Happiness Is Yours Today – 6 Tips To Improve Your Mood

Happiness

6 Happiness Tips you can do today to turn your mood around just by thinking positively 

A positive mindset has been attributed to a happier and healthier life, making it highly recommended for everyone to be proactive about thinking  good thoughts in order to experience a happier life. But the question is, ‘how can one think positive thoughts when having a bad day? How can you have a positive mindset if your mood is grim?

That is where I come in.  After careful and comprehensive research, I have found many ways ways in which you can turn your mood around using a positive mindset; in this article we are going to look at just 6.  So if you have been feeling frustrated or grumpy (or a friend hints that you need to lighten up),  keep reading!

1. Use Humor

If you listen closely, you will find that the biggest comedians in the business create their content from a place of pain. Just look at Rodney Dangerfield, or Bernie Mac; two of the greatest comedians who were still cracking up audiences in the middle of battling personal sickness.

The truth is that there is great medicine in humor, and by finding the best in a bad situation you can turn negativity into positivity.  Consider ditching the horror or terror books, movies or shows you watch and replace them with comedies.

happiness

happiness is having good friends

2.  Hang around Positive People

As humans, we take in the mood and the thinking of those around us. Similar to the advice that says you should hang around smart and ambitious people if you want to succeed, I recommend hanging around positive people if you want to have a positive mindset.  A friend of mine quotes this fameous saying all the time:  “you are an average of your 5 closest friends”.  This is what the saying means; look at your 5 closest friends/acquaintances  whom you hang around most the time.

Perhaps you don’t get to see or talk to your favorite friend except once a month or so.  In that case look at the people you associate with at work.  Are they negative?  Do they remind you of Eeyore on Winnie The Pooh?  “Oh deer, oh my…”  If so, ditch them.  Find others to hang with or do something else on break.  They are helping you stay unhappy

If you feel yourself thinking negative thoughts and harboring a bad mood, call a family member or friend with a bright outlook and let them give you some words of encouragement.

3. Start Your Day on a Positive Note

The beginning of your day sets the tone for how the next couple of hours will be like.  By starting your day with positive affirmation, whether that is through prayer, meditation, taking a walk, or reading an inspiring book, you can guarantee a positive mindset and an upbeat mood throughout the day.

The past few years have seen a surge of positive affirmations and quotes on the internet so there is no lack of resources.  It is difficult to pick up a magazine or read a story without some positive quote.  Find those that resonate with you and write them down.  Perhaps even take one with you for a day, week or however long it remains meaningful to you at that time.

Remember that as our life situation changes, we need different motivations and affirmations, so start a collection of them to grab and use each day, or each time your situation changes.  Buy an affirmations desk calendar or subscribe to an email daily inspiration for a morning inspiration.

4. Go Out and Exercise

Time and time again, numerous studies have proven that exercise can improve your mood dramatically.  And when I say exercise I don’t mean you must go to the gym and lift weights till you are sweaty.  Exercise for you may be leaving work during lunch hour and just walking around the block as much as you can.  Or if you don’t have a location conducive to walking outside, try my little secret; walk the stairway!  Yep!  I have done this for numerous years!  (partly because I am claustrophobic and hate elevators).  Anytime you need to just get moving, whether you are sitting in an all-day convention or working in a skyscraper, you can get a fabulous workout by walking up and down a few levels in the stairway.   (Caution – make sure the door does not lock behind you or you will be locked into the stairway.  Ask me how I learned that one the hard way!)  

By exercising on a regular basis you can increase your energy levels, get rid of tension and stress, and boost your serotonin levels (happy hormones).

The best time to exercise is the time that works for your schedule and you will stick to it.  For instance, I may prefer evenings after work but I know that when I get home, family demands pull me in different directions so I end up not getting the workout in.  I have to exercise in the morning before everyone else is awake in order to be successful,  Remember, by exercising regularly, not only will you feel good, you will tone up and perhaps drop a few pounds as well.

happiness5. Appreciate the Small Things

In our busy and hectic world, it is easy to overlook the small blessings around us.  For instance, most of us take for granted the hot water that comes out of the shower head, the electricity that is delivered when we plug something in, and countless other small conveniences throughout our day.  Even the people in our lives who mean so much to us; our family, friends, good weather, tasty food, and a fun job.  Usually we take these things for granted unless something happens and they are not available or something is not working.  We dwell on those situations of needing or expecting something but for some reason it is no longer available.  THAT is a big disruption and we focus on the disruption, rather than all the other time when it worked.

