Walking:10 Healthiest Reasons to Increase It

increase walking

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Walking is an effortless way to increase daily physical activity. Besides being free, the incremental benefits of walking continue to add up. Here are 10 of the healthiest reasons to increase walking now.

Healthiest Reasons to Increase Walking

Everyone knows that exercise is good. We tell ourselves we will get more physically active, yet often fail to follow through. Life gets in the way. But walking is a simple, easy, and free way to exercise. Bonus: Walking is good for physical and mental health.

Boost Energy and Vitality

In a 2022 review and meta-analysis, researchers found significant increases in energy and vitality in exercise in green outdoor versus urban outdoor environments.

Walking Significantly Reduces Anxiety

Combatting anxiety can be challenging. Yet, research shows that walking can prove effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

  • Liu et al. (2019), researching the health benefits of bamboo forest therapy, found increased positive mood after 15 minutes of viewing and 15 minutes of walking in the forest.
  • Besides lowering anxiety, the bamboo forest walking reduced tension, anger, hostility, fatigue, and confusion.

Improves Tranquility and Calmness

Besides meditation, what else helps improve a sense of tranquility and calmness?

  • According to research by Butryn and Furst (2003), walking in a park showed a statistically significant increase in tranquility compared with an urban environment.

Buddhist Walking Meditation Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

What about combining the two if walking is good and meditation is good? When evaluating traditional walking with Buddhist walking meditation, Gainey et al. (2016) found positive effects for Type 2 diabetes:

  • Buddhist walking meditation significantly improved oxygen consumption.
  • Fasting blood glucose levels significantly decreased with this form of mindful walking.
  • Significantly decreased levels of HbA1c and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found in the Buddhist walking meditation group. This was compared with traditional walking.
  • Furthermore, arterial stiffness improved, and blood cortisol levels were reduced with Buddhist walking meditation.

Walking Helps Reduce Stress

Walking outside is a simple yet effective way to lower stress levels. How it works: Exercise like walking reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels. These are stress hormones. Walking (and other brisk exercises) increases endorphin production. Endorphins are brain chemicals that are called natural painkillers and natural mood enhancers.

  • The benefits of walking can occur with a brief, 20-minute walk. This is enough to clear your mind and reduce feelings of stress.

Walking May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

As Americans age, rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continue to climb. But is there a non-medical way to help stave off cognitive decline? Research on walking shows promise in this area as well.

Research from the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reported that 31-plus minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity (steps, walking) was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. This was among women aged 65 and older.

Walking Could Boost Creativity

Are you looking for a burst of inspiration? Walking may be the answer. Researchers at Stanford University found that walking boosted participants’ creativity by 81 percent on one test and 23 percent on another.

  • Interestingly, their creativity got a residual boost when participants were seated after walking.
  • Furthermore, walking outdoors offered the highest quality results.
  • Researchers concluded that walking spurs ideas free flow. It is a robust, simple solution to increase creativity.

Growing New Brain Cells May be Possible

Scientists are eager to find ways to stimulate the brain to produce new cells. Researchers are excited to study the potential benefits of walking to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

  • A study on aerobic activity, such as walking and dancing, found that white matter in the brain remodels itself with increased physical activity.
  • The brain’s white matter is responsible for remembering and thinking.
  • Being able to potentially grow new brain cells by walking demonstrates the brain’s plasticity and malleability.

Lower Anger and Hostility

Do you need to tamp down feelings of anger and hostility? Besides hitting a boxing bag, what else can you do? How about walking?

Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, commenting on the research, states that regular walking “modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger and hostility.” The article appeared in Prevention.

Brisk Walking Improves the Heart

Research shows that a 30-minute daily walk helps reduce heart disease risk. Researchers say walking should be recommended to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Walking can also help combat depression. So, step it up. Get out there. Enjoy a refreshing and reinvigorating walk today.



Best Easy Ways to Overcome Depression

Overcome depression

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Feeling down for weeks is no fun. Besides, living with untreated depression robs you of joy. Commit to taking proactive steps with these easy ways to help overcome depression so you can live a vibrant life.

Depression Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) says about 280 million people worldwide have depression. Furthermore, this mental health disorder is more commonly found in women than men (by about 50 percent).

  • Although effective depression treatments are available, more than 75 percent of those with depression in poorer countries are not treated.

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Yet, depression is highly treatable, and people can go on to live a normal, productive life.

Easy Ways to Overcome Depression

The most crucial decision is getting treatment. Yet, psychological depression treatments, while effective, take time. Your treatment may include behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, or problem-solving therapy. But you will want to take additional steps to feel better. The same holds for taking prescribed antidepressant medications.

What can you do today to help overcome depression?

Find Activities You Enjoy

Think about what you enjoy doing most. For example, if you like walking in nature, schedule a weekend to relax with a stroll in a nature preserve, a hiking trail in the mountains or woods, or a city park.

Walking in nature hits two significant points in the ways to overcome depression:

Maintain a Regular Routine

Now is the time to stick to your regular eating and sleeping pattern. It would be best to nourish your body and replenish your energy consistently.

Cherish Connections with Family and Friends

One easy way to overcome depression is familiar and healing. Connect with family and friends often. This helps lift your mood, overcome lethargy, stop self-destructive and potentially downward-spiraling thoughts, and promote well-being.

Be Kind to Yourself to Overcome Depression

Kindness always helps. But when you are working to overcome depression, kindness can be highly effective. First, be kind to yourself. Healing from depression is a long-haul experience. You want all the help you can get.

Plus, the benefits of self-kindness radiate to all aspects of life.

