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By: Dana Meir

When you work in the same physical space that you eat, sleep and watch Netflix in, finding the right balance between work and everyday life can be a challenge. All too often, the boundaries begin to blur, and we find ourselves torn between the two.

Regardless of which industry you’re part of, it’s not uncommon these days to find yourself working till later than planned or replying to emails at unseemly hours.

The question is: How can we maintain a healthy balance between our professional lives and our personal lives? How can we keep developing our careers, whether we’re at the beginning stage of starting a website for our professional profile or expanding one, while fully tending to ourselves, our families and our loved ones?

The road to a good work-life balance may be long and twisted, but the following work-life balance tips can help you attain your goals.

What is work-life balance, and why is it important?

Work-life balance refers to the way in which people prioritize their time and effort between professional and personal obligations.

It’s not necessarily about evenly distributing your time, but rather creating a lifestyle in which you’re not overworking. A good work-life balance will leave you with enough time and energy to focus on your personal life, making sure to see friends, enjoy time alone, do things you enjoy, and so on.

Finding a healthy work-life balance is highly important to your overall well-being. It can reduce stress levels and the risk of burnout or creative block. In addition, employees who are satisfied with their work-life balance are likely to be happier at work, resulting in improved performance, increased productivity and commitment. As a manager, promoting a healthy work-life balance within your team can be a good way to support employees while working remotely.

Set specific work hours

When working from home, one of the best time management tips is to set specific work hours – and make sure your teammates and manager are also aware of them. Notify your colleagues, or mark in your hours on a shared calendar app. This way, you’re less likely to receive emails and meeting proposals during your non-work hours. Decide when you want to start and end each day. Factor in your lunch break and other personal responsibilities, like taking your dog for a walk or cooking for your family. This will lead to a more realistic schedule, helping you stick to your work hours successfully.

Make post-work plans
Making plans for the end of your workday can be a good solution for this. Unless there’s a task that absolutely needs to be completed today, deciding on a plan for a specific time can help you shift from work-mode to you-mode.

Determine achievable goals

Once you have an idea of what you need to work on this week, you’ll be able to set your goals and plan out your days. Try to make your goals as realistic as possible to increase the chances of actually sticking to them.

Take proper breaks

Giving yourself the time to step away from your desk is vital for your work and life balance. Removing yourself from your duties can also be a good way to deal with stress at work. It will give you the breather you need to revitalize and look at your tasks with a fresh mind. You may also find that taking breaks will help you be more productive.
Create a designated workspace
locate an appropriate spot at home in which you can set up your office. Having a place at home that is exclusively for working will help you distinguish between work and leisure, making this an important working from home tip. It’s generally recommended to avoid working in a place you strongly associate with relaxation, such as your couch or bedroom. Although you may not have a dedicated spare room, do your best to create a workspace that feels comfortable for you.
Be good to yourself
With so many responsibilities, being good to yourself can sometimes be the last thing on your to-do list. However, remind yourself that prioritizing your own well-being is important from many aspects. If you feel happier and more satisfied, the chances are you’ll be a better employee, as well as a better friend, partner, parent, and so on.
Get dressed for work
You may not be leaving the house, but that doesn’t mean that you should be in your pajamas all day. Switching from home clothes to work clothes can also help you make that mental shift, getting you in the right state of mind to work – or relax.
Accept imperfection
Whatever agreements you come to with the people around you, make sure you’re tending to your own needs and being realistic with yourself. A perfect work-life balance may not be attainable a hundred percent of the time and the constant search for it can be exhausting, so allow yourself to embrace imperfection every now and again.
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By: Sohil Goorha

It goes without saying that entrepreneurship is no longer only for males. An increasing number of women across the world have established startups in different niches, despite the barriers that exist. According to a report by American Express, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. This figure represents 42% of all companies in the U.S. That means women own 4 out of 10 businesses, and these businesses generate about $1.8 trillion annually.
Statistics also indicate that more women (registration required) started a business in 2020 than men. These statistics are proof enough that women are successfully paving paths to claim their share in a male-dominated field.
Despite more women taking the entrepreneurial plunge, they still face many challenges that make it difficult. Barriers such as limited funding, gender biases and limited government support have kept women out of entrepreneurship for decades. If you’re facing challenges in your entrepreneurship journey, you’re not alone. There’s still an 8% gap between men entrepreneurs and female ones. Here are some of the barrier’s women entrepreneurs face and some ways to continue moving forward:

