So, You’ve Left Your Narcissist: Emotional Healing After Abuse

So, You’ve Left Your Narcissist: Emotional Healing After Abuse

The Link Between Emotion and Energy

If you want to start feeling more energetic and getting more done then it is important to think about the way you are managing your emotion. Emotion and energy levels are intimately linked and understanding this connection is the key for many people who want to feel more awake and productive.

Why Emotion Affects Energy

The brain is essentially a large web of connected neurons which psychologists call the ‘connectome’. This connectome fires as we experience various things in the world or as we remember certain things and this then creates a variety of different subjective experiences for us.

At the same time though, our brain’s unconscious processes pay close attention to the nature of what we’re focused on and then produce neurotransmitters accordingly. If what you’re seeing is important then your brain will produce things like dopamine which make us more motivated and help us to remember things better. If what we’re seeing makes us scared and is at all associated with pain or bad things happening, we’ll produce norepinephrine (adrenaline) and become more focused and anxious.

These same things then in turn affect energy levels. When we’re alert and focused, this triggers changes in the sympathetic nervous system that increase our heartrate, our circulation and muscle tone all to make us more switched on and productive.

On the other hand, when something seems dull and uninteresting, our brain tells us we’re safe and able to go back to relaxing. Thus it will produce GABA and melatonin which settle us down and make us sleep.

The Optimum Emotional State for Energy

Boredom then is absolutely fatal for energy levels. If you find your energy flagging one of the very best things you can possibly do is to switch up your environment or make the task you’re performing more interesting. This will immediately tell your brain something interesting is going on and you’ll become more alert and awake again.

This is also why depression and sadness are so bad for your energy levels. When you’re depressed you struggle to be interested in anything or to care about anything. By doing something that makes you happy you can produce serotonin and oxytocin which will make you more positive and interested again. This is why spending time with friends, laughing or even exercising are so energizing.

Understand this link and change the way you perceive certain events and you can raise your energy levels throughout the day!

Setting Up Your Environment for a Better Self-Image

Our environment dictates how we will behave. If we live in a bad neighborhood, we will always be on the watch for crime. Crime can happen in good neighborhoods too, but the chances are less. Environment plays an important role when trying to set up a positive self-image. The wrong settings will make it much harder to accomplish. Use the following to create an environment that raises your chances of success.

Meditation

Although more of a mental environment setting, meditation can be a great way to clear your mind, focus on good mental images, and reduce stress. The benefits of meditation are numerous. For instance, people who meditate reduce their risk of disease. They tend to be less depressed and have less anxiety. But perhaps one of the most important benefits of meditation is control of mind. This is a crucial aspect of maintaining a positive self-image. Your mind is clearer, your memory is better, and you can focus more easily.

Avoid Negative People

If you are constantly surrounded by negative people, it is going to be difficult not to be sucked into that negativity. The best solution for this is to avoid these people altogether. This may be easier said than done when you have no choice but to deal with them, sometimes on a daily basis. But you have to do your best in minimizing contact with these people.

Increase Exposure to Positive People

If you cannot avoid negative people, try increasing your exposure to positive people, which you should do anyway. Positive people are easier to hang out with. They will be helpful to you and will make you happier overall. They can also point out when you are making negative statements and help you adjust back to positive ones. Their positivity becomes addictive.

Get Your Financial Situation in Order

One of the biggest stresses in life comes from not having your financial situation in order. Take the steps necessary to make sure that this is not an issue with your life. If it means working more hours or taking on a second job, that is what you should consider. Keep in mind that when you gain a more positive self-image, your work situation and prospects for employment are going to improve. So you will not have to work extra hours for any extended period.

Setting up the foundation that is the most optimal for creating a positive self-image will go a long way in helping you provide a better life for you and your family.

Negative Habits and a Positive Outlook

We’ve all been unhappy at one time or another. Yet, when you look back at an unhappy time in your life, did you really want to be there? Did you actually want to be unhappy? You see, unhappy people do not want to be unhappy. They are just the same as successful people. They want to achieve goals and get to where they want to be. They want to make their dreams a reality and change their own personal circumstance in the process. In short, unhappy people want to be happy. So, why aren’t they?