Find Someone You Trust to Talk to

Even though you may see a psychotherapist or counselor to help you overcome depression, you may need someone to talk to in-between sessions.

  • Choose this person wisely.
  • You want someone you trust so you know they won’t betray your confidence.
  • And you want to talk openly about your feelings with someone who can be empathetic and encouraging in your healing journey.

Give Yourself Goals to Achieve

One of the best easy ways to overcome depression is to have something to look forward to. Your list of goals to achieve can include the following:

  • Making plans to go on vacation
  • Going back to school to get a degree
  • Taking a course to learn something new
  • Achieving proficiency or mastery in a sport or hobby
  • Embarking on a new career
  • Expanding your network of friends

Creating opportunities for goal achievement and accomplishment is one of the cornerstones of positive psychology interventions to reduce depression.

Embrace Hope to Overcome Depression

Be optimistic about your future. Adopt a hopeful attitude. Hope helps restore your body and mind to a healthy state. Hope drives motivation. It is a source of inspiration and is essential for creativity.

Treatment Resources

Need help locating treatment? Check out these resources:



Best Easy Ways to Ensure You Are Happy Today

best easy ways to be happy

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Happiness is what we all want. To be happy means feeling fulfilled, at peace with yourself, one with nature, and much more. Some people strive all their lives trying to find happiness. Yet happiness is readily available. And it is free. Here are some of my best easy ways to be happy today.

Best Easy Ways to Be Happy Today

Start with these tips to begin your journey of happiness.

Clear Your Mind with Meditation

Scientific research on the benefits of meditation reveals that cultivating mindfulness through meditative practice results in improved well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, lower levels of depression, lowered heart rate, and major changes in the brain. Each of these contributes to the ability to recognize and appreciate happiness.

Meditation practitioners say that the time involved can be brief yet effective. You don’t need to spend hours meditating to reap the benefits. Start by clearing your mind, focusing only on the sound, and feeling your breath. According to Headspace, tapping into happiness and reconnecting with your mind’s happy state is possible by meditating for happiness.

Besides, you can meditate anywhere, making meditation one of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Treat Yourself

Think of the last time you treated yourself. How did the experience make you feel? If you say delighted, fulfilled, satisfied, content, nurtured, or filled with joy, you’re onto something. That something is happiness. While generally reserved for a reward after accomplishing a goal, a treat can prove useful when you’ve put in the work and deserve a break.

And we can all resonate with that. This makes treating yourself one of the best easy ways to be happy today.

Enjoy Food That Tastes Good

Let’s start with chocolate, specifically dark chocolate. While a 2020 study found that cocoa consumption in young adults improved brain performance, research published in 2019 found a lowered risk of depressive symptoms by eating dark chocolate.

Yet good-tasting food that improves well-being and happiness goes beyond chocolate. Other happiness-inducing food includes coffee, eggs, coconut, avocado, red peppers, blueberries, red wine, beets, walnuts, salmon, black beans, honey, whole-grain bread, and seaweed.

Whatever sparks your taste buds, consider adding one or more of these good-tasting foods to your menu this week. It’s yet another of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Be With Upbeat People

Since having a positive outlook is aligned with happiness, one of the best easy ways to be happy today is to be with upbeat people. Why is this true? Verywell Mind says positive people are happy, compassionate, optimistic, helpful, humorous, upbeat, solution-oriented, and grateful.

On the other hand, negative people tend to be unhappy, unhelpful, apathetic, cynical, ungrateful, pessimistic, and serious and dwell on their problems.

Get Outside and Connect with Nature

Nature’s sights, sounds, smells, and touch sensations provide many benefits that add up to increased well-being and happiness. An American Psychological Association article points out how spending time in nature can boost cognition and improve mental health.

One key finding is that spending time outside in nature induces awe, the feeling that you’re part of something much bigger. The result: you are happier, more content, more giving. Strive for at least a couple of hours a week outside. Carve out 15-minute segments for a quick walk if that is easier, or take an hour-long hike and a few short walks during the week.

Visit a Good Friend

Isolation is not conducive to happiness, whereas spending time with a good friend helps promote happiness and an overall sense of well-being. Friendship has long been associated with good mental health and happiness, so it is no surprise that visiting a good friend can lift your mood when you need it most.

Have a Laugh or Two (Even More)

Who doesn’t love a good comedy? I enjoy watching sitcoms (especially reruns of Two and a Half Men). Furthermore, growing up, I always laughed a lot. While we didn’t own many material things, we enjoyed experiences. In short, we learned to laugh at ourselves, at life’s seeming contradictions and its many idiosyncrasies.

The science behind why laughter helps promote happiness is clear: Laughter releases endorphins in the brain, making us feel good. Laughter also helps support long-term relationships by cementing social bonds.

Give Yourself a Challenge

The satisfaction you feel when you accept a challenge and do your best to achieve the goal can easily correlate with happiness. We all feel good about ourselves when we aim beyond our comfort zone and tackle something new and difficult. Yes, it can be scary to venture into an activity with uncertain outcomes, but the exhilaration that comes with success is self-reinforcing. We feel confident going after new challenges.

Be Nice to Others

Kindness and being nice to others have a beneficial effect on happiness. Researchers in two separate studies found that practicing kindness boosts happiness and that kindness and happiness encourage each other.

Be kind to someone today. It is one of the best easy ways to ensure you are happy today.

Embrace Happiness

The final item in my best easy ways to ensure you are happy today is embracing happiness. It is good to be happy, not only because it feels wonderful but also because happiness promotes more happiness.

When you do what you love and feel happy, you want to continue to do what you love. You find additional ways to add to that ability, new ways to express your talents, and progress in your learning experiences.

