General

Covid’s Silent Victims by Eden Paterno

While Social distancing acts as a boon to the general public, it is a scourge to the extrovert, especially the adolescent extrovert. Teenagers who normally thrive on social interaction perceive this admittedly preventative and necessary measure as oppressive and damaging.

Introverts and many adults will neither recognize nor comprehend this phenomenon. To them, the drive to connect with peers might seem a luxury, similar to how many adults grieve the loss of yoga classes, getting one’s nails done, and dining out. The “Stay At Home” prescription seems not only logical, but tolerable. But for the extrovert, staying away from one’s friends becomes more than an inconvenience or annoyance; it robs adolescents of an essential need. Child development experts understand that one of the most critical needs for adolescents is social belonging. Without social interaction, teens can become depressed, irritable, and unmotivated.

Zoom, FaceTime, and other facsimiles are not enough. Adults often like to pontificate about how lame texting and other online modes of communication are compared to meeting and speaking face to face. Here is where we teens eagerly agree with our elders. Meeting on Zoom to meet social needs is like watching a video on Food Network to satisfy one’s hunger. If anything, it has the opposite effect.

Most important, I implore everyone to comprehend that this current limitation can be detrimental to extroverts and many teens. Please empathize with teens. Like everyone else, they struggle with social isolation. When at all possible, allow them to gather with others, especially when they utilize reasonable precautions. We understand that we must congregate in our cars (sitting in an open trunk) and maintain more than six feet distance from each other. We don’t want to get sick or infect anyone else; we simply are starving for social interaction. If you see teens—or adults—congregating outside of what you believe is appropriate, a gentle reminder will work far better than harsh judgment and a call to the police. We will appreciate your words and concerns far better.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Eden Paterno

Fear: fight your beast and set yourself free

Do not let fear consume you. If you do not believe in yourself, fear will forever hold you in its grasp. You must realize that you yourself are enough. Get back up, even when you fall – because psychologically staying in any single past moment in time for too long robs you of the joy in the present moment you are missing.

Self-consciousness, low self-esteem, the judgement of others, obsessions, and habits all keep us trapped in the illusion that living life in the present moment is far too much of a risk. The news, social media, and everyone around us keeps projecting this image of the world that there is “not enough”: not enough resources, not enough opportunities, not enough time. Shake this negative view of the world and all the other imposed negative perspectives from others.

Do not doubt the joy that your life can have as you chose to take the steps to live it. Granted, this is easier said than done. Dr. Matthew B. James, President of The Empowerment Partnership in Hawaii and the author of The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times created a three-step method on tackling the burden of fear when it happens.

Three steps to help you stop fear in its tracks:

  • Reframe it: Dig deep. When did you start becoming afraid and truly understood the meaning of fear? Think about that event and force your mind to change the meaning of the word fear that you learned so long ago. If you are scared of failure, stop thinking of from that perspective where failure means something bad and therefore you should be afraid of it. Start practicing to think of failure as a mistake, an opportunity for knowledge you did not have before – this change in thought process is what will give you the nudge to get back out there and to fight your (sometimes irrational) feelings of fear.

 

  • Make it silly: visualize ways in which the thing you fear would be funny. If you actually take the time to think about your fear and to make it silly in your mind – you will associate happy emotions with the thing you fear – overriding the emotions that arise when something is scary for you.
  • Replace fear with a positive emotion: inside of fear are feelings of empowerment. You have the choice to use your past and your fear as a means of motivation. Think about how happy you would be if you got that something that fear is standing in the way of. Use that positive emotion to embrace the fear and the challenge.

We learn what to fear through our experiences and emotions. This means we can unlearn our fears and in the place of fears we can insert ambition, courage, and commitment. You have the ability to make your body feel your thoughts. So if you think about things you fear – your body will manifest anxiety. If you think about things that made you strong, things you are grateful for, and truly think about how much you believe in yourself – you will feel invincible.

 

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/focus-forgiveness/201709/operating-fear

 

Part 2: Time to make the cut and how to do it!

If you are currently in the process of realizing you are in a dead-end relationship and you would like to change that, take heart. There is a way to do it! While it might be much harder than you originally realized because of how much time and effort you may have invested, a bad relationship will only keep taking more investment with little payout (if any at all). It is up to you to make the final decision to end the bad deal you have and focus on moving forward to better things.

