Yoga for Stress Relief

Did you ever consider too use breathing exercises, yoga poses, and meditation to calm your body and mind? Did you know that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of visits to the doctor are stress-related? [. . .]

http://humanperformancepsychology.com/2019/10/24/yoga-for-stress-relief/
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The Positive Effects of Exercise in Stress Management

Work is practically the center of our lives in this generation. Simply speaking, if you don’t work, you don’t eat – and that’s the truth. But despite our needs for basic commodities, too much work would often lead to stress that will affect us physically, mentally and emotionally; an imbalance that will render us incapable of making decision and will lessen our productivity whether to our career or social life. [. . .]

The Positive Effects of Exercise in Stress Management


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Affectionate Moms with Depression May Epigenetically Buffer Their Child from Stress

Different environmental factors experienced by a child can undoubtedly impact their life in the long run. Whether they were born into poverty, lack access to education, or are surrounded by violence, these experiences have the ability to dramatically disrupt their lives if they’re without the right support system. [. . .]
via Affectionate Moms with Depression May Epigenetically Buffer Their Child from Stress

Your Secret Weapon for Changing Someone’s Mind

How to influence people by listening with your senses, not just your brain.

When teaching leaders communication skills, I often ask, “Do you know how people feel when you enter the room?” After a few responses, I ask, “Do you know how they feel when you leave?” No matter how well you thought through the words you shared, the way you listened to them will make or break your ability to change how they feel and think.

Most listening is designed to gain information that will fulfill your needs. How often do you listen to people for these purposes:

  1. To collect data: You listen to know what to say or do next. You listen to formulate your argument, to compare your perspective to theirs, or to fill in what you think you are missing.
  2. To give an answer or solve a problem: You listen to know what advice to give when they quit talking.
  3. To obey protocol: You listen because you should, not because you want to.

Listening from the neck up

When you listen for information to formulate your response, you grab only some of their words. They expect you to hear more, and to understand how they feel even though it is hard to accurately decipher facial expressions.1

Listening while thinking annoys most people. Even if you care about them, they won’t feel connected to you in the conversation.

Listen to receive, not analyze

When you choose to be present and connect with someone, you listen beyond your analytical brain. You suspend analysis. You take in and accept their words, expressions, and emotions as elements of their experience. You acknowledge the story they offer as valid from their current point of view. You don’t insert your opinions or judgments. People feel heard and will listen to you in return.

You receive what people offer with the purpose:

  1. To connect: You listen to establish a feeling of connection.
  2. To let the person know you value them: You listen so people feel you care what they think even when your perspective differs from theirs.
  3. To explore, learn, and grow together: You listen with curiosity to learn from the amazing human in front of you. You enjoy when the conversation takes you somewhere new.

Receiving is an active, not passive act even though you suspend your thoughts. You activate your nervous system, receiving sensory input with your heart and gut. With sensory awareness, you can receive and discern what is going on with others beyond the words they speak. They also feel safe enough to openly talk to you.2 You can find a visualization on how to open all three processing centers of your nervous system — your head, heart, and gut — on this site.

Listening with your senses

Sensory awareness includes an inward awareness of your reactions in a conversation. Your reactions might be in response to what they tell you. You also might be reacting to what you energetically receive from them.3 You can sense people’s desires, disappointments, frustrations, hopes, and doubts even when they have trouble articulating these experiences themselves.

Being sensitive doesn’t mean being wishy-washy. It means you are aware of what is going on around you on a sensory level and can sense when people are conflicted or distressed. Most people claim their pets have this ability to sense their emotional needs. Humans can receive these emotional vibrations as well. We just don’t pay attention to them.

You were likely taught to ignore your sensory awareness as a part of your conditioning as a child. Were you ever told, “You shouldn’t take things so personally,” or, “You should toughen up?” These admonishments led you to rely on your cognitive brain for listening.

I’m often asked if venturing into the land of emotions is risky, especially at work. I hear, “I can’t allow people’s emotions to sway me.”