However by taking notice of and appreciating the small things each and every day, our happiness levels will automatically begin to increase.  We start to focus on “thank you for this” or “wow it’s great to have that”, or even “just think what our forefathers had to do when they did not have such-and-such”.  In other words, we focus all the time on the good things in our life – that is what appreciation journals are all about.

An appreciation journal is a way of taking a few minutes each day to write down what you noticed or appreciate in your life today.  Why write it in a journal?  Because if we don’t take the time out to write it down, most of us will never get to it.  That “time to appreciate” will be put on the back burner and never get done.

happiness6. Smile

They say “Smile first, happiness will follow”.  What this means is this; if you make yourself smile, there is something that happens in the neuro-chemistry of our brains that changes our mood for the better.  Is it because of a lifetime of association between the smile and a happy feeling?  Is it because people around us start to respond differently?  Is it because we start to radiate a different vibration?  I don’t know, but I believe a combination of all 3 are true.  But if you don’t believe me, try it yourself.  I am not talking about walking around with an ear-to-ear grin when you are having an awful day (although that image itself just made me chuckle out loud!).  Instead start with a grin; come on, you can do it.  Turn your mouth up and smile.  See there?  Now go try that throughout your day today and see how it changes things.

As you can see, positive thinking and happy moods go hand in hand. By implementing these 5 tips into your daily life, you will begin seeing an immediate increase in your happiness, and the happiness of the people around you.

Good luck on your happier and healthier journey!

Before you leave, take a moment to watch this warm message from the Dahli Lama concerning Happiness:

Or to go directly to the youtube page, CLICK HERE


 

Aromatherapy With Essential Oils To Improve Mood

Essential Oils To Improve Mood

Aromatherapy can be described as the use of essential oils (fragrant substances) to improve health.  One strategy for use of essential oils is to employ essential oils to improve mood, relieve anxiety, relax, and decrease stress.  The therapy can be used to significantly improve the mood of any individual.  Highly concentrated aromatic substances are either applied to the skin,  or inhaled after diffusing the scent into the air with one of several types of diffusers.  Fragrant substances are distilled from plants and the most common for recipes are two; lemon and lavender.  The essential oils interact with cells in the brain and body resulting with an improvement in an individual’s need.

People who have used essential oils made from home-made recipes or bought manufactured products have stated that Aromatherapy actually works. Some of the most effective recipes for Aromatherapy are as follows:

Lemon essential oils

Recipe to make at home: Use the lemon peel to create your own lemon essential oil:

  • Ingredients – cold pressed olive oil and 1 lemon
  • Directions – grate the lemon peels and fill a small glass hallway with the same. The rest of the bottle should be filled with olive oil or other carrier oil.  Set the bottle on a windowsill or expose it to the sun for at least 3 days.  Remember to shake the bottle a few times every day.  By the third day, you will have successfully created a lemon essential oil.  Store the oil at room temperature in an airtight container.   I recommend to use fresh right away  – this recipe is for external use only.

 

Lavender essential oils

Recipe to make at home:  For this project, use dry or fresh lavender buds:

  • Ingredients – dry or fresh lavender buds, two jars (one with a tight fitting lid) and alcohol (preferably vodka)
  • Directions – crush the buds to release the oil. Add crushed lavender buds to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover the peels in vodka or alcohol in the same jar. Remember to shake the jar with lavender oil a few times every day. On the third day, place a clean cloth and on top of the second jar and strain the liquid from the jar with oil from crushed lavender buds. Letting it sit will allow the alcohol to evaporate leaving you with lavender essential oil.

These are the two most effective recipes for homemade aromatherapy essential oils.  The majority of people who have used them have experienced positive results.   I recommend to use fresh right away – this recipe is for external use only

Firemen Battle PTSD

Firemen Battle PTSD

 

Among the most common mental health conditions experienced by firefighter across the globe is post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD  is often acquired after experiencing a disturbing, or traumatic event, and is classified as an anxiety disorder which can be identified through persistent symptoms such as high emotional arousal, flashbacks, numbing or even avoidance of memories of past events.  When you think about it, there are many jobs which inevitably involve experiencing disturbing and/or traumatic events.  One such career is firefighting.  Studies have shown that due to the intense level of stress and traumatic events that firefighters are faced with, that in addition to battling fires, many firemen battle PTSD also.

