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8 Empowering Compliments To Give Little Girls About Their Halloween Costumes


With Halloween just around the corner, those worthy souls who have decided to stay home and pass out candy are gearing up to have hordes of adorable children show up at their doors, demanding sugar. It will be most people’s knee-jerk reaction to compliment these kids on their costumes, which is only natural — after all, how can anyone not melt into a cooing puddle when a five year old dressed as a Velocirapter shows up at their door? But although compliments are totally appropriate responses to kids who’ve probably spent the whole summer planning their costumes, we should be careful about the compliments we give and how we give them — especially to young girls.

A number of writers, including Sharon Holbrook and Lisa Bloom, have suggested that we need to rethink how we compliment little girls. For many of us (and I’m including myself here), the default reaction when we’re faced with a small girl is to say, “You’re so pretty!” or make some other positive comment on her looks (“You have such gorgeous hair!” “You’re going to be so beautiful when you grow up!”). These types of compliments may seem innocuous and well-meaning at first, but over time, they add up to something else: A idea that girls’ worth resides in how they look, which is a message they’ll keep hearing throughout their adult lives, from the media, the people around them, and our culture in general. When girls earn praise solely based on their appearance, they also learn that their value lies beyond their control, that their naturally lush eyelashes or adorable dimples matter more than their intelligence or creativity.

I don’t believe that you should never tell a girl she’s beautiful, or that it’s wrong to tell a girl proudly dressed as a princess that she’s a very pretty princess indeed. But beauty shouldn’t be the only barometer of feminine value, and, during Halloween, being pretty shouldn’t be the only sign of a successful costume. Because Halloween costumes are primarily visual, it can be a bit tricky (“trick-or-treaty”?) at first to compliment costumes without immediately falling back to remarks about beauty. But it’s worth the effort to be more creative in our praise; in doing so, we encourage girls to exercise their own creativity in their costumes in the future.

Keep reading for some simple ways that you can compliment little girls on their Halloween finery and empower them at the same time. Obviously not all of these compliments will work for every costume (If you say “OMG, you’re so scary!” to a girl dressed as a kitten, she might not take it well), but the general point is to find ways to compliment girls on their clever disguises without always having to resort to comments about their beauty. And, of course, these compliments work just as well for boys — because all kids, regardless of gender, like to hear that they are creative and interesting and that their costumes are awesome.

1. “Wow, you make a terrifying monster! That is so great!”

When we only compliment girls on their beauty, we unintentionally make the point that they should try to be pretty all the time. If a little girl is wearing a costume that isn’t supposed to be pretty — like a scary costume or a funny costume — let her know that she did a good job at being scary or funny, and that it’s great for her to explore those aspects of herself, too.



2. “I love that your dress is purple — That’s my favorite color!”

Too often when we give compliments (to kids or adults), we default to generalizations like “You look great.” By focusing on something specific, we demonstrate that we’re really paying attention to the person we’re complimenting. Try to focus on elements that the girl may have had a part in — like the color of her outfit — rather than things she can’t control, like the curliness of her hair or the color of her eyes.

3. “You must be so proud of your costume! It looks like you put a lot of work into it!”

Instead of focusing solely on the child’s appearance, praise the effort that must have gone into the costume. Doing so will let her know that her hard work is worth more than how she looks.

4. “Princess Leia is my favorite, too! You’ve recreated her hair buns perfectly!”

It’s a simple move to change a compliment from being about beauty to being about skill. For example, if you’ve got a tiny Princess Leia in front of you, instead of saying “You have beautiful hair,” you can compliment her for how accurately she’s recreated Leia’s hairstyle.

5. “Your costume is so creative!”

By praising a costume’s creativity, you’re telling the child that creativity is something that should be valued. (This compliment is also helpful if you’re not sure what, exactly, the costume is supposed to be. Follow up with “I’d love for you to tell me more about it!” to solve the mystery.)

6. “You look like you could save the world/do amazing ballet/go to the moon!”

Rather than focusing on a costumed child’s beauty, take a moment to admire her abilities — even if they’re imagined. Doing so encourages her to keep imagining different futures and different ways of being.

7. “I love that you decided to be a triceratops! That’s my favorite dinosaur!”

