Seven Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma

Living with a mental health illness can be challenging. Add to that having to deal with the misconceptions, stereotypical ideas and blatantly outrageous beliefs that many people in society hold about mental health, and one can be left feeling overwhelmed and rejected.

Common mental health preconceptions include; “If you have schizophrenia you must be violent and dangerous.” “Why do you have happy days when you’re suffering with depression? Shouldn’t you always be depressed?” and perhaps the classic; “Oh just get over it, it’s all in your head anyway!”

Preconceptions like these are called mental health stigma and unless society as a whole stand up and challenge these ideas and beliefs, mental health stigma will continue to shame people living with a mental health illness and perpetuate a misunderstanding over the broader concept of mental health.

Following is a list of seven ways you can fight mental health stigma:

  1. Join a support group

Support groups abound in this day and age and there are plenty of good support groups out there for people with mental health issues. Large organisations, such as Mind often run online support groups, and your local newspapers are a good source to locate support groups. Support groups are often chaired by people who have either lived with a mental health issues, or are experienced and qualified to support you.

  1. Take comfort in friends and family

One of the most insidious aspects of mental health stigma is its ability to undermine, belittle and create doubt in the minds and hearts of those on the other end of hurtful misconceptions. After being misconstrued as ‘crazy’ or ‘it’s all in your head’, there is no better way to fortify yourself than by taking comfort in family and friends; people who really know what your mental health illness is all about.  

  1. Talk to your therapist

Therapists are not only invaluable to help you deal with your mental health illness, but are a wonderful sounding board to discuss any mental health stigma that you may have been exposed to. Not only will they have an armload of tricks and tips to help get you through, the therapy itself promotes the legitimacy of mental health as a medical and social issue widespread in society.

  1. Practice Positive Self-Talk and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Techniques

Mental health stigma has the potential to leave the person being stigmatised vulnerable to self-doubt and insecurity. Behavioural interventions such as positive self-talk and cognitive behavioural therapy help people to recognise and challenge damaging negative talk and unhelpful patterns or beliefs. By using these techniques you are empowered to acknowledge then challenge these beliefs instead of simply internalising them.

  1. Stay connected

After a hurtful experience where mental health stigma has made you feel inferior or ashamed, a natural inclination may be to retreat; to hide from the world which has so callously rejected you. Resist! Don’t slink into the shadows where your mental health illness can manifest and brood, go out amongst people, show yourself off, say “I am here and I don’t care what you think!” And try to find as many like-minded friends to join you. Unite and stay connected.

  1. Start a blog and educate people

Linking in with the previous tip, you can fight mental health stigma by staying connected while also educating society on some of the truths of mental health illness. It’s one thing for myths and preconceptions to be tossed around, but why can’t the truth? If you’re courageous enough, start a blog and share your story with a little tongue-in-cheek humour like Mindfump.com.

  1. Zero Tolerance policy

The final tip you can employ to join in the fight against mental health stigma is to adopt a zero tolerance policy. Hear someone saying something about anxiety that you know is untrue? Challenge them! Read something misleading about borderline personality disorder? Write to the editor! Take up the zero tolerance policy attitude and stand up for mental health awareness.

Article by Raunak Karim.

Stress-Free Parenting with easy 8 steps

Stress free parenting with 8 East Steps
The fact about being a parent is that our children are always watching us, taking their cues about how to manage life’s ups and downs from what they observe us doing. Whether we’re gripping the steering wheel on a red light because we’re running late, or shouting at someone who took the parking space we had our eye on, our kids are always observing. Whenever we manage stress in unhealthy ways – with anger, blame, yelling and so forth – basically we are teaching our children to do the same. Sometimes it is hard to manage life’s difficult moments but we should always look for healthier ways to relieve of your stress. Below are some tips that should help to reduce your stress:

