stress

5 Tips to Radically Reduce Stress

According to research conducted by American Psychological Association about stress at work, two in five employees experience stress during their typical workday. In other words, almost half of the employed population is stressed every day. This number is huge and concerning.

The same study shows that less than six in ten employees report to have resources to manage work stress. But knowing how to face stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed is extremely important, not just for your workplace success, but for your physical and mental health. Untreated chronic stress can cause insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, all the way to serious conditions such as depression, heart disease and obesity.

So, here are 5 helpful and research-backed up techniques that can help you reduce stress and save your health:

1. Give yourself permission to step away from the stressor

That’s right. Sometimes we feel obligated to feel stressed, because somewhere deep down, we believe that we’re controlling the situation to some extent by feeling stressed. There is almost unconscious fear that if we let it go, everything will fall apart. Because of this, we clench to the stressful situation in hope that we’ll somehow fix it if we stress enough about it. But we won’t. And if you give yourself permission to step away from the thing that’s causing you stress, and let yourself do something else, there’s a high chance you’ll get the new perspective and solve the problem more efficiently after some time. Even if you don’t, at least you’ll get rid of some portion of that stress. This doesn’t mean to run away from all stressful situations; it just means that you should let yourself step away from it for a little while, and take care of yourself, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.

2. Excercise

Yeah, this is a classic one. But it really works! Research shows that daily exercise significantly reduces stress experienced during the day. Working out clears your mind and strengthens not just your body, but your abilities to cope with stressful situations too.

3. Laugh it off

Did you know that neuroscience discovered that, when you fake a smile, it activates the same parts of your brain that light up when you’re smiling for real. In other words, just a simple facial expression of smiling can, after a while, trick your brain into feeling better. The real smile is always the best solution, of course, but research suggest that, to some degree, you can fake it ’til you make it. So, try to forget about your grumpy boss and remember that funny cat from that YouTube video. It’ll elicit smile on your face, and you can start from there.

4. Speak with someone about your concerns

Social support matters. When you talk to someone you trust, it really takes off the burden off of your chest. Talk about your distress, your feelings and your concerns, and be open to advice. Even if you don’t end up with the solution, just speaking it out helps alleviate the pressure. If your stress is debt related it might be a good idea to converse with companies similar to debtconsolidation.co to work towards bringing your debts into one manageable payment. This can significantly reduce stress for many because they will have better control over their finances.

5. Meditate

Maybe you heard it before, but mindfulness and meditation really increase the quality of your life. Practicing it daily leads to getting to know yourself better, and with that, to start being honest with yourself about your feelings. From there, you can recognize how exactly you’re feeling when you face a stressful situation and learn to release that pressure on a healthy way. Meditation can help you step out of your head and get the new perspective on the problem. Finally, meditation will teach you how to relax and release the tension you might be holding when you feel stressed. Try it out; it’s one of the easiest techniques you can implement to your daily routine today to improve your well-being. If you’re looking for more alternative methods to relieve your stress, you might even want to consider medical marijuana from somewhere like this lansing dispensary. Cannabis has been shown to improve people’s mood and a lot of people use it help them to unwind after a stressful day. Just remember to do your research first to make sure cannabis is legal where you are.

References:

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/phwa/workplace-survey.pdf

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

positive break

Distract Yourself in Healthy Ways

Good Morning Readers! We work hard to gain benefits or avoid losses. But either way, it’s okay to reward yourself with a healthy, positive break.

I was browsing through my favorite websites, to get my day off to a great start. So, I landed on this site and thought I would share it with you: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/5294/distract-yourself-in-healthy-ways/. This article gives some helpful suggestions if you need ideas on how to break away from the “daily grind” and give yourself a positive break. Additionally, it gives some insight into healthy and unhealthy distractions and how and why to avoid the second ones.

Cheers!

P.S. If you need more ideas, click here.

happiness-formula

The Happiness Formula?

The search for happiness is the greatest search of all. Numerous philosophers, artists, poets, writers, and creatives tried to answer the greatest question of them all: “What is happiness and how to achieve it?”. We all want to be happy; everything we do in life is directed to that one goal: achieving happiness. But is there a happiness formula that, if you follow it, you’ll finally get to your goal? Well… yes and no.

Seligman’s Happiness Formula

Seligman came up with the idea that happiness is the sum of someone’s genetic capacities, voluntary control, and their circumstances.  He emphasizes that person’s circumstances don’t have a significant impact on their happiness. This means that, although it often looks like that we’ll be happier with the new car or more money, it actually doesn’t have a high impact on our happiness in the long run. Seligman doesn’t say this out of the blue: research constantly shows that people have a “baseline of happiness” that stays the same no matter the life circumstances. But does this mean that we cannot have an impact on our happiness? Not exactly. Seligman says that voluntary control over our happiness has the most powerful effect on it. In other words, we can “learn” to be happier.

