Managing Stress

Everyone experiences stress. Sometimes it can help you focus and get the task at hand done. But when stress is frequent and intense, it can strain your body and make it impossible to function. Finding effective ways to deal is crucial to living well.

How Stress Affects You

Stress affects your entire body, mentally as well as physically. Some common signs include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Jaw pain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed

When experiencing long-term stress, your brain is exposed to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. This exposure weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.

Stress can contribute to worsening symptoms of your mental illness. For example, in schizophrenia, it can encourage hallucinations and delusions, while in bipolar disorder, it can trigger episodes of both mania and depression. Knowing what situations cause it is the first step in coping with this very common experience.

When You Are Most Vulnerable To Stress

People are most susceptible to stress when they are:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not having a network of support
  • Experiencing a major life change such as moving, the death of a loved one, starting a new job, having a child or getting married
  • Experiencing poor physical health
  • Not eating well

Everyone has his own threshold. Certain things that may upset you out might not even make one of your friends raise an eyebrow. Some people are affected when they experience large crowds and noisy environments, while others react to silence and free time.

Ways To Reduce Stress

Developing a personalized approach to reducing stress can help you manage your mental health condition and improve your quality of life. Once you’ve learned what your triggers are, experiment with coping strategies. Some common ones include:

  • Accept your needs. Recognize what your triggers are. What situations make you feel physically and mentally agitated? Once you know this, you can avoid them when it’s reasonable to, and to cope when you can’t.
  • Manage your time. Prioritizing your activities can help you use your time well. Making a day-to-day schedule helps ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks and deadlines.
  • Practice relaxation. Deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are good ways to calm yourself. Taking a break to refocus can have benefits beyond the immediate moment.
  • Exercise daily. Schedule time to walk outside, bike or join a dance class. Whatever you do, make sure it’s fun. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall physical health.
  • Set aside time for yourself. Schedule something that makes you feel good. It might be reading a book, go to the movies, get a massage or take your dog for a walk.
  • Eat well. Eating unprocessed foods, like whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit is the foundation for a healthy body and mind. Eating well can also help stabilize your mood.
  • Get enough sleep. Symptoms of some mental health conditions, like mania in bipolar disorder, can be triggered by getting too little sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t actually reduce stress: in fact, they often worsen it. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, educate yourself and get help.
  • Talk to someone. Whether to friends, family, a counselor or a support group, airing out and talking can help. Consider attending a NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group.

Getting Help

If the steps you’ve taken aren’t working, it may be time to share with your mental health professional. He or she can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to change them.

Mental Health Tips for a Happy Summer

Summer break is a time for fun, family, and vacations. For college students, it can also be a time of stress. It’s not that they have to worry about major projects or deadlines or final exams anymore. It can be stressful because you often go from living alone to back in your parents’ house and rules. You are also separated from your new found friends and often times, at a loss for something to do. If this is you, one area that you need to maintain is your mental health. If you are finding yourself a little stressed on your time off, check out these tips for mental health all summer long.

Reconnect With Loved Ones

The summer can sometimes be a bit boring for those coming home from college. Try to use this time to reconnect with family that you have been away from, and friends that you may not have seen in a while. Plan trips, perform activities, and just meaningful time for these people again. Staying connected on a personal level with others can sustain and even improve your mental health.

Get a Job

One of the worst things you can do for your mental health is to be sedentary. We are just not made to be inactive. Do yourself a favor this summer and get a job. You might meet some new people, you’ll keep yourself busy, and as a great bonus, you’ll earn a little money for spending or saving for college next year.


Whether or not you exercised during the semester or not really doesn’t matter. If you were, then don’t let your routine fall by the wayside. If you weren’t, exercise can be a great way to boost your mood. Hit up the local gym to find deals on memberships for college students. By summer’s end you will not only have a better body, but a healthier mind as well.

Get Professional Help

Don’t forget that getting help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength! If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out for assistance. Family, friends, or the help of a professional can go a long way in helping you maintain your mental health. Don’t be afraid of seeking out help for treatment or even just for prevention.

Don’t let the summer break become a source of stress in your life. Use these tips to stay healthy and happy and to enjoy your break all summer long.

We wanna give a BIG THANK YOU to Allstate Insurance for donating us $1,000 to Mended Hearts Stable Inc. Thank You to Jami Renfrow and her Allstate team for thinking about us at Mended Hearts!

