Category Archives: Mental Health

Five Keys To Good Mental Health

First of all, I want to say that I’m not a mental health professional. I was a high school social studies teacher and in education for 34 years, and I do have Mental Health First Aid certification, but still, these suggestions are only personal opinion and do not represent professional advice.

• The first recommendation deals with sleep. Most professionals recommend eight hours of sleep per night for adults. More than eight hours may lead to depression or at least sluggishness. Less than eight hours may lead to anxiety or nervousness. However, I maintain that sleep does not have to be completed in one block of time. Personally, I sleep for about three hours, work on projects for an hour or two, sleep for another one or two hours; then I nap once or twice during the day when I’m tired. Sometimes naps last an hour, sometimes only ten minutes. I think the key is to sleep when your body tells you it needs rest. Of course, I’m semi-retired, and my schedule may not work for most professionals.

• A conscientious diet is helpful for mental stability. I recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. Those can include, most nuts and seeds, but most helpful are walnuts, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseeds, and soaked chia seeds. I like to soak my chia seeds in milk overnight and that combination ends up similar to a tapioca pudding. Cold water fish provide substantial omega-3 fatty acids – sardines, salmon, trout, char, and herring lead the parade in this area. Avocado is another helpful food in this area. Low fat proteins are helpful including beans, chicken, fish, and turkey. Of course a diet grounded around fruits and vegetables is important, and finally probiotics are helpful for digestion. Those can include pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt.

• Another important step includes respect – respect yourself, treat yourself, and value yourself. Find a hobby like fishing; go to a nice restaurant or a movie once a month, keep a journal of your thoughts, or even go shopping.

• Exercise is another important aspect that bolsters your self-esteem and overall mental health. An outdoor walk, especially in a park or the woods – that provides, fresh air, strength, and the sun can provide much needed vitamin D to stave off depression.

• Finally, it is helpful to engage with others face-to-face. Conversation can provide a feeling of worth. It is beneficial to get off the smart phone and deal with people in person.

These five keys will not guarantee good mental health, but they will go a long way toward that end.

Role of Music Therapy in Dementia

Dementia:

Dementia is a progressive neurologic disorder that changes behavior, diminishes cognition, and deteriorates memory due to a disease or injury. Some causes of dementia which may or may not be reversible are brain injury, use of certain medications, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, immune disorders, vitamin B12 deficiency, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. The common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia.

The most pronounced effects of dementia are on memory and visual-spatial. Some psychological and behavioral expressions that can manifest are aggression, agitation, depression, wandering, restlessness, and trouble eating or swallowing. During the late stages of disease, difficulty in swallowing can result in breathing food into the lungs that may lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Treatment:

The symptoms associated with behavior and psychology affect patients and their caregivers. Available pharmacologic treatments used to treat behavior have little benefit and significant risks. Due to increased risk of mortality associated with these drugs, FDA has issued warnings against their use especially in elderly patients. The Dementia Action Alliance encourages integrated approach to focus on a person’s behavioral and psychological expressions rather than following general practices.

In a holistic approach patient-specific behavior is identified and modified to eliminate conditions which contribute to a specific behavior. A targeted approach provides patient activity program and builds skills that simplify communication and tasks. Various therapies that have been used to support a person living with dementia are music therapy, art therapy, reality orientation, aromatherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Music therapy:

It is a health profession in which music is used as a therapy to improve mental, physical, and social wellbeing of an individual. It helps to balance spiritual and emotional needs of an individual to improve quality of life.

The qualified music therapist provides treatment based on individual patient’s needs and may include playing musical instruments or video games, singing, dancing, song drawing, listening to music, and/ or multisensory stimulation. It can be provided as individual or group therapy, however studies have shown more positive results with group therapy. Active therapy engages patient with direct participation while passive therapy allows patient to listen to music or engage in another activity. Active therapy has been found to be more helpful in improving physical functions of the patient like grasping an object.

Credentialing of music therapist:

Music therapy is a health profession based on evidence. The therapist must earn at least a bachelor’s degree, complete 1200 hours of internship and obtain MT-BC credential issued by the Certification Board for Music Therapists to become a certified music therapist.

The therapist may hold different designations like Certified Music Therapist, Advanced Certified Music Therapist, or Registered Music Therapist. He must obtain continuing education credits and hold licensure in states that require board-certification to safeguard competent practice.