By praising the subject of a little girl’s costume, whether that it’s a dinosaur, a fairy princess, or zombie, you’re complimenting her on a choice that she made. It’s a gentle way of affirming that she has the agency to make decisions for herself.

8. “I love your costume! Will you tell me more about it?”

One of the best ways to make kids feel empowered is to be genuinely interested in what they have to say. So, for Halloween, go beyond “You look beautiftul” to ask questions like, “How did you come up with your costume?”, “Did you help make it?”, “What’s your favorite thing about Belle/Iron Man/Ghosts/[whatever the costume is]?” By really listening to the response, you show a kid that you value his or her point of view.


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How To Boost Your Confidence: 6 Scientific Ways To Feel Better About Yourself

May 14, 2014     Lecia Bushak

If you’ve ever acted on the saying “fake it till you make it,” you probably recognize the benefits of playing it cool and confident whether at work, at trying new things, or in social settings.

Confidence can make or break a lot of things. People who are sure of themselves tend to do better at interviews, on dates, and in accomplishing tasks. In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too. Unfortunately, this societal view of exuberant confidence — where people who talk a lot are considered more competent than people who actually know more and do better — can be good in some ways, and harmful for introverts.

But it’s always a fine balance. While being sure of yourself is important, it’s not exactly great to be overly-confident, either, especially if you lack competence. Exuding an overabundance of confidence can be seen as arrogant, or having the assumption that you are better than you really are. Finding a balance — being aware of your weaknesses but also your strengths — is the best way to roll. Self-assess to the reality in the middle. Know that quiet competence is often more important than blatant confidence. And if you’re currently feeling like you’re worthless, read the below tips that can assist you in boosting your sense of self-worth so that you can start gaining that much-needed competence.

Exercise Consistently

Exercise goes a long way for a lot of aspects of life, from health and stress reduction to even confidence. When you work out, your brain releases feel-good hormones that give you that “runner’s high,” a natural feeling of accomplishment, happiness, and relaxation. After a good run, your body feels happy tired, your stomach ever so slightly more toned, and you’ve set the pace for a productive day. Exercising consistently will do wonders for both your mind and body. Being fit and feeling attractive can a huge self-esteem boost.

Dress Well

This may seem rather shallow, but grooming is an important part of our biology as mammals and social beings. Taking care of yourself — including little things like keeping your nails trim, flossing your teeth, and showering — can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself. Finding new clothes to wear in fresh combinations, or going out and buying a few new outfits, can give your self-confidence the small boost it needs to get going. Are you having a bad day, procrastinating, and feeling gross? Take a shower. Being clean is a refreshing feeling, and will give you the kick you need to start getting things done.

Woman Kicking Leg Up In Front of Graffiti Wall


Stay Social

Getting involved with other people will help bring you out of your negative head space. If you’re finding yourself experiencing anxiety about your life’s problems, spend some time helping others with their own. Assisting someone in need boosts happiness and self-worth; even if you don’t have your life in order, you can feel like you are being helpful and productive to someone else.

Squash Negative Thoughts Like Bugs

It’s often easy to get into negative self-talk mode: Why haven’t you done this yet? When will you find a better job? Why are you still single or still with this loser? What’s wrong with you? Once these thoughts start popping up, squash them like bugs, then replace them with more positive ones.

On that note, resilience is an important part of staying confident. Don’t beat yourself up when you get rejected by a job, love interest, or when you fail. Life doesn’t always turn out to be what we think it will, and being prepared for this — as well as being able to adapt — is called resilience. Stronger resilience naturally boosts your confidence, since you won’t be too hard on yourself. “When life doesn’t quite turn out the way you expect it will or want it to, give yourself a little wiggle room,” Sara Elliott writes on How Stuff Works. “The more you reward yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new instead of bashing yourself for a less-than-stellar performance, the easier it will be to tackle the next challenge with confidence.”

Practice Until You’re Competent

Learning a new skill or language can help boost your confidence, especially if it’s outside of work. While “faking it till you make it” can work in some situations, know that you actually have to put in the time and hard work to gain a skill or get better at something. Once you’ve put in your hours, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can play a full song on the piano or that you’ve written your first good essay after all the crap.

