The Downside to Social Media Use by Teens and Young Adults

on Thursday, 11 April 2019.

The Downside to Social Media Use by Teens and Young Adults

 

While teens can use social media to connect and create friendships with others, they also confront obstacles that can affect their mental health. Too much time spent scrolling through social media can result in symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Other destructive aspects include:

  • Focusing on likes: The need to gain “likes” on social media can cause teens to make choices they would otherwise not make. This includes altering their appearance, engaging in negative behaviors and accepting risky social media challenges. Many start to feel they’re only as “liked” as their social profiles show, which is a ridiculous notion.
  • Cyberbullying: Teens girls in particular are at risk of cyberbullying through use of social media, though boys are not immune. Cyberbullying typically looks like someone being attacked by others online, usually making fun of their looks, and left on the social media platform to embarrass the culprit publicly. This type of bullying is associated with depression, anxiety and an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts.
  • Making comparisons: Though many teens know that their peers share only their highlight reels on social media, it’s very difficult to avoid making comparisons. Everything from physical appearance to life circumstances to perceived successes and failures are under a microscope on social media. Many find themselves comparing their lives to the image that other people show their life as. It’s important to note that people usually only share their best selves online, and not their daily struggles or disappointments. Social media is a sculpted look into one’s life, not the real image.
  • Having too many fake friends: Even with privacy settings in place, teens can collect thousands of friends through friends of friends on social media. The more people on the friend list, the more people that have access to photos, snaps and updates, and use them for other purposes. For this reason, many have little to no privacy on social media without realizing what they’ve given up. It’s important to keep up with your following list to know who is looking in on your life. Clear it out consistently to retain some sort of privacy amongst those you trust.
  • Less face time: Social interaction skills require daily practice, even for teens. By engaging online vs. face-to-face, it becomes difficult to learn important emotions, such as compassion and empathy. Human connection is a powerful tool and builds skills that last a lifetime.

There’s a happy medium in here somewhere. The key to helping teens learn to balance social media with real life friendships is to communicate. Honest communication shows your support, not to judge or lecture. It’s also important to walk the walk. Disconnect on weekends and show your teen that there is a whole world out there that doesn’t require a handheld screen. By learning to step away and take breaks, teens can learn how to not let social media affect their everyday, real lives.

 

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

on Wednesday, 27 March 2019.

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

During a lifetime, not all people will experience a mental illness, but everyone will struggle or have a challenge with the well-being of their mental health, just like we all have challenges with our physical well-being from time to time. “Mental health” and “mental illness” are increasingly being used as if they mean the same thing, but they do not. Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has health.

When discussing mental health, we’re referring to our mental well-being: our emotions, thoughts, feelings, ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, social connections and our understanding of the world around us.

A mental illness is an illness the affects that way people think, feel, behave or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have different symptoms that impact people’s lives in different ways.

Just as someone who feels unwell may not have a serious illness, people may have poor mental health without a mental illness. We all have days where we feel a bit down, stressed out or overwhelmed by something that’s happening in our lives. An important part of good mental health is the ability to look at problems or concerns realistically. Good mental health isn’t about feeling happy and confident 100 percent of the time and ignoring any problems. It’s about living and coping well despite challenges or obstacles.

Just as it’s possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it’s entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of a mental illness. That’s because mental illnesses (like other health problems) are often episodic, meaning there are times (episodes) of ill health and times of better or good health.

With the right support and tools, anyone can live well – however they define well – and find meaning, contribute to their communities and work toward their goals.

Tips for Balancing a Hectic Schedule

on Wednesday, 20 March 2019.

Tips for Balancing a Hectic Schedule

Having time management skills is a much more difficult task then it sounds like. Trying to juggle school, work, family and a social life can become overwhelming very quickly. Actively setting your schedule up for success will not only help you balance multiple responsibilities, but prevent your schedule from taking an emotional impact on your mental health.

Don’t over commit

There are only so many hours in a day; you can’t do it all. Prioritize things that are most important to you to get done or take part in. Never let yourself feel guilty for telling your friends that you’re going to stay in vs. getting drinks tonight to catch up on your studies or rest. If you commit to too many obligations, it becomes impossible to complete them all, setting yourself up for a stressful situation.