Relationships and communication

Good communication is an important part of all relationships and is an essential part of any healthy partnership. All relationships have ups and downs, but a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with conflict, and build a stronger and healthier partnership. We often hear how important communication is, but not what it is and how we can use good communication in our relationships.

What is communication?

By definition, communication is the transfer of information from one place to another. In relationships, communication allows to you explain to someone else what you are experiencing and what your needs are. The act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship.

Communicating clearly in a relationship

Talk to each other. No matter how well you know and love each other, you cannot read your partner’s mind. We need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, resentment or confusion.

It takes two people to have a relationship and each person has different communication needs and styles. Couples need to find a way of communicating that suits their relationship. Healthy communication styles require practice and hard work, however communication will never be perfect all the time.

Be clear when communicating with your partner, so that your message can be received and understood. Double check your understanding of what your partner is saying.

When you talk to your partner, try to:

  • set aside time to talk without interruption from other people or distractions like phones, computers or television
  • think about what you want to say
  • be clear about what you want to communicate
  • make your message clear, so that your partner hears it accurately and understands what you mean
  • talk about what is happening and how it affects you
  • talk about what you want, need and feel – use ‘I’ statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’ and ‘I feel’
  • accept responsibility for your own feelings
  • listen to your partner. Put aside your own thoughts for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants (this is called empathy)
  • share positive feelings with your partner, such as what you appreciate and admire about them, and how important they are to you
  • be aware of your tone of voice
  • negotiate and remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, sometimes let the issue go, or agree to disagree.

Non-verbal communication

When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Our body posture, tone of voice and the expressions on our face all convey a message. These non-verbal means of communicating can tell the other person how we feel about them.

If our feelings don’t fit with our words, it is often the non-verbal communication that gets ‘heard’ and believed. For example, saying ‘I love you’ to your partner in a flat, bored, tone of voice, gives two very different messages. Notice whether your body language reflects what you are saying.

Listening and communication

Listening is a very important part of effective communication. A good listener can encourage their partner to talk openly and honestly. Tips for good listening include:

  • keep comfortable eye contact (where culturally appropriate)
  • lean towards the other person and make gestures to show interest and concern
  • have an open, non-defensive, fairly relaxed posture with your arms and legs uncrossed
  • face the other person – don’t sit or stand sideways
  • sit or stand on the same level to avoid looking up to or down on the other person
  • avoid distracting gestures such as fidgeting with a pen, glancing at papers, or tapping your feet or fingers
  • be aware that physical barriers, noise or interruptions will make good communication difficult. Mute telephones or other communication devices to ensure you are really listening
  • let the other person speak without interruption
  • show genuine attention and interest
  • use assertive statements like ‘I feel …. about …’, ‘What I need is…’
  • be aware of your tone
  • be prepared to take time out if you are feeling really angry about something. It might be better to calm down before you address the issue
  • ask for feedback from the other person on your listening.

Improving communication in a relationship

Open and clear communication can be learnt. Some people find it hard to talk and may need time and encouragement to express their views. These people may be good listeners, or they may be people whose actions speak louder than their words.

You can help to improve your communication by:

  • building companionship – sharing experiences, interests and concerns with your partner, and showing affection and appreciation
  • sharing intimacy – intimacy is not only a sexual connection. Intimacy is created by having moments of feeling close and attached to your partner. It means being able to comfort and be comforted, and to be open and honest. An act of intimacy can be as simple as bringing your partner a cup of tea because you can tell they are tired
  • being on the same page as your partner. It’s important that you and your partner are both in agreement on key issues in your relationship, such as how finances are distributed, what key goals you have and your parenting styles.

To improve the way you communicate, start by asking questions such as:

  • What things cause conflict between you and your partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other?
  • What things bring you happiness and feelings of connection?
  • What things cause you disappointment and pain?
  • What things don’t you talk about and what stops you talking about them?
  • How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?

If possible, ask these questions with your partner and share your responses. Consider, and try, ways to communicate differently. See whether the results improve your communication. When you are more aware of how you communicate, you will be able to have more control over what happens between you. While it may not be easy at first, opening up new areas of communication can lead to a more fulfilling relationship.

