Archive for January, 2015

Breaking Bad Habits

January 30, 2015

Do you typically think about every step involve din your daily routine? Probably not, thanks to habits. When we develop habits from our repeated action, it frees up our brains to focus on other tasks. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

Why is it so difficult to change our vices? When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward.

Strategies to Break Bad Habits

It is possible to break bad habits, and humans are good at learning how to exercise self-control. Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several proven strategies to break bad habits.

Identify purpose. What purpose does the habit serve? If you aren’t getting something enjoyable from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it. for example, maybe you smoke to help calm you down or you overeat for comfort. When you identify the needs behind the habit, you can look for healthier alternatives.

Identify progression. What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting this progression of events can help set you up for greater success.

Identify motivation. Why do you want to change? Feeling deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it. Be specific for greater motivation.

Tips for Changing Habits

Plan ahead. Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge. Try calling a friend or someone to hold you accountable.

Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful to the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body. This will help you take better care of yourself.

Replace with good. Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise. Create healthy, daily routines to help fill the need or craving of your bad habit.

As with any difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a therapist, support group, or organization to help you get started on learning more about yourself. The encouragement could steer you toward the best strategy to break your bad habits and change them for good. After all, Who wouldn’t want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature?

When Baby Brings the Blues

January 16, 2015

Postpartum depression is a very real concern for new mothers.

It’s one of life’s most beautiful images, a mother holding a newborn infant. Unfortunately for some new mothers, caring for their baby is the last thing on their minds. They’re among the mothers who experience postpartum depression following delivery.

An estimated 10% to 20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression (postpartum literally means “after birth”). Although the symptoms usually go away within a few days, some mothers experience them for several weeks or more, threatening their ability to care for their child and themselves.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is believed to be caused by a hormone that physically prepares a woman for pregnancy. This hormone is manufactured in large doses in the last stage of pregnancy, but most all of the hormone is flushed from the body during delivery. Between delivery and the time it takes for the body to bring this hormone to normal levels, a woman can experience depression.*

Unfortunately, PPD is hard to detect. Many women are ashamed of their depressed feelings. They also may believe that they’re bad mothers, which only heightens their shame. Those closest to the new mother may sense that something is wrong, but dismiss it as the normal stress of childbirth.

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, be aware of the possibility that PPD can develop. Awareness may lead you to be more conscious of your emotions in the days following delivery and to come forward when your feelings are uncomfortable.

*Postpartum depression is only one type of postpartum problems. Some mothers experience postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis or anxiety disorder after delivery.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

  • Sluggishness, fatigue, exhaustion
  • Sadness, depression, hopelessness
  • Appetite and sleep disturbances
  • Poor concentration, confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Over concern for the baby
  • Uncontrollable crying, irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Guilt, inadequacy, worthlessness
  • Fear of harming the baby
  • Fear of harming oneself
  • Exaggerated highs or lows