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Exercise and Mental Health: The Perfect Combination!

The treatment of mental illness has evolved drastically over the past century. Maladies that were once misunderstood as anything from simple laziness to demonic possession now have scientific names and cures. Therapy and medication, among other treatments, have saved millions of lives. But is it possible that one of the most effective treatments has been in front of us for far longer? Recently, research has begun to uncover the importance of exercise and mental health; and in particular, depression and anxiety.

Exercise and Mental Health: What’s the Connection?

While we tend to talk about mind and body as separate things, the field of psychology understands that the two are inextricably connected. This is, after all, why medication can treat mental illness. On a simpler level, we all understand that emotions correspond to physical feelings. Anxiety can feel like butterflies in the stomach. Sadness can feel like a heavy weight on the chest.

Thus, it is not that surprising that exercise and mental health are connected. Exercise is crucial for maintaining physical health, and it is not much of a jump to the conjecture that physical health and mental health could affect each other. Multiple studies that explore the link between exercise and mental health have therefore been carried out. Interestingly, the results have consistently shown that exercise can be an effective treatment for certain mental health conditions.

Why is Exercise Important?

The connection between exercise and mental health may be a relatively new development, but humans have long known how important exercise is in general. Let’s explore why that is.

The Effects of Exercise

At its core, there is nothing wrong with the way we live in urban areas. Reductionists often argue that sitting down, looking at screens all day is a less than ideal way to live. But what we’re doing in front of those screens is important, even if a time traveler from the past might struggle to understand it.

The problem is that humans have not lived this way for very long at all. Our bodies are not adapted to this physically sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity therefore leads to all sorts of ailments including obesity, diabetes, and mental illness.

While this is not a reason to abandon our lifestyles, we do need to make adjustments. Regular exercise can balance your lifestyle, allowing you to do your important jobs more effectively without compromising your health.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity has tremendous benefits to every aspect of our physical and mental health. The benefits of physical activity include:

  • Weight reduction and maintenance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Stress relief
  • Increased libido
  • Improved mood
  • A decrease in anxiety
  • Increased alertness
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Better cardiovascular health

Exercise and Endorphins

In conversation about exercise and mental health, you’ll often hear the term “endorphins.” But what exactly are endorphins and how do they improve your mental health?

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins are chemicals manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and other parts of your body, which interact with the brain receptors that reduce your perception of pain. They bind to the same receptors as some pain medications, but do not have the addictive properties of these substances. Endorphins are released by your body when you exercise.

What Do Endorphins Do?

Endorphins trigger positive feelings in your body which are comparable to those caused by morphine. They also act as analgesics, reducing your perception of pain; and sedatives, calming your body and mind. They can therefore help to reduce stress, and relieve some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How Can Exercise Benefit You Mentally?

The release of endorphins explains how exercise can benefit you in the short term. If you’re feeling light depression or anxiety (or day-to-day stress) exercise will give you an immediate boost. However, this does not explain how exercise benefits you in the long term. Research shows that the effects of exercise are not only beneficial directly after the activity, but can reduce chronic anxiety and depression.

There are a number of theories regarding why exercise benefits you mentally. It is clear that exercise directly affects the brain, even increasing the volume of certain brain regions. This may be due to better blood supply which improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the neurons. It also seems to improve the health of the hippocampus, which is important for mental health.

Regardless of the reasons, more and more evidence shows how exercise benefits you mentally. Studies suggest that it improves self-esteem, sense of well-being, and energy. It also decreases levels of depression and anxiety.

Exercise and Mental Health

Exercise and Anxiety

Tens of millions of Americans suffer from anxiety on a daily basis. Everyone experiences some anxiety, and it serves an important evolutionary purpose. However, at levels at which it affects normal functioning, it is no longer helpful.

There are a number of effective anxiety treatments, including therapy and medication. Exercise offers an alternative that is free of charge and has no side-effects. It can be used as the sole treatment, or as part of a holistic treatment regimen.

Natural Anti-Anxiety Remedies

Many people are hesitant to use prescription anti-anxiety medication and opt for natural remedies instead. These include meditation and mindfulness, writing and other types of creative expression, and relaxation exercises. They also include certain natural supplements, such as herbal teas, vitamins, and the like. A healthy diet can also improve your resistance to anxiety.

These remedies work to varying extents. Lifestyle improvements are always helpful, while the effects of supplements that have not been researched is up for debate.

Exercise is a natural anti-anxiety remedy that has been researched. It works even without the help of prescription medication. Exercise becomes part of a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle, and is beneficial beyond the anti-anxiety effects. It can increase your self-esteem and confidence, which in itself helps to reduce anxiety.

Exercise and Depression

In addition to its benefits for anxiety, exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Millions of Americans suffer from clinical depression, and not everyone responds to therapy and medication. Others may be looking for a natural remedy. Even those who are receiving other forms of treatment will benefit from exercise, which is why it is generally a part of programs in good depression wards. In fact, regular exercise is recommended by psychiatrists and psychologists alike.

Natural Mood Stabilizers

There are a number of effective natural mood stabilizers. These include lifestyle improvements, with meditation and mindfulness, as well as relaxation techniques; being useful additions to the daily life of just about everyone. Writing, playing music, art, and the like, also help regulate emotions and reduce depression.

So too, there are a number of supplements recommended by varying sources which may help, but do not necessarily have scientific backing.

As we’ve mentioned, exercise immediately provides a mood boost, due to the release of endorphins. In the long term, studies suggest that exercise may be as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. While a one-size-fits-all approach is rarely wise in treating mental health, exercise is definitely beneficial, whether as the sole treatment or as part of a treatment regimen.

Which Types of Exercise are Best?

Most exercises are beneficial physically and mentally, but for the best results, there are certain goals that should be met. Start with what you think you can handle, but try to work your way up to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week. You don’t need to be out of breath or feel like you’re going to collapse. Rather, you should be breathing a little heavier than normal and feel warmer and somewhat sweaty.

The following types of moderate exercises can improve mental health.