But remember this all involves little steps. “If you want to be a more competent writer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of writing all at once,” Leo Babauta writes on zenhabits. Instead, take baby steps: write a little bit every day. “Journal, blog, write short stories, do some freelance writing. The more you’ll write, the better you’ll be.” Practicing even a little bit every day will increase your competence, and the better you get at something, the stronger your confidence will be.


Happy body language can make you feel better about yourself. In a study completed by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, researchers found that manifesting fake “high-power poses” reduced cortisol, or the stress hormone, and boosted testosterone and self-confidence. Smiling, standing up straight with your shoulders back and chin up, and manifesting more “open” and relaxed poses will actually help you feel more confident.

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7 Eating Habits That Give You Positive Energy

We are all prone to the occasional slump. Maybe it’s in the middle of the morning or, more commonly, we find ourselves lagging in the mid-afternoon. That’s about the time when the demands of the day begin to catch up with us, and our bodies are telling us we need more energy, some rest or both.

But what if those slumps last longer? What if there is something zapping our positive energy on a more consistent basis? If that’s the case, then something needs to be done about it, and changing our eating habits can certainly go a long way in helping our energy levels.



How what we eat and drink can impact our overall energy, but it isn’t a one-size fits all solution. Different people react to different foods and drinks in different ways.

A simple food diary can come very much in handy when we are trying to figure out what is zapping our life force. We should be tracking all of our eating habits, including what we are eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for a few weeks. We should also be tracking what is going on when we are eating and when we are feeling sluggish.

After a few week’s time, we will begin to notice as patterns emerge and can help pinpoint the types of food that enhance our energy levels and the types that deplete it.


It is a common saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and most professionals would agree. Start the day off with a good, nutritious breakfast consisting of whole foods. It not only helps your energy and productivity levels, but it also wards off cravings and crashes later on in the morning.

A breakfast high in protein, such as eggs or ham, while avoiding the sugary cereals and other processed foods, will help to avoid a mid-morning slump.



Of all the good habits we could take up, this has to be the simplest and nearly the cheapest one; but also the most neglected. Increasing your water intake will pay dividends in your skin, your weight and your general feeling of well-being.

It’s not always easy to tell when we are dehydrated if we are drinking sodas, coffee and other drinks throughout the day. And while yes, those drinks have water content, they are not hydrating to our body and are not fueling it properly. It’s easy to forget to drink water, but a reusable bottle can help us ensure we are getting enough of this required energy boost.


Isaac Newton said, “what goes up; must come down.” It is true for things affected by gravity, and it is also very true for our sugar levels. We often experience an immediate burst of energy after eating foods high in suger (if you find this typo, let us know in the comments), but the energy burst is fleeting, and a bigger slump usually follows. In addition to affecting our energy, it affects our mood as well. It is not unusual to find ourselves less patient and more irritable after eating poorly.


Eating smaller portions and more often throughout the day is a good way to keep our energy levels consistent and to sustain our metabolism. We need to learn to shop for good, nutritious snacks and keep them on hand. When we are prepared it is easy ward off a visit to the vending machine and choose to fuel our body more wisely.


There are certain foods that are proven to make us feel good. They are full of minerals and goodness, great for the immune system and other bodily functions. There is no secret to choosing foods that not only boost our energy but boost our moods too. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, nuts, and seeds are easily accessible and quick to prepare. Check back in with your food journal and choose the foods that boost your mood, because a better mood leads to better energy.


Now that we’ve made it through the day with more energy and feeling good, it’s time to end it properly to prepare us for a better tomorrow. Eat lighter at night and try to avoid snacking. While avoiding sugar throughout the day is wise, it is essential at nighttime because it can interfere with your sleep. And nothing boosts our energy like a good night’s sleep.

There they are, seven small and easy to implement habits that will feed the body, maintain consistent energy levels and help us to avoid those energy and mood zapping crashes that might otherwise plague our days.

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Chocolate: Health Benefits, Precautions

Happy National Chocolate day!

Next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel overly guilty about it.

Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of health benefits associated with this delicious treat.

Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. The earliest use of chocolate dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.

After the discovery of the Americas, chocolate became very popular in Europe, and its demand exploded.

Chocolate has since become an incredibly popular food product that millions indulge in everyday for its unique, rich, and sweet taste.

But what effects does eating chocolate have on our health?

