rename this concept a self care day. A day dedicated to you.
Regardless of what you call it, though, taking a timeout is pretty essential, and in today’s culture, we can easily overdo it. In general, downtime is looked upon as lazy, or not really necessary. Things are changing, but it’s up to us as individuals to know when we need a break, and to make space to take it. How to Take a Mental Health Day

Here’s a quick guide on how to take a self care day.
Clear Your Schedule, Un-apologetically
The main requirement of a self care day is to ditch the scheduled appointments. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t mind a few less calendar appointments in their life.
If your appointments are with other people or recurring obligations, you don’t need to explain that you’re taking some self care time if you don’t feel it is helpful. In my opinion, if you’re just honest — sorry, something personal’s come up, I need to reschedule — then no harm, no foul.
I do mean clear everything possible; if you have children, find someone who can help you out.
Downshift
Now that you’ve cleared some space, downshift. A self care day is not “a day I catch up on errands and clean the house.” The laundry can wait. Weed the garden tomorrow. Do not wash the dishes in the sink unless you truly enjoy washing dishes. Nope. This is a day for you.
Start it out with activities specifically geared towards downshifting. Some examples/ideas to get you thinking: Something warm to drink, light some candles, run a hot bath, take a nap, stretch, meditate. What does slowing down mean to you?
Treat Yourself
I think the perfect self care day requires a little treat of some kind. Treating yourself means different things to different people, so do not think you need to be getting pedicures and eating dark chocolate. Choose things that really feel like a treat to you (think “guilty indulgences” without the guilt): pancakes, a walk, a swim in the pool, hug a tree, take an online yoga class.
Of course, if treating yourself feels like just reading in bed or laying on the couch and watching a fun movie on Netflix, so be it.
Pause to Reflect at the End of the Day
At the end of a self care day, I think it’s important to take a few moments to just reflect on the day and your experience. Perhaps you want to promise yourself that you will take a time out again when needed — maybe put it on the calendar now? Maybe you realized that one of your favorite treats you can be incorporated into you daily ritual instead. If nothing else, share some gratitude with yourself and give yourself a nice pat on the back for taking good care of yourself.

Remember: no matter how many responsibilities you have, your primary responsibility is to take care of YOU, so that you can show up fully to those other pieces in your life.
Please share with your family and loved ones.

Health and Wellness Associates
Archived
312-972-well ( 9355 )

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelique.rose.50

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How Being Good to Others Can Be Good For You

beinggoodtoothers

How being good to others can be good for you.

 

Treating other people well isn’t just good for your karma. It’s good for your health and vitality, too.

 

Psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, author of Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection, studies how “micro-moments” of connection with others, like sharing a smile or expressing concern, improve emotional resilience, boost the immune system, and reduce susceptibility to depression and anxiety.

 

In Fredrickson’s view, our psyches need affirmative human connection in much the same way that our bodies need wholesome food.

 

“Moments of uplifting positive emotions function like nutrients for creativity, growth, and health,” she says.

 

Still, while none of us wakes with the intention to curse other drivers, snap at our kids, or shame our employees, we do — more often than anyone likes.

 

Moments of uplifting positive emotions function like nutrients for creativity, growth, and health.

 

And according to psychologist Elisha Goldstein, PhD, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, this may be because our brains contain a “negativity bias,” which favors cautious, fear-based thoughts over generous, positive ones.

 

We’ve evolved this defense mechanism to protect us from lurking danger, he notes, but it doesn’t protect our relationships very well. And in our fast-paced culture, where we compete for everything from parking spaces to pay raises, our primal survival behaviors are triggered routinely.

 

“We live in a kind of fundamental scarcity,” explains Kristi Nelson, executive director of A Network for Grateful Living, a nonprofit that promotes gratitude practice. “That sense of scarcity tends to run our lives.”

 

It also leads to perpetual rushing, which only makes matters worse. In Nelson’s view, the “preoccupation with always getting somewhere and getting more” drives an unhealthy tendency toward self-focus. We start to believe “it’s me or them.” All the time.

 

Under this kind of pressure, the very idea of being kind — keeping the needs and feelings of others in mind, showing care and empathy — can start to seem like a luxury at best. At worst, it just seems foolish.

 

Yet the act of focusing on others can reduce our eat-or-be-eaten anxieties. And in the process, it may actually improve our health and well-being.

 

In 2013 Fredrickson conducted a six-week study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that tested the effects of meditation on stress. Instead of focusing on a mantra or the sound of the breath, participants were instructed to meditate on compassionate thoughts toward themselves and others — including people they did not like.

 

After six weeks, participants were tested for the effects of their practice on the vagus nerve, a cerebral nerve that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate digestion and cardiovascular health. In participants who reported an increase in positive feelings and social connections, “vagal tone” was also improved.

 

And kindness does get easier with practice. When we’re good to others, says Goldstein, our mental habits of scarcity, negativity, and rigidity begin to shift. We become less and less worried about getting our share.

 

Interested in encouraging that positive shift within yourself? Here are eight simple ways to begin.

 

CULTIVATING KINDNESS

Strategies for growing compassionate connections with yourself and others.

