10 Ways to Manage Unhealthy and Toxic People


bossy person photoHow would you know that a person is “toxic?”

Would you know that a person is toxic right away?

The word toxic is a very common word in today’s society. It’s even more popular online where you can find millions of articles on relationships and ways to survive in them.

Sadly, despite frequent searches online about this topic, it’s easy to struggle to identify the behaviors of a toxic person until it is way too late.

This article will provide some suggestions on how to deal with these kinds of personalities. 

toxic person is someone who “infects” (like a disease) your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviors in ways that are not good. They may be envious of you, they may try to limit or undermine you, or they may simply ignore any kind of progress you make.

A toxic person can be anyone you come across in daily life, live with, work with, or see from time to time. The sad part about most toxic people is that they don’t always see themselves or their own toxicity. As a result, when you walk away they end up shocked, and sometimes confused.

In last week’s article, we discussed unhealthy boundaries as being indicative of someone with toxic personality traits. Unhealthy boundaries are often very common in those exhibiting toxic behaviors. I talk a bit more about these kinds of individuals in the video below:


Toxic characteristics may include but are not limited to:

  • jealousy or envy
  • control and manipulation
  • fear and anxiety
  • “flip-floppy” emotions and behaviors
  • avoidance and denial
  • physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional abuse
  • triangulation (typically includes more than two people and is used to confuse all individuals involved)

Sadly, many of us can become victims of a toxic relationship. We have to know when to say “enough” and move on. It is certainly easier said than done, which is why I often suggest exploring your values, turning to your faith or “anchor,” relying on people who truly know you and you trust, and/or seeking therapy to get another perspective.

Sometimes the only thing we can do is manage the behavior. Some ways to manage a toxic relationship include:

  1. Observing MO (Modus Operandi): Take time to examine how toxic people operate and question their motives. Not everyone is out to get you, use you, or manipulate you. But some are. Examine how these people assert themselves toward you, how you feel when they are around you, and question what they could possibly want from you. It’s a sad way to exist but some people only like you because you can offer them something.
  2. Planing for the attack: Toxic people are not just a pain. They can be dangerous. By dangerous I mean manipulative, controlling, abusive, and demeaning. Some toxic people have a history of stealing, lying, cheating, conning, using charm to succeed, or using others. Once you identify the person’s tactics, thinking, and inappropriate behaviors, figure out how you should react, cope, or say goodbye.
  3. Re-routing your expectations and goals: Toxic people literally “pull” you into a relationship of some kind with them. They may want to become your spouse, your best friend, or your work partner. You have to be able to determine (based on what you know about them and how you feel in their company) if you need to re-route your goals and expectations. You would not want to set up long-term goals or expect great things from someone who simply wants to use you. If the person truly cares or likes and respects you, you’ll know. If not, you’ll know that too.
  4. Avoiding mental filtering: Mental filtering is what mental health professionals call cognitive distortions or thinking errors. It is a “skewed” way that we see reality based on emotion, incorrect ways we think about things, or skewed perceptions. Mental filtering is ignoring other aspects of something and picking out only one detail. If you find yourself picking out the positive aspects of the person and ignoring ALL of the bad, stop. It’s not going to help you. It’s hard but worth it.
  5. Considering your mental and emotional health: If the person is making you feel depressed, self-conscious, “stupid,” or any other negative emotion, move on. Some people, despite how kind you are, have an arrogant and detached demeanor that can offend others and make them feel less valued.
  6. Considering those you love and their needs: If the toxic person does not seem to mix well with those you love or makes those you love feel negative vibes, you may want to question why. Sometimes those closest to us can pick up on problems much faster than we can.
  7. Seeking therapy: Some toxic people, especially if they have been in your life for a long time, can ruin almost everything. Some people come to therapy for the simple purpose of “taking back” their lives after freeing themselves from a toxic spouse, parent, work partner, or friend. If you feel your relationship with the toxic person is heavily weighing on you, you might benefit from therapy to help you sort out what to do.
  8. Giving up the “yo-yo” pattern: Toxic people are often problematic people with behavioral and mental health problems. A toxic person may be so unhealthy that you begin to feel threatened or confused. When this happens, make plans to say goodbye, escape, or move on. A “yo-yo” pattern can include the person making you feel loved one moment and undermined the next, respected for a few weeks and disrespected during other weeks, praised one moment and demeaned the next. It’s not you, it’s them.
  9. Being determined to get out/move on: An unhealthy relationship of any kind is dangerous to your self-esteem. Unhealthy relationships often have no clear boundaries, little-to-no respect, no positive goals or aspirations, immature patterns of communication, and little-to-no positive characteristics. Getting out or moving on can be so very difficult. You might even begin to miss the person once they are gone. But you will have to figure out how to explore and work through this if the relationship is not worth the frustration you must tolerate.
  10. Understanding it is more than love / attachment / habit / dedication: Toxic relationships can feel like a “power” over you and that “power” does not always have to be love, attachment, or loyalty. Some people relate to this “power” as control, abuse, or manipulation. In other cases, some people refer to this power as a “spirit,” “sin,” or “evil power” that makes it hard to move on. So many of my former clients claim they were “held hostage” in their abusive relationships.

