Friday, August 30, 2019

Assertiveness Skills

Assertiveness does not come overnight; it is a technique that you can practice yourself. Some people seem to have that ability/ skills at the core of their personality type which they imbibe through their environment/family, while some people strive to achieve assertive skills.
While most people say assertiveness is difficult to adapt for people with aggressive personalities, however, I think assertiveness is much adaptive to people who are aggressive in nature, if they are trained on how to be assertive. People with submissive and passive personality type have difficulty adapting to assertiveness, as it takes time for them to voice their opinion. 
People who are non- assertive types and who want to be assertive are mostly the victims of aggressive personalities and want to know how to avoid pressure from aggressive personality types, or how to stand for self.

What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.
Assertiveness can also be known as empowerment. Assertive behavior comes from within, when you are self-aware and you know how to handle your emotions and respect yourself, you also get the ability to empathize with others, respect others. You acknowledge that just like you have rights, other people have rights too.
Assertiveness is making our needs and feelings known directly and respectfully, while also respecting the needs and feelings of others. It is based on mutual respect.
When confronted with an intolerable situation, assertive people describe it objectively; express their emotional feelings appropriately, empathize with others, and also offer problem solving alternatives.

Let’s look at other personality types:
Aggressive personality: 
Characteristics of Aggressive personality:
•        Bossy, dominating, authoritarian, intimidating, and loud.
•        Scheming, playing politics, ulterior motive in communication, reacting emotionally.
•        Lacks knowledge in giving feedback, instead criticize and make taunting and hurting remarks.
•        Always wants to be an authority and wants to be a winner, this makes them jealous of other peoples success and thus have poor sportsmanship. 

Submissive Personality:
Characteristics of Submissive Personality:
•        Lack of confidence in self.
•        Always scared to express feelings and opinions with a belief that they might hurt others if they do so.
•        Follow their leaders blindly.
•        Are usually people pleasers.
•        They almost always are favorites of aggressive people and become victim to injustice.

Assertive Personality:

Characteristics of Assertive people:
•        Assertive people believe in “I am OK, you are OK”.
•        Assertive people are self-aware and know how to empathize with other people.
•        Are considerate of others.
•        More rational than emotional.
•        Respect self and other people’s opinions and feelings.
•        Knows how to manage a situation and look for win –win solution.

Commonly when emotions are triggered people adopt one of three attitudes relating to blame, which each correlate to a position on the Okay Corral:

I'm to blame (You are okay and I'm not okay - 'helpless')

You are to blame (I'm okay and you are not okay - 'angry')

We are both to blame (I'm not okay and you are not okay - 'hopeless')

None of these is a healthy position.

Instead the healthy position is, and the mindset should be: "It's no-one's fault, blame isn't the issue - what matters is how we go forward and sort things out." (I'm okay and you are okay - 'happy')

Assertive communication style, a person expresses his feelings, opinions and needs in honest, direct yet firm way without violating the other person.

In situation of a missed deadline, assertive people might come up with their factual/logical reasons and voice it.

Non- assertive communication describes behavior where the sender does not stand up for personal rights and indicates that his or her feelings are unimportant, the person might be hesitant, fearful and careless.

In situation of a missed deadline, an aggressive response might be, “You always miss deadlines, if you miss another deadlines disciplinary action will be taken”. Such response has long term consequences, resulting in distrust between individuals involved and it will also negatively affect productivity.

Saying ‘No’ assertively:
When you communicate assertively, even saying ‘no’ when you cannot help others may not make you feel guilty or shameful. Saying no to other people assertively means empathizing with them first, and then putting your points with a logical reasoning. You are respecting other person’s needs and wants and also respecting your needs and wants. Understand that you cannot please everyone.

We all at some point in our life, fall into situations either in personal life or Professional life, where we say ‘yes’ to others while we really want to say ‘no’.

Your boss may ask you favor to complete a task for him/her; your relatives who invites themselves to stay at your place for longer, your friend wants you to help her with her assignments. You may think you are being ‘nice’ by doing these favors to their requests, but in reality they are exploiting you.

