Stockholm Syndrome

I140508_152220_173418oTextTRMRMMGLPICT000033349019oStockholm syndrome is a psychological condition which causes a hostage to develop sympathy and support for their captor’s plight after spending some time with the latter. Such hostages might not run away or ask for help even when they get a chance and rather exhibit negative feelings against those who try to save them. They form emotional bond with their captors and become protective of them, even to the point of foiling their rescuers’ attempts. The name “Stockholm syndrome” was derived from a bank holdup in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973 when four people were held hostage for six days by two robbers and each hostage seemed to be defending the robbers’ actions.

The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect or bystander apathy is a phenomenon where a person in need is less likely to receive help if there are others present. The concept was popularized by two social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley. This happens as a result of diffusion of responsibility and social influence. When there are other observers present, the responsibility to take action is thought to be shared among all of them which makes individuals feel less compelled to act or help. This is referred to as diffusion of responsibility. Secondly, under social influence people tend to behave in socially acceptable ways. When others do not react to somebody’s distress, the individuals usually take this as a signal that neither a response is needed nor appropriate.

Childhood Anxiety Related With Later Alcohol Problems

A recent study published in Addiction has suggested that children and adolescents with higher levels of anxiety may be at a greater risk of developing alcohol problems.

Researchers of Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University of Bristol, U.K., conducted a study to explore whether early anxiety is linked to later alcohol use and alcohol use disorders.

The link between anxiety and alcohol use had been investigated in the past too but nothing conclusive could be found. While some studies showed higher anxiety linked to greater alcohol use, others demonstrated anxiety related to lower alcohol use, or not associated at all.

Researchers carried out a systematic review of 51 prospective cohort studies, for this study, from 11 countries including the United States, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.

On review, it was found that 46 studies comprised males and females; four had an all-male sample; while one had an all-female sample. The sample size of the studies ranged from 110 to 11,157 participants. The age of anxiety exposure ranged from 3 to 24 years, and alcohol outcome age ranged from 11 to 42 years.

alcoholic-slumped-next-to-glass-of-alcohol_crpAlthough some evidence of a link between child- and adolescent-anxiety and later alcohol use disorders had been found, associations of anxiety with later drinking frequency, quantity, and binge drinking were more inconsistent, the researchers reported.

Maddy Dyer, a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychological Science’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group and lead author of the study said, “Our findings indicate that young people with higher anxiety may have a greater risk of developing alcohol problems.”

According to the researchers, still further research needs to be undertaken to understand why there are differences in associations for alcohol consumption levels versus problematic use, and to ascertain which individuals with anxiety develop alcohol problems. This could bring marked improvements in personalized interventions.

How to be Assertive: Learn Standing Up for Yourself

Assertiveness is a skill that can be learned, and it is a communication that can help an individual express his or her thoughts, feelings, views, opinions, etc., without being inhibited or aggressive or without disregarding the thoughts, feelings, views, opinions, and ideas of others. The term assertiveness was introduced by Andrew Salter in 1949. Being assertive can help you in both personal as well as professional life. If you are an assertive person, it is likely that you are better able to cope with anger, stress, and other demanding circumstances.

So who is an assertive individual and how is he different from a nonassertive individual? To understand this we have to consider the behavior styles of people in relation to others along a continuum (Dennis Jaffe, 1984), where passive and aggressive behavior lie at each end of the continuum and assertive behavior is right in middle of the two. Passive individuals are too scared to express their thoughts and feelings. Such persons are often shy and surrender to the demands of others in order to feel accepted, especially they find it difficult to say ‘no’. Passive style of behavior is used by people with codependent personality. On the other hand, an aggressive individual often tries to intimidate others and try to gain control of their thoughts, needs, and feelings. Such individuals have complete disregard of others’ feelings. This type of behavior style is often employed by individuals who display Type A behaviors. Now comes assertive style of behavior, which is the preferable style where an individual is able to express his or her thoughts and feelings and protect his or her rights without belittling others’. Such people are more open, considerate, and are tolerant of the feelings of others; also, they have high self-esteem and confidence level.

