Category: Other Brains

Our Wrinkled Brains

My step-son loves science!   During each visitation, he loves to share with me a new scientific fact that he learned in school or YouTube…most likely from YouTube.  Anyway, this past weekend, I learned that “our brain gets a wrinkle every time we learn something new.”

Wow, if that is true, can you imagine just how wrinkly Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein’s brains must have been??

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Wrinkles For Everyone

Well, it used to be thought that wrinkles formed in our brain every time we learned something new, but new research says that is not the case.  In fact, we are born with a wrinkled brain.  Ewwww!  Some people are born with more wrinkles than others, most likely due to genetics.  Crazy!

Interestingly, the wrinkles (or folds) in our brain are super important, because they provide a larger surface area to fit in more neuron pathways making more room to provide greater brain power.  That is pretty cool! 

Anyway, that is just a little brain fact I learned this week that I thought I would share.  Too bad none of the wrinkles on my face have anything to do with greater brain power!

~~~In Memory Of Great Minds~~~

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

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Insomnia From An Insomniac

Given the chance to go to bed early, I would, because I am a natural early bird; however, something is wrong with my body clock. IMG-1002It isn’t broken, but “set back,” due to the insomniacs in the family.  My husband and our preschooler are natural night owls; whereas, our youngest and I, are far from nocturnal- we enjoy sleeping.  Sadly, each of our sleep schedules clashes with the other; making it extremely difficult, for anybody to enjoy a good nights rest.

Bad Habits Winning Over Good Habits

“If you live with a slob, you become a slob….”

In the beginning, my husband had a lot of bad habits (of course, I did too…we’re both human) and it was a constant tug-a-war between his bad habits (being a slob) and my good habits (being organized).  It took a couple of years, but we eventually found a balance.  Although my husband has better habits today, his old ways still kick in every once in awhile when I am not around; for example, his own personal space in the house is a mess (drives me crazy, but its his space).  But, I must admit, his messy lazy habits are extremely stress-free and there was a time when I took up on his bad habits (letting the house go).  I realized what had happened…subconsciously I had gone down the path of least resistance.  It was easier to be lazy and messy, but again, it was also unsanitary, gross, and stinky.  Fortunately, that phase didn’t last very long and “good” habits triumphed over the “bad” habits.   My point is, that it is so easy to pick up on bad habits without even thinking about it.  

Not True Insomnia

I do not have Insomnia; however, I cannot seem to fall asleep any earlier than 1am.

I developed poor sleeping habits by staying up with my insomniac husband. Totally not his fault that I cannot fall asleep at a decent hour anymore.

My husband has true insomnia and cannot go to bed until early in the morning (2am-3am) forcing his body to function on 5 hours of sleep during the work week.  I, however, require 7-8 hours of sleep or I get physically sick.  I have no tolerance for lack of sleep.  So, even though I am not able to fall asleep until 1am, I do manage to get in my 7-8 hours.  The problem with this, is that I sleep in late; something that must change when the kids begin school. Fortunately for me, I can readjust my sleep schedule back to normal; it just takes time. 

Without The Right Conditions, I’m Wide Awake

Falling asleep, when the rest of the family is wide awake, can be challenging; especially, if your own body requires more Z’s.  I have tried, many times, to coax my husband and our preschooler onto a healthier, earlier sleep schedule, but it doesn’t last for very long.

If the conditions are right, (with a dark, quiet, cold room), I have no problem going to sleep, but I cannot go to sleep with two insomniacs roaming around the house.  Our house is tiny, so tiny that if one person is up, we’re all up.

My husband is a late night video gamer; in which, I personally believe doesn’t help with insomnia.  However, without video games to occupy his time stuck wake, he’d just pace back and forth until dawn.  So, I say, game on!

I don’t mind that my husband plays video games, so long as it doesn’t interfere with family life.  Unfortunately, he is a loud video gamer.  Listening from the other room, he sounds like a soldier, loudly barking orders into his headset, as if he were on a noisy turbulent helicopter flying through a massive war attack.  Apparently, video games can be extremely exciting.

I have difficultly sleeping through the excitement; despite him being in another room.

The Defiant Little Night Owl

Our preschooler is a natural night owl (supposedly genetic).  Unlike her father though, she still requires about 10 hours of sleep; otherwise she makes Oscar the Grouch seem quite pleasant.  Anyways, as a parent, I have to get her on an earlier sleep schedule for school and her defiance (as a strong-willed child) is going to require that I start now rather than just a few months before school begins.  May the challenge begin!

Although we’ve always had a consistent bedtime routine (starting at 8pm), the sleep portion of this routine often varies.  So, even though the so-called experts say a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to get kids to go to bed early, doesn’t work for everyone.  It works for our youngest, but not our preschooler as I have discovered there are two things that affect our preschooler’s sleep schedule:

  • Strong-Willed Child
  • Premature Birth

Our preschooler was born 3 months early with a fiery strong-willed defiant personality.  She will not go to bed unless everyone is going to bed.  At first, I thought she was afraid of missing out of something, but later I realized, she just doesn’t think it is “fair” that she has to go to bed while others are still awake (even parents).

Also, being born as early as she was, she has some sensory issues.  At night, even though she is tired, her body is quite restless.  Also, she doesn’t like the feel of sheets or certain types of pajamas.  Even the temperature in the room makes her restless.  Finding solutions has been challenging.

Falling Asleep To Sleep Stories With Calm 

no affiliated links

With a few changes made and a bit of dedication, the kids and I, are generally asleep by 11pm now.  Not the ideal bedtime I want for my kids, but it is much better than going to sleep at 1am.  The biggest change was creating a better sleep environment for everyone.

