The way you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.
In a new study from Washington University, researchers find that quitting smoking does more than improve physical health as stopping the habit also improves mental health.
Typically, health professionals who treat people with psychiatric problems often overlook their patients’ smoking habits, assuming it’s best to tackle depression, anxiety, or substance abuse problems first.
However, the new study shows that people who struggle with mood problems, or addiction can safely quit smoking and that kicking the habit is associated with improved mental health.
The study is published online in the journal Psychological Medicine.
“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” said lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, Ph.D.
“The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”
In the study, Cavazos-Rehg discovered that quitting, or significantly cutting back on cigarette smoking was linked to improved mental health outcomes.
Specifically, quitting altogether or reducing by half the number of cigarettes smoked daily was associated with lower risk for mood disorders like depression, as well as a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug problems.
“We don’t know if their mental health improves first and then they are more motivated to quit smoking or if quitting smoking leads to an improvement in mental health,” Cavazos-Rehg said.
“But either way, our findings show a strong link between quitting and a better psychiatric outlook.”
Naturally, the serious health risks associated with smoking make it important for doctors to work with their patients to quit, regardless of other psychiatric problems.
“About half of all smokers die from emphysema, cancer, or other problems related to smoking, so we need to remember that as complicated as it can be to treat mental health issues, smoking cigarettes also causes very serious illnesses that can lead to death,” she said.
Researchers analyzed questionnaires gathered as part of the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
This survey was administered in the early 2000’s and just under 35,000 people were surveyed. As part of the study, participants answered questions about drinking, smoking, and mental health in two interviews conducted three years apart.
The researchers focused on data from 4,800 daily smokers. Those who had an addiction or other psychiatric problems at the time of the first survey were less likely to have those same problems three years later if they had quit smoking.
And those who hadn’t had psychiatric problems at the initial survey were less likely to develop those problems later if they already had quit.
At the time of the first interview, about 40 percent of daily smokers suffered mood or anxiety disorders or had a history of these problems. In addition, about 50 percent of daily smokers had alcohol problems, and some 24 percent had drug problems.
Forty-two percent of those who had continued smoking during the years between the two surveys suffered mood disorders, compared with 29 percent of those who quit smoking.
Alcohol problems affected 18 percent of those who had quit smoking versus 28 percent who had continued smoking.
And drug abuse problems affected only 5 percent of those who had quit smoking compared with 16 percent of those who had continued smoking.
“We really need to spread the word and encourage doctors and patients to tackle these problems,” Cavazos-Rehg said.
“When a patient is ready to focus on other mental health issues, it may be an ideal time to address smoking cessation, too.”
When the holiday season comes to an end and all the festivities are over, you’re left with a new year. It can be a time to set in place new things to learn and do or it can be a time of consolidation of things you’re already passionately pursuing. Another alternative might be to simply contemplate where you’ve reached in life so far. Whatever your preferred approach to the New Year, it’s nice to start feeling refreshed and focused, ready to get back into things you’re working on or to get started on new things. Here are a few ideas to give you a boost.
1. Put away the holiday decorations in a timely manner. When the holiday festivities are over, the decorations, ornaments, and other festive trappings can be popped back into their boxes and bags. If you leave this too long, it can feel like a chore and can also have the effect of holding you back from moving into the next experiences. Don’t feel like you have to get rid of it all in one day. Remove things little by little, ideally between Christmas and New Year’s.
• Ask family and friends to help tidy away the seasonal decorations to make it easier.
2. Look over your New Year’s Resolution list. (If you haven’t made one, skip this step.) Write the list out on a planner, chart or calendar where you can make notes. In order to get your resolutions underway, it’s probable that you’ll need to do some planning and organizing, and perhaps even some purchasing. It helps your focus to make notes and lists to direct your efforts in starting new habits. For example:
• Is there any gear, equipment, food, clothing, etc. needed to start your new fitness/eating/exercise regime? Or perhaps you need new hobby or craft materials or new sports gear. Write down the needed items so that you can work out whether you already have what’s needed or need to buy, beg, borrow or freecycle it.
• Do you need to book memberships, travel, subscriptions or any other service to aid the resolution? If so, write this down too.
