Tag Archives: Trigger

How Do You Find Happiness?

Happiness is defined as “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? So what makes happiness so hard to attain?

One of the common reasons we find it so difficult to find happiness is due to our perception of what it really is. Our ability to be happy depends on how we define it.

For many, happiness is defined by what has been achieved, what has been accomplished, or material things we have obtained.

While these things can contribute to the feeling of being happy, do they really bring us true happiness?

So what is happiness? Where does it come from? How do we achieve it?

• Live Our “Best Life.”

For starters, we can begin by living what I like to call our “best life.” This consists of being the best version of ourselves we can be. It involves self-acceptance and no longer comparing ourselves to others. Living our best life also includes no longer using things to measure our happiness, but focusing on the feeling. Practicing mindfulness can also help us achieve happiness. In doing this, we can fully experience the moment and learn to engage with each moment on its terms, taking things as they come. When we are able to accept things for what they are, we can be happier.

• Practice daily gratitude.

Gratitude determines our attitude. As we practice gratitude, it eventually becomes second nature. We become able to find the beauty in small things and appreciate all life has to offer.

• Learn the art of letting go.

When we learn to let go, we find the path to freedom. By learning to let go, we are no longer held captive by our past or lingering negative emotions.

These are other things we can do to get ourselves in a feel-good mood.

• Smile.

Everyone knows a smile is contagious. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, force a smile and keep smiling. If you don’t give that feeling of wanting to smile, you will eventually get the giggles from looking so silly.

• Smell something that makes you happy.

The sense of smell is very powerful and can trigger several moods and reactions. Why not smell your way to happiness? Sniff your favorite flower, inhale your favorite fragrance, or indulge in the aromas of your favorite food. When I’m feeling down, I tend to smell lavender. I not only enjoy the smell, but it also has some calming and relaxing properties.

• Do something good for someone else.

If you can’t put a smile on your face, put a smile on someone else’s. Doing a good deed will often result in that good, bubbly feeling of joy. When you’ve made someone’s day, how can you avoid a smile?

• Do something you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while.

Remember that feeling of complete happiness when the wind blows in your face as you swing on a swing, or when you play a good game of baseball, or make a nice batch of cookies? Well, get up and get moving! There is no pick-me-up like doing something pleasurable you haven’t done in a while. Think back to little things that have made you happy and explore those again.

• Laugh, laugh, laugh.

Just as a smile is contagious, so is laughter. Watch a funny movie or reminisce about something funny and just laugh. If you can’t think of anything to laugh at, just start laughing and keep thinking. You’re bound to eventually think of something funny or continue laughing at yourself.

These are a few suggestions, but happiness is unique and so is your path. Edith Wharton was quoted saying “If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.”

Stop trying to be happy or thinking about being happy and challenge yourself to do what makes you happy. Find what makes you happy today and live life to the fullest.

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Stress & Schizophrenia: How To Help Your Loved One & Yourself?

A common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.

Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.

Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.

In their comprehensive book, Mueser and Gingerich share excellent tips for helping your loved one and yourself cope with stress (along with valuable information on schizophrenia and how you can support your loved one).

Here are those suggestions and insights on managing and alleviating stress.

Recognizing Stress Signs

What one person finds enjoyable, another can find stressful. In the same way, how people respond to stress will differ. For instance, one person might exhibit changes in mood, such as becoming depressed and anxious, while another person will show physical signs, such as experiencing headaches and a heightened heart rate.

So it’s important to talk to your loved about their individual signs of stress. Talk about your personal signs, as well. Create separate lists for each of your reactions to stress.

Reducing Sources of Stress
The authors suggest thinking about what situations were stressful for your loved one in the past. Then try to avoid that situation or modify it. If your loved one had a tough time at Thanksgiving last year, it might help to shorten their stay or not go next year.

It’s also helpful to support your loved one in creating a stimulating environment with reasonable expectations. For instance, rather than attend a day program three times a week, one man preferred volunteering twice a week delivering meals to housebound seniors.