Assertiveness recognizes that there are legitimate personal rights, which have been described by various therapists and include the following:

  • Being able to say no without feeling guilty.
  • Having the right to change one’s mind regarding anything
  • To ask for help with directions or instructions
  • To ask for what you want
  • Being able to express or experience feelings
  • Right to feel positive under any circumstance
  • Right to commit mistakes without feeling embarrassed
  • To have one’s own opinion and beliefs
  • To object to unfair criticism or treatment
  • Being recognized for one’s achievements or contributions
  • To be able to take time to develop a response to a question or comment

Not every individual is born assertive. We are often less than assertive in our conduct towards certain people especially of higher authority, such as parents and bosses. However, not being assertive can also occur when we deal with someone by whom we feel intimidated. These can be people of opposite sex, individuals who are perceived as more attractive than us, and every unfamiliar person. Since assertiveness is a skill it can be learned and with repeated practice it can become part of our personality. Following techniques help a great deal in developing assertiveness:

Woman-saying-noLearn to say ‘No’: Saying ‘no’ is perhaps the most difficult thing to do for some individuals so much so that they put other people’s need before their own. Saying ‘no’ is sometimes considered rude, which is a misconception. Saying ‘yes’ when it is impossible for you to say so can lead to feelings of bitterness and victimization. That is why being able to say ‘no’ when you don’t feel like saying ‘yes’ is a critical attribute if you want to be assertive in life. Equally important is to learn saying ‘no’ without letting the feeling of guilt creep in. Understand and accept your limits and don’t feel bad about them. In case of personal obligations, try to diplomatically refuse your help at that particular instant.

Learn to use ‘I’ statements: Being assertive means being able to express one’s feelings and emotions by using ‘I’ statements. Learn to own your thoughts, feelings, opinions, ideas etc. Also, using ‘I’ statements doesn’t make the other person defensive because ‘I’ seems less accusatory. For example, “you are wrong” seems more attacking than “I disagree.”

Use eye contact: Assertive people are comfortable maintaining eye contact while interacting or expressing their thoughts to others. Lack of eye contact makes a person appear as having less conviction in what he or she is saying. It also indicates dishonesty and insecurity. Start using eye-contact while interacting with a short time interval of about 1-2 seconds and then progress up to 8-10 seconds period. But, beware! just as lack of eye contact indicates lack of confidence continuous staring is often taken as violation of personal space. So try to avoid staring at people.

Improve body language: Being assertive without appropriate body language sends mixed message to the other person. The way you carry your body plays an important role. It is important to have an erect posture with body weight equally distributed between both legs along with good eye contact and tone of voice. The center of gravity should be directly above the feet.

couple-talkingBe open to criticism: Learn to accept criticism positively. You can disagree with the criticism and have the right to convey your difference of opinion but you must do it without getting angry or defensive. Take negative feedback as an opportunity to learn something new or improve yourself.

Disagree peacefully: This skill is employed when one has to express a differing view and want it to be acknowledged too. When ideas and opinions are expressed peacefully so that different viewpoints can be analyzed properly during a conflict or during the process of decision making, such disagreements are considered as healthy disagreements. Being able to remain comfortable during a confrontation is the hallmark of assertiveness.

Practice: Like any other skill, assertiveness too requires practice, a lot of practice, in fact. Stand in front of a mirror and imagine different scenarios where being assertive would be beneficial, and practice your response. Work on your body language, your tone of voice, eye contact, and communication. Use assertive communication like ‘I’ statements, and ‘No’ statements. And remember to start small. At first, try assertiveness skills in situations where the risk is low and then gradually apply them to tougher situations where the stakes are high. For instance, before applying those in work place with your boss, try them out first with your friends or spouse. Evaluate the results so that you can improve your skills. Remember it takes time and practice to learn a new skill whether it’s playing a guitar, or badminton or developing assertiveness.

Risk of Alzheimer’s May Rise Due to Stress

New research has shown that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may be increased due to vital exhaustion, which is a marker of psychological distress.

Many factors such as age, family history, and genetic makeup may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. Health conditions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes may also influence the probability of developing dementia as they impact the blood vessels. A new study has demonstrated that psychological factors especially psychological distress can also increase the chances of dementia. Vital exhaustion refers to a mental state of psychological distress that manifests as irritability, fatigue, and a feeling of demoralization and may be a response to certain life problems that are unresolvable and have been continuing for a long time. Vital exhaustion results when an individual is exposed to stressors for a prolonged period.

early-signs-of-dementiaEarlier studies have already indicated that vital exhaustion may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, premature death, and obesity, etc. The findings of this new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease have now suggested that vital exhaustion may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Data of almost 7,000 people who had participated in the Copenhagen City Heart Study between 1991 and 1994 was analyzed for this study. The participants were on an average 60 years at that time and were asked questions about vital exhaustion as a part of the survey.

