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Improve Your Thinking

Mental-health-007-300x180Our greatest friend and also our most devious enemy could easily be our own thoughts. It is the most sheltered part of our being and is who we really are. Both good and bad experiences shape our thought processes which in turn shape our perception of other people and the world around us. A majority of good experiences usually initiates more positive thoughts but bad experiences or stress could really adversely affect one’s thoughts and damage one’s view of life. More importantly, we find that our actions are usually extensions of our thoughts. Negative thoughts usually elicits negative actions. Therefore it is important that we monitor and pay attention to our thoughts.

Thought patterns

These are created when we have the same type of thoughts again and again, creating a habit of thinking in that particular
way. The battle we have withing ourselves have to do with these thought patterns because they determine how happy, confident and active we are each day. How ready we are to take on lifes challenges and hope for the future. This is when our thought patterns are in tune with our desires. As we know, sometimes our thoughts conflict with our desires. For example, someone who has a pessimistic view to life believes he or she is more likely to fail at a certain task at hand. However they are aware of how much joy they’d feel if they completed the task, but even this joy is usually not enough to eradicate their negative thoughts of failure. At the end of the day, if they let their negative thought pattern prevail, they end up quitting the task.No-Negativity-Stop-Negative-Thoughts-Coral-Springs-Counseling-Center

We all have the inner negative thoughts we have to battle when we set out minds to do something. Those thoughts that remind you of when you tried something similar in the past and you failed or reminds you of how you never get anything right or complete any tasks. These Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS), as neuropsychologist author Daniel Amen calls them, invade our minds usually when we are concerned about the outcome of an event to make us anxious by exaggerating the negative outcomes that could possibly happen and undermining our ability to deal with them. Negative thinking makes us focus on the negative things in life and magnify them while we filter out the brighter side. These negative thought patterns are especially difficult to get rid of because they are formed over time.But do not give up hope, they can be “killed” if we pay attention to our thoughts and realize that because we think something bad will happen does not make it true.

Thinking healthily

First realize that your mind is supposed to be your safe haven and your thoughts your best friend. It should be filled with positivity, encouragement and hope. We cannot control alot of external factors in our everyday lives, but we have, or should have, full control of our own thoughts.The quickest way to begin thinking healthily is to remove ‘absolutes’ from our thinking. Words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’ can be very harmful by causing you to give up and despair. “I always make the same mistake” “I can never do this” “I will be forever alone” Such thoughts encourage self pity, anxiety andpositive-people depression. Instead, though we realize our shortcomings, we should also acknowledge that we can indeed improve on them and be better. “I can never do this” should then become “This is very difficult, but since i have to do it i’m going to keep trying”. “I always make the same mistake” becomes “I make this same mistake a lot and i don’t like that, i’m going to try my best not to do so again”. This way you remind yourself that you can control the outcome and that you’re not powerless against the circumstances.

You also have to pay attention to your thoughts. Ask yourself what you think about the most each day and why. Trace the genesis of your most common thoughts and begin to break negative thought chains. This is a daily practice as thought patterns were also formed over time and are hard-wired in our minds. Each day as soon as we are conscious of a negative thought pattern we must redirect our thoughts in order not to further solidify such patterns. You’ll figure that there would be more room for innovative thoughts and ideas and a wider perspective in situations. Maintaining control over your thought patterns and having positive thoughts as much as you can is the basis of thinking healthily. 

Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Be satisfied with things you genuinely cannot change. Pay attention to your thoughts and stay positive.

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Conquering Bad Habits

A persons personality can be described as a collage of habits which the person expresses. We are our habits and our habits make us. The more good habits we have, the better people we tend to be. Bad habits, which are negative behaviour patterns, however, hold us back from reaching our full potentials. Bad habits, as we know, are detrimental to our well-being; they affect us physically (e.g smoking and its adverse effects on the lungs) and mentally (habitual lying, See our previous post The importance of being honest ). You can conquer your bad habits of procrastination, overspending, smoking or even nail-biting and picking your nose, but first you have to assess the origin of such habits and circumstances that trigger them.

Some bad habits, such as smoking and overspending, often start when a person is under a lot of stress. Gratification is often used in such circumstances to take our minds off the stressor. This may not sound so bad initially, but this is how most bad habits begin. The reason being that when we gratify ourselves, the pleasure we feel is initiated by the release of dopamine from from the limbic system to the  pleasure centers of our brain. Behaviours that trigger this release are then more readily reinforced as we naturally enjoy pleasure. The problem is it is more difficult to be moderate which such behaviours and they soon interfere with our lives and become bad habits.