• Write down anything else of relevance, alongside those resolutions.
• In some cases, breaking the goals into short term and long term milestones is necessary to ensure you don’t flag in your willpower. Write down any milestones you think will work for you.
3. Focus on the organization. If you’re already wonderfully organized, skip this step. But many people aren’t and this can inhibit feeling like the New Year is a fresh start.
• Are there piles of papers and books on the desk and floor? Clean them up in short bursts here and there (stealth cleaning!).
• Do you have trouble finding things, from keys to socks? Look for simple solutions, such as hanging up a key holder and setting up a special lost sock basket. One method is about training, the other is about acceptance––for example, you can train yourself to put things away but you can’t account for missing socks until the mate turns up, so have a safe-keeping zone for such items.
• Hate cleaning? You could try to convince yourself its exercise, a moment of Zen or a chance to throw out your mate’s junk but it’s better to find help. Delegate the cleaning jobs to others as much as possible and try to arrange it so that you’re doing what you’re best at. It’s overwhelming to be the person responsible for it all, so stop trying.
• Take decluttering in gradual steps. Perhaps, the first sort through your desk on Monday, organize your closet on Tuesday and Wednesday, go through your bookshelf on Thursday, vacuum on Friday, dust on Saturday, and organize whatever else needs to be organized on Sunday. Once you’ve organized specific high-use areas, you will realize it’s much easier to concentrate and find what you need with a clean room.
4. Relax more. If you’re not in the habit of relaxing, start the New Year with a resolution to add this important activity (or lack of activity) to your life from now on.
• Spend a little time browsing through books and websites devoted to relaxation ideas. What sorts of relaxing opportunities appeal to you? Not everyone agrees that the same things are relaxing––some people find adrenalin-packed activities relaxing while others would rather slump in the hammock with a good book. It’s your choice, just so long as it relaxes you.
• Almost everyone finds spa-style activities relaxing. This might mean a weekly bath by candlelight with big bubbles (and maybe some bubbly), a massage (at home with a loved one or paid for at a spa), yoga, meditation and the like.
• When you get a chance, take a relaxation break on Saturday or some other appropriate free day or afternoon. Get your rest, have some friends over for a spa party if you want, or just be alone. You can give yourself an oil treatment, manicure/pedicure, and whatever else will make you feel good and look good.
5. Clean your work or study space. Going back to work or college/school after the holiday break can leave you feeling a little out of sorts. Tidying up your desk, locker, backpack, or whatever else you have where stuff accumulates can help you to feel refreshed for the New Year. Throw out last year’s junk, file away important information where it belongs and give everything a good dust or wipe down. Refill anything that you’re running out of and if you can, place a pretty plant or photo on your desk to cheer yourself up.
• For backpacks, satchels, handbags, laptop carriers and other bags: Don’t carry around unnecessary items! Things you don’t need in the bag are clutter that increases the bulk and weight and might scratch items like laptops, phones, and valuables.
6. Reflect over the past year. Think about things you’d like to do better this year, new things you’d like to try to people you’d like to make amends with or start over with. Have you achieved the things you wanted to in the past year? What specific things would you like to change or redirect? Asking yourself questions about progress, change and where you want to be right now can help to keep your perspective fresh, giving you new motivation to make this year a more fulfilling one.
• Anything you regret saying? Anyone you wish you could apologize to? If there are people that you owe an apology to, apologize and make things right with them. You don’t want to worry or regret anything when you start the New Year.
• Was this past year so great you don’t want it to be a new year? Great, make a scrapbook or diary entry about how great this year has been. But tell yourself the New Year will be even better. Build on the lessons you’ve learned and keep the good things coming.
• Was this past year such a terrible year for you, that you worry the New Year will be more of the same or even worse? Thinking that way may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nobody expects you to fly when your wings feel broken, but it’s important for your own well-being to start finding small ways to mend your dreams. Treat yourself with greater compassion and hang out more with folks who have kind hearts. Focus on making this coming year a much gentler, kinder one. This might include letting go of things that are causing you anxiety––scary at first, but really liberating when you finally do it.
“Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distraction… What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea.