Islamoska and her team clinically followed those participants until the end of 2016. The hospital records and mortality and prescription registers of those participants were examined in search of diagnoses of dementia.

The findings revealed a dose-response connection between vital exhaustion in midlife and the development of Alzheimer’s later on. Islamoska reported that for each additional symptom of vital exhaustion, they found that the risk of dementia rose by 2 per cent.

The study showed that participants reporting five to nine symptoms vital exhaustion had a 25 per cent higher risk of dementia than those with no symptoms, while those reporting 10 to 17 symptoms had a 40 per cent higher risk of dementia, compared with those not having the symptoms.

The team further added that the results are unlikely to be due to reverse causation, that is, it is improbable that dementia causes vital exhaustion, rather than the other way around.

The researchers opined that excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol and cardiovascular changes could be the potential reasons for these findings. “Stress can have severe and harmful consequences, not just for our brain health, but our health in general. Our study indicates that we can go further in the prevention of dementia by addressing psychological risk factors for dementia,” said Islamoska.

student in exam

Test Anxiety—Strategies to Overcome

What is Test Anxiety?

It is quite normal for students to feel a little stressed out and nervous before or during an exam, but when this nervousness becomes too much to let a student perform to the best of his or her abilities, it is termed as test anxiety. Test anxiety is a psychological condition which may not only impair learning but may also adversely affect test performance.

Test anxiety may be manifested in a variety of forms and the symptoms may range from mild to severe. Some students, despite experiencing stress and anxiety, do reasonably fine as their symptoms are rather mild. However, there are others whose abilities get seriously impaired because of excessive anxiety which is often also accompanied by panic attacks before or during the exam.

Apparently, test anxiety can make it fairly difficult for a student to focus and recall information that he or she has spent hours learning about. This would, in turn, contribute to even more anxiety and stress making it much more difficult for the student to recollect and write down the answers to the test.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

The symptoms of test anxiety can be physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional:

Physical symptoms: Some of the common physical symptoms include sweating, dry mouth, rapid breathing, headache, racing heartbeat, a sense of shakiness, and even diarrhea. In more severe cases, nausea, shortness of breath, and full-blown panic attack or fainting might also be experienced.

Cognitive and behavioral symptoms: Test anxiety can also lead to behavioural and cognitive symptoms including fidgeting or forthright avoidance of testing situations, negative thinking, and difficulty concentrating on the test. Negative self-talk and racing thoughts are also some of the common cognitive symptoms of test anxiety.

Emotional symptoms: Depression, feeling of helplessness, low self-esteem, frustration, and fear comprise emotional symptoms of test anxiety. Students feel helpless, nervous and frightened to face the exams and report blanking out on answers to the test.

Strategies to Overcome Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is quite an unpleasant and unnerving experience which can adversely affect student’s grades as well as self-confidence. However, there are certain strategies that students can adopt to overcome test anxiety.

Being fully prepared for the test: It is very important for the student to spend adequate time for the preparation of the exam. This basically means starting early in order to have sufficient time to prepare until he or she feels comfortable with the material. Therefore, waiting until the night before should be avoided. If not sure how to effectively manage time for the preparation, the student should ask the teacher or parent for help. Being prepared will be a great confidence-booster, which will reduce test anxiety.

Keeping negative thoughts away: More than anything else, it’s the attitude and approach towards the test or exam that is going to make a difference in the performance. One should always stay positive. A student must not allow himself or herself to be demoralized by negative thoughts like, “I don’t remember anything, I studied,” “I can’t do it.” Rather one should convince one’s mind to believe that one remembers everything that has been learnt and studied. Positive thoughts will keep anxiety at bay and dramatically enhance the performance in the exam.

High school students

Getting involved in relaxation activities: Relaxation is as crucial as studies during exam preparation. Activities like deep breathing, mediation, positive self-talk and yoga can help calm the mind and boost the power of concentration and retention. Anxiety and excess energy can also be released by way of aerobic exercise which helps reduce body tension too.

Getting enough sleep: Even during exam days, getting adequate sleep and rest is as essential as preparing for the test. A good night’s sleep will help one concentrate better and boost the memory spontaneously.

Moving on from mistakes: It is okay to make mistakes. One should not remain stuck on mistakes and move on as early as possible to concentrate on what’s coming next. One mustn’t expect oneself to be perfect and so, rather than fretting over the mistakes already committed in a test, one should focus on the upcoming one, needless to say, without taking stress for that too. The next test should always be looked upon as an opportunity to make up for the mistakes committed in the previous test. Doing one’s best is all that matters, one should always remember that.

