Real Talk: When You Eat Junk Foods, Your Mental Health Suffers

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When I was young, I was always upset with my Mom for not letting me eat junk foods. The kids at school often had chips or juice boxes for lunch, while I usually had a ham-and-egg sandwich, baby carrots, and freshly squeezed orange juice or water. When she gave me $10 once, and she found out that I blew it all on chocolates and fries. Because of that, I was not allowed to bring extra money to school. 

When I became a teenager, I thought that Mom would give me a little freedom when it came to the foods I ate. After all, most middle or high school students could hang out with their friends at parks and eat whatever they wanted together. Unfortunately, my mother encouraged my friends to visit our house whenever they wanted and prepared homemade meals every time. She even lured them by installing a makeshift theater and gaming center at home.

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I had been told my entire life that I was lucky for having a mother who wanted to cook everything from scratch. It was incredible how her meals often tasted well. A friend even said, “It would be lucky to see my Ma in the kitchen once a week. She typically ordered pizza for lunch or dinner.” Despite all that, I felt like my friend was the lucky one because she was free to eat any junk food in the world.

While looking for possible colleges before my high school graduation, Mom tried to coax me to apply at NYU, which was closest to our home. It meant that I wouldn’t need to live with strangers at a dorm and that I could still eat healthy meals three times a day. If you followed my train of thoughts from the beginning, you would know that my answer to that was a resounding no. Despite Mom’s discouragement, I worked hard on my application for UCLA, which was on the other side of the coast. When I got in, I could not express how excited I was; I merely packed my bags and counted the days until our flight to LA.

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A Life Filled With Junk Foods

Mom spent an entire week in California when I moved before the semester started. It was not because she could not part with me – her only child – but because she wanted to scour LA for restaurants with healthy food selections. My mother dragged me to every shop that she found on Yelp and even got their delivery numbers so that I would not have an excuse to eat unhealthily.

Despite Mom’s efforts, though, I kept my fingers crossed behind my back when she made me promise to eat at those restaurants. As soon as I saw her going to the airport, I went to the first fast-food joint that I found on the way back to my dorm: McDonald’s.

At McDonald’s, I must have looked like a little kid who learned that Christmas came early because I could not stop grinning while waiting on the line to reach the cashier. It was the first time that I went to a fast-food chain for the record, so I was genuinely excited. When the cashier asked what I wanted to order, I said, “Give me one of everything please.”

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I did not care if my entire order occupied two tables; I paid no attention to the weird looks that other customers gave me. They probably wondered how a petite girl like me could finish everything. The truth was, I couldn’t. After eating a couple of burgers and what felt like a bucket of fries, I was almost already in a food coma. I savored every greasy bit that I could stuff in my mouth and had the rest of the food packed. Then, I worked my way through the chicken, spaghetti, ice cream, and more burgers for lunch, snacks, and dinner that day.

Did I act like a glutton? Yes. Though I didn’t eat that much again, I continued to eat junk foods every day for two semesters.

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How Junk Foods Affected My Mental Health

I thought that my love affair with fast foods would be everlasting, to be honest. It was my guilty pleasure, and Mom did not suspect a thing. However, after a couple of months of living like that, I started to gain weight

My clothes did not fit anymore, so I wore sweatpants and hoodies whenever I went out. My self-esteem began to decrease because of that, but I had no energy to try losing the excess fat. So, I buried my depression under burgers and fried chicken and pizzas. 

When I went home for the holidays, I could not hide the reality from Mom anymore. She scolded me for not listening to her, of course, but she forgave me and cooked healthy meals for me again. I also decided to transfer to NYU so that my mental health could hopefully become stable.

Healthy Lifestyle While On Lockdown

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What is healthy eating? If you search online and read about it on Google, you will see that healthy eating is about following the food pyramid and all the other servings per meal specified therein. Some include calorie counting or eating fewer carbohydrates. These are all great guides, to begin with, but to be honest, healthy eating means cutting down junk foods, those foods with preservatives, fast food menu, sugar and sweets in excess, and processed foods. One must also limit eating red meat and start eating fish instead. Carbohydrates are very important too, and so, do not take it for granted.