Author of Think Forward and Thieve, Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D. of the School of Medicine at Emory University and most recently director of the outpatient psychotherapy program at Emory Healthcare, created five steps to help you make the break up official and final:

  1. Cut off contact – This part is very important because it is very easy to get sucked back into a bad relationship. Whichever method you used to make the decision, stick to it. Delete their number and any other contact information you may have as to avoid the temptation to run back to them when the inevitable loneliness creeps.
  2. Let go of the fantasy – You tried, time and time again. Even if you remember it being amazing, face the truth that it will never be that way again. Let go and move on to new, better, and brighter things. You will develop new fantasies as you learn more about yourself and what makes you happy. You cannot deny that you have changed since you last stepped out in the dating world.
  3. Make peace with the past – Be grateful for the experiences you have had and the things you learned as a result. Forgive yourself for the time that you must let go of, even though you may have invest so much. Simply put, you must let go and allow yourself to move forward.
  4. Know it is OK to still love them – Obviously they were a big part of your life. They may have even been present for key milestones of your life, but that does not change the situation you are in now. It’s perfectly acceptable and understandable to love them for all that they have done for you and the times they were by your side. However, their support has run its course.
  5. Love yourself more – If your partner is making you feel horrible, chose to choose yourself. Make the decision to make yourself happy, if your partner cannot, and let them go. You will have an opportunity to meet someone new; but first, make decisions that are good for you, your future, and your health. A bad relationship will only keep drawing from your emotional (and financial) account; don’t let it get that far.

Don’t be scared to take the necessary steps to love yourself the way you deserve. Of course, you were with someone for many reasons; but, you must remember the reasons for leaving do outweigh anything worth staying for. You deserve respect, balance, and goodness. It’s time to look for someone who can give you the love and attention you deserve.

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201508/5-ways-move-when-you-still-love-your-ex

 

Part 1: When the Love Is Gone, How To Know When To Move On?

February is touted as the month of love, yet many don’t feel the excitement. Could it be the perfect time to reevaluate your relationship? This is always a scary place to be and terrifying to think about the implications. Successful relationships require enormous investment, financially and emotionally, so it is understandable why we struggle to let go of relationships we ourselves know have deteriorated passed the point of no return.

Having children complicates the conundrum, and unquestionably, being financially dependent on someone adds layers to an already complicated situation. No matter the complexity, everyone deserves to be loved. If this ingredient is no longer present in your life, change is bound to happen. It is simply up to you to assess whether it is time to let go and move on or invest more time to fix what you have.

Author of Think Forward and Thieve, Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., clinical faculty member at Emory University and most recently director of the outpatient psychotherapy program at Emory Healthcare, suggests using these four “tells” to help you accurately assess whether the relationship you are in is worth saving.

  1. The goodness is gone. When you realize that you can no longer forgive or tolerate irritable behaviors of your partner. You genuinely feel like all the hurt that has been present in the relationship makes it impossible to love and trust your partner whole heartedly anymore. Once the goodness is gone from a relationship it is very hard, if not near impossible, to get over the bitterness.
  2. You are being disrespected. Insults, lying, cheating and any other form of disrespect should not be tolerated in a relationship (both ways). Love does not including feeling like your partner does not value you or gives you the respect you deserve as a human being.
  3. You are trying too hard. Every strong relationship is about balance, harmony, and equality. You cannot put in the majority of the work in a relationship because eventually you will burn out and feel even more frustrated that you have invested more than your partner cares to.
  4. It’s all about the other person. Yes, needs should be expressed to each other for a fulfilling relationship, but it cannot be one sided. A good partner will give as much as he/she takes. Both people need to make sure that they have room to grow and go after their aspiration while supporting the personal aspirations and growth of their partner.

Having any one of these as components of a relationship is awful, unhealthy, and destructive. Take a good hard look at your relationship, remembering to consider what you want out of a union with another person and realize that you are worthy of having your needs met. There are other people out there in the world who would be willing to accommodate your needs without the suffering of your current relationship. Do not get trapped in an unfulfilling relationship because you think you have to. You always have a choice – it is up to you to make the commitment to change.

If you are ready to distance yourself from a relationship that no longer serves you or your life positively please read Part 2: Time to make the cut and how to do it!

 

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201712/4-clear-signs-it-is-time-let-go-your-relationship

 

Practice Being Alone with Your Thoughts

Being alone with your thoughts on a regular basis can improve your mental health. By being alone with your thoughts, you allow yourself to process things that require healing. Just like when you sleep, your body needs time to repair the damage done to your body throughout the day. Similarly, your emotions need time to repair the inevitable damage that was done. Part of this healing requires that you stay awake.

Many people dread being alone with their thoughts, so much so, that they cannot bear a moment without distractions such as phones, spinners, computers, video games, and television. Ruth Baer Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky and an author of The Happiness Practicing Workbook, explains the importance of being alone with your thoughts. She posits that it can lead you to a greater state of mindfulness. Being able to process your emotions on a regular basis frees your mind from being over occupied with thoughts and ruminations that you continuously push aside and refuse to think about.

Additionally, being alone with your thoughts allows you to practice your emotional intelligence; you become more in tune with what your body is feeling and why. With practice, you will only increase your vocabulary of feelings you may be experiencing. Enough work makes it easier to take control of your emotions since you know what they are, where they came from, and what about them acts as triggers for you.

