We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression
. Hospitals and police forces report high incidences of suicide
and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.
Why? Is the Grinch in full force during the season? Is it because of the dark winter weather that increases the incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder
(SAD)? Certainly those may be some reasons, but it appears to have more to do with unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection for many people.
For some people, they get depressed at Christmas and even angry because of the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on "perfect" social activities. Other get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a "victim" mentality) in comparison with other people who seem to have more and do more. Still others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Other people report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they'd rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.
I have noticed that at Christmas time I struggle more with anxiety and depression than at any other time of the year. I know it will pass, I just have to ride it out. But what is it about the holidays that makes us nuts? even people without mental health issues? My life is good, my family has all that they need and there is no logical reason for the anxiety. So where does it come from? What is it about this time of year that exacerbates the anxiety?
What Causes Holiday Stress? First, ask yourself this: What about the holidays gets you down? Once you cut through the vague sense of dread about family gatherings and identify specific problems, you can deal with them directly. For many people, holiday stress is triggered by:
- Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. “During the holidays, a lot of childhood memories come back,” says Duckworth, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School. “You may find yourself dwelling on what was inadequate about your childhood and what was missing.” If you associate the holidays with a bad time in your life -- the loss of a loved one, a previous depression -- this time of year will naturally bring those memories back.
- Toxic relatives. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year. People struggling with depression may face stigma, too. “Some relatives don’t really believe you’re depressed,” says Gloria Pope, director of advocacy and public policy at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago. “They think you’re just lazy, or that it’s all in your head. It can be really hurtful.”
- What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives -- a divorce, a death in the family, a son who’s making his first trip back home after starting college. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.
- Lowered defenses. During the holiday season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands. It’s cold and flu season and your immune system is under assault. It’s getting dark earlier each day. You’re eating worse, sleeping less, and drinking more. By the time the family gathering rolls around, you’re worn out, tense, and fragile. The holiday stress makes it harder to cope with your family than it might be at other times of the year.
- Others’ anxiety, depression and unhappiness are simply biological. In the month of December, it gets dark early and a depressing feeling can easily cripple in, especially for those people who have been moving in and out of depression for a long time.
“Biological” because studies conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and the Medical University of Vienna show that the serotonin levels (serotonin is the hormone responsible for human happiness and well-being) are lower around the brain cells during the winter months than in the summer months, which then explains why some people feel miserable during the winter.
- Experts say that the holidays can make people feel out of control. We feel at the mercy of our relatives or steamrolled by the sheer force of family tradition. But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you. For instance, you may find the family obligations of the holidays overwhelming.
- You have to ... ? Really ? do you have to .... ? Instead, encourage yourself/people to stop right there. Do you really have to? Ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing things that make me miserable?" (WebMD). “Think about the reasons.” Suggest that you draw up a list of reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that you do have a choice.
- The next step is to challenge some of your assumptions. If you enjoyed the holidays differently this year, what would happen? What if you didn’t go to your aunt’s for dinner? What if you didn’t ...
- The key is to be conscious about what you’re doing. This holiday season, don’t unthinkingly do things the same way just because that’s how you always do them. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do something different.
- Once you’ve taken a clear look at the holidays -- about what works and what doesn’t -- it’s time to make some changes. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. That includes making different plans and changing your responses to situations. Here are four key don’ts for the holidays.
- Don’t do the same old thing. If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you’re too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this year.
- Don’t expect miracles. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deeper history of family conflict, don’t expect that you’ll be able to resolve any big underlying issues now. Sure, it’s supposed to be a season of forgiveness and good will. But in the midst of a hectic holiday season, you can’t pin your hopes on leading family members to big emotional breakthroughs. You may be better off focusing on your own state of mind and confronting difficult issues during a less volatile time of year.
- Don’t overdo it. To reduce holiday stress, you have to pace yourself. Long before the family gatherings actually happen, decide on some limits and stick to them. Stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to drop by the holiday party for a couple of hours instead of staying all night.
- Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” says WebMD. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But in fact, most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings -- they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey food too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.
- For many people battling holiday stress, changing expectations and behavior can make a big difference. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a medical condition, a drug side effect, too much partying, or something else entirely could be the real culprit. Also, some people may write off signs of serious depression as mere holiday stress. It’s unwise -- even dangerous -- to ignore anxiety or depression symptoms for weeks or months in the hopes that they’ll just disappear come January or the new year.
So while holiday stress may be seasonal, depression can be year-round. If your holiday anxiety seems moderate or severe or is interfering with your job, personal, or home life, talk to your doctor, a therapist or to a counselor to help deal with the symptoms and situation.
"Gossip" - "Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature."
"Rumor" - "Unverified information of uncertain origin usually spread by word of mouth; hearsay."
"Slander" - "The utterance of defamatory statements injurious to the reputation or well-being of a person. ... A malicious statement or report."
"Backbite" - "To speak spitefully or slanderously about (a person)."
"Talebearer" - "A person who spreads malicious stories or gossip."
"Rail" - "To condemn or attack in bitter, harsh, or abusive language..."
"Revile" - "To denounce with abusive language."
People love to talk about other people, especially if they can say something bad: at work, over the backyard fence, and especially over the telephone, etc. Many newspaper columns, magazines, and TV and radio talk shows are devoted to the latest gossip about movie stars, politicians, and other public figures. People delight in digging up dirt. If we were honest, most of us would admit we ourselves at times have a problem with speech. How many can honestly say they have never said something about someone else and then later realized they should not have said it?Psychological abuse
, also referred to as emotional abuse
or mental abuse
, is a form of abuse
characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma
, including anxiety
, chronic depression
, or post-traumatic stress disorder
. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power
imbalance, such as abusive relationships
, and abuse in the workplace
. Clinicians and researchers have offered sometimes divergent definitions of emotional abuse. However, the widely used Conflict Tactics Scale
measures roughly twenty distinct acts of "psychological aggression" in three different categories:
- Verbal aggression (e.g., saying something that upsets or annoys someone else);
- Dominant behaviors (e.g., preventing someone to have contact with their family);
- Jealous behaviors (e.g., accusing a partner of maintaining other parallel relations).
The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by: intimidation
, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work.
With Health Canada, emotional abuse is "based on power and control", and defines emotional abuse as including rejecting, degrading, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting/exploiting and "denying emotional responsiveness" as characteristic of emotional abuse.
Several studies have argued that an isolated incident of either verbal aggression, dominant conduct or jealous behaviors does not constitute the term "psychological abuse." Rather, a pattern of such behaviors is a more appropriate scenario to be considered, unlike physical and sexual maltreatment where only one incident is necessary to label it as abuse. Tomison and Tucci write, "emotional abuse is characterised by a climate or pattern of behavior(s) occurring over time. Thus, 'sustained' and 'repetitive' are the crucial components of any definition of emotional abuse." Andrew Vachss,
an author, attorney and former sex crimes investigator, defines emotional abuse as "the systematic diminishment of another. It may be intentional or subconscious (or both), but it is always a course of conduct, not a single event." Subtler emotionally abusive tactics include insults
, putdowns, arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency, and gaslighting
that previous abusive incidents occurred). Modern technology has led to new forms of abuse, by text messaging and online cyber-bullying
Domestic abuse—defined as chronic mistreatment in marriage, families, dating and other intimate relationships —- can include emotionally abusive behavior. Psychological abuse does not always lead to physical abuse, but physical abuse in domestic relationships is nearly always preceded and accompanied by psychological abuse. Murphy and O'Leary report that psychological aggression by one partner is the most reliable predictor of the other partner's likelihood of first exhibiting physical aggression.
A 2005 study by Hamel reports that "men and women physically and emotionally abuse each other at equal rates." Basile found that psychological aggression was effectively bidirectional
in cases where heterosexual and homosexual couples went to court for domestic disturbances. A 2007 study of Spanish college students aged 18–27 found that psychological aggression (as measured by the Conflict Tactics Scale
) is so pervasive in dating relationships that it can be regarded as a normalized element of dating, and that women are substantially more likely to exhibit psychological aggression. Similar findings have been reported in other studies. Strauss et al. found that female intimate partners in heterosexual relationships were more likely than males to use psychological aggression, including threats to hit or throw an object. A study of young adults by Giordano et al. found that females in intimate heterosexual relationships were more likely than males to threaten to use a knife or gun against their partner.