Impact of music therapy:

When we listen to music different parts of brain become stimulated. For instance, music stimulates amygdala which is involved in processing of emotions. Dancing and playing an instrument involves motor cortex which controls movement. Musical experiences excite hippocampus which is responsible for memory and spatial navigation. It increases blood flow in the brain, strengthens executive functions, supports heart, improves communication, and reduces stress.

Studies have shown the positive effect of music therapy on psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia. A study by Ozdemir L et al., 2009[1] improved cognition and reduced depression and anxiety with continued effect for three weeks following the completion of study in mild dementia. Another study by Li CH et al., 2015[2] showed that cognition in music therapy group was reduced less as compared to the control group and change of abstraction domain in the music therapy group was better.

Numerous other studies have been done using different assessment instruments like Mini-Mental State Examination, Geriatric Depression Scale, Beck Anxiety Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, Clinical Dementia Rating, Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument, and Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Several studies have shown promising results in the form of decreased anxiety, positive emotional states, and increased relaxation.

It has the potential effect to enhance the quality of life, improve neuropsychiatric symptoms, and reduce symptoms like cognitive decline and depression. It benefits patients who have difficulty communicating or expressing themselves in words. This, in turn, strengthens patients’ abilities and transfer it to other areas of their lives.

Ways to Help Men Recover From Divorce

Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions and divorce can be a serious emotional dent on a person. Though it can have a debilitating effect on both the partners, most people offer advice to women on how to cope with the loss. Men, on the other hand, are no less the sufferers of this legal and emotionally draining battle. They too are at the receiving end.

Sometimes, the signs of a marriage not working are there, but the couple overlook them and continue to the point of breakdown. Here are some tips for men to navigate through the divorce and salvage their self-esteem:

  1. Stopping to live in denial – If the wives initiate the divorce, most men are taken by surprise. This is because they have been living in a state of denial. It is important to accept the situation, only then one can face it with will and grit.
  2. Not freaking out – It is important not to freak out when the man gets to know about the divorce as it will make him more vulnerable. It is normal to feel lost, hurt and dejected, but one should be able to de-stress and share the shock and disappointment with a friend or a loved one. Acting in haste can be disastrous.
  3. Calming activities – It is extremely important to calm down so that one can plan the next move. This can be achieved by trying yoga or some form of meditation. Deep breathing can also be immensely helpful.
  4. Spending time with kids – Many men get detached from their kids when the divorce proceedings start. This complicates the matters further. Therefore, until the time custody issues are resolved, the man should try to spend considerable amount of time with his kids and be a doting father. Even if the relationship with the mother isn’t working, the one with children shouldn’t suffer. The more time a man spends with his kids, the better the bonding is.
  5. Spending some time alone – Divorce can be psychologically and physically exhausting. Therefore, it is indispensable to spend time on activities that one loves, like playing soccer with friends, watching a movie or anything else. The effort should be to remain strong and sane during the entire process and not let other things in life suffer. It’s important to prioritize other tasks as well.
  6. Reaching out for support – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we cannot stop ourselves from not being affected by the mental turmoil. In those times, one must not feel shy and reach out for support to the loved ones, support groups or a psychologist. Sharing grief can help one discover lost strength.

Regaining mental stabilityMental health problems can afflict anyone regardless of age, gender, culture or socio-economic background. Going through divorce and starting a new life can be a daunting task and cause immense stress. If left untreated, a person with mental problems can fall prey to other health issues and get into substance abuse. Such patients deserve the highest levels of care and compassion to recover fully and regain control of their lives.

4 Useful Ways to Benefit From Therapy

Many people can benefit from talking and getting things out in the open. If life experiences are starting to have a negative impact, a therapy session can make it easier to look at life and your problems in a different way. Let’s take a look of four reasons why therapy can improve your life:

Handle your emotions

Therapy can be very effective at helping you handle your emotions. This helps to solve issues related to overcoming addiction, depression or anxiety. The problem does not need to the traumatic or dramatically life-altering. The aim of therapy is to encourage you to see things with a different perspective to better manage and control your emotions. Speaking to an expert makes it easier to see how a certain event is affecting your life and how to cancel out any negative feelings.