When it is time for bed, the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool; not frozen Arctic cold or anything, just comfortably cool.  As for our little night owl, strong-willed children (well, most children) have to feel in control.  She picks out her own pajama’s, chooses her own bedtime books, and turns off her own light.  There are power struggles every so often, but for the most part, it is fine.  The ultimate game changer to getting us to fall asleep earlier, has been ambient noises to drown out my husband’s video-game adventures from the living room.

I discovered an App called Calm.  

Personally, I like free-apps and rarely buy anything more than $1.99; but this one has proven to be worth the pricey subscription; plus, I like listening to Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice.  🙂

The Calm app is a mix of ambient noises, guided meditations, music, and more interestingly,  “Sleep Stories.”  What the heck is a sleep story?

A sleep story is a 15-45 minute audio-book that is narrated by soothing voices like Stephen Fry and Bob Ross (and other voices too).  The stories are quiet, slow paced, and relaxing.  Most stories sound like guided mediations for sleep as you embark on a sleep-story journey.

The best stories are those for kids.  We have yet been able to listen all the way through the Little Mermaid Sleep Story, for that we all fall asleep just before she rescues the prince from the sea.  This is certainly an App to have if you have trouble falling asleep.  My husband, when he is finally ready for sleep, enjoys the sounds of the ocean and he says, it helps him get to sleep faster.

Image result for Calm app
Available online, IOS, and Android

 

Wishing Everyone A Good Night’s Rest

I can’t imagine what it is like living with insomnia, but I do hope the little sleep those with Insomnia do get is at least pleasant and peaceful.

 

Do you use IOS / Android apps to sleep?  Which are your favorite?  Which do you least recommend?  

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Games: Netflix

I am a huge Netflix fan!  Seriously, I am a person who will spend an entire weekend binge watching a tv series until the very last episode of the very last season. Image result for netflix It is such an unhealthy addiction for me, especially, since it makes me feel like a zombie; shuffling in and out of the darkness every once in awhile for food and responding to family members with short zombie-like grunts.

Fortunately, it is only a seasonal addiction, as I only seem to binge watch tv when the weather outside is super cold.  With Spring just around the corner, I find myself being a little more active enjoying the warm weather, defrosting from a long Winter.

However, every month, my parents call me with a list of  “good” tv series they recommend watching on Netflix.  One of those series is,“Brain Games,” with Jason Silva.  To be honest, the way my parents explained it, I thought it was a game show.  Totally pass!  My entire childhood was spent watching Nickelodeon game shows like “Double Dare,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” and “Figure It Out.”  So, yeah, I didn’t even bother; but my parents kept asking me if I had watched “Brain Games” yet.  So, this week, I decided to check it out…

Not A Game Show

Okay, “Brain Games” is pretty interesting!  It is not a game show. Image result for Brain Games Netflix There are no contestants, prizes, nor is the host standing behind a podium with a handful of clueless cards.  Nope, “Brain Games” is seriously all about the brain!

This show talks about the fascinating and mysterious inner-workings of the mind.  It is an entertaining and educational series that is both fascinating and interesting with experiments, experts, and fun.  The best part of this show are the interesting games you can play that demonstrate how the mind works!

Ideomotor Effect Episode (No Spoil Alerts)

My favorite episode, so far, is about the Ideomotor Effect, a psychological phenomenon where our body moves unconsciously.  They demonstrated this phenomenon with the Ouija Board.  Basically, a group of volunteers call upon the dead, in which answer through the Ouija Board.  It was clear as day, until the volunteers were asked to call upon the dead again, but this time all the volunteers were blind folded.  The result, a fuzzy connection between the living and the dead.  Communication was not as clear as it was without the blind folds.

Of course, when they were not blind folded, this could easily mean that someone in the group lied and was actually controlling the wood-piece, called a planchette, across the Ouija board to connect with the dead.  However, when everyone in the group is convinced that they did not push the planchette; how do you explain that?

Interestingly, I’ve actually heard of the the Ideomotor Effect from one of my biology classes.  I am pretty sure it was one of my late night classes and I was half asleep, but I do recall such a term.  But, that is just it.  It is simply a term that rings a bell, but with no distinct sound to remind me what in the heck it means.  Well, the way “Brain Games” explains it, is extremely fascinating.  No spoil alerts here, but simply, the Ouija board is just the mind tricking the brain!  In case, you find their explanation a little too hard to believe, they show you how you can see the Ideomotor Effect with your own hands.  CRAZY! 

Like I said, I am not going to spoil it for you!

Personally, I thought the episode was really fascinating; however, I am still not going anywhere near a Ouija Board!

Don’t Have Netflix!

If you don’t have Netflix, no worries!  This tv-series is quite popular; you can find a bunch of their episodes online with YouTube.

Have you seen Brain Games?  What do you think of the series?  What is your favorite episode?

 

Thought Tuesday’s: A Personal Opinion To Last Month’s Thoughts

Last month I pondered on a question… I pondered on this question for awhile.  I read a wide range of articles and blogs, even glanced at a few scientific-journals.  None of which provided a clear precise answer to my question posted last month: Why does mental health seem so secondary to physical health?  

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Social-media

So, today, you get an opinion….my opinion.