When you don’t allow people to get under your skin, you aren’t experiencing them fully. You are disconnected internally and externally. You put up a wall between yourself and the people you are with.

You might feel their stress, anxiety, and anger. Don’t let these emotions sit in your body.4 Empathy occurs when you receive what another is feeling using sensory awareness, but you need to let these sensations pass through you.5 If you feel their emotion, relax your body and let the emotion subside as you return to being fully present with the person you are with.

There is also emotional energy vibrating between you.6 You can grasp when they want you to back off and give them space. You sense when they are impatient to move on or if they want to take more time. You can tell when they just want to be heard or acknowledged, instead of getting your advice. Share what you notice, and then listen to their response.

You may feel vulnerable when you open yourself to receive what people express. This vulnerability is a strength. Alan Alda said, “Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.”7 They feel connected when you interact. They enjoy being with you. They are more open to changing their minds when you receive first and then share your ideas.

5 steps for building sensory awareness in conversations

  1. Silence your brain: When you quiet your chattering brain, you clear your sensory channels.
  2. Let go of knowing: Instead of thinking you know how the person will react, try curiosity. Unfortunately, the better you know someone, the more likely you quit being curious. Can you release knowing what people will say? You might be surprised.
  3. Release the need to be right: Ask questions to understand their perspective. Once they feel heard, you can say you have a different perspective. They will be more willing to hear your point of view.
  4. Listen with your heart and gut as well as your head: Before your conversation, open your heart with feelings of compassion or gratitude. Then, open your gut by feeling your courage.
  5. Test your instinct: When you feel an emotional sensation, share what you think they might be feeling, such as anger, frustration, sadness, or yearning. Accept their response. If you are wrong, your guess could still help them better understand themselves and feel you cared enough to understand.

Can you open yourself to fully receive what people offer? They will be more willing to hear your ideas and possibly change their minds if you do.

References

1  Alice Park. Emotions May Not Be So Universal After All, Time.com, March 6, 2014.

2  Shari M. Gellar and Stephen W. Porges. “Therapeutic Presence: Neurophysiological Mechanisms Mediating Feeling Safe in Therapeutic Relationships,” Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 2014, Vol. 24, No. 3, 178–192.

3   Daniel J. Siegel, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. New York: The Guilford Press; 2nd edition, 2012.

4  Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, “Too much emotional intelligence is a bad thing.” Scientific American Mind, March 1, 2017.

5  Marcia Reynolds, “Can You Have Too Much Empathy? When empathy breaks trust.” PscychologyToday.com, April 15, 2017.

6  Rollin McCraty, “The Energetic Heart: Bioelectromagnetic Interactions Within and Between People.” Chapter published in: Clinical Applications of Bioelectromagnetic Medicine, edited by P. J. Rosch and M. S. Markov. New York: Marcel Dekker, 2004: 541-562.

7  Alan Alda, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned. New York: Random House, 2005, p. 160.

Source Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/wander-woman/201910/your-secret-weapon-changing-someones-mind

Benefits of Nootropics: 7 Ways These Supplements Help Your Brain — Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD

Source: Benefits of Nootropics: 7 Ways These Supplements Help Your Brain by Dr. Edward Group Are you looking for something that boosts your brain — giving you more mental energy, motivation, memory, or focus? Then you’re looking for a nootropic. Whether you’re a hard worker needing a boost of creativity, a student ready to hit the […]

via Benefits of Nootropics: 7 Ways These Supplements Help Your Brain — Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD

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12 Strategies to Boost Your Memory

We all forget things once in a while. And most times we don’t even pay attention to this problem until and unless we find ourselves in a demanding situation. Memory loss is not something to be taken too lightly and we ought to make conscious efforts to improve our ability to memorize, retain, and recall information. Although there is no sure shot way to prevent dementia, certain techniques may go a long way in helping you improve your memory and increase your brain’s potential in general. Here are 12 strategies that can effectively boost your memory and help you remember and recall better:

1. Focus your attention: In order to store information in your memory storage system, you need to take interest in the information presented to you and give it your full attention. Information is more likely to get lost when you pay half attention to it. While reading or meeting people for the first time, give your full attention.