Control your goals

Therapy can be very useful in the process of achieving your personal or professional goals. Whether this may relate to a change in career path or attempting to lose weight, the ability to discuss a situation and get it out in the open can help to overcome mental blocks. With the ability to create accountability, you are more likely to take the necessary action to achieve the desired result. Also, those with more social support in their life are more effective at building up resilience against stress. By relying on this support, it will be easier to making the desired changes in your life.

Help find a purpose

Talking to a professional can be very useful when dealing with issues that you are struggling with. With the stresses out in the open, it will be easier to learn to find a goal to help bring more meaning to your day-to-day life, as well as to bring peace of mind and confidence. This type of help is certain to benefit those that feel completely depleted with life and look for greater meaning in all aspects of life.

Solve a problem

A professional can be very effective in dissecting a specific problem and giving guidance on the best course of action to solve it. They can be very effective at encouraging you to look at a problem from a different angle. This makes it easier to view the problem with less sadness or anxiety. By looking at the problem in a different way, you may find it easier to find a solution to move forward without feeling so overwhelmed

How Risk-Taking Behavior Impacts Mental Health

Risk-taking is closely associated with the image of a person. People who are robust, energetic and athletic are believed to engage in more risk-taking activities. However, the entire debate centered around risk-taking and the image of a person is quite subjective. For example, a person who bungee jumps or scuba dives is usually careful about his health, regardless of the risks that he might take later while indulging in the adventure sport. On the other hand, someone who sits on the couch and smokes weed while flipping through TV channels is not participating in any activity that is associated with thrill, adventure or danger.

The label of a risk taker would not apply to them ideally. However, they could view themselves quite differently. Given the fact that many who do drugs or consume alcohol or smoke on a regular basis could have started the habit when they were young, even though they were aware of the risks associated with it, they could be right.

A new study that undertook a research of genetic data has come up with surprising findings. During the course of the research conducted by U.K. Biobank, the participants were asked to self-assess themselves basis the question, “Would you describe yourself as someone who takes risks?”

  • The study led to the identification of two genome-wide significant loci. One was observed within CADM2, and the other was located in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region of the chromosome.
  • The study also found genetic correlations between risk-taking activity of individuals and schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity and smoking.

More about the findingsThose who identified themselves as risk takers were male and had higher BMI. It was also observed that compared to those who had assessed themselves as non-risk takers were more likely to have smoked or doped earlier than their peers. Women who identified themselves as risk takers had a child at a younger age compared to others. The study also noted that there was a positive link between risk-taking and depressive disorders.

Some other conclusions of the study published in the Communications Biology are:

  • There are 26 variants in regions of the human genome linked with risk-taking activity.
  • Four areas of the brain are associated with risk-taking behavior, namely the pre-frontal cortex, hypothalamus, anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus. Past studies have indicated that hippocampus plays an important role in behavioral inhibition, hypothalamus is responsible for fear comprising the fear of pain, predators, etc., and the anterior cingulate cortex plays a vital role in the exercise of control when performing a task.
  • The immune system plays a key role in the onset of mood and behavioral disorders like depression.

Rebellious spirit or serious mental problem?Since early childhood, children are taught to differentiate between things that are good or bad for them. As they grow older, they instinctively take cue from what they have been taught or what they have picked from the environment and behave accordingly. They are no longer guided by the identification which is responsible for unstructured or uncoordinated impulses. Instead, ego or superego plays a major role in the way they act or behave. They learn to reason – instead of smoking a joint that is easily available or driving a car at breakneck speed, they practice restraint.

However, in people with a mental condition, the tendency to act impulsively remains even when they are no longer children. They find it difficult to exercise restraint and act on impulse. The impulsivity is seen in people living with a wide range of mental health disorders, such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. For example, teens who have been living with a major depressive disorder have shown a greater likelihood of risk-taking activities such as engaging in sex with more than one partner or drinking alcohol or doing drugs.

Road to recovery

As the implications of risky behavior go beyond the standard refusal to conform and rebellious spirit, it is necessary to identify the reasons behind someone’s risk-taking activities. Screening for mental health conditions and substance abuse is just as important.

What Are the Common Therapy Options?