What has been your experience with “toxic people”?  As always, looking forward to your insights.

All the best

The Difference between Panic, Manic, and Psychotic Attacks

Panic Driving

By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on www.psychcentral.com

At first, everything seemed fine for Tess. She was driving back from visiting her parents a few hours away. Suddenly a flood of intense emotions, pounding heart rate, difficulty breathing, and erratic thoughts overwhelmed her.

She pulled the car over hoping to catch her breath but things got worse. Life became a distorted kaleidoscope, with nothing familiar from before. She couldn’t remember where she was and where she was going. Even speaking was difficult.

Having never experienced this before, Tess became frightened. The fear made her condition worse till she felt like her head was spinning out of control. It was impossible to rationally explain the event was so unlike anything she experienced before.

In the past, the term nervous breakdowns described such an event. But this is not a diagnosable disorder; rather it is a cultural euphemism. Instead there are three possibilities for the condition described above. Each has unique characteristics with very different treatments.

Panic Attack. One possibility is that Tess was having a panic or anxiety attack. For a person never experiencing this event, it can seem similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. The sudden onset of intense fear usually reaches a peak within minutes. Initially, most are unable to identify the fear that caused the event. It is only after some counseling that the trigger can be recognized and properly addressed. Other symptoms include:

Pounding heart
Sweating
Trembling or shaking
Shortness of breath
Feelings of choking
Chest pain
Nausea
Dizziness
Chills or heat sensations
Numbness or tinging sensations
De-realization or depersonalization
Fear of losing control
Fear of dying
It is important to rule out a medical condition first, so seek the help of a physician immediately. Once the physical symptoms have subsided and there is no finding other than a panic attack, a counselor can assist in discovering the cause. Untreated attacks can lead to an increase in the duration, frequency and intensity.

Manic Episode. Another possibility is that Tess was experiencing a manic episode which may or may not be part of Bi-Polar Disorder or another type of depression. Unlike a panic attack, periods of mania tend to be longer lasting and have less panicky physical symptoms. Rather, the episode creates a larger than life impression. For a person experiencing this for the first time, it can increase anxiety so some of the symptoms of a panic attack could also be present. The main characteristics of mania are:

Intense feelings of euphoria
Fast speech, talkative
Racing thoughts
Impulsive and “high-risk” behaviors: shopping, gambling, sex
Insomnia or feels rested after three hours of sleep
Ideas of grandeur: can do anything
Easily distracted
Increase in goal-directed activity
Discernable pattern of episodes
It is best to see a psychiatrist to get a proper diagnosis of manic depression. The good news is that this condition is can be successfully treated with medication. This is a brain chemistry issue and not a manifestation of intense fear or anxiety.

Brief Psychotic Episode. The last possibility is that Tess experienced a brief psychotic episode. While the name may sound a bit intimidating, the condition is more common than realized. This does not mean a person has a psychotic disorder, although it might be an indicator of one. Usually this lasts for a couple of hours to several days but not longer than a month. It has the following symptoms:

Delusions (beliefs without any basis in reality)
Hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that are not actually present)
Disorganized speech
Severely disorganized or catatonic behavior
No discernable pattern of episodes
To receive the best diagnosis, it is good to be treated in a mental facility for this condition. A combination of medication and rest might be just what is needed. Anyone can have a one-time episode; it is not a sign of weakness in any way.

For Tess, it was determined that she experienced a severe panic attack. Her anxiety about the attack worsened her symptoms which made it look more like a brief psychotic episode. Once she learned how to manage the attacks, the intensity diminished.

Word of the Year

Can a word or a few words make a difference in your life?  Yes having a word or phrase for the year, sets the tone.  Personally I have seen this in my own life both professionally and personally.

 

Dr. April 's Words of the Year

Dr. April ‘s Words of the Year

Here is the professional part –

  • I started this in 2015, and my word was Journey.  In that year,  my journey led me to having my own office space for my part-time practice.
  • In 2016, my word was Discovery.  That year I discovered how to better market my private business, so I ended quitting my full-time job and growing my practice to full-time business.
  • In 2017, my word was Inspiration.  In 2017, I was contact by production company to create my own talk show.  Thus www.bringingintimacyback.com – a radio and TV talk show has now been created and it will air in February 2018.

 

Therefore My Word for 2018 is Action.   What will be your Word of the Year?  Please check out this article and create and share your word of the year.  https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/01/02/4-ways-to-guarantee-success-this-year/#.WGu9TePjotk.linkedin

 

 

26 Foods That Help Your Health and Well-Being

celebrating foodEveryone wants to look and feel as healthy as possible and most people have at least some understanding that what they consume has a lot to do with overall health. While it’s not possible to turn back the clock or stop aging, it is possible to improve your physical and mental health and well-being by eating the right foods. Here are some great ones and their benefits to help get you started.

Almonds

study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association points out potential health benefits of eating almonds, including lowering cholesterol levels, and they increase vitamin E levels in red blood cells and plasma. Other research found that almonds significantly increase the number of antioxidants in the blood stream, improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that daily almond consumption, in place of another high-carbohydrate snack, can help prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce dangerous abdominal fat.