The study found that whether male or female, aggressive people share a cluster of traits, including high rates of suspicion and jealousy; sudden and drastic mood swings
; poor self-control
; and higher than average rates of approval of violence and aggression. Moffitt et al. also argue that antisocial women are rarely aggressive against anyone other than intimate male partners. Male and female perpetrators of emotional and physical abuse exhibit high rates of personality disorders
Additionally, Goldsmith and Freyd show that these people also tend to exhibit higher than average rates of alexithymia
(difficulty identifying and processing their own emotions). This is often the case when referring to victims of abuse within intimate relationships, as non-recognition of the actions as abuse may be a coping or defense mechanism in order to either seek to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict. Jacobson et al. found that women report markedly higher rates of fear during marital conflicts. However, a rejoinder argued that Jacobson's results were invalid due to men and women's drastically differing interpretations of questionnaires. Coker et al. found that the effects of mental abuse were similar whether the victim was male or female. Pimlott-Kubiak and Cortina found that severity and duration of abuse were the only accurate predictors of aftereffects of abuse; sex of perpetrator or victim were not reliable predictors.
Analysis of a large survey by LaRoche found that women abused by men were slightly more likely to seek psychological help than were men abused by women (63% vs. 62%).
In a 2007 study, Laurent, et al., report that psychological aggression in young couples is associated with decreased satisfaction for both partners: "psychological aggression may serve as an impediment to couples' development because it reflects less mature coercive tactics and an inability to balance self/other needs effectively." A 2008 study by Walsh and Shulman reports that relationship dissatisfaction for both partners is more likely to be associated with, in women, psychological aggression and, in men, with withdrawal. English, et al. report that children whose families are characterized by interpersonal violence, including psychological aggression and verbal aggression, may exhibit a range of serious disorders, including chronic depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation and anger.When You Are Wrongly Accused
False accusations and gossip can destroy lives, even if the accused is innocent. If your reputation is under attack, Dr. Phil has advice on taking your power back:
- Accept that there is no way you can erase what has happened. Even though the accusations may be unfair and untrue, the situation is real. You need to get out of denial about that in order to deal with it in the here and now.
- Watch your catastrophic language. If you keep saying this is "horrible" and your life is "ruined," you add to the stress. Put things in perspective. An innocent child in a burn unit of a hospital is horrible. Perhaps your situation isn't as tragic. Perhaps your life isn't ruined, but just damaged. Change your internal dialogue, and you will feel better.
- Life Law #2: You Create Your Own Experience. The first person you've got to repair your reputation with is you. Are you a bad guy? Are you a bad citizen? Do you hurt people? Do you commit crimes? The answer if probably no. Stop feeling guilty and being angry with yourself. Own your mistakes, forgive yourself for them but don't continue to beat yourself up. Life is not a success-only journey. Learn from your bad decisions and move on.
- Ask yourself what you would like to see happen in order to clear your name. Is there anything that anyone " the authorities, your co-workers or someone in the community " can do that could ever make the situation better.
- Begin with your inner circle. Start rebuilding your reputation with your family, close friends and neighbors. You make sure they know the truth. When your inner circle knows who you really are, they will go out into the world with the truth, and it will create a ripple effect. And if you are confronted with these false accusations again, you look the person in the eye, and you tell your side of the story. You don't need to bring this up the rest of your life, but in your immediate circle and in this immediate time, you want to step up and tell them the truth.
- Understand that people might come forward to admit they were wrong. And they might not. It is up to you to put this behind you. Give yourself what you wish you could receive from others. You need to say to yourself, "I know I didn't do this. And I will give myself what I wish the community, the authorities, etc., would give me."
- Life Law #8: You Teach People How to Treat You. Dr. Phil tells his guest, "If you walk into the world, and you're hanging your head, and you kind of don't want to look anybody in the eye, and you're shameful, then people will treat you that way. You've got to decide, â€˜I did not do this crime. I am innocent. I've owned my bad decision, which comes with being young, and I am not going to hang my head in shame.' If you do, you will engage people that way. That's the fundamental way for you to get through this. You have to be your best friend, and you have to decide who you are at the core." Begin the process of closure by not reacting to what you think people are saying about you. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, feel guilty or shrink away because of what people think, you are putting yourself in a prison.
- Don't try to address every accusation. "If you decide to start defending yourself, that will become your full-time job," Dr. Phil tells a guest. "If you answer every story, every piece of gossip, every allegation in your life, that's all you will ever do." You will be completely consumed by this and it will take over your life.
- Stop reacting to the rumors. "You give it legs by reacting to it," Dr. Phil tells his guest. Don't draw attention to yourself defending the rumor. "You need to give yourself permission to just live your life. If there are people out there who think something about you that you don't like, then those won't be your friends." There will be other people who will like and respect you for who you are, and they will be your friends.
- Stand up for yourself and say, "I'm taking my power back. I'm not going to give them the power to pick my feelings. They're wrong and I can look myself in the mirror knowing the truth." Dr. Phil tells a guest, "You have to decide that you believe in who you are, what you stand for, and what you do, and you just need to go forth and do it." You need to walk forward from the situation. "Who you are and what you do, that will win out in time."
- Know that it's normal to feel a twinge of guilt even if you're completely innocent. We always hear about guilt by association. But there is also guilt by accusation. People hear something negative and tend to believe it. If you accuse a person unfairly, he/she still has that twinge " just from having the finger pointed at him/her.
- Don't fall into the trap of acting out with non-directional frustration. The stress that comes with being wrongly accused can lead a person to act out with those closest to them, like a spouse or child. Remember that the enemy isn't your loved one; it's an outside force.
Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. Brian Tracy
Thanksgiving, giving thanks, appreciating, being grateful… a colleague asked me recently if I thought there was any connection between gratitude and performance. Yes, I answered, there is a clear connection. At the most basic level, when people feel truly appreciated for their contributions, results and actions, they give their best, they give it their all. Taking this a level deeper, demonstrations of gratitude are energizing for the recipient and fulfilling for the giver.Warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful: describing an appreciative attitude for what one has received. Grateful indicates a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness as shown to one; thankful for the comforts of one's situation; psychological research suggests that happiness is more related to being grateful for what we already have.
When people feel truly appreciated for their contributions, results and actions, they give their best, and higher levels of performance are unleashed. Imagine a culture where people feel comfortable and compelled to express gratitude not only for all the good things employees, colleagues, peers and bosses do but also for who they are. As people receive and give grateful feed-back, positive energy is created throughout the organization and, as everybody strives to do their very best, excellence and higher levels of performance are unleashed.
The role of leaders in creating such a culture is fundamental. It takes self-confidence, humility and awareness — of self and others — to articulate appreciation for others. It takes believing and understanding that people perform at higher levels when they feel appreciated. Yet, gratitude is appreciation at a deeper level. It is less about what people do and more about who they are and the roles they play in the organization. The impact of gratitude on the leader and on others around him/her can be extraordinary.
In some Eastern philosophies where pause and reflection are daily practices, practitioners are invited to acknowledge and express gratitude for things and people that, otherwise, would be taken for granted. As people express gratitude, not only do they benefit from the recognition of something or somebody that makes a positive difference in their lives but so do the recipients of the grateful feelings. As leaders express gratitude for their teams, for their clients, for the organization they lead, the appreciation spreads way above and beyond their inner circle.As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy
Gratitude has to be authentic and heartfelt in order to be impactful. It can’t be an obligation or expressed because it is “the right thing to say”. A few days ago, I picked up my daughter at her job helping to organize and deliver birthday parties. As she sat in the car, she had a card in her hands and, as she was opening the card, she said: ”I love to read the Thank You notes — pause — but not the ones like this…”. As I felt her disappointment, I looked at the Thank You note she was staring at. It was a printed, impersonal, and unsigned Thank You, probably one of many distributed to all the people who worked at the party. My daughter was looking for the sincere, personal and authentic Thank You. But, what she received was one of many impersonal pieces of paper. Like the Thank You note my daughter received, canned gratitude is transparent and a waste of time. It cheapens the gesture and it doesn’t create any positive impact. In order to be able to express authentic gratitude, leaders have to truly feel it. In order to truly feel it, you have to be open to be grateful and take the time to pause and reflect about the things and people you are grateful for.