Keeping oneself full before the exam: One must not go to the exam with an empty stomach. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables helps reduce stress while processed foods, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, fried or junk food makes one feel lazy and thus, makes it equally important to choose among foods wisely.

Not paying attention to what others are doing: Anxiety may also build up if a student starts noticing others attempting their test. No one knows what the other is scribbling away, so one should stop worrying about that and focus on one’s own performance. To avoid test anxiety, a student should keep attempting his/her test instead of paying attention to what other students are doing.

Trying medication and therapy for severe symptoms: If a student feels that the symptoms are too severe for him/her to manage, he/she should contact the school counselor or a physician. If the stress and anxiety is too severe, anti-anxiety medications or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be recommended by the physician to alleviate the symptoms.

How to Control and Manage Anger

Anger-Management-copy-300x200Just like happiness, fear, and love, etc. anger is an emotion we all have and experience from time to time. Anger is a normal emotion and can even be considered a healthy emotion too. Charles Spielberg a renowned psychologist and a pioneer in the field of anger has defined anger as “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.” However, if left unmanaged, anger can have a debilitating impact on your physical and psychological health as well as can ruin your social relationships.

Anger often leads to physiological changes like rise in blood pressure, heart rate, and secretion of hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline. Anger can originate from internal factors like worrying or ruminating over personal problems as well as from external factors like when you get angry at a particular individual. Keeping in view the widespread impact of anger on the health and social life of an individual it becomes imperative to take measures to keep anger under control.

Pause: In many instances anger is often an impulsive response or like a knee-jerk. Whenever you feel that you are getting angry (look for physiological signs like rise in heart beat, breathing, clenching, etc.), pause for a while, and count to ten or maybe longer, if you feel like. The main idea is to let the moment go. Don’t jump to react on your impulse.

Relaxation: Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. These have been shown to relax the mind and manage anger caused by stress or other internal factors on long term basis as well. Deep breathing especially diaphragmatic breathing has been proven to help. Breathe through your gut, not from chest. While deep breathing you can repeat some calming words like “relax” or “calm down.” You can also incorporate imagery while doing relaxation exercises; imagine a peaceful and calm place; create a mental imagery of any place that helps you stay calm. With repeated practice you can use deep breathing and imagery technique in any situation that calls for anger and thereby manage it.

Exercise/sports: Exercise or engaging in some sort of sports activity is a good way to use up excess energy released during an anger episode. It also helps relieve stress. So, go for a brisk walk, or run, or play some sport whenever you feel your anger escalating. People with chronic anger issue especially benefit if they engage themselves in some regular sporting activity like boxing etc. Exercise and other physical activities have been shown to help release endorphins, the feel-good hormones.

angry_couple_istock_0000154_620x3501Right communication: One of the worst consequences of anger that can have a long-term impact on our life is how it negatively affects our relationships. It spoils the social life of the individual and in some extreme cases, leaves the person alone without any social support. It hampers marital life as well as work life of the individual. And the main cause is what you communicate to the other person when angry. Anger often makes the person reactive not responsive, so we tend to jump to conclusions that are far from being accurate. It is very important to have the right kind of communication even when you are agitated. So, when angry pause for a while think through the response you are going to give. Don’t just blurt out the word that comes to your mind, think carefully about your response.

Another important tip is to avoid the use of the word “you.” Rather, use “I” statements, these make the other person more responsive than defensive. So avoid sentences like “you never listen to me” use “I feel I am not being heard.” Listening is also a very important part of communication. In order to improve your communication, start working on your listening skills, try to understand what the other person is trying to convey to you. This is especially important if you have anger issues with your spouse or your boss.

Beware of negative self-talk: Be careful of the negative self-talk with words like “never,” “always,” “not fair.” When we use words like these in phrases while being angry, these words tend to justify your anger and do not help in managing anger. Rather, engage in positive self-talk like “this is not the end,” “I can handle it.”

Give your anger an outlet: Keeping anger within can have a long term effect on both your physical as well as psychological health. Suppressing anger can, in fact, worsen the situation. So give your anger a healthy outlet. Start writing journal, give your anger words and write them down, it could be about a situation that really made you mad but you couldn’t get angry, write those feelings in your journal. Whether with your boss or your spouse, journal writing could give a healthy outlet to your anger without damaging your equation with the person concerned. Write down every situation or instance where you wanted to let out your anger but couldn’t.