  • Brisk walks in nature
  • Running, especially outdoors
  • Bike riding or spinning
  • Yoga, which helps balance and relax you along with giving you a good workout
  • Boxing, which can give you an outlet to release stress and anger
  • Resistance training, which can help you build muscles to give you more confidence in your body’s capabilities and boost your self-esteem

Regular Exercise: Why Can’t I Commit?

Perhaps the biggest issue with using exercise as a treatment for mental illness is that people typically struggle to commit or stay committed. Even those who at one time have a balanced, consistent fitness regimen, may at other times find it difficult to even exercise at all. You can see this play out in gyms in the first months of every year, as people flock to fulfill their new year’s resolutions. In a matter of weeks, the crowds thin out until the status quo returns.

But why should this be the case? If exercise gives you an endorphin hit, and improves your mental health for the long term, why do we struggle to motivate ourselves?

The unfortunate reality is that, as great as it feels to exercise every day, it is also very difficult. During periods in which life becomes more stressful, it becomes all the more difficult to find the energy you need to get up and exercise. Even if that is exactly what would help most. Changing seasons can also have an impact, as a pleasant morning run in the summer can feel like a special kind of torture when winter comes around.

Furthermore, the ideal exercise routine can be disrupted by illness and injury. Even once you’ve recovered, you may be demotivated by the setback and find it hard to commit. The most problematic issue is, however, that depression and anxiety tend to drain motivation.

This is one of the reasons why the link between exercise and mental health is generally investigated in sufferers of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

Tips for Staying Motivated

If you want to begin exercising to improve your mental health, these tips for getting and staying motivated can help.

Focus On the Activities You Enjoy

Often, when people consider starting to exercise, they see it as something they’ll do begrudgingly. They think they’ll hate it, but may benefit anyway. However, you’re far more likely to be motivated to do exercise that you actually enjoy.

If you hate running but enjoy cycling, do the latter. Do you love being outdoors? Find an activity that you can do outdoors. If you have always wanted bigger muscles, make sure to include some weight training and enjoy the benefits.

Get Comfortable

Whatever activities you choose, make sure you are going to be comfortable doing them. A challenge is great, but that doesn’t mean every aspect of your workout has to be challenging. You don’t need to work out at the crack of dawn if you hate getting up that early. If you know weather conditions will be an issue, exercise in a gym, where the climate is controlled.

Don’t Over-Do It

Start with something that is manageable and don’t try to push yourself too soon. By pushing yourself too hard, you may end up overdoing it and getting injured. Injuries can derail the best of intentions and make it harder than ever to begin exercising again.

Make Exercise a Social Affair

By exercising with friends, or even with an online community, exercise can give you the social activity you’re craving. It also helps you to stay motivated, as your friends push you to be consistent and you foster a sense of healthy competition.

Reward Yourself

Finally, the most direct way to get motivated is to reward yourself. Find healthy incentives for meeting your commitments. Then, even at the toughest point of your session, you’ll have something to look forward to, pushing you to see it through.

The Magnificent Benefits of Exercise for Mood and Mind

The benefits of exercise for mood and mind are truly remarkable. Exercise can be the ideal treatment for mental illness, as it is good for your body and mind, has no negative side effects, and keeps you healthy. It contributes to a balanced lifestyle.

Exercise and mental health are inextricably linked. Not only do you feel great during and after your workout, but you experience an improvement of mood, among other benefits, in the long term. Ideally, it should be part of a balanced mental health and wellness regimen, so that injury or similar challenges do not derail your progress.

Start Building a Strong Support System

Ever since the dawn of civilization, humans have always relied on one another during times of crisis. Our ability to support each other and grow as a community is what helped us to survive and thrive in a world where weakness and vulnerability meant certain death. The world has certainly become a lot safer than it used to be. However, we still need a robust support system if we wish to overcome difficulties and enjoy a stress-free life. In fact, many healthcare professionals believe that social support plays a crucial role in physical and mental health. It can speed up recovery, cultivate hope and improve patients’ overall sense of well-being.

What is a Social Support System?

A social support system represents an essential factor in maintaining physical, mental and affective balance which are often threatened by adversity. It’s kind of difficult to enjoy a pleasant, stress-free life in the absence of social support; let alone achieve personal and professional growth.

A study that was published in Epidemiology & Community Health in 2016 revealed that social support is a predictor of better mental health. Researchers have also discovered that the negative aspects of social relationships may lead to poor mental health.

Aside from contributing to our overall mental health, social support presents plenty of other benefits as well. Your close friends or family members could (for instance) help you find a better job, deal with a tough breakup or even lend you some money when you’re behind on your bills.

The Importance of a Strong Support Group

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. No matter how careful we are and no matter how much we prepare, we simply can’t avoid every adversity that life throws down our path.

That’s why having people around who love and care about us can be a real blessing. We’ve all been there. Down in the dumps, feeling like you’ve hit rock bottom. Social support is what gives you the “push” you need to overcome life’s adversities and regain control of the situation.

For teenagers and adolescents, support systems are especially important. Close support groups (comprised of family members or friends) can create the perfect climate for personal, academic or professional growth. This type of group can also act as a buffer against all sorts of difficulties in life.

A 2016 study, published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, concluded that perceived social support and mental health often go hand in hand. More specifically; it indicated that adolescents with a history of bullying victimization find it easier to cope with anxiety and adjust to college, if they receive support from their families.

The evidence that supports a strong link between support systems and mental health is quite overwhelming. For instance, a study that was published in Social Science & Medicine, specifically evaluated social support for employed and unemployed individuals. This study shed a little light on some interesting findings. It indicated that when we’re dealing with unemployment, social support may actually serve as a protective measure against mental health issues.

Types of Social Support

Let’s take a closer look the main benefits of social support systems.

Emotional Support

One of the key areas where support systems prove to be the most useful is mental health. Problems like stress, depression and anxiety can impact some of the crucial aspects of your everyday life.

It’s difficult to enjoy a satisfying romantic relationship or work on your big dreams when you are under serious emotional distress. For that reason, emotional support represents a definitive factor in both health and success.

