Guest Blog: How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

 

 

Imagine how life would be if you loved the way you looked? Yes, including all those beautiful imperfections. Instead of wanting to change that certain part you dislike about your body, what if you came to completely accept it?

Living in a social media driven world, what’s online may make one feel anything but empowered and self-assured. Unfortunately, media has led us to believe that if we look a certain way, our lives will magically become perfect.

We get it, feeling confident in the modern world may not be easy but it’s totally possible. There are many women out there who love their bodies – and they’re all in different shapes and sizes.

Loving your body completely simply boils down to respecting yourself and accepting how you look. Using yoga as a tool, we assure you that the journey to this place is going to be an incredibly joyous one and we will explain how in this guide.

 

  1. Asana in yoga helps you reconnect with your body

Asana, or yoga postures, allow you to connect with your body via breath and movement.

Postures in yoga allow us to separate different aspects of our body, comprehend their functioning and understand how these areas work together.

If you’ve suffered from negative body image at any point of your life, you’re probably aware that it largely involves avoiding and isolating oneself from aspects of the body that induce feelings of shame and self-loathing.

Yoga helps you extricate yourself from this escalating form of neglect by encouraging you to listen to your body. To perform any yoga posture, you have to acknowledge each part of your body and understand how it prefers to move.

 

  1. Pranayama promotes peace of mind

Yoga comprises of two main parts: breath (pranayama) and posture (asana). Pranayama, or more specifically, Ujjayi, which is a specific style of breath in yoga, develops heat in the body while stimulating rest and an increase in feeling of peace.

Ujjayi is a deep and potent type of breath that fires up the lungs and throat. While this may sound counterintuitive in promoting rest, one of the main purposes of Ujjayi is to relax the body. It is a long, smooth breath created by lengthening your inhale and exhale.

A longer breath signals your body to relax. Taking some time to rewind is a great way of promoting self-love.

Yoga is an excellent stress-reliever. A 2005 German study indicated that women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” showed significant improvement in their mood and overall sense of well-being after being treated with 90 minutes of yoga per week for 3 months. Well-being scores improved by 65%, and depression and anxiety scores improved by 50% and 30% respectively. Complaints regarding back pain, poor sleep and headaches had also been resolved.

 

  1. Yoga encourages positivity

One of the key aspects of yoga is performing mantras. Contrary to popular belief, mantras are quite simple and can help you during meditation. They’re simply words or phrases, each with different purposes, such as helping you overcome challenges and showing gratitude.

Repeating mantras is a great way to understand the power of a positive mind. When you repeat a mantra every day, you start believing that it is true. With each passing day, the mantra and your belief in it become stronger.

“I love myself. I am beautiful, intelligent and unique.”

You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional mantras. You can even create your own. A mantra (such as the one above) that holds meaning in your heart and resonates deep within you can be easily brought to life by you. You are the creator of your positivity.

 

  1. You’re always amazed

Just a few weeks of yoga is enough to fascinate anyone. You’ll be surprised to know that it is not the yogic postures, but watching what your body is capable of that will amaze you.

With time and practice, you become capable of moving your body in ways you never even imagined. With time, you’ll be able to effortlessly stand on one foot, wrap your arms and legs into an eagle, and even balance your whole body-weight on your arms.

Whether you’re performing an advanced posture or you’re in the process of deepening one, you’ll understand that your body is strong, flexible, and incredibly beautiful.

 

  1. You’re grateful

Even though some magazine covers may make you think otherwise, yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a beautiful journey where you can witness your body’s full potential and truly appreciate what it can do.

In most cases, people never discover their body in their optimal strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is an invigorating experience which can make you feel like a warrior every day. Once you discover this strength within you, it’s hard not to feel grateful for the body that gives you so much.

 

  1. Yoga creates communities of love

Yoga retreats, classes, and online platforms bring in several like-minded people, helping in creating a strong and supportive community. Yoga is not only fun, but it is empowering.

People join yoga classes for a variety of reasons. While some join it for physical reasons such as toning up and building flexibility, others join it to relax their bodies. Whatever your reason may be, you’ll soon realize that yoga brings about another essential outcome: feeling comfortable in your skin.

Almost anyone who joins yoga wants to learn to love his or her own body. Yoga creates a space where everyone, at the same time, is thinking about their connection with their bodies.

When you join your first yoga class, be sure to introduce yourself to someone and ask them what brought them to it. Listen to their response and share your reason as well.

 

 

 

meera wattsAuthor Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

 

References

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I — Neurophysiologic Model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;1:189–201.

Catherine Woodyard. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-DecExploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.

Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998;27:563–8

McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.

Dealing with Dating Burnout in 5 Steps

 

I’m done with dating. No, really! I don’t see the point of it anymore”

 

Is this something you have thought of or said aloud recently? You’re not the only one. Dating isn’t always as fun as it’s made to sound. It’s a lot of time and effort put together. You spend hours of your precious time and energy on finding someone you’re interested in. It is followed by working hard on making yourself presentable and then taking the time to get to know that person. Most of the time, if not all, it turns out to be a dead-end and with that emerges dating burnout.