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Activities As Therapy That Stimulate The Brain

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Stress has its way of taking a toll on our lives.  And sometimes, it seems so hard to put an end to our stress because we have developed an addiction to it.  We try to equate our level of stress as a gauge of our success, while in all actuality, stress blocks our happiness and wellbeing. According to Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, “Psychological resilience is the ability to adapt to life’s constant changes and cope with stress or adversity, such as a major tragedy, trauma, health problem, or some other life difficulty.”

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A Stress Junkie’s Guide To Healthy Habits

Some days are incredibly mundane. These are the days we have nothing special planned, no occasions to attend after work or deadlines to meet. The absence of special events or daunting deadlines also brings a lack of stressors. During these days, we should feel relaxed and unpressured.

However, people who typically have busy days with their plate full of tasks have issues with ordinary days. Are you the kind of person who develops panic and anxiety because a day without deadlines scares you? There is a huge possibility you are a stress junkie.

Stress junkies feel off when they’re not stressed with work. They crave the busyness and long list of assignments to accomplish for the day. Sometimes, a stress junkie’s rest day turns into a waste of a holiday.

Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC said “Increased resiliency can improve someone’s life by enabling them to move through transitional phases or stressful situations with greater ease.”

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Why Are Stress Junkies Like This?

Psychologists suggest that stress junkies’ goal is productivity: having more work done means higher productivity. This assumption is a complete misconception. Productivity does not equate to the quantity of work but to the quality outputs and efficient use of resources like time and energy.

We need to break this toxic habit of punishing ourselves on ordinary days. There’s nothing wrong with it at all! What’s wrong is people’s hungry pursuit of wanting to become their idea of productive.

Casey Radle, LPC said “When we are in distress and lack feelings of safety, our thinking brain is hijacked by our emotional limbic system and we move into primitive drives to fight or flight.”

Breaking The Cycle

Proper Mind-Setting: Goals and Priorities

Visualize the life you want to lead. Think of your priorities—a balanced lifestyle, a stable career, and good relationships. Regardless of what our goals are, stress is an unhealthy practice that hampers our progress from achieving them. Moreover, too much stress can have adverse effects on our emotional and mental health, as well as on our physical and social well-being.

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Let’s get rid of the mindset that stress helps us grow. It is a passing feeling that makes us feel productive but otherwise destroys other aspects of growth. Instead, focus on long-term goals and the sustainable lifestyle that can have a significant impact on your well-being.

Jeremy Savage, MA, LPC said “Mindfulness is a helpful skill to learn because it lets you observe these “uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and physical sensations without judgment.”

Mindful Social Media Use

In this digital age, people have developed an unhealthy habit of competing with other people on social media. Sourcing social acceptance and affirmation on social currencies such as likes and comments can be dangerous.

We spend a considerable part of our day scrolling through social media. Subconsciously or not, we start comparing ourselves to people’s feeds online. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself or others, stop it. According to psychologists, limiting your social media use to 30 minutes per day can improve your mental health.

Eat Healthily

Start eating healthy. When people are stressed, they either eat too much or too little. Strike a balance by eating the prescribed amount of vegetables, carbs, and proteins every day. This practice means no skipping of meals. Eating food rich in Omega 3 protects your brain from having too much cortisol when under stress. Taking vitamin C also reduces the feeling of anxiety.

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A strong enabler of stress is coffee. Unfortunately, caffeine will only make you feel more anxious. Cut back on the caffeine and try replacing it with a soothing cup of chamomile tea instead.

Building habits requires a commitment to a routine. The tricky part is starting. Replace chasing stress with building a healthy lifestyle. Once a rhythm develops, facing ordinary days gets easier for stress junkies. Remember: quantity is not productivity; it is the quality of life.