Stay faithful to your schedule

Make a schedule and stick to it. What’s the point in spending time on a schedule if you’re constantly going to break it? If you’re struggling to manage your time, plan out every hour of your day. Give yourself time for things like travel and social breaks; be honest about how long tasks take you. Be sure to block out space in your schedule in case a task goes over the time you allotted for it. It’s better to run ahead of schedule vs. running behind. Keeping a planner, agenda or utilizing your phone's calendars and apps are a great ways to keep track of your day and ensure you don't over book yourself.

Social lives can’t take center stage

When busy or stressed, it becomes very tempting to drop your entire schedule to take a break with friends or binge-watch Netflix. Though breaks are important for emotional and mental stability, caving like this can lead to further issues. Fight the urge to stop and take care of business first. Breaks feel much more relaxing when there isn’t the fear of an uncompleted task in mind. Going to work or class unprepared because you felt like watching TV instead will never be an accepted excuse.

Don’t push yourself too hard

Though sometimes it’s empowering to push our limits of productivity, it’s not healthy to do everyday. If you are spreading yourself thin as is, you can become irritable or grumpy from being exhausted all the time. Make time in your schedule for sleep – it’s important.

Accomplishing tasks, especially amongst a busy schedule, can be very satisfying. If you don’t take the time to manage a busy schedule, it can take a toll on not only your productivity, but your emotions and mental health as well. Being busy is great, but don’t let it overtake your entire life. Schedule yourself some free time. You deserve it!

How to Help a Friend with Mental Illness

on Friday, 15 February 2019.

How to Help a Friend with Mental Illness

Part of being a good friend is being there for them when you notice that something is wrong. For many, this includes helping friends find the support they need when they’re experiencing a decline in mental health. Though this may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be if you know how to spot symptoms early and are aware of resources available to help.

Symptoms of Mental Illness

We all have bad days. Unexpected curve balls are always thrown our way, and it’s normal to be emotional or sad during upsetting times. If you feel that a friend isn’t reacting normally to obstacles or completely shutting down, something more serious could be happening. Some signs of a mental illness include:

·         Withdrawing from social activities and being down for more than two weeks.

·         Overwhelming fear for no reason.

·         Severe mood swings.

·         Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives when unneeded.

·         Self- harming such as cutting or burning.

·         Out-of-control risk-taking behavior.

·         Difficulty in following through with plans.

·         Drastic change in behavior or personality.

·         Out-of-hand sleeping habits.

What You Can Do to Help

Everyone is different and does not heal or cope in the same way. What worked for you or a friend in the past may not be helpful to a friend struggling currently. A few different ways you can help are:

Share Your Concerns

Share your observations with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate and understanding. Use “I” instead of “you” comments to get the conversation started.

  • I’ve noticed you’re (sleeping more, eating less, etc.). Is everything okay?
  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. Is something going on?

Reach Out to Those You Trust

When a friend is in need, you don’t need to do it alone. Try involving others who can help or are understanding of the situation your friend is in. However, your friend may become concerned when you begin to involve others, so make sure they’re aware and okay with you reaching out before you do. However, if it’s an emergency, you should always call 911 or alert an authority figure. Others you could reach out to include:

·         Friends and family

·         Teachers and counselors

·         Faith-based leaders

·         Coaches

Offer Your Support

Keep in mind that you cannot force someone to get help or be ready to discuss what he or she is going through. Do your best to be there with your support and be ready if and when they do finally reach out. It may be helpful to offer specific things that might help, such as:

  • How can I best support you right now?
  • Is there something I can do or can we involve others who can help?
  • Can I help you find mental health services and supports? Can I help you make an appointment?
  • Can I help you with the stuff you need to get done until you’re feeling better?

You can be the difference in helping a friend who needs support but is too afraid to seek help. Being a friend means being there in the good times and bad. Sometimes, simply talking or supporting a friend is the only push they need to get through a difficult time. By being aware of symptoms and resources of mental illness, you can be prepared to effectively help a friend in need.

The Importance of Sleep

on Monday, 21 January 2019.

The Importance of Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? Approximately one in three American adults aren’t, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Lack of sleep can have many negative impacts on your body. Without enough hours logged under the covers, the consequences can become more intense.

1. Weight Gain

Lack of sleep can make it much simpler to pack on pounds more quickly. A new study focused on the relationship between sleep and weight gain in more than 21,000 adults over the age of 20. Those who slept less than five hours a night over the three-year study were more likely to gain weight, many eventually becoming obese, versus those who slept seven-to-eight hours nightly.