How to say ‘no’

- Just like they have the right to request you, you have the right to say, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their requests and if it’s a demand, still you are not obligated to do favors to people who are at demand level. 

- Be a good listener, listen to their problem and empathize. 
- Always give logical reasoning to why you are saying ‘no’. 
- Do not attach any emotional tags, the moment you do so, they might trap you emotionally and they will make you feel that their problem is your problem as well and then make the situation more difficult. 
-Give a reason to them why you will not be able to help, also give them alternative solution to their problems.

Once you say no what next?

Well, once you say no in an assertive way, the ball is the other person’s court. How the other person reacts/overreacts is their problem. This should not affect you or your assertiveness. Understand that most people cannot take ‘no’ from others positively. They either react emotionally or try to label you as not helpful person.

Being assertive is the core to effective communication.

 Develop your assertiveness skills by using simple techniques:

•        Be collaborative

•        Be a good listener
•        Communicate clearly
•        Win-win situation
•        ‘I’ statements – I statements can be used to voice one’s feelings and wishes from a personal position without expressing a judgment about the other person or blaming anyone. E.g. statements like; I feel…, I understand…., I feel upset when…..
•        Saying ‘no’.
Being assertive will help us gain self-confidence and self-esteem.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Empathy and Compassion

Do you usually show sympathy, empathy or compassion? Empathy is an integral part of emotional intelligence (EQ). Even animals have empathy.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Many people are confident enough that they use empathy. However, most of us get lost with our own perception and judgement.
For example, if your spouse comes home saying he has lost a project that he was working very hard all these months. Would you understand his/her feelings? Would you say, come on! its ok. You will find another one, don’t worry. Does that sound like empathy? Again, at this point how do you really know that he/she needs you? How do you figure out, whether to sit and talk or just give them time and space to think through the situation? well some likes privacy when they are emotional. Also when the other person is emotionally vulnerable, do not be in a hurry to give your opnions just give a good listening to their say. If you listen to them, you would know how they are feeling at that moment. Listening is also showing empathy.
There are people who do not understand any of this. They do not have empathy. They do not relate to people and their emotions.
Because people with low emotional intelligence do not understand the emotions of others, they experience little empathy for other people. They do not get what others are feeling, so it is impossible for them to place themselves in another person's shoes.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are three types of Empathy; Emotional Empathy, Cognitive empathy, and Compassion empathy.
1. Emotional Empathy:
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Emotional empathy is the capacity not only to understand other person but also feel the persons pain.
However, in Emotional Empathy, you give a mirror reaction, if the person affected is crying, you might cry too. According to psychologists, Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Social Intelligence’, due to the mirror neuron system. However, in doing so, you miss out on what the other person needs in that situation.  For example, the person in grief, may be weeping and may not expect you to cry, but you cry as you can feel the emotions of the other person. Sometimes you go through emotional distress yourself. And when you are in distress yourself, you will not be able to help a person in such a situation. You might take emotional decisions yourself, sometimes, hasty decisions too (taking on too much responsibility which you might not be able to fulfill later) which is again a distressful for both the person at the receiving end and the person who is giver.

2. Cognitive Empathy:
Cognitive Empathy is more on an intellectual level than on an emotional level. Cognitive empathy is understanding and thinking. Well, some might even call them cold and detached however, such people can understand the situation and handle it tactfully by understanding the person in pain and the situation.
You might console a person by saying you have been to similar situation and that you understand what they are going through. According to Daniel Goleman, it is termed as perspective-taking. As you are applying your own perspective to what someone else is going through. This type of empathy can be positive as well as negative. For example, a pregnant women who has been through critical complications during her pregnancy in the past, may not be able to emotionally connect to the person in need who is complaining about the minor labor pain and has very less complications in pregnancy. The women with very critical complications might end up saying, I understand your situation, this is nothing what you are going through, you should hear what I have been through during my pregnancy. Anyways, I can help you with the dishes today. Well that definitely does not sound like empathy.
3. Compassion Empathy: 
Compassion is not the same as empathy, though the concepts are related. While empathy is our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.
We all grow to learn to be compassionate. Compassion is beyond empathy; it not only understands and feels other people’s feelings; it also has the ability to take action to help in whichever possible way.
Compassionate empathy is initiating action to help. You might help a friend suffering from cancer to provide a meal to her kids, you could offer to help do some chores around the house, pick up the children, or watch them for a while.
Compassion also comes without any returns. Many people are reluctant to help as they do not get acknowledged and do not get any recognition of it. Compassion is all about helping people without expecting any gratitude or return. Well, that’s how it works, in Hinduism, they say you do good deed/karma and you will get blessing and peace. It is true, when you do good to people, you do get blessings.
These are just different ways you can show compassion not only in critical situation but also in day to day interaction with people you deal with. Even with strangers. Do not miss any opportunity to be kind and empathetic to another person. 