Limited Funding

While limited funding is a challenge that both male and female entrepreneurs face, women face more hurdles in getting funding compared to men. According to Crunchbase data, only about 2.3% of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs. Due to this funding disparity, only 2% of women-owned startups generate $1 million; men are 3.5 times more likely to achieve this number.

So what are some ways that women can overcome this? Firstly, did you know there are alternate ways to secure funding, like applying for grants from the national and state governments and even private enterprises? Some of the private enterprises that offer grants in the U.S include the National Association for the Self-Employed, Idea Café, Small Business Innovation Research, Amber Grant Foundation, 100 Women Charitable Foundation and many more. You can search online and find more organizations that offer funding opportunities that are not well known or published.

Another way to obtain funding for a startup is through crowdfunding. This is not only an easy way to get capital, but it’s also a way of advertising your business before you even get started. Some platforms you can use are GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

Gender Biases

There are gender biases that create an unfavorable business environment for women entrepreneurs. Society still typically considers running a business to be a patriarchal thing, so when a woman exhibits traits associated with business acumen, they can be viewed to be aggressive and unnerving. It’s important to rise against gender stereotypes. Nearly every aspect of life, including business, is built on a patriarchal foundation, but don’t tone down your view of the world just to fit in.

Work-Life Balance

Even though the household dynamic seems to be changing, there are societies mostly in nonwestern cultures that still expect women to stay at home and take care of children and put all their attention on their household. This stereotype puts many women entrepreneurs in a position where they struggle to achieve work-life balance.

According to Pew data, stay-at-home parents account for about 18% of parents in the U.S., with the vast majority being women. Some women, more so those with social support, manage to balance responsibilities, but others get overwhelmed by carrying the burden by themselves. It’s upon companies to promote equality in gender and take into consideration such realities. A handful of companies target women hiring based on their skills, even if they have been away from the workforce for years taking a break, and not penalize them for that break. I believe this needs to occur more broadly across regions.

Lack Of Support

Statistics show that 48% of women in business lack competent advisors to guide them through entrepreneurship. Moreover, establishing a startup comes with many challenges, meaning even the most experienced entrepreneurs need mentorship to come up with new ideas and implement the right business strategies. You can find mentors and advisors through women-focused networking events such as eWomenNetwork, WIN Conference, Ellevate Network and Bizwomen. You can also perform an online search to find organizations that offer mentorship for women in business.

Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women entrepreneurs since early 2020. A significant percentage of female entrepreneurs run hospitality, wholesale and retail businesses, which have suffered greatly due to shutdowns. The reduced demand for services extended business closure during lockdowns, and having to juggle between household tasks and running a business from home have greatly impacted women entrepreneurship. The Covid-19 pandemic has threatened to undo the progress that has been made in closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship. One good thing is that the government has stepped in with a range of measures to support women entrepreneurs in the U.S during Covid-19.

Final Thoughts

With women business ownership in the U.S. on the rise, we’re closer to bridging the gap that exists between male entrepreneurs and female ones, but we’re far from making an impact on the overall gender gaps in other regions. If you’re one of the successful few, irrespective of your gender, reach out to other women who may be seeking that guidance, join the right forums to make an impact, raise your voice to biases and make it your personal goal to get involved.

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By: Good Therapy

Every year, 11 percent of Americans suffer from panic attacks. Depending on the severity of the condition, as many as 3 percent of this group go on to develop panic disorder, which occurs when an individual begins to constantly worry about coping with panic attacks and experiencing additional panic attacks and losing control of their actions as a result.

In order to treat clients who suffer from panic attacks and disorders, it’s important to understand what panic attacks are and why they happen while familiarizing yourself with tips and strategies for coping with panic attacks.

WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK?

panic attack is a sudden and extreme feeling of intense stress, fear, and discomfort that causes those who experience them to lose control. Common symptoms of panic attacks include shortness of breath, trembling, racing thoughts, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, tension, and the general feeling of being detached from your own body.

Generally speaking, panic attack episodes are short, lasting between five and 30 minutes. While some individuals might only experience one panic attack during their lifetimes, others might experience them much more frequently — even as often as several times each day.

While panic attacks can be very scary to deal with, they are not deadly by themselves.

WHY DO PANIC ATTACKS HAPPEN?

Folks who experience panic attacks regularly might have obvious triggers — like being overly stressed, hearing a song that reminds them of a traumatic experience, running into a frightening person that wronged them in the past, or going to a place that brings up bad memories. Additionally, some folks might experience panic attacks due to social events or before public speaking opportunities.

And, panic attacks might seem to materialize out of the blue, with no obvious trigger. That said, there are some factors that might increase the chances that someone will experience panic attacks.

Drugs and alcohol 

Those who suffer from substance abuse problems might be more likely to develop panic attacks. In particular, drinking alcohol in excess and using stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines can cause some people to experience panic attacks.

Mental health issues 

Folks who have mental health issues — including depression and anxiety disorders — may be more likely to suffer from panic attacks than those who do not.

Family history 

Since mental health issues sometimes have a genetic component, some people might be more susceptible to panic attacks when other members of their family have them, too.

As you can see, panic attacks can rear their ugly head for any number of reasons. The good news is that there are strategies that people can use to decrease the likelihood of having severe panic attacks.

TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH PANIC ATTACKS

Unfortunately, panic attacks are part of life for many individuals — whether they suffer them themselves or have a friend or loved one who does. While you might not be able to prevent a panic attack from occurring, you may be able to reduce its impact. So, let’s take a look at some strategies for coping with panic attacks. These are framed to address people experiencing panic attacks to make them easier for you to share with your clients.

From the therapist to the client, “What to do when you’re suffering from a panic attack.”

1. Recognize what’s happening 

Panic attacks aren’t going to kill you, and they’re temporary by nature. When you feel the symptoms of panic attacks starting, recognize what’s happening and remind yourself that you can get through it.

2. Try to relax 

While it might seem like a big ask, do everything you can to remain calm and relax when you feel a panic attack coming on. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and try to return to a less anxious state. By practicing mindfulness and really trying to stay in tune with the world around you and your place in it, you may be able to ward off that feeling of not being able to control your own body.

Remind yourself that no matter how bad it seems, you are the captain of your own ship and can steer in the direction of calm. The more you internalize that mantra, the easier it may be to navigate a panic attack.

3. Focus on something you enjoy 

When you feel your mind starting to run a million miles a minute, reel it back in by scanning your surroundings, focusing on something close to you, and analyzing it every which way. By zeroing in on a single object — whether it’s the closest car in the parking lot or the bookshelf in your living room — you can regain control over your thoughts, which can keep some of your symptoms in check.

How to Help Someone Who’s Having a Panic Attack 

1. Stay calm 

If your friend or family. member is experiencing a panic attack, the most important thing you can do is stay calm. If you get stressed out yourself, you may end up making things worse.

2. Remain nearby 

Whatever you do, you need to make sure you stay by your friend or family member’s side during their panic attack, which will likely only last five or 10 minutes. Panic attacks can be physically taxing and they might need your support.

3. Use empathy 

When someone you know is experiencing a panic attack, try to put yourself in their shoes. Using empathy, talk them through the situation. Find out what’s causing their attack, whether they’ve dealt with attacks before, and what strategies they’ve used to get through them before. Be calm and compassionate and try to be the voice of reason that brings them back around.

4. Try different strategies for kids 

If your child is the one experiencing panic attacks, try to avoid putting them in stressful situations. At the same time, you should also make sure they know that they can confide in you about anything that’s bothering them.

How to Prevent Panic Attacks from Happening in the First Place

1. Exercise more often 

Research has found that exercising three times a week can help reduce anxiety, which can decrease the chances that a panic attack occurs. If you or someone you love is dealing with panic attacks, it could be the perfect excuse to get more active.