2. Visual/Imagery: While attending to the information add visual imagery to the information. We are better able to remember things that are visual. So while reading for an exam, use imagery as much as possible.

3. Associate: Associating new information with the information you already know or have can also help you better memorize new information. Associations help create more mental connections of the information which, in turn, helps in better retention of the memory of that information.

4. Chunking: This technique can help you memorize a large set of information by breaking the information into small chunks or groups. In other words, the information to be remembered is divided into small chunks or groups of information. For example, if you need to memorize a phone number- xxyyyzzxxx, you can make chunks of this number—xx/yyy/zz/xxx.

5. Get good sleep: Our brain gets to consolidate the day’s information during sleep. Consolidation is a process in which short-term memory is transferred into long-term memory. In order to improve your memory you need to get a quality sleep of 7-8 hours daily, whereas, lack of proper sleep can affect your memory negatively. That is the reason students are advised to get a good sleep before an exam.

6. Mnemonics: Use of mnemonic techniques can also help to memorize better. Mnemonics are specific techniques designed to improve recall. Like using first letters of the given information to form a word, for example using VIBGYOR to memorize the colors of rainbow.

7. Brain exercises: Just like any other muscle in the body our brain is also a kind of muscle that needs exercise to work at optimum level. In order to enhance memory, play brain games. Solving puzzles, crossword, Sudoku, and playing word-recall games etc. have been proven to boost memory.

8. Be active while learning: There is a saying that individuals remember 20 per cent of what they hear, 75 per cent of what they see, and 90 per cent of what they do. And this saying is fairly correct. Being active while learning something like movement of arms, pacing back and forth, and using gestures while learning a new information has been found to enhance memorization. So keep your body actively involved while learning.

9. Recite: Repeating something in a loud voice can help memorization of that information better. As you recite you involve another sense, i.e., hearing. This helps better anchoring of the information in your brain. You can also recite what you have learned to another person in your own simple words and language. This technique is especially effective for students.

10. Meditation: Meditation has been found to improve memory. Mediation helps lower the stress which, in turn, is known to affect memorization. Meditation has also been found to improve the gray matter in brain, which positively affects memory. Practice meditation on daily basis for healthy mind and body.

11. Exercise: Scientists have proven that daily exercise as simple as running or jogging can help in formation of new neurons in brain and can help improve memory. Exercising daily not only keeps you physically fit but it also keeps your brain fit.

12. Keep stress away: As mentioned above, too much of stress has been found to affect memorization and recall both. Chronic stress has also been found to damage brain cells, especially in hippocampus which is responsible for retrieval of old memories and formation of new memories. So in order to improve your memory you also need to keep your stress level under check.

An Hour of Sound Healing Can Help You Get Rid of Stress

Global urbanization and the spread of technology have created a world in which people are now held accountable for their actions and whereabouts 24/7 and they are losing both their privacy and down time. If you have ever felt so stressed that working out, yoga or a good night sleep just doesn’t seem to give you any relief you may try a new form of transformational relief called sound healing—a mental submersion into sound that takes us into a lucid, dream-like state of being.

Sound healing therapy uses aspects of music to improve your physical and emotional health and well-being. The person being treated partakes in the experience with a trained sound healing practitioner. Sound healing may involve listening to music, singing along to music, meditating, moving to the beat of the music, playing an instrument.

A sound therapy practitioner employs the meditation technique called sound bath that uses improvised noises to help participants release stress. The sounds are created by a variety of instruments, including tuning forks, gongs, shruti box, Himalayan and crystal singing bowls, chimes, and voice.