So, during this Thanksgiving, I want to invite you to pause. Pause and reflect. Reflect on all the people who should receive your gratitude not only for the things they do, but for who they are, how they behave, what they stand for as individuals and as leaders themselves. And don’t forget to be grateful for who YOU are. Again, not for what you do or what you have, but who you are, the values you possess and what you stand for. Expressions of gratitude create better lives and, yes, improve personal and business performance.
I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to write this blog and for all of you who are reading it. See : Ana Dutra
Consider making a gratitude visit to someone who has been especially kind or helpful to you but who you have never properly thanked. Reflect on the benefits you received from this person, write a letter expressing your gratitude, and make arrangements to personally deliver the letter and discuss what you wrote with a friend or parent. After making your gratitude visit, start keeping a daily gratitude journal of three things that go well each day. Reflect on three good things that happen each day as well as their possible causes, and write down these things in your gratitude journal at the end of each day. At the end of a month, review your journal, reflect on how you feel, and identify someone to whom you will make your next gratitude visit.
Personal changes evolved as an immediate or temporary response to stress, designed to 'switch off' when the danger is passed. If they are not switched off, however, they cause our performance to deteriorate and become counterproductive. Exaggerated bodily responses may appear as headaches, chest pains, shortness of breath or nausea. Psychologically, we may become so focused on worrying that we always fear the worst, and start to experience constant fearfulness and demoralization. As for the behavioural changes, the most common response to fear is to run away - and this 'avoidance' may take the form of comfort eating, smoking or drinking, which provides only temporary relief and can lead to a loss of self-confidence in the long term.
We can see that the response to stress can itself be distressing. The physical changes may be alarming, or the emotional or behavioural changes may make it harder to cope. When the natural stress response causes more stress in this way, a cycle is established. The maintenance of such cycles is the root of all forms of anxiety-related problem. In order to break the pattern, it is necessary first to identify the cycles that keep you feeling anxious.The physical experience of anxiety can be alarming, especially if it's misinterpreted. For example, respiratory changes may be interpreted as 'I can't breathe', or light-headedness as 'I'm going to collapse'. If the symptoms are extreme they can generate a fear of the symptoms themselves. Physical symptoms such as shaking or sweating can also affect you, undermining your confidence and making the symptoms worse. In each case the stress response produces more stress.
Psychological maintaining cycles Anxiety-related problems tend to be associated with an overestimation of danger coupled with an underestimation of your own coping resources. This 'biased thinking' can lead to more distress, which then makes your perception of the situation and your ability to cope even more distorted. There are a number of common 'thinking biases'.
Catastrophizing is anticipating disaster as the only outcome. It's particularly associated with physical symptoms - for example, chest pain may be perceived as a heart attack.
Black-and-white thinking means seeing everything in all-or-nothing terms, for example 'I always feel this bad,' rather than 'I feel bad at the moment but could get better with help.' A common form of black-and-white thinking is expecting perfection in yourself, and feeling that if something isn't perfect you have failed.
Exaggerating is the process of magnifying the negative or frightening aspects of your experiences. It is often associated with overgeneralizing and jumping to alarming conclusions.
Ignoring the positive is the process of mentally filtering out positive and reassuring facts and events, for example not noticing compliments or acknowledging achievements.
Scanning is searching for the thing you fear, which can increase the likelihood of encountering that thing, as well as resulting in false alarms.
Mood changes can also affect the ability to cope with stress. Constant anxiety can be demoralizing and create a feeling of hopelessness, which then undermines your coping ability.
Behavioural maintaining cycles It's natural to respond to danger by fleeing from it or avoiding it. However, avoidance of danger that isn't real but only perceived can keep anxiety going because it prevents you from learning to cope. Avoidance may be direct (for example, not going out in public), but can also take other forms. One common avoidance behaviour is using stimulants, such as cigarettes, tea or coffee, in response to stress. This is counterproductive because the nicotine or caffeine encourages the release of adrenaline, which promotes further stress symptoms. Alcohol, too, though a sedative in the short term, becomes a stimulant when it is metabolized. If food or drugs are used as a long-term coping strategy they can cause physical changes which themselves become a source of anxiety.
Another behavioural cycle is the constant seeking of reassurance. Although assurance is useful if it helps you to deal with your fears, it's not helpful if you don't accept the reassurance and have to keep going back to hear it again. This can also put a strain on relationships.
Some people are very sensitive to worries and anxieties, while others seem a lot more robust. Understanding 'why me?' can put the problem in perspective and also help you to see where changes need to be made in your lifestyle, outlook and attitudes. There are various 'risk factors' that may make you more prone to anxiety problems.
Personality type is a rather controversial factor, but many agree that certain characteristics seem to be linked to anxiety-related problems. 'Type A' personalities have been identified by cardiologists as having an increased risk of high blood pressure and other stress-related symptoms. These personalities are characteristically competitive and ambitious, with a tendency to ignore symptoms of stress. However, it has also been found that such people are able to change their behaviour and so reduce the problems they previously experienced.
Studies have shown that anxiety disorders can run in families, although it's difficult to know whether this is caused by genetic factors or whether it's a result of family members communicating behaviour to each other. But, even if there is a strong trend in your family, this doesn't mean it is not possible for you to overcome a tendency to worry.
Emotional and psychological problems are often linked with stressful life events, such as an accident, or with long-term stresses such as illness or financial problems. A life event does not have to be unpleasant to cause stress: any change that requires readjustment - such a moving house, or a new baby - can be stressful. Life events in the past, such as childhood trauma, can also affect the way we respond to situations in the present.
People with a psychological tendency towards biased thinking (see above) are more at risk of developing anxiety-related problems. Mood also affects the way we see things: if we are unhappy we are more likely to be prone to distorted or biased thinking.
Another strong factor in our vulnerability to psychological problems is the degree of social support we have. The greater our social support, the more protected we are against trauma and stress, so your risk of developing worries and anxieties can be modified by a change in your social situation. An ideal social support network is a combination of non-intimate friendships and close friends.
Our vulnerability to anxiety is usually determined by a combination of elements rather than a single factor. Developing an overview of your personal situation can help to identify your own risk factors and the maintaining cycles (see above) that apply to you. Your problems will make sense in the context of your own history and current situation. Most people, at some time in their lives, experience levels of fear or anxiety that cause difficulties - at any given time, one in ten people are suffering from an anxiety disorder. Often this is temporary, but sometimes help is required to reverse the changes.
Forms of Anxiety Disorder
Health professionals classify emotional or psychological problems in order to describe them succinctly and to identify appropriate treatment options. The following are the most common diagnoses of problems related to fear, worry or anxiety.
Phobias A phobia is a fear that is inappropriately intense and/or which may lead to avoidance and affect your quality of life. Phobias generally don't diminish over time because the sufferer tends to avoid the thing he or she fears. There are three main types of phobia. Simple phobias are fears of specific objects or situations (brontophobia, for example, is the fear of thunder). Social phobias are fears of a range of situations where you may be exposed to evaluation (such as public speaking). Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving a place of safety. It is often associated with panic (see below) because the fear response is very powerful.
Panic A 'panic attack' is an intense feeling of apprehension coupled with a very powerful physical reaction. Sufferers sometimes find themselves fighting for breath, experiencing chest pains, unable to see clearly and feeling very frightened. Overbreathing, or hyperventilation, is a common experience during panic, and it produces even more distressing symptoms, such as dizziness and ringing in the ears. There can be a wide range of triggers for a panic attack. Panic frequently occurs in combination with other anxiety disorders and is often made worse by the sufferer jumping to frightening conclusions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) describes persistent, pervasive feelings of anxiety that give rise to what seems like constant physical and mental discomfort. Sufferers feel as if they are perpetually on edge. GAD is thought to be underpinned by many different worries, or by the misinterpretation of a wide range of situations as threatening.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) describes a compulsion to carry out particular acts or to dwell on certain mental images or thoughts in order to feel at ease. So you might feel compelled to repeatedly check that switches or turned off, or to repeat reassuring phrases to ensure the safety of members of your family. A perceived threat triggers a worrying thought, and this compels the sufferer to carry out a reassuring mental or physical activity. Often OCD is maintained by avoidance: for example, you might restrict the behaviour of your children out of fears about their welfare, and thereby never learn that those fears are bearable.