The main reason is that unhappiness produces stressful and unhappy emotions. This stress and these emotions combine to cause unhappy people to take actions that are designed to keep them stuck in the very situation that makes them unhappy. They actually begin to develop the habit of being unhappy. Yes, you read that correctly. Unhappiness can be a habit. So can under productivity. So can failure. Any negative emotion can and will become habitual if experienced long enough. Negative thoughts produce negative actions which cause negative results. These negative results, in turn, produce more negative thoughts that reinforce the process. The end result is a habitual and cyclical negativity.

Habits occur because the brain loves to be economical. You see, thinking about something costs calories. Habitual behavior is largely unthinking behavior. So, when habits form, the brain becomes more efficient in how it uses energy. This is a biological imperative that developed back in the days when we hunted and gathered food that was scarce. The more you can “autopilot” behavior, the less likely it is that you’re going to starve.

Breaking negative habitual behaviors isn’t hard if you approach the problem correctly. The first step is to recognize the negative behavior for what it is. Remember, habits are ingrained, unthinking behaviors. Many times, people with bad habits don’t know they have them. To find a negative habit, you have to look for repetitive actions. Are there things you do, time and time again, that always turn our badly? There’s your negative habitual behavior.

Once you identify the bad habit, you begin to take conscious steps to modify the negative behavior. This means that you act contrary to the way you usually act under the circumstances. In other words, if you usually turn right in a given situation, you force yourself to turn left. You do the opposite of what it is you usually do. The end result is that you begin to break the habitual behavior that has been causing you so much trouble.

Can You Achieve Happiness by Faking It?

Have you ever put a smile on your face when you just weren’t feeling it? It’s hard to do, but the results are much better than if you frown. There are events and periods of time that truly test our strength and threaten to destroy the happiness that took so long to find.

Although the word, “fake” implies that you’re being deceitful, it may be a good tactic to use when you’re feeling down and out and need a boost to your well-being.

Most of us aren’t comfortable with not telling the truth, so faking happiness may not appeal to you at first. But, going through the day with a positive outlook – even though you may feel the opposite – can actually bring feelings of happiness.

It could be because of the way others react toward your demeanor. If you’re sad and downcast, others will treat you differently than if you approach them smiling and self-confident.

Several phrases that have developed over time seem to validate faking happiness to achieve it. “Grin and bear it,” and “Turn your smile upside down,” are just a couple of cliché phrases that indicate you should smile when you don’t really feel it – but eventually the feelings will be real.

Dozens of studies have been performed on the subject of happiness. One telling study had persons holding a pencil in their teeth causing them to smile – while other persons held the pencil with their lips, mimicking a frown.

Then, both groups were asked to look at cartoons. Those with the fake smiles rated the cartoons much funnier than those with frowns, indicating that even fake smiles can cause a higher level of happiness.

A recent test on those whose abilities to frown were impaired by Botox injections were happier than those who could frown easily. That study also indicates that even a fake smile is better than none at all.

Those who lack confidence are sometimes told by counselors and life coaches to fake self-esteem and confidence – just to see how it feels. Those who act more confidently than they feel are better able to project confidence to others.

Know that you don’t need to be happy all the time. Having periods of being unhappy can better help you focus on what needs to be changed in your life so you can recognize happiness when you do find it.

Finding a “happy balance” is a better way to pursue happiness and help you cope with anything that comes your way. By recognizing the emotions you’re feeling, you’ll become much better at coping with them.

How to Deal With a Difficult Emotion Using Mindfulness

Mindfulness has a great many uses and is often prescribed by self-help gurus, doctors, writers and others as a tool anyone can use to improve their mental health.

Often this focusses on the long-term benefits of being more present and aware. At the same time though, mindfulness can also be used like a scalpel to deal with more acute problems. Here we will look at how it can be leveraged for instance to tackle specific emotions as they arise.