A recent article in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, discussed the relationship between support systems and depression. The authors suggested that high-quality social connections with friends and family members was associated with a reduced likelihood of depression in the past year.

There’s no shame in asking for help when your life has taken a turn for the worse. You can always find someone who is willing to lend a helping hand or empathetic ear. It is, however, important that you’re open to letting others be there for you.

Practical Help

When you are dealing with stress and adversity, finding practical solutions to overcome your problems may prove to be extremely difficult. It’s hard to put aside your unpleasant emotions and approach challenges or obstacles with a clear head.

Furthermore, being entirely absorbed by your perceptions could be preventing you from finding original solutions. In times like these, friends or family members can offer an outside perspective. This will allow you to see the problem from a different angle, which could help you to come up with alternative solutions.

A social support system creates the ideal climate for people to share opinions, exchange ideas and tackle challenges as a group. When you are dealing with a tough situation, you need as much input as you can get.

Informational Support

Life has taught us that knowledge is power and that information is the key to any problem. No matter how challenging it may seem.

Being part of a close social support system grants you access to more than one perspective from which you can approach a difficult situation. You can receive constructive feedback, valuable information and practical tips on how to overcome anything that’s preventing you from living a fulfilling life.

Remember, it was through collaboration that our ancestors managed to survive and build a thriving civilization. Regardless of the challenges and dilemmas you may be facing right now, there’s always someone who can offer you insightful answers. All you need to do is ask and be prepared to listen.

Support System

Support System: Benefits for Psychological Health

Let’s explore the ways in which a strong support system could benefit your psychological health.

Decision-Making Process

There are times when difficult situations and personal struggles can affect your judgment and limit your ability to make smart decisions. Problems like anxiety or stress can have a direct impact on your decision-making and the results can quickly turn against you. That’s when you need someone with a fresh opinion who can help you adopt a new perspective. Someone who can guide you towards making decisions that are not influenced by your own mental filters.

If you feel like you’re in a dark place, it would perhaps be wiser to consult with someone you trust before making any big decisions. Making decisions in this state could result in severe consequences for your well-being and personal growth.

Coping With Stress

The studies that were mentioned earlier have clearly shown that social support is one of the key ingredients in the development of robust mental health.

When it comes to everyday stress, having someone who understands your struggles can be extremely therapeutic. In fact, if you are lucky enough to have a reliable support system you are less likely to struggle with everyday stress. Moreover, you also have a smaller chance of developing more serious problems like depression and anxiety disorders. This is not because you are somehow sheltered from life’s hassles but, instead, because you’re surrounded by people who can cheer you up and make life a bit easier for you.

Motivation

It’s virtually impossible to achieve the life you’ve always dreamed of without having the motivation to keep on hustling through thick and thin. This is where friends, family members or life partners come into play. The people who love and appreciate you the most can be your biggest fans. Not just when things are going great for you but also when life has knocked you down.

In the end, we all need someone to cheer for us and have faith in our endeavors.

Things To Consider Before Joining a Social Support Network

Before joining a social support network, make sure the people that are part of the group can:

  • Be empathetic and emotionally available
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Refrain from criticism and negative remarks
  • Be assertive

5 Ways To Build Your Social Support System

Building your social support group is not always an easy task. Let’s have a look at ways in which building a successful support system can be made a bit simpler.

Really Get To Know The People Around You

A social support system can be made up of virtually anyone. This may include family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers or even people from online support groups. Don’t miss out on really getting to know some of the people who are already part of your life. Take the time to know them better. These are most likely the people who are going to be there for you when the going gets tough.

Seek Out Peer Support

Seeking out peer support is one of the best ways in which you can receive authentic support. No one understands you better than the people with whom you spend most of your time. They are the ones who really know you and they can offer you authentic emotional support along with useful tips. Sometimes, a classmate or coworker can be more supportive and empathetic than a close friend or family member.

Take Advantage of Technology

Nowadays, there are plenty of online support groups where you can find like-minded people who resonate with your struggles; people who’ve been through the same struggles as you. You can look for Facebook groups, chat rooms or forums where people share their stories, exchange ideas and support each other emotionally. The internet opens the door to unlimited possibilities. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Follow Your Interests

You may be dealing with difficult things in your life right now. Regardless of this, it’s important to stick to your path and never stop following your interests. Sooner or later you will meet like-minded people who share your vision and who wish to contribute to your dream. All you need to do is share, be open-minded, ask for feedback and be open to letting others help you achieve the things you want to achieve.

Expand Your Social Network

The more people you meet, the bigger your chances are of finding someone who can guide and support you. Expanding your social network is all about interacting with others, listening to their stories, understanding their struggles and creating an emotional bond with them. As a result, people will return the favor by providing you with the support you need to live a joyous and satisfying life.

Keep in mind that this strategy works just like a two-way street. In other words, if you want others to be supportive you should also be prepared to return the favor. That’s how social systems evolve.

The Power of Social Support

No matter how smart and adaptable we think we are, life will always find a way to prove us wrong. When that happens, being part of a group that can support you (financially, emotionally or in whatever way) is what will keep you afloat.

Forget about being an island. Focus on building a strong social support system and you will always have someone who is ready to lend you a helping hand when the going gets tough.

 

References:

  1. C. Hakulinen, L. Pulkki-Råback, M. Jokela, J. E. Ferrie, A.-M. Aalto, M. Virtanen, M. Kivimäki, J. Vahtera and M. Elovainio, “Structural and functional aspects of social support as predictors of mental and physical health trajectories: Whitehall II cohort study,” Epidemiology & Community Health, vol. 70, pp. 710-715, 2016.
  2. G. M. Reid, M. K. Holt, C. E. Bowman, D. L. Espelage and J. Greif Green, “Perceived Social Support and Mental Health among First-Year College Students with Histories of Bullying Victimization,” Journal of Child and Family Studies, vol. 25, no. 11, p. 3331–3341, 2016.
  3. A. Milner, L. Krnjacki, P. Butterworth and A. D. LaMontagne, “The role of social support in protecting mental health when employed and unemployed: A longitudinal fixed-effects analysis using 12 annual waves of the HILDA cohort,” Social Science & Medicine, vol. 153, pp. 20-26, 2016.
  4. A. Werner-Seidler, M. H. Afzali, C. Chapman, M. Sunderland and T. Slade, “The relationship between social support networks and depression in the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being,” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 52, no. 12, p. 1463–1473, 2017.