2. Improve your diet

One way to reduce the likelihood of panic attacks is by improving your diet. For example, you may find that eating regularly and reducing your sugar intake can help you live a more balanced and fulfilling life.

3. Avoid drugs and alcohol 

Since consuming drugs and alcohol can trigger panic attacks, you’re best off avoiding substances if you want to avoid panic attacks.

4. Seek out a therapist 

If you’re suffering from panic attacks, talking to a therapist can help. The right therapist can help you identify and overcome the triggers for your panic attacks. With the right approach, you may be able to drastically reduce their occurrences — or even eliminate them altogether.

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By: Jenise Harmon

Having a mental health issue can be very isolating. You may feel like no one understands the pain and despair you experience. Because of this, you might keep your condition to yourself, confiding in no one. This is not uncommon.

The stigma surrounding mental health doesn’t help. Many people are hesitant to open up about their struggles out of concern for being judged and thus go to great lengths to hide their conditions from coworkers, friends, even family members.

People with depression and anxiety, among other issues, often isolate because of lack of energy or because they are unsure how to get support. Being open about a mental health condition constitutes taking a risk, which can feel scary. Not everyone may be supportive, some people don’t know how to help, and some people in your life may choose to remain ignorant.

A mental health condition has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. It doesn’t mean you overreact to things, that you’re “just” feeling down, that you’re incompetent, that you’re weak, or that you’re “crazy.” Just as people who struggle with a physical health issue need and deserve support, people with a mental health issue need and deserve the same.

Contacting a therapist is a great step in the right direction, of course, as a professional is best positioned to help you understand the factors contributing to what you’re feeling and can point you toward helpful resources. He or she can’t replicate the compassion and empathy of close friends or family members, however.

So how can you find the support you need? Here are five considerations to help you get what you need when you need it most.

  • Learn as much as you can about your condition so you can explain to others what you experience. Many people’s only source of information about mental health is what is portrayed in the media, which more often than not is inaccurate or even demeaning. But if you can describe what it’s like to live with bipolar, for example, you can inform others and help them understand how they can best support you. By educating yourself, you can educate others.
  • Identify someone you think might be a support to you. Whether a friend or family member, this should be a person you trust, who has displayed compassionate tendencies in the past. Again, not everyone will understand, want to understand, or be able to help.
  • Think about what you hope to get out of the conversation you will have with this person. Are you looking for someone to vent to (“Work was so rough today that I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom crying”), or would you like help solving a problem (“I’m so anxious that I need help getting to the grocery store”)? Be specific about what you need and why you need it: “I’m feeling really stressed right now and could really use someone to talk to,” or, “My depression is making it hard for me to get out of bed each day and take care of my house and family. Do you have any suggestions?” Practice asking for what you need.
  • Recognize that some people may be better at supporting you than others. The first person you confide in may not understand. Keep sharing until you’ve found the person or people who can support you. If someone you asked for help cannot follow through, understand that it’s not something you’re doing wrong. They may be dealing with their own struggles and simply not have enough energy or wisdom to help you with yours.
  • Don’t rely on just one person. Try to build a support network, one person at a time. This way, if one friend or your partner can’t talk right away, there are others you can reach out to.

It should not go unacknowledged that, for some people, finding support is exceedingly difficult. People whose pool of family and trusted friends is limited or nonexistent may feel like they have no one to turn to. However, there is always someone who not only will listen but wants to listen—whether it’s a therapist, a pastor or church member, or someone who volunteers for a crisis line. There is always support. The key is summoning the strength to ask for it, something everyone must do at one time or another.

Mental health conditions are very common, so keep sharing; chances are, sooner or later someone you confide in will have dealt with their own struggles. You shouldn’t have to go it alone. Each time you are open about your condition, you decrease the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health issues. Little by little, we can change the world.

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What to Do If You Hate Your Life

By: Kimberly Zapata

It may seem cliché, but life is hard. From growing up and working to paying bills, balancing budgets, and having and raising kids, “adulting” can be difficult. And let’s face it: some days are tougher than others. But what should you do if you’re feeling hopeless and the sensation that you hate your life isn’t a passing thing, brought on by a sudden circumstance?  The first step is to recognize that you’re unhappy. Once you’re self-aware enough to realize the problem, you can take action to make it better.

