“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” -Brene Brown
What is shame?
According to Google shame is, “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. According to Brene Brown, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work,
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Women often experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations.”
Brown explains that feelings of shame can quietly marinate over a lifetime. “Here’s the bottom line with shame,” she says. “The less you talk about it, the more you got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.”
By keeping quiet, Brown says your shame will grow exponentially. “It will creep into every corner and crevice of your life,” she says.
The antidote, Brown says, is empathy. She explains that by talking about your shame with a friend who expresses empathy, the painful feeling cannot survive. “Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I’m alone. Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy.”
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
Brene has many books and videos one can watch to learn how to beat this pervasive monster. Brene shows us how we can stop a shame spiral with these tips:
Know your shame triggers and reality check them
Talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love
Reach out to someone you trust
Tell your story
You can find some very helpful tips on shame and how to conquer and coexist with it here:
January is the month we celebrate families of all kinds. This is a day to celebrate peace and sharing.
Often when we think of families the picture of two parents and their children come to mind. However, our understanding of the meaning of family has expanded through different generations and encompasses a wide variety of families.
Each family can be be different varying in gender, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, dynamics and structure.
We can see “traditional families” consisting of a mom, a dad, and kids. Families are formed by LGBT couples and kids, married couples without kids, cohabitating partners, family units including extended family such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, nices, nephews, etc.
Although families are usually related by blood or marriage, this doesn’t have to be the case for every family. A family unit can be created by any group of individuals that love, protect, teach, and help each other. The main purpose of a family is the well-being of its members and society.
It is important to keep in mind any relationship takes work and patience. Every family will experience happy moments and rocky situations where disagreements or misunderstandings happen.
The value of family is to know how to love each other in spite of our differences. Maintaining healthy family relationships can be vital to healthy and positive mental health. Healthy communication skills are key to create a loving and safe environment for everyone at home.
When communicating with others, it is important to be conscious about what we really think/feel, how we express those thoughts/emotions, and how this can be perceived by the other person. Some helpful skills include,
Active listening: Sincerely try to understand what the person is saying instead of using this time to think about what to say next. Don’t let a conversation or discussion turn into a competition
Stay focused: Work in solving CURRENT issues. Trying to bring up past hurts or other topics can confuse everyone involved without a resolution. Keep your feelings and solutions in the present and what can you all do now.
Use “I” statements: These statements help you express what you need, think, and feel. And allow you to take responsibility for the issue at hand. “You” statements can sound accusatory and make others fell attacked or become defensive. Statements such as: “I feel…”, “I need…”, “I did…”
Look for compromise: Compromising takes work for both parties where both aim to look for a solution and are willing to give up something and gain something positive. A compromise should always be a two-way street and not a single person’s effort.
Take a time-out: When a discussion gets too heated, our feelings can get the best of us. It is best to cool off and come back to the discussion with a calm attitude to reach a solution. This time out must not be used to avoid discussions and never return to them. It is best when we can solve problems instead of leaving them unresolved.
Ask for help: If communication is too hard and it often ends in no resolution and hurt, you might need an objective third party that can help. Couples counseling or family therapy can provide help with altercations and teach skills to resolve future conflict. If your partner doesn’t want to go, you can still often benefit from going alone.
Family relationships can be a great protective factor. Protective factors are conditions and attributes that help individuals cope with stressful events and mitigate mental health risks. Individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, personality disorders, etc can benefit from a healthy family environment including strong emotional support, increased self-esteem, positive thinking, goal making, reduced risk for suicide, strong social connections, accepting and forgiving, role models, parenting skills, etc.
Treasure your family and work to better your relationship with each member. Every healthy family takes effort and love from every member. Although families can be difficult sometimes, they can be a group of people that will always have your back and accompany you through life in your best and worst moments.
If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know how hard they can be to stick to. Ashira Prossack, a writer for Forbes Women, wrote,
“Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”
If so many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, why do so many of us fail to accomplish them? The answer is that most of us set vague ideas of what we want to change instead of specific, actionable goals.
How to Create Goals that Last
SMART is an acronym many people use to help them set up their goals. SMART stands for:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Once you’ve narrowed it down with those five W questions, you can then ask yourself:
What does my goal look like?
What does accomplishing my goal taste like?