Buddhist Conceptions of Compassion

Compassion is a wish-fulfilling jewel that can alleviate all suffering. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is the key and central training within their religion. Enlightened Compassion is personified by the deity, Chenrezig, who holds a jewel that grants all wishes to those who possess it. That jewel is compassion. Mahayana Buddhists believe love and compassion can overcome all obstacles, awaken the mind to enlightenment and bring enormous benefit to yourself and others. (The power of Compassion).

How to use empathy and compassion in our day to day life:
Everyone of us experience crisis in our lives, either our own life or someone close to us. It is somewhat difficult to show empathy to someone in very critical situation. However, it is far easier to start with day to day empathy to other people. As the saying goes, small things make big difference. As the saying goes, "The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones". Lets start showing empathy on a day to day basis.

1. Self-Compassion:
The best way to practice compassion is Self-Compassion. Respect and listen to your-self. The best way for being compassionate with self is meditation. Meditation brings closer to your-self, it dissolves your ego, it shows you a path to your higher self.
Once you know how to forgive yourself for your mistakes, you will be able to forgive others and be empathetic with them with open heart.

2. Express Gratitude:
When handling emotions of your loved ones, you can begin by giving them positive strokes, by appreciating them for their contribution towards you and your family. Appreciating them on how they handled difficult situations in the past and that you are thankful for their contributions.

3. Be Kind:
Be kind with people around you. It spreads positive vibes, creates a positive aura. Kindness is very powerful. However, do not expect anything in return, just be good to everyone around you. With the current technology world where people maintain relations through apps., break that trend and be kind and polite when interacting face to face. 

4. Show your Support:
When in crucial situations, when a person is held responsible for something which he/she is not done. We need to support this person; think about it we can also be in difficult situation. When you know that the person is right, then its easier for you to put yourself in their position. You can speak up for the person and defend for the rights of that person by showing your support.

5. Show Appreciation:
Compassion is not just about showing compassion in crucial situations. We can show compassion in someone’s achievement. Celebrating with coworker for his/her achievements, appreciating their efforts and leaving a small note of appreciation, encourages them, shows positive feelings, shows that you care for others achievements too.

6. Donate to the needy:
Donating funds for the victims of natural calamity or someone who is sick and helpless also goes a long way. Even the small contributions leads to bigger amounts with the overall donations. Donations are another way of showing compassion towards people who are in urgent need. 

The practice of compassion increases our capacity to care. It reinforces charity, empathy and sympathy. Compassion is very good for your heart. Sometimes, there may be hurdles on your way in the form of racism, sexism, classism, and any other hurdles, these all are on the basis of other peoples opinions and judgement. Do not let other people's opinion affect you. Be compassionate. 

Compassion is very contagious, once you show compassion for others, others will also show compassion to you, you will feel happy and content. It is a happy feeling. The Dalai Lama famously said in the book The Art of Happiness, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Healing The Hurt

Emotional hurt is very personal. One cannot see the pain and agony as the hurt is not visible to anyone. Many of us fight some form of emotional hurt in our lives. Someone hurting you emotionally, leaves a big hole in the heart, it has a lingering effect on our mind. Everyone reacts to hurt differently. Though some people are quick to move on with their lives. Some take long time to let go. Some of us get stuck in the process of fighting that infectious hurt and take a lot of time in the healing process. At times we even blame ourselves. 