Of course, the “action” depends on the source of your unhappiness. “If you loathe your job, it’s time to consider finding a new one.  If you’re miserable in a relationship, there are other measures to take,” and so on and so forth. But either way, taking some action will help you improve your life and feel happier. However, that is easier said than done, because, as we all know, change doesn’t tend to come easily.

The good news is that there is hope. Following these steps can help you remove obstacles, alter your perception, and ideally, make you hate your life less.

Assess the basics

While certain baseline behaviors may seem obvious, i.e. everyone knows the importance of eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, when it comes to improving your life and/or mood, these factors are often overlooked. So “before taking any drastic measures, assess how much balance you have in these various areas of your life,” Catherine Jackson, a licensed clinical psychologist in Chicago, says—and “make changes to your sleep, eating, exercise, or social life as needed.”

Step back, pause, and reflect on your circumstances

They say hindsight is 20/20, and for most, the age old adage is true. Situations and circumstances become clearer with time and distance. For that reason, practicing mindfulness or meditating before making any life altering decisions. Taking time to pause, sit in silence, and reflect will help you process your feelings and thoughts.  You can also try writing, journaling, or confiding in a trusted loved one or friend.

Remove negative talk and change your phrasing

Most people have an inner critic: a little voice in their head that tells them they are not good enough, smart enough, or doing enough—and that voice can cause considerable damage. “What we think and say can have harmful effects on us, if we’re not careful,” psychotherapist Flip Flippen says. For that reason, Flippen suggests reframing your thoughts and changing your language. “For example, when someone says, ‘I’m depressed,’ it would be better for them to say, ‘I’m feeling depressed.’ The first is a final statement, a declaration. The latter is a statement of current feelings or behaviors, not an ultimate destination or claim that can’t be altered.”

Avoid comparative thinking

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and for good reason. Comparing yourself to others can stall progress and set you up for failure. It is also an extremely discouraging habit. Instead, focus your attention on yourself and what you are good at. Make a list of successes or achievements and celebrate them—daily affirmations are handy here—and avoid situations which trigger comparative thinking, like social media.

Explore your passions

While everyone should do something that brings them joy on a daily basis, most of us don’t. Family, work, and life get in the way. However, the happiest individuals are the ones who, somehowpractice self-care. If there’s something that’s always interested you, that you haven’t taken the time to pursue—whether its traveling, mountain biking, cooking, or education—find others who are passionate about those things, and do it.  Being around folks who enjoy immersing themselves in life can be contagious and give you a greater sense of belonging and purpose.

If you find you are still dissatisfied with life after altering your thought patterns and behaviors, it’s time to make a plan.

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By: Kara Heissman

It is important that you feel good about yourself. More and more scientific evidence points towards a significant link between how you feel about yourself and your overall health and sense of well-being. Scientists have proven that feelings of inferiority have the capacity to pave the way to illness or disease. On the other hand, if you feel good about yourself, have a positive outlook, and maintain an active involvement in life, you’re more likely to be happy and healthy.

Our emotional state can be affected by a lot of things the environment we are in, the people we are with, the weather, the food we eat, how much sleep we’ve had, and so on. Feeling insecure, incapable and inadequate once in a while is part of being human, what matters is that you are able to make yourself feel better again.

If you feel as if you are currently in a state wherein you need some help on bolstering your feelings of self-worth, here are some ideas that you may find helpful:

Step 1: Reframe your identity

If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? What be the first adjectives that you would come out with? Experts say that a person’s self-worth can be assessed by the first five words that he would use to answer this question. If you answer with negative adjectives, then you would need to redefine how you think about yourself. Instead of focusing on the shortfalls in your life, bring to mind things that make you special.  For example, instead of branding yourself as a mere office worker, try looking at yourself as a great Mom or a great Dad. Pride yourself on your greatest achievements instead of highlighting flaws.