Finding Your Tribe: Your True Connections Are Out There!

These days we seem to be busier than ever before. In-between climbing the corporate ladder, finding your life passion, doing your laundry and staying on top of your emails; how are you supposed to have time to develop a healthy social network? This article provides some insight into what “finding your tribe” means and how you can get started today.

Finding Your Tribe: What Does It Mean?

When we speak about a “tribe”, we’re referring to a group of people who share similar interests and offer support to one another. In the modern sense, your tribe comprises of the people you choose to connect with. This may include your family, friends or colleagues; and the list goes on. Thus, finding your tribe means finding the people you feel comfortable around, the people you can talk to about your daily triumphs and struggles. Ultimately, finding your tribe means finding a connection between yourself and the people around you (whoever they may be).

Why Do We Need Friends?

Humans need connection. It’s that simple! The drive to seek out social connections is literally hard-wired into our brains. This need for connection likely started with our ancestors, as a way to remain safe while roaming the lands or needing to withstand harsh weather conditions. Despite this fact, it has developed into something else in contemporary times.

Today, we may not depend on each other as much for basic survival, but the deep need for connection is still there. Research has shown that it is just as important as following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Nevertheless, social connection is often undervalued. Ultimately, social connection is related to increased physical and psychological well-being. In other words, it forms a vital part of living a fulfilled life. In fact, social connection can lower depression rates, improve self-esteem and even play a role in immune functioning.

So, why do we need friends? Because friends provide us with this social connection and companionship. Helping us to truly thrive in our environment and live life to the fullest.

Challenges of Finding Your Tribe in Adulthood

In preschool, sharing a toy with a fellow classmate may lead to an exciting new friendship. When you go to school, sharing a classroom with other people of your age allows for easy opportunities to make new friends. Unfortunately, in adulthood it’s not quite that simple.

As adults, we have past preconceptions and busy lifestyles that may hinder us from developing the connections we want and need. Additionally, venturing into adult life may cause us to become disconnected from previous friendships and support systems. For instance, parents and siblings. Because of the busy lifestyle that comes along with adulthood; we have less time and space in our lives to build up and maintain healthy friendships. Things like moving out, having a job, shopping and cleaning all form part of being an adult. However, there are great opportunities for finding your tribe as an adult. It may just require a little more effort from your side!

Connecting With Like-Minded People

We live in an extremely diverse world. There are endless beliefs, identities and interests with which people align themselves. This makes it both easy and difficult to find people with whom you can truly connect. Being in a social situation where you feel like nobody understands you is certainly uncomfortable. If you think about it, no-one wants to be at a party where all the conversations are about things that they’re not interested in or don’t understand. This is all linked to one relatively simple solution. You need to connect with people who are similar to you and with whom you are compatible.

Basically, to find your tribe, you need to actively seek out people who have interests and beliefs that are similar to yours. Connecting with like-minded people not only makes social situations more enjoyable for you, but for them too. Which creates a positive feedback loop all around.

It might seem tricky to find people with whom you can connect, since people don’t share everything on their first encounter with a new acquaintance or friend. However, there are some possible starting points. These could include: meeting people through existing friends or joining a group that enjoys what you do (such as a sport or hobby). Alternatively, you may choose to seek-out people who share your philosophical or religious beliefs. Whatever the case, it’s important to connect with people that you can relate to.

Knowing Who You Are Outside of a Group

Before you can connect with people (within a group), on a deeper level, you need to be confident in yourself. You need to know who you are. Outside influences may easily change your own perception of yourself, which may lead to a change in the way you behave. This, in turn, may leave you feeling inauthentic and (ironically) disconnected from the group.

Furthermore, if you do not know who you are outside of a group; you may feel like you have no individual identity. Which is not true. Therefore, finding yourself is a very important first step to take. It will allow you to be confident in your own identity, which will also attract the type of people you want to surround yourself with. Discovering yourself and partaking in self-reflection will also enable you to understand what you feel is missing. Through self-discovery, you may also start to realize which types of relationships you want to foster. In the end, this will lead to more fulfilling relationships and overall life satisfaction.

Finding Your Tribe

How Do I Find My Tribe?

Let’s cover some simple, practical pointers for finding your tribe.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

If you don’t risk venturing outside of your comfort zone, you’re not giving yourself an opportunity to grow and develop. So, try something new. Be adventurous! You’ll never know what you may end up enjoying unless you try it. Take risks! Sign up for something you usually wouldn’t sign up for (such as a new sport or activity) and you may just discover that you really like it. Go to a new talk, event or meeting. Even if you don’t, at least you’ve narrowed down what you don’t like!

Find a Group Online

In the world of digital communication and constant technological advancements, there are so many online groups to join. These range from local cooking groups to local bloggers, local moms, people who share similar medical conditions or mental disorders to people who are interested in charity work. The list is seemingly endless. Search online for a group, forum or website that you would be interested in joining. If you don’t know where to start, search for your interests and hobbies and find a group from there. Consider going online to start connecting with a range of different people with similar interests. What a great way to find your tribe!

Take Part in Things That Interest You

This is a relatively easy way to connect with people who share similar interests. Sign up for surfing, dancing or any other activity that interests you. It’s guaranteed that the people you meet are there for the same reason: to do what they love. This is a great way to connect with people, whilst partaking in an activity that you enjoy.

Volunteer in Your Community

Supporting a cause you care about (such as social equality or animal welfare) is a great way to meet people who have similar values to yours. This ties back into meeting like-minded people, all the while making a difference in an area that you deeply value.

Sign Up For a Class

This is a great way to not only learn something new and exciting, but also connect with people who are on a similar journey to yours. Signing up for something (such as a cooking class or learning to play a new instrument) may prove to be rewarding; both personally and socially. This setting may also make it easier to start conversations with others and set-up future opportunities to socialize.