Physical problems and hypochondriasis
Sometimes physical symptoms are the first sign that we are overstressed. Typical physical symptoms are difficulty with sleeping, stomach and digestive problems, raised blood pressure, difficulty in swallowing, nausea and diarrhoea.
Hypochondriasis refers to distress in response to perceived symptoms. It is often associated with extra sensitivity to normal bodily sensations and/or a preoccupation with the fear of catching a serious disease. The worries are so strong that sufferers tend to be resistant to reassurance, despite constantly seeking reassurances. The problem is maintained by constant checking for signs of illness.
Burn-out This is a recently coined term for a reaction to constant stress that tends to go unnoticed until the sufferer, or someone close, realizes that he or she is not coping. The symptoms are similar to those of other anxiety-related disorders, but tend to be more pronounced because the stress is ignored until it has become quite severe.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a stress reaction that follows unusually traumatic events. The main features, accompanied by classic symptoms of anxiety, are recurrent, vivid memories or dreams of the event. Sometimes the effect is a deadening of the emotions. Usually the PTSD response fades without intervention, but for some people it becomes a longer-term problem, particularly if they avoid places or issues that stimulate memories of the traumatic event.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms can vary.
They can include:
There may be times when your worries don't completely consume you, but you still feel very anxious even when there's no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your future, your safety, or that of your loved ones, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen.
- Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
- Muscle tension or muscle aches
- Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled
- Trouble sleeping
- Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat
- Constant worrying or obsession about small or large concerns
- Feel overly anxious to fit in
- Be a perfectionist
- Lack confidence
- Redo tasks because they aren't perfect the first time
- Strive for approval
- Require a lot of reassurance about performance
When to see a doctor or therapist
Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if:
Your worries are unlikely to simply go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time. Try to seek professional help before your anxiety becomes severe — it may be easier to treat early on.
- You feel like you're worrying too much, and it's interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
- You feel depressed, have trouble with drinking or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
- You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — seek emergency treatment immediately
As with many mental health conditions, what causes generalized anxiety disorder isn't fully understood. It may involve naturally occurring brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. It's likely that the condition has several causes that may include genetics, your life experiences and stress.
Some physical health conditions are associated with anxiety.
- Heart disease
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Gastro-intestinal problems
Things that may increase your risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Being female. More than twice as many women as men are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (due to hormone imbalance).
- Childhood trauma. Children who endured abuse or trauma, including witnessing traumatic events, are at higher risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder at some point in life.
- Illness. Having a chronic health condition or serious illness, such as cancer, can lead to constant worry about the future, your treatment and your finances. Thyroid problems may lead to anxiety.
- Stress. A big event (Abuse/Separation/Divorce) or a number of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety.
- Personality. People with some personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than are others. In addition, some personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, also may be linked to generalized anxiety disorder.
- Genetics. Generalized anxiety disorder may run in families.
- Substance Abuse. Drugs and alcohol abuse can worsen generalized anxiety disorder (especially street drugs). Caffeine and nicotine also may increase anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder does more than just make you worry. It can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical health conditions, including:
- Substance abuse
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Digestive or bowel problems
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Substance use disorders
Treatments and Drugs
The two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder are medications and psychotherapy. You may even benefit more from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover exactly what treatments work best for you.
Several different types of medications are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder:
In some cases, people try to use street drugs to combat the stress, unfortunately that leads to dependency and to addiction which causes more anxiety and more stress. You should never use street drugs, as it can take only one dosage, "one hit" and you could be hooked or damaged for life.
- Antidepressants. These medications influence the activity of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) thought to play a role in anxiety disorders. Examples of antidepressants used to treat generalized anxiety disorder include Paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor).
- Buspirone or Venlafaxine (Effexor) These anti-anxiety medications may be used on an ongoing basis. As with most antidepressants, it typically takes up to several weeks to become fully effective. A common side effect of buspirone is a feeling of lightheadedness shortly after taking it; for Venlafaxine it is a headachy feeling. Less common side effects include stomach aches, headaches, nausea, nervousness and insomnia.
- Benzodiazepines. In limited circumstances your doctor may prescribe one of these sedatives for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms. Examples include lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and alprazolam (Xanax). Benzodiazepines are generally only used for relieving acute anxiety on a short-term basis. They can be habit forming and can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness, reduced muscle coordination, and problems with balance and memory.
Also known as talk therapy and psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working out underlying life stresses and concerns and making behavior changes. It can be a very effective treatment for anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common types of psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. Even if an undesirable situation doesn't change, you can reduce stress and gain more control over your life by changing the way you respond.
Coping and Support
To cope with generalized anxiety disorder, here are some things you can do:
- Join an anxiety support group. Here, you can find compassion, understanding and shared experiences. You may find support groups in your community, and there are also several available on the Internet.
- Take action. Work with your mental health provider to figure out what's making you anxious and address it. For example, if finances are your concern, work toward drawing up a budget.
- Let it go. Don't dwell on past concerns. Change what you can and let the rest take its course.
- Break the cycle. When you feel anxious, take a brisk walk or delve into a hobby to refocus your mind away from your worries.
- Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.
- Socialize. Don't let worries isolate you from loved ones or enjoyable activities. Social interaction and caring relationships can lessen your worries.
Lifestyle and Home remedies
While most people with generalized anxiety disorder need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes also can make a difference. Here are a few things that you can do:
- Get daily exercise. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer, can improve your mood and can keep you healthy. It's best if you develop a regular routine and work out most days of the week. Start out slow and gradually increase the amount and intensity of exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid fatty, sugary and processed foods. Include foods in your diet that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
- Avoid alcohol, street drugs, and other sedatives. These can worsen anxiety.
- Use relaxation techniques. Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
- Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you're getting enough quality sleep. If you aren't sleeping well, see your doctor, and get a perscription for a mild sleeping pill as without sleep you can not function effectively.
In-Depth Generalized anxiety disorder Definition
Coping and support
Treatments and drugs
Telling the kids that "mom and dad are separating" may be the most difficult and anxiety-riddled aspect of your entire divorce.
You think you can, like many do, live in marriage that hurts or bores you without showing any symptoms to your children. You think you can continue to be good, supportive parents together while no longer having interest in each other (which is never the case). If that's you then you need to think seriously about whether you're really prepared to make that sacrifice and for how long : forever ? Until they reach a certain age? What age will it affect them least?
The most surprising thing in research learned (this book "It's No Big Deal Really" )is that it's better not to make the sacrifice at all unless you can make it forever. The older the "children' are, the worse it seems to affect them and when saying that I'm
including adults in their 20's and 30's.
When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn't a sign that they 'don't understand' one another, but a sign that they have at last, begun to. Helen Rowland
If your children are under two years old then you can assume that they'll not remember this time in their lives and they're likely to quickly settle into new routines. On the downside it means that they will never experience having both their parents together and will grow up with the uncertainty of how they fit into whatever new family is created. These children also suffer most from never growing up in an intact household. Even if they're unaware of what's happening babies will pick up on tension in the house so may be much more restless than normal. Their progression may seem to halt a little; e.g., refusing solid food after they're weaned. They'll therefore need lots of cuddles and reassurance and, like you would with older children, try not to let them hear you fight.Toddlers
As a toddler's vocabulary develops they will understand the fights between you. They will also have some concept what a fight is and what anger is. They will be very familiar with how
angry they are during a tantrum and the fact it passes. Speak to them and reassure them in a language they understand. "You get really mad with Mummy sometimes but you don't always feel like that, do you? Mummy and daddy feel like that sometimes with each other; but that doesn't make it something that you need to be scared of, does it?' Like babies, they will probably show that they're unsettled by becoming more irritable, tantrums may increase and they could
revert to more baby-like behavior. The separation
will affect them more than the divorce, as they won't understand the finality of divorce; what will matter to them is if one of their beloved parents is not at home any more. However, like babies, they will soon settle into new routine.