Therapy has the potential to help people in many ways. It can useful for those suffering with emotional problems or simply having a bad time, but unable to personally sort out the issues. For many, a therapy session can be more productive than relying on medication. The main purpose of therapy is simply to make someone feel better. There is no guarantee it will completely fix the problems. But it can make a person feel happier and more able to cope with the wide-ranging troubles in their life.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common options:

Mental health

One of the major types of therapy relates to mental health which can include an addiction, a phobia, an eating disorder, anxiety and depression. Also, it can be helpful for serious conditions, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Life events

Therapy can be a great benefit for those trying to deal with a difficult life experience. This can relate to an upsetting or a sad time, such as losing a job, finding out about a serious illness, or coping with the loss of a friend or relative.

Physical illness

Anyone that is suffering with a health condition that is likely to have a long-term impact on their life may start to experience issues with depression. Beyond the use of medication, a therapy session for those suffering with heart disease, multiple sclerosis or diabetes can see positive benefits and enjoy a better quality of life.

Relationship issues

Therapy for couples is very common and can help those that are just starting to have relationship problems or those experiencing the type of difficulties that come with separation or divorce. This type of therapy can be most effective when both parties of the relationship are involved, but it can still be useful if only one decides to attend.

Troubled families

Many families experience issues that can have a negative impact, but can benefit from therapy. A typical use of therapy is to help children when the parents are splitting up or those with behavioral problems or depression. Other issues may relate to addiction, a mental health condition or an eating disorder.

Overall, the use of therapy can be a benefit in many different situations. Even a minor difficulty can become a major issue over time if no treatment is requested. For those suffering with an issue in their life, it is useful to seek guidance as soon as possible.

Don’t Get Lost in the Chaos

The last several years have been one long blur for me and my family. One disaster after another popped up in a seemingly unending succession. I lost three close family members and several beloved pets to death in five short years. Still reeling from the last loss, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly having to deal with a family member with an addiction and all the problems that go along with it, including taking in and caring for her children. If that wasn’t enough, my husband and I had health problems, some serious, that had to be attended to, leaving us feeling like we practically lived in waiting rooms of one sort or another.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I stopped doing the things that I loved… the things that made me feel like me. Normally busy with a wide range of hobbies including writing, reading, drawing and painting, playing musical instruments and spending time with my pets, I now found myself being gradually consumed with the problems around me while time spent doing the things I enjoyed slowly disappeared. When that happened, I lost myself.

I believe it is perfectly understandable, even expected, that our normal routine would be interrupted when we are faced with a major life crisis. It can feel chaotic and we may find ourselves feeling shocked, overwhelmed and confused while having to attend to all the things that need done. However, it becomes a problem when that interruption goes on for too long.

The reasons for the delay in returning to normal activity are different for everyone. In my case I told myself that I should wait until things calmed down first, until I had no more problems to deal with, before trying to resume my hobbies. I even felt guilty for even thinking about taking time and energy to do things that I didn’t feel needed done when there were serious matters that needed my attention. However, even when there was a bit of a lull in the distractions, I still found myself making excuses for not doing what I had previously enjoyed doing. Instead, it seemed that I was sitting around waiting for the next phone call or knock at the door, announcing the arrival of the next disaster. I thought, “Why try to go back to normal if I’m just going to have to stop it all again?”. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Problem is, I was getting more anxious, depressed and angry with each passing day because my life seemed filled with nothing but problems. No joy. No relaxation. Just stress and difficulties that I wasn’t dealing with very well.

With the help of both a good counselor and an excellent life coach, I eventually realized that this waiting game doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because I was waiting for something that was never going to happen. I was never going to be problem free. None of us are. We may have a bit of respite between problems but, rest assured, there is always another waiting around the corner. Please understand, I’m not trying to be fatalist or depressing, I’m just stating a fact of life. That being the situation, we can’t put our lives on hold and keep it there every time a crisis occurs (or while we are waiting for the next one to occur, which is a bad idea anyway) or we will do very little actual living during our lives.