  1. Make your life simple: Most of the time we take on more than what we can handle, and then feel stressful about having said “yes” when we wanted to say “no.” Trimming your commitments down to those that are either important, bring you pleasure or satisfaction of some kind.
  1. Don’t take it personally: Have you ever thought why a particular incident can cause one person to feel awfully hurt, while another thinks it off as no big deal? People who are more laid-back don’t take things as personally, and are less caught up in winning approval. Rather than letting your blood boil when your mother-in-law suggests that she never had problems getting her children to clean up their toys (really?), allow her comments to roll off your back without turning them into a assertion about your worth as a mother.
  1. Get good sleep: One of the best ways to increase your ability to deal with stress is to get more rest. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours a sleep to recharge. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience problems with mood swings, focus, memory, tiredness and stress. If you need to take an afternoon nap with your toddler instead of tackling the dirty dishes, take the nap. The more rested you feel, the better you’ll be able to deal with life’s challenges. 
  1. Be social and get help: For many parents, the tasks involved with raising children are never-ending and makes them keep running from morning to night. If you’re tired, exhausted or need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Meet a few other parents who will swap school drop offs, pick ups, or even join a rotating homework club that moves from house to house. We are meant to raise children in a tribe or with the support of an extended family. If you don’t have a network of helpful, trustworthy people to depend upon, sure it’s time to create one.
  1. One thing at a time: Many of us as parents try to juggle far too many errands at once, in the name of efficiency. Slow down and focus on the one thing you’re doing at a given time – whether it’s serving a meal or giving a bath to your toddler. Even more important to give your children your undivided attention for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day when you aren’t trying to get them to do something. Getting your positive attention will have the extra benefit of motivating your children to be more supportive.
  1. Exercise and long breathing: One of the best ways to strengthen you against stress is to exercise regularly. I understand not all of us can make it to gym, but think about what you loved to do when you were a child. Did you like to jump rope? Ride your bike? Choose something that you really enjoy, and consider finding an exercise buddy to make it more fun. A few slow, long and calming breaths can immediately reset your stress-clock. Some people like to recite a word or phrase like Ommmm… or Buzzzz.. or sing while breathing deeply. You may want to explore meditation as well. Whatever gets you breathing and physically relaxed will help you manage your difficult moments with more grace and peace. Not only will you be better able to manage with stress – you’ll be in better health, too.
  1. Play with your kids: Remember your childhood what it was like to have fun? For many parents, life is about crossing things off a to-do list. Without time built into each day for nourishing our spirit, we become more vulnerable to frustration and stress. Laugh, tell jokes, draw, have a dance contest with your children. These small acts can make a big difference in your stress level by helping you reconnect with the playful and happy parts of yourself that can get buried under the list of things-to-do.
  1. Imperfection is ok: Most of us have internalized someone else’s voice in our head – a critical teacher or parent, perhaps – and feel that we’re never good enough. Aiming for constant perfection creates constant stress. If you’re too tired to clean your house before your guests come for dinner, allow your best to be good enough.

In today’s fast-paced world – life can wear you down, causing you to be ever more helpless to stress as you feel burdened by the never-ending demands placed upon you.  Consider these steps and take time to reconsider where you can make adjustments in your daily life that will help you handle those difficult experiences more easily. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favor – your children will benefit from seeing their mom and dad takes care of themselves. Teach them they can also learn to manage life’s frustrations in much healthier ways.

Signs you are unhappy at work

symptoms-of-unhappy-worker

How can you tell that you’re unhappy at work? That something may not be right and that it’s time to either make some changes at work, or move on to a new job? As part of my work, I talk to a lot of people who are not happy with their jobs. Here are the top symptoms of unhappiness at work that I continue to observe. How many apply to you?

1: You start to procrastinate
You really, honestly try to get some work done. But somehow you never really get around to it. Or you only do it at the last possible moment and then only do a half-baked effort.

Many people view procrastination as a personal weakness. To me, it’s one of the strongest warning signs of unhappiness at work.

2: You can’t stand the Monday morning
Some people don’t sleep on Sunday night very well because I’m worried about going to work on Monday morning. One of the worst things about being unhappy at work is that the unhappiness eats into your free/personal time. If you have a lousy day or week at work, it’s difficult to go home and still have a fun, relaxed, carefree weekend.

3: You are ambitious about salary and title
Sometimes you don’t like the job itself, so you focus much more on salary or perks. Those unhappy at work get a lot more competitive, for a simple reason: When work does not give happiness and enjoyment, people want to get something else out of it to make it even. That’s when they focus on compensation and promotions.

4: You don’t feel like helping co-workers or care about anything
When we are in a bad mood, we are much less likely to help others. This is the common psychological response. So you casually pass by a coworker who is trying to balance a heavy box.

You just care about your own paycheck while things may go wrong for your workplace.

5: You make no friends at workplace
Friends at work? When people can’t connect with coworkers for whatever reasons, work becomes mechanic and people become unhappy. Mind longs for workplace engagement.

6: Small things annoy you
Small annoyances bug you out of all proportion. Like someone taking up too much talking loudly, air conditioning too high or low, someone taking long at coffee machine.

When you’re unhappy you have much thinner skin and a shorter fuse. It takes a lot less to annoy you.

7: You’re suspicious of other people’s motives
No matter what people do, your first thought always is “what are they up to?” Whether it is good, bad or routine, all decisions and actions made by your managers or co-workers are seen as negative. You are suspicious of others when unhappy.

8: Physical symptoms
You suffer from insomnia, headaches, low energy, muscle tension and/or other physical symptoms. When you’re unhappy at work you’re more prone to experience these physical stress symptoms. This may lead to high cortisol hormone level and weaker immune system.