The concept of “sound bath” has nothing to do with water or tubs. Instead, the participants are submerged in sound. Sound Baths have a simple requirement, sitting still. Like other meditation techniques, sound baths are meant to mentally and physically calm you. In place of repeating a mantra or focusing on a single object, you lay down with your eyes closed and allow the various, unexpected sounds to help you relax and reach a state of awareness.

Practitioners recommend bathing once a week for about an hour, to experience its true benefits, i.e., reduction in anxiety and stress. The time of the day when sound healing should be practiced depends upon an individual’s requirement. While the daytime session targets physical and emotional stress, and aims to clear the energy for the day ahead, night-time tends to gear towards a spiritual level, and is a chance to unwind.

Sound healing can aid in body regulation, function and self-repair. Group sound baths are a great way to communally connect to those around you. However, if you prefer to go at it solo, a private session allows for the instruments to be placed closer or directly on the body for a deeper impact.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Diaphragmatic Breathing

The purpose of various relaxation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, yoga, mental imagery is to help the body reach homeostasis in states of heightened arousal. Whenever, we face a stressful or anxiety provoking situation, our body reacts by going into state of heightened physiological arousal both at neurological as well as hormonal levels, and the sole purpose of these techniques is to help reach physiological calmness. Diaphragmatic breathing is one such relaxation technique and perhaps the easiest one to learn and practice in day-to-day life. It is easy because breathing is an act that we perform without any hesitation or thought. But factors like stress, poor posture, clothes that cause restriction of movement, lead us to breathe from our chest instead of from diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing is controlled deep breathing and involves the movement of lower abdomen, whereas, normal breathing emphasizes on the expansion of the chest.

There are lots of benefits of diaphragmatic breathing and it plays an important role in meditation which helps in managing stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc. It also helps lower heart rate and has been highly recommended for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The beauty of diaphragmatic breathing technique is its simplicity; it can be performed anywhere and at anytime and does not require special equipment.

Here’s step by step guide to diaphragmatic breathing:

1. Take a comfortable position: Start by taking a comfortable posture. With your eyes closed you can either sit in a comfortable chair or preferably lie down on your back on the floor. It is recommended for the beginners to wear loose clothes, especially around the neck and waist. To begin with, it is recommended that you keep your hands on your stomach so that you can feel the rise and fall of your abdomen. Once you have mastered the technique, you can perform diaphragmatic breathing almost anywhere and at any time—while driving, standing, or while talking to someone.

2. Concentration: Just like other techniques of relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing also requires concentration. For the beginners, it is recommended to practice the technique in a quiet place with less interruptions and noise. While practicing, you might experience that your thoughts begin to wander. This is normal. Whenever you feel this happening, bring your attention back to breathing. You can in fact imagine these thoughts leaving your body as you exhale metaphorically.

Whereas, normal breathing is an involuntary and not-a-conscious activity, diaphragmatic breathing is a conscious and voluntary one. Concentration can be enhanced by focusing your attention on the components of each breath. Each breathing cycle is composed of four phases–inhaling; slight pause; and exhaling; followed by another slight pause before inhaling again. When performing this technique, isolate and recognize each phase and try to control the pace of each phase-breathing thereby regulating your breathing. During the phase of exhalation, body experiences the highest form of relaxation, so try to focus on this phase and experience how light and relaxed your body feels during this phase.

3. Visualization: This can be easily attached to diaphragmatic breathing and can enhance the effects of this breathing technique. The two most commonly used visualizations along with suggestion are discussed below:

(i) Breathing clouds: Start by closing your eyes and try to focus all your attention on your breathing. As you inhale, visualize the air being inhaled as pure, clean, fresh, rejuvenating, and with healing power. Imagine this whole air traveling throughout your body from your head to toe. Now as you exhale, visualize the air leaving your body as some dark cloud of smoke comprising stressors, tension, and toxins that are inside your mind and body. During each phase of inhalation and exhalation, feel the clean, fresh air with healing power circulating though out your body and all the stress and tension leaving your body as you exhale. Repeat this breathing cycle for five to ten minutes. As you perform the breathing technique, observe that your body becomes more relaxed, stress-free and tension-free. Also, the color of the exhaled cloud becomes light in color from dark to light, which is a symbol of your body becoming relaxed and cleansed from all the negativity.