To achieve greater happiness, positive-psychology advocates “learnt optimism” exercises, such as sitting down each evening and listing things that went well that day; learning to feel grateful for what we have; and practicing random acts of kindness. Seligman also points out that lasting happiness has nothing to do with the hedonistic pleasures – shopping and partying – and more to do with solid values: a sense of community and meaningful work.

On the other hand, there is no specified set of rules that you can follow, as we’re all different. However, these are some ways that can help you be more satisfied and happy with your life.

Read more here: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/health/features/does-the-happiness-formula-really-add-up-14850134.html#ixzz0sJ0OBLeG

positive mental health

Positive Mental Health

Your mental health affects the way you think, feel, behave. It determines the way you cope with stress, communicate, form relationships, overcome challenges, your self-confidence and all other aspects of your life. Basically, your mental health in a great extent shapes your life.

So, logically, it’s extremely important. Luckily, you can work on it; there are many ways to take control over it and build a strong, positive mental health. It doesn’t mean you’ll never feel down or that you’ll never feel stressed. It means that, when you face hardships, feel sad, depressed, stressed etc., you’ll be able to bounce back to healthy mental state more quickly and efficiently. You’ll have higher self-esteem, a sense of meaning, positive relationship to challenges in life and flexibility to adapt to change.

How to Boost Positive Mental Health

Generally speaking, there are 6 aspects that contribute to positive mental health:

  • Social connection
  • Physical activity
  • Managing stress
  • Healthy diet
  • Quality sleep
  • Meaning and purpose

This great article offers realistic and attainable actions to take to help maintain positive mental health: http://helpguide.org/mental/mental_emotional_health.htm. It gives some great advice on all of these 6 aspects of mental health and is full of useful info.

In the modern age, we’re obsessed by seeking simple answers to complex problems. We look for connection with others by compulsively checking social media instead of reaching out to people in the real world; to boost our mood and ease depression we take a pill, rather than address the underlying issues. The truth is that, whatever your issues, there are things you can do to improve the way you feel and experience greater mental and emotional well-being. And you can start doing them today!

Remember, this is your life. Make and sustain positive change.

 

Walk Now for Autism Speaks

2010 Walk Now for Autism Speaks

“Join Autism Speaks Canada as we walk to change the future for the Canadian and global autism communities! Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a fun-filled, family friendly event and is our single most powerful force to fund vital research that will lead us to the answers we need. Experience the power of thousands united by a single cause by joining Walk Now for Autism Speaks.

Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder. For this reason, we need more walkers, sponsors, teams, and volunteers to join us as we try to find the missing pieces of the autism puzzle. Whether this is your first walk or you’ve walked with us before, take the first step and register today.

1 out of every 110 children will be diagnosed with autism; 1 in 70 boys. And we need to find out why. We need to find ways to better treat autism and support families. So, help us find the answers and start fundraising today. Whether you strive to join our new “Grand Club” (walkers that raise $1,000 or more) or sell lemonade to boost your total, you become a piece of the puzzle! Hence, don’t wait another minute – start a corporate, school or family team today!

We look forward to seeing you at the event!”

are-you-ready-for-love

Are you ready for LOVE?

Honest, fulfilling love is what we all want, but it’s sometimes so hard to find. I hear many of my clients struggle with the difficulties of finding the right partner for them. They’re feeling lonely or unattractive, hopeless or like outcasts. Counseling can really help you get out of that rut of negative thoughts. But there is also another innovative method to help you find, grow and maintain a happy long-term relationship.

Dr. Epstein’s Love Counselling

Dr. Epstein is helping to create a new proactive kind of counseling—Love Counseling—that will help people build solid, lasting love relationships supported by the Four Pillars. He has also created an innovative, comprehensive new test of Love Skills—the seven essential skill-sets we need to be successful in long-term love relationships. The test, the Epstein Love Competencies Inventory (or ELCI, pronounced like the name “Elsie”) is a result of thorough scientific research on what makes long-term relationships successful.  It has been empirically validated with a sample of more than 11,000 people in the U.S. and fifty other countries. You can take the test free of charge by clicking here or by visiting MyLoveSkills.com. ”

Dr. Epstein also created the test that will tell you if your partner and you are a good match. The test is called “Are We Good Together”, and shows how compatible your and your partner’s relationship needs are. The test is based on a premise that if two people meet each other’s basic relationship needs, and if they also feel mutually attracted, they have a good chance of being able to create a happy, long-term, loving relationship. It is also free of charge and you can take it here: AreWeGoodTogether.com.