The firefighting career often involve numerous stressful activities which increases the risk of developing PTSD. Various studies on a general population revealed that fire fighter have a higher risk of experiencing PTSD and there is need to develop training programs to help them manage and cope with the condition.

Today, there are fewer fire calls to buildings, and improved fire response in the united states mainly due to the advanced fire prevention technology.  These advancements include smoke detectors, flame retardant building materials, as well as  highly effective installed sprinkler systems.  However, the firefighting occupation is still prone to numerous stressful and hazardous events that may result to post-traumatic stress disorder.  Compared to other occupations, firefighters are at a higher risk of death, injuries and burns due to exposure to intense heat and flames, radioactive materials, explosive, flammable or poisonous chemicals and gases.

Most professional firefighters who have experienced PTSD have sought behavioral health assistance.  However, others may lack the courage of seeking medical attention and you can identify potential sufferers by observing a few symptoms.  These symptoms often include substance abuse, self-blame, suicidal thoughts, anger, irritability, depressions as well as feelings of betrayal, mistrust and guilt.  A recent study involving about 342 active fire fighters revealed that about 37% of active firefighter experience PTSD.  The study involved firefighters from all seniority levels, marital statuses, age groups, educational backgrounds and roles.

A 2012 study on active Israeli fire fighters showed that those suffering from full PTSD were about 24 percent, with only about 9% showing no symptoms.  About 67% of the firefighters showed partial PTSD.  All together, the 2012 study on the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among firefighters in Israel indicates that approximately 90 percent show some form of full or partial symptoms.    –Beer Sheva, Israel

According to the study, PTSD can also occur due to exposure to fatal injuries or even death of a partner. These events leads to persistent stress symptoms such as trouble sleeping and nightmares. Emergency situations such as evacuation of injured or burnt bodies and victims also results to post-traumatic emotional expressions that can even develop into secondary traumatization. Unlike firefighters in other part of the world.  Israeli firefighters are also exposed to extreme traumatizing events such as terror strikes and war.

The numerous studies carried out on firefighter in different parts of the world have revealed the risks endured by firefighters and how they can be assisted to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.  The studies also revealed that most firefighter lack support and compassion from the public, business officials and even government agencies. According to the study on Israeli firefighters, most of them even received negative editorial coverage by the media, which also contributed to raised anxiety levels.  During their training, firefighters receive little or no support to help them in coping with traumatic events and stress.  However, after a distressing incident, a critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) is normally carried out by some fire departments.

The main objective of the critical incident stress debriefing is to reduce the long term psychological impact resulting from a critical incident.  CISD also aims at increasing and accelerating the recovery process.  The debriefing is also helpful in regenerating the normal support process.  It is often implemented after incidences with mass causalities and fatalities mainly involving children, fire department members or any other that may affects a firefighter’s well-being.  However, CISD does not provide fire fighters with long term follow-up support and most firefighter end up suffering from recurring and adverse side effects.  At extreme levels, continuous emotional trauma can lead to serious health conditions such as insomnia, severe depression, heart attacks as well as gastrointestinal problems and anxiety.

Chaplaincy programs are some of the most effective ways of helping firefighter in dealing with stressful events. Beside the individual firefighter, the chaplaincy programs also provide spiritual and emotional assistance to other fire departments members and their families.  However, research has shown that there is need for more training programs that should be effective training firefighters in dealing with their emotional wellness, grief, suicidal thoughts and addiction.  The training programs should also consist of orientation programs to prepare recruits for the psychological and physical events and situations involved in the profession.

 

 

Resources:

1. Learn about Biofeedback for Stress Management from Wellness Coach Connection

2.  90 Percent of Firefighters Exhibit Symptoms of PTSD, Israeli Study Suggests

 

 

What is PTSD?

What Is PTSD

We hear a lot about the word “PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, but what exactly is it?

A common psychiatric condition, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is increasing in frequency in a world of wars and terrorism.  People exposed to terrifying situations, who witness or are injured by life threatening trauma, experience intense fear.  Fear is a normal, even healthy reaction, which results in chemical changes in the body to produce the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, molecules that induce the ‘fight or flight” reaction. The body’s reaction times speed up, increasing the chances for survival.

But in some people, the reaction never seems to disappear entirely.  PTSD usually develops a few months after the event that triggered it, but onset may delayed as long as years.  Horrifying trauma does not always cause PTSD.  In fact the majority of people do not develop the syndrome.  A soldier sees a buddy shot dead beside him and months later develops PTSD.  Another soldier also witnesses sudden, horrific death and does not develop PTSD.  Why? What is the difference?