Children must be considered in a divorce; and not considered valuable pawns in the nasty legal and financial contest that is about to ensue.
At this age they will need reassurance that they will have the love and protection they need whatever happens, and that they're not going to lose one of you. A few days in a very young child's life is a long time so unless there is a danger that they will hear something try to delay telling them about the separation until the practical arrangements are being made. However if one child is older it would be unfair to expect him or her to keep the secret from younger siblings. It's worth letting your children's teacher know about the problems at home. It's not uncommon for children to restrain themselves at home (for fear of redirecting the anger they
sense to them) and to release that emotion at school in behavior such as bullying. If the teachers are aware they can ensure that they keep alert to possible problems and deal particularly sensitively to minor infringements of rules, e.g., if you've just told your child that you're separating and they forget their homework the next day a punishment is unfair.
Even at this age you're unlikely to be the first parents to separate. If possible see if you can arrange play dates with children whose parents seem to have split amicably. As adults we tend
to seek support from others who've experienced the same problems. Children will also find comfort in being able to express their worries to someone who's been through it and come out the other side without the world ending.
It's now been established that, due to the brain's efforts to change a child into an adult, teenagers are much less able to empathize with people during puberty than either younger children or adults. They will consequently make your life tough even if you have a loving, supportive partner; if you have struggles of your own, your house could quickly turn into a war zone.
Teenagers tend to think that they are the center of the world so they assume, even more than younger children that the problem their parents have are about them in some way. They may have the attitude that parents don't have "right' to separate and try to make you feel very guilty about how selfish you are. They may even suggest that you're doing it just to upset them (seriously!). Teenagers like to think that they have the monopoly on being upset and bad-tempered so they probably don't have a lot of sympathy to spare for you. The only way to deal with problems in your marriage when you have teenagers is to keep as united up front as possible or, very quickly, teenagers will play one of you off against each other, which will make
your life hell. Despite the "cool' or aggressive appearance, teenagers can be as scared and upset as younger children. Try to give them a lot of attention, however much you think they don't want it, and sit down as often as you can to talk to them seriously about what's happening. As you come to decisions, involve them and let them have some say. Teenagers think they're adults so the one thing guaranteed to make them mad is if you decide things for them. I've found that teenagers need much more affection, attention and demonstration that they're loved than
toddlers. They'll say they don't want it, and don't need you, but they are the most isolated age group in many ways. As a child we get all the time from our parents, as adults we have our partner to hug, but teenagers are too cool to admit to needing affection. So try lots of hugs in private (when no one else, not even a sibling, is around). If they really don't accept a hug give them affection in other ways. Praise (honest and not over the top) and lots of attention will go a long way to helping them cope. Teenagers can surprise you: some will not be bothered by your separation, they've seen it all before, and they don't really think it will affect them. Double-check that they really do feel like this, then be grateful and don't try to force them to be unhappy about it (some can accept it more easily than others).
Results of a 6-year follow-up of a longitudinal study of the effects of divorce on parents and children ... It was found that, whereas divorce had more adverse effects for boys, remarriage was more disruptive for girls. The stability of the long-term adjustment of boys and girls differed, with externalizing being more stable in boys and internalizing more stable in girls. Children in divorced families encountered more negative life changes than children in nondivorced
families, and these negative life changes were associated with behavior problems 6 years following divorce.
Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 24, 5:518–530, 1985.
My parent's divorce and hard times at school, all those things combined to mold me, to make me grow up quicker. And it gave me the drive to pursue my dreams that I wouldn't necessarily have had otherwise. Christina Aguilera
Marta Meana watches from the back of the room when her husband, a professor of literature, gives talks.
“It’s amazing how attractive that is to me,” Meana tells journalist Daniel Bergner in his new book, What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, which charts the latest science of what is, by all accounts here, a vastly underestimated force. Gazing at her husband from afar helps Meana see him the way a stranger might. For her, that’s hot.
Meana, a scientist and couples counsellor, urges her patients to seize on moments like this, to view their spouses “apart” from their relationships. Another of her tips to women: Arrive at your dates separately – the way you probably did when you first started seeing each other.
"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Airman's Odyssey
“Couple Consciousness.” It derives from the foundation of a true PARTNERSHIP of : Commitment, Cooperation, Communication, and Community. Couple consciousness, this Fifth C of Couple Power and Lifelong Love, involves looking at yourself, your relationship and others through the eyes of Couple. It is like a lens through which to see the world. It is a place to come from in dealing with anything you encounter in your life, from small events to big issues. And it looks at the sensual relationship one has with their significant other; their awareness of self with thier mate.
Meana, a scientist and couples counsellor, urges her patients to seize on moments like this, to view their spouses “apart” from their relationships. Another of her tips to women: Arrive at your dates separately – the way you probably did when you first started seeing each other.
Perhaps we’ve gotten it wrong on the couples therapy couch.
Visiting with pioneering sexuality researchers (many of them Canadian) and conducting in-depth interviews with women whose libidos had lagged in long-term committed relationships, Bergner controversially posits that women’s desire may dissipate more quickly than men’s – monogamy might be more of a cage for wives than for husbands.
He argues that we’ve falsely assumed women need emotional intimacy and safety to spark and then maintain their lust in monogamous relationships. Laughing over the phone during an interview, Bergner says that women “are a lot more like men, if not more like men than men are, maybe.” Ultimately they might need distance – not closeness – to reignite their loins, just like men apparently do.
Both of Meana’s tactics are “tricks of disentanglement” designed to inject some of the mysterious stranger back into your by-now-very-familiar spouse, Bergner explains. Such techniques are on the frontlines of new therapeutic approaches that seek to refuel marital libido by re-instilling psychological distance – not emotional intimacy – in relationships. When it comes to keeping desire alive in monogamous long-term unions, researchers are beginning to question whether modern couples therapy has overemphasized closeness, communication and empathy. While such traditionally touted values may improve day-to-day relations, it’s not necessarily what turns a woman’s crank.
“Bad relationships can kill desire, but good ones don’t at all guarantee it,” writes Bergner, distinguishing between that which is “prized in life” and “most potent” in bed.
If not folded laundry or tender pillow talk, what does it for women long-term? Being hungrily desired, suggests Meana, who as president of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research is now researching how distance stokes lust in long-term couples.
“We tend to be taught about emotional intimacy and we hear a lot about help around the house, help with the kids,” Bergner says. “But I listened to the therapists and they were cautioning strongly that helpfulness and emotional intimacy are just not the main keys to keeping desire going.”
The new thinking involves trying to see your partner as someone outside your relationship would see him. This is not about novelty efforts that see couples engaging in ziplining to shake up the daily slog, but a “rearrangement of expectations,” as Bergner puts it. While partners are naturally still encouraged to caringly support one another, they’re also being nudged away from constantly seeking out personal affirmation and unconditional love – and toward a model that’s a bit less cozy.
“The longing to depend, to be propped up and protected, was given too much power,” Bergner writes in the book, pointing out that the lustful beginnings of our relationships are often far less cushy and certain.
“For many of us it was at a time in our relationships when we were not so sure of our partners,” he said. “It might have been after the very beginning, but we certainly weren’t slipping into assumption. We were still in a place where that other person was an Other.”
Bergner said that while infusing your marriage with some distance and uncertainty can sound “tricky and paradoxical” – if not daunting – “that path is what we’re going to see more of as therapists talk more and more honestly.”
Distinguished thinkers in the field of female desire such as like Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, agree that too much intimacy may actually be nuking sex in marriage – that while “love seeks closeness, desire needs distance.” And Marriage Confidential author Pamela Haag has lamented the passion-zapping effects of the modern friendship marriage.