In my opinion, I think mental health is secondary to physical health for three reasons:

  1. Crappy History
  2. Psychology is Fairly New
  3. Mental Health Stigma

A Little Healthcare History

During the 1800’s, the United States had a poor healthcare system.  Practicing physicians were not licensed, very few were actually formally educated, hospitals were filthy, and medications were nothing more than a dangerous concoction of narcotics and bathroom cleaner.  In fact, dentistry at that time was a little more evolved than the general medical practice.  If you think about it, you gotta have teeth to eat, right?  Anyways, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s, surgeons realized the crazy notion that sterile surgical equipment and better hygiene practices, resulted in better health outcomes for their patients; basically, their patients lived longer.  That was the spark that ignited modern healthcare practices today.  Amazing what washing your hands can do!  Unfortunately, mental healthcare was moving along on its own path…an extremely rough slow path.

What To Do With The Mentally Ill

A little less than 200 years ago, the mentally ill were sent to cruel, immoral asylums where they were locked away and forgotten.  Living conditions were extremely unsanitary and patients were often abused and chained to the wall.  These immoral conditions didn’t begin to improve until the 1830’s and even then, nobody knew what to do with the mentally ill.

When the general-care hospitals were evolving into cleaner facilities and better practices, the immoral asylum practices of isolation and mistreatment of mentally ill patients was eventually deemed unacceptable by society, forcing asylums to improve living conditions and attempt to actually treat the mentally ill; unfortunately, the treatments provided were not scientific.  The behaviors expressed by the mentally ill were largely misunderstood and often considered something evil and unnatural; instead of sick or different.  People often fear what they do not understand. 

Although mental health was a growing concern, there was still very little known about the human mind.  Wilhelm Wundt, the father of psychology, was the first to crack open the mental barrier of the human brain; however, it wouldn’t be for another 50 years before Sigmund Freud developed actual scientific-based treatments for mental health conditions.

Medications to effectively manage mental-health conditions were developed in the mid-1900’s; however, many of them were pretty much bad for ones overall physical health despite their effectiveness on mental health.  During this time, many long-term mental health patients were being deinstitutionalized and forced back into the communities as a moral way to deal with the mentally-ill.  Unfortunately, many still required long-term treatment and care.  It was as if society had good intentions, but still no official game plan to treat the mentally-ill.

Slowly, but surely, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, and mental health hospitals were eventually established to effectively treat and morally care for the mentally-ill; however, mental health is still not recognized as importantly as a ticking heart, breathing lungs, and pumping liver.

Recognizing The Connection Between Mind, Body, & Soul

Many different cultures around the world largely accept the important connection between the mind, body, and soul; however, interestingly, such an important concept is not widely practiced in modern day medicine.

When I go for my annual health physical, the only assessment done on my mental health is a 10 question survey asking if I “think” I am depressed.  General physicians do not seem concerned about how depression may affect mood, personal choices (addictions), or that a slight chemical imbalance causing depression might be part of an underlying health disease or illness; instead, their 10 question survey focuses more on suicide prevention.

I found an interesting article last night about mental health history that mentioned the mentally-ill often suffered from underlying diseases rather than true mental health disorders.  A common example is neurosyphilis, in which is a psychotic disorder developed from untreated syphilis.

Today, it is recognized that both mental health practitioners and general health practitioners have to work together to provide quality care to patients with certain mental-health disorders; but I can only imagine this to be a lengthy and expensive process to uncover and treat underlying diseases affecting mental health.  But, before any amount of diagnosing can begin, patients have to feel comfortable enough to seek help in the first place without the fear of being locked up in a padded cell.

Mental Health Stigma

Looking at history, I feel as if the study of psychology is a fairly new science.  From what I gather, society, has just recently (say, last 60 years) begun to really recognize mental-illnesses as health related issues instead of mystifying evil.   Thinking about it, 60 years is not a long time, nor is 200 years since society used to cruelly isolate and mistreat the mentally-ill.  For me, that was only 3 family generations ago, meaning, my grandparents view mental health much differently than I do.

Society probably has mixed views regarding mental health, but those views are nothing compared to the personal views one holds of themself who is struggling to cope with a mental-health disorder.  Nobody wants to be labeled as “abnormal,” “different,” “odd,” or even “broken.”  Nor does anyone, including a general physican, that does not have a psychology degree want to simply imply one may be slightly “broken,“unless a physical bone is protruding out from under the skin.  Personally, I do not even think psychologists and psychiatrists enjoy that part either, despite their fancy degree hanging on their office wall.

My point is, recent negative views on mental health is still lingering and it provides very little encouragement for those in need to seek professional help for mental health disorders.  Furthermore, people trust their general-health practitioners, because doctors have been around much longer than psychologists; and if mental health is not part of “general” health concerns, why worry about it?

The Future of Mental Health

I am optimistic, in that I believe after a few generations, mental health will be considered just as important as physical health.  Through public awareness, further advancement in neuroscience and general pyschology, as well as, positive encouragement, mental health will no longer be second to the heart, lungs, and liver.

Just An Opinion

As I mentioned earlier, this post is a just my personal opinion.  Although I try to formulate opinions based on researched facts, that doesn’t make my opinions right or wrong.  In fact, my opinions are nothing more than random thoughts open for polite discussion.  Please do not take my opinions personal.  You are welcome to disagree, but if you wish to express your disagreement, please do so in a kindly manner for that I personally value and respect different perspectives.  Lastly, please keep in mind that my opinions and the opinions of others have feelings too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Cope With Having A Bad Day

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Marshall to the rescue!

Today, I woke up with the feeling that today is going to be a bad day.  I knew something bad was going to happen, but like most of my so-called morning premonitions, I didn’t know what.

My gut feeling is usually right about something, but it is generally clouded by emotion that makes it difficult to trust.  When my gut feeling and emotions collide with my OCD brain, that catastrophic thinking begins to take full affect and I just want to bunker down in my bed and hide from what “might” be a bad day.

Response is EVERYTHING!