Step 2: Challenge negative self-talk

As we go about our daily lives, we constantly think about and interpret every situation that we encounter. It’s like we have this voice inside our head that talks us through everything. Psychologists call this inner voice “self-talk.” How this inner voice talks to us is based on our values, beliefs and our conscious and subconscious thoughts. If your self-talk is mostly negative, you will have a very hard time feeling good about yourself.

To correct negative self-talk, you need to learn to notice it as it happens, and consciously dispute and challenge these negative and irrational thoughts. Ask yourself questions like, “Are my thoughts factual?”, “Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?” or “What can I do that will help me solve the problem?”. Make it a point to conquer self-defeating thoughts with positive and realistic thinking.

Step 3: Take time for yourself

In this world where everyone and everything seems to be in a rush, most of us don’t make ourselves a priority. Often we focus on catering to the needs of others and on being productive. Although it is good to take care of the people you love and fulfill your responsibilities at home and at work, you should not neglect your responsibility and obligation to yourself.

In the same way that you make others feel good when you take care of them, taking care of yourself will also bring about the same feelings. Make it a point that you allocate a certain amount of time each day for yourself to do things you love. Paying attention to yourself has been proven to improve self-esteem and feelings of self worth.

It is impossible for anyone to feel perfectly happy about who he is for their entire life. We are all bound to feel inferior or insecure every once in a while. Fortunately, our thoughts and feelings are not permanent and there are so many ways to love, accept and feel good about ourselves.

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The Power of Vision Boards

By: Jessica Sepel

A vision board is a simple yet powerful visualization tool that manifests your dreams into reality by activating the Law of Attraction… And it really works!

Oprah Winfrey and many other highly successful people have used this technique for generations. It consists of a poster or foam board of cut-out pictures, drawings and phrases of the things that you want in your life, or the things that you want to become.

Some examples include: pictures of places you would like to travel, your favorite car, dream lover, your dream body, your business goals, inspirational quotes, pictures of friends and family… really anything that you love and you are grateful for.

The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with positive images of who you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live and the things you are grateful for, your life changes to match those images and those desires. The law of attraction in essence! When we express gratitude, we bring more into our lives to be thankful for. Although it may seem otherwise at times, we all have many things to be grateful for. If you are reading this blog, then you can be grateful for your eyesight and for being able to read!

I made a vision board about two years ago (image above). I placed phrases and pictures of things I wanted to achieve onto a black board. I kept it on my desk; so every day when I walked through my room I would glance at my goals and dreams. Now looking at it two years later, I can truly tell you that 80 or 90 percent of the things I placed on the board have become my reality. And a very happy reality, too!

Supplies needed:
Scissors
Assortment of Magazines/Websites (Pinterest/Tumblr)
A piece of cardboard (as big as you like)
Glue

Method:
Start cutting out images and phrases of the things you love and want to see in your future onto the cardboard in any way, shape or form. You can be as creative as you desire. This is your personal masterpiece! And then, place it in a position where you will be able to view it regularly.

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Journal Writing Is Good Therapy

By: AdChoices

Effective journal writing captures the essence of your thoughts, provides reflection, allows for creativity, sharper memories, good therapy, self examination, and spiritual direction for a more complete person.

Journal writing is a powerful tool for therapy, an excellent method for self examination and reflection especially for spiritual direction or development of self esteem and better self image. Journal writing allows for sharper clearer memories and diaries, but allows for more than reflections or recording daily memories, it allows for a new sense of direction and purpose. While diary writing can be equally important and can be a part of journal writing per se, there are other exercises that can be used with journals that can be very enriching. Looking at journal writing from three different perpectives, the diary method, the reality therapy method and the spiritual direction method, all illustrating effective means of writing different types of journals or integrating styles to have a more complete and complex journal.