(ii) Alternate nostril breathing: This technique may require some practice. Start by closing your eyes and concentrate on the breathing. Inhale through your nose or mouth and feel the air entering your body and reaching down your lungs and experience a rise in your stomach as you breathe in. Now feel your stomach descending as you exhale. As you become relaxed, through breathing, take a slow deep breath again. This time exhale solely through your left nostril. After you take out all the air from your body through left nostril, begin inhaling only through your right nostril. Repeat this breathing cycle for fifteen to twenty times. Breathe in through your right nostril and breathe out through your left nostril. After fifteen to twenty cycles, now shift the passage of breathing cycle; start by slowly inhaling through your left nostril and exhaling through the right one. Repeat the cycle for fifteen to twenty times. As you do, visualize the air as it flows through your body. Use your fingers to control inhaling and exhaling, it will also helps you better visualize the air flow.

(iii) Energy breathing: This is a breathing technique in which you breathe not only through nose or mouth, but through your whole body. This helps vitalize the body. In this breathing, the whole body in a sense assumes the role of one big lung. This technique can be performed while sitting or lying down on the floor. This technique has three phases. First, attain a comfortable position; now imagine a hole at the top of your head. As you inhale, visualize energy entering the top of your head in the form of a light beam. Now as you inhale, take this energy down to your abdomen. As you breathe out, let it (energy) go out from the top of your head. Repeat this ten times. As you perform this technique, let the light touch all the inner parts of your upper body.

Now move on to the next phase; visualize that the center of each foot has a hole. Again imagine energy in the form of a light beam. As you breathe in from your diaphragm, let the flow of energy move up to your abdomen from your feet, while focusing only on the lower parts of the body. Repeat this ten times. As you do, let the energy in the form of light reach all the inner parts of your lower body.

Now uniting the movement of energy from the top of your head and feet, direct it to the center of your body while inhaling with the diaphragm. Then allow the flow of energy to reverse direction as you breathe out. Do this ten to fifteen times. Every time you circulate the energy in your body, feel each body part and each cell getting rejuvenated. This technique, however, requires practice.

Also read Five Tips for Better Sleep
Also read Sleeping Problems and Anxiety and Stress—A Two-way Street
Also read Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Sleeping Problems and, Anxiety and Stress—A Two-way Street

Sleep plays a vital role in an individual’s physical and mental well-being. It acts as a reset button that triggers body’s restorative processes and gives mind the time to process emotions in order to recognize and react appropriately. Regular good quality sleep is essential for proper brain functioning, repair of heart and blood vessels, and overall physical and emotional healing.

Sleep provides the nerve cells an opportunity to shut down and repair themselves meanwhile, without which they might get exhausted and start malfunctioning. In today’s fast paced world however, we often neglect our sleep just to meet the worldly demands and get things done. According to a 2014 survey, less than 50% of survey participants across the world claimed to be sleeping well at night.

Most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep for healthy functioning, though the sleep requirement may vary from person to person slightly. Absence of adequate sleep often leads to impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and brain fog.

During the past few decades neuroscience has advanced a great deal but unfortunately sleep still continues to remain largely a riddle. However, what’s a known fact is that sleep like air, water, and food is indispensible for us. Sleep deprivation creates a sleep debt that our body is going to demand to have squared up with at some point.

Sleep Deprivation, Anxiety, Stress: Causes and Interrelation

Sleep deprivation may be caused due to various medical (painful ailments), environmental (light, noise, or extreme temperatures), or psychiatric (depression and anxiety disorders) conditions. The causes may be different, but sleep deprivation, indiscriminately, results in disruption of body’s natural slumber cycle in all cases.