Apricots

Small, tasty and nutritious, apricots are bursting with beta-carotene, found by Ulm University researchers in Germany to be linked to lowered Alzheimer’s disease rates. Apricots are chock full of vitamin C, say researchers, which not only provides an immune system boost, it also decreases depression risk.

Asparagus

Filling and low-calorie, asparagus packs several health benefits into each spear.  For example, asparagus is a useful source of prebiotic dietary fiber inulin, which is known to improve gut bacteria levels, boost the immune system and assist in weight loss. High fiber intake is also linked to less cardiovascular disease.

Blueberries

The anthocyanins in blueberries are potent health promoters, linked to prevention of heart disease, certain types of cancer, reduced diabetes risk, and cognitive function disorders. Research into other protective properties of berries shows at least potential improvements in vision and memory.

Broccoli

Mothers used to urge their children to eat the “green trees” on their plate, and broccoli consumption has much going for it in the healthy eating arena. The vegetable is loaded with chromium, crucial for synthesizing serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin – all associated with improved mood. In addition, broccoli is a rich source of immune system boosts vitamins A and C, and iron, which helps mitigate metabolic changes of iron-deficiency anemia.

Butternut Squash

Beta-carotene in butternut squash helps fight against later life cognitive issues. The gourd vegetable is also believed to prevent damage from ultra-violet rays.  Elevated levels of potassium in butternut squash offer heart-healthy benefits by lowering blood pressure, while fiber improves digestion and lowers risk of inflammation in the colon. A pilot study using protein-source tryptophan in butternut squash found significant improvement in participants with social anxiety disorder.

Cashews

A versatile and healthy food, cashews are packed with vitamins and nutrients that may help in the prevention of cancer, maintaining weight, and improving heart performance. Rich in dietary magnesium, cashews also help improve mood and reduce depression. Cashews may help reduce and reverse the health risks associated with the condition in those with type 2 diabetes, according to another study.

Cinnamon

A tasty spice to add zest to many dishes, cinnamon has major health benefits as well. It helps reduce inflammation and pain and combat spikes in insulin. Published in PLoS One, a study reported that cinnamon can be instrumental in fending off later life cognitive ailments.

Coffee

For those who just must have their morning cup of coffee (and maybe several more through the day), there’s good news on the health front. Research found that the caffeine in coffee can decrease depression risk, reverse the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus, improve vigilance, mental alertness and attention.

Eggs

Who doesn’t love eggs? Besides being incredibly versatile, eggs – especially in breakfast, help enhance weight loss in obese and overweight people, when combined with a reduced-calorie weight loss diet. Among their other health benefits, the yolks in eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that help improve vision. Lutein also helps maintain mental acuity.

Lamb

Low-fat lamb is packed with protein, which is important for maintaining muscle mass. Furthermore, lamb is an excellent source of zinc and iron and amino acids, contains trace amounts of selenium, copper and manganese. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells, while zinc helps promote healing, a healthy immune system, and is essential for growth. Half the fat in lamb is unsaturated, most of it monounsaturated fat, typically heralded in Mediterranean-type diets.

Mozzarella Cheese

Did you know that mozzarella cheese contains more tryptophan, an amino acid, than turkey? The benefit of tryptophan to your health is that it’s linked to brain function and production of serotonin, both of which are helpful for boosting mood and improving cognition.

Mushrooms

A delicious accompaniment to steaks, salads, stews, soups and plain, mushrooms are a useful source of vitamin D, important in reducing depression rates. Researchers at the University of Milan found that mushrooms’ vitamin D helped overweight and obese individuals to reduce weight, especially as they upped their mushroom intake. Mushrooms have also been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, aid heart health and immunity, and provide benefits to those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Peanuts

study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine says that peanuts (a legume, not a nut) reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. They’re rich in nutrients, including fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, phenolic antioxidants, vitamins, arginine and other phytochemicals. Plus, they’re an affordable way to boost cardiovascular health. Other research suggests the lutein in peanuts helps skin retain its elasticity.

Pineapple

Don’t let the prickly outside of pineapples deter you from cutting into the delicious and nutritious fruit. Pineapple contains vitamin C to boost the immune system, and bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme.

Pomegranates

Picking out the deep-red sacs of arils and seeds of the pomegranate may take some time, but the results are more than just tasty. With three different polyphenols, potent antioxidants, pomegranates are thought to reduce heart disease risk, improve blood flow. Urolithin A in pomegranates may increase longevity while also fighting cellular aging. Pomegranates also contain vitamin C, good for decreasing stress levels.

Raspberries

Deliciously sweet and high in fiber and resveratrol, while being low in the glycemic index, raspberries are a great food choice to satisfy sweet cravings without causing a major spike in blood sugar or fat storage. Harvard Medical School research links the resveratrol in raspberries to reductions in cellular aging. The fruit is also packed with anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment found to reduce the risk of dementia.