From my personal experience, it took me a lot of time to forgive people who hurt me in my life. Now they do not have any space in my heart. By remembering the hurt and pain and those involved, you are giving them time and space in your life. You are giving them those precious time of your life and making those events or people important.  I chose to forgive them, not because they are good or they have changed, but because I want to change for my own good and for my own family. By forgiving them you are releasing your pain. It narrows the path towards self-healing and self-awareness. It is not an easy process; it takes a lot of time and energy. It requires you to transform your ego, your-self. Along the process of healing do not forget the hurt, let the hurt be your teacher. So you do not let anyone hurt you in the future again, be prudent. Do not look at it as a hurt, but look at it as a great lesson learned in life and move on. 

How To Heal The Emotional Hurt:

Your Emotional state:

When in hurt, our emotions throw us into a victim zone. Though we do not intend to do so, none of us want to be a victim. However, we tend to brood on our hurt time and again and thus this makes us victim. We keep talking about the hurt, about our past again and again, its like reopening the hurt and look at its deep inside, though you do not know how to heal the decay. Whenever you talk about it you get angry. You cannot ignore talking about it nor can you pay attention for a long time, because it might hurt you again, in doing so it might infect your present state of mind.
You have to keep healing the pain until you realize that the hurt is no more ruining your life. The hurt is there but it does not hurt you anymore that badly. When that happens, you achieve enlightenment. It narrows down your path towards healing. 

Everyone else but me:
Believing that, everything would be better, if the world or other people would change. We also become victims to the outside forces (our stars)/our destiny. We even start blaming God. Know that we all get hurt at some point of time in our lives, some get healed faster. Whereas some take lot of time to understand their own emotions.  This is the time to look inside you. This is a great time to transform yourself into a far better person that you are. You fall, you learn and you move on.  

Don’t let your hurt dominate your mind:
Know that your hurt dominates your emotions. It will lead your emotions and take you to any direction it wants. It might take you to “I am a victim"direction, or it might take you to “be vengeful” direction. Most of the time, we are comfortable in these two zones, victim or revenge zone. Remember, no one cares if you are a victim, people will show you sympathy, or empathy for few days and then you are on your own. You have to take charge of your life, of your-self. Give your hurt a clean spiritual direction. It needs you to cleanse and reform your heart. Learn and move on. Heal your hurt with your own positive emotions. Transform that hurtful heart to a stronger wiser heart. 

Do not forgive instantly:
 Most people will advice you to forgive and forget. Well, its easier said than done. It is not that easy to forget and forgive. Take your time. You will have past memories like as if they are fresh memories in your brain and you will swing with those memories which will make you vulnerable. You do not want to forgive at that point of time. You will only end up saying, “I will never forget what this person has done to me”, or I will never forgive this person”. However, as you sail through this difficult phase, you will eventually learn to focus on good things in your life and forgive the person who hurt you. Time is a great healer, it brings awareness and realization. By forgiving someone who hurt you, you are healing your heart. 

Let go of people who continue to hurt you:
Sometimes your own people hurt you, someone who was close to you, someone in your family who is related to you. This person will still continuously try to hurt you or taunt you through social media or whenever you happen to meet them. Well, you forgive them anyways. Remember, they are not going to change, do not try to change them. It is not about you, its about them, they would continue with that negative emotion, they chose to be like that. Just ignore them and move on. When they realize that their behavior/attitude no more affects you, they would stop. Do not forget what they have done, it’s a lesson learned. However, forgive them for what they have done, this will release you from the pain. Let it go!

Show Compassion: 
Self-compassion makes you realize your self-worth. When in hurt, you start hating yourself, you lose confidence in being in a relationship. Give yourself a chance. You can practice self-compassion by being forgiving, being mindful, showing gratitude towards others, and above all being aware of your-self.
Show compassion for others. Try to do some social work, channelize your good heart (wounded heart) towards social causes. This will make you realize there are so many underprivileged people who are in more unfortunate position than you are. This is like a therapy; you feel good when you help someone in need. Believe in good Karma. It will always pay you back.  

