How To Start A Mental Health Journal

How To Start A Mental Health Journal

With the pandemic offering no end to bad news, there has never been a more significant time to get that old notebook out and start your journaling habit. Turn a page, let it all out, and you’ll feel a sense of release and clarity that only the act of putting your thoughts on paper can offer.  

Health Benefits Of Journalling

In this highly stressful time, a journal can be a powerful tool to manage your mental health, keep negative emotions in check, and push back against self-destructive thought patterns. 

At the start, you might feel that articulating your thoughts, feelings, and fears on paper serve little to no purpose, but the benefits of journaling tend to add up over time. 

Keeping a daily journal gives insights into the inner workings of your mind and allows you to see day-to-day patterns that you would not have otherwise noticed. This activity helps you identify stressors in your environment as well as negative thoughts that have solidified into beliefs. 

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Once you can recognize these triggers, you can make a conscious effort to challenge these thoughts, correct harmful behaviors, and be a little kinder to yourself.  

In addition to mental health benefits, science suggests a link between journaling and physical well-being. Studies have shown that regular journaling strengthens T-lymphocytes or immune cells that help keep disease at bay and decrease symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Now that we’ve gone through the health benefits of journaling, here are some tips on getting started. 

Forget The Rules

Forget proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, or any other kind of structure! There are no “should have’s” with journaling. The moment you realize that you are relieved of any mental blocks and expectations about what your journal should look like or what it should contain.   

You can use codenames, cut sentences short, ramble, and that’s perfectly fine. You can keep your journal locked away forever, upload it as a private document, or choose to share some parts of it with trusted confidantes.

Once you get started, you might find that the words come easy. It’s because when you write, you access the left part of the brain dedicated to analysis, logic, and reason. Once the left hemisphere is activated, the right part – which performs creative tasks – is free to roam, build, feel, and create meaning. Journaling allows you to bypass this boundary and use your full brain power to make sense of the world. 

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Make Time For Journaling

Our only recommendation is to set aside time to write every day. You can narrate how your day went at night or write at the start of the day and list expectations for the day to come. Like a muscle that you train and strengthen, you have to dedicate a time and place for journaling until it becomes a reflex. 

To complement your journaling habit, you can use mood monitoring apps. Several free and paid versions let you assign an overall mood for the day and produce data-driven reports across a specified timeframe. You can take this even further and download a wide range of mental health apps dedicated to embedding mindfulness or giving self-help reminders. 

Journal Writing Prompts

So you’ve got your notebook and pen ready, now what? Here are some writing prompts to help you warm up: 

  • What has changed in your routine since the shelter-at-home order? Describe the before and after. Can you identify which changes were the most stressful? What about surprisingly positive experiences?  

 

  • Who or what brings you the most joy these days? What is it about these activities or people that make you feel this way? How can you strengthen your connections to the people and things that contribute to your joy? 

 

  • How cany ou be a source of joy to someone in my immediate circle? What can I do to bring happiness to their lives? What small steps can I take when I cannot see them physically? 
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  • What have you come to learn about yourself in the middle of the pandemic? Did you find out that you had a hidden talent, or did you finally give yourself time to do what you’ve always wanted? What else do you want to do? 

 

  • What are you learning about others? Are they positive or negative? What has brought a smile to your face these days when reading the news? How can you take all the lessons you’ve learned so far – about yourself, your community, and your place in the world – moving forward? 

Final Thoughts

Maintaining a journal is an excellent way to keep tabs on your mental health in these stressful times. It’s normal to feel worried and restless, but keep in mind that there are things that you can still control. 

A journal is an effective way to remember that and make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. If you’re looking for a sign to start writing, this is it! Happy journaling! 

 

   

 

Helping A Family Member Cope With Mental Illness

The family plays a vital role in the development of a person’s mental health. People who suffer from mental illnesses find comfort in their families and loved ones. Coping with a mental illness does not depend on the individual alone because the family takes on a crucial responsibility to guide and support a member dealing with mental health issues.

General psychiatrist Dr. Niall Campbell, MD said, “It is easy for family members to feel guilt or blame themselves for their relative’s decline in mental health.” Indeed, mental illness affects not only the patient but his or her family members as well. Hence, the family needs to work together to address the mental health issues of a loved one. Here are some ways you can help a family member cope with mental illness.

Source: pxfuel.com

Know The Warning Signs

When a person suffers from mental health issues, he or she is unlikely to disclose this matter expressly. Hence, it is crucial to learn more about the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems. Through this, you will be able to respond sensitively to the needs of your loved one.