Everyone deserves happiness. We all have the capacity for happiness since it is in our DNA. Call it the happiness gene. For the best easy way to be happy today, embrace happiness.

8 Proactive Ways to Let Go of Anger

8 Ways to Let Go of Anger

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When you are angry, it’s hard to find ways to let go of anger. Life holds many frustrations to deal with. These ignite angry feelings and a desire to retaliate.

  • Some inconsiderate driver cuts you off in traffic.
  • The woman in front of you in line at the coffee shop gets the last pastry – the one you had your eye on.
  • Your co-worker takes credit for the report you researched and wrote.
  • Neighborhood kids smashed your car with rocks, causing extensive damage.

You’re angry. You want to lash out. But will this do anything to change what happened? Or will it only make you feel more miserable as you can’t escape the fire of your anger?

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

No one picks up burning hot coal with their unprotected hands. That’s foolish. Fire burns. Yet, that’s exactly what we sometimes do regarding powerful emotions like anger. We hold onto it. Expecting a different outcome than getting burned is the definition of insanity.

8 Proactive Ways to Let Go of Anger

If the best way to deal with anger is to let it go, how do we do that? Here are some suggestions:

Walk Away

Putting some distance between you and the situation or people that prompted the angry feelings, to begin with, is a logical first step. If you aren’t close to the source of your anger, you’re less likely to lash out and do or say something that will cause harm to another. In addition, by walking away, you’ll allow yourself time to cool off so that you can think about what happened in a more rational way.

Identify Why You’re Angry

Take the inconsiderate driver that cut you off. This happens all the time. Why is today any different than another day?

  • What is it about being cut off that makes you so angry now?
  • Is it that you’re already late for work?
  • Is it just another string of things that went wrong today, and this is the last straw?
  • Are you upset with yourself for failing to complete a task or due to an argument with your spouse, child, or co-worker?

By identifying what’s underneath your anger, you’ll be better able to get past it.

Let it Out to Let Go of Anger

Instead of bottling up your anger and holding it inside like a captive coal that continues to burn, find a place to let it out with a scream, a vigorous physical workout, or a good cry. Letting go of the anger before confronting the person that prompted the negative feelings will allow you to behave more constructively and proactively.

Figure Out What to Change

Realize that you have three options when dealing with anger: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. Once you decide that there’s something you can do to change the situation, act on that. It will help you let go of the anger and move on.

Own Responsibility

Secretly, you might have prompted the situation that made you angry. Instead of trying to shift the blame and punish others, take responsibility for your part in what happened.

Even if you only acknowledge this to yourself, it’s a huge step. Then, focus on what you could have done differently so that the next time something like this occurs, you’ll act in a more responsible way.

Calmly Talk with the Offender to Let Go of Anger

You’ll need to use the walk-away technique before confronting the offender about what made you angry. When you’ve put some time and distance between you and the person and situation, you can better tell that person how you feel about what happened. It’s important to remember that you won’t be able to control how that person reacts. The only thing you can do is express your feelings kindly and calmly. This will help you let go of the anger.

See the Anger Melting Away

The anger you feel doesn’t affect the other person as much as it does you. Knowing this, why hold onto it? Instead, visualize the anger as ice that’s melting away in the heat. Feel the sense of coolness that replaces the anger. This will help you regain peace and kindness toward yourself.

See it From the Offender’s Perspective

The person who angered you wasn’t aware he or she was doing anything wrong. They could have inadvertently done something, not out of malicious intent, just without thinking of the potential consequences. Mistakes happen. People don’t necessarily intend to harm. Recognize that you’ve done the same thing to other people. Have a little compassion. This will go a long way toward your ability to let go of anger.

* * *






The Extraordinary Power of Perseverance


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Perseverance has extraordinary power. You need the power of perseverance to overcome many of life’s most difficult challenges. Like substance abuse, addiction, and major depression.

Or recovering from surgery, an accident, or a disease. Not all challenges will result in initial success. But never give up. for it is only through perseverance and diligence that dreams can be achieved.

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” – Winston Churchill

Perseverance is essential. Yet, it is also true that most people find it too easy to become disheartened when things don’t go as planned or anticipated. That is human nature. Whether the individual is in recovery or not doesn’t matter. Humans make mistakes. We have clouded judgment at times. We are often overly emotional about things when making decisions.

There is a tendency to blame time and place or say it is just bad luck when it comes to success. That’s an excuse. It is a rationalization instead of owning up to the truth: We didn’t keep at it or gave up too soon.

Sure, there are good reasons to get discouraged. These include attempting a goal without readiness, insufficient training, lack of knowledge or experience, and fear of success or failure.

Perseverance Means You Keep Going

However, that’s more ammunition to keep plugging away at plans. Go step by step until there is an achievement. Look for progress that can reassure you of being on the right track. This motivates when nothing else will.

How else can we explain the success of others who, by all outward appearances, have nothing going for them and seem doomed to failure? Yet, it happens every day that individuals achieve tremendous success, and reach lofty goals, perhaps because of or despite their disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • What about those who have nothing positive in our history to point to?
  • What if we mess up everything we’ve ever attempted? Or have we made more mistakes than wise decisions for a long time?
  • We can blame it all on someone else, our preoccupation with making money, an obsessive focus on relationships, or one or more addictions.
  • If we let our lives slip into disarray or ignored obvious symptoms, there may be some valid basis for such an explanation.
  • But it is still not taking responsibility for what’s happened. After all, no one forced us to drink or do drugs.
  • Granted, we may have a biological marker that is a contributing factor. Such as generations of family alcoholism. Yet thousands of individuals with such markers do not become alcoholics.