Some things are difficult to communicate

Most of us find some experiences or topics difficult to talk about. It may be something that is painful or makes us feel uncomfortable. For example, some people find it difficult to express their emotions. It is often the things that cannot be talked about that hurt the most.

If you are having difficulty expressing yourself, or talking with your partner about something, you might find it helps to talk to a counselor.

Managing conflict with communication

  • Avoid using the silent treatment.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions. Find out all the facts rather than guessing at motives.
  • Discuss what actually happened. Don’t judge.
  • Learn to understand each other, not to defeat each other.
  • Talk using the future and present tense, not the past tense.
  • Concentrate on the major problem, and don’t get distracted by other minor problems.
  • Talk about the problems that hurt your or your partner’s feelings, then move on to problems about differences in opinions.
  • Use ‘I feel’ statements, not ‘You are’ statements.

Seeking help for communication issues

If you can’t seem to improve the communication in your relationship, consider talking with a relationship counselor. Counselors are trained to recognize the patterns in a couple’s communication that are causing problems and to help change those patterns.

You could also consider doing a course that is relevant to your relationship. It is better to act early and talk to someone about your concerns, rather than wait until things get worse.

How Horses Help Kids with Emotional & Behavioral Issues

A kind of magic happens when a desperately unhappy child is brought to the country to interact with horses. A change of environment, especially from an urban area to open, natural surroundings, filled with fresh air and flooded with sunshine, can have an uplifting and calming effect, and with time, a troubled teen can begin to let go of a lot of pent-up, negative emotions.

When teenagers first arrive at an equine program, they are often withdrawn and angry. Their relationships have been negative – but the relationship they will experience with a horse will be completely different from any other. Horses and other animals are completely honest in their encounters, and for many teens this will be the first interaction they have ever had in which they can honestly be themselves.

Equine-Assisted Therapy is an experiential therapy that is particularly effective with children and troubled teens. Horses are naturally social animals with personalities, attitudes, fears, and moods, and they are very sensitive to the energy around them. They will respond appropriately to human interaction, allowing teens to experience a sense of connection and participation without the negative feelings sometimes associated with traditional therapy. Horses and teenagers are seeking the same feelings of trust and connection, and once a child realizes this similarity, he or she is able to form a connection that is uplifting and inspiring. Horses are able to teach teenagers about themselves and their interaction with others around them.

A horse will react with fear to any expression of anger, bullying, or frustration, functioning as a mirror in which a teen can immediately see the effect of their emotions and attitudes. Horses have no guile or deceit – they respond negatively to negative emotions, positively to positive emotion. They do not respond to bullying, yelling, or aggression, and this forces teens to find other ways of communication. Because horses are non-judgmental, do not have an agenda, and are always honest, it is much easier for teenagers to let down their guard and recognize their own dysfunctional behavior. When teenagers work with horses, they are able to gain insight into their emotions and behavior and have a non-threatening opportunity to immediately find a more productive, positive way of interacting.

Each time a teenager learns another skill, his or her self-confidence and trust increases. Teens learn how to control and redirect their anger because they have a stake in the outcome – they do not want to upset or hurt a horse they have come to care about! The intrinsic innocence of the horse reinforces the need for teenagers to identify other ways to express their emotions to achieve positive, productive results. When a teenager encounters a horse’s behavior that confuses them, they must learn how to put themselves in another’s place and try to figure out what the horse is experiencing – and then find the most efficient way to proceed.

Horses are large, very powerful animals, and they can be unpredictable and intimidating. Approaching, interacting, and mounting a horse forces a person to confront any fear and insecurities they may have. Teens will learn how to keep their fear under control, how to remain calm, and how to move forward with positive feelings despite any underlying lack of confidence. They will also discover the exhilaration of horseback riding, especially if fear has prevented participation in physical activities in the past. The ability to remain calm and complete a task regardless of self-doubt and fear is an extremely empowering experience. Once a teenager gains insight into how to effectively work with a horse, he or she will become the leader. This causes the horse to feel a sense of safety and trust, and it allows the teenager to experience their abilities and potential. Teenagers will discover a significant sense of self-esteem as they continue to work and communicate in harmony with the horse.

Learning how to care for and ride a horse increases the bond between the rider and horse. The more consistent the teenager is, the more attentive and cooperative the horse becomes. In this way, teenagers learn life skills, such as effective and positive communication, trust, and how to control their anger and frustration.