Most of the time, bad habits tend to ease the ‘here and now’ and provide immediate satisfaction, not thoroughly thinking of the future consequences or effect they’d have on us. This is seen especially in procrastination, which most of us are often guilty of. So if you are serious about conquering your bad habits and you are ready to make a firm resolve, the following actions are necessary:

1. Increased Will power

can do!

You have to make a strong resolution that you are willing to stop whatever bad habit it is. You have to remind yourself of it’s adverse effects in your life and that you can indeed control this behaviour. This is something you do daily to increase your willpower and subjugate the habit. Remind yourself that you are in control of your actions and not vice versa. You can even write it down in a diary or somewhere you can see it each day as a reminder. Stop for a second now. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and tell yourself, “I am in control!”.

 


its-possible-to-rewire-your-brain-by-breaking-out-of-the-way-you-naturally-think2. Re-wire your brain

Some say we are creatures of habits and this is due to the way our brains are wired. The more we do an action, the stronger the neural connections relating to that action. This is how practice makes perfect. However, this is also how we automatically or subconsciously find ourselves indulging in our bad habits, the neural connection is usually strong. An environment or situation, that your brain has associated with you carrying out a certain action, could even trigger bad habits. Therefore, you have to re-wire your brain. Associate healthier actions with environments or situations you used to associate with bad habits. This is something you have to do daily for about a month (some say between 21 and 28 days before a bad habit is broken) in order for new neural connections associated with the situation to be established.

 

3. Reflect

Critical-and-Reflective-Thinking1a

Take time out to reflect on your actions and how they affect your body and well-being. Reflect on who you are now as a person due to this bad habit. Understand that at this moment you’re doing fine without it. Imagine the future consequences of your bad habits. The anxiety caused by too much procrastination or the disappointment you’d feel when you realize your broke again due to overspending. Whatever situation you can relate with. Stay relaxed and imagine how you’d feel if you finally got rid of this bad habit. Experience the momentary joy. Realize when your body begins to crave for this bad habit and what alerts your senses to it. Once you are able to do this, you’d find that you begin to know the initial physical and mental signs that often lead to you indulging in this habit again and can make a conscious decision to stop before you begin to consider it. (For a full mindfulness meditation experience go to  http://www.mobilehealthconsult.org/?page_id=1008)

 

4. Have a support group

Confide with your friends and family if you can and tell them about the difficulty your having is stopping this bad habit. support-groupYou’d find that some of your friends may be going through something similar or even the exact same problem. They may have other ways of dealing with bad habits that they could share with you. Meet with a group maybe once a week to share ideas and to find support. This is one of the most effective methods of conquering bad habits. Find people you can relate with and vice versa and help each other.

Moderation is key

Remember to do all things in moderation. Not too little and definitely not too much. Especially things that bring us pleasure. Discipline is very important if we want to prevent ourselves from bad habits. Be moderate.

If you try or you’ve sincerely tried all these and you persist in relasping, it is advised that you seek a psychotherapist as you may not just have a bad habit but an addiction.


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The Importance of being Honest

Take a moment and try to remember the last time you told a ‘small’ or a ‘white’ lie…

Do you remember how it felt?

Now, take another moment and try to remember the last time you told a major lie…

Do you remember how it felt?

If you were caught, can you recall how you felt at that time? Not a very good feeling I presume. person_ashamed1

Whatever the size of the lie, big or small, lying makes us feel uneasy. There’s a valid reason why Benjamin Franklin professed Honesty as the best policy. It affects us psychologically, emotionally and even physically. Here are a few points to emphasize the importance of being honest.

1. You become less anxious when you’re more honest. There’s no such thing as a relaxed liarrelaxed-woman
. Studies have found that lying triggers the release of stress hormones. These hormones make us anxious and increase our heart rates and blood pressure. Hence the more we lie, the more anxious and stressed we become. Honesty makes us more relaxed generally, psychically and mentally.

handshake2. Honesty improves self-confidence and trust. When we lie often, especially about ourselves, we get caught up in that fantasy that we become dissatisfied with our present selves and begin to lose confidence. It’s almost like one has to lie to look good, and deep down is aware of that. You begin to depend on lies instead of your ability to improve yourself and cope with the circumstances. In addition, others would soon begin to realize that you lie often and consequentially lose confidence in you and brand you as dishonest to others. You also begin to lose trust in yourself. On the other hand, an honest person is almost always acclaimed by his or her peers and has a lot of peoples trust. He would have a lot of responsibilities due to this trust, which will in turn boost his or her self confidence. Being honest makes us self-affirmed.

