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Multitasking: Could it be Hurting your Mental Health?

When an interviewer asks what a person’s greatest strength is, one possible answer is that they are able to multitask. Most people believe they can effectively multitask but they are actually doing more harm to themselves than good. When someone is being very productive and completing multiple things at once, they normally are actually just very good at working on one thing at a time very quickly, as only 2.5% of the population can actually multitask with any skill.

 

Instead of being twice as productive, the multitasker is less likely to produce high-quality work and leads to more confusion. Researchers believe that rather than being on a higher level than a mono-tasker, multitaskers are actually rewiring their brains and making it more difficult for them to concentrate on one thing at a time.

 

In our modern world, technology has given everyone the illusion of being a multitasker because we’re able to work on multiple screens at the same time. When you’re at home, you could be writing a report with the television on, and also be checking your phone periodically. The distractions of the television and phone will limit the quality of the report you’re trying to complete and also will take you longer than without them. It can even be dangerous to multitask, as texting and driving have been known to be a dangerous example of multitasking that can result in injury and even death.

 

While at work, one of the biggest distractions and illusions of multitasking is email. Typically, a person will check their email at several points throughout the day so they can respond quickly and stay on top of their tasks. Unfortunately, checking email frequently can lead to an unproductive day and research also shows that this constant habit could be decreasing your IQ. The best way to counteract this effect is by limiting the number of times throughout the day that you check your email and taking more control of your day.

 

Aside from being unproductive, attempting to multitask can make it more difficult for you to get back on track with your work and focusing throughout the day. Although it may seem like a great way to take charge and be in control of your day, taking on several projects or tasks will actually lead to a less productive day.

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Social Media and the Effects on Our Mental Health

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that has been incorporated into our daily lives, there’s no doubt that it can affect our mental health. Social media allows us to keep in contact with people who don’t get to see on a daily, weekly, or even yearly basis, but unfortunately, it can also act as a catalyst to mental health disorders if what you’re seeing on the screen makes you feel bad about your own life.

 

A recent survey taken in the UK polled 1500 Facebook and Twitter users and the results showed that over half of the participants had feelings of inadequacy and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy because their followers and friends had more exciting lives by comparison to their own.

 

For those of us who spend a large amount of time on social media every day, it can be difficult to disconnect from it. In fact, studies show that social media may actually be addictive. It allows us to break away from our lives and have a distraction, but it can also give us unrealistic expectations, cultivate our insecurities, and point out things that we don’t have in our lives. What experts do agree on is that those who are overly dependent on social media and technology for social interaction are more likely to exhibit feelings of anxiety. When we see our friends and all the places they’re visiting and the life events they’re experiencing, it can cause us to look at our own lives and feel inadequate with what we’ve experienced and the things we haven’t been able to do.

 

Because many people who regularly use social media are addicted to it, they will regularly check their feed to see what their followers are posting. Unfortunately, when we’re addicted to social media, scrolling through our feeds only makes us feel less in control afterward.

 

If you’re struggling with an addiction to social media and feel like you’re mental health is suffering, as a result, begin making a change by making a conscious effort to limit your time on social media each day. If you’re finding that difficult, remove the apps from your phone so that to sign into your accounts, you need to go to a web browser. This will also keep you from seeing the notifications every time one of your followers’ tweets or shares a post.

 

It’s also a good idea to make an effort to see your friends and family in the real world. Too often we rely on interacting with our loved ones through social media, which can be a great tool but shouldn’t be used as a replacement for actual interaction. Whenever you are with them, be present. Put away your cell phone when you’re out with them and give them your attention.

Managing Workplace Anxiety

There’s no denying work can be stressful. For those of us who suffer from an anxiety disorder, each day can be a struggle to get out of bed, get dressed, and get to work on time. Those who are unsure of their talents and abilities may voluntarily miss out on opportunities that would put them ahead in their companies because they don’t know if they’d be able to fulfill the needs of the position. Public speaking and traveling can be difficult for most people to adjust to, but missing opportunities willingly can also exacerbate symptoms of anxiety disorders.