 

Signs of dating burnout

1) It isn’t fun anymore. What started off as fun initially is not so anymore. The dressing up, the conversation to get to know the other or the texting that comes after the date has lost its appeal for you.

2) You have had one bad date after another in a series. Your date was obsessed with his/ her phone, had weird habits, was drunk or could not get the conversation going, whatever  the reason; it just hasn’t worked out in the last few dates.

3) You have been complaining about it for a long time. Your friends, family and even your dog are tired of listening to you complain about the horrible dates you have been on. You’ve gone overboard and maybe a friend has not-so-politely cut you off letting you know you’ve been talking about hating the dating scene for a tad too long now.

4) You get sarcastic and even rude on dates. Some people love sarcasm, I get that. But do you think you are getting more defensive, sarcastic and even hostile on your dates lately?

5) Dating = exhaustion. The mere mention of dating puts you off and you feel terribly exhausted thinking about going down that road again.

 

If you fit the bill and are experiencing dating burnout, what should you do to get yourself back on track?

 

Dealing with dating burnout

1) Take a break. This is the first thing you need to do once you realize you are experiencing dating burnout. You need to leave the scene and mix things up a bit before bouncing back. Taking a break would ensure you take the pressure off yourself. Take the time to be around people you like and enroll in that hobby class you have been thinking about. Getting off the dating cycle leaves you with plenty of time to indulge in yourself. Take advantage and have a life again. Dating comes with a lot of pressure. It’s often when the pressure is off and you’re going about your life that you find someone you’ve been looking for.

2) Assess what’s going wrong. Once you have taken a break from dating and are feeling good about yourself, revisit the past. Look at where you’re coming from and how it’s affecting your present. Do you harbour unresolved issues from your past relationships? Are you really ready to move on? Are you trying to find your ex in all your dates? If you think your ex may be holding you back, it’s important to close that chapter of your life before moving on.

How do your expectations from your date look like? Are you going overboard in wanting someone who’s good looking, rich, sensitive, charming and funny all in one? Well, that might be a bit unrealistic, don’t you think? Chart it out. List down your priorities in order. Think of the bigger picture and what is it that you want at the end of the day? Too many expectations and running after an elusive perfection may spell doom for your dating life.

Do you find yourself in difficult relationships which have a common theme? Are your partners all unavailable, committed, need to be taken care of, or take undue advantage of you? If you seem to be choosing a wrong partner all the time, you need to assess what is going wrong in the dating phase itself and set it right.

How do you feel about yourself? Do you take hours getting ready for a date? Do you feel you don’t look good enough? How you feel about yourself reflects in how you present yourself and that may be a reason for dating being unsatisfying for you. You need to be confident and feel secure about yourself. When you are content being who you are, you will start attracting the right people.

3) Laugh it off. Humour helps in almost all situations. Do you think these bad dates would matter a year from now? Five years from now? I bet you’ll be sitting with the love of your life telling him/her about these misfortunate dates from your past and having a good laugh over it. Tuck it in for a funny memory down the line. Laugh it off.

4) Don’t take it out on yourself. Your last four dates didn’t work out. Big deal! Don’t fall into the trap and feel like the biggest loser on earth. You aren’t. There is nothing wrong with you and no, you aren’t doomed to be single for the rest of your life. Haven’t you heard that slow and steady wins the race? Or how about, patience is the best virtue? You’ll get there. Don’t put yourself down.

5) Don’t lose hope. Dating burnout leads to the feeling that there’s no one out there for you. Believe me, when I say, nothing could be further from the truth. Set your sights right. Get back from the dating break. The love of your life is out there and you will find him/her.

Who knows maybe your perfect match is just a click away?

Is There A Narcissist In Your Life?

 

‘He is a narcissist. He can only think about himself all the time.’

 

Narcissism has grown into becoming a commonly thrown across word these days. But what does it mean and who is a narcissist? The word took its origin in Greek mythology where a character named Narcissus fell in love with his own image that he saw reflected in a sea. Thereon, it has come to signify self-love, selfishness and arrogance. However, narcissism has many shades from an extra healthy ego to a pathological grandiosity.

 

Who is a Narcissist?

The unhealthy end of the narcissistic spectrum can be characterized by-

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Preoccupations with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
  • Belief that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by or should associate with other special or high-status people or associations
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement
  • Is interpersonally exploitative
  • Lacks empathy
  • If often envious of others or believes others are envious of him/her
  • Shows arrogant behaviors or attitudes

 

How to identify a narcissist in your life?