Genetic Risk Factor:

what is ptsdScientists are studying this question.  One study drew blood from U.S. Marines before and after they served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Testing the blood of the Marines who developed PTSD, the study compared those findings to the results of the Marines who did not develop PTSD.  The scientists found that those who developed PTSD had immune systems that did not function as well as the systems of those people who did not come down with the condition.  This study and others indicate that the disorder is genetically influenced.  It has been known to run in families.

Certain genes have been identified as being involved, genes that are essential to producing proteins that either increase the fear reaction or dampen it.  Special imaging techniques have enabled the researchers to locate areas of the brain involved in experiencing fear and in PTSD.  Many studies are being done to find the causes of PTSD and identify those people most likely to develop it.

Other Risk Factors:

But genetics may only make the person more susceptible to PTSD under the right circumstances.  Other factors come into play as well.  Previous trauma, especially in childhood, a history of head injuries and a history of psychiatric problems increase the likelihood of developing PTSD following a traumatic event.  In addition, personality traits such as optimism, a history of handling stress and challenges well make the person less likely to show PTSD symptoms.  Having a support group helps preclude the disorder, just as being alone and isolated with feelings of helplessness increase the risk.

The disorder can appear at any age, even in childhood.  Women are more susceptible than men.  And the severity of the event can vary as well.  It can be war, terrorism, accident, assault, rape, natural disaster, or even the sudden, unexpected death of a family member.

What is PTSD?

what is ptsdIt is a condition with a constellation of symptoms that develops, usually within a few months of a traumatic event, in which the victim was injured or nearly injured or witnessed injuries or death.  There are three groups of symptoms.

1. Re-experiencing symptoms

  • Flashbacks – seeing the experience again and again within the mind, while experiencing the same physical manifestations, such as sweating, racing heart, rapid breathing.
  • Bad dreams – nightmares related to the event, interrupting sleep
  • Feelings of fear and dread for no reason

2. Avoidance symptoms

  • Staying away from things, places, people that cause memories of the event, either consciously or unconsciously
  • Becoming emotionally “numb”
  • Development of depression, guilt feelings or anxiety
  • Loss of the ability to feel pleasure or find interest in activities that used to be important
  • Sometimes difficulty in remembering the event

3. Hyper-arousal symptoms

  • Easily startled, overreacting
  • Becoming stressed, anxious, irritable, oversensitive
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Outbursts of anger

PTSD Manifested:

The intensity of these symptoms and the way they are expressed can vary considerably.  The person may become withdrawn, antisocial or grumpy, angry with a short fuse.  One woman described her husband as having “ass-hole’ syndrome, an unpleasant, grumpy man who had forgotten what happiness was.  The symptoms also worsen when the person is under excessive stress.

Some people do not exhibit the full-blown syndrome.  Their behavioral and personality changes may be subtle, just a decrease in their previous vitality and good humor.  The symptoms are rarely clear cut.  Excessive drinking or drug use may be the only signs initially.

Most people recover within months of onset of the symptoms, but the disorder can last for years or become chronic. The symptoms are life changing, interfering with home and family, with work and careers, with relationships.

Scientists will continue with their studies, probing into the causes, the chemical and neuro-endocrine changes that PTSD induces in the body, the genes that may put some people at greater risk for developing the condition.  those at risk people can be identified, the researchers will also be able to find therapies that can prevent the onset of the disorder.

Where to start?

what is ptsdPerhaps you are not sure if you suffer from PTSD?  Maybe you are just under a lot of stress and can’t seem to get ahead of it?  What should you do?  I recommend start by talking to your health care provider.  Confide in him/her and tell them you need their advice.  The two of you can discuss several options – come up with a plan.  This plan may include:

  • A local support group for PTSD or for other related problems like drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Perhaps a referral to a therapist or mentor who specializes in PTSD
  • Short or long term medication like an anti-anxiety med
  • Literature and online resources with information to help answer your questions
  • Family and relationship counselors and resources to help with stressful family situations
  • Self-help groups to learn alternative therapies which can be used in conjunction with conventional therapy and medications.  Techniques like  Qigong,   Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation,  all do wonders to focus, center, ground and calm stress.  Additionally, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and aromatherapy work on the muscles, nervous system and chemistry for stress management.

 

Resources:

1. As a Health and Wellness Coach  I do not treat PTSD, but instead, focus on teaching you successful strategies to help you manage the stresses associated with PTSD, or associated with any other stressful situation in your life.  These techniques used in combination with Biofeedback have proven to be more successful than traditional “relaxation” techniques, because relaxation only addresses one part of the stress-response.

