Archive for May 2018

How Dogs Can Help with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Dog Ownership

An amazing 95% of us see our dogs like family, and it’s not hard to see why that is the case. For thousands of years, we have lived side by side with them, and they have become an integral part of life for so many of us.

Similarly, a good number of people suffer from mental health issues, and it can be hard to go through it alone – hence we have dogs in our lives. As someone who suffers from crippling anxiety that affects my everyday life (amongst other mental health stuff), the comforting presence of my dog throughout each day has been a constant I never truly knew I needed until he appeared in my life.

It’s because of him that I am able to get out of bed every morning and face the day – because he needs me to do these things for him in order to live a happy life, and my husband works odd hours so I am the only one who can do it.

With him, I have comfort at all times, and the knowledge that he is only ever a stretch of my arm away if I need to pet him. The thing is, dogs can be the greatest boon to our mental state, and in many ways, they allow us to live a life that is a little more normal and structured than it would be without them.

There are so many ways that they can benefit your life, each of which can give your mental health the boost it needs such as: Improve your Health, Lifestyle Changes, Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, Bi-polar, Stress, OCD, BPD, Autism), helping Children and the Older People.

http://www.dogowner.co.uk/dogs-mental-health/

Managing Stress

Everyone experiences stress. Sometimes it can help you focus and get the task at hand done. But when stress is frequent and intense, it can strain your body and make it impossible to function. Finding effective ways to deal is crucial to living well.

How Stress Affects You

Stress affects your entire body, mentally as well as physically. Some common signs include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Jaw pain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed

When experiencing long-term stress, your brain is exposed to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. This exposure weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.

Stress can contribute to worsening symptoms of your mental illness. For example, in schizophrenia, it can encourage hallucinations and delusions, while in bipolar disorder, it can trigger episodes of both mania and depression. Knowing what situations cause it is the first step in coping with this very common experience.

When You Are Most Vulnerable To Stress

People are most susceptible to stress when they are:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not having a network of support
  • Experiencing a major life change such as moving, the death of a loved one, starting a new job, having a child or getting married
  • Experiencing poor physical health
  • Not eating well

Everyone has his own threshold. Certain things that may upset you out might not even make one of your friends raise an eyebrow. Some people are affected when they experience large crowds and noisy environments, while others react to silence and free time.

Ways To Reduce Stress

Developing a personalized approach to reducing stress can help you manage your mental health condition and improve your quality of life. Once you’ve learned what your triggers are, experiment with coping strategies. Some common ones include:

  • Accept your needs. Recognize what your triggers are. What situations make you feel physically and mentally agitated? Once you know this, you can avoid them when it’s reasonable to, and to cope when you can’t.
  • Manage your time. Prioritizing your activities can help you use your time well. Making a day-to-day schedule helps ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks and deadlines.
  • Practice relaxation. Deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are good ways to calm yourself. Taking a break to refocus can have benefits beyond the immediate moment.
  • Exercise daily. Schedule time to walk outside, bike or join a dance class. Whatever you do, make sure it’s fun. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall physical health.
  • Set aside time for yourself. Schedule something that makes you feel good. It might be reading a book, go to the movies, get a massage or take your dog for a walk.
  • Eat well. Eating unprocessed foods, like whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit is the foundation for a healthy body and mind. Eating well can also help stabilize your mood.
  • Get enough sleep. Symptoms of some mental health conditions, like mania in bipolar disorder, can be triggered by getting too little sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t actually reduce stress: in fact, they often worsen it. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, educate yourself and get help.
  • Talk to someone. Whether to friends, family, a counselor or a support group, airing out and talking can help. Consider attending a NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group.

Getting Help

If the steps you’ve taken aren’t working, it may be time to share with your mental health professional. He or she can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to change them.

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Managing-Stress

Mental Health Tips for a Happy Summer

Summer break is a time for fun, family, and vacations. For college students, it can also be a time of stress. It’s not that they have to worry about major projects or deadlines or final exams anymore. It can be stressful because you often go from living alone to back in your parents’ house and rules. You are also separated from your new found friends and often times, at a loss for something to do. If this is you, one area that you need to maintain is your mental health. If you are finding yourself a little stressed on your time off, check out these tips for mental health all summer long.

Reconnect With Loved Ones

The summer can sometimes be a bit boring for those coming home from college. Try to use this time to reconnect with family that you have been away from, and friends that you may not have seen in a while. Plan trips, perform activities, and just meaningful time for these people again. Staying connected on a personal level with others can sustain and even improve your mental health.

Get a Job

One of the worst things you can do for your mental health is to be sedentary. We are just not made to be inactive. Do yourself a favor this summer and get a job. You might meet some new people, you’ll keep yourself busy, and as a great bonus, you’ll earn a little money for spending or saving for college next year.

Exercise

Whether or not you exercised during the semester or not really doesn’t matter. If you were, then don’t let your routine fall by the wayside. If you weren’t, exercise can be a great way to boost your mood. Hit up the local gym to find deals on memberships for college students. By summer’s end you will not only have a better body, but a healthier mind as well.

Get Professional Help

Don’t forget that getting help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength! If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out for assistance. Family, friends, or the help of a professional can go a long way in helping you maintain your mental health. Don’t be afraid of seeking out help for treatment or even just for prevention.

Don’t let the summer break become a source of stress in your life. Use these tips to stay healthy and happy and to enjoy your break all summer long.

  https://www.thejoint.com/minnesota/maple-grove/maple-grove-32009/mental-health-tips-for-a-happy-summer

We wanna give a BIG THANK YOU to Allstate Insurance for donating us $1,000 to Mended Hearts Stable Inc. Thank You to Jami Renfrow and her Allstate team for thinking about us at Mended Hearts!