If you’re having trouble finding the right one, maybe you should check out our article: “Throw Away the Checklist“. It might help you reorganize priorities and get a new perspective on dating.

 

 

positive attitude

Positive Attitude

Do you see a cup half full or half empty? This question can seem trivial, but it actually can tell a lot about the way you see circumstances in life and, possibly, the way you feel most of the time. Research shows that people who see a cup as half full, a.k.a optimists, tend to have higher levels of happiness, perseverance, achievement, and health (Peterson, 2000, p. 47) compared to pessimists. Additionally, there is evidence that optimistic people are more likely to take proactive steps when it comes to their health, while pessimism is somewhat related to health-damaging behaviors. Accordingly, positive attitude is related to higher levels of physical and mental health, increased life expectancy, success at the workplace and better coping strategies.

Although pessimists would say that optimism is the same as denial and oversimplification, and having a positive attitude is dangerous because these individuals will end up disappointed and hurt. However, research has strong evidence against those statements. As a matter of fact, the behavioral patterns of optimists appear to provide models of living for others to learn from. After all, increased life expectancy and health, as well as being successful and happy and making people around us feel the same way is what really matters in the end.

So, if having a positive attitude is so beneficial for happiness, can we somehow incorporate it into our lives? The answer is YES, you definitely can.

Learning Positive Attitude

Becoming optimistic and training yourself to look at the bright side takes work and discipline. If you tend to see things negatively, it will take some time to make optimism a thinking habit. But once you do, you’ll definitely notice the change in the way you feel and act. So, what should you do?

Notice Your Negative Thinking Patterns

Listen to your words and your thoughts. The longer you listen, the more you’ll recognize negative assumptions and conclusions. Catch yourself doing that and try to challenge those negative thoughts. Do you have enough evidence to support those statements? Where you drew that pessimistic conclusion from? Try replacing these negative beliefs with positive, or at least neutral ones.

Give Yourself and Others a Positive Feedback

Give compliments. For some, it’s easier to blame others than to support them, but give it a try. Even if someone has done something poorly, recognize the effort and find something they’ve done well. This applies to you as well. When you accomplish something, maybe you have a tendency to tell yourself something like “oh, that’s nothing special” or “I was just lucky” or “everyone could do it”. This usually happens because you’re afraid that, if you take responsibility for your strengths and good actions, you’ll disappoint others the next time you fail. But this is false; taking a positive feedback is not dangerous, nor is rejecting it the warranty of protection of disappointment. Recognize your irrational beliefs and work on overcoming them.

Be Grateful

Give thanks for small things in your life. It’s easy to get swallowed by difficulties of everyday life and forget about everything that make out life easier. But remembering to be grateful will eventually make you happy with what you have instead of being unhappy for what you don’t. Keeping a gratitude journal can be really beneficial, especially in the beginning of your practice.

 

Becoming optimistic can be really difficult and even feel fake in the beginning, but as time passes by, you’ll get better and better at this. If you’re persistent, you’ll just catch yourself one day naturally implementing positive attitude in your thinking pattern. So hang in there.

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161121/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/

http://positivepsychology.org.uk/optimism-pessimism-theory/

https://psychology.as.uky.edu/optimism

 

good-marriage

Nine Psychological Tasks for a Good Marriage

Research on what makes a marriage work shows that people in a good marriage have completed these psychological “tasks”:

1. Emotional Independence from Primary Family

Separated emotionally from the family you grew up in; not to the point of estrangement, but enough so that your identity is separate from that of your parents and siblings.

2. “Together” Space and “Me” Space

Build togetherness based on a shared intimacy and identity, while at the same time set boundaries to protect each partner’s autonomy.

3. Sex

Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship. Work together to protect it from the intrusions of the workplace and family obligations.

4. Staying a Happy Couple With Children

For couples with children, embrace your roles as parents and absorb the impact of a baby’s entrance into the marriage. Learn to continue the work of protecting the privacy of you and your spouse as a couple.

5. Together Through the Good and Through the Bad

Confront and master the inevitable crises of life together. Learn to cooperate when times are hard instead of blaming each other.

6. Your Marriage is Your Safe Place

Maintain the strength of the marital bond in the face of adversity. The marriage should be a safe haven in which partners are able to express their differences, anger, and conflict.

