Tag Archives: health

human connection

Our Need for Connection and What We Can Do About it

Human connection is about sharing experiences, ideas, and feelings with others. It is a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. And, it is crucial to our happiness, our health, and our overall survival as a species.

Yet, why are we so bad at connecting?

In our ever-connected world, where we can catch up with our high school math teacher or college roommate with a click of a button, scroll through images of our coworkers’ weekend adventures, or send a text in a matter of seconds, we are becoming increasingly unconnected. It is damaging to our happiness, our health, and our overall wellbeing. How can a world that is so focused on this idea of always being reachable be drawing us further apart? 

We are spending so much time with our heads in our devices we are missing that authentic face-to-face connection that is so important. We are losing sight of authenticity. It is so easy to leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall pretending to care when the reality is we haven’t thought about them in years. We don’t know what is real anymore. We choose what photos we are posting, what information we are sharing with the world and we create our facade, whether it is a true picture of our lives or not. We edit and re-edit ourselves. We tend to share the best in our lives, making things look picture-perfect, but leave out the struggles, the challenges, the stuff that makes us who we are.

There is a reason we used to function as tribes, all the woman working together to care for the families. All the men hunting and gathering. It is the same reason that often people who live alone die earlier and get sicker before they pass. Human connection, the need to connect with others, is at our core as people. 

To fulfill that need, we need to get out into the world and talk to people. We need to have face-to-face conversations. We need to do things together — have family dinners, watch a sporting event, go on a walk, have a picnic, connect outside of our electronic devices. And, we need to be authentic. We need to be our true selves. We need to share, ask the tough questions, open up about our lives and who we are. We need to focus less on finding a connection for ourselves and more on connecting with others. I know it sounds like the same thing but I mean to say that rather than waiting for people to come to you, go to them. 

Your mental health, your happiness, your sense of self-worth, all of it, will thank you for putting yourself out there and connecting. 

family dinner

Meals as a family have many benefits

Life can be hectic. Between shuffling the kids around, getting your work done, and taking care of life’s many chores it is easy to let family dinner time fall by the wayside — but that is exactly why it is so important. 

Research shows family dinners are among the most important things you can do as a family. Children who eat family dinners do better in school, eat healthier, and make better life choices; and parents who have family dinners report lower levels of stress, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Of course, skipping family dinner is going to happen and that is ok. But, next time you are thinking about “just going through the drive-thru,” think about this:

1.) It is good for yours, and your child’s, waistline — A study by the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School found that children ages 9 to 14 who ate dinner with their families ate more fruits and vegetables and consumed less soda and fried foods. Their diets were also found to be more complete with essential nutrients. Not to mention a homemade meal packs more nutritional punch than the fast food, or pre-packaged version, and you control the portions. 

2.) Family meals are good for your child’s mental health — Children who eat with their families are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, or develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to feel their parents are proud of them, and delay sex, according to a study by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. It reinforces the child-parent connection and grows that bond.

3.) Your kids are less likely to abuse drugs — Having mealtime together at least five times a week leads to lower instances of drug and alcohol abuse, according to a CASA report. The study found that teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to abuse prescription drugs and try illegal drugs other than marijuana.  

4.) Your kids will do better in school — Teens who have family dinners regularly report higher grades. The time at the table allows children to have face-time with adults to ask questions, and also allows children to pick up on vocabulary and learn more about world events.

5.) It is a time to relax — Sitting down for a meal and being in the moment as a family can be a huge stress reliever. It is a time for adults to forget about the craziness of the day and be one with their family. It is a good reminder of what matters in your life.

6.)It is cheaper — A family dinner at home can cost half as much as eating out, and you usually have leftovers. While eating out can also be family time, it is frequently filled with more distractions making conversation a little more difficult.

Making family dinners more frequent in your home is a small change that can have a big impact. It is important to remember to also keep the TV off to minimize outside distraction and allow more conversation. Check out the Family Dinner Project for conversation starters, allow your child or teen to have a say in the meal, and put on a little dinner music to make the experience something everyone looks forward to. 

How to fit mindfulness into your busy life

The evidence is mounting—being mindful throughout your day can have major impacts on your health, happiness, stress and anxiety levels. It can be a game changer. But, so often I hear — I am so busy. How am I supposed to fit something else in? 

I am here to tell you that being mindful isn’t something you have to “fit” in. It is something you can train your brain to do throughout your days. It is not something that needs to be time consuming. 