Our life is like driving experience, while we are driving our car, we know how to and when to use accelerator and brake and since we know these two functions so well, we are able to enjoy driving our car and know how to reach our destination. Similarly, assume your life as a car and if you know your ‘self’ very well, and know when to use your accelerator (your Present) and brake (brake to your past disturbing events-your hurt), you will be able to enjoy your life’s journey. If you do not put a stop/brake to your past disturbing events, there are chances of accidents and not only that you are going to risk your life and the life of people who are inside your car, but also people who are outside. So, let’s make wiser choices and use brakes. Heal your heart. Reform your core. Revive your life.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Night Owl Turns Into An Angry Bird!

Isn't that true? If you do not sleep for an entire night,  just like an owl, and next day you sure are going to turn into an Angry Bird!

Sleep is very important for our Physical and Mental health. Sleep impacts our thinking and our memory. Lethargy and daytime fatigue are also very common when we have less or no sleep. Also, it doesn’t take long for the poor sleep to affect our gut. Like food, good healthy sleep is also very important for the overall good health. 

Sleep Deprivation:
Sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep or sleeplessness, is the condition of not having enough sleep.
 Sleep deprivation may lead to further problems with higher-level functions, such as planning, organization, and judgment.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation:
• yawning,
•depressed mood.
•difficulty learning new concepts.
•inability to concentrate or a "fuzzy" head.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on your Mind and Body:

1. Digestion and Sleep Connection: 
Often we tend to eat out on weekends or delve in eating junk food, and then our digestion goes for a toss. Insomnia and digestive problems are interrelated. Digestion problems like heartburn, constipation, stomach pain all these problems lead to insomnia.
If you’re prone to digestion issues, you’re likely to have trouble sleeping. And, if you have trouble sleeping, it is likely that your digestion will get affected.

2. Microbiome and Sleep are related:
Microbiome is referred as the second brain as it is home to a nervous system and 100 million neurons. The nervous system of the microbiome communicates with the brain and CNS, Central Nervous System, which helps to regulate hormone production, immune system function, digestion and stress responses.  These microbiomes are also found in intestine which produces and releases many sleep – influencing neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin which is also produced by the brain. Melatonin is produced in the gut as well as in the brain. 

According to Researchers, Preliminary evidence indicates that microorganisms and circadian genes can interact with each other. The characteristics of the gastrointestinal microbiome and metabolism are related to the host's sleep and circadian rhythm. Moreover, emotion and physiological stress can also affect the composition of the gut microorganisms. The gut microbiome and inflammation may be linked to sleep loss, circadian misalignment, affective disorders, and metabolic disease. In this review article, we discuss various functions of the gut microbiome and how its activities interact with the circadian rhythms and emotions of the host. ncbi
Hence these microbiome in our body along with different bacteria and other microbes has an effect on our mental and physical health which in turn influences our mood, immune system, sleep and various chronic disease.

3. Constipation and Sleep: 
When we eat junk food, or any unhealthy food which is less in fiber and more in saturated fat. Such unhealthy foods will result in constipation. Mental stress can lead to constipation as well. Too much stress can upset your gut and thus can make your constipation even worst.
Experts also think that levels of serotonin, a chemical your body makes, play a role in the movement of your bowels, along with affecting your mood.  

4. Sleep, Mood, Anxiety interconnected:
The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain. It sends signals in both directions. In line, there is preliminary evidence for gut bacteria to have beneficial effect on mood and anxiety, partly by affecting the activity of the vagus nerve. ncbi.
Lethargy and daytime fatigue, are also common side effects of sleep disturbances.

Rules and Remedies for a Good Sound Sleep:
1.Set up Daily Bedtime Routine: 
Go to bed early and get up early. Do not stay up late. Try to complete all the tasks before bedtime. Try to hit the bed half an hour before your bedtime. Do not browse electronics on the bed. Make your bed no electronics zone. Maintain this strict discipline on the bed. It will help you in the long run for more peaceful sleep and in turn good peaceful life. keep the bedroom quiet, dark and a comfortably cool temperature.

