Wednesday 27 September 2017

    Do you feel “bad” or “guilty” about this emotion? If so, you may be at risk for poorer longer-term psychological health.A study in the July 2017 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology you looked at the psychological health of people who accept, rather than negatively judge, their emotional experiences. Researchers found that accepting these experiences led to fewer negative emotions when confronted with daily stressors.The article reported on three separate, but related, studies that explored how accepting negative emotions, rather than reacting to them, affects a person’s psychological health.

      The first study aimed to see whether accepting emotions was associated with greater psychological health, and if this association was moderated by several demographic variables. Undergraduate students at the University of California at Berkley completed evaluations to assess acceptance, stress level, and psychological health. The researchers found that accepting mental health experiences was associated with greater psychological health across a range of demographic variables including gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Further, results indicated that the benefits to psychological health were associated with accepting the emotions associated with a negative event, rather than the situation that triggered those emotions.
      In the second study, the authors examined a potential explanation for how the tendency to accept negative emotions is related to psychological health. They explored whether accepting one’s mental experiences helps to decrease negative emotions when experiencing stressors. A consistent reduction in negative emotions should, in time, improve overall psychological health.
      Again, a group of undergraduates completed questionnaires related to acceptance and to their emotional responses to a stressful task completed in the lab. Results indicated that by habitually accepting emotions and thoughts, people experienced a lower degree of negative emotion when in stressful situations.
       Finally, the authors wanted to see if these results held up for people other than college students. They followed people in a Denver community for a six-month period. These study volunteers completed measures of acceptance, psychological health, and stress, and kept nightly diaries for two weeks identifying the degree of negative emotion felt when experiencing stressors that day.
      Results indicated that people who habitually accept their emotional experiences were more likely to report greater psychological health six months later. This was true regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Further, people who accepted these emotions were less likely to respond negatively to stressors. That is, people who routinely accept their emotions and thoughts when under stress, experience less daily negative emotion during these times. This in turn is associated with increased psychological health six months later.
     Taken together, these three studies highlight the benefits of accepting emotions and thoughts, rather than judging them, on psychological health. It seems like common sense. When a stressful situation causes negative emotions, accepting feelings of frustration or upset — rather than trying to pretend you’re not upset, or beating yourself up for feeling this way — reduces guilt and negative self-image. Over time, this will in turn lead to increased psychological health.

Bottom Line: Emotions are part of being human. Don't beat yourself and add to the anxiety . If they persist or you become concerned seek professional help immediatley.  

Monday 25 September 2017

The Road to Change: Starts Here Pt.1/3

You’ve been invited to a party, and you are on your way. As you pull out of your driveway , you realize you forgot to ask where it is or how to get there. In fact,you’re not even sure you have petrol in your car. Without planning ahead—charting your course,understanding the time commitment, and making sure you (and your car)are ready to go—you could miss out on a great time. Improving health and well-being is quite similar. Think of good health as your goal and exercise as the vehicle you use to get there  
Get S.M.A.R.T
Many people avoid goal setting because they don’t want to set themselves up for disappointment. But if you rethink this,how about seeting your goals so that you can achieve them? Take things slowly and build on your success,Create a plan that meets the following criteria:  

Specific: Avoid general goals,such as “getting in shape”. Instead ,aspire for more specific goals such as “walking a mile every morning” or joining a gym and going at least twice a week. 
Measurable:Note the way your clothes are fitting or how long it takes you to walk a mile .Repeat the measurements at 1-month intervals---so you’ll see your success  
Attainable: Be realistic. Be honest with yourself. Make what you say you are going to do matter .Create and exercise plan that is simple and doable and build from that.  
Relevant: Does the fitness program you’ve decided on meet  with your goals, and does it suit your lifestyle? Is the program enhancing your quality of life?  
Trackable: Log your workouts on your mobile device,notebook or calender.Frequently look back ti the first week or month of exercise and note your progress. It’s a great motivator.There also are a host of wearable apps that can assist you with tracking.





Saturday 23 September 2017

The 7 Stages of Change

Are you considering losing weight or changing to a healthy eating lifestyle that includes regular exercise? Not sure you’re ready ? There are 7 stages of change a person will go through to be successful at whatever the change is they are attempting to accomplish. It’s important you know what stage you are at . This knowledge will tell you what the chances are of you obtaining long term success.   