In order to mitigate the symptoms of anxiety disorders and manage anxiety in the workplace, it’s a good idea to be proactive every day so you can live a happy and healthy work life. It’s also important to realize that feeling anxious is a perfectly normal response to stress, but if it becomes overwhelming, that’s when you need to actively take steps to make positive changes for your overall wellbeing.

 

Be Self-Aware

Being self-aware means checking in on your own physical and emotional responses when feelings of anxiety arise. Be mindful of what exactly is causing your stress and try to see how you can make changes. Are you overwhelmed by unrealistic deadlines? Do you dread everyday responsibilities? Figure out whether or not you need to reorganize or if you’re procrastinating on projects. Don’t try and disregard your feelings because they won’t go away, in fact, they’ll probably intensify. Instead, try to pinpoint exactly what is causing the excessive stress.

 

Make time for yourself

When our plates are full and we feel like we have no time for ourselves, that’s when we especially need to carve out our day and make extra time. When we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, we’re less likely to exercise, but our bodies need it most at that time. Try hard to care for your mind and body by eating the right foods, getting enough sleep each night, and squeezing in some workout time.

 

Reach out to friends and family

Loved ones can be a source of guidance, wisdom, and support. More than likely, you have someone in your circle who is experiencing feelings of anxiety and a loss of control. If not, someone is going to have gone through it at some point in their past. Even if you don’t want to discuss this with friends and family, just knowing they are there for you can be a positive re-enforcement.

 

Seek help from a professional

There is no shame in asking for help if you aren’t managing your anxiety alone. If you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder and don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, it’s best to seek out help in order to manage it effectively. A clinical psychologist will help you figure out not only where your stress is coming from, but how to deal with it so you can live a life that is not controlled by anxiety, but by yourself.

Spread the Positivity Virus

Peer pressure is something adults tell children to watch out for. They are afraid because children are thought to be impressionable. Little do they know, the attitudes of their friends can affect them in similar ways. Your colleagues may not try to get you to engage in illegal behavior, but surrounding yourself with negative people may lead to negative feelings, and the same can be said with positivity. But why does this happen?

The culprit may be social cues. Most humans have the ability to sense a mood shift, based off of nonverbal cues. These can include posture, facial expression, and movement. Someone who is frowning is sad. Someone who can’t stop tapping their fingers is jittery. Someone with their arms crossed is closed off. There are hundreds of social cues humans subconsciously recognize.

Social cues are said to make up 55% of all communication. Before we learn our first words, we observe our family’s behavior and categorize behaviors by their intended effect. This means we can recognize the mood in any given situation without directly asking about it even before we begin school.

Obviously, social cues are a key to this puzzle, but how exactly do they fit in?

When someone does not adhere to social norms, they stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes, there is an event which calls for celebration or one that calls for grief. However, sometimes a group’s mood can be a byproduct of one or two people’s attitude.

Daniel Goleman says that leaders influence their teams’ moods. A manager who angrily points out all of your mistakes can make you feel angry in return. A respectful boss will inspire respect from their employees. In your social group, there is almost always one particularly vocal friend (whether they are happy, sad, or any other emotion), who acts as the leader of the group. Everyone else tends to model their behavior around this centralized person.

There are circumstances where it is appropriate to experience negative emotions, but living a happy life is important to your mental health. Spending all of your time with negative people will ultimately lead you to feel more negative. Experiencing the world with positive people will allow you to enjoy more in life and lead to a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer.

Positivity can be spread as easily as a disease. Every positive word or action transfers this positivity to the next person. Surrounding yourself with positive people is the best and easiest way to live a fulfilling life.

So what are you waiting for? Go out into the world and find new people to share your positivity with. After all, your positivity is just as contagious and can make ripples in the world.

Long Term Mental Health Problems Following Natural Disasters

   In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it is important that we recognize the effects that are caused by such natural disasters, especially the mental health problems that are bound to come about and how the victims of disasters such as this are going to have a hard time moving forward for some time.