Signs of common mental health problems include feeling sad and down, having low confidence, and a general lack of interest. A person suffering from mental illness may also lose his or her appetite and tire quickly. Also, notice if a family member is having difficulty concentrating or is frequently irritable. Be aware of significant changes in behavior, which may indicate that a family member has a mental illness.

By recognizing these warning signs, you can encourage your loved one to seek professional help. As a result, you may help prevent severe symptoms from developing.

Talk About Mental Health

Starting a conversation about mental health, especially to a family member, is challenging. But the relationship of the family plays a crucial role in initiating such a discussion. It helps determine the best approach in talking to a family member who may be suffering from mental health issues.

Begin by asking your family member how they are doing. Ask about what is troubling them. Express your willingness to listen. Most of the time, people who have a mental illness do not need someone to solve their problems. They need someone who cares, listens, and understands. Initiating a conversation on mental health with a family member can be difficult at first. It is necessary to listen carefully and to respect his or her feelings.

Encourage Treatment

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Sometimes, support from family and friends is not enough. Certain mental health conditions require the intervention of a professional. They can provide the appropriate medication and treatment for your loved one.

Explain to your family member the importance of seeking professional help. Offer to make an appointment and to accompany your loved one to the doctor. You may also provide him or her with information on how to schedule a consultation. In encouraging treatment, be careful not to overstep your boundaries. Do not impose and control the decisions of your loved one.

Initially, your family member might refuse to seek professional help. This scenario is entirely normal. However, do not be hesitant to encourage them again after some time. But remember that if a family member is in danger of self-harm or harming others, seek professional intervention immediately.

Provide Emotional Support

If a family member has a mental illness, he or she needs you now more than ever. Whether you are a parent, child, or sibling, you play a crucial role in your loved one’s recovery. By being there, you can help a family member feel a little less alone.

Here are some ways to provide emotional support to a family member suffering from mental health issues:

  • Listen carefully and attentively to his or her rants and stories.
  • Avoid being judgmental.
  • When talking to each other, make sure to focus on his or her needs.
  • Always offer to help.
  • Reassure your loved one that you are there for him or her.
  • Try to be as understanding as possible.
  • Join support groups for family members.

Maintain A Healthy Family Environment

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Help a family member cope with mental illness by fostering a positive, supportive, and loving family environment. Work together to build a happy home. Here are some ways to maintain a healthy family environment:

  • Regularly communicate with each other.
  • Immediately address conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Respect each other.
  • Spend quality time together.
  • Organize or participate in family bonding activities.

Take Care Of Yourself Too

In helping a loved one deal with mental health, you may tend to neglect your own. Make sure that you, too, take good care of yourself. Do not carry the burden on your own. Talk to other family members on how to work together. It is essential to be aware of your physical and emotional limitations to avoid exhaustion. By loving and caring for yourself, you can better express your love and care for your family members.

The family has an integral role to play in supporting persons with mental illness. Strengthening and preserving healthy family relationships can significantly improve a person’s mental and emotional well-being.

 

 

What To Do When Husband Loses Time For You Post-Quarantine

My best friend called me last night, crying. Instead of her usual cheery greeting, she told me, “I think my husband does not love me anymore.”

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Of course, my internal lioness instinct kicked in, so I immediately ask if her spouse was having an affair. Thankfully, my best friend was 100% sure that he was not seeing anyone else. That opinion of hers came from the fact that her husband had been spending eight to nine hours at work ever since the government allowed some offices to reopen.

“I barely see him daily. When I wake up, he’s already dressed and ready to leave. At night, he comes home for dinner but passes out early,” my best friend confided.

I had never been in her situation, so I was speechless at first. My husband was always busy with his business, too, but I never felt like I was at the bottom of his priorities. Hence, the only thing I could do was share three tips that got my marriage through quarantine and other curveballs in life.

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Talk About Schedules

The first thing on your to-do list should be talking about schedules. Get a massive calendar where you and your husband can write your agendas on specific days. Then, go through the blank dates or those with the least tasks and plan how you can spend time together. Say, if you have one free afternoon, you may order lunch from your favorite restaurant or watch a movie at home. If an entire day is vacant, you can hike, ski, cycle, or do any activity that permits social distancing.

Knowing each other’s schedule is a must way before you end your home quarantine so that you won’t feel lost later. This information can give you an idea about how busy your husband is during a particular day and what you can or cannot expect from him then, and vice versa. That is the quickest way to dodge disappointments in the long run.