Red Grapes

Another low-calorie, tasty food choice with health benefits, red grapes contain resveratrol, helpful for mental acuity, vision improvement, and linked to belly fat reduction. University of Missouri researchers have found that the resveratrol in red grapes may help counteract the effects of meth use by diminishing the amount of dopamine the drug releases, as well as lower levels of hyperactivity, a common symptom in users.

Romaine Lettuce

Vitamins C and B6 in romaine lettuce are believed to aid eyesight, skin, and fight inflammation.

Salmon

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this cold-water fish boasts properties that help reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk, and help in the prevention of certain neurological issues associated with aging. Salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for pregnant women and their unborn child. An added benefit, discovered by Purdue researchers, is that the omega-3s in salmon can increase collagen. Want a more youthful glow? Eat plenty of salmon.

Sesame Seeds

Many people don’t realize that sesame seeds are a reliable source of non-dairy calcium, which is good for strong bones and teeth. Sesame seeds also help promote weight loss.

Spinach

Whether you layer cooked spinach as a bed for chicken Parmesan, fold it into an egg omelet or smoothie ingredient, or add it in a salad, this green vegetable provides health benefits that include a high percent less likelihood to consume unhealthy foods, and a potential for increased weight loss. Also, beneficial in spinach are the lutein, zeaxanthin, fiber, and vitamins A and K it contains.

Steak

Everyone requires sufficient protein to maintain optimum health. One excellent source is steak, particularly lean grass-fed beef which is high in iron and zinc and lower in overall fat content. Alpha lipoic acid in steak reduces inflammation, improves circulation, and slows cellular aging.

Tomatoes

Beta-carotene in tomatoes helps fight dementia, protect against aging skin and inflammation. Lycopene in tomatoes helps boost brain power. Besides, tomatoes have few calories and are versatile enough to be used in many kinds of recipes.

Tuna

Once again, it’s the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, in this case, tuna, that fight against inflammation and reduce heart disease risk. Researchers at Purdue University said that tuna promotes the production of collagen for soft, smooth skin.

Turmeric

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that the chemicals in foods such as apples, turmeric, and green tea may offer protection against cancer by minimizing inflammation, one of the risk factors for cancer. The spice is also being studied for its potential beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, peptic ulcers, arthritis, prostate cancer and other conditions.

7 Reasons Why Connection With Self and Others Is So Important

Some of the basic needs of childhood are love and emotional connection. When we receive these, we learn to feel worthy and lovable. Many of us grow up without these needs being adequately met. This lack of connection can have far-reaching physical and psychological consequences for us. (For extensive research on these consequences, see Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt.)

Not experiencing loving connection as a child can lead to feeling a deep yearning in adulthood. Unfortunately, trying to get this connection from others, rather than learning to connect with ourselves and others, can lead to many personal and relationship problems.

In my work with clients, I focus on helping them, first and foremost, connect with themselves — with their feelings and their higher self/personal source of spiritual guidance. Here’s why:

1. An Inner Black Hole vs. Inner Fulfillment

When we are disconnected from ourselves — from who we really are and from our feelings — and when we are not filling ourselves with love through our spiritual connection, we create a black hole within. The black hole we’ve created through our self-abandonment becomes like a vacuum, trying to pull love from others. This neediness tends to push people away, so we end up feeling even more unloved.

When we want responsibility for our own well-being and we open to learning about loving ourselves, we open the door to connecting with an infinite source of love. Learning to bring this love within and share it with others creates deep inner fulfillment.

2. Failed Relationships vs. Sharing Love

Since we come together at our common level of self-abandonment and our common level of self-love, if we are abandoning ourselves by disconnecting from ourselves and avoiding responsibility for our feelings, we will likely attract someone who is doing the same thing. Each partner hopes that the other will fill the black hole within. While they might seem to do this for each other for a short time, eventually each feels unloved and resentful, leading to relationship failure. We cannot fill up another person. We each need to do this for ourselves, and then share our love with each other. We cannot connect on a deep level of love with each other when we are not connected with ourselves.

In my experience, sharing love with another who is also filled up with love and sharing it, is the most fulfilling and joyful experience in life. Do not confuse getting love with sharing love — they are light years apart!

3. Depression and Loneliness vs. Happiness and Joy

Depression is a huge problem in our society. While there are many causes for feelings of depression, one of the causes is disconnection from self — self-abandonment. Just as a child gets depressed when the parent is disconnected and unavailable, so our inner child — our feeling self — gets depressed when we are disconnected from our feelings and not taking loving responsibility for them.

Another cause of depressed feelings is social isolation and the resulting loneliness, which is often one of the results of disconnecting from ourselves and then being unable to connect with others.

The film Happy takes us on a trip around the world to the happiest people on the planet. Invariably, these are people who live in communities where they feel connected with each other. They feel safe because they watch out for each other. They are not lonely.

However, many people who have tried to establish connected or intentional communities end up leaving them for the same reason they leave marriages: They don’t work unless people are connected with themselves and taking responsibility for their own feelings.

4. Physical Illness vs. Physical Health

Stress is a major cause of illness (see The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton). When we live our lives disconnected from ourselves — not listening to and taking loving care of our feelings — and disconnected from our personal source of guidance, love and comfort, we cannot manage stress well. Self-abandonment itself causes much anxiety and stress, which activates the fight-or-flight response and negatively affects our immune system.