What does it smell like?
How does it feel to have accomplished my goal?
You want to be able to imagine all aspects of the goal and try to include the five senses. Make your goal as real as possible — even down to the tiny details. Allow yourself to mentally live in that desired future as if you have already achieved it.
A goal is measurable when it can be quantified or given some type of number. You may ask yourself:
Having a goal that is measurable is very important because it allows you to track your progress and know if you need to make any adjustments or changes to your goal.
A couple of examples would include if you want to lose weight you would need to know exactly how much weight you would like to lose. If your goal is to make more money next year, what dollar amount more would you like to make? If you would like to better your relationship with a sibling, how many times a year, month, week, etc will you contact them, phone them, visit them?
If you can’t put a number to your goal, it is not measurable. You might have to get creative to identify measurable goals.
An achievable goal is one that may take some stretching to accomplish but is still reasonable, realistic, and attainable. To see if a goal is achievable you may ask yourself:
What might prevent me from accomplishing this goal?
Is my goal something I have control over?
What additional resources do I need to accomplish this goal?
Do I need any outside help, additional training, etc to accomplish my goal?
A relevant goal is one that has meaning to you. It is to ensure that you have the motivation and desire to really accomplish the goal. Consider these questions to see if your goals are relevant to you.
Why is this goal important to me?
Is it in line with my other goals?
Is this goal worthwhile?
A time-bound goal is having a specific date(s) that you look toward to accomplish your goal. This helps you stay focused and lasered in on your goal. If you can break your goal down into even smaller timelines it will help you stay on track even more.
What is my end date for this goal?
What do I want to have accomplished six months from now?
What do I want to have accomplished three months from now?
What do I want to have accomplished this month?
What do I want to have accomplished this week?
What do I need to do today?
As humans, we take the path of least resistance. Make the follow-through action of your goal as easy as possible.
If you want to start playing the guitar for the new year, keep the guitar out in the open instead of in the closet. If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to play it.
If your goal is to hit the gym three times a week, know exactly which days and times you are going to go to the gym. Are you going to go right after work? If you were to try to go home, change, maybe watch some TV while you eat a snack and then try to get to the gym there is a greater chance of you not going. Try instead to take your gym clothes with you to work so you can head to the gym straight from work.
The less activation energy required for an action, the more likely you will be to follow through.
Those who have never struggled with mental illness often criticize, judge harshly, misunderstand, and treat poorly those who struggle with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, etc.
By educating yourself on what mental illness is, how it affects those who struggle with it and recognizing the prevalence of mental illness, you will be able to better understand, have greater empathy, and support others who struggle with mental illness.
14 Quotes that describe mental Illness
Mental strength is not the same as mental health. Just like someone with diabetes could still be physically strong, someone with depression can still be mentally strong. Many people with mental health issues are incredibly mentally strong. Anyone can make choices to build mental strength, regardless of whether they have a mental health issue. – Amy Morin
“Sometimes, mental illness is terrifying because you feel like you’ve lost control of your mind and nothing makes sense. It’s like watching yourself on autopilot and having little to no control.” – Author Unknown
You know when you’re in a bad dream and you’re trying to run, punch, kick, or scream, and your body just won’t move? You open your mouth and nothing comes out. You feel frozen or in slow motion, and no matter how hard you try to fight it, nothing changes. That’s how it feels to battle mental illness – Evyenia
“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.”– J.M. Storm
”Don’t tell someone to get over it; help them to get through it.” Author Unknown
Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.” – Lemony Snicket
“We are all looking for places to put our pain.” – Author Unknown
And sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself because I could find no language to describe them in.”– Jane Austen
“People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain. I appreciate people who are patient with me while I am distant and trying to figure things out.”
“Not all scars show. Not all wounds heal. Sometimes you can’t see the pain someone feels.”
“Recovery is not one and done. It is a lifelong journey that takes place one day, one step at a time.” – Author Unknown
”When I make a mistake, I know it. I feel it. I tear myself apart. I lose sleep. I don’t stop thinking about it. So when I say I’m sorry, know that I mean it. I’m my own toughest critic.” – Author Unknown
“I’m not faking being sick. I’m actually faking being well.” – Author Unknown
“Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts.” – Author Unknown
5 quotes on Fighting mental health Stigma
The only way to get more people reaching out for help when they are struggling is to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. As long as the stigma persists, people will feel ashamed, embarrassed, and will continue to struggle in silence.