7. Laugh

Use humor and laughter to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom and isolation.

8. Support

Nurture and comfort each other, satisfying each partner’s needs for dependency and offering continuing encouragement and support.

9. Keep the Spark

Keep alive the early romantic, idealized images of falling in love, while facing the sober realities of the changes wrought by time.

Reference:

http://ww.apa.org/helpcenter/marriage.aspx

personality types in romantic relationships

Psychology of Love – Personality and Attraction

Why Him? Why Her?

I like being around people who are in love. They have a contagious energy.

Helen Fisher wrote a nice article about how our personality influences our choices when it comes to romantic relationships. Among other interesting things, she says that “our primary personality type steers us toward specific romantic partners. That is to say, our biological nature whispers constantly within us to influence who we love”.

Here are some interesting parts of the article that explain different personality types in romantic relationships, and which personality types they gravitate to.

Personality Types in Romantic Relationships

  • Explorers: it seems like traits of these individuals are associated with specific genes in the dopamine system – the propensity to seek novelty; the willingness to take risks; spontaneity; heightened energy; curiosity; creativity; optimism; enthusiasm; mental flexibility.
  • Builders: individuals who inherited particular genes in the serotonin system tend to be calm, social, cautious but not fearful, persistent, loyal, fond of rules and facts and orderly. They are conventional, the guardians of tradition. Further, these men and women have fantastic skills in building social networks and managing people in family, business and social situations.
  • Directors: although testosterone is often associated with males, both men and women are capable of expressing particularly strong activity in this neural system. Moreover, those who inherit this chemistry tend to be direct, decisive, focused, analytical, logical, tough-minded, exacting, emotionally contained and good at strategic thinking. They get to the point; many are bold and competitive. They excel at figuring out machines, mathematical formulas or other rule-based systems. Additionally, many are good at understanding the structure of music, too.
  • Negotiators: traits linked with estrogen. Women and men with a great deal of estrogen activity tend to see the big picture. In other words, they think contextually and holistically, expressing what I call “web thinking”. These people are imaginative. They display superior verbal skills and excel at reading postures, gestures, facial expressions, and tones of voice. Also, their social skills are on top of the game. Lastly, they’re intuitive, sympathetic, nurturing, mentally flexible, agreeable, idealistic, altruistic and emotionally expressive.

Who’s Attracted to Whom?

  • Explorers are attracted to other Explorers—people with many similar traits of temperament.
  • Builders also gravitate to people like themselves, other Builders.
  • Directors, however, gravitate to Negotiators. And Negotiators are drawn to Directors. These two personality types gravitate toward individuals with a complementary temperament. Moreover, these patterns occur whether one is a male or female. No wonder so many scientists and laypeople think that “opposites attract” while so many others believe “birds of a feather flock together.” Both patterns occur—depending on your primary personality type. I felt as if I had sneaked into Mother Nature’s kitchen and stumbled on her recipes for who we love.

Read the whole article here: https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/article/481/why-him-why-her

 

If you’re in a search for the romantic partner that will be right for you, our article “Finding the Person for You” can help you on that journey. Check it out.

changing-habits

Why Changing Habits is So Hard?

Habits are a powerful thing. They shape our days and, eventually, out lives. Because of that, the right habits are incredibly important for achieving our goals and getting the life we want. However, habits are difficult to change. If you have some unhealthy or unhelpful ones, it is necessary to change them in order to change your everyday life.

Why Changing Habits is So Hard and How to Do It Anyways?

Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. shared a great article about changing your habits. It points the light to the nature of habits, which explains why they are so difficult to eliminate. Based on this knowledge, he also gives some great advice on how to make this process less difficult and to successfully implement some healthy habits in your life. You can read the whole article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201602/why-old-habits-die-hard. Here are the most interesting parts of it.

  • Habitual thinking and behavior are a result of powerful neural pathways in our brains, and memories that are automatically and unconsciously accessed; we get brain chemistry rewards every time we access those memories.
  • Unconscious thought processes can predetermine, without an individual’s awareness, decision-making bias and actual decision-making.
  • Emotions are the key driver to decision-making, not logical, analytical thought. Our logical processes are often only rational justifications for emotional decisions.
  • Your brain will put up defensive mechanisms that will try to protect you from change.
  • Because the brain operates in a quantum environment, our perceptions and self-talk alter the connections and pathways in our brains. Whatever we focus our “attention” on changes or creates new brain connections.
  • Individuals should focus on desired new patterns of thinking and behavior to help employees change, not analyzing and trying to fix the old patterns because the latter will only reinforce the problems.