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We’re not talking about a miracle cure.

While it’s easy — and understandable — to roll your eyes when someone offers a “miracle cure” for your anxiety (Yes! I have tried yoga! Thanks for asking!!), it’s also important to acknowledge this truth: There are day-to-day changes you can make that might help you manage your anxiety.

We’re not talking about a miracle cure. We’re not saying breathing on a mat will make your problems go away. It’s just important to remember while you’re rolling your eyes that you’re not helpless in this fight. While something that worked for one person might not work for you, that doesn’t mean nothing works for you — or that daily, destructive anxiety is inevitable.

Of course, that being said, anxiety will still happen, and when it rears its ugly head, it’s not your fault. It doesn’t mean you didn’t “try hard enough.” But for some of us, a slight change or tweak in our routine can at least make the fall a little softer, and the anxiety a bit more manageable. Making small changes also doesn’t replace seeing a therapist or taking medication, if that’s what you need. It’s just important to know there are options out there.

To find out some small changes people made that made a significant difference in their life with anxiety, we reached out to our mental health community. Is this there something on this list you’d try? Tell us in the comments below.THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO TAKING CARE OF YOUR MIND AND BODYSubscribe to HuffPost’s wellness emailThanks!You have been successfully signed up.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. Making Your Bed Every Morning

“I make my bed in the morning. That way I start my day feeling like I’ve already accomplished something. Also, no matter how bad the day is, I have something nice to come home to.” — Clarissa L.

2. Keeping Your Phone on Silent

“I keep my phone on silent. I never realized how much anxiety came from sudden phone calls or texts I wasn’t expecting. It doesn’t help that 9/10 times it’s a text that causes me more anxiety/drama/stress.” — Kathryn W

3. Opening Up to Others About Your Anxiety

“Being really open and honest with everyone that I have severe anxiety. When it’s really bad, I’m more open about it rather than hiding. I also draw a little smiley face on my wrist every day and make myself think a happy thought each time I see it!” — Cherokee M.

“Nightly check ins with my boyfriend. It helps to discuss the day and talk about what’s bothering me and the positive and negative things that happened. Helps set me up for sleep. Thank goodness he’s understanding and so patient with me when my anxiety becomes overwhelming for me.” — Monica T.

“I’ve informed people of my anxiety and have told them I need to leave the area for a reason and to please don’t take it personally, and please give me my space.” — Bailey S.

4. Spending Less Time on Social Media/Limiting Screen Time

“Temporary Facebook breaks by uninstalling the app. I can still browse through the mobile site, but it’s more inconvenient and makes me less likely to spend hours on there.” — Randi D.

“I limit my social media. It seemed my anxiety would rise every time I went on, because I was comparing my life to everyone’s highlight reel and it was doing a number on my self-esteem.” — Jen S.

“I try my best not to reach for my phone first thing in the morning. It’s not easy when it’s the alarm going off, but I turn it off and then I reach for my dogs. I try to spend a few minutes cuddling with them before I do anything else, like check my emails or Facebook. Before reality gets a chance to get in, I give my girls a chance to get their love in. They are far more important and loving them sets a better tone for my day.” — Nicole R.

“Having complete days where I switch off. No phone, internet or leaving the house. Ultimate recharge, in my place of security and serenity, without distractions.” — Capri B.

5. Saying “No”

“Being honest and telling people no. Saying ‘maybe’ doesn’t help… I’m telling you no for a reason, respect that and don’t come back at me for it. I’m trying my best, but I have my limits on what I can do. If I can do it I will do it.” — Saige D.

6. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques (a.k.a. Jedi Mind Tricks)

“I basically do a Jedi mind trick on myself. (Being a nerd helps with my anxiety too lol.) Here’s how it works: I try to objectively reflect on and assess my day. For example, I’ll think about what happened that day and rate how good the day was. However, I have to be able to provide ‘evidence’ from the day to back up my rating. Since anxiety convinces me I had a crappy day, when I make my day concrete by reflecting on the specific goals I did meet and the specific things I did accomplish and the specific little surprises that were positive, I see it was actually a good day. My attitude towards the day improves. It’s cut down on how often I claim I had a crappy day. I can tell if it was just the anxiety or actually a crappy day. If it was just the anxiety, reflecting has helped me see anxiety was lying and my memory of the day becomes positive. I guess it’s a type of daily gratitude practice. I even have an app that I can use to track how I rated my days so I can see patterns and I can visually see that I actually have more good days than bad ones.” — Jessica R.