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles about the health benefits of popular foods. It provides details on the possible health benefits of chocolate as well as some risks and precautions that you may want to be aware of. Included throughout are links to relevant studies and articles.

The potential health benefits of chocolate

Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

However, “the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in ageing, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.”

The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:

  • lowering cholesterol levels
  • preventing cognitive decline
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

It is important to note that the possible health benefits mentioned discuss one-off studies and more evidence is required before the links can be said to be conclusive.

Chocolate may lower cholesterol levels

Chocolate consumption may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition was carried out to determine whether chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) have any effect on cholesterol levels.3

The study authors wrote “results indicate that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF as part of a low-fat diet may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.”

dark chocolate


Chocolate may help prevent memory decline

Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people. The researchers said that hot chocolate can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain.4

The lead author, Farzaneh A. Sorond, said:

“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Chocolate may help reduce heart disease risk

Research published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has suggested that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one third. The report was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris, France.5

The authors concluded:

“Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption.”

Chocolate and stroke

Canadian scientists carried out a study involving 44,489 people and found that people eating chocolate were 22 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result.6

Risks and precautions for chocolate

Chocolate has a high calorie count, containing large amounts of sugar. Therefore, if you are trying to slim down or maintain your weight, it may be a good idea to set a limit on your chocolate consumption. The large amount of sugar in most chocolates can also be a cause of tooth decay.

In addition, there is research suggesting that chocolate may cause poor bone structure and osteoporosis.

One study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was carried out to identify the relationship between chocolate consumption and bone density in older women.8

The authors concluded that “older women who consume chocolate daily had lower bone density and strength”.

Further reading
If you enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of chocolate, take a look at our collection of articles about other foods.

Tuesday 29 September 2015      Joseph Nordqvist    Medical News Today

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Processed Meats Including Bacon Are Cancer Hazards, WHO Says

— and red meat probably is too


PARIS — It’s official: Bacon, ham, hot dogs and other processed meats can lead to colon, stomach and other cancers — and red meat is probably cancer-causing, too.

While doctors in rich countries have long warned against eating too much meat, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency gave the most definitive response yet on Monday about its relation to cancer — and put processed meats in the same danger category as smoking or asbestos.

The findings don’t say that a slice of salami is as dangerous as a cigarette, but they could weigh on public health policy and recommendations by medical groups amid a growing debate about how much meat is good for us. The meat industry protests the classification, arguing that cancer isn’t caused by a specific food but also involves lifestyle and environmental factors.

A group of 22 scientists from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France evaluated more than 800 studies from several continents about meat and cancer. The studies looked at more than a dozen types of cancer in populations with diverse diets over the past 20 years.

Based on that evaluation, the IARC classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans,” noting links in particular to colon cancer. It said red meat contains some important nutrients, but still labeled it “probably carcinogenic,” with links to colon, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher with the Institute of Food Research who is unconnected to the IARC findings, cautioned that the classification doesn’t reflect “the actual size of the risk,” but said meat consumption is one of many factors contributing to high rates of bowel cancer in the U.S., western Europe and Australia.

“The mechanism is poorly understood, and the effect is much smaller than, for example, that of cigarette smoking on the risk of lung cancer,” he said.

The cancer agency noted research by the Global Burden of Disease Project suggesting that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are linked to diets heavy in processed meat — compared with one million deaths a year linked to smoking, 600,000 a year to alcohol consumption and 200,000 a year to air pollution.

Red and processed meats

The agency said it did not have enough data to define how much processed meat is too dangerous, but said the risk grows with the amount consumed. Analysis of 10 of the studies suggested that a 50-gram portion of processed meat daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer over a lifetime by about 18 per cent.

In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance

Doctors have warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers, including those of the colon and pancreas. The American Cancer Society has long urged people to reduce consumption of red meat and processed meat.

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” Dr. Kurt Straif of the IARC said in a statement. “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

The North American Meat Institute argued in a statement that “cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods” and stressed the importance of lifestyle and environmental factors.

The researchers defined processed meat as anything transformed to improve its flavour or to preserve it, including sausages, canned meat, beef jerky and anything smoked. They defined red meat as “all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.”