Not Another To-Do List Item

Here are some tips to get you started:

1.) Write down reminders—When I first started on my journey of being more mindful I literally wrote things like “Stop, look around” in my phone and on Post-it notes. I stuck them to my desk, my bedroom door, my car console. Every time I saw them it was a reminder to do just that—stop thinking about what’s next and focus on the now. 

2.) Carry a notepad—When something on your must-do list pops into your head, write it down so that you don’t forget it later. That way you are not dwelling on it and can instead focus on the now and complete that task at the appropriate time. 

3.) Set reminders on your phone/make lists—You will find that you can enjoy the present more when you aren’t thinking about all the things you need to do. So make a list, set a reminder on your phone, whatever works best for you.

4.) Let it go—We spend so much time worrying about what happened yesterday or what is happening tomorrow that we miss out on today. That is what matters. We can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future. The only thing we are in control of is what we are thinking about at the present moment. 

5.) Meditate—I know what you are thinking, “you said I didn’t have to fit in mindfulness.” The truth is you don’t. You can choose to meditate while working out, while taking a walk, while brushing your teeth. It doesn’t have to be an eyes-closed break from your day. You can repeat a mantra in your head at designated times throughout your day. Or, you can pay attention to things like how your feet are moving during your run, the birds in the trees during your walk, your breathe as you brush your teeth. 

The bottomline is being mindful is simple — it is focusing on what you are doing at the present moment and observing. It could mean watching the knife as you cut vegetables for dinner, the movement of the brush on your teeth, the sound your child’s voice as they speak to you, the smile on their face as you read to them. It doesn’t have to be another item on your to-do list. 

burnout

The modern health concern: Burnout

And, what we should learn from it.

Burnout in the workplace is so much more than something we say when we feel like we need a break. It is a legitimate health concern, and it is so common that the World Health Organization has officially classified it as an “occupational phenomenon” in its International Classification of Diseases.

WHO classifies Burnout as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Characteristics include: (1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; (2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism; and (3) reduced professional efficacy. 

After all these years of increased workloads, less taken vacation time, and longer hours spent in the office, it is no wonder this health concern is becoming legitimized. It raises (and answers) the long asked question: Are we working too much?

What happened to balance? To slowing down? Why are we working so much? It is eye-opening. The reasons we work are to live. Yes, we want success and feelings of accomplishment, and to keep climbing the socioeconomic ladder.  But, what about the other things that make us, US — time with family/friends, travel, exercise, weekend hobbies, or even just watching movies or tv sitcoms. It is not that these things aren’t happening, it is just that they are taking less priority than they used to. 

Being successful in our jobs is great and all, and money is what we need to do many of the things we enjoy, but our mental health also needs to take priority. We need to be taking more breaks, more time off from work. We need to take the occasional moment in life to do nothing, to recharge, to refuel, to remember just why we do what we do. 

Rather than ignoring those feelings of dread we have for the day, the utter exhaustion we are faced with the moment we return home from the office, and the lack of desire to focus on our jobs, take a break. Take the time to focus on your mental health — whatever that may look like. Maybe it is seeking help from a licensed professional to help you determine what does matter to you in your life. Maybe it is setting limits on your time, not bringing work home from the office, not checking emails at 5 p.m., not working on weekends, etc. 

Let’s take this official classification as a wakeup call. Burnout is real and it is a threat to our health and our overall wellbeing. 

The Power of Solitude

Many of us are afraid to be alone. I am talking really alone, no cell phone, no wifi, nothing but you and your brain. But, choosing solitude every once in a while can have great benefits for your mind and your body. 

When we are constantly connected to the outside world we tend to lose touch with ourselves. We feel the need to compete with those around us, we get sucked into other peoples problems/struggles, and we can begin to feel overwhelmed in the day-to-day. We tend to ignore our own needs and desires because “there isn’t enough time.” We get bogged down with decision-fatigue and our judgment gets clouded. 

Rest your brain

Making the choice to spend time with yourself can give your brain time to rest. It can free you from decision-fatigue and enable you to make better choices for your life. It can help you to rediscover your sense of self, allow you time to listen to YOU and reflect on your goals and your needs. If that time is spent in nature, which often is the best place to find solitude, it can provide a renewed harmony with the natural world. Solitude allows you to escape sensory overload, stimulate creativity and awaken your spirituality. The list goes on and on. 