 

ADJUST YOUR AUTOMATIC RESPONSES.

Stress triggers us to act in unkind ways — maybe cursing the driver who cut us off, or snapping at our kids when they’re slow getting dressed. Then we feel bad about it, which creates more stress.

 

“We get stuck in these anxious, negative loops,” says Goldstein. “So we seek out comfort where we can find it, and end up overeating, or paying too much attention to our smartphones, or otherwise constantly trying to distract ourselves.”

 

Fortunately, we can hack these automatic tendencies by consciously building new mental habits. “The brain has the wonderful ability to make things automatic,” Goldstein says. “When you have awareness that you want to be kind, and then you practice it, you’re essentially rewiring the compassionate part of your mind.”

 

When you notice an irritated thought, redirect your mind, he suggests. Don’t try to be kind right away; it will only annoy you further. Instead, take a breath and see if (counter to your automatic thoughts) you have what you really need and are basically OK.

 

You might still have time to get where you’re going, even if your kids are being pokey. Or you might realize that even if you are going to be late, you don’t want to waste time fuming about it. That’s all it takes to shift your mind into a kinder mode.

 

PUT YOUR HAND ON YOUR HEART.

This technique seems almost too simple to work, and yet it’s unbelievably effective for creating a sense of compassion and empathy, says Kristin Neff, PhD, University of Texas associate professor in human development, culture, and learning sciences, and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

 

Our physiology is hardwired to recognize this simple gesture as self-soothing. Trauma expert Peter Levine, PhD, theorizes that the hand-on-heart exercise works because the human nervous system is responsive to touch; like babies, we respond to being held by relaxing and calming down. That touch also brings us back into connection with our bodies and, in particular, our breath.

 

“It seems weird at first, when you start practicing this,” Neff admits. “But your mammalian system kicks in immediately when you place your hand on your heart. You begin to use a warmer, gentler tone with yourself and with others.”

 

SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO WHAT’S WORKING.

Cultivate a sense of satisfaction whenever you get the chance. Even when you feel like life is a chaotic mess and you’re not getting the love, respect, or paycheck you deserve, take a step back to recognize a few good things in your world, advises Nelson.

 

“Often, kindness is just about stopping in your tracks and becoming aware of what you have,” she says.

 

Being grateful for amorphous blessings like health and love is fine, but a more helpful inventory might include overlooked gifts like clean water, warm clothes, even the ability to read these words.

 

Nelson calls seeking and naming these fundamental gifts “the radical commitment to take nothing for granted.”

 

When life feels abundant, it’s easier to be generous — and avoid the trap of scarcity thinking.

 

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBLIGATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES.

Most of us have schedules, calendars, and other tools to keep us on track. Unfortunately, the quest to get things done can take precedence over our interactions with others. Marketing meeting: done. Oil change and brake repair: scheduled. Lunch with friend to talk about her divorce: check. What’s next on the day’s agenda?

 

“Many people are so wrapped up with their to-do lists that they treat people as obstacles, or as a means to some end that’s related to achievement,” says Fredrickson. “Why not slow down and really spend time in someone’s company? To do so is a gift to both you and the other person.”

 

The practice of being present in the midst of other people — not checking your phone, not rushing to deliver advice as soon as someone starts describing a problem, not scheduling social engagements back to back — can have profound effects, adds Goldstein.

 

He recalls one of his mindfulness students relating an anecdote about dinner with friends. Instead of always thinking about what she had to do next, she focused on listening to the conversation.

 

“Her friends noticed immediately, and they felt grateful,” he says. “That one decision had a ripple effect, where everyone there began showing each other more kindness.

 

“That’s what happens when we’re truly present with each other. You inspire other people to do the same for you.”

 

RESPECT THOSE YOU HELP.

Giving to those in need is a beautiful act, but how you think about that gesture is important, says Nelson. She believes that “giving” is noble, but the notion of “charity” is inherently limiting. It doesn’t recognize how much we have in common with those we want to help, and it places us above them instead.

 

“Humility is one of the key ingredients to kindness,” she states. “When you’re being kind because you believe you’re better than someone else and they need your pity, then giving is less meaningful.”

 

Whatever the action is — volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating to a homeless shelter, or comforting a friend — there’s an enormous difference between being kind out of a sense of respect and doing it because you believe the other person is beneath you and has nothing to offer you in return.

 

“Pity sets up a hierarchy,” says Nelson. “It leads to us projecting our needs onto other people, not seeing what they truly need.”

 

Instead, she advises, keep in mind that we all are vulnerable and need help in our own ways. The kindness of generosity flows in all directions, including toward you. It feels good to give; you get something out of the interaction, too.

 

BE CONSCIOUS OF THE MONEY EFFECT.

As Nelson points out, being preoccupied with acquiring material wealth can lead to unconscious unkindness. But even having money on our minds (which is hard not to do when we’re constantly encouraged to make and spend more of it) can be enough to make us less friendly.

 

In a fascinating set of experiments, researchers primed one set of subjects to think about money, showing them phrases related to wealth, screensavers with pictures of dollar bills, and more. They primed another group with neutral imagery.