Can I Have More Than One Tribe at a Time?

Of course! Why limited yourself to only one tribe? Many people have different tribes for different aspects of what they love and desire. One tribe may offer you comfort while another may offer some adventure. A specific tribe may offer you personal advice, while another may be more business related. You do not need to limit yourself to only one tribe. Branch out, explore and find the connections you need in all aspects of your life.

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

As cliché as it may be, the idea that “your vibe attracts your tribe” can be quite truthful. What you project out into the world is what people will perceive and this is what they will begin to engage with. They will recognize certain aspects that they may want to connect with. So, allow yourself to be yourself. Open yourself up to the possibility of connection.

Finding your tribe may seem daunting or, perhaps, even impossible. You may feel that your busy lifestyle is always getting in the way. It’s important to remember that connecting with others is a central part of human nature. Busy schedules can be tweaked in a way that allows for this healthy connection. So don’t wait any longer, find your tribe today and start thriving instead of simply surviving!

Empower Yourself By Taking the Steps to Forgiveness

Although forgiveness is a commonly used word, it is not a concept that is easy to understand or to practice. Forgiveness is a highly personal and distinct experience that varies from person to person. Some people find it easy and natural to forgive; while others find it much harder. These people tend to bear grudges and harbor resentments. Others may even believe that forgiveness, for some things at least, is impossible. The good news is that forgiveness is something that can be learned and enjoyed by everyone in all kinds of situations.

Forgiveness: What Does It Mean?

When a person has been the victim of abuse or maltreatment by another person; they often harbor resentment, anger, bitterness and bad feelings. This also counts if the “victim” is only regarded as such by themselves. Sometimes these people may even desire vengeance. They may also wish for the person to be reprimanded or experience suffering in some way or another.

Forgiveness means that the person who has been abused chooses to change these negative emotions. By forgiving, they can liberate themselves from the cycle of negative thoughts and desires that come from feeling abused. This way, they hope to reduce the power that the abuser has over them. Often, the abuser does not even know that the person they have harmed has forgiven them.

Forgiveness can be aimed at one specific event or a series of events over a period of time.

Sometimes, we can feel offended by something relatively minor. A harsh word, an insult or perhaps even someone questioning our integrity or judgment are all examples of this. Some people can shrug off these perceived offenses easily while others can take them to heart allowing them to develop into larger, ongoing problems. A good example of this would be where family members have not spoken to each other for years due to some presumed insult or disrespect. The point is that allowing a minor issue to develop into something so important that it affects the lives of the people around you is damaging to everyone. With family members or close friends, taking the initiative to forgive can heal old wounds and encourage reconciliations.

In most religions and spiritual institutions around the world, followers are encouraged to practice forgiveness. Why? Because a person who can forgive is generally better adjusted and more complete.

Forgiveness brings peace.

What Forgiveness is NOT About

We often hear the phrase “forgive and forget”, yet forgiveness is not about forgetting. The thing is that whatever happened, happened; and you simply cannot change that. If you feel that you have been hurt, threatened or injured by the actions (physical, verbal or psychological) of another person; then it is up to you to deal with it. You will most likely never forget what has happened to you. But by forgiving the person responsible for hurting you, you can free yourself from the negative energies that may be holding you back in life.

Forgiveness is not about condoning, excusing or approving of the action which has taken place. If you feel that the action or reaction you experienced was wrong, unjustified or unnecessary; then so be it. Forgiveness is how you deal with that situation.

Also remember that forgiveness is not about reconciliation. It can be if the hurt is relatively small and the person is someone that you value. In more serious cases, however, reconciliation is often not a good idea as forgiveness is not about allowing the possibility for the person to keep causing you damage and pain.

Forgiveness does not require a change in the person who offended you. Instead it is the change it can bring about in you that is important.

Why Is It So Hard to Forgive Someone?

Forgiving someone who has caused you pain or suffering is not easy. You may confuse forgiveness with condoning or pardoning the act and, in some way, this could invalidate your pain and suffering. However, forgiveness cannot change what has happened or your past reaction to it. What it changes, is how you deal with it in the present and how you will deal with it in the future. It doesn’t diminish the significance of the event or your reaction to it in any way. It simply closes the door on the negative thoughts which are holding you back. By holding on to negative feelings you will only harm yourself. Keep in mind that the offender is generally unaware, uninterested or even contented by your suffering.

How Do You Forgive Someone?

To forgive someone you must change your attitude and emotions towards them from negative to at least neutral. Some people may even be capable of acquiring positive attitudes towards the person once they have forgiven them.

In specific situations, the damage a person has suffered is substantial. Examples of such cases include sexual abuse and infidelity. In these situations, it is much harder to forgive the offender. Nevertheless, the resentment and negative emotions experienced by the victim can cause serious personal damage. Learning how to forgive is very important.

If you have suffered a serious wrong; particularly at the hands of a trusted or loved person, you may need to seek expert counseling. Professional help can assist you in discovering ways in which you can start working on the steps to forgiveness. A trained counselor can show you how to look beyond the incident itself and to find the potentially life-changing power that forgiveness can bring.

Steps to Forgiveness

The Benefits of Forgiving for Your Psychological Health

People who forgive are healthier and happier than those who maintain grudges. Studies reveal that they enjoy better nervous system and cardiovascular health and they tend to have fewer health problems in general. These people are less stressed, have lower blood pressure and have fewer aches and pains.

After forgiving someone, people become less hurt and angry, their confidence increases and they become more compassionate. Their relationships can improve and they develop a more optimistic way of viewing life, decreasing the risk of suffering from depression or anxiety. Also, they can forgive with greater ease in future situations.

Forgiveness can free you to live and enjoy the present and take full advantage of the future.

Steps to Forgiveness

Some people may experience a blinding flash of insight and inspiration which allows them to instantly forgive a person for a past wrong. However, for most of us, completing the steps to forgiveness may take a while to achieve.