Turning Towards Emotions

Normally when we experience negative emotions, we react either by trying to ‘fight them’ or by trying to suppress them. This can be described as almost ‘turning away’ from our emotions to try and deny them their power over us.

Unfortunately, this ultimately tends to result in our becoming more stressed or upset as the emotions bubble under the surface, or as we frustrate ourselves in trying to fight them.

Instead though, mindfulness teaches us to turn towards our emotions. What this means, is that you are going to listen to the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing and then simply acknowledge them. Now you say ‘I am stressed’, ‘I am embarrassed’ or ‘I am upset’. Don’t be ashamed or upset that emotion exists but simply recognize that you are currently in that state.

People get upset sometimes. People get angry sometimes. But if you’re simply aware of your condition, then you can be aware that perhaps the thoughts you’re thinking aren’t completely objective. What’s more, you should keep hold of the knowledge that emotions aren’t permanent. In other words, you’re feeling angry right now and as such your thoughts shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But in a few hours, you will likely feel better and then the world will seem like a brighter place again.

This creates a subtle but powerful shift. No longer is the world a terrible place and thus you are upset, now you are upset and thus the world seems like a terrible place. The difference is that you now know that belief is not true.

Debriefing

What’s more, being aware and accepting of your emotions in this way will allow you to assess them in a kind of ‘debriefing’ and to look at what triggered them, how you dealt with them and what they made you think and do. The more you break down and intellectualize your emotions, the more you will find you gain control over them.

 

Top 7 Ways to Defeat Belly Bloat

Top 7 Ways to Defeat Belly Bloat

Belly bloat isn’t easy to beat. You try to diet, exercise, and wear different clothes. You try supplements, pills, and shakes. Yet, the bloat won’t disappear.

Fortunately, it’s possible to get rid of the large midsection that bothers you!

Before you give up and resign to living with a large stomach, try these ideas to defeat belly bloat:

1. Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum forces you to swallow air. The excess air ends up in your stomach and can make bloating worse.

2. Reduce carbohydrates in the evening. Research shows that eating too many carbohydrates in the evening can make belly bloat worse in the morning.

  • Feel free to eat carbohydrates during the day. However, if it’s close to your bedtime, avoid covering your plate with them. Your body needs time to digest them, and it’s easier to do this if you’re active during the day instead of in bed.

3. Stop your soda habit. Soda pop and all carbonated beverages can make your stomach bigger. Instead, drink water, juice, or herbal teas.

4. Add more potassium to your diet. Potassium in food can help reduce belly bloat. You’ll get more potassium if you eat bananas, tomatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, and other produce. Nuts also contain high levels of potassium.

  •  The reason why potassium works to fight bloating is because it controls fluid intake in your body and cells. By eating more of these foods, you’ll have better fluid control on a cellular level.

5. Avoid fake sugars. You may think you’re helping your diet by eating artificial sugars. However, you’re actually making your bloating worse.

  •  Artificial sugars are hard for your body to digest. They can often lead to unnecessary and annoying bloating. In addition, in large amounts, fake sugars can lead to cramping and stomach aches.
  • To avoid artificial sugars, read package labels carefully. Artificial sugars can be in candy, cookies, baked goods, and other items. If the label has “sugar-free, “low calorie,” or similar wording, that food is likely to have artificial sugar in it.

6. Add more probiotics. Whether you turn to more yogurt or kimchi, filling your diet with more probiotics will help you get rid of belly bloat.

  •  Probiotics can greatly benefit your digestive system. They can help you balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut. They’re an important part of defeating bloating too.
  • You can find probiotics in yogurt, fermented dairy products, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other foods. The key is to find some probiotic foods that you love and will enjoy eating every day, or at least several times a week.

7. Drink tea. Instead of drinking juices or coffee, you may want to switch to tea. For best results, pick natural herbal teas without GMO ingredients. Focus on organic ingredients. Green tea and peppermint tea may help you with belly bloating.