How do you measure up?

How many of these symptoms apply to you in your current job?

Job stress making us sick?

Researchers analyzed data from about 12,000 workers in Sweden. High levels of job stress increase the risk of sick leave due to mental health disorders, a new study suggests.

Findings:job-stress

  • Over five years, about 8 percent of the workers took mental health sick leave. Three-quarters of those who took mental health sick leave were women.
  • Workers with demanding jobs, high job strain and little social support at work were at greater risk for mental health sick leave, as were those with unhealthy lifestyles.
  • Smoking was also cited as a significant risk factor for mental health sick leave, but alcohol use was not.
  • High levels of physical activity reduced the risk of mental health sick leave, according to the study in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Take steps and avoid these circumstances.

Monotonous, routine work

Sometimes we engage in tasks at work every day that we could do in our sleep. Sometimes we stick to same position for three to five years without any new possibilities or opportunities to grow. Sometimes it’s important to keep on the cutting edge and to keep your intellect engaged on the job. Because in this economy, most industries are innovating rapidly. Be inspired rather than be bored.

Bad workplace

Sometimes you are unable to complete a task uninterrupted because others invade your workspace. Sometimes workplace is driven by gossip, back-stabbing, favoritism or nepotism. Chances are you can do little to change environment where these problems exist. Such offices with boundary violations are typically headed up by those who have bad boundaries themselves, and the behavior bleeds down from the top. Save yourself.

Physical or emotional signs of stress

Sometimes we tolerate high-stress jobs for so long that we literally become ill, suffering from physical conditions such as stomach ulcers, hair loss, or emotional conditions such as depression or severe anxiety. Sometimes we self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Get out now. No job is worth your health — even if high-paying, powerful. Staying put in such circumstances, and it only gets worse. Strive for a life in balance. Resolve to get it.

Emotionless boss

Sometimes even senior executives tolerate abusive behavior from their higher ups on a daily basis. Sometimes abusive behavior continues and constitutes screaming at you, throwing things, belittling and humiliation in front of others, or threatening your job routinely.

Shun the abuse and the abuser. You have options. Repair your self-esteem if you have internalized any of the abuse to which you’ve been subjected to. Then start taking action to get out. Revise your resume and start sending out applications.

Conclusion: Making the choice to move on from job that no longer serves you is important for greater balance, success and joy in life. Be open to new possibilities and take action. With the right skills, dedication and perseverance, you can find what you would like to do next.

 

Manage ADHD Naturally

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 3 to 5 percent of school-age children, causing symptoms such as inattentiveness, frenetic activity, anxiety and forgetfulness.

Kids with ADHD typically respond to drug prescriptions designed to provide calm and focus, but some of these can cause unpleasant side effects like appetite changes and muscle spasms. Experts suggest considering these natural options to complement an afflicted child’s integrative treatment plan.

Managing Behaviortreating-adhd-without-drugs

1. Set boundaries: ADHD kids are often sensitive by nature. Many parents and teachers consider boundaries may be harsh or limiting. But these children can actually thrive with boundaries. Rather than offer kids unlimited choices, give them two or three options. This helps a child feel safe. Regard a troubled child as scared, rather than angry—this will enable parents and caregivers to speak to them with compassion.

2. Work with teachers: Some children with ADHD may have trouble fitting into traditional schools. When speaking with teachers, use collaborative words such as “partnership” to obtain healthy cooperation. Teachers have an entire class to attend to, not just this child; address them with respect and understanding, and everyone will ultimately benefit.

3. Lead by example: Parents have more power to handle their child’s ADHD than they think. Model the desired behaviors—if children are not allowed to eat in the living room, the rule should apply to the whole family. Maintaining consistent rules is vital.

Managing Nutrition

1. Omega-3s: According to University of Maryland Medical Center’s recent studies, kids with behavior problems have relatively low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient vital for brain health. Children’s daily diets should contain omega-3-rich foods such as chia, hemp, nuts and fatty fish. For children 12+, supplement with fish oil containing 1,200 milligrams (mg) of (DHA) docosahexaenoic acid and (EPA) eicosapentaenoic acid combined.

2. Vitamin Bs: Vitamins B6 and B12 are considered important building blocks for brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Deficiency can impair nerve cell communication, hindering memory, focus and attention. Encourage children to eat B-packed organic foods like eggs, poultry, bell peppers, yams and spinach.

3. Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium can be associated with restless legs, anxiety and irritability—all of which can exacerbate ADHD. For kids ages 4 to 8, start with 130 mg of magnesium in the morning. If the child has trouble sleeping, another dose before bed may help. The dose must obviously be given after due consultation with physician.