What makes a bad day?  Usually a series of unfortunate events or one single unpleasant event that just puts a person in a bad / negative mood all day.  It may be other things, but personally, that is how I define my bad days.

Bad things unfortuantely happen.  I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of balancing itself.  The good news though, is that we don’t have to let ourselves be affected by it.  It is all in how we respond to things that affect our overall day.

This morning, I woke up expecting something bad was going to happen.  Could it be something catastrophic or just something as little as stepping in gum?   There is no way of telling; so I just have to go with the flow and cope with whatever might happen.

Response is everything!  How we choose to respond to situations, determines how that situation is going to affect our mood for the rest of the day.  One little thing can be the catalyst for bigger things that can just make the day suck.

Creating A Bad Day

I strongly believe that we create our own bad days.  I say this, because I rarely experience a bad day.  I do have bad days, lots of them, but I respond differently to them.

It is so easy to create a bad day.  Generally, it starts with something stressful we are going through in life, something we might not even know is stressing us out.  Maybe being exhausted from working two jobs, family problems, a sucky job with a horrible boss, finances are tight, or maybe, heck, all the above.  Stress can trigger bad days.  Often times, I don’t realize just how stressed out I am until I take it out of someone or something; and that is the starting catalyst to a bad day.

Have you ever woke up feeling good and looking forward to a great day, but later, you come home exhausted after having the worst day of your life?   Yeah, me too.  My bad work days used to begin with something simple.

Like having to wear something ridiculous, because I ran out of clothes before laundry day.  An embarrassing run in my pantyhose that I don’t realize until I get to work.  Coffee machine is not working.  A dork cuts me off in the parking lot.  My boss leaves me a mysterious angry-sounding message on my voicemail.  All these little things can trigger a bad day; however, if you respond to them in a positive way, your day will likely get better.

Tackling A Bad Day

I start with acceptance.  (If you haven’t noticed, I am all about the art of acceptance.)  That is because acceptance is a powerful tool, as long as you don’t think of it as being defeated.  Instead, think of acceptance as being the bigger person and moving on.

When my day starts out crappy, I accept it.  I often say to myself, “So, this is how it is going to be..  Well, okay then!   I guess 1 bad day out 364 good days is just inevitable.” Because it’s true!  Looking at my life, I rarely experience a bad day, but I know balance requires me to experience a couple bad days here and there.

However, I can tell you that streaks of bad days mean something is absolutely wrong and  something in life must be immediately addressed and resolved.  Or wear black socks, my family believes wearing black socks is the key to ending all bad days.  Does it work?  I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet.  But, I do know it never hurts to try, especially, if you are already having a bad day.

For the little things, we can leave the black socks in the sock drawer.  The important thing is to react positive to bad things.  For example, let’s talk about those bad things that used to trigger a bad work day for me and how to look on the bright side.

  • The ridiculous wardrobe:  Look, I am not alone in the world procrastinating laundry day.  I am also not much of a fashionista, so my wardrobe is kind of limited.  But I do own a few things in my closet that I hate to wear and only wear if necessary.  BUT, I have to remember, at one time I must have liked it; otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought it.  Also, its just one day I have to wear it and I will do laundry as soon as I get home after work (Lesson learned!).  I can always cover it up by wearing a jacket or sweater (luckily every office I ever worked in feels like the Arctic).  Furthermore, this may be a little over optimistic, but maybe I will set a new trend in the fashion world.   It’s just for 8 hours.  I will be fine.
  • Embarrassing run in pantyhose:  A former boss of mine once told me not to sweat the small stuff while tossing a small bottle of clear nail polish at me.  Clear nail polish stops pantyhose runs from getting worse.  She advised me that if pantyhose were part of my wardrobe, it would be wise to keep a bottle of clear nail polish in my purse.  I obviously did one better and never wore dresses to the office again, but it’s still solid advice to pass on to others.  Anyways, the point is, women get it.  If you have a run in her pantyhose, don’t worry.  If you address it to your boss, they will most likely allow you to make a quick run to the store or just let you bend the dress code for a day and ditch the panty hose for a couple of hours (especially, if it happens towards the end of the day).  There is no need to get upset over the things you cannot control and others will often understand.
  • Coffee Machine isn’t working:  Nothing more ruins my day than a day without coffee!  These are the days I focus more on the clock rather than my work; counting down to lunch time when I can get coffee.  But, this distraction can cause me to make mistakes in my work or fall behind, creating a bad day for myself.  So, best to let it go.  Get a soda from the vending machine or grab something on break (if allowed).  It isn’t the end of the world and you may find, you are just as strong without it.
  • Road Rage:  I do not understand drivers who cut people off and then flip them off, as if the person they cut off were in the wrong.  Blows my mind.  I can let it go, because I can quickly recognize that person is obviously having a worse day than me.  But, I know some people who would take that personally.  They wouldn’t be upset that a 1 ton vehicle cut them off, but more so that the driver of that vehicle flipped them off.  This is how one creates a bad day, because I know some people who would just dwell on this incident all day, causing them to make mistakes and experience an overall bad day for themselves.  It’s best to just let it go.  Of course, drivers shouldn’t cut off other drivers or flip off people they truly do not know, but this is how bad days spread.  By reacting to another’s person’s bad day, can cause you to have a bad day too.
  • Angry Voicemails:  It’s one thing to receive a voicemail from an angry client who is upset at the world, but one from your boss is the worst!  But don’t sweat the small stuff, remember?  I learned along time ago, bosses are stressed.  Every single one of them, no exceptions.  Some might lead you to think they are not stressed, but I guarantee they are just handling stress in a different way.  I have worked with a few bosses/supervisors who were just quiet when they were experiencing a stressful day, but I have also had the pleasure (sarcasm) of working with bosses/supervisors who just tore the heads off of anyone who were within several feet of them.  I cannot tell you how many times I have received an angry vauge voicemail from a boss.  I walk into their office wondering if I am going to get fired or something, but turns out my boss was just upset over something that had nothing to do with me.  If I had taken their rude voicemail personally, it would have ruined my entire day.  Instead, its just another person having a bad day and if I react negatively to their bad day, I will end up having a bad day too.

