Diversifying Your Days

Man playing with Rubik's cube and sitting on floor in multicolored 3D wallpaper room

Preventing A Repetitive Lifestyle

The importance of diversifying your days cannot be stated more clearly. This applies to people of all regions of the world, whether poor or wealthy or living in an urban or remote environment. Repetition in regards to the layout of your day is never good: it promotes boredom, temptations to use substances and even mental health problems.

Repetition is great when it comes to tasks: getting better at certain activities, improving your work performance, getting stronger in the gym, mastering your serve in tennis, etc. But the same repetitive tasks performed every single day without any diversity, may prove to be terrible for your well-being.

No matter how fun and exciting certain activities may be, if you do them every single day without changing things up, they will get old, causing you to become bored. When people get bored, guess what magically starts crossing their minds? Substance abuse. Drugs (including alcohol) are very enticing tools to get rid of boredom and to enhance activities, especially the ones that have been performed countless times.

The solution is to change your routine throughout the day: maybe start listening to different genres of music, go out with a friend on a random Tuesday evening, practice group mindfulness, order out from Seamless, write a blog post, etc. You don’t have to go overboard with this suggestion, but definitely try diversifying your days from time to time.

It might be a little difficult at first, but once you start incorporating new activities throughout your days, you’ll start to really feel the positive effect on your mental health: you’ll feel happier, more at ease and more appreciative of your time and process in general. As with anything in life, it might take a little nudge for you to get going, but it’s well worth it once you apply diversity into your life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Group Mindfulness

Silhouette photo of group of young people

The Power Of Unity

Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you become nonjudgemental towards any thought that comes into your mind. It generally involves closing your eyes, focusing on breathing in and out and becoming a bystander towards the thoughts that invade your mind. Group mindfulness involves practicing the above, but with multiple people present at the same time.

Group mindfulness is a little different than mindfulness performed on your own, because practicing on your own requires a greater will and drive to actually sit down and perform the meditation. When in a group setting, there’s a higher tendency that you will perform mindfulness when others around you are doing it.

The power of unity really becomes evident during group mindfulness. When a leader guides the session, the act of hearing each other’s breathing in and out feels refreshing, as if everyone becomes synchronized. Unity is a great feeling, especially if you are battling loneliness or depression.

It’s very relaxing and exciting to partake in group mindfulness, especially when you are with people who you are comfortable with. There is something very calming about being together in a room full of people, practicing an exercise that is meant to calm you in the first place.

The room becomes filled with a feeling of positive energy; you can really feel it in your mind. Your mind becomes very relaxed as if washed over by a warm and gentle ocean wave. It can really set your day up nicely, especially if the group mindfulness is performed in the morning or even around noon.

If you have never performed mindfulness before, then start doing so on your own. After about 5-10 sessions, start seeking others who would be willing to partake in group mindfulness. The power of unity can really be felt during these sessions; there is nothing to lose, but everything to gain in regards to your mental health and overall wellbeing.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Slippery Slope Of Casual Drinking

Topless man drinking beer in swimming pool

Responsible Drinking

There is something soothing about casual drinking: it provides you with a relaxed state of mind, company when lonely and imagination when dull-minded. Alcohol becomes a soothing medicine when lonely or stressed or after a long day’s work. It’s also easy to consume and even easier to refill. But there’s a slippery slope to casual drinking.

That slippery slope is addiction. When is casual drinking casual and not pathological? One beer a day? Three times a week only? There’s no official recommendation for the right amount of alcohol consumption that will prevent the development of alcoholism. What is right for me, may be the last drink for you.

In general, drinking even one beer a day is too much. You may get away with this pattern for even years at a time, but at some point, your brain will want more. One factor is tolerance: one beer will simply not give you that oomph that you previously experienced. This is the basis for all types of addictions: what previously worked now requires a stronger stimulus.

Perhaps casual drinking is our ticket to alcoholism, but this does not mean that everyone keeps their ticket. There are many factors at play behind the development of alcoholism: genetics, social class, status, race, age, mental health, history of trauma, substance use, etc. Some people consume other drugs but have been casually drinking for years, without any signs of alcoholism.