Belly bloat doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your body. Use these strategies and win your battle with bloat.

Top 5 Protein Myths That Hurt Your Diet

Top 5 Protein Myths That Hurt Your Diet

You know that you need protein to have a healthy diet and body. However, there are some myths about protein that can confuse you and lead you down the wrong path. Not everything you hear about protein is true.

Protein is an essential nutrient for your entire body.

Beware of falling for these protein myths:

1. Myth 1: Protein magically builds muscle. One common myth revolves around eating protein such as peanut butter, meat or other foods and magically getting big or strong muscles.

  •  Unfortunately, simply eating protein isn’t going to make you bulk up overnight. If you don’t exercise, the protein you eat won’t turn into muscle. You have to exercise regularly in addition to eating protein to see results.

2. Myth 2: All protein is the same. Protein gets broken down into amino acids in your body. Does it really matter if it’s coming from a candy bar with nuts or a protein shake,

  • The truth is that the source of the protein does matter.
  • For example, animal and plant sources of protein aren’t identical. The main difference is that many plant sources don’t have all the essential amino acids your body requires. In addition, it’s harder for your body to extract some of the protein from plant sources.

3. Myth 3: You can’t overeat protein. This myth focuses on falsely believing that you can eat as much protein as you want without any consequences.

  • You hear many warnings about eating too many carbohydrates and fats. However, how often do you hear warnings about eating too much protein, On the contrary, many believe you can’t overindulge in protein. This is simply not true, and there are consequences to eating too much protein.
  •  Some of the common issues surrounding too much protein consumption include weight gain. Extra protein can turn into fat that is stored in the body. In addition, overeating protein can cause kidney damage and bad breath.

4. Myth 4: You must eat protein after every workout. You may be tempted to eat protein after workouts because of this myth. The idea behind the myth is that you need protein to rebuild the muscles you’re using.

  • The protein can refuel your body after a long day at the gym. However, if you forget to eat it or simply don’t want to eat it, then it’s not an issue.
  • Research shows that having a large amount of protein right after a workout doesn’t offer any long-term benefits. As long as you’re getting enough protein from your meals and other snacks during the day, you don’t have to rush to eat more protein right after running for a mile.

5. Myth 5: Protein will help you lose weight. Protein can be part of a weight loss plan, but eating it alone won’t be enough to lose weight.

  • For example, if you dramatically increase the amount of protein you eat, but don’t exercise or change other habits, then you may not lose any weight.
  • Protein isn’t a magic pill that will melt pounds away the minute you increase your protein consumption. It’s still important to control your calories, work out, and eat healthier.

Protein is a crucial nutrient, but it’s important to avoid falling for these myths. For your best results, maintain a healthy, balanced diet with many types of nutrients and exercise to stay fit.

Simple Strategies to Sneak More Nutritious Foods into Your Kids’ Meals

Simple Strategies to Sneak More Nutritious Foods into Your Kids’ Meals

It can be a battle to get your kids to eat healthy foods. They snub broccoli, yell if they get cauliflower, and cry over carrots. They may even be of the opinion that anything that’s good for them must taste bad.

Fortunately, you don’t have to fight over vegetables and fruits every day at mealtime. There are easy and creative ways you can get your kids to eat their veggies, and like it!

Try these easy fixes to forego the arguments while serving healthy, nutritious foods to your children:

1. Learn to puree foods. If you can puree vegetables and fruits, then it’s easier to add them to any meal without your kids even noticing.

  •  You can use a blender to puree foods. Another option is to cook the vegetables and fruits, then mash them with a fork or other utensil until they’re soft.
  •  Once you’ve pureed the healthy foods, add them to dishes like soups, sauces, or salad dressings. It’s also easy to add them to meatballs or similar foods.

2. Add more fresh herbs. Fresh herbs can really enhance the taste and flavor of your meals. Your kids may actually learn to love fresh herbs if you present them as a fun way to dress up their meals instead of a requirement to eat healthy.