3. Honesty improves relationships. In all types of relationships, once trust is broken it is normally difficult to fix. laughing-coupleContinuous dishonesty goes the extra mile to damage almost every relationship you are in. This would be evident soon enough to make you unhappy and could cause you to sink into depression. Honesty does the exact opposite. It solidifies every relationship you’re involved in and improves the likelihood of you forming new good relationships with people you meet. Good relationships ultimately improves our overall happiness and well-being.

There is no little or ‘white’ lie. Habitual lying begins from lying about the little things and almost always ends up with one lying about the bigger things which could cause substantial damage in ones life. On your road to habitual honesty, start by telling the truth about the littlest things and in time you’d find that recourse is always telling the truth.

The truth shall set you free! That’s psychotherapy is very effective, it’s based on complete honesty. It’s the first step towards solving any problem. Be honest, with yourself and with others.

Life comes down to honesty and doing what’s right. That’s what’s most important.

– Bob Feller


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Self-confidence

Self-confidence is one of the most attractive aspects in a person. Men admire it in women and women desire it in men. Self confidence is a major step to success in many different areas in life. A confident person leads and achieves and most of all is generally happier than others. Are you a confident person? Here are some main characteristics of confident people. A confident person:

1. is self-assured: Don’t wait for others to tell you good things about yourself to motivate you. Motivate yourself! happy-personRemind yourself who you are and what you want to achieve and be content. Be mindful of yourself. Take time out to sit quietly and explore your thoughts so you are aware of who you are all the time. Take criticism well, it is not the end of the world, don’t let it put you down. Exaggerate your good qualities to yourself and always tell yourself “I can!”. Be your number one fan.

plan2. has a plan:  Make a plan and a checklist of both your short term and long term goals and stick to it. You’d find the more achievements you check off the list the more confident you’d become. Know the things you can and cannot do. Not reaching our goals adversely affects our confidence. Achieve short term goals to boost your confidence for long term goals. It is also important to reward yourself as you attain your milestones.

3. looks the best he or she can: Find what colours goes best with your skin and wear such colours often. Alwaysmenssuitfull2-1 dresses nicely and have an image of yourself that you like and want to maintain. Be creative and stylish with your dressing and on formal occasions look extra sharp. Always look neat.

4. has “open” body language: They say body language is 70- 80% of communication. You’d find that most confident people use a lot of hand movements and don’t fold their arms across, which is a sign of being defensive. Be expressive and audible in speech. Make yourself comfortable all the time, wherever you find yourself.

5. is comfortable with himself/herself: Can spend time alone and not feel bad about it. In fact, they relish their alone time. Confident people like they’re own company. If you can’t bear with yourself others may equally not be able to bear with you.

6. holds beliefs firmly: Stands for something. Always have strong beliefs that practically defines them. They would always defend this belief and it is very difficult for them to let go of it. Remember the saying, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, confident people do not fall for anything.

jogging7. is active: Whether its playing sports or taking walks, confident people tend to have an active lifestyle. They are cautious of their physical well-being and are always up to something. Solve puzzles and read books. Gather as much knowledge as u can each day. Keeping the mind busy prevents automatic negative thoughts which people with low confidence levels often have. In addition, knowledge increases self-confidence. Stay active.

A great way of improving your self-confidence is through writing meditation. It’s the recording of ones thoughts without filtering, editing or judging oneself. It’s pouring out your mind on a piece of paper with utmost sincerity. It’s great for confidence, especially when you write down affirmations of your good qualities, for example “I am a good listener. I am hardworking. I am brilliant” and so on. This practice elicits a higher sense of self-discovery, self-assurance and, over time, significantly improved self-confidence.

Register for a FREE mindfulness meditation training which includes writing meditation, follow this link: http://www.mobilehealthconsult.org/?page_id=1008


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Keep your child mentally active!

In this brain awareness week, it is important to realize that there is a dire need to encourage the appropriate development of children mentally. Keeping your child mentally active is one of the best things you could do for that child. This is vital as the brain of a child is more ‘plastic’ than that of adults and hence more prone to change. The learning of new helpful habits and exercises would boost your childs mental abilities and ultimately benefit your child in the future. Below are different ways to keep your child mentally active!

1. Encourage them learn to play instruments:   Playing an instrument as a child, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association (APA), keeps the mind sharper as the child grows. As enjoyable as it may be, it is a challenging cognitive exercise which would keep your child mentally active!

2. Encourage them to read wide: kid reading bookBesides doing their homework or reading books their school requires them too, encourage them also to read other books they’d enjoy. Pick different but interesting knowledgeable topics such as animals, planets and even fantasy so they have broad knowledge. This way reading does not become a chore but a hobby. Find time to read with your children in order to bond with them and make reading a fun experience that would keep your child mentally active!