How to Turn Things Around

Suffice it to say that if we have a bleak history concerning success, it is time to change that. Start working today to achieve small successes. Start somewhere. Set reasonable goals that have a realistic chance of success.

And some things qualify in this area. Treat ourselves better. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat regular and well-balanced meals. Get some daily physical exercise. These are not tough goals. They should be the ones we can do.

Perseverance Helps in Achieving Goals

Little accomplishments will begin to add up. Here’s how it works.

  • When we are properly nourished, well-rested, and have increasing amounts of energy because we are getting physical exercise to jumpstart our system, there are multiple physical, emotional, and psychological benefits.
  • There’s no reliance on substances for a jolt or numb reality.
  • Therefore, welcome the opportunity to live clear-headed and free of alcohol and drugs.
  • This is the path to healing from addictions.
  • It is also an example of taking the first steps in a personal path of recovery from any medical condition, disease, tragedy, emotional disturbance, or illness.

Be sure to use the support and encouragement readily available to us from our family members and loved ones. Only those who are committed to our recovery can offer the kind of unflagging support that’s so crucial to ongoing progress.

If we know we have allies, that will ease our minds and allay some of our fears about tackling goals. Especially difficult goals and those that take a long time. Everyone in recovery started with uncertainty and fear. The unpredictability of the future can be truly frightening.

Know that it is possible to get through this with perseverance and determination. It will not be easy. But it isn’t out of the question, either. Life is precious. It is also short. Isn’t it better to live with the hope and expectation of doing the best to be happy, productive, and fulfilled?

Extraordinary Power of Perseverance

Another extraordinary power of perseverance is that it is self-renewing. The more we persevere, the more we want to continue, and the clearer the goal or objective becomes. When we encounter obstacles, a strong commitment to perseverance can lead to discovering alternative ways to achieve desired goals.

Be comforted that millions of individuals in recovery have found hope, comfort, peace, happiness, and love. We can, too, if we maintain our perseverance, never give in, and never give up.

* * *

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:
Why It’s Good That You’re Not Perfect
How to Keep Frustration From Blocking Your Goals
How to Manage Your Anger
How to Overcome Laziness and Get Things Done
10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being
10 Ways Stress Harms You
Best Way to Effect Change
15 Ways to Increase Your Happiness
10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals
How to Tap Into Your Capabilities
The Incredible Value of Dreams

Why Good Mental Health Is Important and How to Promote It

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Although good mental health is important, not everyone recognizes it. To maintain good mental health, find ways to promote overall well-being.

Even those who have a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, or develop one coincident with substance use disorder, can take proactive measures to achieve good mental health. What is good mental health? What helps promote it? Here are some points to consider.

Good Mental Health Defined

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Mental health is an integral and essential component of health.” Furthermore, the WHO constitution states, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Good mental health is also more than not having a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. A mentally healthy person knows their capabilities. They can cope with life’s normal stresses, work in a productive manner regularly, and contribute to the community. Good mental health is the foundation for effective functioning and well-being for individuals and their communities.

Promoting Good Mental Health

Good mental health requires action. Promoting mental health encompasses various strategies, all to make a positive impact on mental health. These include:

  • Programs and strategies to create living conditions
  • An environment supportive of mental health that allows people to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles

The range of available choices has the added benefit of increasing opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of good mental health or improve it.

Factors That Determine Mental Health

Mental health and mental health disorders are affected by multiple factors.  Just as is the case with illness and general health. Often these factors interact and include biological, social, and psychological elements.

According to experts, some of the clearest evidence is associated with various poverty indicators. Among them are low levels of education, inadequate housing, and low income.

Risks to mental health for individuals and communities tend to increase as socioeconomic disadvantages increase and persist. In addition, disadvantaged individuals within communities are more vulnerable to mental health disorders. Some of this may be partly explained by other factors, such as rapid social change, risks of violence, poor physical health, and feeling insecure and hopeless.

Good mental health is impossible without policies and an environment that respects and protects basic civil, cultural, political, and socio-economic rights. People must have the security and freedom of these rights to achieve and maintain good mental health.

Behavior and Mental Health

Certain mental, social, and behavioral health problems may interact and intensify effects on a person’s behavior and well-being. Key examples include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Violence
  • Abuse against children and women
  • Anxiety and
  • Depression.

Other problems are more prevalent and difficult to cope with. These include”

  • High unemployment
  • Low income
  • Stressful working conditions
  • Gender discrimination
  • Human rights violations
  • Unhealthy lifestyles
  • Social exclusion
  • Limited education

Cost-Effective Interventions to Promote Good Mental Health

Good mental health doesn’t require million-dollar budgets to promote. Low-cost, cost-effective interventions can raise mental health on an individual and community level. The following effective evidence-based interventions can help promote good mental health:

  • Early childhood interventions
  • School mental health promotion activities
  • Community development programs
  • Support for children
  • Improved housing policies
  • Violence prevention programs
  • Empowerment of women, including mentoring programs
  • Elder social support
  • Workplace mental health interventions
  • Programs targeted at vulnerable groups

Good Mental Health Basics for Children at Home

Promoting good mental health in children involves several things parents can do at home.

Unconditional love

All children need unconditional love from their parents. This love, and the associated acceptance and security, are the foundation for a child’s good mental health. Children must be reassured that parental love doesn’t depend on getting good grades, doing well in sports, or how they look.

Another crucial point is that childhood mistakes and defeats are common. These should be expected and accepted. When parents show unconditional love, and their children know this exists no matter what happens, their self-confidence will grow.