The report said grilling, pan-frying or other high-temperature methods of cooking red meat produce the highest amounts of chemicals suspected to cause cancer.

Original source article:
Processed meats, including bacon (sorry!), are cancer hazards, WHO says — and red meat probably is too

similar reports:



4 Ways to Beat Stress, Lose Your Guilt, and Be Happier

Research-based strength training for your emotions.

Frustrated because you can’t get what you want? Has someone turned you down for a date, a work request, or just a favor? It can be annoying to be blocked from one of your goals. Fortunately, by applying some evidence-based tools of emotional strength training, you can turn down your stress meter and make the best of bad situations.

The cornerstone of emotional strength training is cognitive therapy, in which individuals seeking to overcome depression, anxiety, or problems in relationships build mental toughness by recognizing their triggers and then turning off the switch that might normally lead to a meltdown. One doesn’t need to have a diagnosable condition, however, in order to apply some of these basic principles to improve one’s ability to tolerate life’s setbacks and annoyances.

In cognitive therapy, individuals learn to read and change the dysfunctional inner patterns that lead to sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, and self-hatreds. They detect their automatic thoughts, the instantaneous—almost subconscious—assumptions that rattle around in their heads with no apparent rhyme or reason. When negative, these automatic thoughts take the form of simple phrases like, “nobody likes me,” or “I’m just so stupid.” Automatic thoughts sit there as primes that make you especially sensitive to situations in which others seem to slight you or in which you slip up in some insignificant way, such as forgetting what you were supposed to pick up at the grocery store after you get there.

Underneath the automatic thoughts are the time bombs of dysfunctional beliefs—the actual theories you have about your flaws and foibles. These beliefs might be that you are unlikeable or unlovable, that you’re incapable of doing anything without making a mistake, or that things in your life always have to go perfectly.

Cognitive theory proposes that these automatic thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs wreak havoc on our emotional life. If we didn’t have these negatively-tainted views of ourselves and our experiences, we’d feel a lot better. By changing these thoughts, then, so the theory goes, we can change our emotions.

In therapy, people work with their therapists so that a little bell goes off in their head when such automatic thoughts kick in (“What an idiot I am”). They use those automatic thoughts to drill down to the dysfunctional beliefs that give rise to them (“I must not make mistakes”). Often these thoughts are prompted by a given situation (you accidentally step on someone’s toe). Then you can get to work on changing the belief (everyone is clumsy at times) and the automatic thought will go away or change to something more adaptive (such as, “I was clumsy just now. I wish I hadn’t been, but it doesn’t mean that I’m clumsy all the time, or stupid”).

Even automatic thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs that don’t underlie depression or other conditions can still interfere with your emotional health. This is where the strength training comes into play. By becoming a clear thinker about situations that normally cause you stress, you can improve your everyday mood and self-esteem—and you can turn off your negative emotions no matter which buttons are pushed.

Here are 4 steps that will give you the tools you need to build your resilience:

1. Turn off your binocular vision.

Binoculars help us see the world in clearer detail, but they also make small things seem large. With emotional binocular vision, you look at situations in a way that makes them seem bigger and more threatening than they really are. Getting delayed in traffic by five minutes or running into bad weather that means you get drenched while running to catch a bus can be aggravating. In binocular vision, you see these ordinary daily problems as huge and insurmountable: You’re going to be late on a day you had a lot to get done or your freshly-done hair is ruined. Horrible, right? Turning off binocular vision means that you use your internal listening skills. You’ll hear a thought like, “If I’m late, people will think I’m a slacker,” a thought tied to the belief that you are a slacker. Once you can convince yourself that you are a hard worker, and that others realize you’re a hard worker, the delay will be an inconvenience but not a condemnation of your character. The situation will shrink before your eyes from the worst thing that could happen, and its magnitude will not overwhelm your mood.

2. Recolor your view of the world.

You know the expression, “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses,” the frame of mind that describes an eternal optimist. There are many health and wellbeing advantages to being an optimist. However, optimists aren’t always perfectly adapted to the stresses of the world, either. You may not have the psychological make-up to become an optimist, or at least not do become one overnight, but you can brighten your view of life events so that you’re not always viewing situations in the most negative possible way.