As a woman, you were probably taught or conditioned to put other people’s needs before your own. If you think that it’s selfish to put yourself before others, you may find yourself focusing a lot on others, filling up your time with busy work, and spending time with friends and family because you don’t want to be alone.
Many women who are so focused on others don’t get to know who they truly are. They don’t tend to look at and know how to address their own issues. And when it comes to love, they tend to attract men who aren’t right for them – men who don’t treat them with love, kindness and respect.
6 Reasons Why It’s Important To Be Alone :
“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Being alone can seem scary because when there’s no one to distract you, you’re left with fears, insecurities and unsupportive thoughts. If this is how you view being alone, here is another perspective to consider. Being alone is liberating. It’s the place where you can understand your fears and insecurities and how they’ve been running your love life. Being alone lets you hear how your thoughts have been affecting your love life. It is where your answers to love reside.
Here’s why it’s so important to be alone.
- Instead of becoming frustrated and resentful towards the person(s) you been focusing your time, attention and efforts, they get to live their own lives the way they’re meant to and learn their own lessons. And you get to do the same for yourself.
- Instead of neglecting your own issues, you get to address them and change your life for the better.
- Instead of losing yourself in your partner, you get to discover who you are and contribute your wonderful self to the relationship.
- Instead of having your identity wrapped up in someone else, you get to be independent from someone else and function on your own.
- Instead of living a routine life, you get to expand your comfort zone and discover things about yourself that you never realized.
- Instead of leading a life of obligation or setting for less than you deserve, you get to live the life you’re meant to and enjoy the rest of the days of your life.
6 Ways To Be Alone :
“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Are you feeling stressed out about life and love because you’re doing too much for others or you don’t know how to enjoy being alone? If so, put these 6 practices into your life to feel better about yourself and have a healthier love life.
1. Participate in creative activities.
Discover and do at least one creative activity on your own. For instance, if you like to write, draw or paint, start doing these things.
2. Reflect on your inner self.
Reflect and ponder on questions like, “What are my beliefs? Why do I feel that way about these beliefs?” “Who would I be without my possessions?” “Where would I love to travel and why?” “What inspires me?”
3. Learn something new.
If you’ve always wanted to learn Pilates, how to cook, speak Italian, or play the piano, take classes and learn something new.
4. Take yourself out on a date.
Go on a date by yourself to a museum you love, movie you want to see, restaurant you’ve always wanted to eat at or a place you’ve always wanted to go to.
5. Spend time outside.
Walk in nature, go on a hike, enjoy the sound of the ocean, the sand between your toes, the smell of the fresh air in the mountains, etc.
6. Have a weekend alone.
Turn off your electronic and communication devices (i.e. TV, computer, tablet, cell phone). Music is optional. Catch up on reading your favorite books and magazines.
“Woman must come of age by herself. She must find her true center alone.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
It is actually thoughtful, not selfish, to put yourself before others because in doing so, you become the best version of you. When you are at your best, you are able to give your best to others. Everyone around you benefits from you putting yourself first.
Remember, when you are alone with no distractions from getting to know your true self, you get to learn, appreciate and love yourself. The more you know how to be alone and enjoy your alone time, your beautiful essence will draw towards you, men who are loving, kind and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
Depression can affect the heart in many ways, both before and after heart disease. It can disrupt the heart’s rhythm, encourage inflammation and blood clots, and bathe the body in stress hormones that can raise blood pressure and harden arteries.
People with blocked coronary arteries have reduced blood flow to the heart, but they can also have blockage in the arteries in their brain making them vulnerable to strokes.
Strokes can affect mood and trigger depression, says Peter Shapiro, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City. Small areas of brain damage caused by cerebrovascular disease are also associated with an increased risk of depression.
Depression leads to cardiac risk.
Depressed people are more likely to have other risk factors that can contribute to heart disease. They are more prone to smoke, less likely to pay attention to diet and exercise, and more likely to neglect their prescribed medications—all serious risk factors for heart disease. Those who suffer from both heart disease and depression say their depressed mood affects their will to recover.
“Every heart patient is a potential depression patient.”