Confidence and self-esteem

Parents can nurture their child’s confidence and self-esteem by praising their efforts for things they attempt for the first time or those they do well. This encourages the child to learn new things and explore the unknown. Parents can also build their child’s confidence and self-esteem by providing a safe play environment, active involvement in their activities, assurance, and smiling.

Set realistic goals for children that match their abilities and ambition. They can choose more challenging goals that test their abilities as they age. Avoid being critical or sarcastic. Instead, give children a pep talk if they fail a test or lose a game. They need reassurance, not criticism.

Be honest, yet don’t make light of parental failures or disappointments. Knowing their parents are human and sometimes make mistakes helps children to grow. Encourage them to do their best and enjoy learning. Trying new activities helps children learn teamwork, build self-esteem, and develop new skills.

Guidance and discipline

Children also need to know that some actions and behaviors and actions are inappropriate and unacceptable, whether at home, school, or elsewhere. As primary authority figures, parents need to provide their children with appropriate guidance and discipline. In the family, ensure discipline is fair and consistent, not having different rules for the child’s other siblings.

Parents Should Set a Good Example

Set a good example since kids won’t adhere to rules if parents break them. Also, when the child does something wrong, talk about their inappropriate behavior, but don’t blame the child. Explain the reason for the discipline and the potential consequences their actions may involve.

Do not nag, threaten, or bribe. Children quickly ignore those tactics. They’re also ineffective. Try not to lose your self-control. If you do, talk about what happened and apologize. Providing parental guidance and discipline is not for controlling children but for allowing them to learn self-control.

Safe and secure surroundings

Children should feel safe and secure at home and not be fearful there. Yet, despite parents’ and caregivers’ best intentions, children experience fear and anxiety, become secretive or withdraw during certain circumstances and situations. It’s important to remember that fear is a real emotion for children. Trying to determine the cause of the fear and doing something to correct it is necessary.

Children may show signs of fear, including aggressiveness, extreme shyness, nervousness, and changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Moving to a new neighborhood, school, or another stressful event may trigger fears, and being ill can bring on fear of going back to school.

Play opportunities with other children

Children should have opportunities to play with other children inside and outside the home. Besides being fun, playtime helps children learn to solve problems, be creative, learn new skills, and exercise self-control.

Playing tag, jumping, and running helps them become mentally and physically healthy. If there aren’t age-appropriate kids in the neighborhood, investigate a children’s program at a recreation or park center, community center, or school.

Encouraging, supportive teachers and caretakers

Teachers and caretakers play an instrumental role in promoting a child’s good mental health. As such, they should be actively involved in the child’s development, offering consistent encouragement and support.

Resiliency and Good Mental Health

Resiliency is all about emotional balance. Yet, being mentally and emotionally healthy doesn’t mean people never experience challenging times or painful situations. Disappointments, loss, and change are part of life and cause even the healthiest individuals to feel anxious, sad, or stressed.

When a person is resilient, he or she can bounce back from adversities like losing a job or going through a relationship breakup, illness, grief, sadness, or other setbacks. They recognize the reality of the circumstance and do what they must to restore emotional balance.

Teach Resilience for Good Mental Health

People can teach themselves to become more resilient and improve their mental health. Recognizing emotions prevents a person from becoming trapped in negativity, anxiety, or depression. A good support network of family, co-workers, friends, counselors, and therapists can also help during times of need.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resiliency is not a trait. However, it involves thoughts, behaviors, and actions that anyone can learn and develop. They suggest the following 10 ways to help build resilience:

  1. Accepting that change is a part of living.
  2. Make connections.
  3. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.
  4. Take decisive actions.
  5. Make progress toward goals.
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
  7. Nurture a positive self-view.
  8. Maintain a hopeful outlook.
  9. Take care of yourself.
  10. Keep things in perspective.

*  *  *

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Finding Resilience in the Midst of Challenges

Are You Lonely Tonight? How to Combat Loneliness

5 Tips to Banish Loneliness

How to Help Your Child Banish Loneliness

My Best Ways to Deal with Frustration

How to Keep Frustration from Blocking Your Goals

How to Manage Your Anger

How to Start Making Plans When You’re Recovering From Depression

10 Health Benefits of Daily Exercise

10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

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Finding Resilience During Challenges

finding resilience

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Finding resilience during challenges can often be difficult. Each day presents new challenges. Some are tough. What’s important is how well you adapt and bounce back from setbacks. The secret is resilience. Do you know how to find resilience during challenges?

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley

Are You Up for Finding Resilience for Today’s Challenges?

Many people wonder if they’re up to today’s challenges. Some avoid what is happening. They shoulder no responsibility and do nothing to tackle the challenge.  A key difference exists between those who acknowledge and accept challenges and those who shirk, deny, ignore, or blatantly refuse to act. It is their attitude. And resilience.

Yet there is good news. This is one area where proactive steps can turn a negative outlook into a more positive one. This will improve outcomes, whatever the challenge. Hence, tapping into resilience can produce dramatic results.

How to Deal with Difficult or Unpleasant Tasks

Many people regularly tackle difficult or unpleasant tasks. Others, however, shy away from anything unknown. Why is that? People often feel at a loss as to how to deal with the situation. They feel they lack knowledge or experience. Or they may fear they’ll fail or succeed.  Success may mean more challenges, and they may not feel up to that.

What If You Have Depression or Other Mental Health Disorders?

This can be especially true for anyone dealing with the difficulties inherent in coping with a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. Besides the disorder’s uncertainty and self-doubt, the individual often feels ill-equipped to make sound decisions. They may also worry that previously used coping mechanisms won’t work.