“The good news in 21st-century marriage is that we’re marrying our ‘best friends.’ The bad news is that we’re marrying our ‘best friends.’ Best friends aren’t lovers,” Haag said via e-mail. Haag believes today’s couples overemphasize the partnership aspects of their relationships, getting too open when they constantly use “intimacy as disclosure” – they’ve lost “a healthy sense of estrangement from each other.”
“It’s the maintenance of some mystery or inscrutability about the partner because that fuels desire.”
This is consistent with the paradigm shift from individualism to “couplism,” from me-ness to we-ness. It comes from the commitment to your couple and then creating possibilities together that make a difference for others. Sharing these things with other people in your life not only helps them but also strengthens your own relationship. Just as with an individual, if you think only of yourself or your own couple, over time you will lose connection and vitality. When you reach out to others, you empower yourself, your couple and your community.
Try this exercise / scenario from Lifelong Love: 4 Steps to Creating and Maintaining an Extraordinary Relationship (Harlequin, 2012, p. 250):
– Think about how the lives of those around you could be affected if you were functioning consistently as a Couple.
- What actions would be necessary to make that happen?
– Make up an action to take as a Couple that would express couple consciousness between you, in your family or community, and do that together.
– Talk about how those actions turned out, how they impacted your partner, (and your family and community), and how it felt to be the source of that and feel the emotion generated from these actions between you and your partner... the source of real love.
With the longer and warmer days of summer just around the corner, this is the ideal time to take on some of these challenges to improve both your physical and mental health as well.
Whether it’s due to work, family or personal commitments, life can be full of stressful moments. When we’re overwhelmed, our body releases the hormone cortisol, which helps us cope and react to stress. However, an excess of cortisol can increase our appetite and storage of fat, disrupt our sleep patterns, and impair our immune function, making us more prone to infections or illness.
Research has shown that cortisol levels are lower in people who are regularly active as opposed to those who are inactive. Not only does exercise have a positive effect on managing cortisol levels, it also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, increases self-esteem, and releases stress reducing chemicals known as endorphins. In terms of physical health, exercise can help with not only weight management, but can also reduce your blood pressure and decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
"There is more to life than increasing its speed."
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
Do you find yourself rushing through life so much you forget to stop and smell the flowers? When we do that, we tend to stress more, enjoy less, and possibly put ourselves at risk for burnout.
Challenge 1: Schedule your exercise time
Just like you schedule work meetings, dates or your kids’ sports games, why not do the same with your exercise? Start by setting a goal to exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes. Look at your calendar, find an opening and block off the appropriate time for getting active. By scheduling it in, you are prioritizing exercise in your life and are more likely to stick to it.
Challenge 2: Declutter your life
We all know how it feels to come home to find piles of old clothes, paper and things that we have held onto but haven’t had the heart to let go of. Find a weekend or put in 10 to 15 minutes every night for a week to get rid of the things that you no longer need. You will find that the decluttering of your physical space will lighten your spirits and help create a calmer home environment. If you find it hard to do this on your own recruit a friend or family member to help you. Also, you may consider having a clothing swap with your friends or donate the items to a local shelter or community centre.
Challenge 3: Get active together
You’re more likely to start and maintain an exercise routine if you find someone to do it with because you will be accountable to each other. Consider starting a lunch time walking group with your colleagues, or encourage your child or partner to go for a family walk after dinner. Not only will you be getting active together but it’s an opportunity to catch up, work through some of the day’s stresses and build your relationships.
"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
Hans Selye is one of the pioneers of stress theory, and definitely knows what he's talking about here! When has a shift in perspective made all the difference for you? Effective cognitive reframing, an attitude trick that really works.
Challenge 4: Reduce screen time
We are surrounded by smartphones, laptops and televisions, and constantly distracted by the sounds of incoming messages and texts. This constant connectedness to our screens makes it difficult to be present and active. Try to cut back on watching TV and use the extra time to get exercise. The added bonus: by cutting down on screen time (as discussed in week two and three) you will improve your sleep quality and reduce your food intake by paying attention to what you’re eating.
Challenge 5: Just do it
Not only is it a form of exercise, but sex can improve your health in other ways too. Research has found that having sex twice a week can increase energy, immune function, sleep quality and is a great stress buster.
Challenge 6: Mix it up
Don’t stop what you’re doing, but add some variety into your exercise routine to challenge your body and improve your level of fitness. You can achieve this by including interval or weight training in between your regular exercise regimen.
"Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
I love the idea of having lemons and making lemonade--there's virtually always something positive that can be found in the challenges we face.
Challenge 7: Find time to be silent and reflect
Give yourself a few quiet minutes every day. With the flurry of activity that many of us face in our lives, having this moment of stillness will allow you to breathe, calm the mind and become more focused. If you have the opportunity to do so, look for a meditation class in your neighbourhood as there are often many available. There is growing evidence that meditation can help not only with calming your mind but is also effective in helping symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure and insomnia.
"Stress: The confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately deserves it"
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
"If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it."
The immediate aftermath of parental divorce is often a period of emotional distress for both parents and children (Hetherington, 1993; Hetherington & Elmore, 2003), such that emotional problems including anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and resentment, may be temporarily evidenced (e.g., Amato, 2000; Hetherington & Elmore, 2003; Wallerstein,1989)
A. Children often develop behavioural problems following their parents’ divorce, such as aggression, non-compliance, delinquency, low academic performance, and low self-control (e.g., Hetherington, 1993; Hetherington & Elmore, 2003). B. Insufficient interaction with the non-custodial parent (e.g., Kelly & Lamb,2000). C. Inappropriate parenting by the custodial caregiver in particular (e.g.,Amato, 2000; Greene, Anderson, Hetherington, Forgatch, & DeGarmo, 2003).The healthy adjustment of children, therefore, is contingent upon the existence of protective factors, including: 1. Cooperative parenting (Hetherington & Elmore, 2003) 2. Meaningful relationships with parental figures (e.g., Hetherington &
Stanley-Hagan, 2000; Kelly & Lamb, 2003) 3. Stable social supports within the home (e.g., Hetherington & Elmore, 2003) 4. Positive community environments (Hetherington, 1989; O’Connor, Hetherington, & Reiss, 1998). 5. While the relationship with the non-custodial parent is important to a child’s long-term well-being, the relationship with his or her primary caregiver may exert the greatest developmental influence (Gordon v. Goertz, 1996). Older children tolerate more extended separations with less stress than younger children, provided meaningful contact is regularly maintained (Maccoby et al., 1993) and Short-term visitation with the non-custodial parent does not harm
attachment relationships with the custodial parent (Bray, 1991)
While a quality relationship with the custodial parent significantly influences developmental
outcomes for children, healthy adjustment is also contingent upon a quality relationship with the
non-custodial parent (Gunnoe & Hetherington, 2004; Hetherington et al, 1993). Therefore careful consideration must be given to the child’s relationship with this parental figure, most often the father.
Why are paternal relationships so important?
Fatherly involvement is strongly correlated with children’s psychological and behavioural
adjustment in the short and long term (Pruett, Williams, Insabella, & Little, 2003; Rohner &
Veneziano, 2001). Active involvement by fathers in their children’s lives fosters positive
psychological development by helping protect against:
Depression (Rohner & Veneziano, 2001)
In addition to the buffering influence fathers may have on their young and adolescent children
(Amato & Rivera, 1999), paternal involvement offers unique benefits to children that only a
positive father-child relationship may provide. Such important fatherly contributions include:
Improved socialization (Amato & Gilbreth, 1999)
A child’s relationship with the father is particularly significant for boys who may experience
limited identification with their male parents following divorce, and thus be placed at a
developmental disadvantage (Peretti & DiVitorrio, 1992). Active father involvement also exerts a
positive influence on mother-son relationships, and therefore indirectly benefits child adjustment
over time (Gjerde, 1986).
It is important to note, however, that only those fathers who actively engage in their children’s
lives exert a positive developmental influence (Amato & Gilbreth, 1999). Moreover, a father’s
involvement with his children may largely be dependent upon his traditional attitudes about
19 gender roles, suggesting that past experiences have considerable influence on future caregiving in the father role (Bulanda, 2004).