7. Starting a Mindfulness Practice

“Yoga and meditation! Mindfulness is really helpful, it helps you stay in the present moment. also focusing on my breathing, deep breaths. They help me stay grounded.” — Eirenne E.

“Gratitude and mindfulness have worked really well and after being repeatedly told in therapy this works, I hesitantly tried it out. And it does work. Anxiety is often so future-focused about what may or may not happen. Mindfulness and gratitude keep you in the moment and help you appreciate what you already have. For example, every morning on my way to work, I have a gratitude mindfulness exercise. I notice the sunrise and appreciate it beauty, different colors, textures, etc. In that moment, I am not worried about work that day or remembering something that didn’t go well the day before. It is just me and the sunrise.” — Alyssa P.

“I’ve taken up meditation. I decided to download a few guided meditation sessions and I now meditate twice a day. My first is a general session in the morning, and at night it’s a session about whatever bothered me throughout the day. It helps a lot.” — Brianna N.

8. Writing Down Your Schedule/To-Do List

“I have a daily planner, but I also use a chalkboard wall, sticky notes and an app on my phone to make reminders and notes of encouragement more visible. It’s one of the best things I’ve done to cope with both anxiety and ADHD.” — Kami L.

9. Working Out

“The gym. Mostly on the treadmill or the bikes. Simple but slow workouts. I do it early in the a.m. If I start having an episode, walking or running in place helps.” — Jordan S.

10. Practicing Acceptance

“Accepting this as part of who I am. It allows me to step back when needed, totally guilt-free. Also letting go of how it makes others feel, guilt-free. It doesn’t change the level of anxiety, it only takes away the guilt of having it.” — Kathi F.

11. Cutting Toxic People/Things Out of Your Life

“I dropped all the toxic people in my life. Block. Delete. So simple. I unfollowed all the news and political pages on Twitter and Facebook. Life is so much better being a little selfish and putting my needs first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. As bitchy and heartless as I may sound, I’m actually able to love and care for those who actually care about me better after getting rid of the draining relationships.” — Naoko P.

“Cutting out people who are negative and bring me down not just on social media but I’ve had to tell former friends I’m done. It was hard when there was still so much there, but the constant disappointment was not worth it.”– Allison M.

“I remove all toxic people from my life. And I try to avoid encounters with people like that as often as I can. The biggest change I’ve made is breaking up with the most toxic ex-boyfriend I’ve ever had and getting out of the most toxic relationship I have ever been in. Reminding myself to breathe every day is extremely important. Relax. And to remember that things take time.” — Jessa P.

12. Establishing a Bedtime Routine

“I’ve established a bedtime routine. May sound silly, but after brushing teeth, etc., I wash my hands with a lavender soap. And use a good smell on my hands. Then climb into bed and take a few deep breaths. While repeating my mantra, ‘You are physically, mentally, emotionally safe. The world is not out to get you. Nothing is as bad as it seems.’ It really helps me.” — Niki T.

“I get everything I need for the day ready the night before so I don’t have to think too early in the morning. I also make my bed before I leave in the morning which is great because coming home after a long day to a made bed is fantastic. My room stays neat and clean which helps keep my mind at ease.” — Alexis H.

“I write down all the things I need to do the next day before I go to bed. It helps me fall asleep because I’m less worried about forgetting a responsibility.” — Maisie B.

13. Journaling

“I keep a journal now to track what was happening when I began to feel myself getting overwhelmed. Inside the cover is a list of grounding techniques. This helps me track my triggers and find ways to cope/avoid those situations.” — Megan K.

14. Finding Something to Do With Your Hands

“I take my crochet with me everywhere I go now. It helps me while I sit and talk to people. Even if I’m not talking to someone, it can help bring a great conversation starter and helps ease my tension, as I keep my hands busy.” — Tatauq M.