2. Beauty Sleep 

Your appearance can be impacted by a lack of sleep. A recent study examined people between ages 30 and 50, and evaluated the correlation between the condition of their skin and the number of hours they slept per night. Those with little sleep showed more fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and looseness of the skin.

3. Accident Prone 

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), you’re three times more likely to get in a car accident if you’re running on less than six hours of sleep. Those who work long or odd hours, such as shift workers or commercial drivers, should think twice before getting behind the wheel if they’re low on sleep.

In closing, getting enough sleep is a very important part of your health. Though not mentioned above, lack of sleep can also lower your sex drive, weaken your immune system, make you forgetful and increase your risk of cancer and diabetes.

Before binge-watching that new season on Netflix or playing video games until the early morning hours, think about your health. Getting seven-to-eight hours of sleep a night is not only important to feel well rested, it can save your life.

 

3 Bad Habits That Are Draining Your Productivity

on Wednesday, 09 January 2019.

3 Bad Habits That Are Draining Your Productivity

Many factors play into affecting your productivity. Your time management skills and obligations play a role, but many don’t realize that their personal habits can be their own worse enemy for maintaining a productive day.

 

1.                  Putting things off.

It’s easy when you don’t like doing a certain job to continually put it off. The problem is that it can cause a lot of unneeded, preventable stress, affecting your productivity.

To combat this, try to do those projects first and get them out of the way. Or, you might delegate them to someone else if you are able to do so. The fear of the task alone can cause us to put it off. Though, most of the time we find that we hyped up a challenge to be worse than it actually was.

2.                  Multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking doesn’t always speed you up to get more done. In fact, in many ways, multitasking slows you down. Although it may not seem like a bad habit at first glance, it can be easily used at the wrong times.

There are small ways multitasking can help you save time. For instance, you can start your computer while you get your coffee. Or, you can go through mail while listening to voicemail messages.

But in general, switching between tasks slows down your work. The greater the complexity of the work you’re doing, the longer it takes to adjust to the new task. The more time it takes, the less productive you are.

3.                  Being too frugal.

In reality, frugality is usually a good thing. The exception is when it slows down your productivity.

 

If you won’t spend the money to upgrade your computer after it continually breaks down, it could slow down your work. Using your money wisely is important. But, investing in tools you need to be the most productive you can be could more than replace the money spent.

Holiday Stress

on Wednesday, 12 December 2018.

Holiday Stress

Hidden by association with relaxation, leisure and joy, the holidays can be a major cause of stress for many.  With the holiday season upon us, you may already be feeling the tension.

Where does holiday stress come from? The answer may lie in the fact that many often hold higher expectations for the holidays compared to other times of the year. The hopes of picture-perfect occasions filled with stress-free family time are often an unreasonable dream.

Stress can also be felt during the intricate planning most endure to prepare for the holidays, as well as feeling pressured to buy expensive gifts. The stress begins to grow, unless you prepare for it.

If you are concerned that the upcoming holiday season will be stressful for you, there are steps you can take to prevent stress.

First, contemplate if your holiday expectations are realistic. If you set unreasonably high expectations for yourself or others, you will feel defeated early on when things don’t go perfectly. Set small, reachable goals. If you fall short, don’t despair; take joy in the expectations that you did meet.

When planning for the holidays, you can avoid stress by setting a spending limit (and sticking to it), creating to-do lists, sharing the responsibilities with other people and not taking on too many tasks.

But, it’s not just the planning that causes stress; the events themselves can be sources of stress. During the holidays, remember to designate time for yourself apart from the group activities. Too much time with others can overwhelm you and cause you to forget about your own needs.

The holidays can be a fun time, so remember to enjoy them! Take care of yourself and look forward to the positive aspects of the season.

Three Reasons Why Getting Sleep Is Crucial

on Thursday, 15 November 2018.

Three Reasons Why Getting Sleep Is Crucial

A good night’s sleep plays as big of a role in your health as diet and exercise. Sadly, people are now sleeping less while also lowering their quality of sleep. This can be harmful to many aspects of your life, making sleep a crucial part of your routine.

Lack of sleep is commonly a sign of other issues, often related to mental health.

Three reasons why you need a quality sleep schedule:

1.      Improved Concentration and Productivity

Sleep is needed to carry out various brain functions including concentration and productivity. In a recent study of medical interns, those with less sleep were 36 percent more likely to make an error than those with an adequate amount of sleep. With improper sleep, your body can completely shut down various brain functions, making normal tasks very difficult.