In general, however, it may be concluded that children who engage meaningfully with their
fathers over time are better adjusted on a variety of measures than those children whose fathers
are absent following divorce (Pruett et al., 2003). Consequently, assessors must not preclude the
positive influence fathers have on their children (Maccoby et al, 1993).
Research indicates that children who do not see their parents on a frequent or regular basis may
feel intensely disconnected and rejected (Emery, 2004; Grief, 1997; Wallerstein, 1987), which
increases these children’s risk for developing a variety of psychological and behavioural
problems following divorce (Hetherington et al., 1998; Kelly & Lamb, 2000; Ross, Roberts, &
Scott, 1998b; Whiteside & Becker, 2000). It is vital, therefore, to consider the impact of parental absence on the child’s emotional and psychological development.
Infants may cry, fuss, or pull away once reunited with an absent parent,
while toddlers may demand more personal attention by exhibiting clinging
or regressive behaviour (Anasuri, 2001). Older children are more likely to feel guilty or anxious about their parent’s absence, perhaps angry that the parent has been away while at the same time afraid that the parent will never return (Anasuri, 2001). Teenagers may tend to pull away from the absent parent, preferring to spend time with friends, or may challenge that parent’s authority and limits (Anasuri,2001). However, it is the quality rather than the frequency of contact that is considered most important (Hetherington et al.,1998).
A parent’s ability to respond to his or her children’s physical, psychological, emotional,
behavioural, and spiritual requirements has significant implications for child development
(Jackson & Donovan, 1990; Sherkow, 2005; Sparta, 1999). As primary caregiver, therefore, the
custodial parent should be assessed with respect to parenting capacity on a variety of measures:
Since a child’s long-term well-being is associated “with the adjustment of the custodial parent”
(Hetherington et al., 1993, p. 217; Felner & Terre, 1987; Jackson & Donovan, 1990), it is
important to ascertain the residential parent’s psychological stability as it may impact parenting
capacity and the child’s sense of security. In particular, comprehensive assessment should assess:
The presence of psychological disorders including psychosis, personality or
emotional disorders, substance abuse, criminality, and physical, emotional, or
sexual abuse of others, with particular attention to past neglect or abuse of a
child (Gardner, 1999) Whether the parent’s psychological conditions are chronic or if they arose mostly due to the circumstances of divorce, and thus more apt to abate with
time and altered situation (Bray, 1991)
The style of parenting most predictive of healthy child adjustment is authoritative parenting
(Amato, 2000; Demo & Cox, 2000; Hetherington & Elmore, 2003; Ross et al., 1998a; Sorensen
& Goldman, 1990). Through authoritative parenting, the caregiver displays toward his or her
Consistent control and monitoring of behaviour (Greene et al., 2003)
In other words, authoritative parenting is characterized by nurturing and responsive care, as well as implementation of age-appropriate limits (DeHart et al., 2000). Children reared in this manner typically exude energetic, curious behaviour, emotional responsiveness, and appropriate selfreliance (DeHart et al., 2000). Authoritative parenting has also been associated with:
Improved parent-child relationships
Reduced aggression in children
A child’s more positive attitude toward school and education (DeHart et al.,2000)
Those parents who are too permissive or too authoritarian in their parenting style may place their children at increased risk for a variety of psychological and behavioural problems (Demo & Cox,2000) including:
Passive hostility (DeHart et al., 2000)
Assessors must therefore be cognizant of these negative parenting practices due to the detrimental effects such interactions have on children’s long-term development.
It is important to note, however that the immediate period following divorce generally undergoes a deterioration of parenting, and that as parents and children adjust to the post-divorce situation, caregiving ability generally improves with time (Hetherington & Elmore, 2003). Further, parents may behave differently in front of the assessor than when alone with their infants, which could show a discrepancy of parenting practices (Pedersen, Zaslow, Cain, &
Anderson 1981 as cited in Parke, 1988).
Finally, while a parent’s prospective caregiving ability is important to assessment, past indicators
of parenting capacity must also be given due consideration. Comprehensive evaluation therefore
requires exploration of parenting history to gauge previous success in a caregiving role (Bricklin,
1995; Chrisholm & MacNaughton, 1990; Jameson et al., 1997), which may include:
Previous behaviours that have limited the parenting role, such as alcoholism/addiction
Past indicators of parenting style
Historical fulfillment of parenting responsibilities
Previous social engagements that negatively impacted the parent-child relationship
The children’s best interest
: get used to hearing this phrase and more importantly, get used to making it your number one priority because this is what it all boils down to. Your attorney will
fight for you in the court room or mediation with everything available, but if you have not made your children your number one priority then he or she will be fighting for nothing. You have to remember that there is nothing in this world more important than your children and you must prove that you believe this by acting in their best interest at all times. This brings us to the issue of custody.
If you are fighting for custody just out of nastiness then that is cowardly because only a coward would use an innocent child as a weapon against their ex. If you don’t want or can’t handle custody for any reason, then be a man/woman and step back; but if you do want custody, your children’s best interest is something that you should be willing to fight for. You need to consider the type of custody that you feel is in the children’s best interest.
Parents need to tell children repeatedly that there is no such thing as being divorced from their mother or father. Parents' behavior must give them the same unconditional, loving message. To reinforce that message, parents should show up on time for scheduled visits and pick up, or drop off, children on time. Failure to do this is a major stress for children and a major source of conflict between parents.
Here are some suggestions for you as parents to help you and your children during the divorce and afterwards. They are designed to help you protect your children from damaging side effects of divorce:
- Don't discuss your divorce problems or argue in front of your children.
- Don't use your children as messengers.
- If you make negative comments about your spouse, even in a joking manner, your children may get angry with you because children never want to hear anything negative about either of their parents.
- Maintain your positive parenting - your children want and need structure and limits (Make sure that your children are doing all they are supposed to be doing, like homework and other obligations).
- Reassure the children that you and your spouse love them and you both will always love them and take care of them.
- Reassure the children that the divorce is not their fault in any way.
- Let them know that there is nothing that they can do or say to prevent the divorce.
- Give age appropriate explanations to the children about your plans before you separate.
- Tell them your plans about the time they will spend with you, and where they will live and attend school. Invite questions and give age-appropriate answers.
- Maintain a positive attitude in front of your children - smile.
- Reduce stress by including physical exercise as a part of your regular activities together.
- Give each of your children their own journal where they can record their activities, and feelings through drawings and writing.
- Encourage your children to maintain, or develop hobbies and socialize with friends.
- Show your interest in your children's lives: Ask about school activities; go to parent teacher night; volunteer at their school; attend functions that are important to them.
- Have some fun with your children - take them to a ballgame, movie or museum.
- Keep your promises to your children.
- Your children may need to talk to an impartial, trusted adult, a counselor, a relative, a member of the clergy, or a therapist to deal with their fears and emotions surrounding the divorce.
Most important of all:
Enjoy your children and let them be children when they are with you.
- Take care of yourself so that you can care for your children.
- Remember, when one door closes, another one opens.
The human immunodeficiency virus
attacks the immune system
A baby girl in the US born with HIV appears to have been cured after very early treatment with standard drug therapy, doctors say.
The Mississippi child is now two-and-a-half years old and has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection. More testing needs to be done to see if the treatment - given within hours of birth - would work for others. If the girl stays healthy, it would be the world's second reported 'cure'.
Dr Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented the findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.
"This is a proof of concept that HIV can be potentially curable in infants," she said.
Cocktail of drugs In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown became the first person in the world believed to have recovered from HIV. His infection was eradicated through an elaborate treatment for leukaemia that involved the destruction of his immune system and a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.
In contrast, the case of the Mississippi baby involved a cocktail of widely available drugs, known as antiretroviral therapy, already used to treat HIV infection in infants. It suggests the swift treatment wiped out HIV before it could form hideouts in the body. These so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly reinfect anyone who stops medication, said Dr Persaud. Dr Deborah Persaud, Johns Hopkins Children's Center: "This sets the stage for paediatric care agenda"
The baby was born in a rural hospital where the mother had only just tested positive for HIV infection. Because the mother had not been given any prenatal HIV treatment, doctors knew the baby was at high risk of being infected. Researchers said the baby was then transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Once there, paediatric HIV specialist Dr Hannah Gay put the infant on a cocktail of three standard HIV-fighting drugs at just 30 hours old, even before laboratory tests came back confirming the infection.