Quick Recap

  1. Bad days are contagious.   Some people with bad days want other people to have bad days too.  They want others to feel the way they feel to make themselves feel better.  But, there are those who don’t know their bad day is affecting others.
  2. Don’t take it personal:  Do not take it personal when you walk into a person’s bad day.  Be kind, understanding, and let it go as soon as you move on.
  3. Accept bad days:  Sometimes bad days are inevitable and bad things happen.  It is like a natural balance of things, so it is best to not respond to things we cannot control.
  4. It is okay to feel:  It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated; just don’t let it ruin an entire day.  Learn to let go of the little things and try not to dwell too much on the big things.
  5. Look on the bright side:  I am a strong believer that there is a bright side to everything; it just requires a bit of creative thinking.

Bad Things Can Teach Good Lessons

unnamed-3We can’t prevent all bad things from happening, but we can certainly prevent ourselves from having a bad day by better responding to bad things that do happen.

This morning, my youngest got onto the counter, grabbed her sister’s morning drink and poured it out onto the counter.  No big deal, right?

Well, unfortunately, it is very upsetting for several different reasons:

  1. It is wasteful.  Even if Marshall, the Paw Patrol toy had a good time, it is still wasteful.   
  2. It was a Pedisure Gain and Grow milk-drink for my oldest who needs the extra calories and nutrients.
  3. Pedisure is not cheap, a 6 pack costs nearly $12.  That is $2 per 8oz bottle.  Totally not cheap at all. 
  4. A septic tank smells better than dried Pedisure milk.  So gross!

So, how does that saying go?  “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”  Exactly!  Sure, it’s an expensive waste.  Sure, I probably could have done something to prevent it.  But, it happened and it is now done and over with.  I refuse to let this small thing ruin my entire day by putting me in a bad mood.

This means that I have to let it go by calmly recognizing that such an incident sucks.  I will not get upset, otherwise my girls will get upset and that might put them in a bad mood all day too, creating a bad day for everyone!

Instead, I explain to them that it is a waste and have them both clean it up.  This way, if they spill anything again, they will continue to tell me about it, because they will not be afraid of getting into trouble.  If I yell at them and clean it up myself, it might teach my kids to lie about messes and expect me to clean up their own messes.  If I blame them, they will think it is okay to blame others.  Remaining calm teaches them to remain calm, admit when they are wrong, and take self-responsibility.  In short, there are good lessons that can come out of bad things that happen.

Take Control Of Your Bad Day

Remember that you can prevent a bad day from happening by better responding to the bad things that happen during the day.  It isn’t always going to be easy.  Bad days are inevitable, but it’s up to you on how that bad day affects you.  Also, you can always wear a pair of black socks to help fight against a bad day or two.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Your Mental Health Disorder Stop You From Achieving Greatness: U.S. President’s

Behind every historical event, I am pretty sure there was that one man (or woman) who expressed an irrational idea and had at least one close acquaintance ask, “Have you gone absolutely mad?

In my opinion, I cannot imagine our country, or any country for that matter, having been formed from sound, rational, minds.  Mental health not only impacts the lives of an individual, but can also impact the lives of those around them.  Thus, it is understandable to expect our world leaders to have a sound, clear, state of mind when in the position of running an entire country; but do they?  I mean, running an entire country is stressful work and after all, they are just as human as us.  Turns out, an interesting study conducted in 2006 by Jonathan Davidson from Duke University Medical Center and his team of researchers discovered that nearly half of our U.S. Presidents had a mental health disorder.

president-free-clipart-1-2Today, the United States celebrates President’s Day, in honor of all the U.S. President’s and of course the 287th birthday of the first U. S. President, George Washington.  I came across this article from Psychology Today called, Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness, by Guy Winch Ph.D. in 2016, talking about Jonathan Davidson’s 2006 study.  I found it very interesting, but more importantly, absolutely motivating to those suffering from mental health disorders today!

According to Guy Winch Ph. D., Davidson and his team studied the first 37 Presidents and discovered that nearly half of them displayed some sort of mental health disorder.  Interestingly, the study concluded that 27% of these U.S. Presidents were suffering a mental health disorder while in office.  Nearly a quarter of those with a mental health disorder, suffered depression.  Other disorders included a variety of different anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, and even alcohol abuse (Winch Ph. D.).

Positive Motivation

Living with Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I have had my doubts about achieving greatness with a mental health disorder.  There have been many times I was convinced that my OCD was going to keep me from doing the things that I love!  Today, I learned that the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, suffered from Depression!  A great man who played a key role in abolishing slavery in the United States had to deal with the stress of the Civil War and Depression!  Now, that is inspirational!

According to Winch Ph. D., Davidson’s study revealed that 8% of the Presidents with mental health disorders suffered from a variety of different anxiety disorders.  Having an anxiety disorder myself (OCD), I now feel like skies the limit!  If past U.S. Presidents can take on the stressful work of running a country while coping with their own mental health problems, then the only thing holding me back from doing amazing things is me, not my OCD.

To me, this study reveals that not all mental health disorders are as debilitating as they are often made out to be.  Yes, mental health disorders can have debilitating effects, but I believe this study on U.S. Presidents with mental health disorders proves that an individual has more power than they think over their mental health disorder.  I am confident these great men had struggles, but perhaps those struggles with mental health contributed to their road to greatness.

