Friday, July 12, 2019

Proactive Mental Health

Did you STOP at the amber traffic light today? Many views amber light as a “hurry up” light and race to get through the intersection before the light turns red. This is when collisions happen. But, amber means ‘Start Stopping’. 
Well this is no traffic coaching. Just like these cautions  on the road, how many of us use cautions in our life situations? When there are difficult situations in life, some people tend to be in a hurry, their emotional life tends to be like a roller coaster, they hurry to explode with anger before even stopping and thinking about the consequences. Such people are quick to show their reaction and in doing so they lose self-control. These are the signs of reactive people.

Intuitively, we should take the same proactive approach when it comes to our mental wellness. Like the amber light which cautions us that the signal is about to turn red, and that we need to start to slow down and stop. We need to take the same proactive approach when it comes to our mood swings.
In mental health, the word “Proactive” plays a vital role. When we have mood swings, we do not try our best to control it or manage it, we get drowned in our own emotions and then once the episode is over, there comes the guilt! You are having a roller coaster ride with your emotions and not just you, but you take your entire family on an emotional roller coaster ride. A ride which you decide how long you want and when to stop. You’re reactive!
The word “reactive” implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it in order to just stay afloat. 

When you are Proactive you can: 
• Manage impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well.
• Stay composed, positive and unflappable even in situations which are not under control.
• Think clearly and stay focused under pressure.
When you are proactive, you make good choices about how you respond to something happening. You are always ready with a calm attitude when things don’t go your way, you aren’t happy but you stay calm. 
There are endless differences and we would end up only talking and doing nothing about it. You might have loads of insight; it would not help you if you do not turn that into action. Being proactive is not a difficult quality; it is a choice or way of dealing with things that we can develop.

There is no better way than being Proactive when you are in Mental illness. There are various ways how you can manage your Mental Health Proactively:

• Be very regular in your medication:
Medication is the core in getting balanced in your mental illness. Taking medication regularly at the same time, speeds up the process towards healing.
Most medications come with side effects, know those side effects beforehand and try to work on those side effects. For example, if you are taking medications like Paxil (just an example, not a prescription advice), some of its side effects include insomnia (sleep problems), anxiety. So, if you can work on these side effects beforehand, they would be less chance of those side effects. For insomnia, you can avoid naps in the afternoon, have herbal sleep tea just before bedtime at night.  Avoid phones, iPad near bed. Listen to nice soothing music, or simply do a 5-7 minutes meditation which would help you sleep. 

• Keep a log on your Mood Swings:
I know it is weird, but believe me it works. It can work as an encouragement for you. Everyday, decide to not get angry or irritated on small matters. There are two aspects in this, you get mood swings and then you go into guilt. Guilt makes you more depressed. So, it is a cycle, you get angry and then you feel guilty. Break that cycle, mood swings will be there, accept it, learn and move on! do not go into guilt. Let your family know that this will happen sometimes. But also assure them that you are working on it. If you keep your log on moods, you will be counting on the episodes and if you figure out any large gap between the episodes, that would be encouraging for you to continue the same diet, behavior and sleep pattern.

• Food and mental health are connected:
The mood-food connection is ever-rising. What you eat is what you are (what your mood will be). Our physical health is an integral part of our mental health. Unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. For example, The Aspartame in Diet Coke can really do a doozey on those with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Aspartame is a dangerous chemical that contributes to neurotoxicity.
A new study found that those who drink a fair amount of sweetened sodas and fruit drinks – whether diet or regular – have an increased risk of depression. The study was presented in 2013, at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in San Diego.
The proactive approach would be to stop all carbonated drinks and switch to a healthier option. Even consuming too much refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries cause blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly. This can also lead to mood swings. Eat fresh and healthy food to improve your mental health.


Proactive people have better self-Control and therefore can focus on problems/situation which have no control, and think ahead of consequences, look for alternatives, and try the best plan ahead.
Red Light 
1. Stop, calm down and think before you act

Amber Light

1. Set a positive goal
2. Think of lots of solutions
3. Think ahead to the consequences

 Green Light 

1. Go ahead and try the best plan

 So next time you are driving, stop at the amber light, and use the time to think how you are going to use this amber light in your life situations. Remember, you have a choice, to slow down, stop and think about the consequences, plan and think ahead, be proactive.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How to Deal with Bullying

There was a tragic death of 12 year old Shukri Yahya Abdi, a Somali refugee who came to the UK alongside her mother and siblings for a better quality of life and safety and instead was a victim of bullying at the Broad oak High School, Bury, Greater Manchester, a town (formerly in Lancashire).,where potential failures to protect this student by staff may have inadvertently led to her death last week. The girl seems to have made various complaints about bullying to the school, however, the complaint was overlooked by the school authority. The child was helpless and thus took her life. There is a petition on ( which promotes reform of the schooling system, so incidence like this won’t happen again to any other student.
This is a case which happened in the United Kingdom. However, in the United States there are also cases of bullying which takes place in schools. There are preventive measures taken by Schools. But the bullying does exist.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s national survey of student safety in secondary schools, 16 percent of all students reported being the subject of rumors, and 5 percent reported being excluded from activities on purpose within the past school year. Approximately 4 percent of students reported being the targets of cyberbullying, including acts intended to damage social relationships or status. Specifically, 2 percent reported that hurtful information had been posted about them online, and 9 percent reported that they had been deliberately excluded from online activities (Nieman, 2011).