"I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk and deserved our best shot," Dr Gay said.
The treatment was continued for 18 months, at which point the child disappeared from the medical system. Five months later the mother and child turned up again but had stopped the treatment in this interim. The doctors carried out tests to see if the virus had returned and were astonished to find that it had not.
Dr Rowena Johnston, of the Foundation for Aids Research, said it appeared that the early intervention that started immediately after birth worked.
"I actually do believe this is very exciting.
"This certainly is the first documented case that we can truly believe from all the testing that has been done.
"Many doctors in six different laboratories all applied different, very sophisticated tests trying to find HIV in this infant and nobody was able to find any.
"And so we really can quite confidently conclude at this point that the child does very much appear to be cured."
300,000 HIV-positive babies born in 2011 Better than treatment is to prevent babies from being born with HIV in the first place.
About 300,000 children were born with HIV in 2011 — mostly in poor countries where only about 60 per cent of infected pregnant women get treatment that can keep them from passing the virus to their babies. In the U.S., such births are very rare because HIV testing and treatment long have been part of prenatal care.
"We can't promise to cure babies who are infected. We can promise to prevent the vast majority of transmissions if the moms are tested during every pregnancy," Gay stressed.The only other person considered cured of the AIDS virus underwent
a very different and risky kind of treatment — a bone marrow transplant from a special donor, one of the rare people who is naturally resistant to HIV. Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco has not needed HIV medications in the five years since that transplant.
A spokeswoman for the HIV/Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "This is interesting, but the patient will need careful ongoing follow-up for us to understand the long-term implications for her and any potential for other babies born with HIV."
Previously, antiretroviral therapy is given only once the immune system has been seriously weakened by infection. A trial, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that a year-long course of therapy after diagnosis helped preserve the immune system and keep the virus in check. It is thought that early treatment may also reduce the spread of HIV.
The virus is no longer a death sentence for patients who get the best care and drugs. Treatment is given once their CD4 T-cell count, a part of the immune system, falls below 350 cells per cubic millimetre of blood. However, there has been some speculation that starting as soon as a patient is diagnosed may be more beneficial. The Spartac study, which involved 366 patients from eight countries around the world, tested the theory. Questions remain about whether a longer course at an early stage could be more beneficial or whether early treatment should be continued for life”.
Some patients were given 12 weeks of drugs after being diagnosed, another group had drugs for 48 weeks after diagnosis and a third group were given no drugs until they reached the 350 level.
Prof Jonathan Weber, from Imperial College London, said those on the 48-week regime "end up with much higher CD4 cell count and a much lower viral load". "Also, the benefit persists after you've stopped treatment," he added.
Who pays? Keeping a strong immune system is important for preventing other "opportunistic" infections, such as tuberculosis, taking hold. Prof Weber acknowledged that cost was a "massive question" that would represent "a real problem" in poorer parts of the world. However, in richer countries if would mean "only a few extra years" on a lifetime of medication.
Dr Sarah Fidler, also from Imperial, pointed to the benefit of keeping levels of the virus low.
"This could be very important for helping reduce the risk of passing on the virus to a sexual partner," she said. Dr Jimmy Whitworth, from the Wellcome Trust, which funded the study, said: "This study adds to increasing evidence that early initiation of HIV treatment is of benefit to the individual in preventing severe disease and in reducing infectiousness to his or her partners.
"Questions remain about whether a longer course at an early stage could be more beneficial or whether early treatment should be continued for life." However, one of the biggest problems remains identifying people who have been infected. In the UK, one in four people with HIV are thought to be completely unaware they have the infection.
"Love is an irrisistable desire to be irrisistably desired." -- Robert Frost
"Friendship (liking someone) is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art ... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. "
-- C. S. Lewis
" The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. "
"I Love You as a Friend"
We all love so many things, don't we? A favorite sport, great pair of shoes, chocolate ice cream, and, of course, our pets. The same way we love a fiance? The same way we love a boyfriend we break up with? "I love you, just not in that
way." Sound familiar? The study performed by Rubin in 1973 looked closely at the distinctions people make between the labels of like and love. His scale to measure the differences between the two titles was determined through "fill in the blank" style questions, in which participants answered with the names of people they knew.
- I think that _____ is one of those people who quickly wins respect
- I think that _____ and I are quite similar to each other.
- I have great confidence in _____ good judgment.
- If I could never be with _____ I would be miserable.
- I feel very possessive toward _____.
- I would do almost anything for _____.
Some of the above were used to determine feelings of "like", while others noted feelings of "love". Dr. Rubin further went on to say that while liking
often go hand in hand, they are not two forms of the same sentiment. So like and love are different,and the spectrum of human emotion is so vast, that we often make incorrect associations.
The results revealed that good friends scored high on the liking scale, but only significant others rated high on the scales for loving. In his research, Rubin identified a number of characteristics that distinguished between different degrees of romantic love. For example, he found that participants who rated high on the love scale also spent a great deal more time gazing into each others eyes as compared to those who rated only as weakly in love. Liking is often one stage on the way to loving someone. That is, life partners typically like each other before they love
each other. People tend to like others who are similar to themselves. If the goal of attraction is partnership, and part of partnership is sharing your life with someone else, then clearly it is best to choose a partner that has similar interests. It's much easier to share your life with someone who is similar to you than with someone who is not similar to you, because the person who is similar to you will tend to have the same likes and dislikes as you do. They will want to do the same activities as you do.Love is not a concrete concept and is therefore difficult to measure.
How would you, based simply on your own personal experience, label the following:
excitement; quickened heart rate; clinginess; deep
emotional response; intense sensory perception
Is that love? Excitement for your partner; a quickened heart rate as they come near or enter your thoughts; a clinging to that person closest to you; a feeling so deep that you feel the quivering in your gut; every sense -- vision, touch, smell, taste, sound -- is up and taking that person in.....
Or is this the response of liking someone but not loving someone ? At times as overwhelming as love, but distinctly different result but oddly similar in the way it feels
. Triangular Theory of Love R.J. Steinberg's Triangular Theory of Love demonstrates the components present in the various forms of love.
Sternberg proposed that love has three components: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. The building of intimacy and passion in the early stages of a relationship not only lengthen that partnership's life, it builds the core of deciding that one is in love and is committed to maintaining that love.
- Intimacy: feelings that promote closeness, bondedness, and connectednes, including concern for the welfare of others, subjective happiness, positive regard, sharing, support, mutual understanding, and intimate communication.
- Passion: sources of arousal that contribute to the experience of pasion, such as sexual needs, the need for self-esteem, affiliation, submission, dominance, and self-actualization.
- Decision/Commitment: the decision that one is in love, and the commitment to maintain that love.
Type of Love Intimacy Passion Commitment Consumate Love X X X
Romantic Love X X -
Infatuation - X -
Fatuous Love - X -
Companionate Love X - X
Empty Love - - X
Liking X - -
Nonlove; Nonlike - - -
Akin to the various attachments made between infants and their care-givers, so, too, do intimate lovers form attachments. These bonds are predisposed to the personalities of the partners individually. Some people are trusting, secure, and excited from the very beginning, and bring this attitude into their readied attachments to others. On the other hand, others are too hard on themselves and fearful of letting someone get too close. Others yet dismiss themselves as being unworthy, yet find the good in everyone and jump easily to jealously.
Attachments can be broken down into three categories, described in detail below.
Secure Attachment (click here) Confident and trusting Anxious Attachment (click here) Needy and nervous Avoidant Attachment (click here) Fearful and guarded
Love is the master key that can open the gates of happiness." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
CURRENT RESEARCH IN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION: THE ROLE OF LOVE STYLES AND ATTACHMENT STYLES
Do we perceive our partner to be about as attractive as we perceive ourselves to be ?
ON PREDICTING RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION FROM JEALOUSY: THE MODERATING EFFECTS OF LOVE
Romantic Attachment Quiz What's your style of romantic attachment?