There is some indication, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, that people who live in connected communities are far healthier than those who live in a more isolated way. Connection with self and others is vital for good health.

5. Addictions vs. Self-Regulation

When we have not learned how to connect with our feelings and with the love and comfort of our spiritual guidance, we often turn to addictions as a way of managing painful feelings. In order to be able to manage and regulate our feelings in healthy ways, we need to connect with them with a desire to take loving responsibility for them. Turning to addictive behavior is a form of self-abandonment — a way of avoiding responsibility for our feelings — and can lead to many negative consequences.

6. Violence vs. Compassion

When we have not learned how to fully feel our painful feelings, compassionately managing them, learning from them and then releasing them, we may lose touch with our humanity. It is the inability to manage pain that can lead to destructive and self-destructive behavior. When we cannot connect with and feel compassion for our own feelings, we may lose our ability to feel compassion for others. When this occurs, we can act out in violently harmful ways.

7. Boredom vs. Passion and Creativity

Our passion and creativity thrive through our connection with our feelings and with our spiritual guidance. When we disconnect from our feelings to protect against pain, we also shut out joy, creativity and passion. Life becomes flat, pointless and boring. Love and joy live in the same place in the heart as loneliness and heartbreak. When we shut down, trying to not feel our loneliness and heartbreak, we also shut down our ability to feel love and joy. This is a very sad way to live.

You don’t have to live this way. You can learn to connect within. You can learn to move your focus from outer — trying to get love and connection from others — to inner, truly loving yourself and others. You can learn to shift from avoiding feeling your painful feelings to compassionately embracing them with a desire to learn about what they are telling you. You can learn to take loving care of yourself and experience the deep joy of sharing your love with others.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, “The Intimate Relationship Toolbox” – the first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.

Connect with Margaret on Facebook: Inner Bonding, and Facebook: SelfQuest.

For more by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

Post-Hurricane Stress Recovery

The real devastation and triumph of Hurricane Irma lies in the personal stories of loss and survival. While the extent of the catastrophic property damage in the State of Florida is just now coming to light, the people of Florida have rallied around each other in simple acts of kindness.

Since this was the largest evaluation in the United States history, many Floridians down south headed for northern or central parts of the state unaware that the storm would soon follow them. Due to the unpredictable nature of this hurricane, both coasts were under mandatory evacuation orders. Family members and friends living in safer areas of the state took in their coastal neighbors. Some people carpooled to conserve on gas and keep one less car on the two north bound clogged interstate highways.

Once the rain and winds died down and residents began to survey the damage, the realization hit that nearly 70% of Floridians were out of power. Some residents lost their homes, boats, roofs, trees, farms, and water. Our downtown Orlando neighborhood which is known for the 200+ year old oak trees that line the streets, had several huge trees fall (roots and all). But the neighbors gathered around and in a few days, the road ways were cleared making it easier for the power to be restored.

The adrenaline that pumped through bodies prior to the storm had plenty of time to reboot as the massive storm lasted for several days over the entire state. But now the attempt at normalization begins for some workers while schools remain closed for a few extra days or indefinitely depending on the damage. Not only is the recovery physical, but the mental and emotional aspects of the storm need to be addressed as well. Here are some tips:

  • Write it down. Florida has a population of approximately 19 million residents and each has a unique story to share. For some the storm did only minor damage while others lost everything including someone they love. The act of putting it down on paper helps to focus on accurate memory while reminding a person that they did live through one of the most devastating storms.
  • Talk to neighbors. This is a time to reach out to neighbors to make sure that they are OK. Many Floridians are elderly so this is especially important because phone service, power, and water have not been restored in all areas. Shared common experiences are far better than trying to handle this alone. Take time to talk to neighbors and form a bond.
  • Be cautious. Already, there are several news stories of unnecessary electrocutions, carbon monoxide poisonings, injuries from power tools, and many car accidents. Even though the work seems overwhelming, go slowly and carefully. Take time to do even the simplest of tasks with full awareness of the environment. Avoid all standing water and downed power lines.
  • Stay present. There is a temptation to relive the past preparations and worry about the future. This can drain precious energy needed for the present day. Instead, make an effort to accomplish only what can be done today and not be anxious about tomorrow. Tomorrow’s worries will be enough for that day.
  • Listen to others. One of the best gifts to offer others is that of listening. Listen to the stories, fears, hopes, and sorrows. Those tempted to give advice during this time are doing a disservice to others, most people just want and need to be heard. If they want advice, they will ask for it. For those seeking advice, please DO NOT look for it from a person who has never gone through a hurricane. This is the equivalent of getting parenting advice from a person who has never parented.
  • Begin to grieve. The grieving process for any loss of a person, property, or community is the same. It is denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The duration varies depending on the significance of the loss. For instance, grief over a minor piece of property can take a few weeks, while grieving a community can take years. Expect to ping-pong from one stage to the next in a random order.
  • Release emotions. One of the best ways to release emotional stress is to cry. Crying releases sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, and stress. Physical activity is another good method to let off some stem. This is not the time to unleash onto family members, the power company, or others trying to help. This only generates hostility and increases isolation.
  • Do normal activities. As soon as possible, try to reengage in normal routines and activities. Even if the only possibility is a morning shower, it is better to start with something that is even slightly familiar. Try to stick to regular bedtimes and wake times. This allows the body to reset and feel healthy. Eating normal foods and drinks can also help during this time. The last thing a nervous stomach needs is strange foods.