Life stresses like job loss or change, passing away of a kith or kin, a temporary illness, or environmental factors usually trigger acute or short-term insomnia or sleeplessness. On the other hand, factors such as chronic stress, anxiety disorders (GAD, PTSD, etc.), depression, and chronic pain or discomfort at night, usually result in chronic or long-term insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week and continues for a month or longer. Ruminating in bed on daily basis about pending works, unresolved issues, and emotionally devastating long-term life-changes, or excessive worrying about future uncertainties are some of the common reasons leading to chronic insomnia.

Most people who experience persistent stress and anxiety or panic attacks on a daily basis report that they have trouble sleeping. While stress and anxiety interfere with sleep, sometimes it becomes difficult to tell whether one is having trouble sleeping because of anxiety, or one is anxious because one can’t sleep. Actually, it may be both. Whereas stress and anxiety can cause sleeping issues, or worsen existing ones, lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.

It has been demonstrated that sleep debt can have severe ramifications on one’s anxiety levels. A study has shown that grave sleep deprivation leads to an increase in one’s state of anxiety, depression, and general distress in comparison with individuals who had a normal night of sleep. According to another study, individuals who were sleep deprived reported a greater spike in anxiety during tasks and rated the likelihood of potential disasters as higher when sleep deprived, as compared to when rested.

The amount of sleep an individual gets each night also governs how well he or she can deal with anxiety and stress. When an individual is severely sleep-deprived, the deprivation acts as a chronic stressor that hinders brain functions and leads to an overload on the body’s systems, which in turn, contributes to brain fog, confusion, memory loss, and depression, making it harder for the individual to deal with stress. Also, sleep deprivation leads to an imbalance in the hormone levels that increases anxiety levels. Anxiety issues are also worsened because of

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Chronic sleep deprivation can result in a range of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, weight gain, and increased levels of stress hormones.

Also read:

Five Tips for Better Sleep
Self-Help Techniques to Manage Anxiety
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Risk of Alzheimer’s May Rise Due to Stress

Self-Help Techniques to Manage Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common yet most debilitating mental health conditions that can range from worry to full-blown anxiety disorders. There would rarely be anyone who has never worried about anything in his or her life and therefore, occasional worry or fear is rather a part of normal life.  We often worry about the wellbeing of our loved ones or we may fear for our own safety too. Sometimes we worry about our financial situations or our work while at other times we are just concerned about our future. These occasional worries are not always bad; in fact, they are somewhat good for our survival. They help us prepare ourselves to deal with life’s challenges. However, worries can sometimes take acute form and become unbearable, excessive, irrational, or even uncontrollable and are accompanied with physical symptoms such as increased palpitation of heart, sweating, and trembling. If you too are experiencing these symptoms, you might be suffering from full blown anxiety disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) recognizes seven primary types of anxiety disorders: phobic disorders of the “specific” or of the “social” type, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). GAD is the most common of these anxiety disorders and is characterized by chronic excessive worry about a number of events or activities. The subjective experience of excessive worry in GAD is accompanied by following symptoms:

  • Restlessness or feelings of being keyed up or on edge
  • a sense of being easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbance

However, an individual who worries a lot does not necessarily suffer from anxiety disorders. Sometimes having an unhealthy lifestyle can make you feel anxious. Following are some self-help techniques that can help you keep anxiety in check and manage symptoms of anxiety, though these must not be considered a substitute for professional help or treatment:

Exercise/Running: Performing regular exercise and going for jogging or brisk walk has been scientifically proven to help allay anxiety symptoms. Exercise releases chemicals, i.e., endorphins in the brain that can counter symptoms of anxiety and improves mood. It also helps in lowering stress hormone cortisol that is secreted when we are anxious. Several studies have shown overall benefits of exercise on mind and body. Exercising for half an hour four times a week has been recommended for those suffering from anxiety.