4. Reduce gluten: Gluten is a complex assembly of many proteins that sticks to the digestive tract. This can stimulate behavioral issues. When gluten inflames a child’s digestive system, brain inflammation likely occurs, as well. Look for gluten-free pasta, bread, crackers and cookies made from rice, quinoa, flaxseed and non-GMO (genetically modified) corn.

5. Pair fats with food: Healthy brain function requires a proper ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats to the more common inflammatory omega-6 fats (found in canola, soybean and corn oils). Encourage balance by eating omega-3 foods at mealtime, when the gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system, allowing better omega-3 absorption.

6. Avoid processed foods: High-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors such as Yellow 5, Blue 1 and Red 40 are linked to increased hyperactivity in children. Choose whole, real foods like whole grains and organic meats, vegetables and fruits. Use maple syrup rather than white sugar to sweeten foods – it’s full-flavored, so a little goes a long way.

The Clock in Our Brain

Ever wonder why new born infants stay awake and active during night but sleep during day time?

Body clock or Circadian rhythm is what enables us to synchronise the working of our body with the day and night. The actual ‘clock’ is a cluster of around 10,000 nerve cells that lie buried deep within a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Light coming in through our eyes ‘trains’ the body clock to keep in time with day or night and resets it slightly every day.

Your body has an internal clock that makes you feel sleepy at night and awake during the day. Even though there are 24 hours in a day, this clock is actually on a slightly longer cycle (24.1 hours).

The production of rhythms is complex. But we can sum things up as follows: special clock genes in the Supra Chiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) switch on which leads to protein production. As these proteins accumulate, along with other chemicals, they switch off the clock genes. The level of proteins then drop to point where the genes are able to switch on again and the cycle restarts. This cycle of switching off and on happens about once every 24 hours. The SCN sends out signals to the rest of the body that vary according to this cycle. The cycle is not just determined by the SCN itself: it responds and adapts to signals from outside the body (principally light and dark) to keep the organism synchronised with the world around it – that is, ticking at the right time.

It is with the stimulation of the SCN, that the pineal gland in the brain produces a hormone called melatonin which tells our body to sleep…..

A newborn’s biological clock is immature. It takes time for a baby to develop his own natural circadian rhythm as it had stayed in dark for 24/7 in the womb for a long time.  Sleep patterns develop with time, and as the baby gets older, her biological clock and nervous system matures, which makes it get on a routine.

Then what happens when a person is experiencing a jet lag due to long distance travels? The answer to this is also the same. Bright light can help us to reset our circadian rhythms according with the new time zone.

A quote from Sam Levenson to go with this article –

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”


The above article was contributed by Shwetha. R. Bhat.

Talk Therapy

Help me, Counselor…

Talking cure is a method of treating psychological disorders or emotional difficulties that involves talking to a therapist or counselor, in either individual or group sessions.talk therapy

It is quite like re-programming a computer. The outdated software that is probably loaded with virus (self-critical, negative and harmful thoughts) is replaced by a new version of positive, encouraging, future-oriented and healthy thoughts.


How does it help?
As we are brought up, most of us have learned to feel loved and/or valued only when talk/behave in a particular way. In this some of our strange desires and impulses, or so-called abnormal thoughts and perversions are curbed (for the fear that they might not find acceptance). However, considering there are both positive and negative shades in each human’s personality, both of them need acknowledgement. Within a counseling set-up one gets not only an unconditional respect, whatever the private thought process maybe like, but also methods to synchronize these thoughts with our day-to-day living. Provided these desires and impulses are not too crazy, in which case one will need more intense help, talking about them will amalgamate the various shades in one’s personality, thinking and self-esteem into a healthy whole. This leads to better self-understanding, self-acceptance and maturity.

Secondly, when friendly advice is not available, or not neutral, ‘talking cure’ can be of great help. Consider a woman in 30s going through a divorce. Her girlfriends might keep ranting on the weaknesses and negative shades of the ex-husband’s personality. The woman, rather, is confident of her decision, has already made peace with the fact of divorce, and needs more of life-management conversations. Her parents might be too shocked. The woman, now, would need to handle them also, along with shouldering the responsibilities of being a new single mother. She might be quitting her job for paucity of time, thus entering the lane of financial stress. Where and whom does she turn to? An empathic listener, who could reframe her concerns in a more positive wording. A career-guide who could provide her with some resources for landing a less time-energy consuming position. A non-judgmental friend. A safe-place for regaining a sense-of-control.

Relief from stress, doing away with isolation, getting stuff ‘off the chest’, gaining a new perspective, putting feelings into words, hope-generation, catharsis and skill-building are some additional advantages of going in for therapy.