  • He/she would be the one basking in the centre of attention. Narcissists dominate conversations. They love to talk about themselves and exaggerate their accomplishments. They embellish their stories in order to impress their audience.
  • They offer unsolicited advice all the time. They seize opportunities to demonstrate their superior knowledge.
  • He/she can’t wait in line and hates it when someone doesn’t pick up their phone. They believe they deserve special treatment and want their needs to be fulfilled immediately. They live life with a sense of entitlement and expect the world to revolve around them.
  • They have high ambitions but instead of working hard to get there, they believe they are destined for greatness. They believe they are naturally special and deserve only the best. They obsess over status symbols and belittle others who don’t quite fit in.
  • They are charming till the time you keep the praise and appreciation flowing. As soon as you criticize them, the relationship is over.
  • They are the competitive They need to win everywhere, be it in a video game, office or a lottery. They have to turn out superior to everybody else. They can never celebrate anyone’s success because it would mean someone else won this time.
  • They are pros at keeping grudges since they take every criticism and disapproval very personally. They never forget an insult and never get over it either. They most likely take revenge either now or in the future.
  • They never own up to their faults. They blame it on others as a defense mechanism almost immediately.
  • They lack empathy and take advantage of people by manipulating or bullying them.

 

What to do when there is a narcissist in your life?

Unfortunately, narcissism cannot be treated with a drug. There is no medication for it. However, being a personality trait or disorder, it can be treated with intensive specialized psychotherapy. But if he/she refuses to believe there is a problem and resists treatment, the most you can do is talk to a therapist about how you can make things work without him/her seeking therapy.

People who have narcissistic traits or personality are difficult to deal with and more so, to stay with. It is imperative that once you realize these symptoms in your loved ones, you sit down with them and show them some of the things that are happening in their lives and the reason behind it. If they acknowledge it, prepare them to see a therapist. If they don’t, you seek a therapist yourself to work out things at your end.

 

Reference

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Featured Post: The Babble Out on “How to Flirt Effectively and How to Get a Boyfriend”

 

Flirting is defined as “[t]o act as if one is sexually attracted to another person, usually in a playful manner“. Flirting is a behaviour that both men and women can use freely, to show interest in someone they are sexually, physically, or emotionally attracted to.

Read more on flirting here: http://www.thebabbleout.com/dating/how-to-flirt-how-to-get-boyfriend/

 

How do you feel about flirting? Do you use any of the 5 styles of flirting mentioned in the article? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave your comments below.

 

 

How Can I Help My Child Who Is Afflicted With ADHD?

 

Does your child always seem to be running around? Is he/she easily distracted by the least of sounds? Does he/she find it difficult to focus on anything?

 

Have you classified these symptoms as a result of your child merely being naughty or playful? Think again.

Kids are naughty, definitely. However, there are several ailments, which may come across as the child being naughty but are actually a form of disorder classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). One of these ailments is ADHD.

 

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) refers to three major symptoms; inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These can be detected in the following behaviors:

Inattention

  • Does your child make careless mistakes in schoolwork?
  • Does your child find it difficult to sustain attention in tasks or play?
  • Does your child fail to finish chores, schoolwork etc.?
  • Does your child seem distractible even when you are talking to him/ her?
  • Does your child have difficulty organizing tasks?
  • Does your child avoid tasks that require sustained effort?
  • Does your child often lose things?
  • Is your child easily distracted by external stimuli?
  • Is your child often forgetful?

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

  • Does your child often fidget with hands, feet, or squirms in their seat?
  • Does your child often leave his/her seat during the class?
  • Does your child often run or climb when it is inappropriate?
  • Is your child often ‘on the go’?
  • Does your child talk excessively?
  • Does your child have a hard time waiting for the question to be completed before he/she blurts out an answer?
  • Does your child have difficulty waiting his/her turn?
  • Does your child often interrupt during conversations?

If your child seems to have at least six or more of the symptoms in any one (or both) areas, he/she might be suffering from attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder.

 

How to treat ADHD?

Treatment for ADHD helps manage symptoms. The treatment modalities consist of medication or therapy. Often, a combination of both is best.

Both the diagnosis and medication are best left to the psychiatrist. If you suspect, your child may have ADHD, it’s best to see a professional right away. The disorder can be easily diagnosed from ages 4 and up.

Initiating therapy for your child is also recommended. The therapist will help you understand the disorder, train and educate you regarding your behavior with the child and work with your child on several aspects (i.e., behavior therapy, social skills training etc.).

Further, certain diets and supplements are also seen to help with the treatment. The treating team will guide you regarding the same.

 

How can I help my child?

Apart from consulting the psychiatrist and psychologist and starting the treatment at the outset once the diagnosis has been made, there are certain things you can do to help your child.