15. Cutting Out Caffeine

“I’ve cut the majority of caffeine from my life. I stick to herbal tea, and occasionally will have a green tea or decaf coffee. Since this change, I’ve had significantly fewer panic attacks.” — Ashley S.

“Cut out caffeine and drink more water. I was told by a therapist that it would help and it does. I noticed without the caffeine I don’t feel as anxious. Not only does it help with my anxiety, but I know I’m hydrated.” — Amanda W.

“I quit caffeine! Not having that extra jolt when I get anxious has really helped keep my panic levels lower. Yes, it was hard — but worth it!” — Polly B.

16. Giving Yourself Time in the Morning to Prepare for the Day

“Giving myself enough time in the morning to prepare for the day. It has made a huge difference in being able to have the right mindset before leaving the house.” — Stephanie Q.

“I wake up an hour earlier to get some alone and free time in my home before everyone else wakes up.” — Alicia H.

17. Practicing Gratitude

“Listing three things I’m thankful for every day (no repeats, if I’m thankful for the sun one day then I can’t say that ever again) and going on a walk.” — Crystal G.

“When I think something negative, I have to stop and think of something I am grateful for. Example — I got a flat tire and I would’ve normally been upset, but I remembered I had the foresight to get AAA two years ago because I was scared about something happening. I said thank you to my anxiety because now I was covered. Sounds weird but it works.” — Karri H.

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/17-small-but-significant-lifestyle-changes-that_b_5af4ab26e4b0cd87a2a995b2?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=hp_fb_pages&utm_source=parents_fb&guccounter=1

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After living through a terrible epidemic, two inventors have created a self-cleaning door handle.

  • A pair of students in Hong Kong have created a self-cleaning door handle.
  • The device uses ultraviolet light to cause a chemical reaction that kills germs.
  • In tests, it was able to kill 99.8% of microbes on the door handle.

Think of the most germ covered places in any building. I’ll bet you included door handles on that list. It is a well-studied fact that a filthy door handle can spread disease in short order. Some people won’t even touch the handle of a bathroom door if they can avoid it. However, the days of the infectious door handle may be nearing an end. A pair of graduates from the University of Hong Kong have invented a door handle that uses ultraviolet light to keep itself germ-free.

Let there be (ultraviolet) light!

The handle is a glass tube with aluminum handles at either end. A thin layer of titanium dioxide covers the glass. When this is bathed in UV light, it sets off a chemical reaction that destroys germs. The UV light itself is powered by a small generator that uses the kinetic energy of the opening and closing of the door to produce electricity.

The principle is largely the same as the one used for ultraviolet water purification systems.

Attempts to keep door handles clean is nothing new. Most people make a point of cleaning door handles during a disease outbreak, and making frequently touched objects, like door handles, out of a germ-resistant material like brass or silver has been a practice for centuries. However, this system is much more effective than anything tried before. Tests showed 99.8% of microbes being killed off by the UV light.

The creators of the handle, Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li, explained that it was primarily inspired by the experience of the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s.

As they told the James Dyson Award team, “In 2003, SARS spread out in Hong Kong. It infected thousands and killed hundreds here. People noticed the importance of public health. We knew that many infection can spread out by contact, for example, SARS, MERS, Foot and Mouth Disease and Candida auris. Then, we decided to design door handle to public to prevent those infection to spread out and enhance public hygiene.”

They also pointed out that the system is less harmful to humans than chemical cleaners and cannot be accidentally wiped off.

The inventors hope to mass-produce the product and bring it to a public space in the near future. The invention is already gathering a fair amount of attention. It was a winning entry in this year’s James Dyson Awards and is now an entry for the international grand prize phase of that competition.

Source: https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/uv-light-doorhandle?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

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Like so many people, I grew up watching the TV show “Friends,” dreaming of the day I would be living a glamorous city life surrounded by a group of close friends. Over the years, I’ve made lots of friends: childhood friends, work friends, college friends, writer friends. I have friends who like to hike, and friends who like to chat over coffee and friends who live far away but whom I talk to a few times a year.

But close friends? “Friends” level friends? The “I can tell you anything and count on you always” kind of friends? Not so much. A childhood friend and I had a falling-out, never to be repaired. Another close friend moved away.

