Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

20 Ways To Be A Happier Person

20 Ways To Be A Happier Person In 2020, According To Therapists
If you’re going to make a resolution for the new year, it may as well be improving your mental health.

Looking to make 2020 your happiest, most fulfilling year yet?

If your mental and emotional wellness took a backseat in 2019, there’s no better time than right now to prioritize it. (If anything, it’ll make the election year just mildly more bearable.) Your mood affects everything in your life ― your relationships, your work, your self-care ― so improving it should be at the top of your goal list.

That might feel like a huge and lofty task, but small, actionable habits can help you get there, according to experts. Below are the most common happiness tips therapists recommend. Maybe they’ll sound challenging or unrealistic (more on that later), but maybe they just might change your life.

1. Conquer one anxiety

Give yourself a motivational benchmark to start conquering your biggest fears this year.

“Single out the goal of selecting an anxiety that is holding you back, and thoroughly commit yourself to obliterating that fear,” said Forrest Talley, a clinical psychologist. “Hold nothing back in your assault; treat that fear as though it is enemy number one.”

Perhaps you’ve been worried about signing up for a half marathon. Maybe you’re afraid to reach out to book agents because you don’t want to be rejected. Perhaps you’re fearful of having a difficult conversation with a toxic friend or family member and you’re putting it off. Set the goal, pick a reward you’ll get when you complete it, then get to it.

“The thing to keep in mind is that very often happiness is found just on the other side of a doorway guarded by our anxieties,” Talley said. “And the new year is a great time to start kicking down some doors.”

2. Lock down a sleep schedule that works for you

You may think you’re doing OK on sleep, but take a closer look at your schedule. Are you really getting optimal hours? Are you maintaining relatively the same bed time every night?

“Getting a [consistent] good night’s sleep is vital; chronic sleep deprivation is a huge problem, especially for those who work late or are extremely busy,” said Joanna Konstantopoulou, a psychologist and founder of the Health Psychology Clinic. “It’s not just the 40-hour marathons without sleep which can be detrimental to your psychological health, but simply losing an hour or two on a regular basis can have a significant impact on your mind and well-being.”

That last bit is important. If you’re constantly shaving off an hour here or there ― thinking you can get by on five hours a night ― it’s time to reevaluate that sleep schedule.

“Start with small steps by giving yourself a sensible and realistic bedtime,” Konstantopoulou said. “Try to go to bed half an hour before your usual bedtime and stick to it. Evaluate this new habit every day by having a journal and writing down your progress.”

She noted that this new routine will improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and “transport toxins out of the brain” to potentially prevent chronic illnesses.

3. Find one small self-care act that works for you and prioritize it

Pick a you-centric activity and engage in it regularly, said Elena Touroni, co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

“The most impactful mental health goal a person can set is the commitment to balance workload and responsibilities alongside activities that bring them a sense of well-being and enjoyment,” she said. “When there is an imbalance in what we’re giving out to the world, and what we’re taking for ourselves, that’s when our psychological resources get depleted.”

Her suggestions to get you started? Try beginning each day with a five-minute mindfulness meditation session. Want to go further? “Go to therapy to unravel a lifelong pattern, get a personal trainer, or make time for reading,” she said. “This commitment can be broken down into specific and concrete goals, depending on your personal preferences, but it all comes down to making self-care a priority.”

4. Spend 10 minutes a day outside

Go for a walk during your lunch break, spend a few minutes drinking your morning coffee outside or pick up running. It doesn’t even have to be for a long period of time.

“This year, resolve to spend less time inside and more time outdoors in natural settings,” said Michael Brodsky, a psychiatrist. “Research in multiple countries show that spending time in green spaces can lift your mood and relieve anxiety in as little as 10 minutes.”

5. Regularly practice a simple mindfulness exercise

“Many of us spend our days worrying about the future or ruminating about the past, thus, missing a great deal of what is happening in the here-and-now,” said Anna Prudovski, the clinical director of Turning Point Psychological Services.

Making an effort to be more present “increases the sense of well-being, promotes vitality, heightens our awareness, helps train our attention, improves the quality of our work, and enhances interpersonal relationships,” she said. Sounds pretty nice, right? “Be more present” can feel a little vague, so here’s how you can get started:

Each day, spend five minutes noticing your surroundings and how you feel. Do this by naming five things you see, four things you can physically feel, three different sounds you hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It’s OK if you point out something far away from you. Then take a second to label how you’re feeling in the moment (like, “I’m frustrated,” “I’m bored,” or “I’m excited”). This is known as a grounding exercise, which experts say helps with anxiety.

6. Say nice things about yourself

Roseann Capanna-Hodge, pediatric mental health expert and psychologist, suggested an adjustment to your everyday vocabulary, both in your thoughts and out loud.

“Instead of always focusing on the negative, flip your dialogue to only positive outcomes. For example, instead of saying, ‘If I get that job,’ switch it to, ‘When I get that job.’ Those subtle changes in using positive language helps to change your mindset to a glass half full instead of a glass half empty.”

You can also increase your positive thoughts by stating one thing you like about yourself when you look in the mirror each morning. Cheesy, but worth a shot.

7. Give up or cut back on one unhealthy habit

We know when things are bad for us, which can cause stress. You can curb that by reducing them or giving them up entirely, said Sarah C. McEwen, a cognitive psychologist. Think activities like high alcohol consumption or excessive caffeine consumption.

Getting those things in check “will all help to manage stress levels,” McEwen said.

8. Find a physical activity you love

“Exercise plays a large role in mental health,” said physician Jena Sussex-Pizula. “While studies are ongoing, a review article found consistent beneficial effects of exercise on depressive symptoms across multiple studies.”

How often? McEwen suggests 30 minutes a day if you can. “This [amount] has been shown to produce the most benefit for improving mood and reducing stress levels,” she said.