 

The money-primed subjects underwent two observable changes: First, they became more self-reliant and less likely than the other group to ask for help. Second, they became markedly less inclined to offer help to others in need.

 

For example, in one experiment a researcher walked through the room and spilled a bunch of pencils. The subjects who’d been primed to think about money consistently offered less assistance, picking up far fewer pencils than the other group.

 

For Nelson, overcoming the influence of money on our behavior involves staying conscious of our scarcity mentality. “That sense of scarcity is insidious,” she says, “and it takes engagement and mindfulness to run counter to that.”

 

Once again, reminding yourself that you do have enough — even if your resources are modest — is a powerful tool for inciting a mindset of kindness and consideration.

 

START AT HOME.

Studies in behavioral science have found that most of us are more likely to act cheerful toward complete strangers than the people we see and live with every day.

 

While any positive interaction boosts our baseline well-being, according to Fredrickson, it’s good to bring our kindness practice home, not least because it can be more difficult to be warm and caring toward the people we see routinely — and who occasionally annoy us, bore us, or treat us rudely. If we can rise to that challenge, we know we’re really growing.

 

“When we think about kindness, we often imagine these grand gestures, but we don’t need to join the Peace Corps to create more compassion in our lives,” says Nelson. “Start by looking closer to home. How do you treat the people you live with?”

 

REMEMBER THAT KINDNESS IS A PRACTICE, NOT A PROJECT.

In our quest for kindness, challenges are inevitable. Someone will always be driving slow in the fast lane or passing on the right. Mean-spirited gossip will forever be circulating at work. There will always be lines, angry online commenters, personal upheavals. And that’s OK.

 

“It’s better to see this as a playful adventure rather than a project that needs to get accomplished,” says Goldstein. “You’re trying to rewire yourself for a greater sense of well-being and purpose in the world, and that requires some lightness in your attitude. Once you become too aggressive or serious about it, then you’re going the wrong way.”

 

One trap many people fall into, according to Goldstein, is thinking of kindness as an achievement. This creates an idea of an endpoint: You did all the right things, so now you can check “being kind” off your to-do list.

 

A better approach, he suggests, is to strive to develop a growing awareness of what happens when we stray from kindness, and then gently direct ourselves back toward the compassionate path.

 

“You can cultivate kindness” says Goldstein, “by simply inviting yourself to begin again.”

HOW KIND ARE YOU

 

Our brains have a “negativity bias,” which predisposes us to fear-based, kindness-killing behaviors like rushing and defensiveness, explains Elisha Goldstein, PhD. But we can develop habits to help override those impulses.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-WELL

Uncategorized

5 Ways to Survey Thanksgiving with the family

thanksgivingpic

5 Ways to Survive Your Next Family Gathering

In the Uncle Remus story of the tar baby, Brer Rabbit picks a fight with a lifelike doll made out of tar and turpentine. The tar baby is so gluey that when the rabbit punches it, his fists get hopelessly stuck. He tries to kick his way free, trapping his feet, then finishes off with an infuriated head butt that renders him utterly helpless.

I can’t think of a more fitting metaphor for family life in the 21st century. There’s nothing in the world as sticky as a dysfunctional family. You can put half your life’s savings into therapy—good therapy, effective therapy—and, 15 minutes into a holiday reunion, you still become hopelessly enmeshed in the same old crazy dynamics. Your assertiveness training goes out the window the minute your brother begins his traditional temper tantrum. A mere sigh from your grandmother triggers an attack of codependency so severe you end up giving her your house. For many people, family get-togethers require strategies for staying out of such sticky situations. Before you head over the river and through the woods, give some thought to the following suggestions.

Strategy #1: Give Up Hope

Most of us go home for the holidays thinking (along with comedienne Abby Sher), God, grant me the ability to change the things I cannot accept. Even if we don’t consciously realize it, we want our families to cease and desist from all the things that affect us like fingernails on a chalkboard. We don’t ask much—just socially appropriate behavior, dammit, and minimal reparations for the more damaging incidents in our past. Although come to think of it, things would certainly go better if our relatives would listen openly, communicate honestly, and agree with us on all significant issues. And possibly offer money.

The hope that our families will act perfectly—or even reasonably well—sets us up to whack the tar baby, to be incapacitated by the dysfunctions we’ll almost certainly encounter. Before you meet your relatives this season, take a few moments to sit quietly and acknowledge what you wish they were like. Then prepare to accept them even if they behave as they have always done in the past. At best you may be surprised to find that they actually are changing, that some of your wishes have come true. At worst you’ll feel regrettably detached from your kinfolk as you watch them play out their usual psychoses.

Strategy #2: Set Secure Boundaries

Given that your family members will probably go on being their same old selves, you need to decide how much contact with them you really want. Are there certain relatives you simply can’t tolerate? Are there others you can handle in group settings but not one-on-one? How much time and intimacy with your family is enough? How much is too much?

It’s crucial to answer these questions before, not during, a family gathering. Prior to the event, think through various boundary options until you come up with a scenario that makes you feel comfortable. Would you be more enthusiastic about a get-together if you planned to leave after no more than four hours? Or three? Two? One? Would you breathe easier if you rented a car so that you could get away without relying on relatives for transportation? Would it help to have a friend call you on your cell phone halfway through the evening, providing an excuse for a graceful exit?