Express Your Feelings

First, it is necessary to examine the hurtful situation (even if this causes you pain). Be honest and open with yourself about what you feel. Some people may find it helpful to share their emotions with a trusted friend or family member, a mental health professional or a spiritual leader. Others prefer to write down their feelings. See what works for you and consider how these emotions have affected your life and the way you behave or feel.

Some people decide to express their feelings by sharing these feelings with the person involved. This can sometimes be helpful. But be prepared for them to deny or reject what you have written or what you are saying. Remember, achieving forgiveness should not be constructed around the reaction of the offender. Whether they understand what you are feeling or not is of no importance. The person can even be dead or it can be someone you no longer have any contact with. Forgiveness is for your benefit.

Many people choose to burn or tear up the writings they made about the situation at some point during the forgiveness process to symbolize their release from the power that the offender had over them. This could mark the point where you stop being the victim and regain control of your life.

Commit

Learn about the benefits that forgiving someone can have for you. Then start making a commitment to taking the effort to complete the steps to forgiveness. Make a voluntary, positive choice to forgive the person who has offended or hurt you; for your own good.

Get Some Perspective

Try to take a step back and observe the reality of the event as impartially as possible. Try to discover why the person may have acted in the way they did. Did they deliberately try to hurt you or was it perhaps involuntary? Do they even realize the pain they caused you? Empathizing with the offender can make the task of forgiveness a lot easier. Then think about your own deeds. Have you ever acted in a similar way before? Have you maybe hurt someone without meaning to? Perhaps you are the one who needs to apologize to someone and ask for their forgiveness.

Focus on The Positive

Try to find something positive in the situation. If this is not possible, at least try not to keep yourself focused on the negative aspects of what has happened. Some people find it helpful to join a group where they can talk about what happened to them and listen to others who’ve had similar experiences. Often, this can help you to find the positive aspects connected to the incident that you might have been unable to uncover on your own.

Find Peace and Move On

Put the incident to rest. Don’t keep reliving it over and over in your mind. Lay aside any thoughts of vengeance and reprisal you may be having. Liberate yourself from the power that this person has over you. Concentrate on the present and you will discover how much better you feel now that you have achieved forgiveness. Enjoy the peace and tranquility that it can bring and move on in your life with a calm confidence. You are now ready to shut the book on your old grievance story and write a brand new version.

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness restores your personal power. It gives you back the chance to live and love, freely and honestly. It takes you from being a victim to being victorious.

You may have come to a point where you blame the things happening in your life on a past hurt or grievance. Or you may have fallen out with someone. Maybe it is time to consider the benefits of forgiving the person who has hurt or offended you. It might not be easy, but by taking the steps to forgiveness you can liberate yourself from this burden and enjoy a more fulfilling and positive life.

 

Resources

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201301/9-steps-forgiveness
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-forgive-3144957
  4. https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-forgiveness/

 

CBD Gummies for Anxiety and Depression

For those of us dealing with anxiety and depression, CBD edibles may hold the key to less worrying, better sleep, and an overall improved quality of life. But out of all the products that exist on the market, CBD gummies are probably the most popular edibles.

The CBD oil used to produce these edibles is extracted from carefully-selected types of cannabis, with low THC and a high concentration of cannabidiol. CBD-based products are part of a different category of medicinal marijuana, one that does not place emphasis on the psychoactive effects of the plant, but rather the curative properties of marijuana.

 

Those who use these natural products as an alternative to medication or other treatments that may involve unpleasant side effects claim amazing results. From chronic pain and inflammation to sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression, CBD gummies seem to be the new “miracle cure.”

But there’s absolutely nothing mystical or magical about this chemical compound. In fact, people have been using it for thousands of years as a remedy for various conditions. Recently, scientists have begun to explore the physical and psychological effects CBD, with promising results.

Who knows? Maybe CBD gummies and other edibles may become the next breakthrough in mental health.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in marijuana or hemp. It can be made into edibles, tinctures, body oils, elixirs, balms, and other products. In fact, ever since marijuana has been legalized in most U.S. states, experts estimate this market will reach $ 1 billion a year by 2020. [1]

Cannabidiol is believed to be the second most crucial cannabinoid, after THC, and one of the 85 cannabinoids identified so far. The cannabis from which CBD oil is extracted contains only small traces of THC, cannabidiol being the compound that dominates the plant’s genetic profile.

After THC, CBD is the most studied natural cannabinoid. The reason behind scientists’ growing curiosity toward this compound may have something to do with the numerous positive effects it can have on our physical and mental health. On top of that, the absence of psychoactive effects has led some researchers to believe that CBD could be the most important cannabinoid ever discovered.

But all the groundbreaking studies that have changed our views of cannabis wouldn’t have been possible if not for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the late 1980s. It appears this system regulates our body’s homeostasis (overall balance) and plays a significant role in appetite, mood, sleep, pain, and hormonal balance.

But to clear any trace of doubt and misconception, let’s take a closer look at the difference between CBD and THC.

CBD vs. THC

One of the reasons why some people avoid using cannabidiol-based products like CBD gummies or other edibles is that they don’t want to get high. Decades of misconceptions about cannabis have led many of us to believe that any compound derived from the marijuana plant is a “drug” that we should avoid at all costs.

Although both CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are the main compounds found in marijuana, there are notable differences between the two.

For starters, THC is responsible for the ‘high’ that you experience when you consume marijuana – either by smoking it or through edibles. In other words, THC represents the psychoactive part of weed, generating numerous effects such as hunger, reduced aggression, relaxation, altered senses, sleepiness, and so on.

CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive component which can be found both in the cannabis plant and agricultural hemp. Unlike other cannabinoids, which can be found in numerous plants, CBD can only be extracted from the cannabis plant.

Another notable difference between the two compounds is that while THC is an illegal drug (with potential long-term adverse effects), CBD is harmless and perfectly legal in many countries around the world.

CBD Effects

As we mentioned before, the main reason why CBD products have gained such massive popularity is that they offer a natural alternative to medication and other treatment options that carry a certain amount of risk.