Anyone with a mental health disorder has the potential to achieve greatness!  Whether it is conquering the world or just getting up in the morning to go to work.  Mental health disorders are everywhere and it isn’t a bad thing.  Having a brain slightly wired differently, may be challenging, but I believe it can lead to some amazing things.

Happy President’s Day! 

 

Citations

Davidson, J. R., Connor, K. M., & Swartz, M. (2019, February 18). Mental illness in U.S. Presidents between 1776 and 1974: A review of biographical sources. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/16462555/Mental-illness-in-US-Presidents-between-1776-and-1974-a-review-of-biographical-sources

Winch Ph. D., G. (2016, February 2). Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental    Illness. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201602/study-half-all-presidents-suffered-mental-illness

Thought Tuesdays: Why is Mental Health Secondary to Physical Health?

I couldn’t sleep last night.  Around 3 o’clock in the morning, I was as wide awake as our old annoying broken rooster we used to have, who seemed to have been set on a different time zone by always crowing long before the crack of dawn.   My thoughts were racing.  I couldn’t sleep, because I was worried.  

A slight intrusive thought about my own health crept into my OCD brain last night; a direct result from doing late night genealogy research.  Genealogy (study of family lineage and history) is one of my favorite hobbies, but sometimes my imagination can take me too far back into the past forcing me to ponder the future.  Fortunately, I was able to ease away from the negative thoughts by distracting my thoughts with something else: mental health.  

thoughtI wondered to myself, “Would I be so worried about my physical health, if I had better mental health?”  Of course, this question still had some relation to my worries, but the worrying subsided into curiosity…

I recognize that mental health significantly impacts our physical health.  It is a shame that mental health does not play a bigger role in general medicine.  You would think an annual visit to the psychologist would be routine maintenance for maintaining overall good health!

I mean, we are already expected to see our primary doctor for annual physicals that include checking on our lungs and heart, as well as, a blood test to check for metabolical anomalies that may reveal an underlying disease.  Us women,  have to make a yearly pilgrimage to the gynecologist.  When we reach a certain age, we have to squeeze in an annual colonoscopy to our list of things to do during retirement.  Let’s also not forget, the greedy dentist who wants to see our teeth every 6 months!  So, why not check up on the tiresome noggin too; after all, it is just as important!

Why does mental health seem so secondary to physical health?  Is mental health not really as important as physical health?  Is there no correlation between the two?  I am going to ponder about this for awhile and get back to you, but in the mean time, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts!  Please post your thoughts in the comment section below, thank you! 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 10 Personal Work Rules To Reduce Work Stress (Office Jobs)

My career before kids, I was a paper-pusher in office administration, usually working directly under the big boss.  I loved it, but every week was the same chaotic cycle.  Mondays, were dreadful.  Tuesday’s required more coffee.  Wednesday’s were bliss.  Thursday’s, ran on pixie dust and genie wishes.  And, Friday’s were absolutely carefree.  Even though that seems a little crazy, it was normal for the industry; however, I was able to handle massive amounts of work, ridiculous requests, hostile phone calls, and meet unreasonable deadlines on a daily basis without losing my mind.14460862-Doodle-style-inbox-image-with-a-huge-pile-of-documents-to-be-processed-indicating-business-work-or-s-Stock-Vector

Sure, time management and organization played a huge part in dealing with heavy work loads, but I believe personal work rules are important to maintaining good mental health.

Over the years, to cope with work stress, I created personal rules for myself at work.  It is okay to have personal work rules, so long as they do not get you fired.  Here are my 10 rules I followed to keep me stress free and sane at work:

#1. Don’t be afraid of getting fired!  It’s okay!  

Sometimes we get stressed out, because we fear we might get fired; especially, if we are struggling to push through so much overwhelming work.  Employer expectations can be intimidating; however, they often put out unrealistic expectations to purposely create fear to drive productivity.

A good employer knows that working too hard is bad for your health, both physically and mentally.   In many cases, employers don’t really pay attention to their strict productivity policies, unless someone is purposely falling behind in their work or disrupting the work environment.   If, in good faith you are doing your best to keep up on work flow, you are generally not at risk for the pink slip.  You might be bombarded with intimidating productivity memos,  but, if these memos are not directed at you personally, it generally isn’t something to worry about.

And if you are wondering; yes, I’ve been let go once.  The big boss called me into their office, told me that my position no longer exists, handed me a sturdy cardboard box (that was kind of them), told me to pack up my things and then, had my best friend / co-worker escort me to my car.  It was a nightmare, because I was young, in college, with no savings.  But, I survived unemployment; later realizing had I never been let go, I probably would have missed the opportunites that led me into a successful career in office management.  So, I have learned to never worry about being fired, because when one door slams shut on your face, another little door can open up with bigger opportunities.   It’s difficult, emotional, and also straining on the bank account when unemployed, but it’s not the end of the world.

#2. Never work on a Friday unless absolutely necessary. 

You will rarely, if ever, see me scrambling around to finish work on a Friday.  Whatever didn’t get finish during this week, automatically, gets moved to Monday to be next week’s problem.  Of course, there are some things that pop up on a Friday that need to be completed immediately before going home, but by moving unfinished business to next week, I can focus on those pesky unexpected Friday tasks that need to be done by the end of the day without feeling overwhelmed with endless work.