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Make Compromises

One thing that makes you miss someone you have isolated with for more than two months is the routine you have developed. For instance, while quarantining, your husband may have prepared everything you need to cook for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When it comes to cleaning, you may have tackled every part of the house as a unit. However, after the quarantine, he may not be able to join you for breakfast, or you have been cleaning your entire home alone.

Letting all this take place cannot honestly be suitable for any marriage. You need to compromise with your spouse regarding chores or quality time so that your patience will not burn fast. Considering his schedule is often full, you can ask him to join you for at least one meal every day. If he can no longer help you tidy up the house on weekdays, you should set Saturday or Sunday as a cleaning day. Your husband will not argue with you about it, especially when he misses you badly.  

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Avoid Getting Angry

Feeling sad when your husband loses time for you does not make you an overbearing wife. Because of the quarantine, you may have gotten used to being around each other 24/7. When the stay-at-home order has been lifted, though, you only see him in the house at dinner.

Despite that, you should never resent your spouse for seeming to work double-time now. It is unlikely because he cannot stand your presence, especially if your love is unquestionable. It may only be due to the number of pending projects that he may need to deal with ASAP. After all, many things may ride on finishing those tasks, such as a new promotion, a raise in salary, etc.

 

Instead of entertaining adverse thoughts, you should follow the tips above. Good luck!

Suicide: Warning Signs And What You Can Do

 

Take care of your mental health during MCO. PEXELS

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Suicide prevention was the main topic of the 2019 Mental Health Awareness Event. The stakeholders, organizers, and sponsors tackled issues surrounding mental health. They discussed how they could help communities and states reduce the cases of mental health illness among seniors, adults, and especially teens. Activities and workshops for teens and other attendees were also prepared. They invited speakers from different fields of medicine to share their knowledge of mental health – conditions, causes, symptoms, and how to manage these conditions to prevent suicide, reduce the stigma related to suicide, and provide information about the different support systems that could help people find solace and comfort in difficult times.

Suicide Risk Factors

Specific situations and events may aggravate the risk of suicide. Some risk factors include:

  • Family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain mood disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression
  • Access to dangerous weapons (firearms, etc.)
  • Death in the family, breakup, financial difficulties, and failures in school, among others
  • Previous suicidal attempts
  • Chronic pain or chronic illnesses
  • Exposure to others who have suicidal behaviors

Suicide Warning Signs

  • Making comments about feeling helpless or worthless
  • Frequently writing or talking about death or suicide
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and significant others
  • Erratic mood changes
  • Feeling like he or she is a burden to other people

Lonely, Woman, Human, Person, Alone, Abandoned

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What You Can Do

If you know someone who talks to you about considering suicide, do take time to listen to him or her and take their problems seriously. Gently ask them about how they feel, or if they have plans. Show them that you care and that you are there for them. Always remind them that they can seek professional help.

If you are concerned that a friend or significant other is thinking of suicide, the first step you can do is to ask that friend. Research shows that it is very helpful to ask them why they think about things like these. This may encourage them to speak up about their problems. You can help them also by trying to keep them safe. Hide lethal items in the house, like knives, scissors, or other sharp objects. If you feel that your friend is restless and often in deep thought, stay with him. It doesn’t matter if he’s not talking at first. Just be with him. It makes a whole lot of difference.

 

 

 

Accepting Spouse’s Death Due To Coronavirus

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The last six months of my life had been surreal. My husband John had to return to the US for work in the last quarter of 2019. He was supposed to stay there from November to December, but a drunk driver totaled his car in Las Vegas and caused him to become comatose.

When John woke up a week later, the doctors found a dark mass at the back of his head. My husband then had a successful craniotomy, so we thought that everything was finally under control. Removing that dark mass, however, allowed the specialists to detect that he had a brain tumor.

This news did not sadden us too much because it was still treatable. John was in an excellent hospital; his company assured us that they would pay for any treatment that he might need. And so, my husband’s chemotherapy sessions started soon after.

At this point, I wanted to stay with him at the hospital. Unfortunately, my pregnancy would not allow me to travel alone. My kind sister-in-law, therefore, visited my husband every day and took care of him on my behalf.

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As February 2020 rolled in, John only had four chemotherapy sessions to complete. He had already lost 30 pounds, but his fighting spirit was stronger than ever. On that fourth to the last session, though, my sister-in-law called me and said that John passed out during chemotherapy. When I got to talk to my husband, he told me that it was because he was pushing the doctors to give him more dosage than his body could handle. This way, the treatment would be done early.