ClickHereToLearnMore

 

2. Whether or not you are a veteran, the Wounded Warriors Program is not only an admirable organization, they also are a great resource for PTSD.

3. Check out WebMD for more information

 


 

What is Biofeedback

Biofeedback

biofeedback When we raise our hand to turn on the light or when we decide to go for a walk, we utilize muscles that are under our voluntary control. This is an example of voluntary muscles that we have conscious control over determining these muscle movements.  However, there a number of body functions such as heart beating, blood pressure, digestion, brain wave patterns and body temperature for example, that are not under our conscious control.  They are controlled by our involuntary nervous system and until recently it was assumed that we had no control over their function either.  That is, until technology advanced to new levels.  Now with the aid of biofeedback, people can learn how to actually alter and to some degree train their body’s involuntary response to a more acceptable response.

Let’s look at an example as it relates to the heart: we can will ourselves to walk but we cannot will ourselves to make our heart beat faster.  The heart will beat faster in response to physical activities such as exercise, or to mental states such as nervousness or anxiety, but the response of how fast or how slow the heart beats is not under our conscious control.

Biofeedback is a training technique that helps the patient gain some limited conscious control over these involuntary body functions.  Defined by dictionary.com biofeedback is:a technique for teaching the control of autonomic functions, such as the rate of heartbeat or breathing, by recording the activity and presenting it (usually visually) so that the person can know the state of the autonomic function he or she is learning to control.  It is a training technique that enables a person to gain some element of voluntary control over autonomic body functions. Biofeedback is based on the principle that a desired response is learned when received information indicates that a specific thought or action has produced the desired response.

Sensitive electrodes are attached to certain areas of the body to record measurements such as heart rate and blood pressure which are then displayed on a monitor that the patient can see a corresponding graph.  As the heart rate increases or decreases, the patient can see the graph on the monitor moving higher or lower and making audible sounds that also raise or lower in response to the heart rate. in this way the patient is getting “feedback” from the machine in response to ” biological” signals, in this example the heart rate.  So the graph provide the patient with both visual and audible feedback – thus the term, biofeedback.

 

With some small portable units designed to be carried in a pocket, there may be an audible beep every time the heart beats which makes the patient aware whether their heart rate is speeding up or slowing down. By having an immediate feedback of the internal body processes the patient gradually learns awareness, focus, and in time learns to exercise some control over these internal processes.

Biofeedback sessions are usually conducted in a therapist’s office.  The therapist will teach the patent relaxation techniques such as deep abdominal breathing; guided imagery such as imagining themselves relaxing in a beach; progressive muscle relaxation where they consciously squeeze and relax each major muscle group; and mindfulness meditation where they become aware of their thought as and when it arises.  These techniques are very effective in reducing the stress level and bringing many physical measurements such as the blood pressure to within the acceptable range.

Clinical biofeedback techniques are being effectively used to treat an ever-lengthening list of medical conditions such as: Chronic pain, Migraine headaches; High blood pressure (hypertension) and low blood pressure (hypotension); Cardiac arrhythmia; Epilepsy; Gastrointestinal disorders; Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and Alcohol and drug addictions.

While biofeedback training is used mainly by psychiatrists and psychologists there are a number of other specialists such as dentists, rehabilitation therapists, internists and nurses who use biofeedback training as well.

Biofeedback is a safe and effective technique that has been successfully used since the late 1960’s.  there is no electric current passing through the electrodes to the patient, but instead the sensors are picking up signals from the body much as EKG electrodes since electrical activity in the heart. Therefore, no drugs are needed, no needles puncture any skin and the units therefore are completely safe.

Biofeedback is not hypnotism and it is not voodoo science.  at the same time biofeedback is not used by doctors to determine the type of medicine a patient would benefit from.  Thoughts, feelings and stress levels have a profound effect on the physical and mental health on the individual.

Along with proper coaching from a practitioner trained in it’s use,  biofeedback offers an exciting holistic alternative to stress management.  At Wellness Coach Connection, Healthcoach Cathy offers a Biofeedback option in the burnout breakthrough program.  stress management sessions are held via telephone within the 48 contiguous United States so patients are not limited by location.

To find out more about the Heart Centered Stress Management Burnout Breakthrough program or to sign up click here, or on the Burnout Breakthrough tab at the top of this page.