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

Bullies are like pack of hyenas they may not attack individually; they may always run in packs. One person will start and others will follow that person blindly. They just want to be seen as part of the dominant group; they will follow the dominant leader and do as their leader says.

Types of Bullying
There are five types of bullying:

1. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

2. Social Bullying: Research and school-based prevention practices have generally focused on the more visible and widely recognized forms of physical and verbal bullying. However, as public understanding of youth bullying behavior continues to evolve, definitions have been expanded to recognize social bullying as an important form of youth aggression.
Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone.
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public
3. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
  • Hitting/kicking/pinching
  • Spitting
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures.
 4. Cyberbullying: With growing technology like Instagram, snapchats, Facebook etc. teens have engaged themselves in communicating through these sources. Most teens have become addicted to technology. They have created their own world around these technology.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
• Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
• SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
• Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
• Email

5. Sexual bullying/Harassment:
 Just like other kinds of bullying, sexual harassment can involve comments, gestures, actions, or attention that is intended to hurt, offend, or intimidate another person. The bully can pass comments on person’s appearance, body parts, sexual orientation, or sexual activity. The harasser can verbally abuse the person or use technology to harass him/her sexually. For example, by sending inappropriate text messages, pictures, or videos. Sometimes, a bully can try to take sexual advances too. Sexual harassment happens usually in teens. 

Where and When Bullying Happens:
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.

A child is being bullied in school.
Contact the:
1. Teacher
2. School counselor
3. School principal
4. School superintendent
• School superintendent
• State Department of Education
• U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
State Department of Education

Someone is feeling hopeless, helpless, thinking of suicide.So
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in our national network. These centers provide 24-hour crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

What Can I Do?
There are many things that you can do if you're being bullied or know someone who is. You can:
• Talk to your parents immediately once you are been bullied. Speak to your teachers, school counselors. Parents should see to it that they address the issue as soon as possible. Always email the teachers and school principal about the incident so you have the complain documented. School would also take action immediately when they have an email in hand. If not you can escalate the matter further.  

• I know it is difficult but you can always try ignoring the bullies by walking in front of them as if nothing happened, just ignore them completely. Do not respond to their comments.
• As I said earlier, bullies are like hyenas they work in packs, and you are all alone so don’t try to go to them when they are in group.  Just try to stay away and ignore them. But, let me tell you that you are the Lion, so do not fear these hyenas. They are not strong enough so bullying is their way of releasing all negative energy/emotions. Do not feel bad but put a brave face and move on.
• Talk to your school counselor or teacher, and Parents. They would definitely give you support and address the issue.
Schools and classrooms must offer students a safe learning environment. Teachers and coaches need to explicitly remind students that bullying is not accepted in school and such behaviors will have consequences. Creating an anti-bullying document and having both the student and the parents/guardians sign and return it to the school office helps students understand the seriousness of bullying.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Dealing with Passive-Aggressive in a Relationship

Alex took his family for a vacation on a cruise. His parents were supposed to join in, but his parents did not want to go with him and his family. Well, his relationship with his parents had some cracks which affects Alex on vacations and family functions. Alex however, got his wife Lisa and two kids, who enjoyed the cruise. Alex asks Lisa, Honey! Did you like it? Lisa says of course I loved it. I wish they had more menu options in the dining restaurant ”. Alex confirms again, “so you did not like it, you mean?”. Liza says “no of course I loved it, I love to be in the cruise with you”.
That day Alex gave a detached feeling to Lisa. He was with her all the time but not there mentally. He was sulking from inside. In the evening, Lisa wore a nice dress and asks Alex if he wants to join in for a musical night at the cruise. Alex with a sullen face refuses and says “oh no! You go ahead, I will be checking with the Casino here, it seems to be good”. She had no clue what’s going on. She asks Alex if there is anything wrong. Alex is fuming mad from inside but holds his feelings instead he refuses and says with a smile “nothing wrong, just go ahead, you will be late for the show”. Well there! Lisa gets angry with this silent treatment with no intimacy. Alex however, shows surprise and with a smile says, there is nothing wrong. He is also relieved that finally the anger is out. That anger coming from Lisa is his anger. Alex was angry all this while but did not know how to express it, for him expressing anger is bad. He had been misunderstanding that Lisa did not appreciate the cruise and did not appreciate his efforts for this vacation plan. Alex is indeed Passive Aggressive. But, hush! Do not tell him this directly. Do not use this label. They hate labels.  Let’s find out how to deal with such passive-aggressive people in a more empathetic and assertive way.