Healthy Weekend Activities Good For The Body And Mind

Let us all face it: the stressful life has become the norm nowadays. Spending five eight-hour days in the office or school is no joke—and that doesn’t include the bulk of homework and paperwork that you have to bring home with you. Honestly, the two-day rest is not enough. Thus, planning the weekend can be beneficial.

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While sleeping is a relaxing thing to do during the weekend, you can do other healthier activities.

Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC said “Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines.”

Exercise, But Do Not Overdo It

Your joints get stuck after a whole week of sitting at your workspace. The life of an office person is a sedentary one. Do your muscles a favor and make it a habit to move during your free time.

Exercise is useful not only for the body but also for our emotional well-being. It releases the brain’s happy hormone called serotonin. This chemical is responsible for making us feel happy and energized.

Read Anything To Your Liking

Reading can help in any issues about anxiety that you do not know you may have. It helps reduce stress levels and can even give you a new perspective in life.

It is good that you divert your attention from reality for a while and read any book that may spark your interest. However, do not confine yourself to novels if these do not do anything that will help you relax. You can resort to the Internet and read articles, journals, and blog posts to lighten the mood. Do these with caution, especially if your eyes need a break from gadgets and bright screens.

Ronald D. Siegel, PSYD “We go through a ton of information on mindfulness and how mindfulness works to alleviate chronic pain and the suffering that’s associated with it.”

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Do Sports

Now is the time to be healthy and be alive! Go out and be active about your passion with old friends or new ones. One sports activity may awaken the competitiveness in you. Showcase these extraordinary talents of yours, which you cannot show in the office or at your school.

Shop And Treat Yourself

You can do this online or through physical stores. You have accomplished many things this week, no matter how small they may be. It feels good to treat yourself even if it is just a piece of cake to go with your coffee. Plus, it is something you can look forward to if it becomes a habit in the long run.

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Redecorate

Change the colors of your room or tweak the organization of your living room. Your bedroom is an expression of yourself. Your physical environment can significantly impact your mood for the day.

Look for colors and other stuff that will make you feel energized. Remember that this is the first view you will encounter once you wake up. Clean your space and reduce the stress that a chaotic room adds to your week.

Lara Fielding PsyD, Ed.M said “Mindfulness skills can’t protect you from the normal mayhem of life of course. But knowing your own passengers and autopilot emotional habits can certainly help you avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again and promote the resilience you need to bounce back.”

Weekend activities do not necessarily mean that you have to spend a fortune to have extravagant getaways. All you must do is pick a small activity that will calm and re-energize your mind and body. Even if you have to do them inside the home, make your weekend activities worth it. Every minute should be all about yourself and your loved ones only.

Therapists Say Tough Love Parenting Isn’t Supposed To Be Tough

Disciplining children is a daunting responsibility for parents, even more so for foster parents when the child is not biologically theirs. People often associate discipline with punishments; however, this should not be the case. According to therapists, a child who has experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma can manifest emotional and behavioral issues. Many children lack the necessary skills in problem-solving, coping, and emotion regulation. Foster parents have the responsibility to teach children proper behavior and new talents with positive discipline.

“Parenting Traits:· Emphasis on control· Strict rules and punishment· High expectations· May withdraw affection as punishment· Demand respect and obedience, no negotiation· Minimal communication, no explanation or reasoning” – April Lyons, MA, LPC 

Tough Love

You might have probably heard of tough love and how parents use this simplified approach to discipline their unruly kids. But what is tough love? Tough love is imposed on children to show them that punishments are for their good. It makes use of consequences and boundaries to teach them to take responsibility for their actions. However, imposing tough love or negative punishments on children who have gone through abuse and neglect may worsen their behavior.

Certain behaviors stem from past experiences. A foster parent needs to understand the kids’ complicated past and its effect on them. For example, a child lies not to deceive parents maliciously but to protect himself from being hit. Parents need to practice tough love that is not harsh but is affectionate and empathetic. Positive discipline will take every ounce of patience, love, and understanding foster parents have got.