2.Eat healthy food:

 Include lot of greens, fiber, fruits, easy to digest foods in your daily diet. Try to avoid frozen foods which has tones of preservatives, processed foods which are harmful for your gut. Such unhealthy foods make you constipated. Keep your gut free from artificial colors and preservatives. Try to eat fresh and healthy food. Best foods to overcome constipation are Berries, peaches, apricots, plums, raisins and prunes which are high in fiber. Avoid too much sugary foods, refined flours. Enjoy whole grains. Foods that are healthy gives you good sound sleep. Having a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and nutmeg powder can give you sound sleep. If someone in allergic or sensitive to lactose can have green tea before bedtime. Avoid alcohol if you have constipation. Alcohol if consumed in large quantities can cause dehydration which further leads to constipation.

3.Exercise regularly during the day: 
Maintain daily exercise routine for maintaining good physical health.

4.Avoid Stress during bedtime:
Avoid stressful discussions or too emotional issues during bedtime. 

5.Practice Anulom Vilom: 
Also known as the alternate breathing technique, is excellent for respiratory problems and asthma. It facilitates proper functioning of the lungs, mitigates stress, lifts up your mood and keeps stress at bay. This yoga pose is perfect for all ages.

Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayam. Not just Yogis know anulom vilom pranayama benefits. Scientists also have discovered through a research that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril.
Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent breathing exercise to balance the right and left side of the brain and to calm down your thoughts. While practicing Anulom Vilom, keep your focus on your breath, following each movement of your breath.

How to do Anulom Vilom:  

- If you begin from the left then close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly to fill up your lungs.
- Now, exhale slowly from the right nostril.
- It is essential to focus on your breath and practice the technique slowly.
- Repeat 60 times or for 5 minutes. You can do this any time of the day.

6.Bedtime Relaxation Technique:
- Have a cup of herbal tea which can put you to sleep (chamomile, green tea, peppermint tea, yogi tea, tulsi tea, Brahmi tea all that keeps you relax).
- Massage your foot with oil, rub a coconut oil, or sesame oil to your feet, gently massage the foot with your fingers for 4-5 minutes. It instantly relaxes you.
- Have a warm bath with Epsom salt, alternatively, you may just soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt in it. It also helps in relaxing your mind.
- Listen to very soothing music like waterfall, rain, or simple relaxing instrument.
- Some people do believe meditation at night helps to get peaceful sleep. Meditation is very powerful tool to calm our mind down. Hence, meditating just for 5-6 minutes before bedtime can go a long way.

Sleep also appears to be necessary to prepare the brain for learning. When the brain is deprived of sleep, it is difficult to concentrate and form new memories. Lack of sleep disrupts the brain's ability to balance emotions and thinking abilities, lowers the body's natural defenses, and increases the chances of developing chronic medical problems. So lets keep ourselves healthy with good healthy food and good sound sleep. 
Therefore, DO NOT be night owls, have a good night sleep and turn yourself into a happy Songbird in the morning, chirping all day stress-free with positive energy.

Friday, July 19, 2019

ADHD and Ayurveda

“Ok bye Mom”. [Why is the bus so crowded today? Do I talk to the person next to me? Did mom really mean what she said yesterday? Did I carry my colored pencils today? I loved that chocolate cake yesterday..I can have that once I go back home. Is mom and dad going to get separated? Will I be able to learn math today? Ok whatever. I hate math. I love softball. I am going to watch Star Wars today. Ok so I have great imaginations but I often get yelled at. I like to do things at my own pace. So, people have problem with that. But I can build those LEGO pieces in minutes with great focus].
Racing thoughts, all thoughts at the same time without any sequence or occasion. This is an example of what happens in an ADHD kids’ brain. They constantly think unrelated things either alone or simply in the middle of a conversation. Too many ideas at a time. They cannot think steady. They are often like wanderers. Thus, this leads to the forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and difficulties with prioritizing tasks.
This overthinking makes them away from the rest of the world. But this does not make them less intelligent. Some ADHD Children have creative and active ADHD brain. Often, we mistaken their high-power energy with some disease like ADD or ADHD. As parents, we do not approve of such behavior. We quickly want an easy solution to stop that hyper energy. In doing so we are further punishing them and damaging their natural brains with highly chemical stimulants which is not good for them in the long run. As parents we want shortcuts, something which can stop our kids’ behavior immediately and focus their attention on studies. 

