Hello everyone! Happy New Year to all of you and I hope the new decade brings great opportunities and positive changes in your life. New years are often associated with new beginnings and resolutions. These resolutions may include changes in diet, losing weight and saving more money (Becker, 2019). However, a study reported that at least eighty percent of people abandon their resolutions before February (Abgarian, 2019).
Some of the reasons for abandoning resolutions is because it could be unrealistic, bring feelings of dread, and thus cause a lot of stress and pressure. Instead of telling yourself to “eat healthy”, if you set a realistic and attainable goal of eating a balanced diet at least 3 times a week, then it will be a goal that is easier for you to achieve, gain satisfaction and you will know how to move forward from there to be healthier (Latham, 2019). For example, after getting used to eating a balanced diet 3 times a week, you could set another goal to exercise at least 30 minutes a week and slowly increase that to 30 minutes daily.
Another reason for failing to keep up with resolutions is because people tend to make extreme changes in January. But, such changes should be introduced step by step and you should like the process of it. Making extreme changes could be stressful and you may not keep up with the changes after a while.
Avoid comparing yourself with others when setting goals. You have a different body shape, strength, and bone structure. You should aspire to be a healthy version of yourself instead of idolizing someone else. Instead of focusing on being thin, focus on being healthy. Ensure you set goals weekly instead of anything longer, such as yearly. This allows you to work with your own comfort level by adjusting your goals accordingly every week (Jaffe-Hoffman, 2019).
Before you begin listing your resolutions for 2020, you need to reframe your mindset. How often have we felt frustrated when we were told to do household chores as children. We were annoyed because we were told we “have to” do it. But, a child who is “allowed” to do household chores, show a more positive attitude. This is due to the switch from “I have to” to “I get to” that impacts a person’s belief and approach (Becker, 2019). So, instead of telling yourself that you have to eat healthy or you have to avoid chips and oily food, change it with “I get to choose healthier snack options such as eating fruits”.
Remember to start small. Most of the time, we start with a very big goal and that can be overwhelming. If your resolution is to save money, instead of deciding to save $300 a month, give yourself a flexible range such as to save anywhere between $100 and $300. This way, when you save the minimum of $100, you will feel an encouragement and you may be able to save more the next month (Morin, 2019). This also allows you to feel good on some months when expenses could be a bit more than usual because of social events and sales. Remember to find a balance between saving and spending. While it is good to save, remember to not neglect yourself. There is no harm in treating yourself to a good meal or a spa day every once in a while.
Important things to do
In general, most people have the desire to make more money and to be fit in 2020. But, in the process of chasing things that we desire, we tend to overlook other important things we need to do for ourselves. Below are some things we should take note of:
Not getting the amount of sleep you need affects your memory and attention. As you sleep, your body repairs itself to be better prepared for the next day. Remember to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every day. Some people may need more hours of sleep depending on your body and the work you do. Be mindful to what your body needs and act accordingly.
- Being mindful of your mental health
How often do we stop when we are in the middle of a task, and ask ourselves “how do I really feel right now?”. Our minds are always thinking about what to do next and we rarely pay attention to what our mind and body needs. In 2020, let’s be more mindful and question ourselves on how we feel and what we can do to make ourselves feel better. Do we want to stay at home over the weekend and just Netflix and chill with a hot cup of tea? Do we want to go hiking and connect with nature instead of our office desks and laptops? Do we want to meet an old friend for a cup of coffee? Do we just want some alone time in a cinema watching a movie by ourselves or do we need someone to talk to?
- Increase your social life
People tend to get caught up with work and things to do that we do not realise how much time has passed and that we are losing out on making memories. Being socially active benefits your brain. If a weekly commitment is overwhelming, start out with a monthly commitment in something you are passionate about. Join a program at your community club either to volunteer and help animals, spend some time with the elderly or to simply learn a new skill like painting and cooking. This will give you something to look forward to, provide a platform for you to interact with new people and allow yourself to learn something new.
While it is good that we have new year resolutions to earn more money, lose weight and eat healthy, these goals can get overwhelming if they are not specific enough and if they are a sudden and an extreme change in our lifestyle. Instead, let’s start slow with the goals and increase it over the months according to our comfort level. It takes time to change old habits. While we focus on these common goals, it is important to pay attention to our daily needs such as having adequate amount of sleep, nutrition and giving ourselves space to recharge. Let’s be kind to ourselves in 2020 because we all are doing the best that we can. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and hope you get all the love you deserve!