3. Encourage them to solve picture puzzles: pat1-624x395Picture puzzles are a great way of tasking a child mind. Picture puzzles have been found to exercise both parts of the brain. The logic and sequence of the left-brain and the creativeness and intuity of the right brain are utilized when solving picture puzzles. Use colourful picture puzzles and different ones as well so your child does not get bored by solving the same puzzle again and again. New picture puzzles would bring new challenges that would keep your child mentally active!

4. Encourage brain training games:OfferButton1-sm Brain training games are different from other video games as they are developed to target and develop specific areas of your child’s brain. The aim is to improve the overall mental ability of your child step by step using fun games. Brain training games such as Brainware Safari use proven clinical approaches to cognitive skills development into an engaging video game format that children enjoy. This is a very good way to keep your child mentally active!

5. Encourage outdoor games and physical activities: Kids-Playing-OutsideFresh air and enough space to run around and play are also vital for your childs mental development. Physical activities with other children helps your child develop social skills such as co-operation and empathy towards others. Good social skills and a good social life would help keep your child mentally active!

6. Encourage reduced television time:Kid-watching-TV Too much television is unhealthy for a child mentally. This is the stage were their imaginations are to go wild and free, but television restricts that. Encourage other enjoyable activities and allow your child watch television on a few occasions in order to keep your child mentally active!

Start today! Encourage and challenge your child daily. This will boost confidence, increase resilience and KEEP YOUR CHILD MENTALLY ACTIVE!wavebreak-media_smart-kid-blackboard-300x300


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Preventing domestic abuse

domestic-violenceDomestic violence is no new topic. There are several cases daily of emotional, physical or sexual abuse from different parts of the world. Some end up in divorce, serious injury to the victim or even murder. Why would anyone be in such a relationship one may ask. Most times it starts after “I do” has been proclaimed and the couple are living as man and wife. The true colours of people are usually revealed after marriage, were for most its too late to pull out as it may cause scandal, or one chooses to persevere for the sake of the children or financial support or any other reason. No one has to be in an abusive relationship and there are signs that one could use to determine whether or not their partner has the tendency to be abusive.

1. Desire for Power & Control

Mostly in abusive men, there is usually a strong desire for power and control that they exert on their lovers when they feel inadequate. When things are getting out of their control, they turn their frustrations into violence behavior towards their lover. They also are abusive when they feel they are losing control of their significant other, or they feel inferior because they are earning less, they feel jealous or anything that affects their ego and self-esteem. This often leads to obsession, were they forcefully restrict their partners from the ‘outside world’ out of fear of losing them and constantly keep them in check. It is important to know just how big the ego of your significant other is and their hunger for power and control. An indication is if they do not like to ‘share’ power with you. They make all the decisions and set all the rules and are aggressive (even passively) when they are not in control. This is a vital sign.

Child_s640x4272. Violent background

Abusers have often been found to come from homes where they have been abused or observed one of their parents being abused. This influences their approach to relationships as they tend to repeat what they observed in their own relationships. It now becomes a form of learned behaviour, especially if the abused did little or nothing about it (positive reinforcement). Violent temperaments have also been found to be hereditary, meaning that the child of a violent man has a tendency to become violent himself from when he is young or in the future. Correlations have been found between juvenile delinquents and abusive behaviour in adulthood. Know very well the background of whoever you’re getting yourself involved with and look out for histories of violence within the family.

3. Substance abuse

There are several cases of alcoholics and drug abusers being abusive. Abuse of drugs and alcohol makes it less likely for one to control their violent impulses. Reasoning is reduced so they become more impulsive. Substance abusers lack self-control and, because they are often not themselves, end up doing things they’d regret when they are sober. This indication would be clear most of the time, act on it!

1-green-finger4. Blame

A major reason why abuse goes on in a relationship is blame. The abuser blames his or her violent behaviours on their partner, saying it’s their partners fault that they are harming them. On the other side, in a number of cases we find that the abused also blame themselves for the abusers behaviour towards them. Telling themselves or others that if they didn’t act in a certain way they would not have been treated badly by their partner. Either way, it deeply affects the self-esteem of the abused and positively reinforces the abusers violent actions. It is important to note that no one else is to blame for our actions; only we are to blame. Never blame yourself for someone else’s bad actions. Beware if its always your fault when something goes wrong in your relationship, and when necessary it is vital you stand up for yourself.

These four signs are often obvious, so do not ignore them.

                                                              Do not be silent in abuse; speak out!

Domestic abuse occurs most of the time when the abuser believes he or she would get away with it. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship and it can be prevented if we are all mindful of ourselves, our thoughts and our actions.