According to recent studies, cannabidiol is a potentially viable treatment option for anxiety disorders [2], can regulate emotions and emotional memory processing [3], and may also prove useful in solving the current opioid epidemic. [4]

If we are to ask the countless individuals who’ve used cannabidiol, in the form of CBD gummies, oils, balms, and all sorts of edibles, most of them would say this compound has helped them relax, sleep better, manage stress, and improve their overall quality of life.

Since the ‘CBD boom’ has only recently taken the world by surprise, imagine what exciting discoveries researchers might uncover in the coming years.

Does CBD Get You High?

The answer is definitely no. The only component in the cannabis plant that can get you high is THC. Although brands and companies that produce and sell CBD oil warn that various products may contain small traces of THC, the dose is too small to get you high.

In fact, a recent study revealed that even high doses of cannabidiol – be it in the form of edibles, elixirs, oils, balms, and so on – do not cause THC-like effects. [5]

Once again, CBD proves to be a perfectly safe and harmless compound which can alleviate various physical and psychological symptoms without giving you a ‘high’ that could prevent you from

CBD Products

Most CBD products fall under two main categories: oils and edibles. Let’s take a closer look at the two types of products and see which one fits your preferences best.

CBD Oil

CBD oil is part of a new product category that has received increasing popularity and also contributes to the development of cannabis cultivation for medical use, an industry firmly regulated in countries that have opted for legalization.

With an increasing demand for CBD oil (a base compound in many products) manufacturers have taken advantage of the opportunities the internet offers and have taken over the virgin online market. Nowadays, you can purchase CBD oil and other products and have them delivered directly to your home in over forty countries around the world.

CBD Edibles

As you’ve probably heard, CBD-based products come in many shapes and sizes. From oils, tinctures, elixirs, and balms, to CBD gummies, sweets, chocolate, and even CBD-infused honey.

But out of all the options that today’s CBD market has to offer, nothing has gained more popularity than edibles. And who could blame us! Who wouldn’t want to take their ‘medicine’ in the form of a delicious piece of chocolate or a yummy gummy bear?

CBD Gummies

Considering the wide variety of culinary options that ‘weed brands’ can experiment with, you will, without a doubt, find a CBD edible for every taste.

CBD and Anxiety

Throughout our lives, each of us has probably faced the unpleasant symptoms associated with anxiety at least a couple of time. The constant worrying; the sleepless nights; the inability to get a handle on our anxious thoughts.

But when anxiety becomes a constant part of our lives, things can get quite overwhelming. When you can’t even muster the courage to get out of the house, you risk losing your job, which in turn gives rise to even more problems.

Fortunately, products such as CBD gummies and other edibles can have a significantly positive impact on anxiety. In fact, numerous anxiety sufferers have reported fewer anxious thoughts, better quality sleep, and a notable improvement in overall mood as a result of using various CBD-based products.

From oils and tinctures to gummies and other edibles, there’s an option for every taste, and all of them seem to have the same positive result.

CBD and Depression

Affecting nearly 322 million people worldwide, depression has recently become the #1 cause of disability. This mood disorder can turn your entire life upside down, causing emotional pain, low self-esteem, fatigue, sleep-related problems, feelings of helplessness, and even thoughts of suicide.

Although researchers and mental health professionals have spent decades studying this condition, there are times when ‘traditional’ treatments don’t seem to work.

Since therapy takes time and medication has numerous unpleasant side effects, perhaps a good alternative would be CBD-based products.

Many depression sufferers have discovered that this natural option proves to be quite useful in alleviating the troublesome effects of depression. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system, edibles like CBD gummies prove to be highly effective in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and even pain.

Neurochemistry and CBD

Having a direct impact on the endocannabinoid system, CBD can give rise to significant changes in the neurochemistry of our brain.

Experts believe that through this system, cannabidiol can have a positive influence on the stress receptors in the hippocampus – part of your brain responsible for emotional processing.

The fact that human beings and animals have an internal system explicitly designed to process cannabinoids is truly fascinating. In a way, it seems that nature has already equipped our bodies with the means to benefit from this amazing compound.

CBD Oil Dosage

Considering this industry is relatively new, there aren’t any super strict regulations regarding the use of CBD. In fact, as one study quoted above revealed, even high doses of cannabidiol prove to be harmless.

Furthermore, the FDA has yet to issue a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for cannabidiol. The only recommendations come from brands that produce and sell CBD oil, and their estimations can range from 15 to 50 mg. [6]

As you can probably imagine, it’s somewhat difficult to zero-in on an exact dosage considering all the variables – weight, body chemistry, the severity of the condition, and so on – that scientists must consider.

Nevertheless, experts recommend you start slow and increase the dosage gradually. Also, make sure to consult your physician before considering this treatment option.

CBD Oil Side Effects

I know what you’re thinking, are there any harmful side effects associated with the constant use of CBD products?

First of all, it’s important to understand that CBD oil, and consequently any product that contains this compound, do not cause euphoric states. Since cannabidiol can be obtained from both marijuana plants and agricultural hemp, some of us might be living under the impression that it can get you ‘high.’

Although both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis family, CBD-based products do not contain THC – the psychoactive substance in marijuana.

Second, treatment plans that involve CBD oil have proven to be useful not just in fighting severe, often terminal, illnesses but also in minor conditions that can affect our overall sense of health and well-being.

After decades of studies, researchers have yet to identify any potentially harmful side effects associated with regular use of CBD products.

In short, this product is safe, natural, organic, and quite effective in treating various physical or psychological issues.

Whether you prefer the fruity taste of CBD gummies or the soothing effect CBD body balm, the positive effects of cannabidiol are guaranteed to turn any skeptic into a firm believer.

References

[1] K. Doheny, “As CBD Oil Flirts with Mainstream, Questions Mount,” WebMD, 05 June 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20180605/as-cbd-oil-flirts-with-mainstream-questions-mount.

[2] E. M. Blessing, M. M. Steenkamp, J. Manzanares and C. R. Marmar, “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders,” Download PDF, vol. 12, no. 4, p. 825–836, 2015.

[3] J. L. C. Lee, L. J. Bertoglio, F. S. Guimarães and C. W. Stevenson, “Cannabidiol regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety‐related and substance abuse disorders,” British Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 174, no. 19, 2017.