2.      Eating Fewer Calories

Studies have shown that individuals deprived of sleep have a bigger appetite and consume more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts an individual’s appetite hormones, causing fluctuations in hunger. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that initiates hunger, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

3.     Protecting Your Immune System

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to affect your immune system in significant ways. A recent study monitored a group of people who were intentionally given the flu virus. Those with inadequate sleep – less than seven hours a night – were three times more likely to develop the flu or a cold than those who slept eight or more hours. If you’re already prone to getting colds, committing to a full night’s sleep can help prevent this issue.

Sleeping is linked to many other concerns, including depression, risk of stroke or controlling emotions or social interactions. Regardless, the cons outweigh the pros. Get a good night’s sleep to not only prepare for a new day, but to also protect yourself from harming many personal, body functions.

Emotional Intelligence

on Monday, 29 October 2018.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

Your EQ impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others. With a high EQ, you are able to assess the emotional state of yourself and others and engage with others in a positive, productive way. Having this better understanding of emotions helps you relate better to others, form healthy relationships and achieve greater success in many areas of your life.

Your EQ has an impact on many parts of your life, including:

1. Performance at work

Emotional intelligence can help you better understand social situations in the workplace, make you a strong leader and help further your career at a faster pace. In fact, many companies now require candidates to take an EQ test during the application process.

2. Physical health

Being unable to control your personal stress levels can lead to serious health issues. Unmanaged stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system or increase the risk of heart attack. If you’re trying to improve your EQ, you first need to learn how to correctly manage and relieve stress.

3. Mental health

Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you more likely to develop anxiety, depression or both. With an EQ that is not under control, you will also be more prone to mood swings.

4. Relationships

By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

Without a high EQ, it will be very difficult to navigate stressful situations in your daily life. A high EQ can not only help yourself physically or mentally, but affect your productivity and lifestyle at work, home or among relationships with those in your life.

September is Recovery Month

on Wednesday, 12 September 2018.

September is Recovery Month

 

September is National Recovery Month! The theme for Recovery Month 2018 is Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community.

 The theme of 2018 examines how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose and leadership all contribute to a successful recovery for those with mental and substance use disorders.

Recovery Month poses to increase awareness and understanding of those who are suffering and celebrate those who have recovered. The goal of the month is to educate Americans that addiction treatment and mental health services can help those who are suffering achieve a better quality of life.

 

 Millions of Americans have bettered their lives through recovery. Though, this sometimes goes unnoticed by the population; therefore, Recovery Month aims to celebrate their success without shame. Each September, thousands of recovery programs, treatment and prevention services celebrate their accomplishments with the public in an effort to educate people about who recovery is for, how it works and why it’s the best option for the patient.

Though we only celebrate recovery one month a year, it’s never the wrong time to ask for help. If you think you’re suffering from a mental or substance disorder, contact your doctor and find the help you need.

 

Anxiety vs. Depression: The Difference

on Thursday, 30 August 2018.

Anxiety vs. Depression: The Difference

 

While depression and anxiety are two different medical conditions, their symptoms, causes and treatments can often overlap. Though anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues, few can determine the difference between the two. This is because once someone has one of these, they’re likely to be diagnosed with the other as well. Roughly 50% of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

  • Lack of energy
  • Depressed mood
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities

SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY

  • Excessive worry
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Easily fatigued
  • Irritability

Though many of these symptoms can go hand-in-hand, there are some distinguishing features. People with depression move slowly, and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more high strung, as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts.

Another distinguishing feature is the presence of fear about the future in people with anxiety. Depressed people who do not have anxiety are less likely to be worried about future events, as they are often resigned to believing that things will continue to be bad. In other words, they may predict the future based on how they feel in the moment.

If you think you may be suffering from one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor today, or schedule an appointment here at the ITM Group!

 

Exercise and Mental Illness

on Wednesday, 08 August 2018.

Exercise and Mental Illness

Most associate the term health with physical health, but mental health also plays a major role in your well-being. Nearly five percent of the population of the United States suffers from a form of severe mental illness, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, with individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 being the most affected.

Mental health relies on a number of factors, including genetics, but exercise and proper nutrition can help prevent or treat some forms of mental illness.