  • Nature and Exercise. Your child needs to spend time in nature. Playing outside for at least 30 minutes is essential. Other recommended activities are dance, gymnastics, skating, and martial arts. Encourage team sports.
  • Regular sleep plays an important role in managing ADHD symptoms. Ensure there is a regular sleep and wake time for your child. Turn off all electronics at least an hour prior to bed (i.e., phone, TV, computer, tablet). Also, limit physical activity a few hours before bedtime.
  • Nutrition. Schedule regular meals. Ensure your child has snacks every two to three hours. Include protein and carbohydrates in each meal. Check the levels of Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium in your child. Boosting these would be of help. Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet (i.e., tuna, fortified eggs, milk products, salmon, sardines).
  • Behavior Therapy. Set specific goals for your child. Make a daily timetable and stick to it. Provide rewards for a behavior well done and consequence for when the child fails to meet a pre-decided goal. Use the rewards and consequences consistently to ensure the long-term changes in behavior.
  • Consistency. Follow a routine. Set a time and place for everything. Establish predictable routine for bed, meals, study, and play.
  • Organization. Encourage the child to put things in same place every day that will reduce the chances of losing things.
  • Manage distractions. Limit noise, turn off the TV, and clear the workspace for your child to do homework.
  • Limit choices. Don’t overwhelm or over-stimulate the child with too many options. Offer choice, but fewer.
  • Clarity and specificity. Be clear and specific in your conversation with your child. Use brief directions to direct them.
  • Use discipline effectively. Do not yell or spank. Use timeouts or remove privileges as consequences of inappropriate behavior or failing goals.

 

ADHD is a distressing condition, both for the child as well as the parents. However, with timely and effective treatment, it can be brought under control. Following these tips with your child will go a long way in changing his behavior in the long-term.

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Barkley, R. A. (Ed.). (2014). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford Publications.

When You Or Your Partner Loses Interest In Sex

Do you find yourself sleeping earlier than your partner to put off having sex with him/ her? Do you fake a headache or fatigue when he/she brings up sex? Do you use kids as a medium to tell him/her you can’t have sex tonight because your child is sick/ needs you?

 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, no matter what excuse you tell yourself, you are losing interest in having sex with your partner. Yes, that’s right. I am not blaming or accusing you, just saying it for what it is.

 

Sexual appetite or libido is variable. There are times when it is shadowed by other important events in life, while at other times; it takes on an overriding importance. Hence, losing interest in sex might just be a temporary phase rather than a permanent problem. However, regardless, if your partner is up for sex when you aren’t, it could spell trouble in paradise.

 

What happens when you lose interest in sex?

  • Your partner wonders if he/she did something to bring this on
  • Your partner wonders if you are experiencing a sexual dysfunction
  • Your partner wonders if there is something wrong with his/her sexual performance

 

What leads to a loss of desire for sex?

Let’s get this thing out of the way first. Lack of sexual desire with your partner does not always indicate a sexual dysfunction. Men and women differ in how they respond to cues. Men are more easily aroused by visual stimulus while women require emotional or environmental stimulation.

There could be a myriad number of reasons for loss of interest in sex. Here are just a few of them-

  • Stress – With the stressful lives we lead, it is not uncommon to lose interest in sex. When we are worried or tired, it’s difficult to find interest in sex.
  • Physical illness – Running a temperature or battling a common cold also puts one off the mood for sex. Being in pain or feeling tired reduces the enthusiasm for sex. Thyroid problems are one of the most common physical illnesses known to dull sexual desire.
  • Depression – Libido or sex drive plummets with depression as a result of imbalance in brain neurochemistry. Not only that, certain antidepressant drugs also reduce sexual drive.
  • Relationship issues – Lack of communication and individual differences might lead to a reduction in interest for sex.
  • Having an infant – Reduces sexual drive in women. This results from a lack of energy and time as well as hormonal changes and breastfeeding related body changes.
  • Pain during intercourse – is another reason for shying away from sex.
  • Performance anxiety – often makes men nervous and unwilling to have sex for fear of being unable to perform.
  • Drinking alcohol – heavily also reduces sex drive.
  • Hormonal imbalances – lead to a reduced libido.
  • Low-life satisfaction – The boredom of real life sometimes puts people off from sex.

 

How to renew interest in sex?

As a partner-

First step requires you to figure out the reason behind the loss of desire. Is it a physical or an emotional issue?

Is your partner undergoing depression, on any new medications, or drinking too much? Is there any physical reason for the same? Is he/ she disturbed about other aspects of the relationship?

