Socializing Is Good For Your Mental Health

People socializing beside lake and forest

The Social Butterfly In You

We often become so caught up in our daily routines, that we forget the importance of spending time with friends. Socializing is good for you because it keeps you disengaged from your work and hobbies and allows you to rewind and loosens up your working self.

The benefits of socializing:

  • People with social support tend to live longer than those who are isolated (a general wellbeing is associated with socializing)
  • Your physical and mental health improve (it is associated with a stronger immune system and decreases feelings of depression)
  • You may lower your risk of dementia (it is associated with better performance on tests of memory and other cognitive skills)

Isolation prevents you from growing; all that time by yourself will cap your knowledge on certain life events. Only through social interactions, you can learn certain things in life that you will not find in a book.

We are social creatures by design and we must make an effort to maintain a social life. Go out there and meet people; force yourself if you have to. You will realize that the more you socialize, the better you will feel.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Stop Trying so Hard

Man's hand holding camera facing himself

Your Gift is You

It is important for you to understand one thing: people want to meet the real you. We often become motivated to be ‘someone else’, but that is not who people want to meet; they want you!

Allow your individuality to shine. You will feel better in the process and others will appreciate you for who you are. There is something unique by allowing your true colors to shine; it somehow unlocks another state of consciousness that others become receptive to.

Your mind and soul are unique; if you do not allow them to shine, you will not reap the benefits of your individuality. Show yourself to the world! Be yourself. Do not try to be like others; they are in the process of showing their individuality too, and do not need you to step in their shoes.

Every person has their stage set; you are the leading actor! Act like it. Steal the show, awe the audience, seek applause, be humble and thank God for the gift.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Going To The Gym Is A Rock-Solid Plan

Exercise bike lot in gym

The Importance Of Exercising

Growing up, some of us think to ourselves “Why does that kid work out? Who in their right mind wants to put so much effort only to grow some muscles?” And if we did want to be big like our peers, we certainly did not want to put in the work. But little did we know that going to the gym would deliver us confidence and happiness.

If you have not started going to the gym and you are above age 30, it is not too late! The first step in succeeding at the gym is obtaining a membership and going there; if you do that, you have won half the battle.

So why should anyone go to the gym? For starters, it is important to exercise. It is no secret that exercising is important for your physical and mental health; it gets you in shape and feeling good about yourself.

The health benefits of working out:

  • It can make you feel happier (it improves your mood and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and stress)
  • It can help with weight loss (it increases your metabolic rate and helps you burn more calories, maximizes fat loss and maintains muscle mass)
  • It builds and maintains strong muscles and bones (it stimulates muscle building through better absorption of amino acids (the building blocks of muscles) and helps build bone density, which prevents osteoporosis later in life)
  • It is an energy booster (it can help reduce fatigue)
  • It reduces your risk for chronic diseases (it decreases blood pressure and high cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular fitness and reduces belly fat)
  • It can help skin health (it increases your body’s natural production of antioxidants, which help protect skin cells from free-radical damage and stimulates blood flow, helping slow down the process of skin aging )
  • It improves brain function (it increases your heart rate which results in a better blood flow to your brain, it increases the size of the hippocampus – the memory bank of the brain, promoting increased retention of memories and better learning)
  • It can help you relax and sleep better (the energy that is lost during exercise helps your body recuperate during sleep, the increased body temperature during exercise promotes a drop in temperature during sleep, improves insomnia and helps you feel more energized during the day)
  • It improves chronic pain (it raises your pain tolerance and reduces your pain perception)
  • It can promote a better sex life (it boosts sex drive, improves sexual performance, improves blood circulation and cardiovascular function, increases the frequency of orgasms and helps reduce erectile dysfunction)

As you can see, working out, whether through aerobic exercise or resistance training (preferably both) has many health benefits that will help turn you into a stronger and more resilient person. And this results in the common denominator of happiness, which is one of the core principles of The DSM Ready Movement.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Do Not Let Others Kill Your Dreams

Wall decor stating "dreams come true"

You Are The Master Of Your Dreams

Your dreams are one of the greatest assets that have been handed down to you; they provide inspiration, motivation, direction and happiness. You should strive to think about your dreams everyday, no matter how hard life can get at times.

One thing to remember is that some people will laugh at your dreams. They will say things like “you will never make it”, “that is impossible”, “you have no shot”, etc. But do not fall for the trap of letting others’ opinions influence you. This is your life and you have the power to shoot for the stars.

When your dreams start becoming a reality, people will either become jealous of you or come running back with a “I knew you’d make it” mentality. Do not fall for these traps either. If they were not able to stand by you at your worst time, they do not deserve to stand by you at your best time.

How do you go by turning dreams into a reality? You believe wholeheartedly, day in and day out, that you will achieve your goals. The power of belief works in a mysterious and magical way; it will make your dreams come true in the future with enough persistence and determination on your part. But do not lose patience; this is another trap that people fall into. Patience is key to achieving your goals and becoming successful in life; it provides you with strength, stamina and character.