Even so, consider that there’s a wealth of lessons beneath the surface of the various daily challenges, whether dealing with a mental illness or any other daily challenge. Ignoring or rejecting these lessons does a huge disservice to the individual.

To illustrate, think of the last time paying attention to a truth that’s become apparent during tackling a difficult challenge made a tremendous difference in the outcome. Tapping into that residual memory can jumpstart resilience. The circumstances may be different, yet our inherent knowledge source remains constant. This is finding resilience during challenges.

Finding Resilience During Challenges

Finding resilience during challenges is a skill that can be developed over time and with practice. We may stumble on truth or discover how to find good in everything we do. Whether this is a daily task or something complex, demanding, and out of our normal expertise doesn’t matter.

We’ll find that we’ve got more going for us than we realized. We each possess strengths that will serve us well. But this will only occur if we put them to work.

  • Look at the challenges that arise.
  • Figure out ways to tackle them.
  • Where should you look for a solution?
  • How and when should you implement it?
  • Decide when, where, and how to ask for help.

The stronger the foundation of resilience is, the more strength and resilience there’ll be to utilize when something unexpected threatens to derail progress in working through challenges. Every action we take makes us stronger. We become stronger and more resilient if we constantly strive to learn from our actions.

How This Works in Real Life

How does this work in real life? Suppose we attempt a task and become stumped. We tackled something beyond our experience or knowledge and think we can’t go any further. This could be considered a failure. But it is also possible to acknowledge what was learned in the process.

The lesson could be we are strong enough to take on difficult challenges and not avoid them. Or we learn when to step aside and have someone with more experience take over. We can watch what they do to learn how to do it ourselves.

Key Takeaway

A key takeaway is that all of this adds to our residual body of resilience, knowledge, experience, and self-confidence. While we may not be successful this time, we shouldn’t be deterred. In fact, we’ll find that we’re more hopeful than ever, given that we’ve learned how to use our resilience to identify and pursue innovative and workable solutions to everyday challenges.

Suppose others are critical of our efforts? Those are neither loyal friends nor supporters of our goals. Keep attuned to giving challenges our complete effort and focus. Something profound results. That is a belief in our ability to succeed.

Remember, as humans, we learn when we act. The more we learn, the more we grow. The more we grow, the easier finding resilience during challenges becomes.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How To Stop Fear Holding You Back

fear holding you back fear

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

Stop fear holding you back. How do you do that? Living in fear is no way to live, no matter what is happening. Act now to stop fear  holding you back.

Without a doubt, these are troubling times, filled with uncertainty, sadness, and physical pain. Much of what has happened is out of anyone’s control. We’ve learned the new reality of social distancing, working from home, constant hand washing, and finding innovative ways to stretch groceries, paper products, and cleaning supplies.

No wonder we’re so anxious. Yet, we must come to grips with fear. Instead of struggling with this powerful emotion and allowing it to grow, do something to stop it. Here’s how.

What Is the Fear Holding You Back?

Sit down and identify what bothers you now. Answering “COVID-19” is too broad, yet putting this on paper is a good starting point.

Before diving in, however, make sure family or business duties or tasks are taken care of. They must take priority. Then, feel free to devote sufficient time to centering on what’s most fear-inducing.

It may help to do this exercise with your eyes closed. Think about what went on today that may have produced fear.

  • Did something someone said (in the home, on TV, during Internet browsing, reading the newspaper) allow that knot of fear to metastasize?
  • Were you reticent about doing something, or did you avoid personal contact (even at a distance)? Write down specifics, anything that comes to mind.

The list will vary from one person to the next. But there are common threads people mention about what makes them afraid. These include:

  • I fear being around other people, even with social distancing. What if I’m next to someone who’s got the coronavirus?
  • I’m afraid that I’ll never enjoy success again. With so many millions of people sick and tens of thousands dying from this novel virus, I feel guilty even thinking of personal goal achievement.
  • Others think I’m selfish, so I’m reluctant to tell them what I think so they won’t judge me.
  • I’m afraid for our children. What kind of world will they live in? What happens if we get sick and can’t take care of them?
  • All I can feel is fear – about everything.

This May Seem Obvious, But When Did the Fear Begin?

To overcome fear, it’s important to pinpoint when it took over and began to handicap everyday living.

Some fears are universal. These include fear of abandonment, being alone, disease, dying, and death. Some fear may trace back to a dysfunctional home, childhood trauma, economic disadvantage, school bullying, and a physical or mental disability.

Recognize that it will be painful to uncover when and where the fear started and then focus on the fear itself. Dwelling on fear is unpleasant, yet getting past fear requires going through this process.

Be Willing to Ask for Help to Stop Fear Holding You Back

Identifying fear, when it began, and specifics about the fear will produce feelings of discomfort and frustration. That’s because there aren’t any solutions for getting past fear yet.

Outside help can prove beneficial here. Psychological counseling or therapy may be appropriate. Or participating in online discussion groups and self-help forums. Literature available online on overcoming fear is another useful source of help.

Meditation and prayer are other options for overcoming fear, both part of a spiritual practice.

Most people are reluctant to ask for help.  Yet resources are available. No one should feel a stigma about asking for assistance during these troubling times. Getting past fear may begin with these first steps toward a proactive solution.

What Are You Afraid Fear Will Prevent You from Doing?

When thinking about the future, are you afraid to return to work? Does the idea of interacting with co-workers and supervisors create a rush of fear?

  • What if you’ve had the virus or been in quarantine with family members who’ve had it?  Are you afraid you’ll get it again?
  • Are you afraid of getting physically close with another individual due to COVID-19?
  • Do you think it will become seasonal or that a pandemic will recur?