I was also tired of being so miserable and problem consumed, so I knew things had to change. With the help and encouragement of my family, counselor and coach, I slowly started doing the things that gave me satisfaction and joy. My hobbies allowed me to escape the problems for a while as I being absorbed in fun yet challenging activities. I then found myself in a better mood throughout the day, which in turn made it easier for me to handle any problems that did arise. I no longer felt like there was nothing in my life but problems. I also had joy and fulfillment. I had found myself again.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, spending all of your time and physical/mental energy on problems, it’s time to reevaluate what you are doing. Worrying about something incessantly never solved or prevented problems, ever. On the other hand, I’m not advising you to ignore them either. If there is something you can reasonably do to help a situation or solve a problem, do so. That includes asking for help or advice from family, friends or the appropriate professional (doctor, attorney, therapist, etc). By all means, do what you can, but, while you are doing this, for your own wellbeing, try to do something you enjoy everyday, something that gives you a break from the stress, even if just for 15-20 minutes. For a lot of people like myself, that is participating in a hobby, but it could be anything: going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, watching your favorite comedy, praying, reading, meditating. Whatever YOU find soul restoring. The idea is to concentrate on YOU a little everyday so that you don’t get lost. Don’t feel guilty for doing it either. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact, I think you will find that if you do so, you will gain the added benefit of being better able to help others as well as deal with problems more easily.That benefits everyone.

(A note before I close: Once you have done all you can do to help/solve a problem, it’s time to let it go. If you are having difficulty doing that, especially when dealing with grief, depression, and trauma, please seek the help of a licensed mental health professional or call the local crises hotline.)

It’s understandable that a crisis would stop us in our tracks for a time. But, to avoid being lost in the chaos, we have to make sure we allow ourselves time to do what we love… what refreshes and renews us and makes us who we are. Only then, when we are restored and strengthened can we go on to meet the next challenge with success.

How to Handle Narcissistic Abuse

We’re all capable of abuse when we’re frustrated or hurt. We may be guilty of criticizing, judging, withholding, and controlling, but some abusers, including narcissists, take abuse to a different level. Narcissistic Abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual. Some types of emotional abuse are not easy to spot, including manipulation. It can include emotional blackmail, using threats and intimidation to exercise control. Narcissists are masters of verbal abuse and manipulation. They can go so far as to make you doubt your own perceptions, called gaslighting.

The Motivation for Narcissistic Abuse

Remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and abuse exist on a continuum, ranging from silence to violence. Rarely will a narcissist take responsibility for his or her behavior. Generally, they deny their actions, and augment the abuse by blaming the victim. Particularly, malignant narcissists aren’t bothered by guilt. They can be sadistic and take pleasure in inflicting pain. They can be so competitive and unprincipled that they engage in anti-social behavior. Don’t confuse narcissism with anti-social personality disorder.

The objective of narcissistic abuse is power. They act with the intent to diminish or even hurt other people. The most important thing to remember about intentional abuse is that it’s designed to dominate you. Abusers’ goals are to increase their control and authority, while creating doubt, shame, and dependency in their victims. They want to feel superior to avoid hidden feelings of inferiority. Understanding this can empower you. Like all bullies, despite their defenses of rage, arrogance, and self-inflation, they suffer from shame. Appearing weak and humiliated is their biggest fear. Knowing this, it’s essential not to take personally the words and actions of an abuser. This enables you to confront narcissistic abuse.

Mistakes in Dealing with Abuse

When you forget an abuser’s motives, you may naturally react in some of these ineffective ways:

1. Appeasement. If you placate to avoid conflict and anger, it empowers the abuser, who sees it as weakness and an opportunity to exert more control.

2. Pleading. This also shows weakness, which narcissists despise in themselves and others. They may react dismissively with contempt or disgust.

3. Withdrawal. This is a good temporary tactic to collect your thoughts and emotions, but is not an effective strategy to deal with abuse.

4. Arguing and Fighting. Arguing over the facts wastes your energy. Most abusers aren’t interested in the facts, but only in justifying their position and being right. Verbal arguments can quickly escalate to fights that drain and damage you. Nothing is gained. You lose and can end up feeling more victimized, hurt, and hopeless.

5. Explaining and Defending. Anything beyond a simply denial of a false accusation leaves you open to more abuse. When you address the content of what is being said and explain and defend your position, you endorse an abuser’s right to judge, approve, or abuse you. Your reaction sends this message: “You have power over my self-esteem. You have the right to approve or disapprove of me. You’re entitled to be my judge.”

6. Seeking Understanding. This can drive your behavior if you desperately want to be understood. It’s based on the false hope that a narcissist is interested in understanding you, while a narcissist is only interested in winning a conflict and having the superior position. Depending upon the degree of narcissism, sharing your feelings may also expose you to more hurt or manipulation. It’s better to share your feelings with someone safe who cares about them.