Passive-aggressiveness is behavior that involves using indirect aggression towards others.

Who are Passive-aggressive people?
There is a general perception among people that Passive-aggressive people are cold and emotionless, that’s not true, most Passive-aggressive people are emotional and empathetic towards others. however, they do not know how to express anger.
Most Passive-aggressive people are highly intelligent. They are logical, so if you happen to argue or fight with them, they would fight with you logically, never emotionally. They do not know how to confront emotionally. But inside they have that feeling, those emotions which they want to express but something holds them back.
Passive-aggressiveness, as the word indicates, is a tendency to engage in indirect expression of hostility through acts such as subtle insults, sullen behavior, failure to accomplish required tasks.

Causes of Passive-Aggressive Behavior
The exact cause of passive-aggressive behavior isn’t known. However, both biological and environmental factors may contribute to the development of passive-aggressive behavior.

Researchers believe people who exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors begin doing so in childhood. Parenting style, family dynamics, and other childhood influences may be contributing factors. Child abuse, neglect, and harsh punishment can also cause a person to develop passive-aggressive behaviors. Substance abuse and low self-esteem are also thought to lead to this type of behavior.

Some common Passive-aggressive behavioral pattern:
1. Silent Treatment:
In the above Scenario, Alex is angry and cannot confront directly with his wife Lisa. Hence, he gives her a silent treatment. Well, that’s the worst thing your loved ones can do to you. But there are more subtle ways that a person may subject you to the silent treatment. You may not be able to even spot it. He may be there with you, converse with you but at the same time give you the feelings of detachment through his non-verbal gestures and at times lack of intimacy in a very subtle way which only you can notice. However, if you bring up the point, you may be accused of blaming him for no faults of his/her. Because Passive-aggressive are very good at arguing logically. They might just accuse you of finding faults in them. Since it is so much at a subtle level you may not be able to explain him/her that he/she may be hurting your feelings.
What to do:
The most effective approach is to ignore their behavior and pretend nothing happened. When you do not react that’s when they stop, they know it is not working for them. Another approach is to give them lots of assurance that you appreciate him/her and that you love him/her. Go at an emotional level and talk to them, ask them what is the hurt, is anything bothering them. Sometimes, Passive-aggressive stems from past emotional hurt which leads to low self-esteem. You have to constantly give your partner positive strokes to maintain their self-esteem. 

2. Subtle insults
Subtle insults are worst than upfront insults. A subtle insult could be with regards to your weakest points. For example, your friend visits your home and she is a working woman, you are not working, you are a home maker. When your partner subtly insults you by praising your friend overly, that she is working really hard and managing both work and house, it is challenging and it needs great efforts.  Now, isn’t this subtle? most of you might not even guess if this is an insult. Well, there you go! It is difficult to spot.
What to do:
You cannot ignore such behavior as it might affect you psychologically. You might at some point go into depression and mood swings.
Ideally, you and your partner can get to a place where you feel secure enough in your relationship that you can change your boundaries without fear of losing yourself or the relationship. 

3. Failure to finish tasks:
Starting projects and not finishing, but also sulking when someone else finishes what they haven’t. Competing tasks late or slowly even if others are waiting.

What to do:
Set clear expectations. The most effective way to manage is to set crystal clear expectations at the very outset of an interaction and to never assume that the passive-aggressive person understands your instructions fully. Be sure to review your expectations before the deadline many times, so he/she knows that you are expecting him to finish task before the deadline.

4. Withholding:
Withholding communication, refusal to talk or discuss the problem is another form of expressing anger and asserting power passively. They may refuse to talk things out, they may play the victim game and say “you’re always right”, shutting down the discussion. They retain their power with silent treatment or material/financial support, affection, or sex. This undermines intimacy as a way to fight against their dependency.
What to do:
You might feel angry, powerless, confused when trying to figure out with your partner. But do not react. Never say you are a problem, that you are passive aggressive, they hate labels. You have to be assertive, look from yours as well as others perspective. Do not say words like you hurt me. Do not blame. Empathize with your partner and deal with it assertively. Say something like, "we both need to discuss and resolve this".

The Passive-aggressive person knows he has a problem, they are intelligent enough to know what’s going on inside, however they just do not want to acknowledge it to you. They hate to come out of their idealistic personality who never losses his/her temper. They love their nice man/women image. They think its not good to be angry.
If you genuinely want to save your relationship then do not be passive or aggressive, do not play the game, eye for an eye with them, else at the end you both would suffer. Be assertive, set your boundaries, show love and appreciation from time to time. Don't blame or judge your partner. when you get angry or shout, you escalate conflict and give a chance to your partner to not take his/her responsibilities.  Just make them aware about how it affects the overall harmony of a relationship. Be assertive, confront the issue, not the person, be empathetic towards your partner.