The kind of relationship humans have with horses is calming and often healing. Teenagers become engaged in this unique interaction, and it brings them out of their inner cycle of negative thoughts. Working with horses may be the first time for some teens that they have ever experienced an emotionally powerful bond of affection and loyalty that is unconditional. Teens learn how to be responsible – and how being responsible can make a person feel good. Experiencing this kind of unique, inter-species bond can have a life-changing effect.

Mental Health & Weight Management

The Connection between Weight and Mental Health

You may be wondering what this unusual topic is doing on a blog about weight management. The reality is that issues with weight often produce more than just physical effects. Mental health is a normal and significant factor in one’s weight management journey.

Why is this? Studies show that many people find weight to be a taboo subject. This might be because bias and stigma are often attached to weight in the U.S. culture. As a result, many internalize uncomfortable comments about weight and assign it power to control their self-esteem.

Unfortunately, many mental disorders are associated with weight in some shape or form. Examples include depression, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and anxiety. However, weight can produce other mental effects on individuals that may not be labeled as a disorder, but are still important to take into consideration.

Staying “Mentally Fit” While You Manage Your Weight

You’ve heard us say time and time again that your weight matters for your health. This includes mental health, too.

While you walk this important journey, what are some ways you can take care of your brain and stay mentally fit?

  • Journal Your Feelings – Writing can give you cathartic release. Jot down your feelings about food, self-esteem, the future and whatever else concerns you.
  • Exercise Frequently – Regular physical activity releases endorphins and strengthens mental clarity.
  • Talk with People You Trust – Walking the weight management journey can seem impossible if you’re alone. Seek accountability in a friend, family member or health professional.
  • Make Time for Self Care – You may feel busy, but try to make time for things which make you happy and relieve tension. Maybe it’s a massage, vacation or shopping spree. Find what works.
  • Aim for Excellence, Not Perfection – Perfection doesn’t exist, and that applies to weight as well. Be proud of yourself as long as you are taking healthy steps forward.

How You Can Help Improve Self-Esteem In Teenagers

Teens want nothing more in the world than to fit in. This leads them to go to extraordinary lengths to achieve a higher social status, which is often at the expense of others. The majority of teenagers fit into either the rejected or neglected peer hierarchy. This can lead to lowered self-esteem and it can make life miserable. Meanwhile, the popular hierarchy mistreats teens who are lower in social status; many do so for social recognition.

This can be a brutal cycle that’s often present in the educational system. Some teens are even less fortunate because their home life is unstable. For instance, a teen may be living with an alcoholic parent or an abusive parent, which can be a stressful environment for any teenager. This can create a sense of despair because the child feels like there is no escape. Some even take drastic measures and partake in destructive activities such as self mutilation. Life as a teenager can test even the strongest of wills, but there are ways around this unforgiving cycle.

An important rule of thumb when dealing with a depressed teen is to avoid rushing into their personal life. This may lead them to withdraw even more. A teen’s life is very secluded. Work is required in order to get them to speak without inhibition.

The parent should talk with their teen about any problems that they may be facing. At first, they will be hesitant to open up. This is natural because most teens feel like they can handle the problem on their own. The parents should take a more proactive method in dealing with the teenager if the problem continues to exist.

Stay persistent because it will take a lot of time for them to open up. They will soon begin to realize that the parent truly cares. Once this has been accomplished, the parent should plan a day where they can do something together. This will increase the rapport between the parent and child. This will also decrease their depression. Here are some other ways to increase the teen’s self-esteem.


Physical Activities as a Method for Building Self-esteem

Besides being very important to stay healthy and one of the wonderful things to do when they are bored, stressed-out or feeling depressed, physical activities are among the most direct methods for improving a teenager’s self-esteem. Activities such as camping, four wheeling, and even running are great ways to uplift the teen’s morale.

They will feel exhausted by the end of the day, and their spirits will be uplifted because they spent the entire day developing a skill or spending time with a loved one. The root of most teenagers’ low self-esteem stems from a lack of positive social interactions. An action-filled day with a loved one or friend will make them feel wanted and cared for.

Creative Activities Will Promote Self-expression in Teens

Teenagers need an outlet for their artistic side as well. This will give them the ability to express themselves in a positive way. Activities like writing, drawing, painting, and even photography can be very therapeutic. This can give the depressed teen a sense of self-worth.