The point about looking at what fear may prevent you from doing isn’t how daunting the list is. It is, however, essential to see how self-limiting fear is to daily living. Everyone wants to get life back to normal. Even a new normal that looks quite different than what it once was. Fear, in this respect, can be a powerful motivator to unleash innovation, creativity, and finding innovative solutions to everyday problems and daily life.

Future Planning: Create Goals

Things will get back to some semblance of order. Heartening research from the University of Sydney found that if 80 percent of people practiced strong social distancing, COVID-19 could be curbed in 13 weeks. Be ready to tackle goals again. These may include personal goals that have taken a backseat to others, yet now they take on greater significance.

Whatever these goals may be, put them down on paper. This exercise provides ample material to take the next step to get past fear.

Construct Action Plans

Action plans are necessary to get moving on goals. Be sure to include a range of goals, some that are more quickly achievable, some that take a bit longer, and others that are long-term.

In the interim, prioritize self-care since you’ll need to be healthy to resume normal living once the pandemic subsides. Even during self-distancing, it’s possible to ensure you’re taking diligent care of yourself, according to suggestions from Johns Hopkins mental health experts. The list includes exercise, which helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while benefiting physical health.

Each type requires its own set of action plans. Without a plan, there’s no roadmap to pursue the goal. These goals will require revision. Change is part of life. Goals deemed important now may be less of a priority going forward. Live life in the present. Always do your best while remaining true to yourself and your core beliefs. This is the best way to stop fear holding you back.

 *  *  *

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Why It’s Important to Deal Constructively With Self-Doubt

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“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure… We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”—Kobe Bryant


Everyone, no matter who they are, inevitably experiences self-doubt. Reading through the biographies and autobiographies of some of the most accomplished, celebrated, famous, talented and intelligent people reveals that each one of them has had their moments of personal doubt. Not only did they wonder if they had what it takes, they worried whether they could persevere despite opposition and setbacks, without support and encouragement, even if they were physically capable of continuing.

Self-doubt isn’t an automatic determinant or precursor to declining mental health. Nor is it the killer of goals or success. Giving up is, however, on both accounts. The key point to remember here isn’t that you doubt yourself, because you will, but what you’ll do about it will make all the difference between being proactive with your mental health and allowing it to deteriorate through inattention.

The first step to dealing constructively with self-doubt involves recognition. If you recognize that what you’re feeling is doubt, you can begin to take proactive steps to overcome it. While each person will need to find what works best, here are some general tips to help get past the crippling paralysis that self-doubt can bring about.


It makes no sense to deny what you feel. As with any emotion, when you try to shove the present emotion or feeling aside, it only goes deeper. Instead, acknowledge that you have doubts about yourself and your abilities or capabilities. That’s the first step in getting past it.


It probably seems like you’re alone in this experience, especially when you’re right in the thick of it. However, when you accept that self-doubt is normal, that it isn’t unique to you, and everyone has it, this can make the experience less discomforting.


Never give in to self-doubt. If you do, you’ll never accomplish anything worthwhile. Your goals will slip away, you’ll become bitter and disillusioned, perhaps become depressed, and life will seem less hopeful and productive.


When you’re worried you won’t measure up, that you’ll fail at the prospective task or endeavor or not be able to meet the challenge you’ve set for yourself, you’re engaging in the futile act of listening to your harsh inner voice and endlessly worrying about self-criticism. You know, the one that’s always warning you to be cautious, reminds you that your ideas aren’t the best, and laughs at your attempts to succeed. Stop and think, though. Did that hypercritical inner voice ever do you any favors when you listened to it? Can’t think of one, can you? So, tell yourself that you know better than that annoying, and utterly wrong, inner critic. That’s another positive step to deal constructively with self-doubt.


Now is a good time to recall that you’ve had doubts before and were able to rise above them. You found solutions and techniques that worked then and you will do so again. Reminding yourself of past success in similar situations is a great motivator when you encounter something that makes you question whether you have what it takes this time.


When self-doubt cropped up in the past, what were the triggers that you recall occurring? Raising self-awareness about self-doubt helps you understand what’s at the heart of the emotion, so you can reassure yourself that most of it is fear-based and not grounded in reality.


While it might be tough to do right now, concentrate on a positive outcome. In fact, be hopeful of one. The dynamic of what happens here is that by capitalizing on your strengths and working to overcome your weaknesses, you’ll position yourself for success. This will occur despite the presence of self-doubt.


Granted, it doesn’t seem like it at first glance. Could it be that something you’re worried about is holding you back? Yet, look past your fears and regard self-doubt as an opportunity to grow. This current situation where you feel such anxiety and doubt didn’t happen without some warning. Were you as prepared as you could be? Does this show you that planning, practice and lining up resources is perhaps a better way to push past self-doubt?


It’s understandable that everyone has opinions, yet not all of them are in sync with yours. However, the culture of sameness, where only certain ideas and sometimes only the opinions of certain people are entertained is not helpful to productivity, let alone trying to overcome self-doubt. You don’t want this for yourself or your future, so forget what others think. At the very least, don’t put too much credence into their criticism. You need to own your future. That means thinking for yourself and having the self-confidence to know that you’ll make good decisions.


Perhaps the simplest and most effective advice regarding self-doubt and your mental health is to embrace the emotion. By learning to embrace self-doubt and allowing yourself the experience of overcoming it, you will enrich your life in ways that may today seem unimaginable.