The most important part is finding something you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s pilates, martial arts, spinning, running, dancing or lifting weights ― just make sure the activity is something that excites you.

9. Try meditation

Haven’t jumped on the bandwagon just yet? Now is as good a time as ever. McEwen suggests meditation for those who want to improve their level of stress resilience.

“A mindfulness meditation practice will have a tremendous positive effect longterm,” she said. “I recommend allocating at least 30 minutes daily, which can be divided into morning and evening.”

Feeling intimidated by the concept? McEwen suggested trying a local class or an app like Headspace, Waking Up or Insight Timer.

“Research has shown that the regular practice of meditation can actually improve your health because it lowers the negative effects of not only high cortisol, but also high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” she said. “Other great benefits of regular meditation include mental clarity and focus, improvement of memory and overall higher level of mental performance.”

10. Stop negative thoughts in their tracks

“Our thoughts are not always reality,” said Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist and author of ”Stop Self Sabotage.” “And we need to get into the routine of challenging them and changing our relationships to our thoughts.”

You can do this by asking yourself a simple question when you’re beating yourself up. Next time you have a negative thought, ask yourself: Does this completely and accurately capture what’s going on?”

Ho said from there, you can transform the thought using one of two tactics. One is called “yes, but” and one is called “labeling.”

“‘Yes, but’ involves recognizing a not so great thing, and [adding] something that is positive or shows progress,” she said. “Example: I did eat three cupcakes while trying to cut down on sugar, but I have been doing a great job with healthy eating and can start fresh tomorrow.”

And as for labeling, try mentally recognizing or acknowledging that the thought you’re having is toxic. According to Ho, this “takes the wind out of the sails of a negative thought and reminds you that a thought is just a mental event, and nothing more.”

11. Invest in a quality relationship

“If you want to have good long-term mental and physical health, you need to first see if you have meaningful, loving relationships,” said clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland. “Who knows you better than anyone and who do you know better than anyone? Have you invested in that relationship by staying in touch and talking on the phone (not just texting)? And when was the last time you got together?”

Gilliland suggests picking one person close to you this year, and planning to spend quality time together.

“If we’re not careful, we will end up giving our best in places that aren’t good for our mental health,” he said. “Study after study finds that loving meaningful relationships are good for our mental and physical health.”

12. Read self-development books

“Read at least one book on someone you admire, and how they have dealt with the struggles in their life,” Gilliland said. “There are a lot of ways to learn about your mental health, from therapy to self-help to the lives of other people.”

You can pick up many tips and find a lot of inspiration in these motivational books, whether they’re memoirs or expert-backed advice. Need a specific suggestion?

“I have so enjoyed Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography and recent album ‘Western Stars’ where he talks about his struggle with depression and family issues,” Gilliland said. “It’s powerful and encouraging … You can’t help but see yourself in some of his stories, he can paint with words like very few people can. It’s a wonderful way to learn about your mental health without feeling like its work.”

13. Cut back on your social media use

So often we view people’s highlight reels on social media. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy in our own lives, according to experts. And given that research shows spending too much time online is linked to poor mental health, now’s the perfect time to cut back.

“External validation is temporary; it’s difficult to maintain the pressure to chase ‘likes,’” said therapist Jennifer Musselman. “Build your self esteem from competence of something important to you, and by being of service to others.”

14. Set better boundaries

Did you find yourself feeling chronically overwhelmed and stretched thin in 2019? Time to reel that in and make more space for you by setting boundaries.

“This one is more important than people realize, and they have way more control than they realize,” Gilliland said. “If you don’t want to go, then don’t go!”

Consider: Is it something you think you “should” do? If so, then why? In the words of a popular therapist joke, stop should-ing yourself. Set those boundaries to thrive in 2020.

15. Make a progress list each week

Expecting perfection guarantees you’ll feel like a failure at least part of the time, and can lead to serious anxiety.

“Learn the art of progress, not perfection,” Musselman said. “We are setting ourselves up for failure from the get-go [when we expect] to ‘have it all’ perfectly balanced. In other words, we will always feel like we are failing.”

From “doing it all” as a mom to building your entrepreneurial business to perfecting your talent, it’s time to let go of that expectation that things are always going to be perfect. Instead, try writing down the incremental improvements you made each week. Celebrate small successes that eventually will lead to big ones.

17. Get a therapist if you’re able to do it

If you were trying to get in physical shape and had no idea where to start, you might turn to a coach or personal trainer. Mental health works the same way.

There are so, so many benefits to seeing a therapist. And there are affordable options, too: Attend group therapy at a local mental health center, seek free options in your community, opt for a sliding-scale psychologist, find a provider through your health insurance or try an app like Talkspace to get started.

“Getting a therapist in 2020 would be a good goal if you need a therapist and have been putting it off,” Talley said.

18. Write in a gratitude journal

Practicing gratitude “is so essential for a full and happy life,” Talley said.

Instead of allowing your brain to go to a place of anxiety and stress, Talley says to arm yourself with grateful thoughts. Writing them down helps.

“If you wake up and focus on that which you have to be grateful for, your brain becomes better at finding even more [gratitude],” Talley said.

19. Turn your phone off

It’s been shown in many studies that too much tech time can negatively impact mental health.

Become less available via text and email so you don’t feel emotionally tethered to your phone, and spend more time off your devices. Opt for screen-free activities ― especially at night ― that help you disconnect from certain social and work stressors.

“While it’s unclear if sedentary screen time is a marker for or risk factor for depression (as all that has been shown is a correlation), there appears to be a consistent association of increased screen time in patients with depression and anxiety,” Sussex-Pizula said.

20. Reduce food shame and stress through mindful eating

Have thoughts around food, calories, dieting, etc. been weighing on you in 2019? Lisa Hayim, a registered dietitian and founder of food therapy program Fork The Noise, said it’s time to kick this to the curb.