The stages of change are:
Precontemplation (Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed)
Contemplation (Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of  wanting to make a change)
Preparation/Determination (Getting ready to change)
Action/Willpower (Changing behavior)
Maintenance (Maintaining the behavior change)
Relapse (Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes)
Transcendence (you will reach a point where you will be able to work with your emotions and understand your own behavior and view it in a new light

Stage One: Precontemplation
In the precontemplation stage, people are not thinking seriously about changing and are not interested in any kind of help. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people's efforts to pressure them to quit.
Are you in the precontemplation stage? No, because the fact that you are reading this shows that you are already ready to consider that you may have a problem with one or more bad habits.  

Stage Two: Contemplation
In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habit and they spend time thinking about their problem. Although they are able to consider the possibility of changing, they tend to be ambivalent about it. 
In this stage, people are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior. Although they think about the negative aspects of their bad habit and the positives associated with giving it up (or reducing), they may doubt that the long-term benefits associated with quitting will outweigh the short-term costs. 
It might take as little as a couple weeks or as long as a lifetime to get through the contemplation stage. (In fact, some people think and think and think about giving up their bad habit and may die never having gotten beyond this stage)
On the plus side, people are more open to receiving information about their bad habit, and more likely to actually use educational interventions and reflect on their own feelings and thoughts concerning their bad habit. 

Stage Three: Preparation/Determination
In the preparation/determination stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: "I've got to do something about this - this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do?"
This is sort of a research phase: people are now taking small steps toward cessation. They are trying to gather information (sometimes by reading things like this) about what they will need to do to change their behavior.  
Or they will call a lot of clinics, trying to find out what strategies and resources are available to help them in their attempt. Too often, people skip this stage: they try to move directly from contemplation into action and fall flat on their faces because they haven't adequately researched or accepted what it is going to take to make this major lifestyle change. 

Stage Four: Action/Willpower
This is the stage where people believe they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change their bad behavior by using a variety of different techniques. 
This is the shortest of all the stages. The amount of time people spend in action varies. It generally lasts about 6 months, but it can literally be as short as one hour! This is a stage when people most depend on their own willpower. They are making overt efforts to quit or change the behavior and are at greatest risk for relapse.
Mentally, they review their commitment to themselves and develop plans to deal with both personal and external pressures that may lead to slips. They may use short-term rewards to sustain their motivation, and analyze their behavior change efforts in a way that enhances their self-confidence. People in this stage also tend to be open to receiving help and are also likely to seek support from others (a very important element). 

Hopefully, people will then move to:
Stage Five: Maintenance
Maintenance involves being able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to the bad habit. The goal of the maintenance stage is to maintain the new status quo. People in this stage tend to remind themselves of how much progress they have made. 
People in maintenance constantly reformulate the rules of their lives and are acquiring new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse. They are able to anticipate the situations in which a relapse could occur and prepare coping strategies in advance.
They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful. They are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of old behavior patterns and practice new ones until they are second nature to them. Even though they may have thoughts of returning to their old bad habits, they resist the temptation and stay on track. 
As you progress through your own stages of change, it can be helpful to re-evaluate your progress in moving up and down through these stages. 
(Even in the course of one day, you may go through several different stages of change). 
And remember: it is normal and natural to regress, to attain one stage only to fall back to a previous stage. This is just a normal part of making changes in your behavior.

Stage 6 : Relapse
Along the way to permanent cessation or stable reduction of a bad habit, most people experience relapse. In fact, it is much more common to have at least one relapse than not. Relapse is often accompanied by feelings of discouragement and seeing oneself as a failure. 
While relapse can be discouraging, the majority of people who successfully quit do not follow a straight path to a life time free of self-destructive bad habits. Rather, they cycle through the five stages several times before achieving a stable life style change. Consequently, the Stages of Change Model considers relapse to be normal. 
There is a real risk that people who relapse will experience an immediate sense of failure that can seriously undermine their self-confidence. The important thing is that if they do slip and say, have a cigarette or a drink, they shouldn't see themselves as having failed. 
Rather, they should analyze how the slip happened and use it as an opportunity to learn how to cope differently. In fact, relapses can be important opportunities for learning and becoming stronger.
Relapsing is like falling off a horse - the best thing you can do is get right back on again. However, if you do "fall off the horse" and relapse, it is important that you do not fall back to the precontemplation or contemplation stages. Rather, restart the process again at preparation, action or even the maintenance stages. 
People who have relapsed may need to learn to anticipate high-risk situations (such as being with their family) more effectively, control environmental cues that tempt them to engage in their bad habits (such as being around drinking buddies), and learn how to handle unexpected episodes of stress without returning to the bad habit. This gives them a stronger sense of self control and the ability to get back on track. 

