Archive for category Thought

Are You In a Healthy Relationship?


Are You In a Healthy Relationship?

by YourTango Experts

Are You In A Healthy Relationship?This guest article from YourTango was written by Susan J. Elliott.

In the years I’ve been counseling and coaching, many people say, “I know I’ve been in sick relationships, but I don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like.”

There are many long and complicated answers to this, but there is also a simple one: healthy relationships make your life larger and happier; unhealthy relationships narrow your life and make you crazy.

Healthy relationships do not include mind games, mixed messages, or control.  There is not a back and forth or continual makeup and breakup, or “I’m sorry, please forgive me” every week or so.

 

In healthy relationships, there is a partnership and a nurturing by both parties of that partnership.  At the same time, each person recognizes the need to have interests and time away from their partner to nurture themselves. They don’t need to have the same interests, but rather the same view of life. Healthy love is about taking care of yourself and taking care of your mate… and those things are in balance to the point where they seldom collide.

What is Real Love?

Healthy people lead to healthy relationships and healthy relationships lead to real love.

Real love does not seek another person to fill up what we are lacking. It takes a complete, whole person to really love and overly needy people cannot do it. Real love is balanced. Both partners love in fairly equal amounts. While the balance may shift back and forth, it is not lopsided. If you love someone who is not loving your back, or not loving you the way you love them, then it’s not real.

When you place expectations on people to fill your empty places, that is not healthy. It’s nice to have a partner, a companion, someone to help you weather life’s storms, but it is not okay to look for someone to complete you or fix your broken places. That is not real love; that is dependence, co-dependence, and unhealthy neediness.

Real love does not play games, cause us to lose sleep, friends, jobs, money, time and value in our lives. Real love is an enlarging and not a narrowing experience. And finally, real love does exist. But it is true that in order to find the right person, you need to be the right person.

To be the right person you have to do your work, examine your failed relationships and, find the patterns. Go to counseling if you have historical issues. Find out why you are attracted to a certain type that is not good for you. And, at the same time, build your life so that you are an independent, interesting, and attractive person.  You will attract other independent, interesting, and attractive people who are capable of good and loving relationships.

As I say over and over again, water seeks its own level. If you are attracting and attracted to unhealthy and dysfunctional, you are unhealthy and dysfunctional. Do your work so that real love and lasting love has a chance to walk in.

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How to Manage Emotions More Effectively


How to Manage Emotions More Effectively

by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

How to Manage Emotions More EffectivelyFor many people, emotions are a scary thing. Part of the problem is that we just don’t know what to do with them, according to Darlene Mininni, Ph.D, MPH, author of The Emotional Toolkit.

So we turn to the only strategies we do know. If you’re a man, you might distract yourself by playing video games, tinkering with your tools or drinking alcohol, she said. If you’re a woman, you might shop or eat.

Turning to these tools occasionally is OK, Mininni said. Making them part of your regular coping repertoire, however, is problematic.

Emotions are valuable, and offer a bounty of benefits. Once we’re able to process and cope with them effectively, we can learn a lot about ourselves and our needs, Mininni said. Emotions send us important messages and help us connect with others and accomplish great things, she said.

 

Using unhealthy strategies can sabotage our relationships, job and even our health, Mininni said. In fact, people who handle stress effectively have healthier immune systems, don’t get sick as often and age up to 16 years more slowly than people who don’t.1

What is an Emotion?

There’s actually no consensus on what an emotion is, Mininni said. She defines emotions as a “full-body experience,” an interplay between our thoughts and physical sensations.

As an illustration, Mininni created the following simple formula:

Thoughts + Body Sensations = Emotion

For instance, a kind of giddy happiness and anxiety have the same sensations, such as tight muscles and a pounding heart. What determines whether we feel happy or anxious are our thoughts.

Decoding Emotions

Mininni created a valuable step-by-step process to help people identify and manage their emotions. The first step is to figure out what you’re feeling – and you just need to choose from four main emotions.

Mininni said that all emotions fall into these categories: anxiety, sadness, anger and happiness. With anxiety, she said, your mind lights up with “What ifs?” What if I lose my job? What if I don’t meet someone? What if I fail my test?

You have thoughts of the future and everything that can go wrong, she said. Your physical sensations include a racing heart, tight muscles and clenched jaw.

With sadness, you have negative thoughts about the past. You feel tired and heavy; you might cry and have trouble concentrating, she said.

With anger, your thoughts are focused on how you or your values have been attacked, she said. The physical sensations are similar to anxiety, including a racing heart and tightness in the body.