“When we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or even unsure of what to eat or how much, our stress hormones begin to fire,” she said. “Our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, and we’re no longer making empowered decisions.”

Does this sound like you? Are you constantly thinking about what a food choice might “do” to your body?

“Breathe. Your body knows what it wants and how much it wants, when it wants it,” she said. Listening to it is called intuitive or mindful eating: enjoying whatever you want and taking cues from your body when it’s hungry and full.

“Decreasing stress around food choices is not just good for the body, it’s good for the mind and the soul,” Hayim said.

 

By Dominique Astorino   12/30/2019
wellness@huffpost.com.
happiness-comes-from-within-and-is-found-in-the-present-moment-by-making-peace-with-the-past-and-looking-forward-to-the-future

 

6 Things To Let Go Of
If You Want To Be A Tiny Bit Happier This Year

Examining the toxic thoughts and behaviors that you should kick to the curb and advice on how to do it.

Most people kick off January by creating resolutions that drastically aim to add healthy habits to their daily lives (which doesn’t always work, by the way ― and that’s OK). But sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to let some things go instead.

“The new year offers a fresh opportunity, while the weight of the past keeps us in a place of inaction,” said Olecia Christie, a certified life coach and owner of Optix Communications in San Antonio, noting that it’s important to discern when to release the things that no longer serve our own growth and happiness.

With that in mind, here are a few things you should consider leaving behind in the new year, according to Christie and other experts:

Comparing your life to others’ on Instagram

In this era of social media, it always appears that everyone is living their best life — that is, everyone except you. Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist at The Zinnia Practice in California, said you should remember that social media is a highlight reel. Comparing your daily life to a single picture capturing a perfect moment isn’t the best use of your time.

Instead, Osibodu-Onyali suggested engaging with the people you admire in 2020.

“Rather than spending so many hours per week scrolling mindlessly, begin to actually connect with people you admire on social media. Send them a DM, ask for advice, seek out actual mentorship,” she said. “You’ll be surprised how many new friends you will acquire just by reaching out, rather than being a jealous onlooker.”

Letting fear hold you back from something you want to do

Anthony Freire, the clinical director and founder of The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in New York, said in order to release fear, shame and guilt, you must first “shine a spotlight” on them.

“On your deathbed, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not having completed your bucket list for any reason, but especially because of feelings like guilt, fear and shame — which are only problematic feelings because you’ve told yourself that you should feel that way,” he said.

Worrying about things you cannot control

It’s unrealistic to suggest giving up worry or stress entirely ― these feelings are a normal part of life. Instead, try to focus just on the worries you can take action on.

“Focus your thoughts on things you can change. When you have a list of worry thoughts, write out what you can change and what you can’t. Work on the situation that you can change, and just release the rest. It takes a lot of time and practice to learn this skill, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you’ll worry less,” Osibodu-Onyali explained.

For some, this is easier said than done. If you find that you’re unable to manage your excessive worrying ― especially over things out of your control ― it might be worth seeking advice from a professional. This could be a sign of an anxiety disorder, which is a very real and common condition.

Old grudges or grievances

Research shows holding onto a grudge or anger for longer than necessary can be toxic for your physical and mental health. Right now is the perfect opportunity to work on letting go of some old baggage “by either working on repairing strained relationships or closing the chapter on relationships that cannot be salvaged,” Osibodu-Onyali said.

This doesn’t apply to people who have severely damaged or hurt you, but could be useful for someone you’ve grown distant with or just no longer envision as a healthy part of your life. You can either choose to move forward or let go.

“Although saying goodbye to a relationship can be tough, the closure can be very freeing,” Osibodu-Onyali said.

What other people think of you

There’s a saying that goes “what other people think of you is none of your business.” It’s important to know what your values are and to be grounded in them, so that you’re not swayed by the thoughts of others. Osibodu-Onyali said she often challenges her clients by asking: “So what if they don’t like you? What happens next?” She said more often than not, the answer is usually “nothing.”

“The truth is that the world doesn’t end and you don’t have to be liked by everyone,” she said. “Stick to your core group of supporters who truly love and respect you, and don’t spend time worrying about the people who don’t quite get you. If they don’t get you, that’s OK. You can’t be a part of every group.”

The need to be right in every conflict

We’ve all strived to win arguments; however, that can cause more stress than it’s worth. Freire said letting go of the need to win “takes up enormous energy because people tend to want to be right.”

“How many times do we fight with someone and we’re simply fighting to be right?” he said. “We say things we can’t take back and later we apologize and think to ourselves ‘I overreacted’ or ‘We fought over something so stupid.’ Sometimes we don’t even remember why we were fighting to begin with. Sometimes trivial things we get stuck on are just smaller manifestations of larger underlying issues.”

These kinds of interactions can often lead to “negative self-talk and anxiety as [we] overanalyze the situation and stress about the impact of the interaction,” according to Elise Hall, a licensed and independent clinical social worker in Massachusetts.

Instead, try looking at a fight as a problem to be solved (experts say there’s one phrase that can easily help you do this with a partner). This can help you let go of the need to be right and put your focus on a solution.

This all might be challenging, but it could be worth it to increase your joy — even just by a fraction.

By Stephanie Barnes      01/02/2020


Leave a comment

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Self-Sabotage and How to Stop

Faulty thinking and fear of failure play a part.

It’s easy to sabotage yourself when you’re trying to meet an important goal, like developing healthier habits, getting assignments done on time, saving money, managing weight, or building healthy relationships. Self-sabotage isn’t just one thing — it can have many causes — but the end result is that you get off track, mess up relationships, don’t get things done, or don’t perform as well as you would like. All of this can lead to feeling bad about yourself and expecting to fail, which leads to more self-sabotage to avoid facing failure head-on, which perpetuates the cycle.