Dr. Thomas Brown author of Attention Deficit Disorder, suggests ADD effects the executive functions of the brain, “getting started, shifting focus, making an effort, being persistent, being organized, managing time, managing frustration, and retrieving things from memory”, can all be compromised when suffering from ADD.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that 5 percent of American Children have ADHD. However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number at more than double the APA’s number. The CDC says that 11 percent of American children ages 4 to 17, have attention disorder. This is a growing problem with 3 million US cases per year.
ADHD evaluations driven mainly by Parents, not Educators, Says CDC Report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 65 percent of the time, a family member is the one who first has concerns about a child's behavior, according to a survey of households with children ages  0 to 17.

What is ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless and almost constantly active.

• Have a hard time paying attention.
• Daydream a lot.
• Do not seem to listen.
• Are easily distracted from schoolwork or play.
• Forget things.
• Are in constant motion or unable to stay seated.

Causes of ADHD:
Heredity is the most common cause of ADHD. Other risk factors for ADHD have to do with factors that can influence brain development and functioning such as exposure to toxic substances in the developing fetus and acquired brain injury due to trauma or disease.

Treatment for ADHD with Modern Science.
Some Common Stimulants for ADHD:

Most families prefer stimulant medications.
Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzedi)
Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Side effects and disadvantages of Stimulant Medications:
According to a study reported by the American College Of Neuropsychopharmacology, long-term use of the popular ADHD drug Ritalin can potentially result in serious brain injury.
Chemically similar to cocaine, the short-term side effects of Ritalin include “nervousness, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headache, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and psychosis.” It was thought that Ritalin had limited long-term effects, but a past study recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed this not to be the case.
Another study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that Ritalin causes physical changes in neurons in reward regions of mouse brains and these effects were similar to the long-term side effects of cocaine. When placed together, the three studies implied that the long-term side effects of Ritalin include both the onset of clinical depression and potential brain injury to the frontal lobes.

However, with increased awareness of natural treatments, People have realized the importance of natural treatment. Natural treatments do not have side effects. It takes a lot of time and effort but it does work.

Ayurveda on ADHD
The inability to keep a steady thought stream or focus, is described in the Caraka Samhita as one of twenty main blocks of Vata in the body.  In chapter  XXVIII  verse 198, The Caraka Samhita states, “ If vyana-vayu is occluded by prana-vayu, then there will be loss of all the senses, and there will loss of memory as well as strength". (ref.
Ayurveda believes in overall health of an individual which means that just not the mind which needs attention but, the mind, body and soul. For example, when you are diagnosed with ADHD by your Physiatrist and if later you decide to go to an Ayurvedic doctor, both these doctors would have a different viewpoint regarding this disease. While your allopathic doctor might prescribe you Retaline or any medicine which is common to most ADHD person. Your Ayurvedic doctor might not even use the term as ADHD and start with diagnosing your physical body and your mental condition this is because according to Ayurveda, mind and body are connected and thus if any one of these got affected is because the other got ignored. Hence, the Ayurvedic doctor will provide natural herbs and good diet which is according to your dosha. These herbs come with no side effects. It comes with only positive effects on the mind and body and soul.

Knowing Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (The Doshas):

Vata governs Movement and Communication.
Pitta oversees Digestion and Transformation.
Kapha provides Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication.

Vata: Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and movement of thought across the mind. Located in the brain, head, throat, heart and respiratory organs.
Pitta: Pitta represents the energy of transformation and is therefore closely aligned with the fire element. Pitta is closely related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.
Kapha: Kapha governs moistening and liquefying of the food in the initial stages of digestion. Located in the upper part of the stomach. Governs lubrication of the heart and lungs. Governs calmness, happiness and stability. 

Tips for Balancing Vata:
Vata imbalance typically begins in the digestive tract, where vata has accumulated as a result of a vata-aggravating diet or lifestyle. This might involve eating foods that are dry, rough, or difficult to digest. This in turn increases vata and can lead to dry conditions like constipation or dry skin.