   Mental health problems are amongst the most common side effects when it comes to natural disasters. Due to all the devastation and massive loss, disasters can cause issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. However, the issue in this is that these mental health problems rarely occur during the early stages after the emergency. They tend to become more apparent as time goes on and are sometimes overlooked in such emergencies. The reason for this is that initially, these disasters can cause a majority of the population to suffer from grief and shock. So once that stage is over, it is usually expected that people will make an attempt to return to their normal lives and when they are unable to do so, it is because of these mental health problems emerging and affecting their everyday lives. Other disorders and problems that can come up include, acute trauma disorder, anxiety and anxiety related disorders, panic attacks, night terrors, and other mood disorders. These effects usually are not permanent when the persons affected seek immediate treatment and they normally last anywhere from a few months to a few years in some cases. However, if they go undetected and untreated, they can lead to becoming full mental illnesses.

   On the bright side, there are ways to minimize the damage to mental health after these natural disasters. The first step is to be aware of the signs and be able to recognize that a problem is there. Ignoring or not recognizing these issues can only lead to them becoming more permanent. There are many programs available to help with dealing with the mental effects of a disaster. Some of these organizations include the World Health Organization, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Organization, FEMA, along with other agencies. Seeking out supportive and trauma counseling immediately after the disaster can help curb long term mental health damage, and they can continue long after the disaster has subsided. So as we think about physical effects of disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, it is also imperative that we remember the mental health issues such as PTSD and depression that can emerge after these disasters are over and understand that if left untreated can cause long term mental illnesses down the line.

Signs and Symptoms of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disease are usually highly treatable medical illnesses. The issue is that people don’t get the treatment they need due to not understanding the signs associated with these disorders. Being aware of what to expect when these occur is very crucial and necessary for getting the proper help. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of these mood disorders so that you can look out for them and get the help you or a friend might need.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

 

When it comes to depression, you might find yourself or see a close one experience extended periods of sadness. For whatever reason that may be, you just can’t seem to get out of this bad mood. This can carry on and affect your everyday life through work or social encounters with friends and family. Prolonged sadness can also be linked with unexplained crying spells where all of a sudden you feel the need to cry. This can happen during various points of the day or at night. These are very common signs of depression. Other signs and symptoms include, Significant changes in sleep pattern and appetite, anger and anxiety, pessimism and indifference, loss of energy with persistent lethargy, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, inability to concentrate and indecisiveness, inability to take pleasure in former interests along with social withdrawal, unexplained aches and pains, and recurring thoughts of death and suicide. If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms within two weeks or more, you should go and consult a doctor for a thorough evaluation.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

 

Bipolar disease is different from clinical depression as it comes in two phases, the manic and depressive states, however, the symptoms for the depressive state are very similar to that of depression. These shifts in mood can be very severe as they go from extreme highs in energy to deep despair. Some of the symptoms that you can expect in the manic state are increased physical and mental activity and energy, heightened mood along with exaggerated optimism and self-confidence, excessive irritability and aggressive behavior, decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue, grandiose delusions and inflated sense of self-importance, racing speech and thoughts with flights of ideas, impulsiveness with poor judgements, reckless behavior, and in more severe cases one can experiences delusions and hallucinations. Reviewing your family’s history and being open in conversation about these things can help you receive the treatment needed for yourself or for a close one who is experiencing these symptoms.

Loss of Chester Bennington: Knowing the Warning Signs of Suicide

On July 20, 2017, the music world was rocked when the news broke out that Chester Bennington had allegedly committed suicide in his Los Angeles home. Less than two months before, one of his good friends, Chris Cornell, the frontman for Soundgarden had also committed suicide. Fans from around the world were shocked that these musicians from 2 successful bands had chosen to take their own lives.

 

We’ve all heard the tragic stories of people who chose to end their lives, from teenagers and older adults to movie stars and famous musicians. Thoughts of suicide can come to everyone and depression can affect anyone. Suicide is not easy to explain, nor is it the easiest thing to predict but there are warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide.

 

Unfortunately, suicide is becoming more and more commonplace in society and even more unfortunate is the stigma associated with having thoughts of suicide. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors that are prevalent in many people before they take their lives will help you take notice to them in your loved ones and act before it’s too late.