Organized Sports as a Way to Build Stability

Another way of improving a teen’s self-esteem is to get them involved in an organized sport. This is effective because it allows the teen to socialize and work toward a common goal. Organized sports allow the teen to understand character, trust, leadership, work ethic, and integrity. This will give them confidence because they are actively working to achieve a goal, which will make them feel like they are important. We are social creatures and need interaction with others. Organized sports allow for this social interaction.

Therapy as a Treatment for a Teen’s Low Self-esteem

It may be wise to consider therapy if the previous steps do not work. This is often a good option when parents cannot reach the teenager on their own or in cases where clinical depression is suspected. Professional help can be really beneficial not only for the teenager, but the parents as well. Therapy may shed some light on the causes of the teen’s low self-esteem.

Dealing With Depression and Loneliness

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often. Feeling lonely can plague many people — including the elderly, people who are isolated, and those with depression— with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people. “Loneliness is subjective,” says Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago. “You can’t argue with someone who says they’re lonely.”

Although depression doesn’t always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression one year or even two years later, and it certainly leads to sadness, Dr. Hawkley says. Freeing yourself of feelings like being isolated by depression is part of the healing process.

How to Fight Depression and Loneliness

Feelings of loneliness don’t have to be constant to call for action, but you will need to give yourself a push to get back into the thick of life and re-engage with others to start feeling better. These strategies for fighting depression and loneliness can help:

  • Make a plan. There are two basic types of loneliness. Acute loneliness results from losing a loved one or moving to a new place, for example. In these situations, chances are you know at some level that you’ll have to go through a period of adjustment to get through this feeling of loneliness. The other type of loneliness is the chronic subjective type, which strikes despite your existing relationships. Both require a plan of action. One strategy is making a point to meet people who have similar interests, Hawkley says. Volunteering and exploring a hobby are both great ways to meet kindred spirits.
  • Do something — anything. In depression treatment there’s a theory called behavioral activation, which is a clinical way of saying, “Just do it.” If you’re feeling lonely and want to change it, any small step you take — even striking up a casual, friendly conversation with the barista at your corner café — is a good move.
  • Explore your faith. There are only a few strategies that are proven to successfully protect against loneliness, and this is one of them. “People who have a personal relationship with their God or a higher power tend to do well,” Hawkley notes. There are a lot of factors at work here, one of them being that faith communities provide many opportunities for positive social encounters. You don’t have to have a close friend in the community to get the benefit, Hawkley says — just feeling that you belong in the group is enough. In addition, faith can help you accept the things in life you can’t control.
  • Bond with a dog. “Pets, especially dogs, are protective against loneliness,” Hawkley says. There are many reasons why this strategy works: Dogs get you out and about, they’re naturally social creatures, and you’ll have a living being to care about. If you’re not in a position to own a dog, find ways to help care for other people’s dogs or volunteer to help dogs at a shelter that need loving attention. Other pets, such as cats and fish, can also help ease loneliness.
  • Have realistic standards. “Loneliness is a mismatch between your ideal and what you actually have,” Hawkley says. Part of the solution may be to accept that you can have fun and light conversation with a variety of people, and that it’s okay if they don’t become lifelong confidantes. Also, reflect on whether you have any unrealistic standards that are making it hard to connect with others and stop feeling lonely, such as expecting too much from a new friendship too quickly or relying on another person too much.
  • Think beyond yourself. Depression can make you feel very self-focused, meaning that everything is all about you. But remind yourself that if you ask a co-worker to join you for lunch and the person can’t make it, you shouldn’t automatically assume that he or she has rejected you. The person might have a previous lunch date or too much work to leave his or her desk.
  • Reach out to a lonely person. Whether you’re feeling lonely now or just know how it feels, you may get an emotional boost from befriending someone else who’s lonely. Some people may view loneliness as contagious, and therefore lonely people often become even more isolated. “We believe there is a responsibility in the community to reach out to people who are suffering,” Hawkley says. In doing so, you can help others and yourself, too. Examples include volunteering for an organization that helps elderly people or visiting a neighbor who’s lost a spouse.
  • Call, don’t post. Social networks are fun and can provide an essential social outlet for some people, but Hawkley says research suggests that, on average, people do best if more of their relationships happen face-to-face or over the phone. Use a pal’s post as an excuse to call and talk about it instead of posting a comment back.
  • Make time for relationships. Everyone is busy, but relationships won’t wait until you’ve finished your PhD, raised your kids, snagged the next big promotion, or moved to your ideal city. Build them now. “No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked a few more hours,” Hawkley says.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or relative. Get some feedback and ideas, as well as a sympathetic ear, from a family member or friend with whom you trust your thoughts and feelings. This person could have some ideas about groups you might want to join to meet positive people.
  • Meditate. “Mindfulness teaches us that we are more than who we think we are,” says Jeffrey Greeson, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. Developing a meditation practice can help you identify and release some of the thoughts that could be keeping you feeling lonely and undermining your efforts to meet new people.
  • Explore therapy. If you just can’t shake profound feelings of loneliness, isolation, and other symptoms of depression, you might want to talk to a mental health professional as part of your depression treatment. Look for a professional with a cognitive behavioral background, an approach that’s been shown to help with depression and loneliness.