7. Criticizing and Complaining. Although they may act tough, because abusers are basically insecure, inside they’re fragile. They can dish it, but can’t take it. Complaining or criticizing an abuser can provoke rage and vindictiveness.

8. Threats. Making threats can lead to retaliation or backfire if you don’t carry them out. Never make a threat you’re not ready to enforce. Boundaries with direct consequences are more effective.

9. Denial. Don’t fall into the trap of denial by excusing, minimizing, or rationalizing abuse. And don’t fantasize that it will go away or improve at some future time. The longer it goes on, the more it grows, and the weaker you can become.

10. Self-Blame Don’t blame yourself for an abuser’s actions and try harder to be perfect. This is a delusion. You can’t cause anyone to abuse you. You’re only responsible for your own behavior. You will never be perfect enough for an abuser to stop their behavior, which stems from their insecurities not you.

Confronting Abuse Effectively

Allowing abuse damages your self-esteem. Thus, it’s important to confront it. That doesn’t mean to fight and argue. It means standing your ground and speaking up for yourself clearly and calmly and having boundaries to protect your mind, emotions, and body. Before you set boundaries, you must:

1. Know Your Rights. You must feel entitled to be treated with respect and that you have specific rights, such as the right to your feelings, the right not to have sex if you decline, a right to privacy, a right not to be yelled at, touched, or disrespected. If you’ve been abused a long time (or as a child), your self- esteem likely has been diminished. You may no longer trust yourself or have confidence.

2. Be Assertive. This takes learning and practice to avoid being passive or aggressive. Try these short-term responses to dealing with verbal putdowns:

* I’ll think about it.

* I’ll never be the good enough wife (husband) that you hoped for

* I don’t like it when you criticize me. Please stop.” (Then walk away)

* That’s your opinion. I disagree, (or) I don’t see it that way.

* You’re saying… ” (Repeat what was said. Add, “Oh, I see.”)

* I won’t to talk to you when you (describe abuse, e.g. “belittle me”).

Then leave.

* Agree to part that’s true. “Yes, I burned the dinner.” Ignore

You’re a rotten cook.

* Humor – “You’re very cute when you get annoyed.

3. Be Strategic. Know what you want specifically, what the narcissist wants, what your limits are, and where you have power in the relationship. You’re dealing with someone highly defensive with a personality disorder. There are specific strategies to having an impact.

4. Set Boundaries. Boundaries are rules that govern the way you want to be treated. People will treat you the way you allow them to. You must know what your boundaries are before you can communicate them. This means getting in touch with your feelings, listening to your body, knowing your rights, and learning assertiveness. They must be explicit.

Don’t hint or expect people to read your mind.

5. Have Consequences. After setting boundaries, if they’re ignored, it’s important to communicate and invoke consequences. These are not threats, but actions you take to protect yourself or meet your needs.

6. Be Educative. Research shows that narcissists have neurological deficits that affect their interpersonal reactions. You’re best approach is to educate a narcissist like a child. Explain the impact of their behavior and provide incentives and encouragement for different behavior. This may involve communicating consequences. It requires planning what you’re going to say without being emotional.

Get Support

To respond effectively requires support. Without it, you may languish in self-doubt and succumb to abusive disinformation and denigration. It’s challenging to change your reactions, let alone those of anyone else. Expect pushback when you stand up for yourself. This is another reason why support is essential. You will need courage and consistency. Whether or not the narcissist makes changes, you’ll get tools to protect yourself and raise your self-worth that will improve how you feel whether you stay or leave. CoDA meetings and psychotherapy provide guidance and support.

Warning: If you’re experiencing physical abuse, expect it to continue or escalate. Get help immediately.

Gut Bacteria Can Affect Your Mental Health

Gut bacteria is the ‘good bacteria’ in your stomach that helps regulate your bowel, aides in your digestion and keeps your microbes at healthy levels. If your gut bacteria is not working properly then you can suffer constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating, acid reflux and many more gastric conditions. If your gut is not working properly for a long period of time it can result in serious illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome or even diverticulitis etc. Gut bacteria are necessary as they are the bacteria that keep your whole digestive system stable. They are the bacteria that antibiotics kills off so if you are sick a lot and need to take a lot of antibiotics then your gut bacteria will be deficient. This will result in diarrhoea. When you take antibiotics all the gut bacteria almost are destroyed. However your gut bacteria isn’t often thought of as being the probable cause of some mental health issue.