The most important thing a person can do now is to give thanks for what they do have instead of what they have lost. While the loss might be catastrophic, it is helpful to discover even the little things that a person can give gratitude for experiencing. Lastly, please stay safe.

10 Things Men Do That Make Their Depression Worse

men depression

10 Things Men Do That Make Their Depression Worse

Men and Depression

As a man, I can tell you that talking about the topic of depression with other guys makes you about as popular as a porcupine in a balloon factory.

But here’s the thing – nearly 10% of men in the United States struggle with this mental health issue (CDC, 2015). And it’s safe to say those numbers are likely much higher.

The reason? Most guys would rather admit to anything other than what they feel. For many of us, it’s just not part of our DNA.

I’m not saying this is true for all males. But in my experience as a counselor specializing in men’s issues, this trait applies to many men.

What follows are 10 things men do that make their depression worse. It goes without saying that many of these actions apply to all genders. I’m listing the biggies, however, for the guys.

Read them all in order to absorb their deeper meaning. Avoid the temptation of judging yourself as part of this exercise.

Check it out.

1. Denial

When you pretend depression isn’t part of your reality, you engage in a cognitive distortion called denial. This one is often manifested through the self-narrative: I can handle this on my own.

Here’s the full-on truth guys: most of us can’t.

Men who struggle with self-esteem or body image issues need to be particularly mindful of this point.

2. Drinking Alcohol

Pounding down a few may offer a temporary escape from your feelings but in the final analysis, alcohol can actually worsen your mood.

Over the course of time, reliance upon alcohol to lift your spirits can cause a dependency. Some folks call this addiction.

3. Relying on Weed

Recreational use of marijuana happens. We all have our vices. But if you are regularly using weed to boost your depressed mood, know that the benefits are temporary.

Here’s the truth: If you smoke too much pot, it can paradoxically exacerbate depression during withdrawal. For a lot of guys, this triggers a never-ending cycle of firing up when coming down.

4. Thinking “Strong Men” Don’t Get Depressed

If I had a dime for every time I was told by a male client, “Strong men don’t get depressed,” I’d be rich.

Here’s the thing – we do.

Moreover, we’re masters at hiding it! That said, depression isn’t confined to gender. It also has zero to do with strength. Just because you get depressed doesn’t make you less masculine.

5. Thinking meds alone are enough

A lot of guys think that just taking an anti-depressant is all they need for treatment. While medications certainly help, they often aren’t enough.

The most effective approach includes a combination of talk therapy (with a CBT slant), physical activity, and yes – the meds.

6. Thought Stopping

Some men think that depression is caused purely by depressive thoughts. As such, they fall victim to thought stopping. That’s a $10 term from yesteryear whereby a person tries to purge disturbing thoughts from the mind.

I’m here to tell you – it doesn’t work. In fact, it can make you feel worse.

The healthier approach is to simply acknowledge the presence of intrusive thoughts and let them pass. The more energy you put into trying to block them, the stronger they become.

7. Analysis

I’m not knocking this kind of therapy. There can be benefits derived from exploring the past. Assessing childhood hurts can be cathartic.

That said, the scientific literature strongly points to cognitive behavior therapy [CBT] as the optimum form of counseling. Personally, I am a fan of ACT; a “third wave” CBT therapy.

8. Subscribing to Learned Helplessness

If there’s a part of you that believes there’s nothing you can do about your depression because “that’s just the way it is,” you are engaging in learned helplessness.

People with this mindset believe they are victims of their circumstances. In turn, they use it as a permission slip for inaction. Ask yourself: Am I a victim?

9. Isolating and Shutting Down

One of the major ways men cope with their depression is by isolating. The thinking goes like this: If nobody sees me, they won’t know how miserable I feel.

Let me assure you that the worst thing you can do is isolate. I know it’s super hard to be around people when you are down. Obviously, you shouldn’t force it. That said, if you isolate too much, you run the risk of sinking into a very dark place.

This is how depression wins and why some guys never recover.

10. Blaming

A major way men make their depression worse is by blaming others. Examples include lashing out at a spouse or child as the reason for feeling blue. As a result, important support systems erode.

With depression, you need to know nobody is to blame. This includes you.

While there can be situational causes for a disparate mood, most clinical cases contain organic and/or hereditary origins.

Bonus: Distorting Reality

Anytime you minimize, distort, or pretend that your feelings aren’t as intense as they seem, you are engaging in magical thinking. And you know what else? It can make you feel worse.

When you have time, I encourage you to review the different types of cognitive distortions and how they can adversely impact your mood.

Summing Things Up

Depression doesn’t work like a lightswitch that can be turned on and off at will. If only it were true!