“Most parents do not realize that children are exceptional at overhearing and listening,” said Kay Sudekum Trotter, Ph.D., LPC-S.

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Tough Love To Avoid

  • Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment has been a widely debated topic on child discipline. Numerous regulating agencies have prohibited it because acts of physical punishments can deepen the child’s emotional wounds.

  • Lengthy Time-outs

Sometimes parents give misbehaving kids a time-out for a week or longer. This punishment is not particularly useful for younger children. Further isolating foster children may not work well.  The child needs an explanation as to why he is grounded. The time-out needs to be carried out in short amounts of time only. We’re talking minutes. After the timeout, carry on as though the bad behavior never happened.

Kelly Burkett, LPC said, “Almost everything in life comes with a how-to manual – everything except raising a child.”

Positive Discipline Tips To Follow

  • Positive Reinforcements

Foster children need to feel comfortable, safe, and supported in their new home. Celebrating or merely acknowledging their good behavior can ease them in. Importantly, a consistent practice can influence the child to repeat the right response.

  • Time-In

The opposite of time-out is a time-in. When a child has performed unwanted behavior, parents need to engage with the child. Communicating with the child allows parents to uncover the reason behind the action as well as correct it.

  • Grandma’s Rule Of Discipline

Parents usually use an authoritarian voice and negative consequences when telling kids what to do. Grandma, on the other hand, gives them positive incentives. Changing how you phrase requests have been proven effective in dealing with difficult children. In the case of a child who refuses to eat vegetables, instead of threatening them, parents should say, “If you finish your vegetables, you can go and play.”

Parents may also approach children by asking them what they want to do. They can ask, “Do you want cabbage soup or pumpkin soup?” This simple act gives foster children a sense of control to assert themselves healthily.

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  • Teach Them Emotions

Foster children may harbor a lot of frustrations and emotions. When faced with an awkward situation, they do not know how to manage their feelings and end up lashing out. Parents can step in and teach children about what they are feeling and how they can appropriately tame these feelings. You can do this by regularly asking your child how their day went and how this made them feel.

  • Redirection

Children have short attention spans. This technique often works for younger children. Foster parents can redirect their child’s frustration by taking them to a new environment. If they are mad about their toys or playmates, parents can take them somewhere else to redirect their attention.  It also works with stopping unwanted behavior. If the child is too rough with their toys, parents can redirect his attention by asking him to do chores together.

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Foster parents must be consistent with giving reinforcements and consequences. Children then will differentiate good behavior from bad behavior much quickly. Making empty threats and promises will only further confuse the child.

Raising and disciplining a child is not easy at all, let alone a foster kid. It takes knowledge and a lot of patience for parents. If you happen to be a parent of a foster kid and you are having difficulty raising him or her, why don’t you try reaching out to a credible and trustworthy therapist from BetterHelp? By subscribing to the app, you’ll get matched with someone who is trained on dealing with the specific mental health concern or topic that you need help with, including dealing with stress and anxiety among others. And they’ll be available for you anytime and anywhere. Check it out today.

Foster kids need the necessary discipline to lead healthy lives and build meaningful relationships in the future. Foster parents have to find positive approaches in teaching children life skills and instilling discipline, no matter how difficult it may be. Tough love may entail consequences. However, focusing on love more than being tough can enable parents to practice positive discipline with their foster children better.

 

 

Healthy Hobbies To Reduce Your Anxiety

It’s true that you can’t solve anxiety overnight. It can take months and even years of treatment to address this problem. However, there are also small changes in your life that you can make to help manage your worries. Here are some habits you should consider incorporating into your daily routine.

Cut Down On Caffeine


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Coffee is an absolute “must” for many of us. However, the caffeine in our daily drink can be responsible for our anxiety. Those who don’t drink coffee aren’t safe either. Caffeine is also in tea, chocolate, and even ice cream. Having too much of those can also affect you negatively.