Socialize: Meet people you trust and share your thoughts and feelings with them. Isolation and loneliness has been shown to increase the symptoms of anxiety. You can also talk to your trusted friends over phone and share your worries with them. Since anxiety is often based on irrational thoughts, talking to others can bring sense to our unwarranted thoughts. Suppressing and keeping your thoughts to yourself, on the other hand, can make them overwhelming and difficult to deal with. You can join some support group also, where other anxiety patients like you share their thoughts, feelings, progress, etc. Make socializing a part of your daily routine no matter how difficult it sometimes may feel.

Muscular relaxation technique: Try Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation technique.  Since individuals who experience anxiety symptoms tend to have high arousal, progressive muscle relaxation technique can help release physical tension.

Sleep: Lack of good sleep can aggravate the symptoms. So in order to keep your anxiety symptoms under check, get qualitative 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night.

Deep breathing: Breathing from your gut has been scientifically proven to lower the arousal level of body. Hence, deep breathing exercise can help calm your body and mind. Use deep breathing to relieve immediate symptoms of anxiety like hyperventilation or shortness of breath.

Stay in the present: Anxiety disorders are often future-based, which means, you tend to worry about the things that you feel are going to happen. So in such instances, try to focus on the present. Ask yourself about what is happening at the moment. Mindfulness can help you stay in the moment. Mindfulness is a technique where we are made aware of what is going on around us through our five senses. What do we see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. A regular practice in mindfulness can help you ease anxiety symptoms.

Train your mind: Anxiety is often based on thoughts; therefore, in order to deal with it, one has to work on one’s thoughts. Be accepting to the fact that you cannot actually control everything. Try to do your best instead of striving for perfection. Research studies provide evidence regarding link between perfectionism and mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and try to maintain positive attitude about life.

Challenge your thoughts: Most of the worries and fears in anxiety are irrational and without any base. Identify your apprehensions and challenge each and every single thought that comes to your mind.

Eating healthy: Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine and focus on eating a well-balanced diet. Eating healthy food helps maintain healthy mind and body. Stay hydrated. It may seem like too simple a remedy but staying hydrated can go a long way in managing anxiety. Whenever you experience anxiety symptoms, drink water as it helps lower the arousal.

Use art as mode of expression: Art therapy has also been found to help relieve anxiety symptoms. Use dance or painting as a mode of giving outlet to your thoughts and feelings. It can also help you take your mind off your worries.

Professional help: If you feel that your anxiety symptoms are interfering with your daily functioning, don’t hesitate to take professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologists or other healthcare provider in your community. Professional treatment mostly includes medications for severe symptoms, along with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Also Read: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Also Read: PTSD: Brain Biomarkers May Explain Variance in Symptom Severity
Also Read: Childhood Anxiety Related With Later Alcohol Problems
Also Read: Test Anxiety—Strategies to Overcome

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Someone who is the victim of (or threatened by) violence, injury, or harm can develop a mental health problem called postraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can happen in the first few weeks after an event, or even years later.

People with PTSD often re-experience their trauma in the form of “flashbacks,” memories, nightmares, or scary thoughts, especially when they’re exposed to events or objects that remind them of the trauma.

Psychologists, therapists, or psychiatrists can help people with PTSD deal with hurtful thoughts and bad feelings and get back to a normal life.

What Causes PTSD?

PTSD is often associated with soldiers and others on the front lines of war. But anyone — even kids — can develop it after a traumatic event.

Traumas that might bring on PTSD include the unexpected or violent death of a family member or close friend, and serious harm or threat of death or injury to oneself or a loved one.

Situations that can cause such trauma include:

  • violent attacks, like rape
  • fire
  • physical or sexual abuse
  • acts of violence (such as school or neighborhood shootings)
  • natural or man-made disasters
  • car crashes
  • military combat (sometimes called “shell shock”)
  • witnessing another person go through these kinds of traumatic events
  • being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness

In some cases, PTSD can happen after repeated exposure to these events. Survivor guilt (feelings of guilt for having survived an event in which friends or family members died) also might contribute to PTSD.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of PTSD?