Strategy #3: Lose Control

You’re in the middle of a holiday feast, enjoying your favorite pie and eggnog, when your mother leans over and whispers, “Honey, have you tried Weight Watchers?” Those six words may wither your very soul, challenging every ounce of self-acceptance you’ve gleaned from myriad self-help books, support groups, and several enlightened friends. You might feel desperate to make Mom recognize all the hard-won truths you’ve learned about the intrinsic value and beauty of your body. You’ll want to argue, to explain, to get right in there and force your mother to approve of your appearance. You are coming perilously close to whacking the tar baby.

Remember this: Any attempt you make to control other people actually puts you under their control. If you decide you can’t be happy until your mother finally understands you, her dysfunction will rule your life. You could spend the next 20 years trying to please her so much that she’d just have to accept you—and she still might not. Or you could hold her at gunpoint and threaten her into saying the words you want to hear, but you’ll never control her real thoughts and feelings. Never.

The only way you can avoid getting stuck in other people’s craziness is to follow codependency author Melody Beattie’s counterintuitive advice: “Unhook from their systems by refusing to try to control them.” Don’t violate your own code of values and ethics, but don’t waste energy trying to make other people violate theirs. If soul-searching has shown you that your mother’s opinions are wrong for you—as are your grandfather’s bigotry, your sister’s new religion, and your cousin’s alcoholism—hold that truth in your heart, whether or not your family members validate it. Feel what you feel, know what you know, and set your relatives free to do the same.

If you’ve been deeply wounded by your family, you can stop trying to control them by accepting full responsibility for your healing. I’m not suggesting you shoulder all the blame, but rather that you acknowledge that you and only you have the ability to respond to injury by seeking cures instead of furthering pain. Whatever the situation, accepting that you can control only your own thoughts and actions will help you mend more quickly and thoroughly.

Strategy #4: Become a Participant Observer

Some social scientists use a technique called participant observation, meaning that they join groups of people in order to watch and report on whatever those people do. Back when I was training to become a sociologist, I loved participant observation. People I might normally have avoided—criminals, fundamentalists, PTA presidents—became absolutely fascinating when I was participant-observing them. Almost any group activity is interesting when you’re planning to describe it later to someone who’s on your wavelength. Here are some approaches to help you become a participant observer of your own family.

Queen for a Day
This little game is based on the old TV show in which four women competed to see who had the most miserable life. The contestant judged most pathetic got, among other things, a washing machine in which to cleanse her tear-stained clothing. My version goes like this: Prior to a family function, arrange to meet with at least two friends—more, if possible—after the holidays. You’ll each tell the stories of your respective family get-togethers, then vote to see whose experience was most horrendous. That person will then be crowned queen, and the others will buy her lunch.

Comedy Club
In this exercise, you look to your family not for love and understanding but for comedy material. Watch closely. The more atrocious your family’s behavior is, the funnier it can be in the retelling. Watch stand-up comics to see the enormous fun they can have describing appalling marriages, ghastly parenting, or poisonous family secrets. When you’re back among friends, telling your own wild stories, you may find that you no longer suffer from your family’s brand of insanity; you’ve actually started to enjoy it.

Dysfunctional Family Bingo
This is one of my favorite games, though it involves considerable preparation. A few weeks before the holidays, gather with friends and provide each person with a bingo card, like the one on page 93, only blank. Each player fills in her bingo squares with dysfunctional phrases or actions that are likely to surface at her particular family party. For example, if you dread the inevitable “So when are you going to get married?” that question goes in one square of your bingo card. If your brother typically shows up crocked to the gills, put “Al is drunk” in another square, and so on.

Take your finished cards to your respective family gatherings. Whenever you observe something that appears on your bingo card, mark off that square. The first person to get bingo must sneak off to the nearest telephone, call the other players, and announce her victory. If no one has a full bingo, the person who has the largest number of filled-out squares wins the game. The winner shall be determined at the postholiday meeting, where she will be granted the ever gratifying free lunch.

Strategy #5: Debrief

Even if you don’t play any participant observation games, it’s crucial to follow up on family events by debriefing with someone you love. If your brother really “gets” you, call him after a family dinner you’ve both survived. If you don’t trust anyone who shares a shred of your DNA, report to a friend or therapist. Generally speaking, you can schedule a debriefing session for a few weeks after the holidays, when everybody’s schedule is back to normal. However, you should exchange phone calls with your debriefing partners within a day or so of the family encounter, just to reconnect with the outside world and head off any annoying little problems, such as ill-considered suicide.

All of these strategies, from relinquishing hope of transformation to mimicking your relatives in riotous conversations with your friends, are designed to help you love your family unconditionally, in whatever way works best for you. They help you greet the tar baby with genuine affection, then walk away clear and happy. And that, in the end, may be the best holiday present you’ll ever give to the people you cherish most.

 

Please share with family and friends

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-WELL

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Is Sun Exposure the Key to a Long, Happy Life?

sunshine

 

Is Sun Exposure the Key to a Long, Happy Life?

