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Moods

1. Music and mood: Music can have either a positive or negative effect on our mood. It is partly related to memories, associations, and how much we like or dislike the music.

2. Food and mood: Studies have revealed that people who consume a large amount of olive oil have lower levels of depression. Also, salmon and walnuts (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids) have mood-boosting properties. High-carbohydrate comfort foods stimulate the reward centre in the brain, and help to reduce stress levels.  

3. Interactions with strangers and mood: Even brief interactions tend to have a positive effect on mood. This may be because we act cheerful – and that, in turn, affects how we feel.

4. Skepticism and mood: We are more skeptical of others’ intentions, and are more likely to catch them lying to us, when we’re in a negative frame of mind. In contrast, happy people tend to be overly trusting, optimistic, and blind to other peoples’ character flaws.

5. Exercise and mood: Numerous studies have confirmed that exercise can increase blood flow to the brain, help create new neurons, and stimulate the release of mood-regulating chemicals (specifically, dopamine and serotonin.)

6. Age and mood: As people age, they tend to focus more on the positives – which leads to higher levels of subjective happiness.

7. Intuition and mood: When we feel happy, we’re more likely to trust our gut reactions than we are when we’re feeling negative and down.

8. Weather and mood: Many peoples’ moods are significantly affected by weather. That is, we feel down and blah on cold, grey days … and energetic and happy on bright sunny days. This is most marked in people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

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Personality Disorders

DSM-IV lists ten different personality disorders. These are grouped into three clusters: odd or eccentric disorders; dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders; and

anxious or fearful disorders. These can be summarised as follows:

1.   Odd or Eccentric Disorders

a) Paranoid personality disorder: This is characterised by irrational suspicions and a deep mistrust of others.

b) Schizoid personality disorder: This is characterised by a lack of interest in other people, and no need or desire for relationships.

c) Schizotypal personality disorder: This is characterised by bizarre thought patterns and behaviours.

2.   Dramatic, Emotional or Erratic Disorders

a) Antisocial personality disorder: This is characterised by a blatant and pervasive disregard for authority, the law and the rights of others.

b) Borderline personality disorder: This is characterised by rigid, categorical and extreme “black and white” thinking. Also, instability in their relationships with others, a poor self-image, low self-esteem, impulsivity and behaviour which results in self-harm.

c) Histrionic personality disorder: This is characterised by attention-seeking behaviour. For example, behaving in ways that are inappropriately seductive, or displaying exaggerated emotions.

d) Narcissistic personality disorder: This is characterised by grandiose claims and behaviours, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. This individual also finds it hard to relate in meaningful ways to others.

3.   Anxious or Fearful Disorders

a) Avoidant personality disorder: This is characterised by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation, and avoidance of social situations.

b) Dependent personality disorder: This is characterised by an inappropriate psychological dependence on others.

c) Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (This is different from obsessive-compulsive disorder): It is characterised by rigid conformity to rules and moral codes – with an excessive need for orderliness.

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Insomnia Tips

1. Avoid taking naps in the late afternoon or early evening.

2. Don’t use your laptop or watch TV in bed. (Avoid bright lights and screens.)

3. Try and wind down before you go to bed. (For example, don’t exercise or check your emails.)

4. Sleep in a cool, comfortable room.

5. Avoid liquids for at least 2 hours before going to bed. (If you waken up to empty your bladder it’s often hard to fall asleep again.)

6. Avoid stimulants in the evening – like coffee, tea or cigarettes.

7. Try and establish regular bedtimes, and a set bedtime routine.

8. Get up and do something if you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes.

9. Redirect your thoughts if you’ve had a nightmare, or if you find that you’re fixating on your anxieties.

10. Try and relax your body and mind by listening to calming music, white noise, or slowly and deliberately relaxing your muscles.

Filed under counselling psychology therapy sleep sleep disorders Insomnia mentall illness self improvement self help online counselling college health

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Profile of a Killer

There are 6 different types of serial killer.

1.  One type often hears voices that instruct them to kill other people. These individuals are sometimes psychotic or schizophrenic.

2. A second type believes they are on a special mission to cleanse the world of a specific group of people (such a those who murder prostitutes).

3. Another type kills for sexual motivation.

4. The thrill killer, as the name suggests, take the lives of others as killing brings them pleasure.

5. The fifth type, known as the power seeker killer, kills because they want to control the fate of their victim.

6. The final type kills for material gain (for example, to claim a life insurance policy).

Some Additional Facts

1. 90% of serial killers are Caucasian males between 25 and 35 years of age.

2. They are often highly intelligent.

3. The typically underperform at school and have trouble holding down a job.

4. The majority lack social skills and prefer solitude to social environments.

5. Many come from dysfunctional families, and have been abused as a child.

6. The 3 most common childhood traits of a future killer are bedwetting, arson and harming animals.

7. These are general guidelines as there are exceptions to every rule!

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How to Cope with Guilt Feelings

1. Try and work out why you feel so guilty. Make a list of all the things you feel guilty about. Try and work out which item sparks the strongest reaction. That’s probably the item to focus on.

2. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. That will help you to assess how bad it really was – as sometimes we feel guilty about stupid, minor things.

3. Think through what you can do. Think of actions you can take to try and make things a bit better – even if deep down you know that you can never make things right. It will bring some relief, and will strengthen your resolve to do things differently another time.  

4. If your guilt is “false guilt” (so you just generally feel guilty), consider working with a counsellor. You may have developed a shame based personality - so you basically feel worthless and inadequate.

5. Forgive yourself. You can’t turn back the clock. What’s done is done. But you can start again and try to be a different person. Let it go, don’t think about it. The future is what counts.  

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Characteristics of Self-Rejection

1.    Believe that, deep down, I am flawed and unlovable (deeply ingrained feeling of inferiority)

2.    Unable to accept myself

3.    Believe that everything I do is wrong, stupid or inept

4.    Have perfectionist tendencies/ set unrealistic standards for myself (standards I know I can never live up to)

5.    Feel I am always disappointing others

6.    Fear being criticised and judged by others/ always wondering what others think about me (and expect their opinions to be negative)

7.    Have difficulty trusting others, especially in close relationships

8.    Have difficulty loving others, and receiving love from others

9.    Am easily hurt and offended

10.  Am always looking to be affirmed by others because I cannot accept and love myself.

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How to Cope with Feelings of Loneliness

1. Remember that we all feel lonely at times – and many feel lonely a lot of the time.

2. Find something you enjoy and that interests you.  Being absorbed in your passion can change the way you feel.

3. Don’t think that sex will help to fill the emptiness. It won’t bring lasting meaning or fulfilment to your life. In fact, you’re likely to feel lonelier, and more dissatisfied.

4. Even if you’re in a happy, and strong, relationship you can’t expect your partner to meet your every need. We still need other friends, and other things that we can do.

5. Make sure that you’re not living in some kind of fantasy – through films, TV characters, or form being online. It’s an imaginary world that can never satisfy. You need to live in the real world and work on real relationships.

6. Don’t wait for other people to phone or contact you. Call your friends, or arrange something for everyone to do.

7. Don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to block out how you feel. That’s a temporary solution – and won’t help in the end.

8. If you’re afraid of getting close as you’ve been hurt in the past consider getting counselling or psychotherapy. You can heal from your scars, and you can learn to trust again.

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How to Take Control of those Negative Emotions

1.    Don’t take every thought and feeling seriously. Both of those tend to be patterned and habitual. Thus, they are not necessarily accurate and reliable.

2.    Don’t blow small things out of proportion. Take control of your thinking and keep things in perspective. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on negatives, or critical thoughts.

3.    Accept that we’re all hit by negative emotions. It’s a fact of life – and is unavoidable.

4.    Work on strategies that work for you, and that help distract you from the way you feel.

5.    Deliberately think about more positive things – like what is going well, or the things you’re thankful for – then shrug your shoulders and move on with your day.

6.    Notice your triggers – the things that bother you, attack your self esteem and your self confidence – so you recognise the patterns and can plan how best to cope.

Filed under counselling psychology therapy emotions moods mentall illness depression self improvement self help self esteem self confidence loneliness anxiety online counselling college

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Some Facts and Stats on Borderline Personality Disorder

1. Borderline Personality Disorder is diagnosed where the individual displays at least 5 of the following symptoms:

(i) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment;

(ii) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between  extremes of idealization and devaluation;

(iii) a markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;

(iv) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

(v) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior; (vi) mood instability;

(vii) chronic feelings of emptiness;

(viii) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights); (ix) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

2. The condition is diagnosed in 1 - 2 percent of the population.

3. Three times as many females as males are diagnosed with BPD.

4. Statistics indicates that 75% of those with BPD self-injure.

5. It is estimated that around 10% of those with BPD complete suicide attempts.

6. When treated properly, BPD has a good prognosis.

7. BPD is generally co-morbid. Statistics for co-morbidity with other disorders are as follows[1]:major depressive disorder – 60%; dysthymia  (chronic, moderate to mild depression) – 70%; eating disorders – 25%; substance abuse – 35%; bipolar disorder – 15%; antisocial personality disorder – 25%; narcissistic personality disorder – 25%.



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What are the Signs of a Narcissist?

1. They are arrogant and have a sense of entitlement: This is one of the key indicators of a narcissist. He or she believes that they are special, superior to others and deserve to be treated better than others. They like to brag of their successes and accomplishments, and want everyone to tell them how wonderful they are. At social events, they must be the centre of attention, and everyone must talk about what he or she wants to talk about.

