Archives for Parenting
When we talk about mental health, we often talk about problems. We focus on how to reduce anxiety and depression, lessen conflict in relationships or ease uncomfortable symptoms for good reason. But we often overlook the importance of creating happiness. We might even assume that happiness just comes if we decrease our problems. We forget that happiness is something that we have control over. It's something we can make a conscious effort to increase. Happiness, of course, is great. And it goes hand in hand with decreasing problematic stress and other mental health problems. If we’re happy, then we’re not stressed, anxious or depressed. If we’re happy we’re better able to cope with mental health problems.
Each person has a particular set of beliefs about the world. Our beliefs come from our past experiences and natural tendencies of our character. Believing that you and the world around you must be perfect in order for you to be happy is a common character trait. Doing your best can make you feel competent, proud and in control of your life. But when you believe that perfect is the only road to a happy life, you will find yourself dissatisfied. The pursuit of perfection doesn’t make us happier or ease stress. In fact, seeking perfection does the opposite. It is linked to increased stress and a number of other emotional, physical, and relationship problems, such as anxiety depression or eating disorders.
In part I, which was posted on May 3rd, I discussed how people often engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress. In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, people reported lack of willpower as preventing them from making the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by a health care provider. In order to improve their willpower, women said they needed to decrease fatigue, increase energy and improve confidence. Men were more likely to say they need more money, while women were more likely to say they need more time. Women identified household chores, in particular, as interfering with their willpower to cope with stress in healthy ways. This post will focus on improving confidence and finding time.
Are you trying to make positive changes in your life? When we want to do something differently, say, to stop smoking, curb our temper or exercise more frequently, we often start with enthusiasm. But habits are hard to change. After an initial burst of energy, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns of behavior. What we too frequently ignore when we try to make changes is what is happening around us that either enhances motivation or encourages us to slip back into the status quo. When you are trying to make changes, what happens as soon as you act in a particular way has an impact on whether you will stick it out. Say, for example, you’d like to exercise more often. We all know the long-term benefits of exercise, but what happens as soon as you make the decision to exercise?
Many Americans experience stress on a daily basis. To better understand the stress faced by average people in America, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts an annual survey to determine where our stress is coming from. The levels of stress you experience can have significant negative effects on your life. Often people engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress. These types of behaviors can create both physical and psychological problems and increase stress over time.
You may wonder what your stress response is and why it is important? Stress, today, refers to the pressures we experience in everyday living. These can be the pressures to earn a living, pay our bills, meet the demands of raising a family or care for aging parents. They can be daily pressures, such as a traffic jam, disrespectful co-workers or being asked to do things we’re not good at. They can come from the environment—poor lighting or noise—and from our minds. We experience stress when we perceive something as threatening. The threat may be to our life or well-being, but it can just as easily be a threat to an important relationship or our standing at work.
Do you find that you have little free time? In a recent survey of women, Real Simple Magazine found that one-half of American women don’t have enough free time and what little free time we do have is constantly interrupted. Does this sound familiar to you? Children, parents, partners and chores all seem to infringe on what little free time women have today. Not to say that we don’t love and cherish those important people in our lives, but for our own well-being it’s essential that we have some time to care for ourselves and recharge.
Or is it? According to one of the central dialectical tenets of DBT, change is the nature of life. Everything is in a constant state of change. I can accept the idea of constant change and see it in the world all around me. Seasons change, children grow, friendships strengthen or grow more distant. We move, get older, experience health problems, fall in love, recover from sickness, lose loved ones, graduate from school and so on. But sometimes those things we most wish to change, seem to stay the same.
Do you encounter resistance in your family? Do you ever feel like you are single-handedly keeping your house from falling into chaos?