The Cleveland Clinic has this list of 7 Secrets to Happiness.
Happiness is a transitory state usually resulting from accomplishments, unexpected gifts and "happy" events, once in a lifetime occurrences. Rather than seeking happiness pursue joy. There are small moments within each day that can lift your heart, such as, the glimpse of a loved one, the memory of past joys, a budding flower, a kind interaction. To use an over-used word, mindfulness can put you in touch with the tiny joys which present themselves through your surroundings; the beauty of nature, a well-done exercise routine, a hot shower, the aroma of fresh baking, favorite music, a delicious meal and connections with other people. The list is endless if you pay closer attention to your senses; the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches within easy reach. Becoming more conscious of the tiny joys around can habituate you to perceiving things differently, to gathering the pleasantries within even the grayest day and lead to a steady state of contentment. Then you don't have to wait for the happy events to come along. You have many joys whenever you tune into your senses to experience the present. Here are some easy steps to help focus on the joys around you.
The Cleveland Clinic has this list of 7 Secrets to Happiness.
Sadness that won’t go away, episodes of crying, dwelling on bad feelings. All of those familiar mood-disorder symptoms are common in women with depression — but not so much in men.
“When men are depressed, they may be less likely to express sadness and more likely to express anger, irritability and aggression,” says clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD.
Other signs of depression in men can include:
Men and women also may share some basic depressive symptoms, like low energy, poor concentration and lost interest in activities they used to enjoy says.
Not all drops in mood are depression. Common sadness or irritability is usually temporary and triggered by something specific. Depression may have no clear trigger. And symptoms seem to take over your life (emotionally and physically), for two weeks or longer.
The effect on a man’s body
The thing about a mood disorder is that it’s not just an emotional problem. It can have physical effects too.
In women, depression can present as panic attacks or eating problems. Men, however, are more likely to complain of headaches, digestive problems or other physical aches and pains, says. They may have trouble sleeping or eating — or sleep or eat too much.
They also may have decreased sex drive and trouble performing in the bedroom.
It’s often easier for men to see a doctor for their physical issues than emotional ones. They may be less willing than women to talk about emotional issues or less likely to realize their physical symptoms are depression.
How to treat male depression
Men who may be depressed should start by seeing their primary care provider, who can rule out other health conditions and discuss ways to treat depression. Usually depression is treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Therapy can help patients uncover and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that could be contributing to depression. Sometimes it includes finding new ways of dealing with interpersonal conflict or other problems.
Antidepressants treat depression well, but can take several weeks to work fully. Symptoms may lift slowly and gradually.
There are dozens of safe and effective antidepressants available, but they don’t work the same in everyone. It may take more than one try for you and your doctor to find the right antidepressant for you.
What to do if a man is depressed
Many men won’t seek medical care for depression on their own. They may need encouragement from family or friends who’ve noticed a change in their ability to work, interact with others or function in everyday life.
If you think the man in your life may be depressed, here’s how you can help:
Good Mental Health is no different than good physical health. In fact, good mental health contributes to better physical health.
Seeing a physician isn't embarrassing if we have the flu, a high fever, or other serious health problems. No one will criticize you for seeking medical help for a physical health problem and, indeed, most people would fault you if you didn't seek medical help.
Yet we often find that mental health issues bring a very different reaction. People sometimes see mental illness not as a health issue, but as a character flaw, a serious defect, something that marks a person as weak, unstable, perhaps even violent or dangerous.
Such reactions have serious consequences for millions of Americans who could be healthier and happier if they were receiving the mental health help readily available. But many don't seek such help out of fear of being "labeled" with a mental illness, feeling family and friends won't understand, or that it could lead to discrimination at work or school.
Too many people who could use help instead see their condition as a sign of personal weakness. They may mistakenly believe that they should be able to control whatever is wrong without outside help.
Please, work to correct this misinformation and encourage people to seek needed treatment. For example, researchers estimate that one in eight U.S. adolescents is suffering from depression. Each day an estimated 3,000 young people in grades 9 to 12 attempt suicide, yet only 30% of young people facing mental health issues ever receive any type of treatment or intervention. This lack of treatment helps lead to more than 4,600 suicides by young people each year. The statistics are even scarier among senior citizens and our military veterans.