Responsible drinking starts within you. It’s about maintaining control over your indulgence. If you are aware of the thought that consuming that next drink is out of desperation to get more intoxicated, then you should be willing to harness the strength to prevent yourself from grabbing it.

The toughest moment “is in the moment”: when you are feeling slightly disconnected from your baseline and would like to rev it up a notch or two. But casual drinking also poses the risk of progressing into binge drinking: the over-indulgence in alcohol in a short period of time.

Binge drinking is an entire separate chapter, but not one far away from casual drinking. You see, casual drinking can sprout into binge drinking, an alcohol use disorder or a straight path. The straight path is where you want to remain, if you’d like to continue enjoying casual drinking. The key is to never overdo something that provides you with pleasure; enjoy the opportunity for pleasure, but don’t go seeking more of it.

Sometimes you just have to allow pleasure to find you, for the sake of preventing a psychological or even physical addiction from developing.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

This Year, Please Stop Fighting Battles You Can’t Win — Thought Catalog

Please stop fighting battles you cannot win. Please stop trying to shop your way into self-esteem. Please stop trying to convince people to love you when they have no intent to. Please stop worrying about problems you can’t solve. Please stop arguing with people who have no intent of hearing you. In life, there are…

This Year, Please Stop Fighting Battles You Can’t Win — Thought Catalog

Low Libido

Blonde woman with low libido wearing black underwear and sitting on brown couch

Falling Sexual Appetite

Psychoanalytically speaking, libido is the energy of the sexual drive as a component of the life instinct. It is because of libido that humans procreate and maintain life on earth. But when libido decreases, sexual interactions plummet. This can occur due to physical or psychological reasons.

Erectile dysfunction is a common cause of low libido. When a man can’t keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse, a variety of factors can be at play: medications, low libido, atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome or even psychological reasons.

Believe it or not, some men where never turned on by sex ever since they were a teenager, but they were always able to “get it up” when receiving oral sex. In this case, there is nothing physically wrong with their penis, because it becomes fully erect during oral sex. This is an example of erectile dysfunction secondary to psychological factors.

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is when a person lacks any desire to engage in sexual activity, causing personal distress. It’s not known what causes it. Some have had a lack of sexual desire their entire lives, while others acquired it. When it’s acquired, it can be directed towards their partner or towards anyone; sometimes they prefer to be sexually intimate only with themselves. Counseling is usually the recommended treatment.

Hypogonadism is a failure of the testes or ovaries to function property, resulting in low libido, sexual dysfunction or infertility. Some causes include:

  • Genetic disorders (i.e.: Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome)
  • Autoimmune disorders (i.e.: Hypoparathyroidism, Addison’s disease)
  • Infectious causes (i.e.: Mumps of the testes)
  • Cryptorchidism (i.e.: undescended testes)
  • Liver and kidney diseases

. . . and many more. Treatment depends on the disorder or complication at hand. Lastly, some people have low libido because of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, history of physical or sexual abuse or stress. People with uncontrolled anxiety may not be able to enter a right state of mind required to perform sexually, because they are too preoccupied and affected by their symptoms.

People suffering from depression can care less about sex. Some barely have any energy to eat or sleep; sexual activity is the last thing on their mind. And people with PTSD may experience the loss of libido because of ongoing depression related to their symptoms of hypervigilance, social isolation and flashbacks.

Those with a history of physical or sexual abuse may be turned off by the idea of sexual stimulation. Their trauma has scarred them so badly, that they lack any desire to connect with another person physically; sometimes even emotionally. And believe it or not, stress can play a huge role in sexual desire: it can worsen your mood, make you more irritable and ruin your relationships.