 Stage 7: Transcendence
Eventually, if you "maintain maintenance" long enough, you will reach a point where you will be able to work with your emotions and understand your own behavior and view it in a new light. This is the stage of "transcendence," a transcendence to a new life. In this stage, not only is your bad habit no longer an integral part of your life but to return to it would seem atypical, abnormal, even weird to you.
When you reach this point in your process of change, you will know that you have transcended the old bad habits and that you are truly becoming a new "you", who no longer needs the old behaviors to sustain yourself.  

Bottom Line : Changing to a healthy lifestyle is the single hardest thing a person can do. Remember,relapse is a normal part of the process. Don’t let it derail you .   

Tuesday 5 September 2017

How Worry Affects Your Body

How Much Is Too Much?
We all worry from time to time, but if you can’t shake it after a few weeks or it starts to get in the way of your normal work or home life, talk to your doctor. It can take a toll on your health and might be linked to an anxiety disorder. Therapy, drugs, and other strategies can help. 

Nervous System
This messaging network is made up of your brain, spinal cord, nerves, and special cells called neurons. Worrying too much can trigger it to release "stress hormones" that speed up your heart rate and breathing, raise your blood sugar, and send more blood to your arms and legs. Over time, this can affect your heart, blood vessels, muscles, and other systems 

When you’re troubled about something, the muscles in your shoulder and neck can tense up, and that can lead to migraines or tension headaches. Massage or relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and yoga, may help. 

If you’re worried a lot, you might breathe more deeply or more often without realizing it. While this usually isn’t a big deal, it can be serious if you already have breathing problems linked to asthma, lung disease, or other conditions.
If it sticks around long enough, something as small as a nagging concern in the back of your mind can affect your heart. It can make you more likely to have high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a stroke. Higher levels of anxiety can trigger those stress hormones that make your heart beat faster and harder. If that happens over and over, your blood vessels may get inflamed, which can lead to hardened artery walls, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and other problems.  

Blood Sugar
When you’re worried about something, stress hormones also give you a burst of fuel (in the form of blood sugar). This can be a good thing if you need to run from danger, but what happens if you don’t use that fuel? Your body normally stores it to use later. But sometimes, if you’re overweight or have diabetes, for example, your blood sugar can stay too high for too long. This can lead to heart disease, strokes, or kidney disease  

Immune System
If your body is affected by the physical effects of worry, it may not fight germs as well. Just thinking about things that made you angry or depressed in the past can take a toll. It can make it harder for you to fend off the flu, herpes, shingles, and other viruses. 

You may feel “butterflies” in your stomach when you’re nervous -- in more serious times, you may feel nauseous or even vomit. If this happens often, it can lead to stomach pain and sores in your stomach lining (ulcers). And if you eat a lot of foods high in fat and sugar, your stomach has to work harder to digest them, and that makes more acid. This can cause acid reflux -- when acid flows up into your throat. 

Constant fretting can affect your bowel habits -- you could have diarrhea or find it hard to go to the bathroom. Diet, exercise, and over-the-counter medicines can often help, but you might be able to keep these problems from happening if you find ways to calm your anxiety.  

Sexual Health
Worry can tire you out and distract you so you’re less interested in sex. Over the long term, it can lower a man’s levels of the sex hormone testosterone. That can affect sperm development and slow or stop his body’s normal response when he wants to have sex. For women who have gone through menopause, it can make hot flashes and sleep issues worse.  

Bottom Line : A wise man said “ I’ve never seen worrying solve anything”. True words.


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