3. Change cooking oils. Your kids probably won’t notice if you change the cooking oil. By changing cooking oils, you can get healthier fats into your daily dishes.

  • Use olive oil or coconut oil. They’re both delicious, and your kids will enjoy eating them. Avocado oil is another option that has healthy fats that are good for your heart.

4. Sneak greens into pasta dishes. You can add spinach or other green leafy vegetables to noodles and pasta after they’re cooked. Chop them into very small pieces.

5. Make more smoothies and juices. It’s easy to add a variety of vegetables and fruits to smoothies and juices. As long as the final product has some sweetness, your kids may actually beg you to make these more often.

  •  You can add spinach, lettuce, carrots, peppers, and other veggies to the mix. Balance the flavors by including sweet fruits like strawberries, bananas, or blueberries.
  •  You can even add healthy spices like turmeric that your kids won’t notice.
  •  Another option is to add protein from protein powder, whey, or even scoop peanut butter into the mix.

Your breakfast, lunch, or dinner doesn’t have to turn into a battle over healthy food. Try creative ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your kids’ diets. They may never know your techniques, but they’ll certainly reap the health benefits.

Lose More Weight with Diet Strategies for Before and After Exercising

Lose More Weight with Diet Strategies for Before and After Exercising

If you want to lose weight, it’s important to know what foods to eat, and when to eat them. The meals and snacks you consume before and after exercising give you energy, prime your metabolism, and help you drop more pounds. Study these tips before you head to the gym.

How to Eat Before You Work Out

Forget the myth about exercising on an empty stomach. You’re likely to wind up losing muscle, and your performance will suffer. Give your body what it needs to train hard.

1. Choose carbs and protein. Gear up with a helping of complex carbohydrates and fast-digesting protein. Some good choices include Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or an egg with broccoli.

2. Drink water. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups of water within 2 or 3 hours of your workout. You may want to drink a little more or less based on your body size and the weather.

3. Keep it light. You want just enough calories to sustain you without weighing you down. Go easy on the fats. Wait at least 3 hours after any large meal before starting intense exercise.

4. Limit fiber. While a high-fiber diet is great for many reasons, including lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar, save the bran for later. You can fill up after you’re done sweating.

5. Play it safe. Midway through a dance class is an awkward time to discover how your body will react to unfamiliar foods. Stick to your regular fare and save the culinary experiments for your downtime.

How to Eat After You Work Out

Exercise uses up the glycogen stored in your muscles. In order for your body to recover and keep burning calories efficiently, you need to replace those stored carbohydrates. Here’s how to refuel.

1. Act fast. Some studies suggest that your body’s ability to replenish glycogen peaks soon after your workout. Plan on eating right away or at least within 2 hours.

2. Balance it out. It’s time to enjoy the same complex carbohydrates and proteins you ate before, but now you can add more healthy fats into the mix. Feast on baked salmon with your favorite vegetables or stir fry some tofu with bok choy and red peppers.

3. Control portions. Of course, if you’re trying to reduce, you want to burn up more energy than you take in. Online calorie counters can help you calculate your individual needs so you can figure out effective serving sizes for each meal and snack.

4. Focus on quality. At the same time, keep in mind that evidence is building that not all calories are the same. For the sake of your overall health and fitness, filling your plate with whole foods is preferable to eating the same amount of processed products.

5. Replace fluids. Plain water is usually adequate for staying hydrated. Carry your water bottle with you so you can drink while you’re exercising and drink at least 8 ounces afterwards.

6. Restore potassium. If you sweat heavily or work out for more than an hour, consider sports drinks to replace potassium and other electrolytes. Coconut water and various fruit and vegetables juices will work too.

Lose weight faster and more safely by putting the power of nutrition to work for you. Enjoying delicious and nutritious snacks and meals before and after exercise will give you the energy you need to lift weights or run for miles. You’ll slim down without having to go hungry when you combine physical activity and a balanced diet.

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