Relationships and communication

Good communication is an important part of all relationships and is an essential part of any healthy partnership. All relationships have ups and downs, but a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with conflict, and build a stronger and healthier partnership. We often hear how important communication is, but not what it is and how we can use good communication in our relationships.

What is communication?

By definition, communication is the transfer of information from one place to another. In relationships, communication allows to you explain to someone else what you are experiencing and what your needs are. The act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship.

Communicating clearly in a relationship

Talk to each other. No matter how well you know and love each other, you cannot read your partner’s mind. We need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, resentment or confusion.

It takes two people to have a relationship and each person has different communication needs and styles. Couples need to find a way of communicating that suits their relationship. Healthy communication styles require practice and hard work, however communication will never be perfect all the time.

Be clear when communicating with your partner, so that your message can be received and understood. Double check your understanding of what your partner is saying.

When you talk to your partner, try to:

  • set aside time to talk without interruption from other people or distractions like phones, computers or television
  • think about what you want to say
  • be clear about what you want to communicate
  • make your message clear, so that your partner hears it accurately and understands what you mean
  • talk about what is happening and how it affects you
  • talk about what you want, need and feel – use ‘I’ statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’ and ‘I feel’
  • accept responsibility for your own feelings
  • listen to your partner. Put aside your own thoughts for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants (this is called empathy)
  • share positive feelings with your partner, such as what you appreciate and admire about them, and how important they are to you
  • be aware of your tone of voice
  • negotiate and remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, sometimes let the issue go, or agree to disagree.

Non-verbal communication

When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Our body posture, tone of voice and the expressions on our face all convey a message. These non-verbal means of communicating can tell the other person how we feel about them.

If our feelings don’t fit with our words, it is often the non-verbal communication that gets ‘heard’ and believed. For example, saying ‘I love you’ to your partner in a flat, bored, tone of voice, gives two very different messages. Notice whether your body language reflects what you are saying.

Listening and communication

Listening is a very important part of effective communication. A good listener can encourage their partner to talk openly and honestly. Tips for good listening include:

  • keep comfortable eye contact (where culturally appropriate)
  • lean towards the other person and make gestures to show interest and concern
  • have an open, non-defensive, fairly relaxed posture with your arms and legs uncrossed
  • face the other person – don’t sit or stand sideways
  • sit or stand on the same level to avoid looking up to or down on the other person
  • avoid distracting gestures such as fidgeting with a pen, glancing at papers, or tapping your feet or fingers
  • be aware that physical barriers, noise or interruptions will make good communication difficult. Mute telephones or other communication devices to ensure you are really listening
  • let the other person speak without interruption
  • show genuine attention and interest
  • use assertive statements like ‘I feel …. about …’, ‘What I need is…’
  • be aware of your tone
  • be prepared to take time out if you are feeling really angry about something. It might be better to calm down before you address the issue
  • ask for feedback from the other person on your listening.

Improving communication in a relationship

Open and clear communication can be learnt. Some people find it hard to talk and may need time and encouragement to express their views. These people may be good listeners, or they may be people whose actions speak louder than their words.

You can help to improve your communication by:

  • building companionship – sharing experiences, interests and concerns with your partner, and showing affection and appreciation
  • sharing intimacy – intimacy is not only a sexual connection. Intimacy is created by having moments of feeling close and attached to your partner. It means being able to comfort and be comforted, and to be open and honest. An act of intimacy can be as simple as bringing your partner a cup of tea because you can tell they are tired
  • being on the same page as your partner. It’s important that you and your partner are both in agreement on key issues in your relationship, such as how finances are distributed, what key goals you have and your parenting styles.

To improve the way you communicate, start by asking questions such as:

  • What things cause conflict between you and your partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other?
  • What things bring you happiness and feelings of connection?
  • What things cause you disappointment and pain?
  • What things don’t you talk about and what stops you talking about them?
  • How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?

If possible, ask these questions with your partner and share your responses. Consider, and try, ways to communicate differently. See whether the results improve your communication. When you are more aware of how you communicate, you will be able to have more control over what happens between you. While it may not be easy at first, opening up new areas of communication can lead to a more fulfilling relationship.

Some things are difficult to communicate

Most of us find some experiences or topics difficult to talk about. It may be something that is painful or makes us feel uncomfortable. For example, some people find it difficult to express their emotions. It is often the things that cannot be talked about that hurt the most.

If you are having difficulty expressing yourself, or talking with your partner about something, you might find it helps to talk to a counselor.

Managing conflict with communication

  • Avoid using the silent treatment.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions. Find out all the facts rather than guessing at motives.
  • Discuss what actually happened. Don’t judge.
  • Learn to understand each other, not to defeat each other.
  • Talk using the future and present tense, not the past tense.
  • Concentrate on the major problem, and don’t get distracted by other minor problems.
  • Talk about the problems that hurt your or your partner’s feelings, then move on to problems about differences in opinions.
  • Use ‘I feel’ statements, not ‘You are’ statements.

Seeking help for communication issues

If you can’t seem to improve the communication in your relationship, consider talking with a relationship counselor. Counselors are trained to recognize the patterns in a couple’s communication that are causing problems and to help change those patterns.

You could also consider doing a course that is relevant to your relationship. It is better to act early and talk to someone about your concerns, rather than wait until things get worse.

 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/relationships-and-communication