What you can do:
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, don't give in to the stigma, but rather take action for better health. Talk to a friend or family members about what's bothering you and look into assistance from a mental health professional. Seeking mental health help is not a weakness; it's as logical and right as seeing a doctor for the flu.
Adapted from American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.
Here are some thoughts from Markus Howard on The Marquette basketball team about his mental health treatment as published in The NYTimes.
For most of us, asking for help can often be difficult. Yes, asking for advice on planting a garden is easy. But for a serious issue, such as your mental health, you may find that you don't want to admit to the problems you're facing.
It's not hard to understand why you may be reluctant. Admitting that you're struggling or feeling overwhelmed is like admitting you're weak or inadequate. Many of us learned as children that it's important to be independent, strong and self-sufficient. That background makes it difficult to tell someone else that you're really not okay.
The result is that people often decide to just try and do the best they can by themselves. In some cases things might just turn out fine, though there are no guarantees. But going it alone could involve considerable amounts of stress and anxiety, and may even lead to bigger and more serious problems.
Another common option is to turn to family or friends. This can be a good idea if those you trust with your problems and fears are truly understanding and are able to offer meaningful support and help. Sometimes they can, but often times they just can't be objective enough.
If you're facing a difficult time or situation, something that's causing depression, high stress and anxiety, and is making it difficult or impossible for you to enjoy life, it may be time to seek out professional help. Doing so can be a difficult choice, since it means asking for help from a stranger, and usually will involve a fee.
However, realize that a professional counselor is someone who has gone through extensive training and has many tools to help those feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to go on. Despite the way it's often portrayed on TV, counseling is not something just for "crazy" people. Most counseling assists perfectly normal people who are simply facing issues and problems that are negatively affecting their lives. There are no reasons to suffer emotional pain when licensed, professional counselors are available, willing and competent to help.
There are many ways to find a counselor. You can ask a friend, your doctor or dentist, teacher or someone you respect to give you a referral. Many communities have counseling centers. If there is a resource at your job you can ask about the Employee Assistance Program. You can find a counselor by simply Googling "Find a Counselor". There are many referral sites that you can search geographically and by topic, e.g., stress, anxiety, depression, marital conflict, parenting.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness but rather of the strength to recognize when your problems are real and that you need help to do something about them.
Here are some reasons NOT to ignore your Mental Health from the Cleveland Cllinic.
Adapted from American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.
Stop, Look, Listen, Smell, Taste, Touch.
What you know of the world comes through the 5 senses. Paying attention to your sensory input can focus the mind on the present. Living in the present can, momentarily, lower anxiety, relieve muscle tension and calm the mind.
Here's a quick exercise, The Senses Check, which takes about a minute to bring you into a tranquil space.
Do The Senses Check and experience the present moment completely.
Even one episode of mindful practice can be beneficial for your health.
Now that spring is here it’s time to revise or create an outdoor exercise routine. The list of the benefits of regular aerobic and strength-training exercise is too long to post here. However, relief of depression is an important one.
Depression is a common disorder that is associated with compromised quality of life, increased health care costs, and greater risk for a variety of medical conditions, particularly coronary heart disease.
Here are some tips to help you get started and maintain the benefits of regular exercise.
To use that famous NIKE slogan, “Just Do It.”
Here is a recent article from Slate which provides information on the anti-depressant effects of regular exercise. Exercise and Happiness from The NY Times provides more information. And another one about exercise to lower blood pressure and reduce fat.
Everyone has difficulty falling asleep occasionally. You can improve your sleep hygiene and reorganize your bedtime routines to create an external and internal environment which is more conducive to restful sleep.
Here is a brief visualization called The Body Scan which can help release tension and quiet the mind.
If your sleep is disturbed for many nights you may be experiencing insomnia which is habitual sleeplessness, wakefulness, restlessness. Prolonged insomnia can have serious psychological and health problems. If this is the case, consult a physician.
Researchers at Harvard have developed a list of 12 tips to promote better sleep. Look them over.