Abgarian, A. (2019). Why you should stop setting New Year’s resolutions to exercise. Retrieved from https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/29/stop-setting-new-years-resolutions-exercise-start-working-now-11240019/.
Becker, J. (2019). Mind Matters: Rethink your New Year’s resolutions. Retrieved from https://www.wacotrib.com/waco_today_magazine/mind-matters-rethink-your-new-year-s-resolutions/article_8f808d86-c644-5f00-83fc-c071ecbdc7ea.html.
Jaffe-Hoffman, M. (2019). How to stick to your fitness New Year’s resolution. Retrieved from https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/How-to-stick-to-your-fitness-New-Years-resolution-612228.
Latham, D. (2019). New Year’s resolutions: Fitness, smoking (giving up) or saving money | Poll. Retrieved from https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/6558228/tell-us-your-new-years-resolution-and-well-tell-you-how-to-stick-to-it-poll/.
Morin, A. (2019). I’m a psychotherapist, and these are the 3 biggest resolution mistakes I see most people make. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.sg/biggest-new-years-resolution-mistakes-most-people-make/.
Christmas is one of the holidays that people from all around the world look forward to. It is a time for us to spend with our loved ones, exchange presents, indulge in good food, decorate our homes and watch good movies. However, it is not always a fun time for everyone. Our loved ones could be feeling overwhelmed or isolated during these festive seasons. What can we do for them?
We tend to have a lot of expectations on ourselves, whether it is for academics, career or even Christmas. We want to get the best presents for everyone, get a brand-new dress/suit so we look amazing and have the perfect looking pictures for Instagram. But putting in so much of effort to be perfect is actually time-consuming and uses up so much of energy (Clarke-Billings, 2019). How many times have we scrolled through social media and envied other people’s pictures because it all seems so perfect? It could be their matching outfits with each other (Thomas, 2019) or their perfectly laid out buffet table that makes us want to take a similar picture too. But, instead of pressurizing ourselves to have a neat table with perfectly laid out food and stopping the children from reaching out for the chocolates before taking the picture, let’s embrace the fun moments that may not be picture-perfect but has a lot of memories and laughter in it.
While festive seasons are fun, they can also be exhausting because of shopping, buying presents, wrapping them and cleaning the house. Not having enough sleep will affect our mood and mental health (Clarke-Billings, 2019). To avoid this, we need to plan our daily activities beforehand, so we stick to a routine. We should also focus on ourselves during this period by doing things such as having a nice cup of tea or going out for a walk to help decrease the pressure (Clarke-Billings, 2019). Although Christmas comes only once in a year, frequent outings in one month can be mentally daunting and affect our physical health as well. Learning to say no to friends when we are exhausted and choosing to have a nap instead is important (Beth, 2019).
Christmas movies, generally, have similar genres. It is about family and friends bonding with each other after a long period that includes a lot of laughter and happy endings. Christmas movies have positive effects on our brain because they help to release the hormones dopamine and oxytocin which help people to feel good. While dopamine causes a person to feel happy, oxytocin causes people to reach out to loved ones. As a result, social interaction increases positive emotions in an individual. However, an important part to note is that people generally watch these movies with their loved ones (Gutierrez, 2019). Hence, it is not only about the movie but about who you watch it with.
Christmas is a time to have fun with family and friends, but we need to remember that not everyone may be in the same mood. Some of us may be overwhelmed with the things we need to do or with work. Let’s be empathetic to others this festive season and provide a listening ear to anyone who have things to share. Let’s encourage people around us to watch movies together instead of being isolated with work and to-do lists and have a good time. Good times do not need to be perfect or expensive, they just need to have laughter.
Beth, S. (2019). This Holiday Season, I’m Being Honest With Myself About ‘Burn Out’. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/holiday-season-im-being-honest-113251564.html.
Clarke-Billings, L. (2019). Top tips to look after your mental health and eliminate stress this Christmas. Retrieved from https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/top-tips-look-after-your-20944202.