People with PTSD have symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression that include many of the following:

Intrusive thoughts or memories of the event

  • unwanted memories of the event that keep coming back
  • upsetting dreams or nightmares
  • acting or feeling as though the event is happening again (flashbacks)
  • heartache and fear when reminded of the event
  • feeling jumpy, startled, or nervous when something triggers memories of the event
  • children may re-enact what happened in their play or drawings

Avoidance of any reminders of the event

  • avoiding thinking about or talking about the trauma
  • avoiding activities, places, or people that are reminders of the event
  • being unable to remember important parts of what happened

Negative thinking or mood since the event happened

  • lasting worries and beliefs about people and the world being unsafe
  • blaming oneself for the traumatic event
  • lack of interest in participating in regular activities
  • feelings of anger, shame, fear, or guilt about what happened
  • feeling detached or estranged from people
  • not able to have positive emotions (happiness, satisfaction, loving feelings)

Lasting feelings of anxiety or physical reactions

  • trouble falling or staying asleep
  • feeling cranky, grouchy, or angry
  • problems paying attention or focusing
  • always being on the lookout for danger or warning signs
  • easily startled

Signs of PTSD are similar in both adults and teens. But PTSD in children can look a little different. Younger kids can show more fearful and regressive behaviors. They may reenact the trauma through play.

Symptoms usually begin within the first month after the trauma, but they may not show up until months or even years have passed. These symptoms often continue for years after the trauma. In some cases, they may ease and return later in life if another event triggers memories of the trauma. (In fact, anniversaries of the event can often cause a flood of emotions and bad memories.)

PTSD also can come on as a sudden, short-term response (called acute stress disorder) to an event and can last many days or up to one month.

People with PTSD may not get professional help because they think it’s understandable to feel frightened after going through a traumatic event. Sometimes, people may not recognize the link between their symptoms and the trauma.

Teachers, doctors, school counselors, friends, and other family members who know a child or teen well can play an important role in recognizing PTSD symptoms.

Who Gets PTSD?

Not everyone who goes through a traumatic event gets PTSD. The chances of developing it and how severe it is vary based on things like personality, history of mental health issues, social support, family history, childhood experiences, current stress levels, and the nature of the traumatic event.

Children and teens who go through the most severe trauma tend to have the highest levels of PTSD symptoms. The more frequent the trauma, the higher the rate of PTSD.

Studies show that people with PTSD often have atypical levels of key hormones involved in the stress response. For instance, research has shown that they have lower-than-normal cortisol levels and higher-than-normal epinephrine and norepinephrine levels — all of which play a big role in the body’s “fight-or-flight” reaction to sudden stress. (It’s known as “fight or flight” because that’s exactly what the body is preparing itself to do — to either fight off the danger or run from it.)

How Is PTSD Treated?

Many people recover from a traumatic event after a period of adjustment. But if a child or teen has experienced a traumatic event and has symptoms of PTSD for more than a month, an expert’s help is recommended.

Therapy can help address symptoms of avoidance, intrusive and negative thoughts, and a depressed or negative mood. Mental health professionals who can help include:

  • psychologists
  • psychiatrists
  • licensed clinical social workers
  • licensed professional counselors
  • licensed trauma professionals
  • bereavement specialists

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective for people who develop PTSD. This type of therapy teaches ways to replace negative, unhelpful thoughts and feelings with more positive thinking. Behavioral strategies can be used at an individual’s own pace to help desensitize him or her to the traumatic parts of what happened so he or she doesn’t feel so afraid of them.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) combines cognitive therapy with directed eye movements. This has been shown to be effective in treating people of all ages with PTSD.

In some cases, medicine can help treat serious symptoms of depression and anxiety. Medicine often is used only until someone feels better, then therapy can help get the person back on track.

Finally, group therapy or support groups are helpful because they let an individual know that he or she is not alone. Groups also provide a safe place to share feelings.

Looking Ahead

PTSD can be very challenging and may require a lot of patience and support. Time does heal, and getting good support from the family can help an individual move forward.

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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.