#3. Bend the rules, just a little and dress comfortably

I’ve always had a tendency of bending the rules; mostly in regards to dress code.  I am a semi-causal kind of gal!  I am not going to sit 8 hours in 5X5 cubicle wearing a 3 piece suit and heels, that is just ridiculous!  I will certainly come into the office wearing what is expected, but you bet there is going to be a comfy sweater, gloves, and a pair of comfortable sneakers or maybe slippers waiting for me at my desk.  Usually, throughout the day I slip into my uncomfortable heels to walk around the office, but then I slip back into my slippers when I am at my desk (nobody knows, if they do, they don’t care).

At one company, they compromised with sneakers around the office so long as I didn’t wear them to meet with clients or in front of the owner who was quite the fashionista!

Dressing comfortably, in my opinion, keeps me productive.  It’s really difficult to focus on work if your feet hurt from uncomfortable formal shoes or you are freezing, because they outlawed comfortable casual sweaters forcing you to bend your arms in a snug suit jacket.  Poor men, I don’t know how they can work wearing a tie strangled around their neck all day!

It is okay to bend rules, just be sure you bend the right rules at a reasonable angle so that you don’t cross boundaries that could result in serious disciplinary action; like walking in with pajama’s and rollers in your hair!  That might be bending the rules a little too far, unless its Pajama Day.

#4. Game Plan Monday’s

The first thing I would do every Monday is make a weekly game plan (prioritize my work).  This involves some nifty time management and organizational skills; however,  by the time Thursday rolls around,  I am sitting with my feet kicked up on my desk, daydreaming about Pina Colada’s and warm toes in the sand, while the rest of the office is running around like chicken’s with their heads cut off.  My point is, following a good game plan for personal work flow, generally gives you free time to slow down, relax, and work at a pace that is stress-free and still productive.  Work smarter, not harder!

#5 Eat outside 

If I had it my way, I would work outside.  Just drag my desk into the court yard and enjoy a beautiful day.  Being stuck indoors everyday could bring on depression or, at the very least, an unproductive bad mood.  I made a rule for myself to eat lunch outside as often as possible, to get a little Vitamin D and fresh air.  I am not a smoker, but I will certainly pretend to be one, if it allows me to get outside for a minute.

#6  Always Keep Something In Your Inbox

I used to think having an empty inbox would grant me some extra downtime, but I learned the hard way, an empty inbox just makes you a prime target for more work, and usually tedious time-consuming work that nobody else wants to do in the department.  I was once assigned to an entire week of staple removal duty to help transition paper records to electronic records.  Sure, sounds like a vacation, until you get back to your desk and discover you are behind in last weeks work.  So, if you want to keep your work load lighter and flowing smoother to reduce stress, always keep something in your inbox!

#7 Smile, Smile, and Smile some more

Every workplace has one!  That annoying, make you sick to your stomach, overly positive, super optimistic, sparkly co-worker.  That is not me.

But, if there is one thing to learn from these sparkly work nymphs, is how powerful and magically transforming a smile can be against the stressful evils one may encounter in the workplace.

I used to work for a particular real estate industry (I shall not name, but pretty sure you can guess) that had to deal with upset, hostile, sometimes violent (I can remember a stapler flying across the lobby) type of people.  Personally, I do not do well with confrontation, especially, when I become distracted by the steam coming out of both ears of an upset client, like on those old Warner Brother cartoons.  Very stressful!  Like you might have a mental breakdown in the middle of the office floor, stressful!  And, I’ve seen it happen too! 

However, I learned that a smile is miraculously powerful in calming down upset, angry, and difficult people.  Face to face, a welcoming smile, calm voice, and a listening ear can diffuse almost any crazy.  It catches upset, angry, people off guard, because they generally pounce into the office screaming for attention, because they feel as if their voice is not being heard.  But, I learned if I approach them with a warm, gentle smile, they have no other choice but to start over in a semi-friendlier civil manner, because the issue they are angry about has nothing to do with me personally and they know it.  Of course, they are still angry, but they become much better to deal with, reducing everyone’s stress levels.

Even more impressive, is the power of a smile when talking on the phone to an angry person.  Smiling while talking on the phone keeps your tone warm, soft, and positive.  As long as you smile, remain calm, courteous, and are willing to listen, you can quickly defuse a hostile conversation to better resolve issues.

I made it a personal rule to smile, because it is good for everyone.  It reduces stress and has the potential to change a negative situation.  You don’t have to be a sparkly work nymph, but it doesn’t hurt to smile every so often.

#8 Offer to help another co-worker during your downtime

Sometimes work can be slow, forcing us to finish everything in our inbox and staring blankly at the clock until 5pm.  Although this may feel like a great break, I often become stressed over feeling guilty for not doing any work at all.  Employers don’t want to see their employees sitting around picking their noses.  To reduce this stress, it is best to offer help to others who may be backed up with their own work.  This way, you are busy working (being productive), you are helping a fellow co-worker (taking an initiative), you don’t get assigned work you don’t want (like staple removing) and furthermore, working on something that you are not responsible for is absolutely stress-free!

#9 Take frequent breaks 

To reduce stress at work, I take frequent breaks.  I don’t disappear from my desk every 15 minutes or for long periods of time.   I simply take a moment to close my eyes, breathe, and stretch my arms and legs at my desk.  I will take on any opportunity to walk around the office (maybe things need to go to the mailroom).  Take a soda, coffee, smoke break and go outside for some fresh air.  There are many opportunities throughout the day for mini-breaks and not all breaks require leaving one’s desk.

Unless you are a cyborg with the capability to work non-stop from 9-5, let your work go for a minute!  No job is worth breaking your back or getting sick over.  Your work will still be waiting for you when you come back.

#10 Change out of your work clothes before going home

I refuse to bring my work home with me and to be sure of it, I always kept a change of clothes at my desk.  Once the clock hit 4:55pm, I would be in the bathroom changing out of my work clothes into my normal comfortable casual clothes (t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops).  I also leave my name tag in my desk drawer or locker.  I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager working at my first job.