Humour: Use of humor can help you diffuse that anger bomb. Using imagery with humor can really help ease up the tension. If you have a particular person or situation that triggers anger in you, use of humor can really turn things around. Imagine the coworker at your office that you hate or that brings out the anger, imagine a funny cartoon face e.g., Mickey mouse and put that face over that person, now imagine him sitting in the office doing the work. Use this technique whenever that person’s name comes to your mind. Sometimes make a joke of the situation in your head. Give it a funny turn. But avoid use of sarcasm as it is hurtful and can make the situation worse.

Look after yourself: Eat balanced diet, have good sleep, and avoid alcohol consumption as these factors have been shown to play an important role in anger and its management.

Perspective: Anger, especially when it involves another person, often is the result of perspective. We tend to get in to blame game and thus justify our anger. So it is essential where anger involves another person to take a different perspective on the situation. Place yourself in another person’s situation and try to understand the circumstance from his or her point of view, you might find the solution as well.

Other: Sometimes the best way is to just avoid the situation that triggers your anger. So if you find yourself getting angry while standing in the long line of grocery store then probably you should avoid the time when there’s huge crowd and instead go for shopping when there are less people for shopping. Also, if you feel that you tend to get angry at your kids when you discuss about their day at school during dinner, then avoid the discussion during dinner time.

Seek professional help: If you feel that you are unable to manage your anger on your own, probably it’s time you seek help from a professional counselor or psychologist. Perhaps your anger is deep rooted and results from some underlying issue, or, you might be finding it difficult to stick to the program, so professional help might help with your motivation to stick to the anger management program.

Parents Face Up to 6 Years of Sleep Deprivation Post Childbirth

sleep-deprivation

A new study conducted by Researchers at the University of Warwick has demonstrated that the birth of a child has far-reaching effects on the sleep of new mother and the impact is more prominent during the first three months after birth. The study also revealed that the duration of sleep satisfaction decreases up to 6 years for both mother and father post first childbirth.

A collaboration with the German Institute for Economic Research and the West Virginia University examined sleep in 4,659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015 to study long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers.

Parents were also interviewed yearly to report on their sleep during these years. It was revealed that mothers slept on average 1 hour less than they did before pregnancy in the first 3 months after birth. On the other hand, the duration of fathers’ sleep cut down by approximately 15 minutes. Dr Sakari Lemola from Department of Psychology, University of Warwick says that women tend to experience more sleep disruption after the birth of a child as compared to men which reiterates that it is still mothers who play the role of the primary caregiver in comparison to fathers.

Sleep duration was still about 20 minutes shorter in mothers and 15 minutes shorter in fathers when children grew up and were 4 – 6 years old when compared with their sleep duration before pregnancy.

Besides, first-time parents showed more pronounced sleep effects than experienced parents. The sleep effects were also more marked in breastfeeding mothers rather than in bottle-feeding mothers in the first 6 months after birth. Interestingly, the changes in sleep after childbirth seemed to be immune to factors such as higher household income and psychosocial factors like dual vs. single parenting

According to Dr Lemola, it is possible that increased demands and obligations that accompany parenting lead to shorter sleep and lowered sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Exam Stress: Tips for Parents

exam stress img 2Exam time is here again. This could be very stressful for most children as they work hard for good marks. Many children fear that they will not be able to get best grades and will lose respect of their friends and family and will miss out on career opportunities if they perform badly in exams. In the competitive world of today exam stress or anxiety has become quite common. Our duty as a parent becomes more important when the child is preparing for exams. There are several things that a parent can do to ease the exam pressure and help the child sail through this phase. Here are some tips which parents can follow during exams:

Time management: You as a parent should help your child to manage his or her time effectively and efficiently.  Time management becomes even more crucial during exams. Create a time table for each and every activity, like studying, revision, and make sure to include break time in between, meals, and even self-care. During exams, we seldom realize that our children’s brain needs rests too. Many of us, unfortunately, believe that during exams a child must only be studying. This is quite a misconception and creates extra stress and anxiety. Make time table with your child and put it in the study room. You should also make sure that entire exam schedule is known to you and your child especially if the child is very small.