Below are some of the ways in which you may sabotage yourself and suggestions for what to do instead. My colleague and fellow Psychology Today blogger Alice Boyes has an excellent new book out called The Healthy Mind Toolkit, which provides simple, practical psychological tools to help you stop self-sabotaging and develop healthy habits and attitudes instead.

Why do you sabotage yourself?

There are many reasons for self-sabotage, but three of the most important ones involve your thinking patterns, fears you may have in intimate relationships, and the tendency to avoid things that are difficult or uncomfortable. Read on to find out more.

1. Faulty thinking

Our human brains tend to be wired to cling to the familiar, to overestimate risk, and to avoid trying new approaches. This tendency, known as the familiarity heuristic, leads us to overvalue the things we know and undervalue things that are unfamiliar. And when we are under stress, we tend to rely on the familiarity heuristic even more. When our brains are tired, we resort to old habits and ways of doing things, even if they don’t work well. We are drawn to go with the familiar, even when a different option offers a clear advantage.

In one study, researchers asked subjects to do a complicated word puzzle. One group performed under time pressure, while the other was told to take as much time as they needed. After the puzzle was done, subjects were told they had to do another puzzle, but were given a choice between a longer puzzle invented by the same person who designed the first puzzle or a short puzzle designed by somebody they did not know. The group who performed under more stressful conditions (time pressure) were more likely to choose the longer puzzle, even though this would put them at a disadvantage. It’s as if their brains got confused trying to compare the advantages of length versus familiarity, and so they resorted to the “familiarity heuristic.”

It’s not always easy to tell when your brain is relying on a heuristic. Try to make important decisions when you’re not stressed and to consider the pros and cons of each choice, rather than just going with something that intuitively sounds like the best choice (but may not be).

2. Fear of intimacy or fear of rejection

We all know people who sabotage relationships when they reach a certain level of intimacy. Some people cheat, others pick fights or get controlling to push the person away, still others reveal all their insecurities or become too needy and clingy. These are all unconscious ways in which our brains fear getting trapped or rejected if we get too close. Many of these patterns are based on childhood relationships with caregivers. If you have “insecure attachment,” you may unconsciously fear repeating the past. Perhaps your parent was rejecting or neglectful, critical, inconsistent, or you had to be the “parentified child.” Parts of our brains remember this pain and begin to act in adult relationships as if we are with our parent (or perhaps do the complete opposite in an extreme way, which gets us into trouble as well).

If your fear of intimacy or rejection is strong, it is better to mindfully allow your insecure or fearful feelings to be there, while actively working to find healthy, mature ways of talking about them, rather than running away or pushing people away. You need to remind yourself that you are an adult now and have a much greater capacity to tolerate stress and rejection and to take care of yourself than you did as a child. Also remind yourself of what you have to gain by staying engaged. Try to be more self-aware and to notice the effects of your behavior patterns on your relationship happiness.

success

3. Procrastination and avoidance

A third way you may self-sabotage is by not dealing with problems until they get so big that you are forced to deal with them. Or not being able to discipline yourself to get work done on time. There are several potential reasons for procrastinating and avoiding. You may never have learned the skills to break tasks up into smaller pieces, or you may be too tired to plan out a schedule for doing the work. Alternatively, you may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task or feel like an imposter who doesn’t have what it takes to succeed. Self-sabotaging by not getting started, staying up too late, or going out with friends or watching television instead of working is a very common pattern. In the short term, you manage to avoid the discomfort of an anxiety-provoking or boring and unrewarding task. But in the long term, the things you’ve put off come back to bite you.

You may also procrastinate and avoid because you are perfectionistic, overthink things, or can’t decide where to begin. All of these tendencies tend to have an anxiety component. You can counteract them by giving yourself a time limit to choose or by allowing yourself to make an imperfect choice. It helps to see yourself as being able to learn from experience and improve over time. This is what researcher Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset makes the possibility of failure less scary, whereas if you see your abilities as fixed, you are more likely to avoid performance situations or sabotage  yourself so your weaknesses won’t be clearly exposed.

Procrastination and avoidance (as well as addictive behavior) can also be ways of not taking responsibility for your actions. These behaviors allow you to blame outside factors, like not having enough time, if you do poorly, rather than admitting your role in not using your time well. Some of us fear success, because we shun the limelight or fear that others will expect more from us than we can deliver. But rather than facing this fear head-on, we tend to set ourselves up for failure instead.

Take-Home Message

When it comes to self-sabotage, one size doesn’t fit all. You may be too tired and stressed to think through complex choices and instead rely on easy (but inaccurate) heuristics. You may sabotage relationships, because you fear closeness and intimacy or fear rejection. Or you may procrastinate and avoid, because you fear failure or lack planning and time management skills. The solution differs depending on the area of self-sabotage. Getting enough rest and not taking on too much can help you think more clearly and make better choices. Understanding the roots of your fears of intimacy and rejection and taking small steps towards more closeness can help in the relationship arena. And taking more responsibility for planning and motivating yourself and adopting a growth mindset can help with procrastination at work.

References
Boyes, Alice (2018). The Healthy Mind Toolkit. TarcherPerigree

Jun 11, 2018

Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • You have a 96% chance of surviving a plane crash.

  • Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup.

  • Crying is good for your health, flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.

  • Adding salt to pineapple will actually cause it to taste sweeter.

~Happy Friday!~
source: @faccccct 


Leave a comment

How Trying Something Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Pull You Out of a Mental Rut

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

Have you ever come to a crossroad in your life?

You know something needs to change, but you have more than one option—and it feels like there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the right choice.

That was me a few months ago.

I was stressed, overworked, and in what you would probably call a rut. Fatigued and struggling to get things done, I initially thought that all I needed was a break. But I soon realized that that wasn’t the case.

What had happened was that being tired had driven me to get stuck in a messy cycle of negative thoughts, and every time I tried to untangle little problems, things seemed to get worse.