In order to manage ADHD symptoms, one needs to follow these vata balancing diet. 
To keep Vata in balance, favor the sweet, sour and salty tastes and avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods.
• Give fresh food to your child. A big NO to frozen foods, processed foods, and foods with preservatives.
• Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, most whole grains are good for Vata but no refined flour like all purpose flour which is difficult to digest. Milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils and lean meats are good for Vata.

You can take your Dosha quiz here 

I am not an expert, I would suggest you to go to these sites and get the maximum information on balancing your Doshas and also consult a good Ayurvedic doctor for treatment.

There are certain foods that you need to avoid irrespective of whether you are on Allopathy, homeopathy, and or Ayurvedic medication/treatment for ADHD. Maintaining good healthy diet goes a long way in managing ADHD.  Avoid certain foods that are unhealthy for a person with ADHD. There is no use of treating with medications of any kind if you keep eating unhealthy food and ruin your system. 

1. Sugar: Today sugar is in everything that you eat. American families start their day with cereal, baked foods like muffins, donuts which are sugar based. Of course, there are healthy ones too like eggs, bacon, ham etc. However, replacing sugar with honey or maple syrup is a better option than refined sugar. Sugar is definitely not good for the ADHD brain. It can fluctuate your energy levels and indirectly affects your focus. It is not the cause of ADHD however, It can trigger ADHD symptoms. 

2. Caffeine and Soft drinks: Caffeine can also interact negatively with stimulant medication. In fact, most Doctors advice ADHD kids to stay away from caffeine and aerated drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant; it enhances dopamine and increases focus and alertness. However, people should also know that this alertness is temporary, it wears off after some time and you may feel restless once it wears off. Kids who drink coke and other aerated drinks, enjoy the drink and feel alert, however, it is temporary after some time they might go into anxiety or restless since suddenly there is a increase and then decrease in dopamine level. It is better to cut off aerated drinks and coffee from your diet.

3. Technology fasting: Yes, there can be something like technology fasting, especially for ADHD kids. Today most kids are glued to their cell phones texting or playing games. Too must exposure to electronics agitates their nervous system. Decide on a particular day and let your kids take a break from all the technology (I know it is difficult but reward them for this) Give rest to their senses for a day. Let them know you would also sacrifice watching TV for a day. It works! This helps to give rest to our senses and also cleanse the mind. Electronics gadgets like Xbox, iPhone, iPad, stimulates the senses, and is toxic to the mind. Time out the devices for your kids. They would not listen but as parents we need to be strict on such rules for it is going to benefit our kids. Also do not let them sleep with their phones or iPad, let them charge their electronics in some other room. Schedule strict time-outs for technology.

4. Unhealthy food:
Red Dye: European Union has required warning labels on foods with artificial dyes stating that they may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. especially Red Dye #4).
When an influential study combined synthetic food dyes with the preservative sodium benzoate, it found increased hyperactivity. You might find sodium benzoate in carbonated drinks, salad dressings, and condiments. Other chemical preservatives to look for are:
  butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  sodium nitrate
  tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
You can experiment by avoiding these additives one at a time and seeing if it impacts your behavior. (ref.
Some children may also be sensitive to Wheat, milk, peanuts, eggs, treenuts, and soy. It is however, very important to diagnose your child’s sensitivities and allergies with a good doctor. 

5. Enroll your child in some Sports Activities:
This is important for a hyperactive kid as ADHD kids needs to release their energies in the right direction. hence, enroll them in some sports that they like. basketball, softball, swimming all are good releasing your energy but also improves overall health of the child.

Be patient with your child when giving alternative treatment because alternative treatment takes time and cooperation from the entire family. Just remember to not let your child feel he is compromising too much on things. Give them the best alternative, spend time with them. Give them lot of positive strokes and assure him/her that the alternate plans are working very well.

Today most people are adopting Yoga and Ayurveda as an alternative therapy for ADHD. According to Ayurveda, ADHD can be cured with ayurvedic diet, tonic herbs, control of senses and devotion. 

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.