Now I hear you, “I don’t have time for that.” Well, taking these moments for yourself can also make you more productive, giving you more time to do the things you want to do. The amount of time you choose to be in solitude doesn’t have to be long. It could be in the form of daily meditation. It could be a couple hour hike or a run/bike ride/walk (without music). It could be a spa day by yourself. It could be a night at a hotel by yourself away from the chaos of your home. 

The main thing is you need to really be in solitude, free of distraction. That means no phone, no internet, no playlist. It is time for you to connect with you and that is hard to do if you are distracted. It is about practicing mindfulness. Lean into your sadness, embrace your insecurities, breathe, and reconnect with yourself again. Take a break from the real world for a moment. Relax. Breathe. And feel confident that you can re-enter your life with a clear head. 

Signs You Need A Mental Health Day

Your mental health is just — as if not more — important than your physical health. Your brain and all the different emotions you could be facing impact you physically. When you have a sore throat, a cough, a stomachache, a migraine, or other ailments, you take a sick day. When you aren’t feeling good mentally, it could be time to take a mental health day. 

We tend to ignore much of our mental health symptoms, brushing them off and saying “they will pass” only to have them resurface stronger than before. We don’t want to waste the time off, we don’t feel like we have the time to waste. But, we forget that when we aren’t operating at our fullest we aren’t being as efficient. By taking the time to tend to your mental health you are only helping yourself to be more focused, motivated, happy, and…well. 

Here are some signs that you could use a mental health day:

1.) You are distracted by something that needs to get done outside of the office. Maybe it is your taxes, a personal project, or a goal that requires your attention. Now I am not telling you to skip work whenever you need some extra time, but rather when you are distracted, forgetful, overwhelmed by something that needs to be tackled. Take a day to get it done. You will feel better for taking care of it, you will gain some control back over your life, and you will be more productive at your job when you return. 

2.) You have been neglecting yourself. Maybe you have been super busy at work or overcome with a project that is taking over your life. You aren’t taking care of yourself because you don’t feel like you have the time to spare. You could benefit from recharging your batteries. Take a mental health day to take care of you. The day can look any way you think it should — catch up on sleep, meal prep, go for a walk, take a fitness class, spend some extra time with your kids, meet a friend for lunch, whatever it is that you feel you need. A day away from the daily grind can do wonders for your inner self. 

3.) You are struggling with depression and anxiety symptoms that feel unmanageable. Maybe you are easily emotional, you are crying a lot, you are struggling to get out of bed, everyday activities are hard to accomplish, you don’t feel like you, whatever it is a day away from the stress you are consumed with can help. Allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you are trying to push past can be necessary to your healing. If you had the flu, your coworkers would never expect you to come in, they would not find you weak, in fact, they would likely thank you for taking the time to get well. 

There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day. It can take courage to admit that you need one. It can be hard to allow yourself the opportunity to have this day but it will be worth it. If you are having trouble taking care of you, I encourage you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. He/she/they can help you learn ways to fit time in for you. 

How often do you take mental health days?

Anxious Attachment is Harmful to Teens

Is your teen falling for someone easily? Are they easy to pick a fight? They likely have an anxious attachment style. 

Anxious attachment is something that develops when a child is young based on their relationship with their primary caregivers. In many cases it is a result of a parent who sometimes was very in-tune to their child’s emotional needs while in other cases was emotionally unavailable, creating confusion for the child on what to expect when turning to a parent. These children, as a result, often develop clingy tendencies as they have learned the best way to get their needs met is to cling to their parent. 

As that child turns into a teen, that anxious attachment manifests in other ways—jealousy, insecurities, over-dependence on a partner. This can be dangerous to teens who instead of focusing on their self-growth become dependent on their relationships to determine their self-worth. They grow emotionally desperate and can become over-bearing for their partners. These teens and adults are often always looking for ways the relationship is going to end, anticipating that they will ultimately be rejected. 

As a teen who is already going through a lot of changes and confusion in their life, anxious attachment puts them more at risk for unhealthy behaviors. They are more likely to do whatever they can to get the attention and acceptance of others around them, and likewise, they are deeply hurt and distraught at any actions of rejection. They become angry when they don’t receive the attention and reassurance they need from their relationships. It can lead to unhealthy patterns that can follow them through adulthood. 

By recognizing that your teen may have an anxious attachment style, you can help them change their patterns and get the help they need to become confident, healthy adults. Licensed mental health professionals have tools to assist in helping teens to feel more comfortable in their skin, more self-confident, and secure. Your teen can be taught how a healthy relationship should look. 