You’ve heard about how dangerous the sun can be, especially when it comes to your skin. It’s no secret that direct sun exposure can increase your chances of skin cancer, while causing skin to look dry and weathered.

But the results of a new study from Sweden are showing that more sun might actually be a good thing. It found that people who get more sun exposure over the course of their life outlive those who get less.

The study followed over 30,000 women in Sweden for 20 years. It saw that those who had greater exposure to the sun were less likely to get heart disease or die from non-cancerous causes.

The study failed to prove causation, and the results may point more to the fact that people who get a lot of sunlight exposure outdoors are more active or less likely to smoke, or perhaps have better diets. All of these things are known to extend a person’s lifespan.

But vitamin D may also play a role. Sun exposure is the best way to get your body to produce vitamin D, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks and other illnesses. In that case, 20 to 60 minutes of sun exposure each day (depending on complexion) might be worthwhile.

There has been research indicating that direct exposure to sunlight, particularly before noon, can help reduce weight, lower the risk of heart disease, and improve overall happiness. Getting your sunlight in before it becomes too intense is likely the safest way to play it, and the benefits may be far-reaching.

Personally, I love being outside in the summer. Typically, being outdoors means you’re being active, and that activity can provide multiple health benefits. But it’s important to stay protected. After about 20 to 60 minutes, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and protect your skin from burning.

Go outside and soak up those rays!

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived : P. Carrothers

312-972-WELL

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Cultivate Self Compassion

selfcompassion

 

Cultivate Self Compassion

 

Life-changing strategies can help you be kinder to yourself.

 

 

Self-compassion not only helps you be kinder to yourself, but it also gives you the power to be kinder to the world around you.

 

These benefits have been empirically validated by Kristin Neff, PhD, one of the world’s foremost researchers on self-compassion. She established it as a field of study almost a decade ago, during her postdoctoral work at the University of Denver. In her book, Self-Compassion, Neff walks us through the scientific research underpinning the whys and hows of cultivating self-compassion. The volume is packed with both theoretical and practical goodness.

 

Neff’s basic argument is that self-compassion is made up of three components:

 

  • Self-kindness. We need to be kind to ourselves. Beating ourselves up is not helpful.
  • Common humanity. We’re not alone. It’s important to see that our suffering is part of a shared human experience.
  • Mindfulness. We want to observe our experience. We can learn to hold it in “balanced” awareness without trying to push our pain away or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Now let’s take a look at each of these elements in more detail.

 

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

“Self-kindness, by definition, means that we stop the constant self-judgment and disparaging internal commentary that most of us have come to see as normal. It requires us to understand our foibles and failures instead of condemning them. It entails clearly seeing the extent to which we harm ourselves through relentless self-criticism, and ending our internal war,” Neff writes.

 

“But self-kindness involves more than merely stopping self-judgment,” she adds. “It involves actively comforting ourselves, responding just as we would to a dear friend in need. It means we allow ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, stopping to say, ‘This is really difficult right now. How can I care for and comfort myself in this moment?’ With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds. We make a peace offering of warmth, gentleness, and sympathy from ourselves to ourselves, so that true healing can occur.”

 

I love the image of treating ourselves the same way we would treat a dear friend or family member. By slowing down and allowing ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, we actively comfort ourselves.

 

The first step is to stop the internal heckling. Quit beating yourself up with thoughts like Why am I such an idiot? or, I can’t believe I did or said that. Instead, replace that heckling with phrases like I feel my pain right now. This is tough. How can I best take care of myself right now?

 

In short, be nice to yourself. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but learning to do it can lead to huge breakthroughs in your life.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

 

Once we’re in the practice of being kind to ourselves, we can work on the second fundamental element of self-compassion: recognizing the common human experience.

 

Neff argues that seeing our common humanity “helps to distinguish self-compassion from mere self-acceptance or self-love.

 

“Although self-acceptance and self-love are important, they are incomplete by themselves. They leave out an essential factor — other people. Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means ‘to suffer with,’ which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering.

 

“The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect. Why else would we say ‘It’s only human’ to comfort someone who has made a mistake? Self-compassion honors the fact that all human beings are fallible, that wrong choices and feelings of regret are inevitable, no matter how high and mighty one is.”

 

In our hyper-individualistic, hyper-comparative society, it’s easy to always try to outdo everyone and feel disconnected — either better or worse than those around us. But what if, instead, we slowed down and appreciated our sameness? Doing so gives us the ability to see the threads of our common humanity. It leads us to recognize that we all struggle and can connect to one another through our shared triumphs and failures.

 

FACE UP TO REALITY WITH MINDFULNESS

 

One way to stay connected to our own experience and to cultivate our connection to the experiences of others is by practicing mindfulness.

 

For Neff, “mindfulness refers to the clear seeing and nonjudgmental acceptance of what’s occurring in the present moment. Facing up to reality, in other words. The idea is that we need to see things as they are, no more, no less, in order to respond to our current situation in the most compassionate — and therefore effective — manner.”

 

Like many wise teachers, Neff reminds us that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. How we respond to pain determines our level of suffering. Resisting pain by trying to wish away whatever is happening — whether it’s something mundane, like traffic on the way to work, or something more significant, like a serious illness or death of a loved one — only causes our suffering to grow.