Don’t add to your child’s stress: During exams, parents should make every effort to ease the burden of the child and not add to it. Parents should have realistic expectation from the child. Remember, each child has his or her own abilities. Having expectations that are too high for the child will only make the child feel more stressed and frustrated. The child might think that the task is impossible and might not even try hard enough. Of course, expectations sometimes act as motivators but keeping expectations that are unachievable will only lead to stress and poor performance during exams. Rather, encourage your child that he can do it and show faith in him. This will help them remain calm and composed during exams. Only a calm mind can perform extraordinarily during exams.

Be there for the child: During exams, parents must convey to their child that they are there for him regardless of the grades. Be an emotional support to your child apart from being physically there for the child. Try to understand the emotions the child might be going through. You might have to curtail some of your outings as well. But don’t create an atmosphere of curfew within the house. The child knowing that my parents will always love me irrespective of my grades is a great emotional support.

Take care of your child: This includes taking care of the food and sleep of your child. Make sure the child has his or her food regularly. Make sure the child eats healthy food only. Fresh fruits and juices should be part of the diet of the child normally but during exams it is all the more important that the child eats healthy only and avoids consuming sugar and junk food as they tend to make the child feel sleepy. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, keep the mind fresh and active. Also make sure that the child remains hydrated.

Sleep is another very critical aspect during exams. Often parents, and sometimes even the children, feel that they should not sleep much during exams. This is very wrong. Our brain too requires rest and time to consolidate everything learnt, and this is done during sleep. A good night sleep before exams is very important, so make sure your child gets enough sleep.

Take breaks: Encourage your child to take breaks during preparation. This could be a 15 – 20 minute walk in the park, or some play activity, or could be meditation, watching TV, or talking to a friend over phone. Many parents restrict the child from such activities during preparation as they believe that these activities waste time. This is wrong; just like any other electronic device our brain too needs to switch off for a little while to maintain the functioning. Therefore, make sure that your child gets regular breaks in between preparation.

Discuss the exam and move on: Preparing for the exams is not the only stressful part; even the after-exam discussion could be equally dreadful for some children. Not everyone performs exceptionally well in the exams. Don’t dissect the performance of the child; this might negatively affect the performance of the child in the coming exam. Discuss with them but don’t over criticize, and just move on. You can discuss about the mistakes done and how to improve them in the next exam but don’t shout or reprimand the child.

Exam strategy: Discuss with your child and make a strategy about how to attempt the question paper. Suggest techniques to make answer more presentable, which questions should be answered first, how to divide time during exams, etc.

Stationery: It might sound trivial but many times, children sit in the exam and later realize they are not carrying pen or other stationary items and end up wasting time by asking others. You as a parent should make sure that the child has enough pens, pencils, or rubber etc before exam and during all the exams. Make sure that the pencil-box or kit is filled with working stationary items and not with used or empty pens. This might seem like a little thing but it can save a lot of time during exam and help avoid undue anxiety.

Easy Ways to Overcome Procrastination

iStock_000020407072_MediumHamlet was not the only one who struggled with procrastination. We all have been there, done that. In fact, there would hardly be anyone who has never been guilty of procrastinating at one point or another in his or her life. This human flaw of inaction and deferring tasks to tomorrow or distant future is engraved deep into his psyche. However, beyond a certain limit, procrastination may turn into a nuisance and have detrimental effects on the mental health of a chronic procrastinator whose mind is constantly troubled by the sense of pendency of an important task and a conflicting lack of will to apply himself to that very task. Here are some easy ways for you to overcome procrastination and get things done:

Accept that you are procrastinating: First and foremost, you need to recognize and accept that you are actually procrastinating. Stop passing the buck and admit that it is you who is putting off the task and not the external factors that are making you do it. Know that you are procrastinating if you are filling your days with low-priority tasks, not taking up an important work for too long or waiting to get in the right mood to perform that task. Once you know you are procrastinating, it is easier to understand that the next step is nothing but to act.

Break your work into smaller tasks: One of the reasons why we procrastinate is because the work, at times, feels too big and overwhelming. The best way to approach a big task is to break it into smaller sections, thus turning a mammoth work into a more manageable one comprising do-able fragments. Taking up one section at a time will not only make it appear more achievable but also reduce the pressure of completing it all in one go. Keep breaking down the task further until you find it so simple to not overwhelm you.

Tell people about your goals: The best way to not fall prey to procrastination is to let others know of your plans. This will make them curious and they would ask you about the updates on those projects. This will not only keep you motivated to be ready with something to tell them about, but the appreciation you receive on your progress and people’s interest will give you a sense of purpose and encouragement.