Plus, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat nutrient-rich foods, get enough sleep, participate in physical activities and engage in fun hobbies. Help your loved one identify what kinds of activities they’d like to do, too.

As the authors point out, because of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, individuals can have a hard time thinking of enjoyable activities. Talk with them about the activities they’ve enjoyed in the past.

Be sure to give yourself and your loved one credit. (Being self-critical just spikes your stress.)

Mueser and Gingerich note how one father acknowledges the positive things that happen on a daily basis: “I’m proud of how persistent my daughter has been in pursuing her art career in spite of the many difficulties she’s encountered. We both have a lot to learn about coping with this illness, but we’ve also come a long way.”

Learning to Cope with Stress

Emphasize the importance of your loved one communicating with others when they’re feeling stressed, since “these feelings can be an early warning sign of relapse,” according to the authors. Make sure you, too, are able to turn to individuals who understand your situation.

Have family meetings to talk openly about the stressor and brainstorm potential solutions. Learn to use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization (such as imagining a serene beach scene).

Self-defeating thoughts only bolster stress for both of you. Try to practice positive self-talk and teach your loved one to do the same.

Mueser and Gingerich share the example of a father helping his daughter reframe her hospitalization, which made her feel like a failure: “I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m proud of you for getting help when you needed it and for being so strong in dealing with this illness. You’re a survivor.”

Don’t underestimate the power of humor. Try to find the lighter side of a stressful situation, according to the authors. It’s not always – or usually – easy, but it helps with stress. Plus, you and your loved one can enjoy a funny film or sitcom to lessen stress.

For some people, religious services and prayer can be very helpful. For others being in nature may feel like a spiritual experience and shrink stress.

Again, regular exercise — around three times a week — that you enjoy is important for both of you. Journaling can provide a great source of stress relief. “Many people with schizophrenia say that writing down what they experience, think, and feel is an important outlet.”

See if your loved one is interested in listening to music or making music themselves, such as singing or taking lessons; visiting art exhibits or creating their own art; playing games with family and friends, and pursuing other hobbies.

As the authors emphasize, people with schizophrenia are “more sensitive to the effects of stress because it can trigger symptom relapses and rehospitalizations.” Helping your loved one deal with stress in a healthy way helps them pursue their personal goals and improves their life.

Plus, working together to develop healthy coping strategies can strengthen your relationship and gives you plenty of opportunities for savoring quality time.

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What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Depression?

Many people associate depression with a mental or emotional state of mind, but there are also a number of physical symptoms of depression. Headaches, digestive ailments, insomnia, muscle fatigue, loss of appetite or even an increased appetite can all be physical symptoms of depression. Some physical aspects of depression may appear at the onset, while others may be triggered after days of general listlessness or disinterest in the outside world.

Some physical symptoms of depression are considered warning flags for a deepening mental condition. General body aches may be mistaken for the first signs of influenza, but those who are susceptible to bouts of depression may recognize them as early warning signs of an impending slide. Moderate to severe headaches may also be one of the first physical symptoms of clinical depression to manifest themselves.

General feelings of fatigue and muscular pain can also accompany clinical depression, which makes it more difficult for sufferers to remain active or productive. Besides the emotional feelings of sadness and unworthiness associated with depression, the physical effects of fatigue and muscle ache can also cause sufferers to seek comfort in a darkened bedroom or other isolated area. The darkness may help alleviate headache pain, and the bed offers support of weakened muscles.

Some sufferers also report such physical symptoms of depression as sleep disorders. It is not uncommon for a depressed person to sleep at least 10-12 hours a day, nor is it uncommon for some sufferers to experience insomnia. Intrusive thoughts can interrupt a depressed person’s ability to fall asleep or remain asleep. The overwhelming sense of sadness or disinterest in life can also sap a sufferer of his or her motivation to get out of bed or begin his or her normal daily routine.