Everyone around me was telling me to take a rest. But intuitively, I didn’t think a rest was what I needed. I’m generally a confident guy, but if you spend enough time in your own head, doubt will always begin to plant its seeds.

What I needed wasn’t a break—it was a confidence boost.

So what was my cure for the escalating stress?

What was my grand plan to beat this anxiety?

I thought I’d try stand-up comedy.

Yep. I thought I would do one of the most stressful things most people can imagine. I would get up in front of a crowd and try to make them laugh. So I did.

In the lead up to the night of my set, all the anxiety that I had been feeling was amplified.

As I sat behind the curtain waiting to go on stage, my palms sweaty, leg tapping furiously, I tried to breathe slowly to calm myself down, but my thoughts raced so quickly I couldn’t even make them out. Why was I doing this? Should I just get up and leave right now? Who would knowingly put themselves through something like this?

It was too late. My name was called, I stood up, opened the curtain, and….

It actually went really well.

Don’t get me wrong. It was every bit as scary as I expected, but as I predicted, it shook my brain up enough to break free of the mental rut I was in.

And while it didn’t solve everything overnight, it did set off a chain reaction of renewed attitudes and choices, which left me with more energy, vitality, and positivity than I had had for months.

So without further ado,
here are five ways pushing your comfort zone can pull you out of a mental rut

1. It gives you a reference experience for future challenges.

When it’s been a long time since you really pushed yourself, a new challenge can seem incredibly daunting. Your first response is usually “How on earth am I going to do that?”

If, on the other hand, you’ve done something difficult relatively recently, your brain will immediately look to that reference experience as an example.

Since the night of the comedy, I’ve been fortunate to achieve quite a lot in a short amount of time. That’s because every time I face a difficult task, I try to think, “Well, could be hard, but if I could do stand-up comedy, I can definitely do this.”

2. It makes you feel alive again.

A mental rut will depress your emotions and that means you will feel less of the good stuff. The longer this goes on, the easier it is for your body to forget what vitality feels like.

By having a huge rush of neurochemicals like adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, you immediately remember just how great it can feel to be alive.

3. It can redefine your self-image.

After having spent some time in a mental rut, I started to lose confidence. When I thought about who I was and what I was capable of, I started to constantly reflect on what I hadn’t been able to achieve.

However, when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I started to again think of myself as the person who could do difficult things.

Our self-image is such a vague and always changing idea in our minds, but it is one that unavoidably has a big impact on our lives. By doing things that allow you to have a positive self-image, you gather the momentum to pull yourself out of tough times.

4. It will inspire others.

Inspiring other people around you, by pushing your comfort zone, has a number of benefits.

For one, it will change how they perceive you and how they act toward you, and in doing so alter the perception that you have of yourself.

But maybe even more importantly, inspiring people around you can encourage them to push their own comfort zones, and their actions will in turn inspire you. When you spend more and more time around people who are helping each other grow, you’ll all benefit from each other’s positivity, and the boundaries of what you believe is possible will expand.

5. It reminds you that emotions will come and go.

For the last few years, I’ve made a big effort to try and embrace one of the fundamental truths in both eastern spirituality and western psychology: that emotions will come and go; they are just experiences and do not define you.

But I’m only human. So like everyone else I’m constantly forgetting and re-remembering of this truth. Sometimes it’s as simple as noticing the differences in your mood change between morning and evening, and sometimes it’s more profound, such as doing something you never thought possible.

So what does this mean about you?

If you’re going through a mental rut or even a period of depression, and you don’t think it’s simply a matter of needing a rest, try doing something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

I’ve heard of countless experiences of someone doing something new, whether it be surfing, jumping out of a plane, or even traveling to a new place, and it’s completely changed their situation. If you decide to do so, at the very least you’ll have a wonderful new experience to refer to.

Remember that if you’re in a mental rut, you’re not alone. Everyone goes through it at one stage or another, and reaching out to others is important.


Leave a comment

Why Your Phone And The ‘fear Of Missing Out’ May Negatively Impact Your Mental Health

Electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, are a necessity of day-to-day life; but that reliance on devices may be taking a toll on Canadians’ mental health.

A new survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests, on average, Ontario adults spend more than 11 hours per week using social media or communicating via email, and nearly four hours per week playing screen-based games. That’s 15 hours a week not including the amount of time spent on devices at work or in school.

CAMH’s study suggested nearly one in five respondents between the ages of 18 to 29 showed signs of reliance on electronic devices, based on questions like, “Have you missed school, work or important social activities because of your use of devices?”

Overall, seven per cent of those surveyed had a problematic relationship with devices, according to the survey. Of those, 24 per cent said they had tried to cut back on their use and 14 per cent reported family members expressing concern about the amount of time they spent on their device.

Ten per cent reported feeling an “irresistible urge or uncontrollable need” to use their devices and seven per cent had experienced anxiety that could only be relieved by using a device.

“It’s clear that, for most of us, our use of electronic devices has skyrocketed over the past five to 10 years,” said Dr. Nigel Turner, scientist at CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, in a press release.

“While our understanding of problematic use is evolving, we know that some people do end up harming their career or educational opportunities by excessive use.”

How to cut down on your device use and improve your mental health

When Canadians talk about limiting screen time, the conversation usually revolves around children – but experts say it’s equally important for adults to consider putting tech restrictions on themselves for the sake of their mental health.

“Technology prompts us to respond – those beeps and buzzes gets our dopamine flowing,” Lisa Pont, therapist and educator with CAMH. “The fear of missing out is huge.”

family tech phones computer

As Pont points out, all of those text messages, Facebook Likes and Instagram notifications lighting up our devices provide us with a hit of dopamine – which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centre. This often leads to people constantly being tuned in to their devices.

“There is this expectation of people in our lives to be immediately responsive because everyone knows you have your smartphone on you,” Pont said.