 

Changes in Behavior and/or Appearance

If your friend or loved one is showing strange changes to their behavior, it could mean they have a mental disorder like depression that is going left untreated, or they may be dealing with some sort of substance abuse problem. Maybe your loved one had once been very active and now can hardly get out of bed each morning. Whatever the case may be, if their personality is much different than it was before or they’ve drastically changed their appearance, it’s worth taking a closer look.

 

Moodiness, Sadness, or Anger

Everyone has bad days, but extended lengths of time shouldn’t go by before the person feels happy again. If your loved one has bouts of sadness for a lengthy amount of time or their emotions seem to fluctuate frequently, it’s time to talk to them. For Chester Bennington, he had revealed in multiple interviews throughout his career that he struggled with incredibly negative thoughts that he had a hard time dealing with on his own.

 

Talking about Suicide

Talking about killing yourself should be taken seriously, even if it’s told in a way that is supposed to be humourous. Suicide is never funny and it shouldn’t be dropped casually in conversation. While Chester never joked about suicide during conversations with interviewers, he did discuss his overwhelming depression during his last interview. Although Chester should be considered a huge success, he still had thoughts of suicide showing that depression can hit anyone, even those who are household names. If you hear a loved one or friend talk about suicide, it should never be taken lightly.

 

How to Prevent Suicide

Suicide is one of the most difficult acts to prevent but it can be prevented. If you notice that your friend or family member is suddenly showing any of these symptoms, it’s a great idea to open up the lines of communication with them. Never be confrontational or critical of how they’re feeling. Since there is such a stigma associated with mental illness and suicide, the person may be unwilling to talk about their own issues. Be willing to listen with a non judgemental viewpoint, or as non-judgemental as possible.

 

Even if a person seems fine, you never know what is going on in their heads. If they seem to be struggling with depression or are showing signs of hopelessness, make sure to reach out. In honor of Chester Bennington’s life, Linkin Park has included resources for suicide prevention on their website.

 

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, reaching out is always the best option.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

If you’re in the New York area, please contact the offices at New Horizons Counseling Center for trained professionals who are eager to help. 

New Horizons Counseling Center:  718-845-2620

 

History of Mental Health Treatments: Early Views

Every year, 42.5 million people in the United States alone suffer from mental illness, which totals to be about 18.2 percent of the population. While stigma associated with having a mental disorder still exists in our society, there’s no denying that huge strides have been made in the realm of mental health diagnosis and treatment options compared to years before. Mental illness has always been an affliction of the human race, but the ways it’s treated and viewed has thankfully changed over time.This series will go over some of the earliest views of mental health and the treatment options available and how the practices have evolved over time and what areas still need desperately improved.

 

Earliest Views

Many ancient cultures of the world had supernatural views to why a person was exhibiting out of the ordinary behavior. Mental illness during the ancient times was truly a terrifying thing to have, as societies assumed that the cause was due to a demonic possession. The belief was that if a hole was made in the patient’s head, the demonic spirits would leave through the hole in the head and the person would be cured. As you can probably imagine, this procedure was in no way safe during these early days, effectively killing the person or causing even more health problems.

 

Egyptians

Much like other ancient tribes, the ancient Egyptians seemed to also think that an illness of the mind was thought to be caused by demons of the mind. According to the Ebers papyrus, a scroll that contains medical information and various treatments that were used to heal. Descriptions of some of the ailments sound like mental disorders like depression and dementia. They wrote down incantations that were said to treat these ailments so demons would be removed from the sufferer’s body.

 

Greeks

Ancient Greeks seem to have been the society that put the least amount of stigma mental health disorders. According to William V. Harris, a professor of history and director of the Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia University, Greeks were less concerned about ailments that affected a person internally, like depression, and more concerned about disorders that inhibit an individual’s ability to be an effective member of society. It seems as though people of the ancient Greek time believed that people who had hallucinations were not believed to have anything wrong with them, as it was a sign that the gods were reaching out to them.