 

Second step involves

  1. Talk to him/ her. Stay away from the bed while approaching the topic as it might make your partner uncomfortable and pressured. Ask a few basic questions to make your partner at ease. It’s important he/she doesn’t feel targeted or overwhelmed. Start by a praise. Tell him/ her you enjoy having sex with him/ her and if there is anything you can do to make it more enjoyable for him/her.
  1. Dig out the concerns. Ask him/her if there are any stressors that might be preventing him/her from experiencing pleasure in bed. Is there a problem with the emotional connection between you two? Are there any stressful issues?
  1. Give it your all. Are you focusing more on your needs than your partners’? Does your partner feel heard? Is the way you are having sex enjoyable for your partner? Encourage your partner to tell you what feels good to him/ her. Is he/ she wanting to try out something and is embarrassed to say it out loud? Is a particular sexual act making him/ her uncomfortable? Be open and accepting of his/ her reactions and feedback.
  1. Relaxation is the key. Sometime sex is painful for a partner or they are too tensed to enjoy it. In such situations, it’s important to help them calm down. Prepare a warm bath for him/ her. Use lubricants or try different positions to reduce the pain. Use candles and fragrances to make your partner use all of his/her senses.
  1. Give a compliment. For a partner who might be sensitive about his/her body, a compliment will go a long way. Tell him/ her how desirable you find him/ her. Praising him/her even outside the bedroom is helpful.
  2. Help your partner. If your partner seems under pressure or is doing too much, extend a helping hand. Wash those dishes, be patient enough to listen and support, walk the dog etc.

 

As a couple-

Spicing up the sex quotient

  1. Connect on an emotional level. Sit down with each other, hold hands, and talk your heart out. Touch each other often.

 

  1. Let romance lead the way. Call each other from work, go for a weekend vacation, surprise each other with gifts, and compliment more often. Go for date nights!

 

  1. Foreplay. Women need this more than men. Touch her sensually, look at her, and admire her. She will be in the mood for more once you have started it on the right note.

 

  1. Follow your orgasmic journey. It takes more for women to orgasm than men do. Explore each other’s orgasmic potentials.

 

  1. Make it fun. After a while of routine, boredom sets in. Be more playful and adventurous. Try different positions, places, and set the mood going.

 

  1. Role-play it out. Change the routine sex into something playful.

 

 

References:

Ling, J., & Kasket, E. (2016). Let’s talk about sex: a critical narrative analysis of heterosexual couples’ accounts of low sexual desire. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 1-19.

Wincze, J. P., & Weisberg, R. B. (2015). Sexual dysfunction: A guide for assessment and treatment. New York: Guilford Publications.

How Do I Deal With Stress?

Do you feel constantly under pressure? Are your work deadlines taking a toll on you? Do you find yourself being anxious and on edge in your relationship? Do you experience headaches often?

 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are undergoing stress.

 

Stress has taken over our lives. The alarming rates of competition, job insecurity, and conflicts at a personal level all give rise to stress. We feel stressed when we have to handle more than we are used to. It is the reaction of our body and mind to the demands placed on us. Stress makes our heart race and breathing rates faster. To a certain extent, stress is normal and useful and helps us to react quickly or work hard to meet a deadline. However, if the stress is prolonged or occurs often, it results in negative effects like upset stomach, back pain, headache and disturbed sleep. It also has an adverse effect on our mood and may hamper our relationships and career. This is when we need to take a step to manage the stress.

 

The first step in managing stress involves finding the source of stress in your life. This can be done by keeping a stress journal. This entails recording information about the daily stressors you are experiencing in order to analyze and manage them. For the stress journal, here are a few things you would want to record-

  1. The stressful event you have experienced
  2. Your feelings after the event
  3. How did you handle the event?

After you have recorded in your journal for a number of days, it’s time to analyze it. For the analysis, look at the different stressful events you have experienced. Highlight those that occur frequently as well as those which are the most unpleasant. Then, appraise how you have felt after these events as well as how you handled them. Your analysis will reveal several problems regarding your handling of these events that need to be fixed. It will be helpful to list these areas separately to work on them later.

Then shift your focus to the stressful events you experienced and list ways in which they can be changed or if your reaction to them can be changed. Finally, analyze the feelings these events arose in you and how did that effect your overall functioning.

Once you have fully identified the common sources of stress in your life and analyzed your pattern of handling them, you can discontinue with managing your journal and move onto the next step.

 

The second step involves avoiding those situations that cause stress frequently. Not all of these may be avoidable but some will be. For example, avoid people who stress you out. Limit the time you spend with them. Of course, this can’t be done if it’s a spouse or a family member.

Having too many deadlines and taking on too many roles is a cause for stress. Learn to be assertive and say no. Know your limits and say ‘no’ to taking on more than you can handle.

Take control of your environment. Avoid the traffic-filled route or hire someone to clean the house for you if you find it stressful.

 

The third step is to change the situation if you can’t avoid it. Play your favorite music while doing an unpleasant chore like cleaning to make it seem better.

Manage your time better. Poor time management leads to a lot of stress. Planning ahead ensures you are on time on your deadlines and you lose a reason to be stressed.

Express your feelings. Talk it out instead of keeping it inside. If you want some me-time, tell your spouse you want to be by yourself for __ number of minutes and will get back right after that. If something is bothering you, be upfront about it without being rude and express how you feel about it. For example, if your spouse is not throwing out the garbage, a duty he initially assumed, calmly approach him and say ‘I feel stressed when the garbage is still there and I feel like I have one more task to attend to before sleeping.’