Dealing with Learning Disabilities in Relationships

Learning disabilities may present many challenges to the individual other than the obvious. They can have a great impact on relationships and personal interactions. The effects are experienced by persons with learning disabilities and their partners. The problems can manifest themselves in a variety of situations.

A person with learning disabilities may be frustrated about the way a partner provides assistance by feeling stifled when too much is routinely provided, which may give rise to the perception that he or she is stupid or being treated like a child. Also, he or she may feel unfairly blamed for relationship problems, such as not listening or not trying hard enough, which may be due to his/her learning disabilities.

The partner without learning disabilities may experience resentment at having to continually tend to the needs of the other, while many of his/her needs may seem to go unmet.

As everyone has good and bad days, so do individuals with learning disabilities, but theirs are often much more pronounced and frequent. Their capabilities can vary widely from day to day without any predictable patterns or identifiable causes.

Since learning disabilities often are not visible, both partners may have difficulty understanding and accepting the limitations they create. No matter who has the disability, the problems must be worked out together. It is important to distinguish between difficulties which can be overcome (using strategies and accommodations) and those which are not likely to change.

The following are some helpful tips that may be useful for partners who have learning disabilities:

  • Have a good understanding of the way in which the learning disabilities affect your ability to process information, communicate, etc.
  • Explain to your partner how the learning disabilities interfere with many aspects of everyday life.
  • Request accommodations in a direct manner without feeling guilty or giving excuses.
  • To maintain credibility with others, avoid “crying wolf.”
  • Accept that some tasks may take longer.
  • Be as self-reliant as possible by finding alternatives to overburdening your partner.

These tips may be useful for the partner of a person who has a learning disability:

  • Try to recognize, specifically, how the learning disability impacts your partner’s ability to: pay attention, comprehend, conceptualize, visualize, communicate, be organized, follow conversations, interpret body language, etc.
  • Be aware that what appears to be a simple and logical way to carry out a task for you may not be the most logical way for the person with learning disabilities. Persuading the partner to “just do it this way” is not necessarily helpful. Conversely, you should accept that what seems like a roundabout method may, in fact, be the easiest way for your partner to complete the task.
  • Remember that the learning disability thought process may manifest itself in a nonlinear fashion, which may seem confusing.
  • Refrain from demanding that your partner “try harder” to correct a disability. This would be like expecting a deaf person to hear by trying harder.
  • Be aware that “symptoms” of the learning disabilities may be more apparent at the end of the day or when your partner is fatigued.

Socially constructed gender roles may compound the effects of learning disabilities. For instance, men have traditionally been designated as breadwinners. This has not been realistic for some men with learning disabilities who have had difficulties with job stability and career advancement. A couple can reduce the stress they feel by creating more realistic expectations and redefining their roles according to each person’s abilities, rather than tradition.

Although couples may feel that learning disabilities are a unique problem, they are shared by a great number of people. Due to the close interaction of a relationship, the effects of learning disabilities are often greatly magnified, thus creating additional stress for the couple. It is only with hard work and a lot of understanding that these problems may be resolved.

Negative Body Image of Women

Body Image of Women

Negative body image of women is a very hot topic these days! The female body image and what a person should or could look like in marketing and advertising in particular is a controversial issue. It is noticeable that the body size of women as portrayed in mass media has been steadily getting smaller. Marketers will often do anything that they can to sell a product and make a profit, and almost anything can be sold if it appeals to our sense of beauty or is considered attractive.