With happiness, your thoughts are focused on what you’ve gained. Maybe you landed a great job, found a nice apartment or received a compliment. Physically, you feel light or calm, and you might laugh and smile, she said.

The next step is to identify the message of your emotion. To do so, ask yourself these questions, according to Mininni:

  • Anxiety: What am I afraid of?
  • Sadness: What have I lost?
  • Anger: How have I or my values been attacked?
  • Happiness: What have I gained?

Coping with Emotions

Once you’ve identified the emotion and its message, the last step is to take action. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to solve the situation, Mininni said. If there is, consider what you can do.

For instance, if you’re upset that you can’t find a good job, maybe you can have friends review your resume or hire a professional resume writer. Maybe you can sharpen your interview skills or extend your search a few zip codes.

If there’s nothing you can do, determine how you can cope with the emotion, she said. Mininni suggested meditating, getting social supportwriting, exercising and seeking therapy.

Think of these strategies as an emotional toolkit. You simply reach into your kit, and pick out the healthy tool you need, Mininni said. In fact, you can create an actual tote, and pack it with comforting items such as sneakers, your journal, funny films, favorite books and a list of people you’d like to call when you’re upset.

The strategies that work best will vary with each person, depending on your personality, physiology and other individual factors, Mininni said. For some people, running works wonders in alleviating anxiety. For others, meditation is better.

Emotions may seem confusing and threatening but applying the above practical and clear-cut approach reveals emotions for what they really are: useful, informative and far from murky.

 

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What to Do on the Bad Days of Depression


What to Do on the Bad Days of DepressionWhen you don’t have depression, a bad day might mean sadness and murky musings. But the gloomy thoughts and feelings tend to dissipate, and you bounce back in a day or two, according to Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of Living with Depression.

However, if you’re struggling with depression, a bad day is filled with profoundly “cynical, pessimistic and distorted” thoughts that you just can’t shake, she said.

A bad day leaves you emotionally and physically drained. Serani, who’s experienced depression, described feeling “emotionally wrung out” and “physically limp and bone weary.”

“Depression is an experience of depletion,” she said. “You’re worn down, hollowed out, devoid of enthusiasm or vitality.” You feel like nothing is worth fighting for, she said.

That means that on the days you need it most, soothing yourself can be excruciatingly difficult. But there are ways you can feel better — without having to take big steps.

Research has found that awakening our senses helps to immediately improve depressive symptoms, Serani said. Here, she shared several strategies to stimulate each sense.

Seeing. Natural light is one of the best ways to stimulate your sense of sight. “When even a single photon of light enters the eye, it lights up the entire brain,” Serani said. Light activates the hypothalamus, which regulates mood, sleep and appetite. Not getting enough sunlight causes a disruption in all three, Serani said.

“Light also activates the pineal gland, a tiny pea-shaped brain structure, which essentially runs our circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock,” she said. This gland produces melatonin, which controls our slumber and wake cycles. Darkness leads to an excess of melatonin. “[This] makes us sleepy, fatigued and listless, worsening our already depressed state.”

Serani suggested opening the shades or curtains, and sitting by the window as the light pours in. If you’re able to, venture outside for more sunlight, she said.

Smelling. Breathe in fresh air, spray fragrance or take whiffs of a scented candle, Serani said. Smell the aromas of your favorite dish, which you can cook yourself or ask someone else to make. “When we smell something, its scent takes a direct route to the limbic brain, awakening memories and positive emotions,” Serani said.

Hearing. “Listening to music, sounds and a human voice activates the brain’s reward system that releases the feel-good neurochemical dopamine,” according to Serani. That’s why she suggested listening to upbeat music or soothing sounds or even an audio book.

Open your window and listen to what Serani called “life-affirming sounds,” such as birds chirping, the wind blowing, children laughing or even cars moving.

Touching. Take a shower, which is more like a “medicinal tonic, with its warm water and soapy textures,” Serani said. Feel the warmth of a tea-filled mug, the softness of the couch or the comfort of a loved one’s hug, she said.

If you’re able to move your body, take a walk, meditate, stretch, run an errand or play with your kids, she said.

“When we move our bodies and when we touch, muscles tense and relax, releasing toxins and feel-good hormones and endorphins.”

Tasting. Savor your favorite foods and meals. According to Serani, complex carbohydrates, protein, nuts and leafy greens can boost serotonin synthesis. (Starchy carbohydrates can increase fatigue, she said.)

Drink green tea and coffee, which some research has shown may improve mood. Too much caffeine can heighten anxiety and irritability, however, according to Serani.

If you’re experiencing a bad day, just try to remember that stimulating your senses can help you feel better. Thinking about it might help you actually do it and get you back on the road to wellness.

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