When’s the last time someone told you to “just be positive” after sharing your struggles?
There’s a tricky relationship between positive thinking, health and happiness. Over the past decade, experts have promoted positivity as a simple but highly effective tool to lead a happier and healthier life.
And rightfully so. Positivity has been linked to lower levels of stress, stronger immunity, better cardiovascular health, increased feelings of physical and emotional wellbeing, and even a longer lifespan. Cultivating positive feelings like joy, hope and inspiration also builds good mental habits such as attention, resilience and optimism, which in turn buffer the potential negative effects of stressful times.
But anyone’s who’s ever been seriously sick knows there’s another side to positive thinking and health.
Have you ever stopped to think how the information you absorb all day long influences you? How does following the news, reading books, listening to podcasts, browsing the net and playing video games make you feel? And how does this mental input impact your thought patterns, brain chemistry and following physiological reactions?
In the previous post, we talked about the importance of minding your mental diet. We also covered 5 essential questions to ask yourself about how much and which kind of input you want to consume. Now it’s time for the next step: how can you crowd out the ‘mental junk food’ and add more ‘virtual vitamins’ to your mental diet?
Have a look at these 28 tips to nourish your mind in a healthy way.
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
— Chinese proverb
In recent years, we’ve learned to be selective about what we put into our bodies. After all, “we are what we eat”, and the food we consume forms the building blocks of our bodies and health. But how many of us ever stop to think about what we put into our minds every day?
Like the Chinese proverb above explains, we are shaped by our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. When you’re scared, angry, excited or in love, those thoughts and emotions trigger the release of specific neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers tell your body how to respond to the situation at hand – freeze, fight, flight, make love.
Much of the time, your thoughts cause temporary physiological changes, like that rush of dopamine you feel when you score a goal. But when something becomes a mental habit – like constant worrying or practicing gratitude every day – the patterns of neural activity sculpt your brain in more permanent ways. Busy regions in your brain will form new connections, which makes those neurological pathways stronger and more receptive to that specific mix of neurochemicals.
What’s more, what you repeatedly think shapes your deepest beliefs about yourself and the world. Your beliefs steer your actions, and regular actions become the habits that mold your daily life and (in part) your health.
That’s why a thought isn’t just a thought – it has the power to transform your life.
But your thoughts usually don’t appear out of nowhere. They don’t exist in a vacuum either. Your ideas, intentions, opinions, feelings and worries are sparked by the available input around you. The magazines you’re reading, the articles you’re browsing online and the TV shows you watch every week – they all have an impact on your thought patterns, mood, brain chemistry and corresponding physiological reactions.
And now that we’re bombarded with more information than ever before in history, it’s become even more important to mind your mental diet. But in a world filled with both chocolate bars and brain candy, what does a healthy mental diet look like? How can you nourish your mind with ‘nutrient-rich input’ and consume less ‘empty mental calories’?
This is a guest post by Mike Jones from Schiz Life.
The holiday season can be challenging for anyone, no matter the reason. But while for most people the biggest struggle this winter will be to decide on what presents to get everyone, for others the holidays can be a personal hell. Coping with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or any other mental disorder during Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be particularly hurtful due to the constant pressure of having to behave in a certain way.
Not So Merry Christmas
Unfortunately, Chrismas is not such a merry time for everyone. According to research published by Randy and Lori A. Sansone in the US National Library of Medicine, the use of emergency psychiatric services decreases during the holidays, only to be followed by a spike in activity shortly after. For people dealing with mental disorders, the holiday season can be an emotionally draining period.
What is more obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression or schizophrenia and love life just don’t seem to mix. The lack of a significant other or tensions in an existing relationship can be more emphasized during the holiday season when you suffer from a mental disorder. And due to this, you may have the tendency to blame your illness more and feel worst. This is normal, and what you can do about it is slowly learn how to cope.
Pregnancy should be a happy and exciting time in a woman’s life. However, this is not always the case for some women as it can be a time of confusion, fear, stress and even depression. Women with a history of depression may spend the next nine months of their pregnancy trying to feel better.
According to the Scientific World Journal, 70% of pregnant women suffer from anxiety. According to the studies carried out by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 1 in every 4 women at some point during their lifetime has suffered from depression. So, how do you cope with anxiety while pregnant when you have a history of depression?
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