What is possible is to rethink the relationship with your feelings and create a realistic strategy for wellness. With time, self-compassion, and patience, you can do a lot to ameliorate your symptoms and feel better.

To my mind, real men face their depression head on. That includes you.

If you want to learn more about depression, please consider reading this article (link). If you are concerned that you may hurt yourself, please call 800-273-TALK, or one of these numbers here for international readers (choose your country from the drop-down list).

 

References

CDC. (2015). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health and Human Services .

Photo Credit: Pixabay

CBT Technique: Using the Triple Column Technique to Change Your Thoughts To Change Your Life! 

One of the cornerstones of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is to help individuals identify their negative and irrational ways of thinking.  Cognitive Errors, also known as Cognitive Distortions, are unhealthy thinking habits that lead to most common mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and other mood  disorders.  The concept of Cognitive Distortions is integral to a popular CBT technique that my clients have always found very helpful, called the Triple Column Technique. This is a technique developed by CBT psychologist and bestselling author David Burns.

To use this CBT technique, fold a paper width-wise into three columns. In the first column, Burns has us write our negative thoughts, such as, “I will never get my life together.”  In the second column is the type of thinking error (see below), which in this case would be all-or-nothing thinking and fortunetelling. In the third column is the more rational alternative thought which is based on fact and not distortion, which would be, “I have challenges in getting my life to fall into place, but I will keep working at it until things get better.”

Why is the second column – identifying the cognitive errors – so important to getting rid of toxic ways of thinking? By recognizing problematic thinking patterns, it is easier for us to identify why our thoughts are irrational. Only by recognizing the type of distortion can we master our thoughts to master our moods. When we detect patterns in our irrational thinking, we are more likely to “catch ourselves” thinking in erroneous ways.

The following are some common types of Cognitive Errors. I ask my clients to circle the ones that underlie their mood and anxiety difficulties. Giving my clients the tools to help themselves identify the type of distortion has been invaluable for them to gain a healthier perspective so they no longer pay as much uncritical attention to their inner critic.

The following are a sampling of common cognitive distortions with examples:

• All or Nothing Thinking –“He hates me!”

• Blaming – “It’s his fault I am so mad!”

• Discounting the Positive  – “I have nothing that works out in my life.” 

• Emotional Reasoning –“I feel anxious; I know something bad will happen to me.” 

• Fallacy of Fairness  – “It’s not fair!  She has no right to say that to me”

• Jumping to Conclusions  – “I bet he’s thinks I am stupid after that.”

• Labeling  – He’s just lazy.” 

• Magnification  – “It’s TERRIBLE that she is mad at me.”

• Minimization  –  “It’s no big deal”

• Fortunetelling   – “I’ll never find someone to love – I’ll always be alone.” 

• Mental Filter  – “My nose is too big and makes me look unattractive.”

• Mind Reading – She’s trying to make me look stupid in our weekly meetings.” 

• Overgeneralizing  – Men can’t be trusted.”

• Personalization   “It’s my fault she had an accident, since we had a fight before she left.”

• Comparisons with others  “He’s so much smarter than me.” 

• Shoulds – “You shouldn’t feel that way.” 

The worksheet on this link will help you identify cognitive distortions.

Notice how many cognitive distortions underlie this one sentence!  

We tend to have pet cognitive errors that defy logic and cause us to think negatively and feel badly.  Which ones do you favor? By using this triple column technique with the help of this handout, you are well on your way of changing your thoughts to change your life!

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jul 2017
Originally published on PsychCentral.com on 24 Jul 2017. All rights reserved

 

How to Create Emotional Boundaries

How to Create Emotional Boundaries

How to Create Emotional Boundaries

Those who have experienced physical abuse are often advised by therapists to create physical boundaries with the abuser. In some extreme cases, that might  warrant a restraining order.

The same method should be employed when toxic emotional abuse arises between two people.

It could very well be that a person turns to abusive behaviors after years of not exhibiting any, which will necessitate the need for a boundary.  

It’s normal to feel weird about setting up a boundary, especially if there has been no previous need to protect yourself against someone.

People are not static beings, and circumstances change. The first thing to do is to ask yourself if you are indeed experiencing abuse and if you are at “the point of no return” with this person. Determine if it’s still possible to dialogue with this person.  If not, look to see what is initiating the toxicity in the relationship.

Are you picking a fight by being passive-aggressive or are you on the receiving end of someone’s abuse?  Look at your motives to see if something has changed. If you are the toxic one who is crossing someone else’s boundaries, then you need to focus on yourself.  If you are the recipient of someone’s abuse, then you need to set up a boundary.

If you are the one to set up the boundary, then speak to that person in a neutral tone. Explain what you are seeing and the reasons it feels toxic to you.

If the person dismisses your observations or takes no responsibility for their behavior, then the boundary is warranted. Sometimes an abuser will blame you for “making me act this way” but that is just more avoidance. All relationships should be built on mutual respect and trust, which also includes respecting yourself enough to protect yourself against emotional abuse.

Even if it feels unnatural at the beginning to exercise your boundaries with people who are unwilling to respect you, it’s a necessary step to healing from and not experiencing more abuse.