Pont says it’s important for adults to reflect on their tech use to see how it’s affecting their day-to-day lives and attitude – do you feel the pressure to respond right away; do you feel anxiety due to information overload, or do you feel FOMO (fear of missing out) when you aren’t using your device; have you argued with your partner because they feel you are disconnected?

“You have to look at the consequences. If it’s affecting your work, or its impacting relationships, those are negative consequences,” she said. “This idea that I have to know what’s going on, it sounds so benign, but I think it truly affects our stress level.”

If you feel your device is impacting your mental health, try imposing limits on yourself – for example, no devices after 8 p.m., turn phones off during family dinners, or no phones in the bedroom.

“Consciously not using it at times when you want to be present,” Pont said. “We have anxiety detaching from technology, but you might discover you like it.”

Another important habit to break: using your phone as your alarm. Although sleeping next to your device may not seem like a big deal, Pont said those beeps and vibrations have the same effect our sleeping brain, causing you to lose sleep – and a lack of sleep can contribute to stress.

The light emitted from a smartphone or tablet, for example, can suppress the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates a person’s circadian rhythm – and multiple studies have shown that using blue light-emitting, like smartphones and computers, before bed can lead to poor sleep.

Of course, cutting down on your screen time might be hard to do if you have a job that requires you to be available after-hours.

That’s why France banned work emails outside business hours earlier this year, Germany’s labour ministry banned managers from calling or emailing staff outside of work hours in 2013, and Volkswagen made it so that its servers would shut down the ability to send emails 30 minutes after an employee’s shift ended in 2011.

No such bans have been implemented in Canada, however.

These latest survey findings are based on the 2015 CAMH Monitor, a collection of survey data which allows researchers to track long-term trends in the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, as well as identifying problematic behaviours related to mental health within Ontario’s population.

Another alarming issue in the survey: 37 per cent of respondents reported they had texted while driving at least once during the past year, while 11 per cent admitted texting behind the wheel 30 or more times over the previous year.

If you have the urge to text and drive, Pont suggests turning your phone on “Airplane Mode.” If you have a hands-free solution in your car and want to keep your phone on for emergency situations, then try leaving it in the backseat or somewhere out of reach.

By Nicole Bogart       National Online Journalist, Breaking News Global News
source: globalnews.ca


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

Humans have a strong relationship with music

because of the way that music affects our feelings, our thinking, and our emotional state.

Kissing is healthier than shaking hands.

A study found that people born in May

have the lowest risk of illness and disease, while those born in October have the highest.

In Russia, it is illegal to tell kids that gay people exist.

The inability to pronounce the letter “r” is called rhotacism,

making it impossible for the sufferers to pronounce their own affliction.

Pluto is smaller than Russia.

President Lyndon B. Johnson owned an amphibious car

and would scare his guests by driving into a lake, screaming about brake failure.

When two people kiss, they exchange between 10 million and 1 billion bacteria.



Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

Dreamt is the only English word 
that ends in the letters “mt.”


Human muscles are limited by our brain – 
we actually have the strength 
to move cars and boulders.


At least once a day 
your immune system 
destroys a cell that 
would have become cancer if it lived.


Distance doesn’t necessarily 
ruin a relationship. 
You don’t have to see someone
 everyday to be in love.

shy

 

Bees are directly responsible 
for the production of 70% of 
fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts 
that we consume on a daily basis.


“Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” 
is actually the fear of long words.


Your taste in music represents 
what your mood would sound like 
if you could hear it.



Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

 
People are more likely to cry at night 
because the lack of sleep makes emotions hard to control.

 

An Oxford University study has found that for every person you fall in love with
and accommodate into your life 
you lose two close friends.
 
A pizza delivery is more likely to arrive to your home 
sooner than an ambulance in a case of an emergency.
 
Eating celery is technically exercise. When you eat celery, 
you burn more calories digesting it than you consume.
 
Blowing out candles on birthday cakes results in roughly 3000 bacteria
capable of forming colonies on the cake.
 
Laughter has been a proven way to lose weight.
 
being nice
 
40% of people who are rejected in a romantic relationship 
slip into clinical depression.
 
Caffeine is bad for you, fat is bad for you, sugar is bad for you. 
But don’t worry, because worrying is bad for you too.
 
Psychology says, being sad with the right people 
is better than being happy with the wrong ones.
 
Cherophobia is the fear of being too happy 
because “something tragic” will happen.
 
Our brains have a negativity bias 
and will remember negative memories 
more than good ones. 
This helps us to better protect ourselves.
 
Challenges are what make life interesting. 
Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
 
Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


Leave a comment

5 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

1. Give up dwelling on “If only…”

Most of us have goals, both big (go back to school and get a master’s degree) and small (pare down that pile of junk mail). What keeps us from meeting our goals? Why are some goals successfully achieved, while others remain on our to-do list, nagging us for months or even years at a time?

I’ve written before about how to set goals that are more likely to be met. And though a few tweaks to your goal-setting method can have an immense impact on your likelihood of meeting those goals, for many of us the problem lies not so much in the goals we set, but the ways we prevent ourselves from meeting them. You might have the most functional, realistic goals in the world, but if you engage in self-sabotage, then guess what? Your chance to meet a goal is gone before you even begin.

With my clients, I consistently see the same behaviors keeping them from taking action. These methods of self-sabotage can prevent them from getting where they want to be, fixing what they need to fix, and becoming the person they would love to be. You may know what you want and be pretty sure of the path you need to take to get it, but it’s not uncommon to be stuck in a rut of self-sabotage.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors in yourself?

1. Dwelling on “If only….”

We all have regrets, whether they’re about something we did (if only I hadn’t dropped out of college), or something we didn’t do (if only I’d stood up for myself more in that relationship). Sometimes we play the “if only” game about things that we can’t control, but that we wish were different: If we had grown up with different parents, if we were more talented, if our partner could fundamentally change in some way.