So how do we break down the stigma surrounding mental health? Here are five quotes describing how to start.
” We need to learn to identify the signs of mental health issues. We need to have the courage to reach out and have tough conversations with our friends and family members- and get help ourselves when we need it.” – Michelle Obama
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all. – Bill Clinton
We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.- Luke Richardson
“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” – Tipper Gore
“When it comes to mental health conditions, we often treat them differently from other diseases like cancer, diabetes or asthma. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.” – Michelle Obama
11 quotes For those with Mental Illness
Facing mental illness can be challenging and can make you feel alone. If you are struggling with mental illness here are 11 quotes for you.
“Healing isn’t about changing who you are; it’s about changing your relationship to who you are. A fundamental part of that is honoring how you feel.” -Suzanne Heyn
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran
“You can’t fix yourself out of a mental health issue. You can’t wake up and say, ‘Today I’m not being depressed!’ It’s a process to get well, but there is recovery. ” -Margaret Trudeau
“To that one soul reading this: I know you’re tired, you’re fed up, you’re close to breaking, but there’s a strength within you, even when you feel weak. Keep fighting.” – Author Unknown
“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.” – Steven Aitchison
“Love all the hurt, traumatized, and abandoned parts of yourself. Honoring al of you gives your wholeness a voice.” – Author Unknown
“Turn your demons into art, your shadow into a friend, your fear into fuel, your failures into teachers, your weaknesses into reasons to keep fighting. Don’t waste your pain. Recycle your heart. ” – Andrea Balt
“Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, and the grocery-run. Take care of yourself.” – Author Unknown
“None of your scars make you less worthy or lovable.” Author Unknown
“Friendly reminder that doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown.” – Author Unknown
“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human.” Author Unknown
Did you know that according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ” 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder… etc?”
No one intentionally becomes involved with an abusive partner, but it happens all the time. Some victims of intimate relationship abuse don’t realize that is what they are experiencing?
Abuse is defined as,
“Treat[ing] (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.”
Physical abuse is intentionally causing physical harm. This includes, but is not limited to, punching, hitting, cutting, slapping, burning, bruising, pushing, or restraining another individual.
Physical harm that is inflicted from another person is defined as physical abuse regardless if bruising, bleeding, or breaking of bones is present. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.”
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Those who abuse try to inflict fear or pain on others to gain power over them. This fear or pain can be caused by any combination of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual means.
Types of emotional and/or psychological abuse include
Belittling your accomplishments
Commenting negatively on your appearance,
Monitoring and controlling your actions
Blaming you for their problems
The legal definition of sexual abuse is
“1: a: the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion
b: the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity
2: the crime of engaging in or inflicting sexual abuse”
Sexual abuse is when someone is sexually contacted against their will. Sexual abuse can come from a stranger, from someone on a date, and from romantic partners or spouses.
Types of power and intimidation tactics include verbal abuse, interrupting and not letting you speak, blaming you, calling you stupid, public humiliation, strict enforcement of their “rules”, pointing out your “flaws”, seemingly having a dual personality so you never know what to expect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and isolating you or taking away your freedoms.
Abusers can crush self-esteem, cut off outside relationships, and inflict so much fear that abusees may believe that if they left no one else would want them, they have nowhere else to go, or may fear for their lives if they were to leave. Abusers want their abusees to depend on them and continue controlling them.
Raising kids is hard enough as it is as each child comes with their own unique challenges. But does it seem your child is especially challenging and wonder if they might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
what is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition caused by problems related to the structure and wiring of the brain and can affect one’s ability to focus, sit still, and make appropriate decisions. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ADHD is developed, but we know it can be linked to family history as well as brain injury. It is usually diagnosed in childhood but can often continue into adulthood.
What does ADHD look like in children?
Psychologists have categorized ADHD into three groups or “types” based on their symptoms: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.
If your child has been showing six to nine of ADHD symptoms for the past 6 months, it is likely that they could have ADHD. It’s important to note that you as a parent might not see all these symptoms displayed in the home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers, parents of friends, and other adults who they interact with to get a better picture of how your child is behaving in various situations.