What are your dreams? Share in the comments section below. DSM Ready is about being forthcoming with each other and helping one another reach a higher state of mind.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Don’t Get Too Sunny

Forest with sunlight causing an addiction

Sunny Delight

Most of us love the sun. It makes us feel great, makes us happier, improves our tan and gives us a general good feeling about the day. But did you know that you can become addicted to the sun? UV exposure releases beta-endorphines (neurotransmitters that act like pain suppressors) in the body, which bind to opioid receptors, making you feel good, and reinforcing the pattern of sun-seeking. It is important that you control your urges and impulses to sunbath, because too much of it can promote a new addiction.

Sun bathing can also be psychologically addictive. The warm feeling of the sun on your body and the nice tan that comes along with it, reinforces your behavior of going back out there and seeking that nice feeling. Like anything that feels good in life, our brain rewards us with releasing dopamine in the nucleus accumbens – the reward center of our brain; the sun is no exception.

What are the health benefits of sun exposure?

  • It promotes the production of vitamin D (vitamin D protects against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, improves brain function and strengthens bones)
  • It decreases your risk of developing colon cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer
  • It may help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne
  • It helps improve depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and sleep quality
  • It helps make you happier by promoting socialization with friends and family

What are the harmful effects of sun exposure?

  • Sunburn
  • Premature skin aging and wrinkles
  • Skin damage
  • Skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma)
  • Damage to the retina of the eye (is also a factor in the development of cataracts)
  • Heat exhaustion (headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature)
  • Heat stroke (confusion, slurred speech, seizures and loss of consciousness)
  • And last but not least, it can turn you into a BURNED OUT BEACH BUM

As you can see, the sun can be quite awesome but too much of it can cause a burnout (no pun intended). Always wear sunscreen and sunbath in moderation.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Colorful animal abstract wall painting

Be Organic And Show Your True Colors

Ever since we enter childhood, are curiosity buds start buzzing and we start asking ourselves “who am I?” We start questioning the world, our parents, our friends and society; we wonder why we get in trouble for certain things we do, but not for others.

Then comes the fun part. Adolescence. I believe this is the most crucial life stage that a person goes through, because it can make or break them. Teenagers start to naturally disconnect from their parents and connect more tightly with their peers; image, popularity, roles and fitting in become the agenda.

For all the teenagers reading this, remember one thing: be organic, be yourself and show your true colors to everyone around you; there are people dying to meet the real you! As soon as you start acting like others, you are selling yourself short. Why? Because you are not allowing your personality to flower into who you really are meant to be. This stage is important because your brain and mind are developing and you need your true personality to be as much in tune with them as possible; this will maximize your opportunities in life by keeping your mind and personality in sync.

Even in adulthood, some people continue to “try too hard” or act like a version that does not seem to be in sync with who they truly are. These people are not representing their true selves to the world. Guess how they feel inside? Miserable, disgusted, and depressed! Imagine stepping outside your home everyday and immediately putting on a mask that you want to portray to society; your true self is buried behind this mask until you arrive back home.

This is no way of living. Everybody should always be themselves; this is how our world will become a better place, and this is how we will end mental health stigma once and for all.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Benefits Of Sleep

The sleep hygiene of a cat sleeping under a white comforter

A Proper Sleepy Head

It is unimaginable how important sleep is to your wellbeing. To properly function and maximize your potential in life, you need a proper sleep hygiene. A sleep hygiene is a set of routines that you consistently stick to that allows you to maintain a good sleep over the long run:

  • Do not exercise the immediate hours prior to sleep (this will keep you awake since you are already energized from the workout)
  • No not consume a large meal before sleep (your body will be focused on the digestion process rather than resting)
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol before sleep (alcohol may make you fall asleep easier, but it actually interrupts your REM sleep, causing you to wake up more frequently, resulting in morning tiredness)
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (your internal clock which is located in a region of your brain called the hypothalamus becomes used to a set schedule – mess up this schedule and you will start having problems with sleep)
  • Stay away from caffeine before sleep
  • If you find yourself not being able to fall asleep after laying down for 30 minutes in bed, get out of bed and go do something else, and return back to bed in 30 minutes (laying in bed while not being able to fall asleep actually trains your mind to relate the bed with poor sleep)
  • Do not read, watch TV or utilize electronics while in bed (the bed should be associated only with sleep and sex; the rest can be done during the day outside of bed)

Did you know that sleep keeps your heart healthy? Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep may prevent cancer! Light suppresses the sleep hormone called melatonin; hence, why it is not produced during the day by your pineal gland. If you use electronics while going to sleep, you are telling your brain “I’m not ready to go to sleep” and your brain interprets this as a signal to shutdown melatonin production. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors.

Sleep reduces stress! When you do not sleep properly, your body experiences stress. This results in stress hormones being released as well as an elevation of blood pressure. Stress hormones make it harder for you to fall asleep, promote inflammation and elevated blood pressure, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep increases your energy level! After a good night’s sleep, you feel energized and mentally refreshed, allowing you to tackle the day’s work with a positive mindset, promoting happiness. This is why sleep hygiene is important!