Thankfully, you don’t have to cut it out completely. You can reduce your caffeine intake by being more mindful of what and how much you drink or eat. Limit your coffee intake to about two cups a day or switch to black tea which has less caffeine.

Enjoy Some Quiet Time

When you suffer from anxiety, daily life can feel chaotic. You’re always worrying over past or future events that you forget to slow down and enjoy the present. One habit to help you lessen this feeling is stopping what you’re doing and enjoying some quiet time.

Find a perfect spot, close your eyes and focus on how you breathe. Clear your mind of anything other than breathing in and out. If you find your thoughts wandering, redirect it back to meditation.

Take Social Media Breaks

We tend to compare our lives to others’ when we spend too much time online, bringing us distress. There’s also anxiety from negative news that people share. Some people also worry about validation online, wanting their photos and posts to receive a lot of likes or attention. “Too much time spent scrolling through social media can result in symptoms of anxiety and/or depression,” according to Katie Hurley, LCSW.

Disconnect for at least a day every week. Turn off the Wi-Fi if you must. For extra help, you can even download an app that can block out these sites for a while. If you find that you can’t avoid Facebook and other websites, try to lessen your visits instead.

Clean Your Space

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A cluttered mind can mimic your environment. Clear up your work area, bedroom, apartment or home. Take out the trash, sweep the floor, and find a proper place to keep your things. A clean house boosts your physical and mental health.

Similarly, take a hint from Marie Kondo and get rid of things that don’t make you happy. If something in your space reminds you of a negative experience, toss it out. You want your home to be a relaxing place where you feel safe from stress.

Similarly, the act of cleaning can be relaxing for many people. It gives us something to focus on something outside of our usual daily activities.

Enjoy Some Downtime

We sometimes become anxious because we feel like we always have to do something. Your planner and to-do list are full of activities that you have to tick off. However, it’s crucial for your mental health to have downtime. Your body was not meant to be always working.

Find something you enjoy doing. You could sit down with your loved ones and watch a movie. Have a Netflix and chill night with your significant other. Go out for a massage. Whatever you find relaxing, be sure to set aside time for them.

Write It Down

Sometimes, the best way to rid ourselves of anxiety is to let it out. However, not everyone is comfortable opening up to people. Similarly, there isn’t always someone available to listen to you. As an alternative, you can jot down what you’re worrying over. “So, before you have to concentrate on anything, spend eight to 10 minutes writing out your worries. When you do, your worry is less likely to get in your way, and you will likely complete tasks more easily, with your worries out of your brain and on the task at hand instead,” explains Srini Pillay, MD. After you write it down, toss the paper out. It’ll feel cathartic and symbolic of getting rid of your anxiety for now.

Listen To Music

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“Engaging in enjoyable activities helps to soothe your anxiety. For instance, today, you might take a walk, listen to music or read a book,” Marla Deibler, PsyD said. Playlists are a common thing on music-streaming sites today. You’ll find ones that people curate especially for a workout, for studying, and for relaxation. This trend is because music can affect your mood. So when you’re feeling anxious, reach for your phone and look for a playlist that can help calm you.

Summary

When it comes to anxiety, you can manage it by making small additions to your daily routine. These can include listening to music, spending five minutes of quiet time, remembering to have downtime, and distancing from social media. These small changes can seem small but can make a difference in your life. Try taking up some of these habits and keep your worries under your control

Why It Is Hard To Be Mentally Healthy Nowadays

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Would you believe that the world we live in today is designed to kill us? For some reason, the goal of innovation has been secretly promoting health problems, both physical and psychological. It is somewhat contradictory to what humanity aimed for which is to make life easier and happier. Now, life is more like quicker. Maybe someone believed that short life is more meaningful especially when you spend it on pleasurable things, enjoying modern advancement. Read more