[4] Y. L. Hurd, “Cannabidiol: Swinging the Marijuana Pendulum From ‘Weed’ to Medication to Treat the Opioid Epidemic,” Trends in Neurosciences, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 124-127, 2017.

[5] F. Grotenhermen, E. Russo and A. W. Zuardi, “Even High Doses of Oral Cannabidiol Do Not Cause THC-Like Effects in Humans,” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017.

[6] A. Cadena, “What’s the Best CBD Dosage?,” Medium, 25 February 2018. [Online]. Available: https://medium.com/cbd-origin/whats-the-best-cbd-dosage-81ec4f95503b.

Experiencing the Benefits of Laughter

“Laughter is the best medicine” is a phrase that has been around for a long time. Unlike many of the “old wives’ tales” that get passed down from generation to generation, however, this one is actually true. Research has shown that there are significant benefits of laughter, particularly when it comes to mental health.

Adults, however, don’t laugh as much as they should, and so miss out on many of the benefits of laughter. To put this into perspective, children laugh up to 400 times a day, while adults on average laugh only 15 times a day. It’s important, therefore, to understand the benefits of laughter, and why it’s vital that we find ways to increase the amount of laughter in our daily lives.

Mental Benefits of Laughter

There are incredible mental benefits of laughter, and these go far beyond simply reducing stress levels. In fact, laughter can help people to heal from mental health difficulties, and even prevent further episodes of mental illness.

The benefits of laughter when it comes to mental health are wide-ranging. These include:

  • Reducing anger – laughter helps to defuse angry outbursts and resolve conflicts. It’s also an effective means of reducing self-directed anger and self-blame.
  • Reducing intense distressing emotions – laughter can help people to handle emotions such as anxiety and depression. Laughter can also help when someone is going through a time of grief.
  • Offering a different perspective – when you’re experiencing mental health difficulties, it can be overwhelming, but laughter aids in seeing your situation from a different point of view. It can be a means of escape from negative or distressing thinking, too.
  • Relieving stress and releasing endorphins
  • Helping with relaxation and revitalization – one of the benefits of laughter is to help us to relax and increase our energy levels and focus.

Reducing Stress Hormones

The stress relieving benefits of laughter are well documented in a variety of studies. These benefits are really important for mental and physical health. Having a good laugh reduces the levels of certain hormones that are associated with stress. These hormones include cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. When these hormones are reduced, you experience less anxiety and are better able to cope with whatever situations arise.

Reducing stress hormones doesn’t just benefit you mentally, either. Reducing stress hormones through laughter gives your immune system a big boost, too. This means that you’re less likely to fall ill.

Releases Endorphins

Research has shown that one of the major benefits of laughter is the release of endorphins – which are known as the brain’s “feel-good chemicals”. Endorphins have many benefits, not least their ability to help us to handle pain, by increasing pain thresholds. For people living with chronic pain – which can have serious negative effects on mental health, too – laughter’s release of endorphins can be life-changing. Endorphins are generally released through exercise – so for people unable to exercise, laughter is a great alternative.

Can Help Improve Uncomfortable or Depressed Mood

Psychiatrists advocate laughter as a means of dealing with episodes of depression. In some cases, laughter can be as effective as talk therapy in coping with depressed mood. One of the reasons that laughter is so effective is because it changes brain chemistry A study conducted by Italian researchers in 2010 demonstrated that laughter has a positive effect on regions of the brain involved in depression – and can even counteract depressive symptoms.

Laughter as a Coping Skill

An important aspect of the benefits of laughter is the way that it can be used as a coping skill to handle all kinds of situations. It’s simple and costs nothing – and there are a variety of ways that you can incorporate more laughter into your life to cope with the troubles of daily life.

Benefits of Laughter

Practicing Laughter

Intentionally seeking to laugh more is a great way of reaping the benefits of laughter both physically and mentally. When you consider the number of times children laugh each day compared to adults, it’s clear that adults have a lot of catching up to do. Learning to take yourself less seriously is a good place to start.

You should aim to practice laughing more every day. When life is busy and stressful, laughter is often the last thing on your mind – but it’s important to find time to incorporate more laughter into your life. Prioritize laughter by making it a part of your daily routine. Laugh with friends, with family, or on your own. You could even consider laughter yoga and laughter clubs to get more laughter into your life.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga is a growing phenomenon that started out in India in the 1990s. It turns laughter into a form of physical exercise that more and more people are practicing. One of the great benefits of laughter yoga is that it teaches you how to laugh for absolutely no reason.

Laughter Clubs

Laughter clubs have been taking place since 1995, and there are laughter clubs all over the world. It may seem like a strange phenomenon, but laughter clubs have proven to be very effective in increasing laughter. They help people to get into a laughter routine, using laughter exercises. Doctors are now recommending that people join laughter clubs to reap the benefits of laughter for their physical and mental health.

Reaping the Benefits of Laughter for Health

Laughter helps to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression – and the benefits can be physical, too. Laughter helps your muscles to relax, as well as increasing the amount of oxygen you breathe in. What’s more, laughter helps you to cope with pain. By far, however, the mental benefits are the greatest.

It can be challenging to incorporate more laughter into your life – especially if you’re stressed and don’t feel as if you have much to laugh about. Practicing laughter yoga or joining a laughter club might help if you’re struggling to laugh more, or you can simply be more intentional about laughter. However you go about increasing your laughter levels, it’s important to make it a priority in order to reap the benefits for your physical and mental health.

If you find yourself still struggling on your own to add a little more laughter to your life, there are people who can help. A qualified therapist can help you find the best way to integrate laughter into your life, as well as help you build other healthy habits. Learn more here.

References

https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/laughter-good-for-you/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-laughter-may-be-the-best-pain-medicine/

https://laughteryoga.org/are-you-worried-just-join-a-laughter-club/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stress-management-and-health-benefits-of-laughter-3145084

https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/the-benefits-of-laughter/

http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-yoga/

https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-yoga-clubs/

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