Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

All About Feelings

March 24, 2017

While much has been said about the differences between men and women with respect to awareness of feelings, the truth is, it’s easy for everyone to lose touch with their feelings once in a while. Yet, feelings provide powerful clues as to what we’re thinking and how we’re reacting physically.

EXPERIENCING FEELINGS

There are three main ways we encounter an emotion. First, we experience the feeling. Second, our body reacts to it. Last, we express the feeling through our behavior. Therefore, if you were angry, you’d interpret the emotion as anger. Perhaps, your body would tense up and your heart would begin to pace, and then you might lose your temper and begin to shout.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELINGS

Exploring your feelings can benefit both your body and behavior. For example, if you find that you often feel afraid you may also discover that you regularly experience association anxiety and physical symptoms of stress. Perhaps your heart is continually racing and your sleep is affected, these responses can have a long-term impact on your health. If you start to examine the root of your fear, you might find that your thoughts aren’t factual. Recognizing this faulty or irrational thought pattern is the first step in modifying it and ultimately feeling less anxious and afraid.

TIPS FOR MANAGING EMOTIONAL REACTIONS

Controlling your reactions to emotion takes time and practice. The following ideas will help you learn how to regulate your reactivity.

Track your feelings – Keep a log of your feelings throughout the day. This experience will give you greater insight into how you see the world and react to it.

Scale emotions – Emotions exist on a broad spectrum, so rating them on a scale of one to ten might help you look for patterns and situations that trigger certain emotions.

Reduce stress – When you experience negative emotions, tracking the methods you use to lower your stress provides invaluable insight and guidance on when and where to use these methods to reduce stress.

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Learning to Relax

December 8, 2016

Stress! It’s everywhere and affects everyone. Without proper self-care, stress can feel like it might swallow us alive. Why? Any time a change or interruption occurs in your life, your body, emotions, and mind react. This is known as the stress response.

The Stress/Relaxation Relationship

Having a constant or hyper-normal stress response to life wears down the body. Relaxation techniques are specific practices used to produce the body’s natural relaxation response. The advantage of practicing relaxation include better concentration, reduced anger, lower heart and breathing rates, fewer stress hormones, and less muscle tension, pain and fatigue.

Types of Relaxation Techniques

Autogenic relaxation – Being aware of your body can help decrease stress. First, focus on peaceful images or words. Next, tune in to your breathing, heart rate, and body’s sensations.

Progressive muscle relaxation – This technique slowly tenses and relaxes individual muscles. Start with your feet and work up to your head. This practice teaches awareness of muscle tension when you are stressed.

Tips for Relaxation

Pay attention – We can often ignore what our body is trying to tell us. Pay attention to where you feel stress and tension in your body.

Laugh – Watching your favorite funny movie or catching up with a witty friend can be just what the doctor ordered. Laughter lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and releases endorphins to uplift your mood.

Be present – Practice being present in your relationships at work and by yourself. Push aside thoughts about your to-do list, future events, and things in the past. Try keeping your thoughts on the here-and-now.

Relaxation techniques may not completely eradicate the stress in your life, but they can lighten your stress load. So, why not try it? There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose, except maybe some extra stress.

Codependence

November 15, 2016

When a person is codependent, they are unable to define and meet their own needs in a relationship. This individual “loses” their sense of self because they are completely absorbed in the needs of the other person. This intense focus on the other person can jeopardize your health, safety, and success in life.

CHARACTERISTICS OF CODEPENDENT PEOPLE

There are many emotional characteristics of codependent people. They often experience low self-esteem and constantly compare themselves to others. They might have an overblown sense of responsibility for other people and fear abandonment. Often a person who is codependent finds it difficult to set and maintain boundaries in a relationship, and they also have a difficult time expressing their own personal goals or values as an individual.

HELP FOR THE CODEPENDENT PERSON

The following tips can help you or someone you know move from codependence to healthier relationships.

  • Identity – Embrace your own needs and emotions. Saying “no” to a loved one doesn’t mean you don’t care for them, and it’s healthy to set these boundaries. Tough love is sometimes the most loving thing you can do.
  • Self-reliant – What are some ways you could be more independent? When can you take responsibility for your own emotions and actions? Encourage others around you to do the same.
  • Stop “fixing” – It is not your responsibility to solve all your loved one’s problems. You can still support and love them without trying to “fix” their lives. Give them space to take personal responsibility for their actions and future.
  • Relax – Relieve stress, tension, and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques. Yoga, enjoyable music, mindfulness, and activities you love are all things you can do to help dial down worry and guilt.

If you or your loved one is struggling with codependency, be courageous and seek help. A licensed counselor or therapist can help you explore how you began to act this way. Together, you can establish a plan to change your life’s direction and move from a codependent relationship to a mutually satisfying one.

Sleep Solutions

October 31, 2016

Most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. We spend about a third of our lives asleep, but most people know very little about it, even though it’s as important as food and water.