I manage to coax John to skip next week’s session so that he could recuperate. I thought, “What’s one more week of waiting if it meant that he would be in better shape?”

When March came, he only had two more sessions left. My husband and I were both happy since he seemed closer to going home than ever. But he also told me about his fear of acquiring the coronavirus. There were already a couple of patients with COVID-19 in the same hospital, you see. My husband said, “I wish I won’t get this disease. Otherwise, with my weak respiratory and immunity systems, it can kill me.”

Despite our nightly prayers, John started complaining about body pain, fever, and other symptoms of COVID-19. When the positive results came in, he only had to complete one chemotherapy session. The following week, my husband died.

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At first, I did not want to believe it. “John and I had so many dreams we wanted to fulfill; he could not be gone already,” I kept on reiterating. Even when my sister-in-law brought his ashes to me, I refused to look at it. However, acceptance began one day when I saw our old photos, texts, and videos. I comforted myself with these ideas:

My Husband Does Not Feel Pain Anymore

Whenever I ask my husband how he felt, and his typical reply was, “I’m good. I just want to be done with all these treatments so that I can come home to you.” He never complained about the physical or mental exhaustion of being in such a helpless situation. Still, I saw it in his face every time we would do a video call. Now that John is already in the after-life, though, I know that the pain no longer bothers him.

He’s Watching Over Me

My husband has always been my protector. When he was still alive, we made a pact to be each other’s guardian angel. I have never expected it to happen so soon, but I am sure that John will keep his promise.

Final Thoughts

I am still sad about many things. I am sad that my husband has gone through all that without me by his side. I am sad that we have not even said our final goodbyes. I am sad that my unborn daughter will merely know her father through my videos and photos. But no matter how sad I feel, I accept that my John has passed on already.

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My only hope is that a cure for coronavirus will soon be available so that no one will die like my husband.

Learning More About Healing And Health

There was quite a happy commotion when people heard about the Be In Health team coming back for the 2018 Dallas Conference. It was truly a success – a gathering of friends and families who wanted to learn more about how to heal by achieving optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. There were also discussions about physical illnesses like heart disease, allergies, cancer, and mental illness and why people acquire these diseases. But just why do people get sick?

Why Do People Get Sick?

Person Lying on Sofa

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There are a lot of illnesses that can affect people, from the simple cold and carsickness to complicated diabetes and cancer. Years ago, doctors believed that diseases were brought about by God’s wrath or the doings of the evil spirits. We were said to get sick because of the imbalance of substances in our bodies and the presence of foreign substances such as phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Today, most of us are aware of the two types of diseases – infectious and non-infectious – the former being caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. All these could enter into the body through the food and drink that we consume daily, from the air that we regularly breathe, or from cuts in our skin. For instance, you have a cough. You suddenly have the urge to cough, but you didn’t bring a hanky, so you cover your mouth with your hand. Then you candidly open the door with your hand, transferring the virus to that doorknob. The next person to touch the knob could be possibly contaminated with the virus, especially if he doesn’t wash his hands and eats or puts his hand on his face or mouth.

On the other hand, non-infectious illnesses are not transferred through person to person. These are the types that are most probably caused by a combination of factors like an individual’s lifestyle, his environment, or only his genetic makeup. Skin cancer, for example, is typically caused by over-exposure to the sun without appropriate protection from its UV rays. That is an environmental factor. Heart disease may arise from overeating unnecessary food or living a sedentary lifestyle. Or, finally, he may have just had it because his family members have it.

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There are a lot of things that we can learn to practice to avoid these non-infectious illnesses. We can practice eating healthy, develop a habit of exercising daily, and learning to live with a positive outlook in life so that we can better deal with the stresses that we encounter.

 

 

The World Is A Big Place

Did You Know?

 

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If you ever doubted that you can find someone to talk to, here are a few interesting facts about cancer from Worldwide data.

 

  • In 2012 there were an estimated 14.1 million cancer cases around the world
  • It is expected that this estimate will increase to 24 million by 2035

 

Draw Support from Global Resources

 

Source: en.wikipedia.org

 

Many people with cancer find comfort and encouragement by connecting with others going through the same emotions and challenges. With the constant growth in smartphone and internet technology, that support system has grown considerably over the past few years.

 

Whether you are joining an online support group or finding an online support buddy, connecting and working through your feelings and emotions is important. With minimum technology such as a smartphone, you can connect with others, even if they live halfway across the globe.