Source: https://www.psychalive.org/understanding-ambivalent-anxious-attachment

Why tracking your teen’s sleep is important

Sleep is super important, especially for growing minds. It is as vital to your health as the food you eat and the water you drink. Yet so many of us, especially our children and teens, are not getting enough good quality zzzzs. 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that teens need between 8 and 10 hours of high quality sleep each night to function at their best, yet only 15 % report getting that much on school nights. Even if you know your child is going to bed at a certain time and waking up at a certain time each day, it is the quality of sleep that matters more than the quantity. Many teens and adults suffer from treatable sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea but many don’t know it. By tracking your child’s sleep using a Fitbit, Apple watch or another device, you can get a better idea of how your child is really sleeping. 

Lack of sleep makes it hard to focus, contributing to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and solve problems. Tired kids and adults have a hard time learning and absorbing information.  It can also contribute to aggressive behaviors, unhealthy eating and weight gain, acne, and increased use of substances like alcohol and nicotine. 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help to treat insomnia and give your teen the tools he/she/they need to fall asleep and stay asleep. Other conditions like sleep apnea may require more medical attention. If your child is displaying unhealthy sleep patterns it is recommended that you seek advice from a licensed medical professional. 

Sleep needs to be a priority in your teen’s life. Limiting screen time, caffeinated drinks/pills, and stressful behaviors before bed along with setting a strict bedtime can help to establish a regular schedule and ensure your teen is getting the rest they need to function at their best. Keeping the same nighttime routine can make sleep easier. 

SOURCE:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

What to do when your family doesn’t believe in mental health

I hear the argument against counseling and mental health all the time. People say “my family doesn’t believe in mental health and say I don’t need to see a therapist.” They think it is “unnecessary,” or a “waste of time,” “useless,” etc. But, think about it this way — who do you talk to about car problems? A mechanic. Who do you call when you have a sore throat or a cough that won’t go away? A doctor. Who do you see when you have pain in your tooth? A dentist. 

Those who don’t believe in mental health don’t know anything about mental health. You talk to your mechanic about your car, your doctor about your physical health, and your therapist about your mental health. Talk to your family about what they are competent in—maybe it is their opinions about cooking, sewing, sports, parenting, marriage, etc. But if you are struggling with emotional concerns, depression, anxiety, marital issues, parenting strategies, etc. talk to someone who is trained in these topics and can help to give you healthy tips to move forward positively in life. 

Wonders for the Willing

Therapy is one of those things that can do wonders for the willing. If you are open to the first step of coming into an office setting to try to improve your life, to work towards living your best days, then you could benefit greatly. Your friends and family might think they are helping by telling you that you don’t “need therapy” but there is nothing wrong with seeking help when you are struggling. In fact, that is a healthy step in the right direction—kind of like eating more vegetables, going to bed earlier, and exercising. 

Leave the mental health expertise to the mental health professionals and take care of you. 

Why women should eat more ginger

There is this amazing spice— and “superfood”—readily available to all of us that many are not eating—ginger. It is loaded with nutrients that are great for our minds and bodies. And the best part is its sold in the produce sections of almost every grocery store. No need to go to a health food store. 

You can add it to a dish or crush some up to add to your tea or smoothie. Its spicy flavor can add a little zing or be muffled by other flavors, but regardless the benefits are undeniable. It is high in gingerol, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, making it a great addition to any diet.

The real superfood

Here are just some of the reasons why women, in particular, should be eating more ginger:

1.) It is a powerful immune boosting tool, inhibiting the growth of bacteria. It can help with treating colds and other viruses.

2.) It can be used as an anti-nausea— popular for pregnant women — and can assist in digestion. 

2.) Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in treating muscle aches and pains.

3.) It has been proven to help lower blood sugar and improve heart disease risks.

4.) When taken at the beginning of a menstrual period, it can help to reduce cramps and bloating.

5.) The powerful antioxidant properties in ginger have been shown to help protect against age-related damage to the brain and improve brain function in older women.

Bottom-line if there are any dietary changes you plan on making, this is definitely one to consider especially as we are in the midst of cold and flu season. 

Source: Healthline.com

*Disclaimer: This article is not intended to act as therapy or to treat or cure an illness. Always consult a medical doctor or qualified licensed healthcare professional before making changes to your diet.