Going home in casual clothes reduces a lot of work stress for me.  It allows me to mentally leave work behind when I go home.  Also, walking out of the office wearing casual clothes gives me the feeling of freedom as I don’t have to go home right away to change out of my work clothes.  I can go anywhere!

Creating Personal Work Rules

In the beginning, I had no personal work rules.  I followed every workplace policy as strictly as they were written and found myself a miserable mess.  I eventually realized that workplace policies are just a set of flexible guidelines to ensure workplace order.  Policies dictating workflow are often written with the goal to increase productivity without taking in consideration of an employee’s mental health.  I respect company policies; however, my own health comes first, thus why I decided to create personal work rules for myself to protect my own mental health.

Do you have any personal work rules to help reduce work stress? 

 

Depression: Why People Might Be Ignoring The Truly Depressed

Version 2Believe it or not, but last week I was in a state of depression.

I spent the entire week in my pajama’s.  Dirty, stinky dishes piled the sink and began to take over the counters.  I had 4 bags of trash sitting at the door and the house looked like a “hoarder” in training (okay, probably not as bad as a hoarder).  Regardless, I was totally in a funk.

Saturday, I bounced out of my so-called funk.  I took a shower, dressed up (even put on shoes), took a small stroll outside for a cup of coffee, enjoyed my cup of coffee overlooking the scenic hills from our patio, and without effort, cleaned my house.  The old, happy, overly positive, smart ass me had returned.

I must have been in a funk, because my husband surprised me by taking the trash out and I didn’t have to ask or tell him to do it.  That is a huge act of kindness, because my husband hasn’t taken out the trash in about 2 1/2 years!

Pesky Seasonal Affective Disorder

Every Winter, I encounter short periods of depression.  It is supposedly referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”  It is something my father and I both experience every year, like clockwork.  We call it our “hibernation” period, because that is what it feels like to us.  The first short day of Winter, we become hermits and spend most of the winter snuggled up in warm winter blankets, relaxing on the couch, watching movies and eating junk food.  Then, as soon as Spring hits the air, we are rarely found indoors and we tend to shed our junk food weight without effort.  Unfortunately, we might experience a couple days of depression during our so-called hibernation period, in which, is most often triggered by dark, cold, rainy days and last week, was certainly dark, cold, and rainy.

Lack of Positive Support

Saturday, I gave Depression a lot of thought; especially, about people who have chronic depression.  Not everyone who experiences depression is fortunate enough to have the ability to easily get out of their state of depression.  Furthermore, I realized just how significant negative surroundings can impact your ability to get out of any state of depression.

Last week, in my small state of depression, I noticed that when I tried to reach out for help, nobody cared.  My closest friends and family either didn’t have time to talk, thought my depression was “ridiculous,” viewed depression as a gateway to drama, or just didn’t know how to handle it and simply ignored it.  Personally, those kind of responses seemed hurtful, but honestly, I think are quite common.

In most cases, I think people just don’t want to be swindled into a possible “pity party.” Depression can be used as an effective way to gain attention for those seeking attention.  It can also be used to manipulate people and take advantage of their kindness.  Furthermore, depression can also be used as a convincing excuse for laziness.  I think this is maybe why some cases of true depression are overlooked or ignored by others.

Then, there is also the inconceivable notion that happy people cannot simply experience depression.  Welcome to my world!  When I ask my friends and family why they don’t take me seriously when I express my depressed feelings, this is their response, “But you are always so optimistic, happy, and always smiling; how could you be depressed?”  Well, shall I start with the mechanics of the human brain, because after all, I am human.

Not everyone is going to be forthcoming about their depression and reach out for help.  I think a lot of people keep it to themselves in fear of these types of negative responses.  If you think about it, if one with true depression does reach out for help and is bombarded with negative responses, how does that give one hope that they will overcome their depression?  It doesn’t, it makes them believe that nobody cares and encourages the feeling that they don’t seem to matter very much at all.  And, I think that is how depression worsens over time for some people.

The Power Of A Good Hug

I am not an expert on depression and I know everyone experiences depression differently, but if I were to offer some advice on how to make a depressed person feel like they matter, when all the words in the world become meaningless, I would say give them a hug.  It’s a good start at least.  Even if they don’t want a hug, cross those boundaries and give them a hug, well, just be sure to do it in a non-creepy, supportive way.  I know there are times when I don’t want a hug, but I could probably use one and despite saying “no,” I probably wouldn’t stop a friend from giving me a good hug.  It is amazing how a simple hug can make a person feel like they matter when all the words in the world just don’t seem convincing enough.

Dealing With Those Faking Depression

Personally, I treat everyone expressing depression with kindness, compassion, and understanding, including those who are just seeking attention.  The truth is, I don’t know what everyone expressing depression is going through and those who fake depression for attention, are doing it because they are obviously going through something too and need just as much help.

Everyone needs positive support, but it only becomes useful, if you offer the right positive support.  In situations, in which I am bamboozled into feeling sorry for a person faking depression, I don’t start to ignore them; instead, I begin to provide the type of support they need rather than what they want, in effort to help push them in a different positive direction and protect me from unnecessary drama.  However, this is totally not ideal for toxic people.  When toxic people hit the radar, the best thing to do is to ignore them.

My point is, treat everyone with kindness, compassion, and understanding, so that you don’t miss anyone who is actually in need of help for severe depression; keeping in mind that even those faking depression, might need your help too.

Thoughts?  How often do you think depression goes unnoticed and what would you do to comfort a person with depression?