More recent research however shows that a species of bacteria called Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, can affect someone’s mental health if there is a lack of this substance. If you are missing GABA you can be diagnosed as suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and fatigue but often it is overlooked that you could be also suffering from an inability to handle stress which can lead to anxiety, depression and even autism.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages to the brain and nervous system. It is also involved in regulating the communication between our brain cells. Research has shown that GABA can control anxiety, fear and affect our behaviour so when it is low we don’t feel as calm or relaxed or sleep too well. Northeastern University have discovered a specific bacteria in the gut (called Bacteroides fragilisKLE1758) that actually consumes GABA. Further studies need to be done in this area before information confuses the public but this new information is perhaps a good insight to explain the link between our gut and mental health issues.

The good news is that GABA can be raised naturally with foods high in magnesium and vitamin B. It’s a good idea to take a natural multi-vitamin daily as none of us eat perfectly every day and a supplement will ensure you don’t become deficient in vitamins and minerals. Green tea and camomile are also good for increasing these bacteria levels. These vitamins and foods have shown in some tests to increase gut bacteria and in turn the person’s mental health abilities increase also. There are also many other natural ways to increase mental health, handle stress, anxiety and depression. Consult your natural therapist to find out what you need to do if you are suffering from any of these illnesses.

GABA therefore has the potential to be a good supplement if you are feeling a little off or have been suffering from bad anxiety, depression, or even PMS. Remember that often your mood can be affected by your hormone levels and whether your thyroid is operating properly. GABA however can increase your mood affecting your emotions and putting a positive slant on your perspective. It is hoped that further studies will reveal to what extent GABA can assist in mood stabilisation.

Is Your Mindset Ruining Your Health And Fitness? Train the Brain or Remain the Same

Does how your day is going determine how well your training session will go?

Do you hate the thought of going to the gym, on that 5 mile run or doing your home workout?

Do you have to drag yourself out of bed each morning ‘kicking (weakly) and screaming’?

If these statements sound like you it’s time to train your brain!

The aim is to strengthen your mind so you can improve your focus, feel less anxious and stressed, and send your body to its peak level of energy and efficiency. Master this and you will also start:

• to control your attention to things rather than having a ‘scatter gun’ approach

• to appreciate the little things in life and have an ‘attitude of gratitude’

• learn how to prioritise and focus on what really matters

So, without further delay let’s get started…

And what better place to start than the morning!

As soon as your alarm goes off, your brain begins thinking!

It flits between everything and anything it can – and is often very hard to redirect once you settle on a thought pattern!

The argument with your partner, your team getting beat, the unhealthy weekend you’ve just had, the nightmare work week in front of you…

These thoughts may not seem to be the problem, but can be extremely mentally exhausting!

So the key is to eliminate as many of the distractions as possible, and to stay centred and focused. By doing this you will be much calmer, which will in-turn help you make healthier decisions in your diet, training, and many other aspects of your life!

There are so many benefits to being focused and calm it’s scary!

For example, if you are feeling anxious and stressed you will start breathing incorrectly – shallow and quick rather than deep! This then results in your body not getting all the oxygen it could be getting. This then inhibits your performance and functionality!

There has been much research on this subject, particularly in respect to military personnel, where having the mental fortitude and edge can be the difference between life and death!

It is often referred to as MINDFULNESS!

Mindfulness training also has strong links to helping improve mental health. People with depression and anxiety can reduce unhelpful thoughts and improve overall well-being with mindfulness.

Mindfulness Training – how to get started!

Improving your mindset, like most things, is not an overnight occurrence!

It takes practice, study and routine. The more you practice it the better you will become!

Here are my tips on how you can start Mindfulness Training today and start focusing your mind in the right way:

• Download a mindfulness app to your mobile (there are many free ones)

• Meditate for 5 minutes each day.

• Take a Yoga or Pilates class

• Enrol in a mindfulness training class online

• Right down a list of 5 things at the start of each week that you are going to focus on and make priorities.

FINAL THOUGHT:

There’s no disputing that your eating and exercise plans play a massive part in you being fit and healthy, but so does the mind!

Your brain is the boss of your entire body, thus if you don’t take care of your brain, then the health of your whole body will suffer!!