You will learn to become stronger at exerting your needs instead of allowing abuse. People who are caregivers especially have a hard time putting up emotional boundaries, partly because they like to accommodate and help others.

There is nothing wrong with helping someone if you have extra resources, but you always need to consider the cost to yourself.  It’s also important to recognize what is emotional abuse and what isn’t.

If you are enabling abuse, then you will need to learn to enact boundaries because the person abusing needs to be held accountable and not be accommodated despite their poor treatment of others.

Setting up emotional boundaries is not about keeping everyone out, it’s about knowing who is safe to let into a closer relationship with you.

It’s wise to want to align yourself with people who are similar in emotional maturity.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have friends who think differently than you; only that the friends you choose for your “inner circle” will be the safe friends.

Enacting healthy boundaries is the protective fence around your personal space where only safe people are let into your life through the gate of wisdom.  Auditing a person well before letting them through that gate is of paramount importance because then you will eliminate unnecessary toxic relationships from the get go.

If you aren’t sure if they’re safe, don’t bring them closer until you do.  There is no hurry and you’re better off with fewer friends than having many that need constant attention. Emotional boundaries are the “self-care necessity” to enjoying much healthier mental health!

PA Reference
Bogdanos, M. (2017). How to Create Emotional Boundaries. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/07/10/how-to-create-emotional-boundaries/

 

Good Mood Foods to Help Fight Depression, Stress, and More

Article By GoodTherapy.org Staff on www.goodtherapy.org

Good Mood Foods to Help Fight Depression, Stress, and More

Good Mood Foods to Help Fight Depression, Stress, and More

Stress, depression, and anxiety are complex experiences caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle, brain chemistry, a history of trauma, and health. Research increasingly points to the role nutrition plays in sound emotional health. While eating a bowl of soy beans and loading up on eggs won’t cure depression, it can certainly help. By pairing the right diet with healthy therapy and—if necessary—medication, you can maximize your chances of quickly feeling better.

Folic Acid

Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, is probably best known as the nutrient every pregnant woman should eat to prevent neural tube defects. Research also shows that folic acid may help boost mood. One study, for example, found that people with depression tended to be deficient in folic acid. Beans and lentils are excellent sources of folic acid, and you can also get your daily dose of this important nutrient through oatmeal and cereals fortified with folate.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help improve heart health. Research is still mixed on the effects these fatty acids have on mood, but several studies have shown an improvement in depressive symptoms among people who get high doses of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Even when studies haven’t verified the mood-boosting effects of these fatty acids, they haven’t shown any negative consequences. Fish, nuts, legumes, avocados, flax seed oil, and linseed oil are each high in these important nutrients.

Tryptophan

You might have heard that tryptophan can cause you to doze off after a big Thanksgiving dinner, but it can also help ease anxiety and depression. The body converts tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and prevent depression. Milk, cheese, eggs, soybeans, tofu, and turkey are all high in tryptophan.

Fruit

There are dozens of reasons to eat more fruit. Fruit’s natural sugars are better for you than the stuff you get from packaged foods, and the relatively low calorie content of most fruits can help you regulate your weight and stave off food cravings. Many fruits can also help boost your mood by boosting serotonin levels. Kiwi, sour cherries, bananas, plantains, plums, pineapples, and tomatoes are each high in serotonin.

High-Fiber Foods

Fiber doesn’t just help you avoid gastrointestinal problems. Some studies have also found that it can boost your mood. High-fiber foods include avocados, whole wheat bread, barley, beans, lentils, almonds, raspberries, pears, oatmeal, and bran muffins.

Foods to Avoid

It can be challenging to eat a healthy diet, and an occasional “cheat” may even boost your mood if you choose something healthy, such as dark chocolate. Some foods can only drag you down, though. These include:

  • Alcohol, which is correlated with increased depression and sleepiness.
  • Caffeine, which can make you feel jittery and anxious, then lead to sleepiness and depression.
  • Processed sugars, which can give a temporary energy boost that quickly yields to a depressive crash.
  • Foods containing gluten, especially for those who have celiac disease. Many foods high in folic acid are also high in gluten. Gluten hasn’t been shown to be harmful to most people, but if you have celiac disease, the benefits of gluten-containing foods are outweighed by the risks.

References:

  1. 15 mood-boosting foods. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/food-and-mood-best-foods-make-you-feel-better
  2. Hainer, R. (2010, June 11). Supplements for depression: What works, what doesn’t. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/11/supplements.for.depression/
  3. High-fiber foods. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948
  4. Jefferson, J. W. (2007). Folate for depression. Psychopharm Review, 42(10), 75-81. doi: 10.1097/01.IDT.0000290219.07082.4c
  5. Nelson, S. (2014, May 19). Study says non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not be real. Retrieved from http://wqad.com/2014/05/19/study-says-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-may-not-be-real/
  6. New research reveals that fibre can improve mood. (2002, February 20). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-02/cu-nrr022002.php
  7. Treating depression with Omega-3: Encouraging results from largest clinical study. (2010, June 30). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100621111238.htm

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ellen Truschel, LMFT, Certified Imago Therapist, therapist in Fresno, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.