In groups of adults, you often hear some form of this complaint: It’s hard to make friends as an adult. And if, for whatever reason, you don’t stay connected to your childhood or college friends, you can end up in your 30s (or 40s, or 50s) knowing a lot of people, but being close to very few of them.

When you’re overworked and overwhelmed, the motivation to have dinner with a friend versus turning on Netflix and eating pizza with your spouse can be hard to summon. But the research is clear: Close friendships are necessary for optimal health and well-being.

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“We are social and communal creatures,” said Serena Chen, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “When we are intimate with another person, we can experience positive mental and physical reactions in our body, mind and heart.”

Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist and a neuroscientist and the author of “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love,” has studied humans and animals as a way to understand human bonding. “Social connections are the most powerful way for us to regulate our emotional distress,” Dr. Levine said. “If you are in distress, being in proximity to someone you’re securely attached to is the most effective way to calm yourself.”

If you look to popular culture to understand close friendship, you’ll be left with a few common tropes: the friend who will take a bullet for you; the friend you can call in the middle of the night and they’ll be there for you, no matter the inconvenience; the friend with whom you can share anything.

True close friendship (unsurprisingly) does not need to be quite as extreme. “A key to close friendship is intimacy, and a big part of intimacy is being able to be fully yourself and be seen and understood by others,” Dr. Chen said. “When people close to us don’t ‘get’ us, it’s undermining to intimacy.”

Reciprocation is also a key element to creating intimacy. Dr. Chen explained why all the people you know on Facebook or Instagram don’t necessarily count as close friends: “When we post something on Facebook and people give us affirmation in the way of nice comments or encouragement, that feels good, but it doesn’t necessarily create intimacy because there’s no give and take.” A big part of intimacy is that both people feel they are seen and understood by the other person.

If close friendships really are vital to human well-being, it would seem that we would be intuitively skilled at making them. But it turns out that the opposite may be true: Close friendships are so important to us because they are so difficult to form.

According to John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist who specialized in the study of loneliness (he died in 2018), humans would have evolved a built-in bias against easily making friends because avoiding an enemy would have been more important than making a friend. “If I make an error and detect a person as a foe who turns out to be a friend, that’s O.K., I don’t make the friend as fast, but I survive,” Dr. Capiocco said in a 2017 interview in The Atlantic. “But if I mistakenly detect someone as a friend when they’re a foe, that can cost me my life. Over evolution, we’ve been shaped to have this bias.”

In the modern world, that tension is more nuanced. “There is a longstanding debate in the sociology community about what humans want more: to be admired or known,” Dr. Chen said. She explained that admiration came with a lot of perks: It feels good, it has social benefits, there may be status and even financial gains to be had. But being admired and seen in ways that don’t line up with how we actually see ourselves — perhaps not as confident and successful as others think we are — can come at the cost of feeling understood by and close to others.

Culturally we are also more focused on career success, financial accomplishments and family milestones than we are on connection with others. Sue Johnson, one of the leading psychologists in the fields of bonding, attachment and romantic relationships, and the founder of the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, pointed out that when someone lists his or her life goals (or even New Year’s resolutions), rarely does making close friends or getting closer to existing friends get mentioned.

“When it comes to friendship, we put quantity over quality, so it becomes a question of how many people will show up to your birthday party,” she said. “The real question is if you can open up and be vulnerable with a few of these folks. Are you willing to tune in emotionally and respond if they reach for you?”How to Be a Better FriendFriendships are an essential ingredient in a happy life, so it’s time to give them the care and attention they deserve.

If you want closer friendships, the first step is to decide you’re going to do something about it. “We think about relationships as things that happento us, but the truth is that we make them happen,” Dr. Johnson said. Getting closer to your existing friends requires making the time and being intentional.

Once you have determined to work on your friendships, here are five techniques to try.

Before we can attempt closeness, we need to have security. Through his research, Dr. Levine has identified the five foundational elements of secure relationships, which he refers to as CARRP.

  • Consistency (Do these friends drift in and out of my life on a whim?)
  • Availability (How available are they to spend time together?)
  • Reliability (Can I count on them if I need something?)
  • Responsiveness (Do they reply to my emails and texts? Do I hear from them on a consistent basis?)
  • Predictability (Can I count on them to act in a certain way?)