It’s time to meet yourself again. Get to know the journey you traveled. Hear your own story, the hurt that may be hard to face but has ultimately played a role in how you became yourself. Avoiding those thoughts and memories is only distancing from yourself. I bet you will find a lot more compassion for yourself and the actions you have made in the past. Be proud of who you are and the life you had; do not hide from the person you truly are. As hard as it may feel at first, it is worth every bit of time and effort you invest in your wellbeing, especially your mental health.

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindfully-happy/201408/alone-your-thoughts

 

Eating Disorder Complexity

Eating disorders are constantly a favorite topic of mental health specialists. Despite decades of research, the public does not seem to really understand how eating disorders develop or why. To this I say there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that experts do not have a single answer or definitive, solid solutions. The good news is that we know enough to be able to help people regain control of their behavior and move on to living full, happy, and lives free from the clutches of these incredibly disruptive and dangerous disorders.

Eating disorders are very complex to say the least. There are many different types of eating disorders. Some eating disorders are easier to spot in loved ones, while others are not as noticeable. This can leave loved ones to suffer unnoticed for years, resulting in irreparable damage to their bodies. It is critical to familiarize yourself with the most common eating disorders to be able to spot the behaviors in your loved ones that require immediate help.

  • Bulimia Nervosa – Binge eating followed by behaviors that result in avoiding weight gain. A couple examples: vomiting right after eating or working out excessively.
  • Anorexia Nervosa– When someone excessively restricts food consumption, resulting in clinically significant weight loss. Often those with Anorexia resort to hiding food to make it appear as though they have eaten it and to not have to explain their behavior to their families.
  • Pica – Eating things not meant for consumption, such as pencil erasers, plastic, etc.
  • Purging Disorder- engaging in unhealthy or excessive weight loss behaviors through vomiting or taking laxatives without the presence of binge eating.

Because we all wear masks to hide our most sensitive struggles, sometimes it is hard to see what someone is going through. Dr. Shahram Heshmat, Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield, explains in his most recent book Eating Behavior and Obesity: Behavioral Economics Strategies for Health Professionals, that eating disorders stem from a lack of positive attachment styles. The over/under eating comes from a need to have control over one’s own body in a life where everything appears in a state of loss or lack of control.

An eating disorder can happen to anyone: your parent, friend, partner or child – no one is immune. This is why understanding the signs of a masked eating disorder is crucial. Help save someone’s life by keeping yourself and those around you informed.

 

 

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201707/what-causes-someone-develop-eating-disorder

 

The Ultimate Gift: Forgiveness

While the official season of gift giving has passed, one can continue to consider giving other gifts, especially the kind that aren’t in wrapping paper. Have you ever thought of forgiveness as the first major gift of the year? Dr. Tara Well, a Psychology professor at Barnard College of Columbia University and author of The Clarity explains thatForgiveness ultimately means freeing ourselves from feelings of anger, resentment, and victimization, and ending with clarity about our values.” Dr. Well shares three steps you need to take to achieve the closure that comes with the gift of forgiveness.

  1. Claim your Anger. It is important to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Sometimes anger is an alarm that notifies us of our need for space from a certain person. This is acceptable and healthy, because it creates enough space for you to process necessary thoughts and feelings. Suppressing feelings and pretending like everything is alright can lead to health complications.
  2. What did you learn? Well explains that in her research, she found that when people focus on asking “Why?” something happens over and over again it actually makes them feel worse and makes them become more resistant to forgiveness. However, when people begin to ask themselves, “What did you learn?”, it sets you up for “letting go” of what happened and allows moving forward without hate and resentment.
  3. Clarify your values. It’s important to know yourself and your values. If you know what you truly value, you can make sure others know what the requirements are to not break your trust. Next time you are in a situation where your forgiveness is needed, evaluate what value was broken and how you can communicate your values to others with greater clarity.

Holding grudges, hate, or resentment can take a toll on your mind, your body, and your soul. So why not give yourself the gift of forgiveness in 2018. Understand what has made you angry, learn from it, and move on. Forgive others, not only for their benefit but for yours; you are the one carrying around the hurt. Now go on and get to work; forgiveness takes a bit of time.

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-clarity/201711/forgiveness-is-gift-clarity-yourself

 

The More You Compare, the Lower Your Despair

Our morning routines and habits are all too familiar and similar: you wake up, check your phone – primarily to scroll through Facebook or another social media account before you get out of bed. So at the very start of your day, you have already triggered the process of comparing yourself to everyone you know – and how much they are doing in contrast to you. You then nag yourself with thoughts of what you may be missing or lacking, often throughout the rest of the day.

Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of The Search for Fulfillment, explains that many people experience the phenomena known as “FOMO,” or Fear of Missing Out. You see your friends and family having fun or at some type of event while you are at home left off the invitation list.