Here are the two types of ADHD and their corresponding symptoms:
They don’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or tasks
They have problems staying focused on tasks or activities
They don’t seem to listen when spoken to (seems to be elsewhere)
They don’t follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork or chores
They have problems organizing tasks and work
They avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort
They often misplace important things
They are easily distracted
They forget daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands
They fidget with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
They are unable to stay seated (in the classroom, workplace)
They run about or climb where it is inappropriate
They are unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
They are always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
They talk too much
They blurt out an answer before a question has been finished
They have difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line
They interrupt or intrude on others
HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE IF MY CHILD HAS ADHD?
If you have wondered if your child might have ADHD, the first step to managing your child’s behavior is to first find out if your child does indeed have ADHD.
First start by talking to your child’s pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can help set your child up with a treatment plan based on their diagnosis. If your child’s pediatrician is unfamiliar with diagnosing and treating ADHD, they may refer you to a child psychologist. Some mental health clinics may offer ADHD screenings as well.
You can go to this website to look for psychologists in your area that can better help with diagnosis. You can even go to your child’s school counselor to seek help.
From there, you can work with professionals to find the best form of treatment for whatever diagnosis your child has.
What treatment is available for ADHD?
An ongoing study from the National Institute of mental health has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD in children is stimulant medication. This type of medication is designed to help children in their interactions with others, reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, and help them focus more. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are some of the common brands of stimulant medication. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist about whether or not your child can benefit from this treatment.
Psychologists and counselors will not be able to prescribe medication for your child, but they can help your child with behavioral issues that come with ADHD. Studies have shown that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can significantly improve symptoms, especially if your child is struggling with any other type of emotional disorder.
You should also look into neurofeedback as a non-medication option for ADHD. It has been shown to help kids with ADHD think more clearly.
What can I do to help as a parent?
Catching and treating ADHD early is crucial to your child’s social and educational development. One of the most important things you can do is to praise them for their efforts and notice when they show good behavior. Reinforcing good behavior and appropriately addressing bad behavior will not only help their self-esteem but also help them learn right from wrong.
ADDitude Magazine has outlined 12 “Dos and Don’ts” for how to best help your child with ADHD. Some of them include punishment and positive reinforcement, avoiding blame, and modeling appropriate behavior.
While everyone will experience high points and low points in their lifetime, the degree to which everyone experiences their highs and lows varies greatly.
For those who experience more extreme low points, it can be hard to know if or when you should seek help. In this post, we will discuss the symptoms of depression and where you can find help to better manage your low points in life.
There is a difference between feeling depressed and struggling with depression.
Feelings of depression are fleeting and don’t last longer than a day or two. Depression lasts for days, weeks, or other long periods of time and usually is accompanied by changes in weight, sleep, appetite, and mood.
Dealing With Depression: Symptoms
Depression Symptoms: Mood/ Cognitive
A feeling of hopelessness, helpless,
Intense sadness or feeling “empty”
Loss of interest
Loss of pleasure
Thoughts of suicide
Lack of concentration
A bleak outlook on life
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Depression Symptoms: Behavioral
Depression Symptoms: Physical
Loss of appetite
Unexplainable aches and pains
Frequent upset stomach
Suicide Signs and symptoms
Suicide and suicidal thoughts are not only associated with depression but can be linked to other mental disorders. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be at higher risk for suicide.
“Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.”
“A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.”
“Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.”
You can also set up a Skype or regular phone call with a therapist who does telehealth appointments. By visiting Psychology Today you can search for providers in your area. Once you put in your geographic area, on the left-hand side there is an option to search for providers who offer online services.
Living life with depression is hard enough. Don’t try to tackle it all on your own.
To get more understanding about dealing with depression, watch this video called, “I had a blag dog, his name was depression” from the World Health Organization.
If you’re looking for more ways to help you deal with depression, the National Institute of Mental Health also gives great explanations about medication and other therapies that can be helpful for someone dealing with depression.
The information system of the body is most commonly thought of as the brain receiving information from, and relaying information to, the various parts of the body. While this is accurate, it’s not the whole picture.
Studies have shown that the brain isn’t the only one interpreting and relaying information. There is a second player in the game — the gut.
What does the research show?
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found through a study on mice, that 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut. Elaine Hsiao, the senior author of the study, said,
“It is estimated that 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. More and more studies are showing that mice or other model organisms with changes in their gut microbes exhibit altered behaviors.”
Dr. Siri Carpenter stated similar findings from other researchers that confirm the findings of Elaine Hsiao. She stated that changes in the microbiome of the rat’s stomachs affect neural development, brain chemistry, and can affect different types of behaviors– such as– emotional behavior, pain perception, and stress responses.
The studies that have been done on rodents are starting to match what researchers are finding in humans.
In another study done by UCLA, their findings showed that bacteria ingested with food directly affects the human brain. Dr. Kristin Tillisch, the author of the study, said,
“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”
As the research shows, the food you eat and the health of your gut flora play an immense role in your overall health and could affect your mental state.
Why does the food I eat matter?
Your gut health can be affected by diets high in carbohydrates, low in nutrient-dense food, high in sugar, and processed foods, which are high in chemicals and preservatives. Change in gut health can lead to adverse reactions through food sensitivities and changes in mood.
This means that if you’re not happy — either physicall or mentally — then looking into your gut health might be a good place to start.
The American Psychology Association had an article written by Kimberly Keys where she shared her own experience on eating the right food for your body. She said,
“What I can share is that not eating the fuel mix that your body requires can make you have a number of deleterious symptoms like weight gain or loss, foggy thinking, depression, moodiness, inability to focus, nervous system disorders, fatigue, nausea, cravings, digestive disorders, headaches and migraines, and a host of other conditions that get inflamed because the improper fuel is basically taxing your immune system.”
What is a food sensitivity?
During regular digestion, your body breaks down the food you eat into simple components that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Once absorbed, the components are distributed and used by the rest of your body.
However, if your bacterial composition of the gut is not favorable to the breakdown of a specific food, then those bacteria communicate with the gut immune system and promote an intolerance to that food.
As a result, your immune system produces antibodies to attack the food that caused the intolerance. This process can cause adverse reactions in the body.
Some examples of food sensitivity reactions are as follows.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, there’s a 95% probability that you have a food sensitivity and could benefit from food sensitivities testing.
How do I know if I have a food sensitivity?
It is almost impossible to detect the exact food(s) that you are sensitive to on your own. Reactions can present themselves several hours to several days after the food is ingested thus making it hard to pinpoint the exact food that you are sensitive to.
The best way to determine which food(s) you have sensitivities to is through a simple blood test called Food Sensitivity Assay. This test measures your immunoglobulin immune response when different foods are introduced. The results include the foods that your body is sensitive to.
By identifying and eliminating foods that cause food sensitivities, you can help repair your gut health, potentially reverse food sensitivities, and decrease adverse reactions that can range from bloating to depression.
People used to believe that people with addictions just needed to “try harder.” Through science, we now know that this isn’t necessarily the case. Addiction has a direct effect on the chemical processes and structures of the brain.
Anyone who has struggled with addiction can tell you it’s a difficult journey and recovery will take time. But where do you even start? Addiction recovery usually requires professional help, but there are some things you can do to help you get started or help you progress as you’re working with a professional.
“The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.
Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure but also plays a role in learning and memory — two key elements in the transition from liking something to becoming addicted to it.”
As your brain experiences something pleasurable, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When dopamine is released, it signals the brain to seek out further experiences that will create the same sense of pleasure.
Let’s say that you had alcohol for the first time. This is a new experience for you and your brain created a new neural pathway for that experience. You may have had a huge dopamine release while drinking and feel compelled to seek a drink again and again.
The more times you participate in this pleasurable activity of drinking, the deeper the neural pathway for drinking will be. The dopamine high along with deep neural pathways contribute to additions. Part of addiction recovery is rewiring these neural pathways.
With that being said, not everyone who has a drink will become an alcoholic. There are other factors that contribute to addictions. Factors such as how fast dopamine is released with the activity, the intensity of that release, and how reliable that release is contribute to how addicting an activity will be. For the example above, the speed, intensity, and reliability of a dopamine release were high.
Step two: notice your behavior
Addiction recovery isn’t just about getting rid of a bad habit; it’s about creating a lifestyle that will help you get rid of your addiction. So where do you start? You start by getting at the root of the addiction, creating new patterns, and noticing risky situations.
First, start thinking about what triggers your addiction. Is it when you feel sad? After you have a fight with a loved one? There could be many reasons. Write these down. These are your high-risk situations when you should be aware that you have a habit of giving in to your addiction.
Writing them down won’t change the fact that you have an addiction, but it will help you identify your behavior better so you can be aware that you’re reacting to something when you’re giving in to the addictive behavior.
Now, think of how you feel before you succumb to your addiction. Are you feeling angry, lonely, or tired? For each high-risk situation that you wrote down, write down how you feel in that situation. These are the emotions you’re going to want to watch out for. These emotions aren’t bad, but these are times when you might be more susceptible to your addiction because you’ve created a pattern of behavior. So, when you feel sad, you might automatically go to substance abuse to avoid sadness. These are patterns you want to identify so that you can interrupt them. If you notice you’re sad, then you can learn to acknowledge that feeling, and then use a different coping method rather than give in to the addiction.
Step three: learning skills
Addiction recovery won’t be solved in a day with a list. You’ll have to learn new coping methods, change your lifestyle, and in some cases alter the way you think about things or heal from trauma.
Sometimes we are faced with difficult situations or feelings we don’t know how to handle. In these cases, many people turn to their addictions. But there are other coping skills you can learn to replace your addictions with. Here are a couple of ideas:
Meditate: When you take time out of your day to recenter your mind on what’s important, you can let go of feelings of frustration.
Learn mindfulness: Mindfulness is something you can use whenever and wherever you are. All you have to do is learn to focus on the here and now. What can you see, smell, feel, hear? When you stop worrying about what’s going to happen, you can learn to calm down.
Breathe deeply: Breathe in through your nose for six seconds and then out through your mouth for six seconds. Do this until you notice your heart rate is at a calm pace.
Keep a journal: Sometimes writing things down will help you organize your thoughts and help you stop worrying so much.
Exercise: When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called endorphins that will make you feel happy.
When you find a coping method that fits you best, try it out when you notice yourself start to feel one of the emotions on your list or after you encounter a high-risk situation. Even if it doesn’t work the first time, stick to it. Your addiction recovery will take time after all.
Being Patient With Yourself
And of course, through this addiction recovery process, be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. And don’t give up.
Yes, you will have to make a big lifestyle change, but it will be worth it. It’s important that you start to notice other parts of your life that will have to undergo changes. Are there people who encourage your addiction? Are there places where you go that encourage your addiction? Be aware of these and avoid them when you can. But of course, you won’t always be able to avoid these things, so build up your arsenal of good habits and coping skills.
Getting professional help is going to be crucial in your recovery. If you don’t want to do an in-patient treatment program, or you have done one and need extra help, consider seeing a therapist who can help you. Here are some types of therapy that can help you in your journey of addiction recovery:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy will help you think more rationally and interrupt the thoughts that lead you into addictive behavior.
EMDR: If you are suffering from trauma, this type of therapy will help you heal and move forward with your addiction recovery.
Motivational interviewing: This therapy is very goal-oriented and will help you take steps toward recovery.
Neurofeedback: This therapy helps train your brainwaves so that you can think more clearly and make more progress in your addiction recovery.
How Neurofeedback can help
Because addiction is correlated with deep neural pathways of addictive behavior in the brain, one of the best ways to treat addiction is to rewire those pathways.
Neurofeedback can target those damaged areas and try to repair them by making different neural pathways.
Let’s compare addiction to a muscle that is overdeveloped and neurofeedback as an exercise for that underdeveloped muscle. With specific exercises tailored to the weaker muscles, those muscles grow. Since we are not working out the overdeveloped muscles, they weaken or deteriorate.
Neurofeedback is one of many treatments for addiction. For best results, it is better to go with a treatment that resonates with you and that you feel comfortable doing. Don’t be afraid to try different methodologies.
Remember, your road to addiction recovery will be your own, but you don’t have to do it alone. Understand how addictions work, understand how addiction shows up in your life and what your triggers are, and reach out for help. Get help from people who will encourage you to get rid of the addiction, therapists, specialists, and others who’ve recovered. And be patient. You’ll get there.
Happiness, or joy, is a state of being. For those who live in this state of being, it means that although they experience the ups and downs of life, they are happy more than they are not.
Here are 8 ways to help move your state of being to a state of happiness.
1- Smile. Smiling is contagious and for a good reason! When you smile your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin– all the feel-good chemicals. By smiling you not only boost your mood but also lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relax your body. Periodically check in with yourself throughout the day and remind yourself to SMILE 🙂
“Of all the medicines in the inner life, a smile is by far the best medecine. “
– Sri Chinmoy
2- Shift your mindset. Most of us live in a state of scarcity, which means that we see most things as lacking. We see problems instead of blessings, what we lack instead of what we have, etc. We can move from a scarcity mindset by changing our focus to an abundance mindset.
An abundance mindset is believing that there are enough resources to meet your needs or achieve your goals and that there is enough success to share with others. It’s seeing the world through the eyes of possibility instead of limitations. This change in belief and mindset changes your view of the world. It can help see things in a positive light and create more happiness from within.
““If you always attach positive emotions to the things you want, and never attach negative emotions to the things you don’t, then that which you desire most will invariably come your way.”
– Matt D. Miller
3- Clear your mind. Having a clear mind helps improve happiness, helps stay in the moment, helps shift your mindset, and helps improve your mental health.
Happiness flees when doubt, fear, worry, or anxiety fill our minds. Learning to clear your mind is a helpful way to relieve stress and anxiety, which in turn makes way for happiness.
“The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear. “
– Prasad Mahes
4- Stop comparing. Comparison is part of the scarcity mindset. It occurs because one feels they need to be as good as, or better than, those around them. It is a mindset where they desperately need to measure up and are failures if they do not.
Your worth does not come from being “better” than those around you. Your worth is innate. Embrace your individuality and unique talents and gifts. Loving yourself and knowing your own worth with help eliminate the need to compare yourself to others. Happiness will ensue as you stop questioning if you measure up.
“Comparison is the theif of joy.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
5- Sleep more. Depending on the severity, those who lack sleep can experience a weaker immune system, be at a higher risk of mental illness, and experience cognitive impairment.
Most people are more irritable if they do not get enough sleep; especially if they are chronically sleep-deprived. Getting enough sleep and being well-rested can make it easier to control your emotions, be positive, and be happy.
” Sleep is the golden chain that links health and our bodies together. “
– Thomas Dekker
6- Stop “pursuing” happiness. Be happy. Have you ever told yourself, “I will be happy when…”?
Do you postpone happiness until x, y, or z goal has been met? Sometimes you might think that attaining those goals will make you happy. What actually happens is that when the goal is reached, you end up feeling just as empty and unsatisfied inside as you were before. You do not need to accomplish something to deserve happiness.
As we explained before, happiness is not circumstantial nor dependent on our moment-to-moment emotions. Happiness is a choice and a state of being. We can choose to be happy and live in an abundant mindset while still moving towards our goals. Happiness requires being able to live in the moment and to choose happiness.
““Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in.”
― Germany Kent
7- Give. When we bless the lives of those around us there is an undeniable joy that comes into our lives. Service to our fellow men blesses both the giver and the receiver. There is nothing that combats hard times more than lovingly serving another person and to see their smile of joy or tears of gratitude. This is one of the purest forms of joy that we can experience in our lives.
“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”
– Lady Gaga
8- Focus on what is important. There are so many distractions in life that can take up all of your time if you let them and leave you with a hollow life.
It is hard to know which activities to choose and which to focus on. Here is an activity to help you identify the things that will bring you the most happiness in life.
Start by making a list of everything you would like to accomplish in your lifetime: finances, relationships, work, health, adventures, experiences, self-improvements, and anything else you can think of. Then, go through your list and whittle it down until you have your top three most meaningful accomplishments.
These goals are the things that you can base your life around. When you have to make a decision about how to spend your time, ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to any of my three goals?” If it doesn’t, chances are it’s not worth your time. If it does, then make room for it.
Filling your life and time with experiences that lead you to the life you would like to live is the best way to experience happiness. Focus on your passions. Focus on those you love. Do things that make you happy. This is the key to happiness.
“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”