Gutierrez, L. (2019). Comfort and joy? Psychologists say Christmas movies can be good for mental health. Retrieved from https://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article237328479.html.
Thomas, F. (2019). What it’s really like having depression at Christmas. Retrieved from https://www.hellomagazine.com/healthandbeauty/health-and-fitness/2019112681124/depression-at-christmas-time/.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a mix of two approaches: Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Behaviour Therapy (BT). While CT on its own focuses on how an individual’s thoughts and beliefs add on to their negative emotions, BT focuses on how the individual’s behavioural patterns arise and how they could be changed to alter the person’s mood. CBT helps to tackle people’s negative thoughts, actions and emotions by adopting solution-based strategies (Burford, 2019) and exposure therapy (Turner, 2019). This happens by disputing negative thoughts and rewiring cognitive routes in the brain to adapt to new situations (Burford, 2019).
People with maladaptive thought patterns are inclined to adopt unhealthy habits such as consuming alcohol, abusing drugs and smoking. Maladaptive thought patterns could also affect an individual by preventing them from ending relationships that lack a direction because they are afraid. People’s opinions and the fear of failure may stop individuals from trying new things. These maladaptive thought patterns are known as cognitive distortions. The following are a few types cognitive distortions (Poulsen, 2019):
- Overgeneralization – Forming a general conclusion thinking that one bad experience means every other experience will also be the same
- Catastrophizing – Assuming the worst for something that has not yet happened
- Personalisation – Believing that every action of other people is a reaction to them
- Filtering – Focusing on the negative details and ignoring any other positive details
- Blame – Either accepting all the blame for every situation or directing the blame on others even if you had a part to play in it
- Labelling – Thinking that you are a loser or you always make a mistake instead of analysing the whole situation and being fair to yourself
How it works?
The relationship with a therapist in CBT is goal driven. Individuals will be exposed to their fears at a pace that is comfortable for them. After sessions, they usually have homework to do such as being aware of their thoughts in different situations and noting them down on a worksheet that is provided in therapy (Burford, 2019)
A therapist worked with a child who was afraid of vomiting. Through exposure therapy, they took small steps that was comfortable for the child. The therapist started with purchasing vomit spray from Amazon and vomit-flavoured jelly beans and they heard vomit sounds through YouTube videos. After reaching a certain level of comfort, they created fake vomit and pretended to vomit in the bathroom. Through these exposures, the girl was able to remain in the same classroom when someone vomited instead of leaving the class like she normally would and then missing school for the whole week due to her fear (Turner, 2019).
The workshop provides participants with an understanding of the theory and practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Participants will learn the essential core skills required to practice CBT clinically. Participants would be fully equipped with CBT knowledge and skills upon completing the workshop. Graduates from this programme will be able to handle the various applications of CBT on clients suffering from possible symptoms such as Depression and/or Anxiety. Other psychological issues such as Anger Management, Insomnia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) will also be covered. Upon graduation, graduates may seek clinical supervision with APACS clinical supervisor to further hone their CBT skills, and register themselves as a member of APACS.
For more information, click the link: https://thelionmind.org.sg/our-services/cbt
Burford, M. (2019). Everything You Need to Know About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.allure.com/story/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-guide.
Poulsen, T. (2019). How to understand that you need to change your life right now. Retrieved from https://baltimorepostexaminer.com/how-to-understand-that-you-need-to-change-your-life-right-now/2019/10/28.
Turner, C. (2019). How To Help A Child Struggling With Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/10/23/772789491/how-to-help-a-child-struggling-with-anxiety.
The term “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (OCD) is quite commonly used among people to attribute a behaviour. The most common behaviour that people are aware of is washing of hands, excessively. However, OCD is more than just about washing hands (Baker, 2018). OCD is among one of the top three mental disorders in Singapore and it has been increasing over the years. Currently, 1 in 28 people have OCD (Chandra, 2019).
What is OCD?
OCD consists of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions refer to a constant and repeating thought while compulsions refer to repeating a behaviour to get rid of the thought (Yufeng, 2018). The repeating thought increases anxiety. While continuously repeating a behaviour to get rid of the anxiety, the person creates a response loop. This response loop and anxiety increases over time where they begin to affect one other (Yufeng, 2018). When this behaviour begins to affect a person’s daily life where they are not able to focus on their tasks or take too much time to repeat their behaviour, they are diagnosed with OCD (Baker, 2018)
What causes it among young adults?