Cultivate the right attitude: As they say, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. It takes you nowhere.” Every single task in this world is accomplished with intent to begin. Try to cultivate optimism and confidence in you. Make yourself believe that you have what it takes. Inculcate the correct attitude in you, stay positive about the outcome, and focus more on the process rather than the result.

Forgive yourself for past procrastination: Oftentimes we keep fretting over our past mistakes instead of making any positive change in our present. Forgive yourself for the time you have wasted in the past and take action.

Make a commitment today: Commit to yourself and don’t defer the first move to tomorrow. Step out of your comfort zone and push yourself a little harder. Keep doing that for a couple of days. Once a few days pass by, you would realize that you have already picked up momentum and a substantial amount of work has already been done.  This will motivate you further and help you get rid of procrastination.

Don’t be afraid of failure: Another major reason why people procrastinate is that they are afraid of failure; especially the ones who are perfectionists are inevitably more prone to procrastination.

Setting high standards is not a bad thing but being paranoid about them may have a considerably negative impact on people’s efficiency and outcome because while targeting perfectionism, they unconsciously convince themselves that there’s no way they’ll be able to meet those standards and therefore, just let the task linger on.

It is, therefore, pertinent to not let the fear of not being able to attain perfection get in the way of your progress. In this context, it is wise to bear in mind what the American writer Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Never forget that it is more important to do something, even if imperfectly, rather than not do anything at all just because you think you can’t do it perfectly.

Sleeping in on the weekend won’t make up for your lost hours of sleep

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According to University of Colorado Boulder research published in Current Biology, sleeping in on the weekend is not an effective strategy to repair the damage from a week of sleepless nights. Rather, the attempt to play catch-up for a few days and then going back to bad sleep habits makes things worse on some health measures.

Earlier research has demonstrated that lack of sufficient sleep can increase risk of obesity and diabetes, in part by enhancing the craving to munch at night and decreasing insulin sensitivity—or the ability to regulate blood sugar.

Studies suggest that although the body can recover mildly during the weekend due to sleeping in on those two days, the effects don’t last.

Senior author Kenneth Wright, director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Lab and lead author Chris Depner, an assistant research professor of Integrative Physiology, enlisted 36 adult volunteers, for the study, to live for two weeks in a laboratory, where their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored. They found that among the people who got to sleep in on the weekend showed no benefit in any of their metabolic outcome.

“It could be that the yo-yoing back and forth—changing the time we eat, changing our circadian clock and then going back to insufficient sleep is uniquely disruptive,” said Wright.

People found it tough to make up for lost sleep, even when they were given a chance because their body clocks had shifted further making it hard to fall asleep on time even when they had to wake up early the next day.

The study reiterates that consistency in sleep schedule matters a great deal. Getting sufficient sleep on a regular schedule is essential for an individual’s health and well-being. Frequently changing sleep schedules is a form of stress associated with metabolic abnormalities. Therefore, one must try to get 7 hours of sleep as many nights as possible.

Tips for Responsible Parenting

 

Unique-ParentingRaising a child is one of the most fulfilling and satisfying experiences in the world. However, it is also among some of the most difficult jobs. As good parents, you strive to make decisions in the best interest of your child. However, to see your child grow into an individual who respects and reflects the values you’ve endeavored to instill in him or her, requires a lot of commitment and dedication on your part and incorporating a judicious mix of important elements such as love, forgiveness, compassion, discipline and, most importantly, leading by example in your daily conduct and interactions. Remember, no one is perfect—neither a good parent nor a good child and we should always keep this in mind when we set our expectations. However, at the same time, we should keep working around our ultimate goal of raising a good human being who can contribute positively and meaningfully to the world. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for effective parenting to raise a well-rounded child:

  1. Love

Love is the answer to everything. Some parents think that loving their child too much would spoil him/her. Now that’s a myth. It is how you interpret and equate love with, is what makes the major difference. Being lenient, expecting less, being overprotective and allowing undue material indulgence in the name of love contributes most to spoiling the child. Love does not have to be ostentatious. Simple acts like hugging, spending quality time with your child, and being sensitive and responsive to your child’s needs can go a long way in reassuring your child of your love. As these acts release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, prolactin, and opioids, they bring tranquility and emotional warmth to the child and help him/her develop resilience and a feeling of self worth.

  1. Modeling

Modeling means teaching the child by example or making him/her learn by observing others. Parents can use modeling as a strategy to influence their child positively. So it is important that before setting high standards for your child, you have set those for yourself. Parents serve as the most influential role model to the child. Human brain contains mirror neurons (nerve cells) which become extremely active when we observe something. Therefore, it is pertinent for you as a parent to model behavior that you wish your child to learn.