As you can see, low libido can occur due to many physical and psychological factors, and many were not even mentioned here. If you are experiencing low libido, it is best to try to analyze yourself as to why, and if you still can’t pinpoint the reason, then it’s time to seek professional care.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Financial Stress

Stressed man holding dollar bills on his face

Thinking About Money Everyday

It’s not just young people who experience financial stress. Middle-aged folks as well as the elderly experience worries and concerns regarding their financial situations. Even the wealthy are concerned about making more money, but we’ll leave them out of this one for now. Thinking about money everyday is something that most people do, whether rich or poor.

There are more people who experience financial stress than people who just think about making more money on top of their fat bank accounts. Many college or postgraduate students have loans ranging anywhere from 50K to 500K. The expectation of having to pay back these loans is frightening and even distressing to their mental health.

People who choose to live in Manhattan or San Francisco know very well what it feels like to experience financial stress. Expensive apartments, groceries, car insurance, gas and paying the bills leave us wondering, “how much longer can I go on like this?” Many people live paycheck to paycheck, and not everyone has the opportunity to leave these expensive cities, because of their jobs.

One can always pack up and ship out, but it’s not that easy to just leave your family and friends behind and go job-hunting in a different state; this is especially true as one gets older. In addition, the uncomfortable feeling of waiting for your bank webpage to load so that you can see your account balance, becomes very stressful over time.

But is there a way to handle financial stress without continuing to sacrifice your mental health? Of course there is. You should try to incorporate the following on a daily basis:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Exercise at least 2-3 times per week
  • Socialize and go out to places
  • Manage your budget and don’t overspend on unnecessary items
  • Keep track of your bills and spendings each month
  • Try to work your way up in your job field in order to make more money
  • Remain positive

The most important factor mentioned above is remaining positive. It’s so easy to become bitter and negative when experiencing financial stress. When this happens, everything slowly starts to crumble in your life, including your relationships and hope for the future. The reality is that you’re most likely not going to get rid of your financial stress within the next couple of years, so why sacrifice your mental health and risk losing it all?

No matter the hardships that you are going through, always remember that you are not alone! There is always someone in your exact situation or even worse. So rather than stressing yourself out over your current financial situation, do your best to maintain a positive outlook on life.

Financial stress is something that we all have to deal with, but poor mental health should not be.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Grayscale photography of white police officer holding water bottle

Being Thankful For Police Service

It’s not a stretch to say that we take law enforcement for granted. “Oh, the cops, yeah they’re just there I guess.” But they’re not just there. The police are the ones who we first call when we are in need of assistance, especially when we experience dangerous and violent situations. Law enforcement appreciation day is about recognizing all of the hard work and great service that our officers put in every single day to keep us safe.

Without the police, our society would be in even more chaos than it currently is. How many kidnappings, robberies, burglaries, thefts, rapes, assaults and other crimes occur every day? Probably too many to count. The police leave their families every morning not knowing if they will come back home for supper.

We have to be understanding of the nature of their work. It’s not easy to patrol a town or city and having to deal with all the difficulties that troubled minds contribute. Imagine how many psychopaths and evil people roam our streets, waiting for an opportunity to commit a hideous act.

The police have dedicated their lives to protect our society. We must be understanding and appreciative of their dedication. They have received such a bad rep because of the mainstream media’s portrayal of “cops killing black people.” Haven’t you learned that the mainstream media blows many stories out of proportion in order to make headlines and attract more viewers?

No one is denying the many black deaths that the boys in blue have mistakenly or even purposely taken on some occasions. But rotten apples are everywhere, not just in law enforcement. We cannot hate our police based on a few rotten apples. As with most people in life, the good ones tend to prevail over the bad ones.

It’s also worth mentioning the many innocent officers who have lost their lives to violent and heartless criminals. But who talks about them? The media occasionally mentions it, usually Fox News to be honest. But do we sit around making a huge deal, like when the script is flipped and a cop kills a questionably bad person?

The point is to not follow the mainstream trend just because it’s easier and more comfortable to do so. Be your own voice and use your own mind to come up with your own opinions; exercise your beliefs and live by them! If you are a fan of President Trump, then be a fan and be proud of it! Don’t hold yourself back just because it’s more popular to be a “liberal.”