Most people are more familiar with the idea of keeping a journal in the form of a diary. The basic daily entry, with an internal dialogue with oneself or record of daily happenings or important thoughts. Sometimes the individual addresses themselves or the classic “dear diary” directly reflecting on the days events. This is a good way of recording memories similar to a photo album but one painted with words. It allows for sharper memories, but also records important details. It can be important because there may be some dispute about the actual details of an incident and this can be useful to clear up what actually happened. Written records are better than personal recollection. In fact in the court systems diaries and journals can be considered admissable in a court as evidence. Many a secretaries journal has saved a company money based on their record of a business event later disputed in court, acting as a form of receipt and evidence. Writing information down provides a clear means to express your emotions, vent on paper and examine your feelings. A good form of therapy in and of itself, one recommended for victims, although it is usually done in the form of letters to the victimizer and the letter is usually destroyed as part of the method of ridding oneself of negative emotions.

Reality therapy goes quite well with journaling in that it provides a daily record for you to track goals and accomplishments, as well as take a real look at what you are doing in life. Reality therapy asks four basic questions.

1. What do you want to do (stated goal)?
2. What did you do today about it?
3. What stopped you from accomplishing your goal?
4. What are you going to do about it now?

By tracking your goals and objectives and asking yourself reality based questions you can not only see what some of your stumbling blocks are in life but also try to work out problem solving strategies, and solutions. You can look at your behavior and determine if you keep putting yourself in the same situations and if so why? You can start to move forward instead of being doomed to repeat failures or mistakes. Reality therapy allows you to do a reality check daily and move forward in your personal growth.

Pastoral counseling and spiritual direction are also forms of therapy that use journal writing to encourage the individual towards personal and spiritual growth. An excellent example is choosing key writings or thoughts and centering a journal and questions around them for self examination. For example, the Christian scripture of the Prodigal Son is a favorite passage used by spiritual directors for growth. In the classis story the wastrel son spends all his money and inheritance in parties and then returns home poor only to be accepted by his father with open love and complete unconditional acceptance. The father orders a feast with the fatted calf to be slain and so much more. The journal writing explores daily his or her feelings on the idea of being able to return to the love of God or the Divine, with unconditional forgiveness, encouraging a new beginning and reminding all of us that we can make new beginnings. Writing journal entries on this kind of subject or any book of wisdom or holy book can be very important for self examination and growth.

In the final analysis putting down daily thoughts, studying important writings, applying reality therapy and working towards goals and personal growth and spirituality are all important and effective ways that journal writing can act as good therapy. It goes far beyond this in stirring our own creativity. It goes towards an old idea that living the unexamined life may not be living life at all but living in a sleep of being half alive. It is far better to be aware and growing. Effective journal writing is one tool that can broaden everyones horizons.

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10 Natural Ways to Stop Feeling Depressed

By John Wesley

•Life is a drag.
•What’s the point of anything?
•I’ll never be happy.

Do any of these gloomy thoughts sound familiar? It’s likely they do. The occasional case of the blues is perfectly normal, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. If you allow them to, negative thoughts can fester and lead to serious depression. That’s why it’s important to take action early to bust yourself out of a slump.

While these suggestions won’t eliminate your problems, they can help you break a negative thought pattern and stop feeling depressed. If you think you might have a serious mental health problem, don’t hesitate to see a medical professional.

1. Understand the emotional cycle – Life is an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel like nothing can stop you. Other days you feel utterly hopeless. Most of the time you’re somewhere in between. Understanding the pattern of positive and negative emotions will help you put your feelings in perspective. Next time you feel down, just remember that it’s a natural emotion that will inevitably pass. Knowing that a feeling of depression is only temporary makes it less dreadful.

2. Spend time with positive people – Nothing affects the way you think and feel more than the people you interact with. Thoughts (both positive and negative) are contagious. If you are surrounded by negative people, it’s only natural that you’ll start to think and feel the same way. To improve your outlook on life, spend time with positive people. Search them out and try to understand the way they see the world. Chances are their happiness will rub off.

3. Reflect on past success – In the wake of a colossal failure, it’s easy to forget everything you’ve ever done right. Take a few minutes to remember your past accomplishments and build yourself up. What made you successful before? What are your strengths? Frequently, this exercise will build self confidence, help you figure out what went wrong, and generate ideas for success in the future.