Anxiety, worry, and excessive sense of insecurity about yourself will encourage you to depress yourself, especially if you repeat this sad process on a daily basis. Maintaining motivation is so important to be able to have a positive attitude. If you are pessimistically looking at your life because you believe that everyone around you is living and doing better than you, it is not much of a stimulant to get yourself motivated.

What is particularly important is that some children and adolescents are more prone to depressive symptoms in response to social media and social comparisons. Dr. Krauss cites the American Academy of Pediatrics’ warning that “Facebook could trigger depression in children and adolescents, populations that are particularly sensitive to social rejection.” Parents, your children’s (including your teens) usage of technology should be monitored and appropriate curfew should be established and maintained, regardless of what anyone else is allowing their child to do.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, realize that you are actually an agent of change and you can make your life happier, if you wanted to. Accept where you are now. Have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself for the choices you made or the opportunities you missed, which is a universal experience. Envy will never help you become a happier or more adjusted individual.

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201710/is-facebook-making-you-depressed

 

The BEST way to bring about changes in your life in 6 Steps.

Unhappiness is a normal phenomenon in life. However, unhappiness combined with hopelessness can breed depression. The good news is that unhappiness need not be permanent. You have the power to change your life if you are not happy. Joy is attainable; all you need is the steps to guide you there. Personal development is something anyone can take charge of and be in control of change. Every day provides a new beginning, a new opportunity to take life in a direction you have only been dreaming of.

 

  1. Stop procrastinating: no more excuses. Start today, start right now. Tomorrow will bring more excuses, more barriers to a happier you.
  2. Break up your goals into actions: Any personal development change can appear challenging. So break it down into manageable tasks that with smaller goals you can complete.
  3. Learn from others: Read books, articles, listen to other people’s stories on how they accomplished what they did. You do not have to do this alone; others have done it and are willing to share the secrets.
  4. Accepts your faults: Stop blaming others starting now. No more excuses!
  5. Visualize yourself: Where do you want to be in the future? Picture it, embrace it, and go after it!
  6. Follow your passion: No one can live your life for you, so why not do it to the best of your ability? Do things that you love, that you are passionate about, and do not listen to the negativity of others.

Andy Puddicombe is a Meditation Consultant and a former Buddhist monk is also the co-founder of the social enterprise Headspace and author of Get Some Headspace. He explains that “Growth by nature is an evolving process. It is not something static that we can ‘master’ once and for all… Life is constantly changing, constantly evolving, and so we need to learn how to ‘witness’ this change, to move skillfully with it, rather be ‘subject’ to the roller-coaster ride that change can sometimes bring about.”

Do not let life randomly direct what changes you make. Making changes to be the best you that you can be is a lifelong process, a lifestyle. Be in control and never give up. Do not let anyone stop you from obtaining your goal. Realize the only one in your way is you and it’s time to take some responsibility for your future. Be a happier you!

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-some-headspace/201309/personal-growth

 

Why is my Teen Depressed?

It’s a difficult time to be a teenager or young adult. Forced into multiple adult decisions, many critical, all in a short window, while the brain remains immature. Adolescents are just beginning to discover themselves: who they are, what/who they like, and what/who they don’t like. Peer approval and acceptance becomes the prime directive; anything that gets in the way becomes a severe allergen or enemy. Because this period is stacked with stress and because the stakes seem so high, all teens are at risk for depression.

As tempting as it is, we cannot blame depression on Facebook and other social media channels. Parents must take some responsibility for the levels of depression and anxiety current teens and young adults experience. We all know it’s not easy being a teen or young adult, but it is easier if you develop the skills to pass through this stressful phase relatively unscathed.

To the average American, teen life looks very different. “Today’s teens and young adults learn that life should be incredibly easy and bring amazing success with no stress”, writes Dr. Jeffery Smith, psychiatrist, and author. Coping skills are essential for abiding, quality mental health.

Resilience and acceptance are both learned, since no one is born with these traits. Parents are the primary teachers, and in this technological era, the focus of what we teach our kids must shift appropriately. Dr. Smith explains that parents must learn when not to rescue their kids and let them figure things out, or, often enough, not figure things out. Letting them critically think for themselves will show them that not everything is tranquil or attainable (at least not right away) and that the drudgery of hard work and tough times may be needed to obtain dreams or goals.

It might be easy to spot youth who have a weak support system at home. Those who worry more than they should, stress out, and burn out early into the school year. The teens who are quickly overwhelmed and discouraged. These are the at-risk youth whose parents did not prepare them with the tools necessary to navigate successfully through the murky waters of adolescence. Do not be the parent that lets depression creep up on your kids.

 

For more information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/healing-and-growing/201710/the-real-reason-behind-teen-anxiety-and-depression