 

“Our emotional suffering is caused by our desire for things to be other than they are,” Neff explains. “Once something has occurred in reality, there is nothing you can do to change that reality in the present moment. This is how things are. You can choose to accept this fact or not, but reality will remain the same either way.”

 

Mindfulness is one tool we can develop to appropriately relate to reality.

 

TAKE NOTE

Neff’s “noting practice” is one of my all-time favorite tips for building mindfulness. She writes that “the idea is to make a soft mental note whenever a particular thought, emotion, or sensation arises. This helps us to become more consciously aware of what we’re experiencing.”

 

Noting is a simple way to create awareness, and I love to use it during my own meditation sessions. For example, when I observe my mind wandering off into strategizing or planning, I softly say the word “strategy” to myself  and then bring my attention back to my breath.

 

Give it a try and see if noting helps you become more conscious of your life experience.

 

Using the three components of self-compassion improves our chances of reaching our goals and living the profoundly beautiful and fulfilling life we all deserve.

 

 

 

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-Well

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Cultivate Happiness

happiness

Cultivating Happiness

Five Tips to Get More Satisfaction and Joy Out of Life

 

We all want to be happy. The right to pursue happiness is even written into our country’s bill of rights. But how does one do that? Is it even possible to become a happier person? And if so, what’s the best way to go about it? Researchers in the field of positive psychology have been studying these questions and the answers are encouraging. Turns out you can genuinely increase your happiness and overall satisfaction with life—and it doesn’t require a winning lottery ticket or some other drastic change of circumstances. What it takes is an inner change of perspective and attitude. And that’s truly good news, because it’s something that anyone can do.

 

What won’t make you happy

 

Do you, like many people, have a mental list of things you think you need in order to be truly happy? There are many externals our society teaches us to chase: success, wealth, fame, power, good looks, romantic love. But are they really the key to happiness?

 

The research says no, at least when it comes to long-term happiness. A prestigious award, a big raise, an exciting new relationship, a fancy new car, losing weight. These things can make us feel great at first, but the thrill doesn’t last very long. Human beings are quick to adapt to new circumstances—a quality that has helped us survive and thrive. But it also means that the good things that initially make us happier soon become our new normal and we return to our old happiness baseline.

 

Myths and facts about happiness

 

There are a lot of myths out there about what will make you happy. So before we embark on a tour of the strategies that do work for boosting happiness, let’s dispense with the things that don’t.

 

Myth: Money will make you happy.

 

Fact: It’s stressful when you’re worried about money. In order to be happy, you do need enough of it to cover your basic needs: things like food, shelter, and clothing. But once you have enough money to be comfortable, getting more money isn’t going to make much of a difference in how happy you are. For example, studies of lottery winners show that after a relatively short period of time, they are no more happy than they were before their win.

 

Myth: You need a relationship in order to be happy.

 

Fact: Being in a healthy, supportive love relationship does contribute to happiness, but it’s not true that you can’t be happy and fulfilled if you’re single. Indeed, singles who have meaningful friendships and pursuits are happier than people in mismatched romantic relationships. It’s also important to note that even a good marriage or romantic partnership doesn’t lead to a permanent, intense happiness boost. Expecting your partner to deliver your happily-ever-after may actually harm the relationship in the long-run. You—not your partner or your family members—are responsible for your own happiness.

 

Myth: Happiness declines with age.

 

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, people tend to get happier with age. Study after study confirms that seniors experience more positive emotions and fewer (and less intense) negative emotions than young people and middle-aged adults. As a whole, older adults are also more satisfied with their lives, less sensitive to stress, and more emotionally stable. Even with the losses that come with age, it is the happiest time of life for many people.

 

Myth: Some people are just happier than others and there’s nothing you can do to change that.

 

Fact: Genetics do play a role in happiness. Current research suggests that people are born with a certain happiness “set point.” But that only accounts for about half of our happiness level. Another 10% is due to life circumstances. That leaves 40% that is determined by your actions and choices. That’s a lot of control!

 

Tip 1: Train your brain to be more positive

 

Our brains are wired to notice and remember the things that are wrong. It’s a survival mechanism that helped keep our cave-dwelling ancestors safe in a world where there were many physical threats. But in today’s comparatively safe world, this biological predisposition to focus on the negative contributes to stress and unhappiness.

 

While we can’t change our nature, we can train our brains to be more positive. This doesn’t mean putting on a smiley face and whistling a happy tune no matter what’s going on. You don’t have to ignore reality or pretend things are wonderful even when they’re not. But just as dwelling on negative things fuels unhappiness (and plays a big role in depression and anxiety), choosing to notice, appreciate, and anticipate goodness is a powerful happiness booster.

 

Express gratitude

 

Teaching yourself to become more grateful can make a huge difference in your overall happiness. The research shows that gratitude helps you experience more positive emotions, decrease depression, feel better about yourself, improve your relationships, and strengthen your immune system. A recent study revealed that gratitude even makes you smarter about how you spend your money.