The same applies with cops. Law enforcement appreciation day should be every day. These brave men and women go to work to keep us safe. The least that we can do is to be appreciative of their intentions and good work!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Celebrating Positive Results

Black woman with green graduation cap celebrating in front of university

Work Hard, Play Hard

Part of maintaining good mental health is knowing when and how to celebrate your victories in life. What is a life full of victories if you cannot celebrate them? Celebrating positive results is very important for your sanity, because it allows you to appreciate all of the hard work that you have put in. Why is this even being mentioned? Because believe it or not, there are people who do not know how to work hard and play hard.

You cannot always work and not replenish your energy with a little fun; you will eventually become miserable. The best things in life are enjoyed in moderation: never too little and never too much. An example is bipolar disorder: you feel miserable when you are depressed, but ecstatic when you are manic.

Except that you cannot remain manic for long, because it starts to interfere with your work and relationships, eventually leading you to become psychiatrically hospitalized. Therefore, we give patients with bipolar disorder a mood stabilizer such as Lithium, Depakote or Tegretol, to return their mood into the happy medium range.

The same concept applies with work and having fun. You cannot keep working indefinitely without celebrating your positive results; you will either experience burnout, become depressed or both. On the other hand, you cannot just have fun all of the time and not work hard in life; you will either become irresponsible, addicted to a substance or incapable of holding a job for longer than a year.

Even if you’re the type of person who keeps to themselves and does not regularly participate in celebrations, you have to learn how to step out of your comfort zone and have a little fun in life. You never know until you try! And even if you previously tried celebrating positive results and did not like it, try again.

You are the only one who is holding yourself back from new activities and events in life. Each one of us has so much potential to improve our current situations, but we often hold ourselves back due to internal conflicts. We have the power to make a change; that power lies within us.

Therefore, it’s time for you to start working hard and playing hard by celebrating your positive results. Get out there and enjoy life while you still have it!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Reminiscing About Your Past

Girl reminiscing while sitting on daisy flowerbed in forest with sun shining on face

Massaged By Good Memories

If it weren’t for the brain’s ability to integrate and retrieve memories, our pasts would be nothing but a big mystery. Can you imagine going through life not remembering what experiences you had during your childhood and adolescence? Reminiscing about your past can put you in a mental state of relaxation, as if you’re being massaged by good memories.

Reminiscing is a form of living in the past, but not the pathological kind. Most people who reminisce do so because they have wonderful memories which they can revisit. Good memories can help alleviate stress, anxiety and even depressive symptoms. Utilize your bank of good memories to help you with your mental health; it’s a tool that is often underutilized by many people.

It’s mentally and emotionally healthy to revisit good memories about your childhood and adolescence, because it makes you appreciative of your life in the past. By looking back in time, you can analyze what you did right and how you can potentially repeat it again in the present. There is so much to learn from the past, but make sure to revisit it in moderation; too much time spent in the past can distract you from the present.

One effective way of reminiscing about your past is by playing music that you enjoyed listening to when you were younger. Whether that’s Billy Joel, Tiesto or Jedi Mind Tricks, it doesn’t matter. Find an artist who you really liked growing up and listen to them again. You will notice an instant transformation in your mind: your attention in the present moment will suddenly shift into the memories associated with that artist.

It truly is an amazing experience to allow certain melodies from the past to help you reminisce; music is sometimes like a vehicle, helping transport you back into time. Another tool for reminiscing about your past is meditation. By practicing mindfulness, your mind will be hit by a ton of thoughts from your childhood, adolescence and the present moment.

By experiencing thoughts from the past during your mindfulness sessions, you will be able to recall events which were previously buried in the depths of your mind; some good and some bad. But it doesn’t matter. Mindfulness is about being nonjudgmental and fully present in the moment. But when that moment incorporates reminiscing about good events and scenarios from the past, it feels like your mind is being massaged by invisible hands.

Here is your new formula for revisiting the past: mindfulness + reminiscing + music, or “mindfully reminiscing over good music.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)