Balance it out. Asking someone to change their behavior also involves doing something for them in exchange. Or when you are taking on their duties, you might want to give them one of yours. For example, in the above situation, you can add, ‘When we divided the duties earlier, we had decided you will do it. Do you want to continue doing it or exchange it for another?’

 

The fourth step is to change your reaction to these stressful events. This may involve looking at stressful situations from a positive perspective. For example, if an added responsibility at work stresses you out, think of how it will add to your learning and you can add an extra set of skill experience to your resume.

Take out your binoculars. The situations cause us stress because we are looking at merely the present scenario. However, if we zoom out and see the whole picture, it might not seem as bad. Think of how much this event is important? Will it matter in a month or a year? Is it worth wasting your time over? For example, this might be applicable when a colleague has pointed out your mistake in a monthly review meeting. You feel bad about it and get stressed that it will affect your reputation at work. Thinking about how many people will remember it till the next meeting or how important that colleague’s view is for you should help reduce the stress.

Set lower expectations. When we expect a lot from both ourselves and others, we set ourselves up for failure. Stop demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards.

 

The fifth step is to accept what cannot be changed. Some situations and people are beyond our control. Focusing on these uncontrollable events will only lead to more stress. Focus needs to be shifted to things you can control instead. For example, if a family member’s behavior often causes you to be angry and your umpteen efforts at changing him/her have proved futile, it would be best to change the way you react to him/her. Don’t give him/her the power to decide your emotions.

Look at difficult situations in a new light. View them as ways to grow and learn.

Humans are fallible and prone to mistakes. Forgive and let go of resentment.

 

The sixth step involves finding ways to de-stress. Find strategies that work for you when you are stressed. Some of these may be-

  • Playing with a pet
  • Writing about things that are bothering you
  • Talking to a friend
  • Indulging in a hobby
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking a long, leisurely bath
  • Watching a comic video
  • Practicing relaxation techniques or yoga

Set aside time for yourself during the day. Indulge in things you enjoy doing.

 

The final step is to practice healthy lifestyle choices. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Reduce caffeine, oil, and sugar from your diet. Get enough restful sleep. Drink sufficient water daily to keep yourself hydrated.

 

References:

Elkin, A. (2013). Stress management for dummies. John Wiley & Sons.

Romas, J. A., & Sharma, M. (2013). Practical Stress Management: A Comprehensive Workbook. Pearson Higher Ed.

Tol, W. A., Barbui, C., & van Ommeren, M. (2013). Management of acute stress, PTSD, and bereavement: WHO recommendations. JAMA310(5), 477-478.

6 Reasons Why Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Life Is Helpful

6 Reasons Why Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Life Is Helpful

 

Do you experience stress on a daily basis? Do you often forget important tasks or where you kept things? Are you experiencing stress in your relationships? Do you experience difficulties in regulating your emotions? Are you having trouble losing weight despite having tried all diet and exercise versions? Are you striving to know the real you?

 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, this article is for you.

 

In the rush of things today, we often find ourselves multi-tasking. You may be talking to your kids while reading the newspaper, folding your laundry with an eye on the television, or calculating the monthly expenses while talking to your mother on the phone. Amidst all this rush to get everything completed on time, you may be losing out on your connection with the present.

Are you actually aware of what you are doing and how you are feeling? Or do you just go through each day without an awareness of what is happening? Did you notice that little puppy wagging its tail at you during your morning walk or the fact that you woke up feeling a bit lightheaded? Or did you rush out of bed owing to the alarm’s buzzer and then went off on your daily routine without a pause to think or feel?

If this is how your each day looks like, it’s time to turn to mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing your attention on the present and to accept it without being judgmental. Mindfulness nudges you to let go of the past and the future and be aware of only the present moment.

Often enough, we find ourselves lamenting on the past and wishing things could have been different or dreaming about the future. But in doing so, we let go of the present as the moments tick by without our being aware of them. Mindfulness helps us by slowing down the pace of our thoughts, letting us focus on each thought, in turn; giving us a clear head and helping us relax.

Well, you say, that is all good but why should I practice mindfulness. What does it have in store for me?

 

Here are 6 basic reasons why integrating mindfulness into your life is helpful.

 

  1. Mindfulness reduces stress.

Know that thing which makes your heart rate rise, makes you sweat profusely, and unable to focus on anything with that unsettling feeling inside of you? Yes, that’s right. The everyday stress and worry that hounds you all day can be gone with a poof with mindfulness. Have I got your attention now? Researchers now prove that mindfulness is associated with decreased level of the stress hormone cortisol. Mindfulness has been seen to increase positive affect and decrease negative affect, as well as anxiety. The research findings suggest that mindfulness brings about a shift in people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies resulting in their experiencing emotions selectively and processing them differently. Another manner in which mindfulness reduces stress is by helping people with accepting their experiences, including negative emotions, rather than reacting to them in unhealthy ways like avoidance or aversion.