It’s estimated that sleep disorders affect more than 70 million Americans. When you get less sleep than needed, you fall into “sleep debt.” If the debt becomes too high, then physical problems and daytime drowsiness can occur.

THREE KEY INGREDIENTS

Three key ingredients to good sleep are temperature, light, and sound. A hot bath or shower raises your temperature then rapidly lowers it to help you relax. If the room is cool, you’re likely to get better sleep. To control light, consider dimming the light an hour or two before you go to sleep. Don’t look at computer or TV screens right before bed, so the hormone melatonin can flow. If your neighborhood is noisy, consider wearing earplugs to keep the sound out.

SLEEP TIPS

  • Be consistent – If you can go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends, you’ll sleep better.
  • Create a routine – You can train your body to recognize when it’s time to sleep if you stay consistent with habits. Maybe read a book. or take a warm shower. Perhaps lay out your clothes for the next day.
  • Get up if you can’t fall asleep – If after 15 minutes you don’t fall asleep, get up and do something rather than worry. Consider reading a book or listening to soft music.
  • Limit your naps – It might feel good to snooze for an hour in the afternoon, but anything over half an hour might keep you up at night.
  • Consult a professional – If you need to get more info or guidance on your sleep habits, talk to your primary care physician.

Resiliency in the Workplace

October 14, 2016

Whether you have a fast-paced job or not, stress exists in every workplace. Having a “bounce back,” or resilient, perspective is a key element to coping with stress. Workplace resilience helps you handle coworkers, interoffice events, and outside situations that impact your job.

THREATS TO OUR WORKPLACE WELL BEING

  • Work culture – Anything that happens outside the organizational culture of your job can increase stress levels. This includes the structures, policies, mergers, expansions, layoffs, etc.
  • Interactions within your job – Events such as bullying, intimidation, and being overworked can make your job difficult. Other stressful situations might include accidents, grieving a coworker’s death, and the fear of supervisors.
  • Personal lives – Stress and anxiety from other parts of our lives can also threaten our workplace well being. Our behavior toward others can reflect this stress.

TIPS FOR BUILDING RESILIENCE

  • Interpersonal intelligence – The ability to empathize with your coworkers and understand their point of view is a key component to managing relationships. When we are socially aware in the workplace, it helps us monitor our own reactions to problems. Then we can seek resolution to a workplace conflict or interpersonal confusion.
  • Remaining active – A resilient person does not shut down when adversity comes their way. They speak up for themselves and their goals in an assertive way. Active in teamwork, this individual also takes a self-initiated approach toward problem solving.
  • Proactive – Resilient people can identify potential problems and take actions to prevent them. These individuals won’t wait until a disaster occurs before they clean up a mess and work toward resolution.
  • Self-care – A work environment that values good self-care will be more productive in the long run. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and a regular exercise routine are keys to resilience. In addition, spending time with family and friends eases stress and helps us bounce back faster when times are rough.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September 13, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 42,773 people on average die by suicide each year and 117 people die by suicide each day. Suicide is tragic and devastating, but it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate and keep your loved ones safe.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Contact a mental health professional or the hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you hear or see someone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors.

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped like there’s no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family & society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes

In some cases it may be too late for help from a suicide hotline and the person may be on the brink of a suicide attempt. Call 911 if you see or hear the following:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself.
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, we want you to know that help is available and recovery is possible. Learn the warning signs, and do whatever you can to get yourself or someone you care about to the help they need so that they can return to living mentally well. For more information on suicide prevention, please visit: http://www.take5tosavelives.org.

Dealing with Difficult People

June 24, 2016

Let’s face it. We all encounter people who are challenging, negative, and even aggressive. Whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor, being able to differentiate between difficult personalities is helpful. When we better understand them, it frees us to not take things personally. We can also help create a safe and productive environment for others.

THE NEXT STEP

Some of the more dominant challenging personality traits include people who are hostile, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, or negative. Knowing how to handle and react to difficult personality traits is beneficial in all environments. Here are some helpful tips to deal with all difficult personality styles.

  • Address concerns – Don’t ignore problems and pretend they don’t exist. Chances are the challenges will only grow. The responsible thing is to address the person and the issue.
  • Express compassion – Remember you probably don’t have the whole picture of someone’s life. You may not know all that’s happened in the individual’s background, their mental health, or the past crises they may have faced. Empathize and express compassion.
  • Assess reactions – Consider your own emotions. If you’re having a particularly stressful day and can’t seem to remain calm, it’s not the right time to address issues with a difficult person. Staying calm and neutral is the best way to approach and deal with challenging people.

Depression Self-Assessment

June 13, 2016

Everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes. It’s normal to be sad or tired occasionally for unknown reasons. Whether you’re just feeling down or something more, it’s worth exploring.