“You feel that your life has changed dramatically—your own mortality is slapped in your face,” says Bill Valvo, 60, of Newport News, Va., who suffers from heart disease and has had bypass surgery. “And then depression sets in. It’s like a well. It gets darker and deeper and if you don’t get help, you’re not getting out.”
He credits the support of his family, exercise, socializing, and volunteer work with helping him overcome depression and heart disease. Eight years later he worries more about his depression than his heart. “Sure, I could exercise more and eat better, and if I have another problem with heart disease I’ll treat it, but this depression stuff—I never lost it, I just pushed it back,” says Valvo.
“We need to look at every heart patient as a potential depression patient down the road,” says Leo Pozuelo, MD, Associate Director of the Bakken Heart-Brain Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors don’t understand all the links between depression and heart disease, and patients usually have more than one risk factor. But one thing is clear: If you’re depressed and you have heart disease, you have to treat both conditions to recover.
Love hurts. It’s only human nature that we will feel hurt if the person doesn’t feel the same way as you do. Maybe you’re trying hard to get over someone but it’s just not working. Here is a guide that will help you get over that someone.
- Sometimes it is best to try to block out your feelings, so why not start a new hobby or join a club/group.
- Delete them from any social websites or from phone contacts.
- Perhaps try avoiding them for a while. When you don’t see somebody for a while, your feelings begin to fade.
- If you can’t avoid them, just think of all the good reasons that you are better without them.
- You will find someone better. There are plenty more fish in the sea. So start looking!
- Make new friends. Meeting new people is often a good way to take your mind off somebody. You may even fall for someone else.
- Focus on all the good points in your life. You are very lucky.
- Concentrate on school/work and other things.
- Try to arrange a day out with friends or family.
- Treat yourself to a new bag/clothes/makeup/games etc. Something new and different will lift your spirits.
- Have a new passion or goal, whether it’s saving the Eco system or making sure you get to a sale bright and early in the morning. You will soon block out your feelings.
- Listen to music. Music will help you control your feelings. Do NOT listen to love songs! Listen to a song that you can dance to.
- Go to the gym. When we exercise we release chemicals in our body that make us feel happy.
- Watch a movie either on you own or with family/friends. Preferably one that’s a comedy or anything as long as it has nothing to do with romance, unless you’re sure that it won’t remind you of your feelings.
- Do something creative, i.e. draw a picture using oil pastels or paint, make jewelry, design a website, design a cartoon slideshow on the fun website “Scratch”.
- Read a book, or a magazine that will cheer you up.
- Do a good deed. Helping people should make you feel better about yourself.
- Remember that you have done nothing wrong, they haven’t either, it just wasn’t meant to be.
- Try to become better friends with some of your acquaintances. It’s always nice to have someone there for you, so becoming good friends with a person will make both you and them happy and you may even be friends for years!
- Maybe write a new song, or write a poem/story.
- Cut out different body parts of people from a magazine or paper, and put them together to see what you have created! – A good laugh!
- Write a big list about all the good things and people in your life.
- Play an old board game, or karaoke.
- Try out a new look, by using a different type of makeup or getting a different hair cut.
- DON’T listen to love songs, they will just bring back your feelings.
- Perhaps if you are finding it too hard to suppress your feelings you should talk to someone about it (someone you trust).
- Watching a comedy with friends will make you feel better about yourself.
- DON’T comfort eat! It won’t do you any good in the long run!
- Watch a favorite movie or a cheesy movie.
Every word that is said has an impact. When you talk, it can be very powerful. You have to watch what you say at all times, to make sure you never hurt anyone unintentionally.
1. Think things over carefully before you say them. If it sounds bad in your head, it’s going to be bad when you say it. Be mindful of others’ beliefs and strongly-held ideas, so that you don’t say something insensitive.
2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We all know our parents have been saying this for a long time, but it is the truth. What’s the point in saying something, if you know it’s going to hurt someone?
3. If you end up saying something hurtful, don’t let it go and think it’s okay, and push it off. Let the person know that you are sorry right away, sometimes even if you’re not.
4. Express yourself honestly. If it may hurt someone, express it with people who have the same interest.
5. Be nice, and have a positive attitude.