For example, once you’ve realized that you can overcome self-doubt, you’re no longer troubled by fears of failure. You recognize that you may stumble, yet you’ll learn valuable lessons in the process, emerging stronger than before, able to see past obstacles, ignore unwarranted criticism and the enmity of others. A pattern of success makes for greater self-esteem and self-confidence, both of which are integral in good mental health. While you cannot predict when things may go awry, you know that you’re fully capable of weathering the challenges that life presents. That’s another sign that you’ve dealt constructively with self-doubt.

*  *  *

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.   

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn,  Twitter,  Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

How Gratitude Can Affect Your Physical and Psychological Well-Being

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life… makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melodie Beattie

Saying thank-you and showing your appreciation does more good than you may think. This benefit accrues both to the giver and recipient. Indeed, these types of expressions and acts are powerful forms of gratitude. Yet, while it may seem normal to be verbally appreciative at certain times and with specific people, there’s much more that you can get out of gratitude at other times. Here’s a look at how gratitude can affect your physical and psychological well-being.

Gratitude Promotes Positive Mind-Sets and Reduces Stress

A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports looked at the effects of gratitude meditation and resentment and mental well-being. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and heart rate at three intervals – before, during, and after interventions – researchers suggest that gratitude interventions modulate heart rhythms in a manner that enhances mental health. Gratitude intervention, said researchers, improves both emotional regulation and self-motivation by modulating resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) in brain regions involving emotion and motivation. Furthermore, researchers pointed to the potential use of gratitude interventions in treating those with mood disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gratitude Related to Better Sleep, Mood, Less Fatigue and Inflammation

Mills et al. (2015), in a study of patients with asymptomatic heart failure, found that an “attitude of gratitude” was related to better moods and sleep, less fatigue, reduced inflammation, and better cardiac-specific self-efficacy. Authors said this is important because depressed mood and poor sleep are both associated with a worse prognosis in heart failure patients, as well as in other cardiac condition populations. Thus, researchers said, the simple, low-cost efforts to help heart failure patients increase gratitude may have clinical value and be a potential target in treatment to improve patients’ well-being.

Gratitude Predicts Lower Depression Rates In Patients with Chronic Illness

Sirois and Wood (2017) examined longitudinal associations of gratitude to depression in two chronic illness samples, one with inflammatory bowel disease, and the other with arthritis. The study included two timepoints: completion of online survey at start of study (T1), and completion of a follow-up study at 6 months (T2). There were assessments of gratitude, depression, perceived stress, social support, illness cognitions, and disease-related variables at both time points. Study results showed that T1 gratitude was a “unique” and “significant” predictor of T2 depression in both sample groups. Authors noted that gratitude has relevance and potential benefits as an intervention for adjusting to chronic illness.

Various Elements of Well-Being Associated with Gratitude

A white paper on the science of gratitude prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley highlights a number of studies showing possible connections between gratitude and various elements of well-being in those with self-reported higher dispositional gratitude. These include life satisfaction, happiness, positive affect, optimism, and subjective well-being. Authors also mention studies of university students self-reporting higher-order gratitude also reporting increased life satisfaction and positive affect. Examples of higher-order gratitude include thanking God, appreciating life’s hardships, cherishing the present, thanking others, and cherishing blessings.

How Gratitude Helps Improve Mental Health

Joel Wong and Joshua Brown, writing in the Greater Good Magazine, outlined research showing how gratitude helps improve mental health. The article’s authors also provided insights from their research on what may be the origins of the psychological benefits of gratitude:

  • Gratitude shifts attention away from toxic emotions like envy and resentment.
  • The benefits of gratitude occur even without sharing written gratitude letters with intended recipients.
  • Gratitude’s benefits take some time to occur as they don’t always happen immediately following the gratitude activity.
  • Effects on the brain from gratitude activity appear to be lasting, and may train the brain to become more sensitive to gratitude experiences later, thus helping to improve mental health.

Gratitude Fosters Well-Being at End of Life

Everyone dies, although not all of them die a quick and painless death. For many people suffering terminal illness, specifically cancer, the end may be a long time coming. During that slow, inexorable approach to dying, the patient generally interfaces with a number of caregivers: family, friends, hospice and other medical and mental health professionals. Not much has been studied about what is termed positive emotional communication in caring for those at the end of their lives. However, a 2018 study published in Patient Education and Counseling found that positive emotions serve as a protective function and are “associated with enhanced coping, meaning-making, and building resilience to stressful events,” which researchers determined was especially relevant to cancer patients and their hospice caregivers. The shared positive emotions, which included expressions of gratitude, created “mutual enjoyment and social bonds.”

Appreciation or gratitude was one of the category codes for positive emotional communication between the hospice nurses, caregivers, and their cancer patients. Included in the category are counting blessings, appreciation of life circumstances, gratitude toward others, and thinking of someone. An example exchange between patient and nurse might be: “I’m so grateful for everything you do for us.”

Researchers said that the results of their study show that a focus on positive emotional communication brings a strengths-based approach to communication with patients during end-of-life care. Other category codes for positive emotional communication include humor, praise or support, positive focus, savoring or experiencing joy, connection, and perfunctory (social etiquette, etc.). Authors said that such communication can “build a sense of strength, connection, and joy despite facing loss and life-limiting illness.”

Conscious Decision to Increase Gratitude Pays Off

Making the choice to increase gratitude isn’t difficult, yet the decision to do so can and will pay off in ways not immediately seen. Think of the immense power of positive thinking, maintaining a positive attitude, and seeing life in all its richness and variety of opportunities. There’s much to be grateful for each day, from waking up to going to sleep. Being mindful of blessings, thankful for all the gifts we’ve been given, and expressing our gratitude to others costs nothing, and is an ongoing benefit.

* * *

This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.