These thoughts can follow us around for decades, and the problem with them is that they don’t lead to action. Repeatedly revisiting “if only” fantasies when they involve things we can’t do anything about keeps us idling in neutral. Given our lack of a time machine and the inability to overhaul people other than ourselves, continuing to indulge in these thoughts brings nothing but further frustration. These thoughts don’t spur action, inspiration, or problem-solving. And worst of all, dwelling on them keeps the same patterns going (ruminating on how you wasted your 20s socially may make you less likely to go out and seek good friendships in your 40s; dwelling on imperfect aspects of your partner builds resentment that makes your relationship worse).

Try turning “if only” into a different mindset altogether by accepting what’s done, but using this fact to influence your future actions. Such as, “X is this way, but Y can be that way” or “I can’t undo my past, but I can influence my future” or “I have learned something from X, which is Y—and here’s how I plan to use it to improve things.” Each of these is a new, more functional spin on the “if only” mindset.

2. Being afraid of your thoughts.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that a thought will have power over you is to try your hardest to suppress it. Sometimes we do this because our thoughts terrify us: “This is the third argument my fiancee and I have gotten in this week. What if it was the wrong choice to get engaged?” Or because we feel guilty about having them: “My coworker is just not pulling her weight on this project. But she’s a sweet person and a good friend so I shouldn’t rock the boat.”

When you suppress a thought, though, you have no chance to process it—to understand it, feel it, and perhaps eventually decide that it doesn’t make sense. Ironically, walking around afraid of what your brain has to say gives your thoughts far too much importance. This is a hallmark of people who struggle with obsessional thinking. These people are locked in a battle of trying desperately to get a sticky thought to go away, mainly because they’re so overly distressed by having it in the first place. But getting trapped in this battle doesn’t move you forward. Try not to think of a rhinoceros in a bikini, and bam—there she is, and she’s wearing quite a hot number!

The more you battle your thoughts, the more you deny yourself the opportunity to work through them, and the more you keep yourself locked in a negative pattern. Try acknowledging your thoughts and facing them, emphasizing that they are just thoughts, and labeling them as such. For example: “I’m having the thought that it was a mistake to get engaged. That’s probably because I’ve been stressed out. I don’t have to be afraid of this thought; it is human. I will get a bit more sleep, get over this bad week at work, and see if I feel differently. If I don’t, I’ll think things through further.”

feelings

 

3. Burying your feelings.

A close cousin to avoiding bothersome thoughts is trying to bury or mask feelings deemed unacceptable. Many people think that to fully acknowledge feelings means yelling obscenities in the grocery store, or hysterically wailing at their next staff meeting. But letting yourself feel things is not the same as unleashing emotions onto the world at large. In fact, you’ll be less likely to unleash feelings in inappropriate ways if you’ve actually acknowledged them and worked through them in the first place. Often times we bury feelings out of guilt: “I’m angry at my sister for making that comment about my weight. But she’s a sweet person and does so much for me. I have no right to nitpick.” Or fear: “If I let myself feel sad about my breakup, I’ll get so depressed I won’t even be able to function.”

But feelings, when hidden, grow bigger and bigger. And they are prone to corroding people from the inside out. Emotions don’t tend to go away on their own just because we try to keep them in. It’s similar to repeatedly slamming down a lid onto a pot of water that’s boiling over. You know that if you let the water get a little bit of air—set the lid so that it doesn’t completely cover the pot—you’ll soon get a calm, smooth boil instead of a frothy, rattling mess. Acknowledging your feelings doesn’t make them spin out of control, but putting the lid on them does.

4. Habitually starting tomorrow.

So, you’ve eaten a third sleeve of Girl Scout cookies before noon, or you’re completely frustrated that it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and you’ve gotten little work done. Many times, the natural reaction is to abandon the rest of the day and visualize the beautiful blank slate of tomorrow. But it’s never tomorrow. If you spend so much time saving until tomorrow, the habits you want to pick up and the changes you want to make will always be beyond your reach, because tomorrow is a constantly moving target.

If you are someone who must have a “clean slate” to get motivated, it need not be tomorrow. Why not have that clean slate start in one hour? Or fifteen minutes? This helps stop the surge of all or nothing thinking that can lead you to write off the rest of the day, getting you farther and farther from your goals. Even better, instead of arbitrarily declaring the slate clean because the calendar flipped over, create a true and meaningful clean slate through your behavior. Take a brisk walk. Do a brief meditation. Have a quick chat with a friend. Do some breathing exercises. Allow yourself five minutes of a video that makes you laugh. Each of these things can help reset your mind and your productivity much better than the vague “tomorrow,” which, when you think about it, is never actually here and never really puts you in the driver’s seat.

5. Letting inertia harm you rather than help you.

Inertia is fantastic when it’s on your side. If you pick up a healthy habit and maintain it for several weeks in a row—making coffee rather than buying it, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, sorting your emails as they come in—it becomes much easier to continue it. But too often, inertia applies to habits we don’t want to have, and activities that make us feel unproductive and unhealthy. This is the reason why the psychological clean slate discussed above can be so powerful. We desperately crave the ability to be free from the things we already view as tainted: A busted diet, a soured relationship, or a pattern of motivation-killing habits at work. We don’t want to salvage any of it. We want to start fresh because it’s a much more attractive option.

Here’s the thing: Just like in the physical world, we are prone to staying in motion—or in place—by this force of inertia, and no one can change it but ourselves. The calendar flipping to a new year, feelings of being “fed up,” new workout gear, or public promises can all (briefly) jumpstart new behaviors. But they don’t address the underlying inertia, which is truly needed to change long-term behavior. You must build the right day-to-day structure in order for new habits to take hold. Otherwise the inertia of the old habits never really goes away. Yes, those new workout pants are fabulous, but if your gym is still too far away or too incompatible with your work hours, then you haven’t done anything to address the inertia that prevents you from going to the gym. Focus not on the jumpstart, but on the overhauling of the battery to get inertia working for you, rather than against you.

by Andrea Bonior         May 10, 2016

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and speaker. She is the author of The Friendship Fix and an upcoming book about the psychology of everyday life (stay tuned!), and serves on the faculty of Georgetown University. Her mental health advice column Baggage Check has appeared in the Washington Post Express for more than eleven years. She speaks to audiences large and small about relationships, work-life balance, and motivation, and is a television commentator about mental health issues. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!