Once these five elements are in place, it can pave the way to a deeper connection. “From an attachment perspective, once we feel safe, we can start being more adventurous and playful, which helps us at work, raising our kids, in every aspect of our lives,” Dr. Levine said.

That doesn’t mean that you have to respond to texts within the hour, but it does mean that you need to create a baseline of responsiveness and availability so your friends feel secure in your friendship. Likewise, if you have friends who are flaky, unresponsive or unreliable, it will serve you to try to see if they can become more CARRP and if not, look to other people for close friendship.

“We often tell ourselves that we shouldn’t care if somebody cancels plans or we can’t count on them, that we should be more laid back and stop being so needy, but that’s the same as fighting against biology,” Dr. Levine said.

The next step of creating close friendships is to just open your eyes. Humans have a unique ability to read emotions by mimicking subtle facial expressions.

“Intimacy starts with attention and attunement,” Dr. Johnson said. “When you look at somebody with your full attention, your face muscles start to mirror their facial muscles within milliseconds. If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you can miss it completely.”

This mimicry helps us empathize with the emotional experiences of the other person. The next time you’re with a friend who is sharing something about his or her life, Dr. Johnson suggested that you look that person in the face and give your full attention. This will create a psychological sense of connection. “As bonding mammals built for connection, this makes our nervous systems hum,” she said.

If you want to be seen for who you are, you have to be willing to stop pretending to be somebody cooler or smarter than you are. Admit that you binge watch “Honey Boo-Boo,” are jealous of other people’s accomplishments or don’t always brush your teeth before bed. Make that goofy joke. Share that less-than-flattering detail.

“You have to try to help people understand and accept you, which conversely means you have to understand and accept yourself enough that you believe you can make somebody else’s life brighter just by being in it,” said Donald Miller, author of “Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.”

In his 40s, Mr. Miller said, he had a successful career as an author and public speaker and an audience that adored him, but lived without true intimacy in his life. Determined to connect with others, he learned that the only way to get the intimacy he was searching for was to start being more honest about who he was.

Helping people understand and accept you may sound intimidating, but getting started is easier than you think. Dr. Levine suggests that the next time you’re with a friend, start diverting the conversation into exposing more vulnerability. When your friend responds in a way that feels supportive, give positive feedback by saying how helpful that was, or what a good perspective your friend has on your situation.

Most of us would consider a close friend somebody we could call in a pinch. But if you, like me, have a romantic partner or live close to family, you might rarely find yourself in a pinch that requires a friend. I recently had to undergo a minor medical procedure and my husband wasn’t able to go with me. “Why don’t you call one of your friends?” he asked me the night before, naming a couple of friends who might be available. I didn’t have a good answer. Sure, these were pretty good friends, but were we medical-procedure close?

When I posed this situation to Dr. Levine, his suggestion was simple: Take them for a test drive. “Ask for help even when you don’t need it so that when you truly need them, you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out and you’ll have a better sense of how they will respond.”

He suggested that the next time I had an issue — a tricky work situation or I needed help coordinating a birthday dinner — I should go out of my way to lean on a friend. Not only is this a low-risk way of testing how reliable a friend is, it also builds closeness. “When we give someone a chance to show up for us, we pose an opportunity for greater bonding and closeness,” Dr. Levine said.

I asked the same question of everyone I interviewed for this article: How much closeness do we need? Each person gave a different answer, each of which boiled down to this: It’s not that simple.

Dr. Chen said that it varied from person to person; some of us need dozens of connections, some of us need only two or three connections, but we all need some closeness to others. Dr. Johnson emphasized that building intimate connection in our love relationships is even more essential than building it in our friendships. Mr. Miller said that it had to be the right people. Dr. Levine mentioned that being able to confide in somebody or call in an emergency is only one type of closeness, and not necessarily the only important kind.

What all of the experts agreed on was this: Intimacy with other people — whether it’s a spouse, a family member or a friend — is one of the most profound ways to be happier, healthier and calmer. As Dr. Levine said, “It’s so potent that it will work much better than any Xanax out there.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/smarter-living/how-to-have-closer-friendships.html

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