“People seek out support groups to share their personal experiences in dealing with situations that have altered their life in some way. There is an invisible thread that forms a bond of understanding and empathy toward each other as they share discomfort, resentment, fear, triumphs and emotional and physical relapses,” says substance abuse counselor Carole Bennett M.A.

The Benefits of Global Communities

 

Source: onecommunityglobal.org

 

With online global communities, people with cancer can connect with others anywhere in the world. You can share your fears, emotions, and even seek out advice. There are a number of benefits to joining online communities including:

 

  • Make it easier to be more forthcoming about your fears and anxiety
  • Connecting you with others in a similar situation
  • You can even help others by sharing your story
  • Offers people who are not comfortable with face-to-face or group therapy
  • It is also sometimes a lot easier to put your emotions and feelings into written words, rather than saying them out loud

 

Sharing stories is a great way to broaden your knowledge of cancer. You could also learn more about treatment options and side effects. It is important though that you remember to keep in mind that symptoms and side effects are not textbooks and will differ from one person to another. This will also apply to the side effects that you may experience while on treatment. It is best that you take the knowledge and information and find a balance that best suits your needs.

 

Cancer.Net has a number of recommendations for online communities for cancer patients you can consider.

 

“Living with cancer involves much more than coping with the physical wear and tear of a prolonged illness. Multiple operations, chemotherapy and radiation can dramatically affect the mind as well as the body,” according to New York psychologist Jane Framingham, Ph.D.

 

Knowledge Is Power

 

Source: icsa.org.uk

 

Online communities can also offer you research information. Take the time to understand cancer, the general and specific types. Speak to your medical care team, ask questions and find out about the treatment options you have to choose from. Stay informed about research and medications. With knowledge, you have the power to stay in control of this emotionally and physically challenging period in your life.

 

Choose Wisely

 

It is also important to remember that not all these communities will be what you need. You have a number of things to consider when choosing to join one.

 

Listen to the Cancer.Net Podcast: Evaluating Cancer Treatment Options on the Internet,

 

“The Internet is a useful tool for finding cancer information and connecting with other patients and caregivers. Sometimes it is hard to know if the information you are reading is reliable. Because anyone can put content on the Internet, use good judgment when searching online for information. Be critical about the sources you use. And discuss the information you find with your health care team.” From Cancer.net:  Evaluating Cancer Information on the Internet

So you see, you do not have to do this alone. The world is a big place and with technology, the gaps or distance between people no longer pose the challenges they used to. Take the time to find a suitable online community, stay informed and most importantly, never lose hope.

“Hoping for things that cannot possibly happen is indeed stupid. We can dub it evil if we are so inclined. But hoping for things that can happen is smart (good), assuming we are motivated by our optimism to act in ways that make the hoped-for thing more likely,” according to Christopher Peterson Ph.D., one of the  top 100 most widely cited psychologists in the world.

 

 

How To Help Your Teen In Recovering From Broken Relationships

It is hard for a parent to protect his child from pain as they become a teenager. They are now surrounded by many people who will possibly bring emotional turmoil and complexity to their life. Gone are the days where the parents’ primary concerns are few scrapes and scratches from rough play in the park or scarcity of play dolls and stuff toys. Dealing with teenagers who are in-love requires a different set of parenting skills.  

“The first heartbreak can leave deeper scars than the next ones.” says Chantal Belhumeur, a psychologist.

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Understanding The Basics Of ADHD

ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders among children and often lasts into adulthood. Zachary Blumkin, PsyD, states that “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like any diagnosis, is a label that represents a cluster of specific symptoms. In ADHD, these symptoms include hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behaviors.” It is commonly observed in boys during their early school years and characterized by the inability to pay attention for an extended period. Children who are having this type of condition usually cannot sit still inside the classroom, unable to control their impulses and hyperactive most of the time. They are acting without thinking of the possible results of their actions. Teachers often misinterpret the behaviors that need to be corrected or impose discipline. 

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The Basics Of Bipolar Disorder

 

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Mood swings among children, most especially adolescents, are a regular part of their growing up but if this affects their performance in school or relationship with their peers, probably it is bipolar disorder. Also known as manic-depression, bipolar disorder is a severe brain illness in which symptoms can occur in early childhood but usually visible in adolescence or adulthood. This type of illness can be dangerous to adolescents because some of them try to hurt themselves or even attempt suicide.

Continue reading “The Basics Of Bipolar Disorder”