2 Comments

How To Let Go Of Unneeded Attachments And Experience True Freedom

August 2, 2015   Steven Bancarz

              “Attachment is the root of all suffering” – Buddha

We all want to be free and feel free, but what does this really look like?  Most people imagine it looks like something along the lines of being your own boss, not living by the alarm clock, or leaving the ratrace.  The truth is, freedom is more of a mental state than anything else, and you can be working a 9-5 job and be absolutely free.  You can also be your own boss and be totally enslaved.

It all comes down to your intentions, your desires, and your level of attachment to particular outcomes.  Are you resisting your heart and resisting life, or are you flowing with them both and embracing each moment?  For the last year and a half, I have been my own boss.  I have also been more of a slave than ever before up until recently, not because of my lifestyle, but because of my mentality.

Here are 5 attachments we need to let go of to experience true freedom in life:

1) Societies expectations

Your dad wants you to get a good education.  Your mom wants you to find a nice girl or guy to marry.  Your teachers want to see you land a 9-5 job.  The media forces down your throat what the “ideal” life is and wants you to spend your life chasing after the “American dream”.  All of these outside influences keep you trapped in a state of mind that is plagued by the constant need to impress someone or live up to expectations that have nothing to do with what YOU really want to do as a person.

Maybe you want to drop out of school and start your own business.  Maybe you want to be single, and you are content without having very much money or material items.  The world around you is constantly trying to make you into someone you are not by imposing their expectations on to your life.  This creates a program in your psychology that keeps you constantly trying fulfill these expectations to feel like you are “successful”, when in reality you are spending your energy trying to make a mark in someone else’s consciousness to gain their approval.  To be free is to live for yourself.

2) Your past

Your past doesn’t define who you are.  Contrary to what people around you may tell you, you are not defined by your sins, achievements, mistakes, successes, or failures.  Anything you have done in your past, whether it is good or bad, will prevent you from evolving if you are attached to it.  If it is bad and you are attached to it, you are going to cause yourself depression and self-hate over something that no longer even exists.  If it is good and you are attached to it, you are projecting yourself out of the present moment and into a memory-stream.

Your past is meant to act as a guide and a compass to serve you, but we are told by the world that we are the sum of our history.  When we apply for a job, we are expected to provide a resume.  We are also expected to provide a kind of resume to the world when we are discussing who we are as a person.  When we see an old friend we haven’t seen in a while, the first thing that often comes up is “What have you been up to?”.

This translates into “What have you done or accomplished within your recent past?”, which keeps us attached to the past and reliant on it for our sense of identity and worth in the world.  Whatever you have or haven’t done in your past, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t define you.  The only thing that matters is what you choose to do with this moment moving forward.

change can be hard

3) The need to impress others

The need to impress others ultimately comes from our egos, which are products of millions of years of evolution.  It has created a spirit of competition within us that keeps us enslaved to the constant need to outshine other members of our species. The species that are fastest, strongest, and most adaptable are the ones that carry over into the next generation and reproduce, and this is the purpose the ego has served us in our past.

This is not needed in a modern society of rational human beings, but the sense of needing to compete with one another ultimately stems from an archaic part of our brains that is still wired through millions of years of evolution.  This translates into competing for “likes” with other people on Facebook, comparing cars, bank accounts, or physical fitness levels. It manifests in the need to be recognized, the instinct to compare ourselves with others, the need to make impressions on others, and so forth.

Being free from your ego is the key to being free from feeling like you have to outshine other people.  Live for yourself, and be true to what you want in life.  A lot of people work at jobs they hate to buy things they can’t afford to impress people they don’t even know, and this all boils down to being identified with the ego.

4) Fear of the future

Fear of the future stems from us projecting our attention away from the present moment and into an undesirable hypothetical moment that doesn’t even exist.  Because our attention is consumed with that undesirable hypothetical moment, emotions begin to generate within our energy field that correspond to those thoughts.

There is nothing scary about the future.  The future is only scary of we anticipate failure and pain, and we would only anticipate failure of pain if we lack confidence or self-esteem in the present moment.  The key to overcoming fear of the future comes in two parts.  First, we have to keep our mind and attention concentrated on what is happening within the present moment.  Secondly, we have to overcome any feelings of disbelief we have in ourselves.

The future is nothing to fear. It is just another present moment just like this one.  If we can learn how to tap into the present moment and make it as awesome as possible, our future is guaranteed to be as awesome as possible since the future is just an extension of the present moment.

5) Relationships that aren’t worth it

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes.  Romantic partnerships, friends, family members, co-workers.  Sometimes, we remain in relationships we know we don’t want to be in simply because we don’t want to hurt another person.  In other words, we maintain relationships and friendships with people out of a feeling a guilt.

If you are staying in a relationship that isn’t worth it because of guilt, then you are attaching yourself to an unhealthy situation out of fear.  So many people put up with unhappy marriages and relationships out of fear, forgetting that life is too short to do anything but follow your heart.  Let go of fear and give yourself permission to follow your heart.  Being free means being free to expressive yourself, say what you mean, and feel what you feel, even if it means it may make someone else unhappy.

You are not free in life until you are free from all attachment.  You can still work hard, be ambitious, and be in relationships without being attached and dependent upon a particular outcome to rectify your existence.  Just as much as we pursue money, education, and health we should pursue freedom.   Am I following my heart?  Am I living for myself or for my parents? Am I being true to what I feel each moment?