2. They use and exploit other people:  The narcissist sees people as being there for them. Hence, they use other people to help them reach their goals. Also, they’ll often prey on others, and use them sexually. So they’ll charm, seduce and use you – then rapidly move on. he damage, or the heartache they may cause.

3. They lack empathy: The narcissistic person can’t form relationships. To them feelings don’t matter; they don’t have empathy. They don’t care about the damage on the heartache they may cause. Also, they won’t support or help you when life is difficult.

4. They have poor boundaries: The narcissistic person won’t respect your boundaries. They’ll take what’s yours and use it – and see that as their right. They’re rude, they insult others, they comment on their looks, and violate the standards that others see as just.

Some tips on dealing with a narcissist

(a) First, you need to recognise your personal vulnerabilities so you don’t get taken in by a charming narcissist – who makes you feel you’re special, or the best thing in this world. (b)Second, understand this individual is not a normal person. They won’t be there for you as they don’t have empathy. Recognise those telltale signs which indicate they’re self-obsessed.

(c) Third, establish and maintain healthy, stringent boundaries.

(d) Finally, if it’s always about them and there’s no real give and take, recognise you should move on and get that person out your life.

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How do we develop a healthy sense of pride?

A healthy sense of pride in ourselves and our achievements is crucial for developing a healthy self esteem. It first develops in our childhood and is based upon the way we are treated by our parents – then our teachers and our peers. In summary:

1.    Parents need to provide their child with a sense of total acceptance and unconditional love. The child needs to know deep down inside that no matter what they do, their parents will love them, and will be there for them.

2.    Parents need to give their child their undivided attention so the child knows their achievements are recognised and prized. This is crucial as a child cannot take pride in themselves. They need an audience to show them they are doing well in life. (Note:They need to know that they’re successful in all kinds of things from reading to swimming to riding their bike). Also, simply being willing to spend time with the child conveys the powerful message that they matter to their parent, that their company is wanted, and they’re seen as valuable.

3.    Parents need to praise their child for working hard on a task, for making the effort, and finishing the job. This develops inner pride for showing perseverance and being committed  – regardless of the cost. Thus, it’s not just our successes or the end results that matter – it’s taking on a challenge and working towards goals.

4.    Children need to be given some responsibilities that are age appropriate – and which they’re able to fulfill. For example, small children can help parents to tidy up their toys, or to set the table, or to help sort out the laundry. Older children can be asked to make their bed and clean their room, or do some extra chores, or to get a part-time job. It sends the message “you are capable and competent”; as well as “you contribute to our family”. These both help to develop a sense of inner pride.

5.    Those who live and work with children must offer empathy so the child feels they are able to talk about their problems. As they do this, they will learn that we all struggle and we fail, but there are others who’ll support us and encourage us to try.

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What factors affect how emotional we are?

·         Personality – By nature, some people are more enthusiastic, excitable and changeable. They may feel as if they’re on an emotional roller coaster ride with unexpected swings in the way they feel.

·         Family norms - Some families are chaotic and unpredictable. It seems like everything that happens to them is a crisis, there are outbursts of emotion, and feelings are intense. Other families are more stable - and they reward staying calm, controlling your emotions and thinking rationally.

·         Cultural norms – These can vary widely and they define the norms for a country, culture or social group. For example, the Italians are known for being emotional. They are warm, affectionate, and show how the feel. In contrast, the British are uncomfortable with showing their emotions – and are known for having “a stiff upper lip”.   

·         Early life experiences – If our main caregiver was sensitive to us and responded to our needs in an appropriate way then we’re likely to be on a more even keel. However, if our caregiver ignored us, or we picked up the message that a lot of fuss was needed to get a small response then we might have a tendency to over-react. Alternatively, we may have concluded that nothing makes a difference so put up barriers and hardly feel at all.

·         Negative life experience – If you’ve experienced a trauma that shattered your world you may expect the worst, and always be on edge. Alternatively, you may have buried your emotions as way of surviving and now it’s hard for you to feel anything.

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Facts on a Child’s Developing Brain

1.   During early pregnancy, neurons develop at a rate of 250,000 neurons a minute.

2.   The first sense to develop in utero is the sense of touch.

3.   60% of a baby’s energy goes into brain development.

4.   Holding and cuddling an infant causes their brain to release important hormones which stimulates their growth.

5.   Providing a young child with a rich and stimulating environment can significantly increase IQ.

6.   Spending “playtime” with a child (talking, singing, reading and playing with them) is the best way to stimulate brain development.

7.   Learning a musical instrument boosts brain development in children.

8.   Reading aloud and talking to young children promotes their brain development.

9.   Basic emotions are present at birth (joy, happiness, shyness, fear). However, the way these develop depends on the type of nurturing the child receives.

10.        Being raised by sensitive caregivers enables a child to handle stress better – and this continues into their adult life.

11.        The cerebral cortex grows thicker the more we use it (in both childhood and adulthood).

12.        Children who are bilingual before the age of five have denser grey matter in their brain.

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