In coping with stress, people can either try to change the situation or their view of it. With situations that can be changed, your coping will be more effective if you actually do something to make the problem go away (“problem-focused coping”). With situations that are immutable, you’re better off changing something within yourself (“emotion-focused coping”).

Let’s say that you’re getting dinner ready for important guests (or one important one). You’re preparing the main dish and realize that you forgot to buy a key ingredient. Frantically, you look around the kitchen but realize that you have nothing at all to substitute for it. You could theoretically run to the store but if you’re running short of time, that’s not an option. How terrible! Your guests will think you’re a terrible host and they’ll never want to see you again! The automatic thoughts just won’t stop and the little problem now becomes the worst possible thing that could happen (that’s binocular vision again).

You can’t actually change the situation so you’re next option is to change the way you view it. Start with some problem-focused coping: Calm yourself down and start to look at what you can realistically do. Perhaps you should go online and see if there are alternative recipes or substitutions you hadn’t considered. And, guess what, there’s another recipe almost like the first one. You plunge ahead with the alternative dish and everyone loves it. It may even be better than what you originally planned.

By taking the opposite, optimistic, takeaway message from such incidents, you can come to appreciate that situations need not conform to your original plans in order to be successful. The change of mindset benefits you.



3. Eliminate black-or-white thinking.

One of the primary cognitive errors that cause people excessive misery or anxiety is seeing the world in distinct terms: A situation is all bad, or all good. Most situations in life involve gradations in between these extremes. A great event may still have a few unfortunate implications, but building your emotional skills requires that you allow those situations to occur.

Consider an event that’s been months in the planning, like a family reunion, vacation, or business meeting. All is going well but then, out of nowhere, two people get into an argument and the mood is soured. After a while, though, the combatants retreat, and all is back to normal. Now, you could think, “This whole event was a disaster! I wanted it to be perfect, and now it’s all for nothing!” Or, you could adopt a shade-of-gray approach and say that the event still went 90% well. Recognizing that the automatic thought, “I have to be perfect,” is caused by the dysfunctional belief that if you’re not perfect, you’re no good, will help you accept life’s imperfections without being demolished by the occasional snafu.

The all-or-nothing approach can also create problems when you engage in the related cognitive problem of fortune-telling on insufficient evidence. In this situation, you start to imagine a future event that hasn’t yet happened and assume that it will turn out badly: “I’d like to go to the party, but I’m sure no one will talk to me. I might as well stay home.” You have no real reason for anticipating this unfortunate outcome. It may stem from your automatic thought, “No one likes me,” which itself stems from the dysfunctional belief, “If everyone doesn’t like me, I’m no good as a person.” With no other data generated by your mind, you draw an inaccurate inference and make yourself miserable in the process.

Instead of making such mood-altering predictions, enter into a feared situation with an open mind instead. If you allow yourself to monitor situations objectively—without assuming that you’re flawed, deficient, etc.—you may be pleasantly surprised by outcomes that validate your self-worth. Combine this with the notion that things aren’t always 100% good or bad, and you’ll be on your way to building reserves that will protect you from unnecessary disappointment.

4. Avoid the blame game.

We all play the blame game now and then, accusing others when it was our own behavior that caused a negative outcome. In emotional strength training, you take responsibility for your actions. If something goes wrong that is your fault (not one that you just imagine to be your fault), you accept the fact without cringing. You own your behavior rather than foist the problem’s cause onto someone else. As a result, people will like you more, not less. They will appreciate your honesty, maturity, and openness to negative information about yourself.

Of course, for the anti-blame game to work, you need to avoid blaming yourself for something you didn’t do. Taking too much responsibility for events going wrong can lead you to endless bouts of self-doubt, making you more likely to predict unfortunate outcomes, see the world through dark-colored glasses, and take an all-or-nothing approach to life’s gray-colored events.

Even thinking in terms of “blame” can create problems: Why must someone be blamed? Why not attribute negative outcomes to the causes that often are the real source of the problem? Perhaps you offered to take your friends out for a weekend afternoon foray to the par or the mall. A tree branch from a truck falls in front of your car, and though you try to avoid it, you get a flat tire. Now you all have to wait for a repair person to rescue you. Where’s the blame to assign? Is it your fault because it was you who invited them, decided to drive, and couldn’t avoid the branch without swerving into another car? No, it was nothing you caused.