 

There are a number of simple exercises you can take advantage of to increase and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

 

Give sincere thanks to others. When someone goes above and beyond or does something to make your day easier, be quick to verbalize your thanks and appreciation. Not only will it make the person feel good, it will give you a happiness lift, too. It’s an instant reward to see how expressing gratitude makes a positive difference in someone else’s day. It makes you realize that we’re all connected and that what you do matters.

Keep a gratitude journal. It may sound cheesy, but writing down the good things that happened to you during the day really works. Research shows that keeping a gratitude journals is a powerful technique that instantly makes you feel happier, more connected to others, and genuinely appreciative.

Count your blessings. Make it a habit to regularly reflect on the things you have to be thankful for. Bring to mind all the good people, experiences, and things in your life, both now and in the past. Focus on the blessings both big and small, from the people who love you to the roof over your head and the food on your table. You will soon see it’s a pretty long list.

Write a letter of gratitude. Think of someone who did something that changed your life for the better who you never properly thanked. Write a thoughtful letter of gratitude expressing what the person did, how it affected you, and what it still means to you. Then deliver the letter. Positive psychology expert Martin Seligman recommends reading the letter in person for the most dramatic increase in happiness.

Find the positive in a negative event from your past. Even the most painful circumstances can teach us positive lessons. Reevaluate a negative event from your past with an eye for what you learned or how you became stronger, wiser, or more compassionate. When you can find meaning in even the bad things you’ve experienced, you will be happier and more grateful.

 

Tip 2: Nurture and enjoy your relationships

 

Relationships are one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. Studies that look at happy people bear this out. The happier the person, the more likely that he or she has a large, supportive circle of family and friends, a fulfilling marriage, and a thriving social life.

 

That’s why nurturing your relationships is one of the best emotional investments you can make. If you make an effort to cultivate and build your connections with others, you will soon reap the rewards of more positive emotions. And as you become happier, you will attract more people and higher-quality relationships, leading to even greater positivity and enjoyment. It’s the happiness gift that keeps on giving.

 

Make a conscious effort to stay connected. In our busy society, it’s easy to get caught up in our responsibilities and neglect our relationships. But losing touch with friends is one of the most common end-of-life regrets. Don’t let it happen to you. Make an effort to stay connected to the people who make your life brighter. Take the time to call, write, or see each other in person. You’ll be happier for it.

Invest in quality time with the people you care about. It’s not just the time spent with friends and family that matters; it’s how you spend it. Mindlessly vegging out together in front of the TV isn’t going to make you closer. People who are in happy relationships talk a lot. They share what’s going on in their lives and how they feel. Follow their example and carve out time to talk and enjoy each other’s company.

Offer sincere compliments. Think of the things you admire and appreciate about the other person and then tell them. This will not only make the other person happier, it will encourage him or her to be an even better friend or partner. As a practice of gratitude, it will also make you value the relationship more and feel happier.

Seek out happy people. Research shows that happiness is contagious. You can literally catch a good mood (you can also catch a bad mood, but thankfully, sadness is less contagious than happiness). So make an effort to seek out and spend time with happy people. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling the happiness, too.

Take delight in the good fortune of others. One of the things that truly separate healthy, fulfilling relationships from the rest are how the partners respond to each other’s good fortune and success. Do you show genuine enthusiasm and interest when your friend or family member experiences something good? Or do you ignore, criticize, or downplay the achievement, feel envious or threatened, or say a quick, “That’s great,” and then move on? If you’d like closer relationships, pay attention when the other person is excited. Ask questions, relive the experience with the other person, and express your excitement for him or her. Remember, happiness is contagious, so as you share the experience, their joy will become yours.

 

Tip 3: Live in the moment and savor life’s pleasures

 

Think about a time when you were depressed or anxious. Chances are, you were either dwelling on something negative from the past or worrying about something in the future. In contrast, when you focus on the present moment, you are much more likely to feel centered, happy, and at peace. You’re also much more likely to notice the good things that are happening, rather than letting them pass by unappreciated or unobserved. So how do you start to live more in the moment and savor the good things life has to offer?

 

Meditate

 

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful technique for learning to live in and enjoy the moment. And you don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to reap its benefits. No pan flutes, chanting, or yoga pants required.

 

Simply speaking, meditation is exercise for your brain. When practiced regularly, meditation appears to decrease activity in the areas of the brain associated with negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression. At the same time, it increases activity in the areas associated with joy, contentment, and peace. It also strengthens areas of the brain in charge of managing emotions and controlling attention. What’s more, being mindful makes you more fully engaged in the here-and-now and more aware and appreciate of good things.

 

Here are a few mindfulness exercises that can help you get started:

 

Body scan – Body scanning cultivates mindfulness by focusing your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. However, instead of tensing and relaxing your muscles, you simply focus on the way each part of your body feels without labeling the sensations as either “good” or “bad”.

Walking meditation – You don’t have to be seated or still to meditate. In walking meditation, mindfulness involves being focused on the physicality of each step — the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and feeling the wind against your face.

Mindful eating – If you reach for food when you’re under stress or gulp your meals down in a rush, try eating mindfully. Sit down at the table and focus your full attention on the meal (no TV, newspapers, or eating on the run). Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite.