  1. Appreciation

Appreciation refers to demonstrating approval. It plays an important role, when done systematically, in shaping your child’s personality and conduct. It also helps develop self-confidence in your child and helps him/her discern right from wrong. In parent-child relationship, this translates as care, concern, respect, fair treatment and courtesy and prevents the child from feeling neglected. Appreciate your child enthusiastically and effusively to make it more effective and reinforce good behavior. Praise should always be exact, clearly stated, and immediate, following the desired behavior. However, as a sensible parent you should avoid inane praise.

  1. Discipline

We need to understand that discipline is something you do for a child. Discipline is neither punishment nor unpleasant. It is a positive learning experience that sets behavioral limits and guidelines to lead the child to and through adulthood. The idea is to allow the child to progress from parental discipline to self-discipline. Remember, a child who has not been disciplined with love by his parent will be disciplined, generally without love, by the world.

Always temper discipline with love and logic to make it more effective and let your child perceive it as positive, loving, gentle guidance. Don’t forget, discipline is a positive thing and one of the most important tools that you can ever give to your child for his future success and happiness.

  1. Communication

Communication is very important for parent-child relationship and it becomes even more critical as the child grows. A healthy communication with your child lets you build his/her self-esteem and strengthen the relation between both of you which makes parenting job a little easier. However, you must not expect your children to confide in you just like that. You have to make constant efforts to keep the communication channel open between you and your child early on, and give him/her the confidence to speak his/her mind in front of you. Begin with sharing your own thoughts with your child so that he/she too can learn to share his/her with you.

  1. Safe Haven

Being a safe haven for the child is an indispensable aspect of good parenting. We all need safe place, to flourish and your child is no exception. Your child should always be sure that and you will always be there for him/her as pillars of support even when times are rough. Support and accept your child as an individual and be consistently responsive to his/her needs. Let your child explore the world and receive his/her mistakes with patience and grace, to allow him/her to learn from those mistakes.

  1. Spend quality time

The importance of spending quality time with children cannot be stressed enough. In this fast-paced world, you must make space for your child, and assure him/her that you care about him/her. Spend as much time with your child as possible. It would be an opportunity to bond with your child and get to know him/her better. Time is a precious commodity and you should spend it on your most precious possession. Be with your child to learn new things about him/her, and the quirky events in his/her lives.

  1. Do not yell

If you yell at your child, it will make him/her disregard the message and discipline will be even harder because each time you raise your voice, his/her receptivity lowers down. Besides, it will be a bad influence on the child too, who will do what he/she sees you doing. Use logical reasoning to get through to your child.

  1. Use positives instead of negatives

Parents seldom realize that while telling their child to behave they are actually (unintentionally) telling him/her the exact opposite. The problem lies with the words used. For positive results, you should use encouraging positive words in place of negative ones. For instance, instead of “don’t do this” or “don’t shout,” use positive words like “do this” or “speak softly.” This works on the same principle as telling your mind “do not think about a peacock” only to find that you have rather started thinking about a peacock. You will notice a significant difference in your child’s behavior once you replace the negatives with positives.

 

Five Tips for Better Sleep

img_4116Sleep plays an important role in maintaining your mental health and well-being. Healthy sleep habits can significantly improve your quality of life. However, in today’s world, when there are already so many distractions, sleeping on time and getting restful slumber is not that easy and simple. So here are some tips that can help you realise your dream to sleep better.

1. Avoid taking caffeine late in the evening: Caffeine is known to disrupt sleep because of its stimulating effects that take hours to fade. Therefore, avoid taking tea or coffee late in the evening.

2. Follow your sleep schedule strictly: Don’t mess with your bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends. Following the same sleep schedule every day sets the body’s internal clock. Therefore, wake up at the same time even if you did not sleep well the night before, it will fortify your sleep routine.

3. Go to sleep only when tired enough to sleep: Don’t force yourself to sleep, if you’re not asleep after 20 minutes. Rather read a book or watch TV at low volume until you are tired enough to sleep.

4. Include exercise in your daily routine: Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster but finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime, because the stress hormone cortisol secreted by the body during exercise activates the alerting mechanism in the brain and thus interferes with sleep.

5. Avoid daytime naps: If you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, it might be because of long daytime naps. However, if you can’t do without naps, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes.