Choose being happy today

Happy people realize happiness is a choice. They are not held hostage by their circumstances and they do not seek happiness in people or possessions. They understand that when we stop chasing the world’s definition of happiness, we begin to see the decision to experience happiness has been right in front of us all along. Research in the field of positive psychology continues to reinforce this understanding.

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln

But simply knowing that happiness is a choice is not enough. Fully experiencing it still requires a conscience decision to do so each day. How then might each of us begin to experience this joy?

Consider this list of 12 Intentional Actions to Choose Happiness Today. Embrace one new action item… practice all of them… or simply use them as inspiration to discover your own.

1. Count your blessings. Happy people choose to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative. They set their minds on specific reasons to be grateful. They express it when possible. And they quickly discover there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

2. Carry a smile. A smile is a wonderful beautifier. But more than that, studies indicate that making an emotion-filled face carries influence over the feelings processed by the brain. Our facial expression can influence our brain in just the same way our brains influence our face. In other words, you can actually program yourself to experience happiness by choosing to smile. Not to mention, all the pretty smiles you’ll receive in return for flashing yours is also guaranteed to increase your happiness level.

3. Speak daily affirmation into your life. Affirmations are positive thoughts accompanied with affirmative beliefs and personal statements of truth. They are recited in the first person, present tense (“I am…”). Affirmations used daily can release stress, build confidence, and improve outlook. For maximum effectiveness, affirmations should be chosen carefully, be based in truth, and address current needs. Here is a list of 100 daily affirmations to help you get started.

4. Wake up on your terms. Most of us have alarm clocks programmed because of the expectations of others: a workplace, a school, or a waking child. That’s probably not going to change. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose control over our mornings in the process. Wake up just a little bit early and establish an empowering, meaningful, morning routine. Start each day on your terms. The next 23 hours will thank you for it.

5. Hold back a complaint. The next time you want to lash out in verbal complaint towards a person, a situation, or yourself, don’t. Instead, humbly keep it to yourself. You’ll likely diffuse an unhealthy, unhappy environment. But more than that, you’ll experience joy by choosing peace in a difficult situation.

6. Practice one life-improving discipline. There is happiness and fulfillment to be found in personal growth. To know that you have intentionally devoted time and energy to personal improvement is one of the most satisfying feelings you’ll ever experience. Embrace and practice at least one act of self-discipline each day. This could be exercise, budgeting, or guided-learning… whatever your life needs today to continue growing. Find it. Practice it. Celebrate it.

7. Use your strengths. Each of us have natural talents, strengths, and abilities. And when we use them effectively, we feel alive and comfortable in our skin. They help us find joy in our being and happiness in our design. So embrace your strengths and choose to operate within your giftedness each day. If you need to find this outlet outside your employment, by all means, find this outlet.

8. Accomplish one important task. Because happy people choose happiness, they take control over their lives. They don’t make decisions based on a need to pursue joy. Instead, they operate out of the satisfaction they have already chosen. They realize there are demands on their time, helpful pursuits to accomplish, and important contributions to make to the world around them. Choose one important task that you can accomplish each day. And find joy in your contribution.

9. Eat a healthy meal/snack. We are spiritual, emotional, and mental beings. We are also physical bodies. Our lives cannot be wholly separated into its parts. As a result, one aspect always influences the others. For example, our physical bodies will always have impact over our spiritual and emotional well-being. Therefore, caring for our physical well-being can have significant benefit for our emotional standing. One simple action to choose happiness today is to eat healthy foods. Your physical body will thank you… and so will your emotional well-being.

10. Treat others well. Everyone wants to be treated kindly. But more than that, deep down, we also want to treat others with the same respect that we would like given to us. Treat everyone you meet with kindness, patience, and grace. The Golden Rule is a powerful standard. It benefits the receiver. But also brings growing satisfaction in yourself as you seek to treat others as you would like to be treated.

11. Meditate. Find time alone in solitude. As our world increases in speed and noise, the ability to withdraw becomes even more essential. Studies confirm the importance and life-giving benefits of meditation. So take time to make time. And use meditation to search inward, connect spiritually, and improve your happiness today.

12. Search for benefit in your pain. This life can be difficult. Nobody escapes without pain. At some point—in some way—we all encounter it. When you do, remind yourself again that the trials may be difficult, but they will pass. And search deep to find meaning in the pain. Choose to look for the benefits that can be found in your trial. At the very least, perseverance is being built. And most likely, an ability to comfort others in their pain is also being developed.

Go today. Choose joy and be happy. That will make two of us.

Source: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/choose-happy/

Single parent and the holiday season

The holiday season for a single parent can be an insanely stressful time. Looking for presents, wrapping them, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, cleaning before and after. Nothing like a normal Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV or with a couple of close friends. The holidays demand perfection. You see it all around you, friends are talking about how stressed out they are, how much they still have to do in just a couple of days. Hyper-decorated stores are talking in their own way. As you approach the 25th of December you still haven’t bought half the gifts you need to rack up for family members, the house looks like a bomb crater and you occasionally wish yourself back in the office with piles of work on your desk waiting to be completed. There are even times when you would exchange a chilly Monday morning and an 8 o’clock meeting for this nerve-racking time that’s supposed to be happy, fun and merry.

What many rattled folks forget in the midst of buying last-minute bequests for loved ones or checking on the unhappy-looking beast in the oven minutes before guests arrive, wishing themselves far away, is that as many as half of the population faces a holiday season without their dearest family members. There are people who have lost their loved ones, even recently and in gruesome ways. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel, as they approach the coming holiday season. There are people who have lost their parents to old age, people who have gone through heartbreaking divorces, separations and breakups and people who are overseas defending their country because they have no other choice. The holidays will not be what they once were for any of them. And then there are the single parents, parents many of which have decent custody agreements that are “in the best interest of the children.” According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 10 million single parents in the United States today. Each year millions among them can look forward to days of loneliness because the little ones they really want to spend time with are with the other parent.

When sane parents separate, many judges, thankfully, divide custody equally. Each parent gets his or her fair share of custody, if at all possible. Even when it’s not possible to share the time with the children equally, judges will usually attempt to divide up the holidays evenly. The kids spend every other holiday with mom and every other holiday with dad. It certainly is in the children’s best interest to get to spend some time with each parent. Most kids, with decent moms and dads, would prefer to spend every holiday with both parents. The precious little ones secretly hope for the impossible: That their divorced or separated parents will get back together. But despite their wishes, they adjust to the situation. They have no other choice.

Nor do the parents. As we face the holidays many single parents face a very lonely time. They may be with dear family members: parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Yet they may nonetheless feel a profound pain in their hearts, even as they watch close relatives savor the pecan pie or scream in delight when they rip open their Christmas presents. Their own children are far away. In most cases the youngsters are in a safe place elsewhere, stuffing their faces with goodies or breaking out laughing when the other grandpa makes a funny face. In most cases single parents know that their children are enjoying themselves in the company of the other caregiver and his or her extended family.

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Yet the children are missing from the scenery. Their absence is felt. “It hurts. It hurts every other Christmas when my kids are with their dad during the holidays,” says Wendy Thomas, a St. Louis, Missouri single mother of two girls ages 8 and 5. Thomas shares custody with the girls’ father, who lives in Illinois. “The first year was the hardest but I don’t think I will ever get used to it. Shopping malls and Silent Night make me shiver,” says the 38-year-old entrepreneur. This is her third Christmas and New Year’s without her children.

Each holiday a single parent truly misses his or her children on that one day that is supposed to bring delight to everyone. “It’s going to be a lonely, lonely Christmas without you” may just be tedious background music for the families that didn’t break apart. Each year, however, the oldie is causing a tiny tear to run quietly down the cheek of some single caregiver.

But could some of the reported agony over absent children during the holidays be the result of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a psychological mechanism we use to justify our choices and conflicting belief sets? For example, you choose to volunteer three hours a week at the local children’s hospital. It’s killing you. You can barely fit in everything else you have to do. But you tell everyone, including yourself, that volunteer work is truly rewarding and every (wo)man’s duty. Making irrational decisions seem rational is a way to preserve your sense of self worth.

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Studies show that the hardship involved in raising children makes us idealize parenthood and consider it an enormously rewarding enterprise. In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Psychological Science researchers primed 80 parents with at least one child in two different ways. One group was asked to read a document reporting the costs of raising a child. The other parents read the same document as well as a script reporting on the benefits of having raised children when you reach old age. The participants were then given a psychological test assessing their beliefs about parenting. The team found what they expected. Parents who had only read about the financial costs of parenthood initially felt more discomfort than the other group. But they went onto idealize parenthood much more than the other participants and when interviewed later their negative feelings were gone.

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Holiday Depression

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well, not for everyone, especially of you prone to have holiday depression.

While images of love and joy fill storefronts, TV screens and magazine pages, for many people, the reality of the holidays isn’t so cheerful. Between stressful end-of-year deadlines, family dysfunction and loss, poor eating and drinking habits, and increasingly cold and dark winter days, it’s easy for the holiday season to feel not-so-merry and bright.

Constant reminders of others’ happy seasons can additionally serve as a painful reminder of the happiness and love that’s lacking in our own lives, resulting into holiday depression. For this reason, the month of December can be a particularly difficult time of year for those dealing with family conflict, loss, break-ups, divorce, loneliness and mental health issues.

Feelings of depression and negative mood affect many people at the holidays, and not just those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. While there hasn’t been data to suggest an actual rise in depression rates and suicides in December — research has found that depression and suicide actually peak in the Spring — some experts say that the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. And of course, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them.

Setting up unrealistic expectations.

Hoping for a picture-perfect White Christmas holiday is setting yourself up for not only disappointment, but potentially depression.

“People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that you would see on TV,” psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts, tells The Huffington Post, adding that his practice gets much busier after the holidays. “Actually, it’s never exactly as people anticipate and it’s often disappointing. There’s often strife within families that comes out at holiday times.”

Especially when it comes to family especially, it’s important to manage expectations during the holidays and not hope for things to be perfect. If holidays tend to be a time of conflict in your family, or you’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, putting pressure on your family to all get along or to be cheerful could lead to disappointment and additional anxiety.

Being mindful of what you do have to be thankful for — your sister who always makes family gatherings bearable, getting a week off of work, or just the promise of a fresh start with the beginning of the new year — can help combat feelings of deficiency and lack.

“Realize that the holidays do end — and take stock of what you can be grateful for,” says Sichel. “Having gratitude is probably the best antidote against depression.”

Trying to do too much.

At the holidays, the pressure of trying to do everything — plan the perfect holiday, make it home to see your family, say yes to every event, meet those year-end deadlines — can be enough to send anyone into a tail spin, and you ending with holiday depression. And if you’re prone to anxiety and depression, stress (and a lack of sleep) can take a significant toll on your mood.

A heightened pressure and fear of not getting everything done are some of the most common triggers for the holiday blues, according to Sichel.

“Being bogged down by perfectionism” can contribute to feeling down, says Sichel. “Many people feel they just can’t do the right thing, that family members are always disappointed in them.”

Comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.

Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with other peoples’ is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.

And as Sichel points out, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves.

“People’s basis for comparison is not based in reality, because most families have issues and most people do not have the perfect Christmas that they would like to have or that they’d remember from their childhood,” says Sichel.

Slacking on self-care.

For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.

In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

“Take care of yourself — don’t overeat and over-drink,” says Sichel. “Do your regular routines of exercise and whatever keeps you together during the year.”

Sichel emphasizes the importance of avoiding binge drinking. Alcohol is everywhere during the holidays, and if you’re struggling with feeling down, it may be wise to avoid drinking as much as possible — alcohol is known to worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If you tend to start feeling down when winter approaches each year, and those negative feelings don’t go away after the holidays are over, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

According to Sichel, many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. But SAD shouldn’t be dismissed as mere “winter blues” — talk to me if you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder to find a treatment that works for you.

Source

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/entry/holiday-depression_n_6326906

Behavioral disorder symptoms causes and effects

Behavioral disorders, also known as disruptive behavioral disorders, are the most common reasons that parents are told to take their kids for mental health assessments and treatment. Behavioral disorders are also common in adults. If left untreated in childhood, these disorders can negatively affect a person’s ability to hold a job and maintain relationships.

What Are the Types of Behavioral Disorders?

According to BehaviorDisorder.org, behavioral disorders may be broken down into a few types, which include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Disruptive behavioral disorders
  • Disassociative disorders
  • Emotional disorders
  • Pervasive developmental disorders

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is a condition that impairs an individual’s ability to properly focus and to control impulsive behaviors, or it may make the person overactive.

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ADHD is more common in boys than it is in girls. According to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, males are two to three times more likely than females to get ADHD.

Emotional Behavioral Disorder

An emotional behavioral disorder affects a person’s ability to be happy, control their emotions and pay attention in school. According to Gallaudet University, symptoms of an emotional behavioral disorder include:

  • Inappropriate actions or emotions under normal circumstances
  • Learning difficulties that are not caused by another health factor
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships, including relationships with teachers and peers
  • A general feeling of unhappiness or depression
  • Feelings of fear and anxiety related to personal or school matters

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Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

ODD is a behavioral disorder characterized by hostile, irritable and uncooperative attitudes in children, according to Children’s Mental Health Ontario. Children with ODD may be spiteful or annoying on purpose, and they generally direct their negative actions at authority figures.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotion, and all people feel anxiety at some point in their lives. However, for some people, anxiety may get to a point where it interferes with their daily lives, causing insomnia and negatively affecting performance at work or school, according to the Mayo Clinic. Anxiety disorders involve more than regular anxiety. They are serious mental health conditions that require treatment. Examples of these types of mental conditions include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by fears and irrational thoughts that lead to obsessions, which, in turn, cause compulsions, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you have OCD, you engage in compulsive, repetitive behavior despite realizing the negative consequences of — or even the unreasonable nature of — your actions. Performing these repetitive acts does nothing more than relieve stress temporarily.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these behavioral disorders, it is important to get help as soon as possible, because these conditions can affect quality of life to such a degree that they may lead to self-harm. Please call 1-888-997-3147 for assistance.

What Causes a Behavioral Disorder?

A behavioral disorder can have a variety of causes. According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the abnormal behavior that is usually associated with these disorders can be traced back to biological, family and school-related factors.

Some biological causes may include:

  • Physical illness or disability
  • Malnutrition
  • Brain damage
  • Hereditary factors

Other factors related to an individual’s home life may contribute to behaviors associated with a behavioral disorder:

  • Divorce or other emotional upset at home
  • Coercion from parents
  • Unhealthy or inconsistent discipline style
  • Poor attitude toward education or schooling

What Are the Signs of a Behavioral Disorder?

Someone who has a behavioral disorder may act out or display emotional upset in different ways, which will also vary from person to person.

Emotional Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders

According to Boston Children’s Hospital, some of the emotional symptoms of behavioral disorders include:

  • Easily getting annoyed or nervous
  • Often appearing angry
  • Putting blame on others
  • Refusing to follow rules or questioning authority
  • Arguing and throwing temper tantrums
  • Having difficulty in handling frustration

Physical Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders

Unlike other types of health issues, a behavioral disorder will have mostly emotional symptoms, with physical symptoms such as a fever, rash, or headache being absent. However, sometimes people suffering from a behavioral disorder will develop a substance abuse problem, which could show physical symptoms such as burnt fingertips, shaking or bloodshot eyes.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Behavioral Disorder

If left untreated, a behavioral disorder may have negative short-term and long-term effects on an individual’s personal and professional life. People may get into trouble for acting out, such as face suspension or expulsion for fighting, bullying or arguing with authority figures. Adults may eventually lose their jobs. Marriages can fall apart due to prolonged strained relationships, while children may have to switch schools and then eventually run out of options.

According to HealthyChildren.org, the most serious actions a person with a behavioral disorder may engage in include starting fights, abusing animals and threatening to use a weapon on others.

Finding support is the first step towards healing.  Contact me and together we can work towards your emotional well being.

 

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Source – http://www.psychguides.com/guides/behavioral-disorder-symptoms-causes-and-effects/