Notice and savor small pleasures

 

If you adopt a mindfulness meditation practice, you will automatically begin to notice and savor life’s pleasures more. But there are other things you can do to increase your awareness and enjoyment.

 

Adopt enjoyable daily rituals. Build moments of enjoyment into your day with pleasurable rituals. These can be very simple things like lingering over a cup of coffee in the morning, taking a short stroll in the sunshine during your lunch hour, or playing with your dog when you get home. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you enjoy and appreciate it.

Minimize multi-tasking. Savoring requires your full attention, which is impossible when you’re trying to do multiple things. For example, if you’re eating a delicious meal while distractedly surfing the Internet, you’re not going to get as much pleasure out of the food as you could have. Focus on one thing at a time in order to truly maximize your enjoyment.

Stop to smell the roses. It may be an old cliché, but it’s good advice. You’ll appreciate good things more if you stop whatever you’re doing for a moment to appreciate and luxuriate in them. It will enhance your pleasure, even if you can only spare a few seconds. And if you can share the moment with others, even better. Shared pleasure is powerful.

Replay happy memories. You don’t have to limit your savoring to things that are happening now. Remembering and reminiscing about happy memories and experiences from your past leads to more positive emotions in the present.

 

Tip 4: Focus on helping others and living with meaning

 

There is something truly fulfilling in helping others and feeling like your actions are making a difference for the better in the world. That’s why people who assist those in need and give back to others and their communities tend to be happier. In addition, they also tend to have higher self-esteem and general psychological well-being.

 

Here are some ways to live a more altruistic, meaningful life:

 

Volunteer. Happiness is just one of the many benefits of volunteering. You’ll get the most out of the experience by volunteering for an organization that you believe in and that allows you to contribute in a meaningful way.

 

Practice kindness. Look for ways to be more kind, compassionate, and giving in your daily life. This can be something as small as brightening a stranger’s day with a smile or going out of your way to do a favor for a friend.

 

Play to your strengths. The happiest people know what their unique strengths are and build their lives around activities that allow them to use those strengths for the greater good. There are many different kinds of strengths, including kindness, curiosity, honesty, creativity, love of learning, perseverance, loyalty, optimism, and humor.

 

Go for the flow. Research shows that flow, a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity, is closely associated with happiness. Flow happens when you’re actively engaged in something that is intrinsically rewarding and challenging yet still attainable. Anything that completely captivates you and engages your full attention can be a flow activity.

 

 

Tip 5: Take better care of your health

 

You can be happy even when you’re suffering from illness or bad health, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the aspects of your health that are in your control. Exercise and sleep are particularly important when it comes to happiness.

 

Make exercise a regular habit

 

Exercise isn’t just good for the body. It also has a powerful effect on mental well-being. People who exercise regularly are happier across the board. Plus, they’re also less stressed, angry, anxious, and depressed.

 

It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, so long as you do it regularly. For best results, aim for an hour of exercise at least five days a week. If you find something you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. So don’t think you’re limited to going to the gym or strapping on jogging shoes. Find something that suits your lifestyle and preferences. It could be taking a dance class, shooting hoops, walking in nature, joining a community sports league, playing tennis, running with your dog, swimming laps at the pool, hiking, biking, or doing yoga in the park. If you’re having trouble thinking of activities you enjoy, think back to when you were a kid. What sports or games did you like to play?

 

Get the sleep you need

 

Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality, and emotional stability during the day. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re much more susceptible to stress. It’s harder to be productive, think creatively, and make wise decisions. How much sleep do you need? According to sleep scientists, the average person needs at least 7.5 – 9 hours each night.

 

If you think you are having problems or have any questions please call us for help.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-Well

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Risk Factors for Emotional and Mental Health Problems

springflowers

 

Risk factors for mental and emotional problems

 

Your mental and emotional health has been and will continue to be shaped by your experiences. Early childhood experiences are especially significant. Genetic and biological factors can also play a role, but these too can be changed by experience.

 

Risk factors that can compromise mental and emotional health:

 

Poor connection or attachment to your primary caretaker early in life. Feeling lonely, isolated, unsafe, confused, or abused as an infant or young child.

Traumas or serious losses, especially early in life. Death of a parent or other traumatic experiences such as war or hospitalization.

Learned helplessness. Negative experiences that lead to a belief that you’re helpless and that you have little control over the situations in your life.

Illness, especially when it’s chronic, disabling, or isolates you from others.

Side effects of medications, especially in older people who may be taking a variety of medications.

Substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse can both cause mental health problems and make preexisting mental or emotional problems worse.

Whatever internal or external factors have shaped your mental and emotional health, it’s never too late to make changes that will improve your psychological well-being. Risk factors can be counteracted with protective factors, like strong relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions.

 

When to seek professional help for emotional problems

 

If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and you still don’t feel good—then it’s time to seek professional help. Because we are so socially attuned, input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can motivate us to do things for ourselves that we were not able to do on our own.

 

Red flag feelings and behaviors that may require immediate attention

 

Inability to sleep

Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time

Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life

Using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions

Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control

Thoughts of death or suicide

If you identify with any of these red flag symptoms, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional.

 

 

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-Well