 

  1. Mindfulness boosts memory.

Do you often forget where you kept your car keys or why did you opened the refrigerator? Or forgot about important deadlines or missed scheduled meetings? This is another problem mindfulness can help you with. We have endless deadlines these days and even with multiple to-do lists, it is difficult to keep track of everything, including your kids’ parent teacher meetings. Research has found that those who underwent an eight-week mindfulness training had a stable working memory unlike those who did not undergo the training. The memory capacity was also seen to increase with the practice of mindfulness.

 

  1. Mindfulness improves relationships.

If you’re looking to work on your relationship with your spouse, family, or friends, mindfulness is the answer for you. Mindfulness equips you with the ability to respond well to relationship stress, enhances your skills in communicating your emotions and protects you against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflicts. Research findings support that mindfulness is seen to predict relationship satisfaction.

 

  1. Mindfulness helps you regulate your emotions.

Many clients these days come to me with complaints of being hypersensitive. They say they get emotional easily; even cry, and they would like to be stronger and not get upset so easily. Mindfulness acts as a wonderful antidote to this. It begins by helping you recognize your patterns, like when you ponder on why your ex cheated on you two years ago, or when you find yourself thinking about how you are not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. Mindfulness helps you recognize this repetition in your thoughts. Then it helps you label this thought or emotion. You begin to recognize that you are having the thought about not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. This helps you recognize your thoughts and feelings for what they actually are. The third step then involves accepting these thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you accept them without being judgmental while at the same time not resigning yourself to negative thoughts and emotions. You pay attention to them and experience them without responding to them. The last step involves acting not out of emotion or an impulsive thought but on your values, the place of long-term conviction that you hold. This is important because your emotions are ever-changing while your values are stable.

 

  1. Mindfulness helps you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Have you changed your diet, started exercise regime and still aren’t losing any weight? Mindfulness might help. A survey by American Psychological Association involving 1328 licensed psychologists revealed that they find mindfulness training to be a good approach to losing weight. They reported emotional factors are important not only in causing weight problems but they also pose as a major barrier in overcoming them. Mindfulness training helps in training people to allow negative thoughts and emotions to come and go without dwelling on them. It focuses on enjoying the present moment. Doing so helps with weight reduction when teamed up with proper diet and exercise regime.

 

  1. Mindfulness helps you know the true you.

Mindfulness helps you go beyond those black or rose tinted glasses and see the real you. It helps you analyze yourself objectively. It helps you conquer blind spots which amplifies or diminishes your own flaws in your eyes. Mindfulness lets you observe without being judgmental and increases your capacity to attend to stimuli. It lets you get to really know yourself without feeling any negative emotions towards yourself.

 

These are just a few of the benefits of mindfulness.

 

Here’s a basic mindfulness meditation procedure to give you a little push.

  1. Sit in an upright posture in a relatively quiet space.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Focus on your natural breathing or a word (for example, ‘Om’).
  4. Repeat it silently.
  5. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment.
  6. Return your focus to your breath or the word.

Why don’t you begin practicing mindfulness and let me know the benefits that you experienced?

5 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

5 tips to increase your self-esteem

Are you very critical of yourself? Do you often tend to focus on your negatives rather than your accomplishments? Do you often compare yourself with others? Do you engage in negative self-talk? If you said yes to one or more statements above, you may have a low self-esteem.

increase self-esteem

Self-esteem refers to thoughts, feelings and beliefs we have about ourselves. However, it is not something we are born with, so it is amenable to change. When we think negatively about ourselves, it lowers our self-esteem. How we feel and think about ourselves extends to how we look and behave. Having a high self-esteem helps us overcome difficulties and obstacles with ease while having a low self-esteem makes us focus on our weaknesses and mistakes setting us up for failure.

Nothing is more important than how you think and feel about yourself. Having a self-esteem ensures you are more stable, faces difficulties with courage, have a healthy social life and are happier in general.

There are a myriad number of causes of low self-esteem. It could be due to difficult experiences in childhood, negative life events, past relationships, stress, negative thinking patterns, discrimination, loneliness, trauma or abuse.

However, no matter what the cause, its impact is the same. Low self-esteem leads to negative thinking which might, over time, even lead to mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem limits your career and social development.

Changing the way you think about yourself changes the way you feel about yourself. Having a high self-esteem literally changes your life for the better.

So how do we go about increasing our self-esteem? Here are 5 easy tips-

  1. Positive self-talk.

How you think about yourself marks the cornerstone of your self-esteem. If you constantly tell yourself you’re no good, you might start to believe it. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, it is time to change that. Self-talk is your inner voice, your thoughts that you don’t say out aloud. Negative self-talk makes you feel bad about yourself. It could be something like ‘I look fat in those jeans’, or ‘everyone thinks I am dumb’, or ‘everything is going wrong with my life, nothing is going to change’. These statements act to bring you down. Over time, you start to believe them as if they were true. This results in negative thinking which opens the door for further problems including mental disorders.