Depression invades every area of your life, impacting your day-to-day affairs. Maybe you can’t get out of bed in the morning or your appetite is never satisfied. Overcoming depression isn’t just about will power; it’s about getting the professional help and treatment you need for a happy, productive life once again.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • Are you feeling depressed or down lately?
  • Have activities you once enjoyed lost your interest?
  • Are you struggling to fall asleep or sleeping too much?
  • Do you feel lethargic, lacking energy to get through your day?
  • Has your appetite changed? Eating too much or too little?
  • Are you struggling to focus on work or activities like reading?
  • Do you or others notice you moving or speaking more slowly?
  • Have your thoughts leaned toward death or harming yourself in any way?

If you identify with these questions and answered yes to several, you might be struggling with depression. It’s important to see a physician or mental health professional for an official diagnosis, rather than self-diagnosing. They can rule out any other possible causes for your depressed mood.

THE NEXT STEP

Having a plan is a great start for treating depression. These suggestions can help you begin your journey toward a new beginning.

  • Take notes – Write down all your physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Even if these don’t fall under the depression category. It’s still helpful information for your physician or psychiatrist to rule out other causes.
  • Give yourself grace – Experiencing depression is no one’s fault. Improvement takes time. Celebrate the small victories and be kind to yourself during the setbacks.
  • Access resources – Affordable counseling is often available through your employee assistance program, community services, religious organizations, and universities. Support groups can also be invaluable.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

May 24, 2016

Getting a full night’s sleep may seem like a luxury, but it’s important to your overall health. Sleep serves a critical role when it comes to your health and well-being – similar to eating, drinking and breathing. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to feel rested and have the positive benefits associated with a full night’s sleep. When rested, we’re more alert, energetic, happier, and better able to function the next day. The benefits of good sleep also include improvements in short-term memory, productivity, sensitivity to pain, and the functioning of your immune system.

Tips for Better Sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep, there are a few tricks you can try to help you get the sleep your body needs.

  1. Set a regular sleep schedule and routine. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Having a bedtime routine lets your body know it’s time to go to sleep. Part of your routine may include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, listening to calming music, or dimming the lights.
  2. Limit naps to 20-30 minutes. If you nap, keep it early in the day. Napping late in the afternoon can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  3. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Caffeine from food or drinks can disrupt sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. And alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it will be restless sleep and you’re more likely to wake in the night.
  4. Take any medications that are stimulants in the morning. You can also ask your doctor to switch you to a non-stimulating alternative. Any drugs that make you drowsy should be taken in the evening.
  5. Avoid heavy meals before bed.  These can make you feel uncomfortable and keep you awake at night. However, if you feel too hungry to sleep, have a light snack.
  6. Avoid intense exercise within three hours of bedtime. It may make you too energized to fall asleep. Regular exercise earlier in the day, however, will help you sleep better.
  7. Keep a worry journal. Before you get in bed, write down any worries or pressing thoughts you have that may keep you up. Have a notepad and pen next to the bed and if something pops into your head, write it down. Then try not to think about these worries or thoughts until the morning.
  8. Limit liquids. If you wake up often to use the rest room, cut down on how much you drink late in the day.
  9. Have an environment conducive to sleep. For most people, this is a space that is dark, cool, quiet, and comfortable. Consider using room darkening shades, ear plugs, eye masks, or a fan to make your sleeping space right for you.
  10. Avoid plots that may get your adrenaline going before bed. Whether it’s a movie, TV show, or book, you don’t want your heart to be racing before bed. Instead, you should feel calm and relaxed when you’re ready to fall asleep.

If you still don’t feel well rested in the morning after trying the tips listed, make an appointment with your doctor. There may be an underlying cause that needs to be properly diagnosed. Your doctor can help you treat the problem or refer you to a sleep specialist.

Effective Communication

May 12, 2016

Whether in a personal or professional relationship, effective communication is essential. When it comes to expressing your thoughts or sharing your knowledge, there are some tips you should keep in mind.

Keep it simple. People can only remember so much information at one time. You want them to remember what’s most important. So, keep your messages simple, concise, and to the point.

Rephrase thoughts. It’s a good idea to rephrase and repeat what’s said back to the person who is speaking. This ensures you have a clear understanding of what was said.

Give examples. When communicating ideas, it’s helpful to use examples or personal experiences. This makes ideas more concrete by giving them context. It’s easier to remember stories than facts alone.

Listen actively. Good communication involves listening to what is being said, and also what is not being said.

Be patient. Give people time to communicate their ideas.

Don’t interrupt. A lot of valuable information can be gained by listening to others. It’s important in developing any kind of relationship.

Be conscious of differing perspectives. Your culture, experiences, and upbringing may mean that you have a different interpretation of the same event. Be aware of the influences these biases may have. People approach topics from many different perspectives – be respectful of these differences.

Interpret. Read between the lines of what’s being said. Some people have a hard time expressing themselves. You can help them by trying to interpret what they mean.

Stay positive. You may be stressed, frustrated, or just heaving an off day, but people are much more receptive if you communicate with a positive attitude when you speak.

Make a connection. Find a common ground or interest to open the way to a good conversation. Building a connection can help increase trust and make people more open to your ideas.