A regular exercise regime can benefit your mental health. Performing moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling, for 30 minutes a day, three times a week, significantly reduces the symptoms of depression, according to Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas.

Low-intensity exercise also helps relieve depression, according to the Center, but not to the same extent as more vigorous workouts. If you suffer from depression, adding regular aerobics to your lifestyle might help you better control your disorder, or might even reduce your need for medication.

Following a healthy and balanced diet, as well as following a fitness program, all benefit your mental health, but cannot always replace traditional therapy or medication for mental illness. Talk with your doctor to find the best plan for you!

What is Emotional Abuse?

on Tuesday, 17 July 2018.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse can be defined as a type of abuse that makes a person feel poorly about himself or herself for a prolonged period of time. This type of abuse damages a person’s dignity or self-worth.

Though emotional abuse is widely believed to be something that occurs between people in a romantic relationship, the abuse can happen in all types of relationships. This includes between friends, between a parent and a child, and even between a teacher and a student.

Acts of emotional abuse include isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation and intimidation. Perpetrators of emotional abuse damage their victim’s self esteem through these acts. In many cases, the victim ends up developing depression and anxiety.

Common behavior of the perpetrator includes threats of violence that instill fear in the victim, constant criticism or insults that demean the victim, isolation of the victim from friends or family, or treating the victim as a servant. In other cases, the perpetrator will make the victim believe that he/she is responsible for the abuse or that they even deserve it. Many perpetrators will often “gaslight” their victim, causing them to feel as though the abuse isn’t really happening and that it is just in their head.

It is important to remember that, like physical abuse, emotional abuse is offensive conduct, and the victim needs to find a safe place away from the perpetrator. If you feel that someone you know is a victim of emotional abuse, help him or her to get away from the perpetrator as soon as possible and help them to avoid seeing the perpetrator. 

People who suffer from emotional abuse will probably suffer from mental health issues that can linger for many years. Seeing a mental health professional is the best way to help heal the effects from the past abuse.

 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

on Monday, 09 July 2018.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder can be characterized as a mental disorder that causes dramatic shifts in mood and activity levels. About 5.7 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with this illness. It affects people of all genders, ethnicities, social classes and ages.

The disorder mainly manifests itself in dramatic mood swings from high periods, known as mania, to low periods, known as depression. Mania is characterized by feeling extremely happy and restless for a significant period of time. During the mania phases, people with bipolar disorder can engage in dangerous behavior, and they will often be easily distracted and overconfident.

During the phases of depression, they will feel sad for an extended period of time. They will often withdraw from family and friends and lose interest in things they used to love. They may also experience feelings of sleepiness and a loss of energy.

The two most common types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by extreme manic phases that usually last at least a week and can even escalate to the point where the person needs to visit the hospital. In this type of disorder, depressive phases last about two weeks.

Bipolar II disorder is more common than Bipolar I, and its manic phases, known as hypomanic symptoms, are not as extreme. Bipolar II can be more difficult to diagnose.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, then you need to seek help from a medical professional. Bipolar disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained medical provider. Treatment options include medication and therapy. People with the disorder often have to maintain treatment over time in order to control it throughout their lives.

How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health

on Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health

In the United States, 40 percent of the population gets less sleep than they need. According to Gallup, American adults average about 6.8 hours of sleep each night, slightly less than the recommended seven to nine hours. These statistics are a little concerning considering how vital sleep is for a healthy life.

It is widely known that sleep can impact your physical health. People who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for ailments such as cancer and heart disease, and their immune system is weaker. But it is not as widely known that sleep also has a huge effect on your mental health.

Simply put, not getting enough sleep can hurt your brain. People who are sleep deprived often have memory issues and trouble with thinking clearly and concentrating. Sleep deprivation also can cause mood swings and put you at a higher risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

If you are not getting enough sleep each night, you need to take steps to do so. Ways to help you get more sleep include setting and sticking to a bedtime, exercising regularly and not drinking caffeine products or alcohol close to your bedtime.

If you find that you have trouble with sleep (this can include issues with falling asleep or staying asleep), then you should see a doctor to determine if you have a physical condition that is hurting your ability to sleep.

A mental condition also could be affecting your ability to get enough sleep. People with mental illnesses may be at an increased risk of developing sleep problems. In fact, issues with sleeping are a symptom of depression. If this is the case, then it is important to see a mental health provider who can help you discover the root cause of your sleep issues and find ways to treat them.

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