4. Focus on gratitude – It’s human nature to measure ourselves against those ahead of us on the social ladder. Studies have shown that people care more about being richer than their friends than actually making more money. When you consider everything good in your life and compare it to the problems of less fortunate people, the issue that’s making you depressed won’t seem as serious.

5. Change of scenery – One of the best ways to change the way you feel is to change your environment. When you get in a slump, you start to associate your problems with everything around you. It can get to the point where your environment is a constant reminder of your problems. This can be a dangerous cycle. The solution is to change things. Change doesn’t have to be radical. Cleaning up, adding more lights, or including pleasant decorations can completely change the mood of a room.

6. Break your routine – Going through the same routine, day after day, can be monotonous and depressing. It often leads to getting caught in a rut. To get out of it you need to temporarily change your routine. If you can, take a day off from work. Do something you don’t normally have time for or something you’ve never tried. In the long run, taking a day off every now and then to get out of slump will make you happier and more productive.

7. Interact with animals and nature – It’s funny when you consider how humans put so much importance on their own tiny problems. Animals don’t think this way. A little bird doesn’t mope around because it isn’t an eagle or because another bird beat it to a tasty seed. Animals live in the present moment and they show love unconditionally. Observing and interacting with them will help you get over your problems.

8. Get moving – As Johnny Cash famously suggested, “Get a rhythm, when you get the blues.” Moving to a beat makes everyone feel better. The same is true for movement in general. Hitting the gym or going for a walk will help you shed the lethargy that comes with feeling depressed. The more enthusiastic your moments, the better you will start to feel.

9. Think about the big picture – As Carl Sagan made evident with the Pale Blue Dot, we’re insignificant creatures living in a vast universe on a tiny planet. In the long run, everything we do will probably be forgotten. Some might find this depressing, but it shouldn’t be. It means that all our problems are illusory. In a million years no one will remember what you did or didn’t do. What matters is the present moment and enjoying every second of life that we’re blessed with.

10. Do something to help yourself – Above all, the best way to stop feeling depressed is to take action. What is your biggest problem? How can you alleviate it? Once you decide to stop moping and start moving forward you won’t have time to feel depressed. Action will occupy your mind and give you something to look forward to. Once you get some results, you’ll build momentum and positive thinking will keep getting easier.

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By: Art Markman

It is natural to use landmarks to evaluate your life. Times like birthdays, New Year’s Day, and transitions like new jobs, divorces, or graduations are all times that lead people to think about what they have accomplished and what they have yet to do.

Often, you ought to ignore the urge to commit to a big behavior change.

The canary in the coal mine for big behavior change is systematic failure. When there is a goal that is really critical to you that you are systematically failing to achieve, that is the signal that you need to do something different if you want to succeed.

The significant systematic failures in your life are probably rare. You are holding down a job, enjoying your friends and your family, and maybe even some romance.

TINY CHANGES VERSUS “DISRUPTION”?

Think about your life like a product for a moment. Most of the time, the product a company produces is pretty good and doesn’t need a wholesale revision. Instead, products are spruced up and companies create “new and improved” versions, which are fundamentally the same product with a few tweaks. Only rarely do companies really try to disrupt an industry. Disruptions seem sexy, because they can change a market, but most deeply innovative products don’t succeed (think Segway . . . ).

Likewise, most of the changes in behavior that you make should be of the “new and improved” variety. Small changes that enable you to do what you already do more effectively are likely to succeed. Typically, the best way to enter the new year (or to use the energy from any landmark in your life) is to find something straightforward to change and to focus your efforts on that.

An advantage to these tiny changes is that you will still make an improvement to your life, but you’re likely to succeed. You give yourself an emotional boost for improving your life without the frustration that comes along with a wholesale disruption.

A string of small successes can also give you more confidence when it really is time to do something more disruptive. In particular, when you try to make a big change, you are virtually guaranteed to experience some setbacks. You don’t want those setbacks to give you evidence that you’re a failure. If you have a run of success in smaller behavior changes, then you know you’re not a failure, you just haven’t yet succeeded at the bigger change. And that knowledge can make you more resilient on those days when your attempt at a big behavior change has fallen flat.

Here’s to a “new and improved” year.

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