Research on cognitive therapy shows that people who become more competent in the skills they develop in cognitive therapy are better able to resist succumbing to experimental manipulations of negative moods (Strunk et al., 2013). The results can produce a lifetime of lighter moods.

Strunk, D. R., Adler, A. D., & Hollars, S. N. (2013). Cognitive therapy skills predict cognitive reactivity to sad mood following cognitive therapy for depression. Cognitive Therapy And Research, doi:10.1007/s10608-013-9570-z

Jul 30, 2013

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2013 

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What to Do If Someone Is Having a Heart Attack: Must-Know First Aid

If you think someone is having a heart attack, taking action immediately can save their life.
Here, heart attack symptoms to look for and what to do next.

by Reader’s Digest Editors

A heart attack is caused by an obstruction of the blood supply to the heart muscle (usually by a clot in the coronary blood vessels). The outcome depends on how much of the muscle is affected and how quickly help can be given. If you think someone is having a heart attack, always call for help rather than waiting to see if the symptoms subside.

A patient is three times more likely to survive if he receives advanced medical help within an hour of having a heart attack.

Heart Attack Symptoms

These are the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack. A patient will experience some, but not necessarily all. If the pain subsides with rest, it could be angina (see below).

  • Suddenly feels faint or dizzy
  • Severe chest pain (persistent and vice-like, spreading up to the jaw and down one or both arms) that does not subside when the patient rests
  • Discomfort high in the abdomen (may feel like severe indigestion)
  • Breathlessness (patient may be gasping for air)
  • Fear (feels an impending sense of doom)
  • Pale, gray, clammy, or sweaty skin
  • Rapid, weak, and irregular pulse
  • Collapses, often without warning
  • Possible loss of conciousness

For a Conscious Patient

1. Ease strain on heart. Make the patient as comfortable as possible, in a half-sitting position, with his head and shoulders well supported and knees bent to ease strain on the heart. Loosen clothing at the neck, chest, and waist.

2. Call for emergency help. Keep bystanders away from the patient.

3. Give angina medication. If the patient has medication for angina, help him to take it. Keep him calm and encourage him to rest.

4. Give aspirin. If the patient is fully conscious, give him a full-dose (300 mg) aspirin tablet. Tell him to chew it slowly so that it dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly when it reaches the stomach. Aspirin helps to break down blood clots, minimizing muscle damage during a heart attack.

5. Monitor patient. Regularly check and make a note of consciousness, breathing, and pulse.



For an Unconscious Patient

1. Open airway. Check for breathing and be prepared to begin CPR.

2. Send for AED. Ask someone to bring an AED (automated external defibrillator), if possible, while you treat the patient. AEDs deliver a shock to correct an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, which is the cause of some heart attacks. The machines are found in most public places, such as shopping centers and train stations.

3. Operate the AED. An AED is simple to use. Attach the pads as indicated on the machine; then the machine will talk the operator through the process. An AED will only deliver a shock if the patient’s condition indicates that it is necessary. If you have attached an AED to a patient, leave the machine switched on at all times and leave the pads attached, even if the patient recovers.

What Next?

Wait for the emergency medical technicians. The earlier a person receives advanced medical help, the greater the chances of survival.

A diagnosis will be confirmed at the hospital with an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood tests. Advanced care may include a stay in the intensive care unit and treatment with drugs or even surgery. The aim is to minimize pain, restore the blood supply to the damaged heart muscle, and prevent complications.

If It’s Angina

If the pain subsides after the person rests for a few minutes, it is likely that it is an angina attack. This is a long-term condition in which the coronary (heart) arteries are narrowed, so that the heart muscle cannot get enough blood to meet its demands. Someone diagnosed with angina will have medication to use in case of an attack.

1. Reassure. Keep the patient calm; sit her down.

2. Assist with medication. Help the patient find her medication (usually a tablet or spray). If necessary, help her take it. If a patient has no medication at hand, call for emergency help immediately. Treat as described above.

3. Keep watch. The attack should ease within a few minutes. If the pain does not ease or the person has no medication, treat as a heart attack.

from Reader’s Digest Quintessential Guide to Handling Emergencies (Reader’s Digest Association Books)
source: www.rd.com