There are certainly some very direct messages associated with body weight in the media; celebrities, fashion models and show hosts are often seen as role models, especially by teenagers. They appear to demonstrate what it is to be successful and popular. Their body weight, appearance and beauty are often associated with their popularity and wealth. This is particularly obvious in what is referred to as thin-ideal media, a concept which has been looked at with interest by researchers in the field of social psychology(2). The term “thin-ideal media” refers to media images, shows and films that contain very thin female leads. This is something that comes up a lot in fashion magazines, clothing catalogs and pop culture television shows. Thin-ideal media highlights the idea that thinness is a good and desirable thing to be, even if it is to a level that is potentially damaging to a persons health.

Beauty sells, and this is somewhat of a problem when the media produce unattainable images for women. Eating disorders are often, though not always and not directly, related to negative body image.

While a negative body image may incite a woman to diet in order to lose weight it is not actually negative body image that causes an eating disorder; the sufferer has to be biologically predisposed to developing one. If negative body image alone caused anorexia then every person on the planet would develop anorexia as I am sure we have all at some point felt self-conscious about the way that we look. The fact that not everyone has an eating disorder means that there is something more to it than body image issues alone; that something else is most probably genetic factors.

Regardless, negative body image of women and men is not pleasant and it seems unethical that marketing firms should constantly place an unrealistic ideal in the faces of young people.

Causes of Negative Body Image of Women

There are many factors that may contribute to a poor female body image. We live in a culture where thinness and beauty are highly valued for women and wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with a slim figure. Media images of ridiculously thin women are everywhere – television shows, movies, popular magazines. The media often glamorizes a very thin body for women. These are also the pictures that are being shown to teenagers in a time of their lives that they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and looking good.

Due to this influence, poor body image can begin to develop at a very young age. Over fifty percent of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 18 percent of adolescents are really overweight. About 80 percent of girls in this age group say that they have dieted in an attempt to lose weight. Likewise some boys as young as grades nine and ten are being found to use anabolic steroids in an attempt to gain more muscle mass. It is more commonly thought that negative body image affects only girls and women, but this is not the case. Men and boys can suffer negative body image too, but they are simply less likely to admit to being affected than girls are because it is less socially acceptable for men to admit to caring what they look like.

The Effects of Poor Body Image

The effects of a poor body image of women can be profound. The weight loss industry is very profitable and marketing firms know exactly how to sell products to people with the promise that their lives will be better if they lose weight or buy a certain brand of clothing. “Low Fat” and “Fat Free” are two of the most successful marketing terms that a food product can use in order to sell better. Clothing firms use size zero models in their advertisements that are often photoshopped to alien-like dimensions that would be unachievable and unhealthy in any human being

For someone genetically predisposed to an eating disorder, dieting caused by a negative body image could trigger one. However for the majority of the population, what happens is a preoccupation with diet, low self-esteem, low self-confidence and never feeling that one’s body is adequate.

In addition to leading to the development of eating disorders, a poor body image can contribute to depression, anxiety, problems in relationships, the development of substance abuse problem, and consequently various health problems.

Poor self-esteem often contributes to problems in relationships, the workplace, and any area in life that requires confidence. Ultimately a negative body image can lead to unhappiness and depression both of which are also symptoms of low self-confidence. The saddest thing of all is that all of these negative feelings might be being brought about just so some company somewhere can sell more products.

Addressing The Problem of Negative Body Image

Changing the way the media portrays women is a long-term goal for many advocacy groups. There are currently national and international efforts to make marketers take responsibility for displaying pictures of men and women that are unrealistic. The #truthinads campaign is an example of this and some clothing producers have reacted to public pressure by promising never to use photoshopped models in their catalogs.

On the individual level, there are some simple things you can do to improve self-esteem like focusing on your accomplishments and good qualities, repeating affirmations and working with self-esteem workbooks available in any bookstore. For those with serious anxiety, depression or eating disorders related to poor body image, however, psychotherapy or other mental health treatment is recommended. There is no reason that you should feel embarrassed about low self-esteem as we have all had it at some point. If it is affecting your ability to be happy you should certainly ask for help.