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Emotional Health for 2008 and Beyond: Six Practical Strategies
January is the best time of the year to start fresh. Worn-out, dysfunctional ways of thinking of the previous year should give way to practical, effective “mental” habits. My priority for this year is to share with you my experience and knowledge about mental health, and how you can improve it.
To perform optimally at work or at home, we need to be aware of our emotions and have to manage them well to further our goals. With a healthy emotion, we can make good decisions, maintain enjoyable long-term relationships, and become more productive.
Too much stress is lethal because it harmfully affects not only our emotions but also our physical health. In my practice, I’ve seen people who develop clinical depression, frequent fatigue, back pain, and headache from severe stress.
So contain stress as much as possible. Prevent conflicts at work. If possible, don’t overwork and never deprive yourself of adequate rest and sleep. At home, establish humor and let your kids and partner laugh. They will treasure it forever.
Moreover, avoid unnecessary debts and always pay bills on time. Don’t assume any added responsibilities you can’t handle. Say “no” if you don’t feel like saying “yes” and I can assure you, life will be better for you when you say what you exactly feel.
Involve in regular exercise
Several studies have consistently shown that physical and mental activities are good for your health. Those individuals who exercise regularly have better quality of life, strength, feelings of well-being, and physical functioning. In fact, regular exercise can prevent the occurrence of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
In addition to physical health benefits, exercise can enhance psychological functioning by addressing mild anxiety and depression, improving self-esteem, and reducing stress-related conditions.
While brisk walking and jogging can keep your body healthy, frequent reading, playing card games, and solving crossword puzzles can keep you mentally sharp. These exercises cost almost nothing and the benefits are huge.
Watch your food intake
Exercise is not enough though. Your food intake can likewise determine how you feel. Eat low salt, low-caloric, and high fiber foods. Wheat, rice, fish, fruits, and vegetables are outstanding examples of healthy foods. Avoid fatty meals and processed foods with high amounts of dehydrogenated fats that increase your risk of developing heart problems and stroke.
Alcoholic beverages should be minimized if not completely avoided. Aside from memory lapses, excessive alcohol use can impair your thinking and judgment. Because alcohol is a depressant, it also makes you feel depressed. Meanwhile, excessive use of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can keep you awake at night and make you feel anxious during the day.
Practice the I AM principle
In my practice, I have taught individuals the I AM principle — an acronym that refers to three important ways to live a peaceful existence. One, Ignore trifles. If we can only focus on two to three things that we value and that really matter to us, then we can live a more contented life. Unfortunately for some of us, we chase new toys, acquire huge houses, and work overtime up to the point when our health, our families, and our peace of mind suffer.
Two, Accept the things that you can’t change. I’ve met many people who feel miserable simply because the weather is “lousy”, or an ex-wife had committed adultery, or that they failed to buy Microsoft stocks 15 years ago. It’s important to dwell on things that you have some control — the present. And three, Move on. Yes, always attempt to release the past and trifles from your grip so you can move on and enjoy life right now.
Establish good relationships
Having a healthy relationship is one of the keys to happiness. Many contented individuals share one thing — they give love and are loved in return. In anything we do, we need to develop positive relationships. Success is based on establishing networks that will take you to the next level.
When at work, try to get along with everyone especially with your boss. Stress level is reduced and productivity increased when you work harmoniously with others. At home, couples who openly communicate and develop ways to resolve differences have lasting marriages. And families who share something special together end up happy together.
Make people feel important. Shower them with praise and show that you care. When they speak, give them your focus and attention. Make them laugh.
Ask for help
One of the mistakes most people make is not to ask for help when faced with problems or emotional difficulties. Instead, they remain in denial or they procrastinate with the hope that the problem will soon go away.
This attitude, although it serves a purpose for some people, is actually a recipe for self-destruction simply because any unaddressed problem can result in more difficulties and more complicated issues later on. In my practice, I’ve seen marriages breaking down simply because the initial “minor miscommunication” between couples has gradually eroded to major fights. It’s always prudent to face personal and marital issues head on.
During hard times, monitor yourself closely for any mood changes. Do you feel down, anxious, tired, or restless? Have you lost interest to do things? When you notice any mood problems or if you can’t handle your personal and work issues, then ask for help.
In summary, those individuals who diligently prepare survive but only those who are emotionally capable will thrive. I hope that these six strategies can help you attain the emotional health you deserve for 2008 and beyond.