In order to bring about a change in your self-talk, the first step is to notice what you have been saying to yourself so far. Hear what your inner voice is saying. If needed, even write it down. Once you have started listening to your inner voice carefully, assess it.

  • Are you engaging in more positive or negative self-talk?
  • Are you keeping things in perspective?
  • Is there an actual evidence for what you’re thinking?
  • Can you try to look at it differently?
  • If a friend was in a similar situation, what would you say to him or her?
  • Can you change the situation somehow to feel better about it?

Once you have monitored and assessed your self-talk, you need to change it. Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Omit ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘ought’ from your self-talk. These words put unnecessary pressure on you to perform. Do a quick reality check when you encounter a negative thought. Assess the truth in the statement.

  • Do you have evidence for the thought?
  • What about evidence against the thought?
  • Are you jumping to conclusions, negative ones at that?

Try to look at alternative explanations for the situation.

  • Can you try to look at the situation from a different perspective?
  • How would an optimist look at this situation?

Put the situation into perspective. Look at the bright side.

  • What best can come out of the situation?
  • Will this matter in a years’ time? Five years’? Ten years’?

Jump into action mode. Make goals to counter the thinking.

  • How do I solve this problem?
  • Have I learned something from the situation?
  • Will this learning help me in the future?
  1. Assertiveness Training

Often times, it is others who bog us down. They say nasty, cruel things making us feel bad about ourselves. We believe their words which start resonating within and become our inner voice. This needs to change.

Being assertive means you value yourself and set clear boundaries. Here’s how to go about being assertive-

  • Use ‘I’ statements. Say statements that start with ‘I’ such as ‘I think…’ or ‘I feel…’. Statements starting with ‘you’ are often misinterpreted leading to an argument or fight. Avoid saying statements that start with ‘you always…’ or ‘you never…’.
  • Let go of guilt. Are you that person who wants to do everything for everyone and always wants to be there for everyone? Yes, this tip is especially for you. You can’t. You can’t do everything, you can’t be everywhere and you can’t please everyone. So stop feeling guilty when you can’t attend your child’s recital, can’t bake a cake for your husband’s birthday or couldn’t meet a friend who was in the city for only a day. You don’t have to do it all to be a better person. You already are one.
  • Express your feelings. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want. Be clear, specific, honest and respectful. Focus on the real issue and say it out loud. For example, you might be cribbing about the towel on the floor but the real issue might be that you want your spouse to spend time with you. Say it loud clearly.
  • Learn to say no. You aren’t being selfish when you’re saying no; you’re simply setting healthy limits. Identify your boundaries, be it physical, emotional or mental. Know how far you can go and tolerate. Stick to these boundaries and don’t let anyone transcend your limits.
  • Agree to disagree. Having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Talk it out. Respect the other person’s point of view. You might not agree with them but it doesn’t mean you are right in what you think. Be tolerant of other view points.
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

A great deal of low self-esteem comes from the fact that we compare ourselves with others who are better off than us. We don’t have that limo, that bungalow, that job or that petite figure. Social media sites heighten this social comparison where we nag our spouse about the fact that our colleague went on a vacation to a country miles away while we haven’t gone on one for so long. Stop doing that! Stop comparing yourself to others. Compete against yourself. You don’t know that person, their life or what is it really like to be them. And even if you do, you are not that person. You have a different life and different set of priorities. Compete with yourself on how you can better your grades, lose weight, get that salary package or simply eat healthy. Take a step ahead from where you were earlier; engage in a healthy competition with yourself instead.

  1. Set realistic expectations.

If you plan to lose 11 pounds in a week, you are setting yourself up for failure. Having unrealistic expectations makes you feel worse about yourself. Set realistic goals that are achievable. Setting expectations from others also sets us up for failure. Wishing your spouse won’t criticize you might not work until you tell him or her so and make sure he or she works on it. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. There’s a chance you have set them too high.

  1. Take a 2 minute break.

Break from what, you ask? Break from putting yourself down. Take a 2 minute break to highlight your accomplishments and to appreciate yourself. Every day, set aside 2 minutes to ask yourself what 3 things you appreciate about yourself. It could be something you mean to your family, friends or colleagues or it could be a skill you are good at. These don’t have to be big things. Small but meaningful things work the best. Write down these three things everyday in a journal. An added benefit of this exercise is that you can go back and look through it when you are feeling low. This little break will help you put everything in perspective and rev your mood.

These tips work great when you actually get down to practicing them in your real life. However, let me warn you, since it’s become a habit for you to put yourself down, this will take some time and lots of practice. Don’t give up though. There’s sunshine at the end of the night. Keep trying and you will get there.

On a last note, I personally think you are awesome!