Eating disorders can also be physical symptoms of depression. Many sufferers find it difficult to eat regular meals at normal hours. Depression can suppress the usual pangs of hunger, as well as trigger excessive acid production through stress. It can also have the opposite effect on some with clinical depression, however. Some people who become emotionally depressed will become binge eaters as a way to self-medicate.

Other physical symptoms of depression could include self-mutilation as negative reinforcement, or a complete loss of interest in personal hygiene. While suicidal thoughts are common emotional manifestations of depression, some sufferers may indulge in self-destructive physical behavior as well. Binge drinking to excess or other destructive behavior may be considered side effects of a severe bout of depression. Professional counseling may be the best way to address both the mental and physical symptoms of depression.

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How Depression Hurts Your Heart?

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.

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How To Improve Your Bad Habits & Develop Healthier Habits?

To develop healthier habits you must improve on your bad habits. Bad eating habits, or lack of exercise can revolt into bad health. Also just cutting out bad habits in your daily life, to improve your mental health is important as well. Bad habits can have it’s way of effecting your entire life. Sometimes we just get lazy, and that can contribute to bad habits. Having a set plan and following through it as a routine can help break bad habits. That way you can habituate healthy habits.

I think one way to help eliminate bad habits, is giving yourself rewards. However, finding the motivation and keeping it can help you develop better habits into your daily life.

1. Develop better eating habits.

Eat healthier foods and get a balanced nutrition into your diet. This is so difficult, because sometimes finding healthy foods to satisfy our taste buds can be difficult. Don’t eat foods high in saturated fats. I’ve heard that eating foods high in saturated fats convince your body to eat more. Developing healthy eating habits takes time. Try to substitute bad eating habits, with better ones. However, still allow yourself the occasional snacks, just keep them limited. Or when you do eat something that isn’t exactly healthy, you compliment it with foods that have good sources of proteins, vitamins and antioxidants in them.

2. Welcome daily exercise into your life.

Making a habit of exercising is one of the better ways to develop healthier habits. It’s not just about losing weight, or getting into better shape. It can just help you develop a better mindset. Working out is extremely healthy for your entire body. Make exercise a routine, not just a phase. You don’t have to do it everyday, but it should be weekly.

3. Change your routines.

The same routines can often cause bad habits. Doing the exact same thing can trigger your subconscious into the exact same scenarios. Whether it’s eating, lack of exercise, or just the way you manage your time. Too much of one thing can be bad. Being able to adapt to new routines will help you embrace new habits, and break your old habits. It will take an adjustment and willingness to do these things.

4. Eliminate alcohol use.

Drinking a lot of alcohol is one of the better ways to cause bad habits in your daily life. Alcohol in general is bad for your mental stability. Alcohol is often linked to depression, which can explain a lot of bad habits a person obtains in their life. Cut back on usage of alcohol, and give yourself specific rules when drinking it frequently. If you can’t manage your drinking, then you have a problem. Go to AA and don’t be afraid to get the help needed.

5. Bring more joy and pleasure into your life.

Just simply enjoying life more can allow you to feel more motivated to improve your bad habits. A good mindset is obviously needed if you’re going to break bad habits and develop healthier ones. So to do that, take time to experience new things or try to do things you enjoy. If your bad habits are the things you enjoy, then try new things. Find other ways you can enjoy yourself, that aren’t becoming bad habits. For example, bad habits might be something as simple as watching too much TV. It’s easy for something to become a bad habit, even if it’s not extremely harmful to begin with. Try picking up a book instead. It’s not healthy to be so involved into one, or two things all the time.

6. Make a list of the daily things to improve on and give yourself set rules to follow.

Make a list of your bad habits, and then develop goals to improve on. It’s good to make yourself a schedule to follow. It’s easier when you have a set plan, and rules you give yourself. Keeping your bad habits organized, and making a blueprint on improving will help you out. Sometimes one has so many bad habits, it’s hard to keep track of them. Develop a methodical approach. Let there be self rewards you give yourself, that gives yourself satisfaction when breaking through on your bad habits and developing better ones.

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