Sleeps improves memory! During sleep, a process called memory consolidation occurs. Your brain is busy integrating everything that happened during the day, including new information that you have learned. Improved memory helps you become a better communicator, score higher on tests and feel better about yourself.

Sleep may help you lose weight! People who sleep less become hungrier during the day; the appetite hormones Leptin and Ghrelin become disrupted, resulting in hunger. Therefore, maintain a proper 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your hormones functioning in the normal range.

Overall, sleep is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. It is important that you maintain a good sleep hygiene; especially in this day and age, where we are living in an ultra-competitive and cut-throat society.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Your Complaints Do Not Help

Man holding cell phone that says "stop complaining"

Grow Up And Take Responsibility

Complaining is a negative trait or characteristic that a lot of people carry around; they do not realize how much harm the act of complaining does to their physical health, relationships and mental health.

When you complain, the body releases a stress hormone from the adrenal gland (a small gland on top of your kidney) called cortisol. Repeated cortisol release secondary to complaining can impair your immune system, making you more susceptible to developing high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and strokes. Think of your immune system as your “second brain.” When your “second brain” is impaired, so is your body.

Complaining also negatively affects your relationships. Nobody enjoys hearing a complainer whine about his or her day; it sets off an air of negativity which impacts you and makes you no longer want to spend time with that person.

How about your mental health? You guessed it! Repeatedly complaining can make you depressed, anxious, stressed and miserable. It promotes a vicious cycle: you become stressed and miserable resulting in complaints, and the complaints then result in more stress and anxiety.

When we talk about sharing our experiences and advice on the The DSM Ready Movement, we by no means intend on promoting the act of complaining. DSM Ready is about growth development, taking responsibility for our actions and words and helping each other elevate to the next level.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Complexity Of Impulses

Impulsive woman jumping in a burned down house

Keep The Brake Pedal Handy

The sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act is the definition of an impulse. The key word is unreflective. Impulses can protect us, improve our situations and relationships or can shatter us! An impulse usually has a negative connotation; we usually think of bad things happening but that is not always true. An impulse can help you get that next date, give you strength to hit the gym or study for countless hours to get that A on your upcoming exam.

But there is something strange about impulses; they often bring confusion and may even make you self-conscious. Most of the time, we do not like urges or sudden strong feelings; they make us feel insecure and unsure of the situation we are in or getting ourselves in. Impulses can sometimes get us into fights, promote an addiction or even get us into trouble with the law.

My recommendation is that people always take 10-20 seconds to think an impulse through, before acting on it. It is not hard to spot an upcoming impulse; usually you have premeditated on the future action before it happens. When you feel an impulse coming, for instance, pouring yourself an alcoholic drink when you are struggling with alcoholism, take 10-20 seconds to press the pause button and remind yourself “I have a problem with alcohol and I do not need this drink”, rather than jumping straight to the bottle. Those 10-20 seconds may prevent you from pouring another drink, resulting in improved confidence and willpower to abstain from alcohol! What is your opinion on impulses? Share your comments below.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why E-Cigarettes Have Hit A Left Turn

Person in black hoodie vaping

Smoking Mirrors

E-Cigarettes were never meant to be targeted towards the adolescent population. They were in fact designed to be a replacement of cigarettes for long-term smokers. But somewhere along the lines, adolescents started to get their hands on them, resulting in a massive epidemic. Adolescents see these devices as fun, easy to use and easy to hide; vaping can be done in bars, restaurants, malls or even in schools. The vapor has no smell and it disappears within seconds.

Vaping also is considered cool in the adolescent world: teenagers learn to do “vape tricks” and even get paid on Instagram for advertising the different types of E-Cigarettes. What do these companies get out of it? A large growing, vulnerable and immature portion of our population who is throwing money their way and helping the industry strive! It is unfortunate that this industry is taking advantage of our youth, despite the health consequences that come along with vaping.

The FDA recently reported that 35 people have had seizures from E-Cigarettes by accidentally or intentionally ingesting the liquid cartridge. 35 is a minuscule number, but will this be the beginning of a large study proving that E-Cigarettes decrease the seizure threshold in its users? And what consequences will this have on users who have a family history of seizures but are too addicted to stop vaping? In addition, vaping does not mean that one’s lungs are not harmed.

E-Cigarettes may be slightly safer than cigarettes due to the lack of combustion which results from lighting up the tobacco in cigarettes; however, they still contain a number of harmful chemicals: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde. These chemicals are toxic to cells and can cause lung disease as well as cardiovascular (heart) disease. Acrolein is a herbicide used to kill weeds; it can cause COPD, asthma, lung cancer and acute lung injury.

E-Cigarettes have not been found to be effective in helping smokers quit. Nicotine is the addictive culprit. E-Cigarettes have only replaced the mode of inhalation, from smoking to vaping, but nicotine is still present when one inhales vapor; hence, the addiction never clears the smoke. The DSM community is about promoting excellent mental and physical health, and with knowledge and honesty, we can lead the way on promoting a healthier and more vibrant society.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)