Persistent relationship stress takes a toll, both emotionally and physically.
Every couple squabbles over finances, parenting, who does household chores, etc. But constant, unrelenting conflict can take a toll on both parties’ emotional and physical health. The quality of a relationship is important to a couple’s quality of overall health
You might notice common signs of stress when your relationship has hit a rough patch: headaches, irritability, stomach issues, muscle tension, changes in sleep patterns. If that persists and you have unremitting stress your immune system can become compromised and you are vulnerable to many potential physical problems.
Some studies have linked relational conflict and depression to poor digestive health. Others suggest that strained relationships may be connected to an increased risk for heart disease. Stress is also linked to high blood pressure and cancer.
This mind-body connection is well known among researchers and physicians. The impact on health is greatest when relationship stress becomes chronic. Stress, in general, produces a “fight or flight” response that is designed to help in emergencies. If it's constantly activated, the entire body’s internal balance can be disturbed. Continual stress can cause an increase in cortisol which can damage the heart muscle. The longer the time conflict persists over the course of months versus weeks, the more likely you are to experience some physical symptoms,
Couples counselling can help you learn to create an atmosphere of emotional safety for yourself and your partner, to take responsibility for stress relief so your nervous system shifts into “rest and digest” mode and all mind/body systems can function optimally.
Here are some misconceptions about Couples' Therapy published by The Gottman Institute.
There are many factors that can have negative effects on us, but sometimes it's important to focus on those things that can actually improve the quality of our lives. Yes, exercise, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep all can contribute to better physical and mental health, but another even simpler antidote that is often overlooked is making sure to laugh frequently.
Laughing is a natural part of life. As infants, we started smiling within our first few weeks and were laughing out loud within just months. Unfortunately, as we get older and life gets more serious, the ability to laugh can sometimes be diminished. Fortunately, you can learn to laugh again regardless of age.
How does laughing help? In addition to adding joy to your life laughter can:
You can increase your laughter quota by searching out things that make you happy. Maybe it's playing with a small child or a family pet. Maybe it's taking the time to find a funny movie, TV show or a video on YouTube. Try reading a humorous book, or sharing a good joke or funny story with others. Read the comics, watch a comedian on TV, or have a night out at your local comedy club. Yes, life can be serious and we can't always be laughing, but putting a little extra effort into trying to find the funny in your life can leave you feeling happier while providing real benefits to your physical health and mental well-being.
Adapted from The American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.
Taking time to meditate might sound like a luxury but it may be as important for your well-being as pounding the treadmill or eating broccoli. And you don’t have to block off lots of time, either. Setting aside just a few minutes a day can improve your focus, and calm your mind and body.
If you’re a meditation skeptic, take a look at these four meditation myths that could (literally) change your mind.
Meditation myth #1: You have to practice at least 20 minutes every day.
Do you have a minute? Great! Then you have time to meditate. Here's a one-minute mindfulness meditation.
Breathe in for five seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. That’s your warm-up. Then repeat for one minute. It’s that simple, and you can work up from there.
Meditation myth #2: You need to clear your mind.
Can’t get your to-do list out of your head? It’s OK if it keeps coming back.
The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind of all thought. The goal is to return to the breath. Each time you discover your mind has wandered, return it to the breath. That is how your mind learns to benefit from meditation.
When you’re meditating and get distracted by a thought return your attention to your breath. You’ll increase your awareness of the present moment, creating calm and balance.
Meditation myth #3: It doesn’t do anything.
It’s true, meditation doesn’t do one thing for you- it does a lot of good things! Research suggests that meditation appears to boost whole-body wellness.
And you don’t have to stick with one type of meditation. Play around until you find one you like, or use a combination of techniques. You can even use several types of meditation during one session.
You can meditate in your car before leaving for work, while your children nap or even while you’re washing the dishes. Try to find a few minutes during your day to develop your meditation skills.
You’ll be joining the 18 million American adults who use meditation to boost health and focus the mind. And you just may find that meditation gives you a little sanity in a sometimes crazy world.
This is adapted from an article posted by the Cleveland Clinic, February 2019.