People between the ages of 18 to 34 are more likely to be affected by OCD. People within this age group face different concerns such as getting a place in university, getting employed after graduation or having relationship issues. Such situations affect an individual emotionally and socially because they have to cope with major changes in their lives and face new challenges (Choo, 2018).
What should you do?
Early signs of OCD can be often overlooked because they start off mild. However, the symptoms increase over time. For example, a person who washes his hands often may continue to increase the number of times he washes his hands to the point it disrupts his daily life (Baker, 2018). It is important to be self-aware of your behaviour and analyse what makes you repeat a certain behaviour. If the reason is irrational, seeking help from a professional during the early stages is recommended. People in the surroundings such as family and friends play an important role in observing repetitious behaviours that may be early signs of OCD. OCD disrupts a person’s daily life. Learning how to manage it will reduce an individual’s anxiety and they will be able to live a functional life.
Baker, J. (2018). OCD one of the most common mental disorders in Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ocd-one-of-the-most-common-mental-disorders-in-singapore-11020354
Baker, J. (2018). “I thought I was going crazy”: OCD, an often misunderstood mental health condition. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ocd mental-health-condition-often-misunderstood-11046570
Chandra, A. (2019). Don’t neglect obsessive compulsive disorder; seek help. Retrieved from https://sg.news.yahoo.com/dont-neglect-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-seek-help-073323653.html
Choo, C. (2018). Mental illness more prevalent among young adults, OCD one of top disorders in S’pore. Retrieved from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/mental-illness-more-prevalent-among-young-adults-ocd-one-of-top-disorders-spore
Yufeng, K. (2018). Study: OCD in top three mental disorders, sufferers seeking help later. Retrieved from https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/study-ocd-top-three-mental-disorders-sufferers-seeking-help-later
Sue-Ann, C. (2019). More teens in Singapore seeking help at IMH for school stress. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/more-teens-in-singapore-seeking-help-for-school-stress-at-imh
Have you ever wondered what anxiety is? Or if anxiety is good or bad?
Most of us experience anxiety that comes when we have to meet deadlines at work or prepare for a national exam. Feeling some level of anxiety during such periods prompt people to act so that they are able to meet their deadlines (Remes, 2018).
However, when the feelings develop in non-threatening situations constantly, the person could have an anxiety disorder. A person who has difficulties focusing on their priorities because they are always worrying about things that do not have much importance could have generalized anxiety disorder. Someone who feels sudden intense fear that comes out of nowhere and causes their heart to beat fast while they feel dizzy could have a panic disorder (Remes, 2018).
Why does this happen?
Over the past year, there has been an increase in youth suicides. Youths face issues that range from academic, to relationships and even concerns about their future (Min, 2019). Such pressure could arise from the surroundings of the youth such as school, home and from themselves (Sue-Ann, 2019). While self-image is important, sometimes, that increases a person’s anxiety level. People tend to rehearse what they want to say over and over in their mind because they want it to be perfect and not embarrass themselves. In most situations, they tend to imagine the worst thing that could happen. This excessive worrying stops them from voicing out opinions or showing their talents (Remes, 2018).
What can you do?
Try not to avoid thinking about worrying thoughts because the more you try to avoid, the more it will plague your mind. Instead, replace your thoughts by focusing on things in your surroundings. This will increase your awareness and slowly minimize the focus on the worries.
Focus on the present moment. If you find yourself worrying about something that has not happened, ask yourself questions such as “What am I doing right now?”.
This question will make you aware of your surroundings and you can, then, consciously focus on the smell of the cookies next to you or the beautiful scenery in front of you that you have been missing out (Remes, 2018).
If you find yourself drowning in anxiety, reach out for help. Schools have counsellors and programs such as peer mentoring to assist students in need. If you are an adult in the working environment, you could reach out to a colleague, senior in your work environment, family, friends or a professional. Do not let anxiety stop you from shining.
If you know someone who has anxiety, be empathetic to their situation and let them know they have someone to talk to. Avoid placing demands on them and allow them to move at their own pace.
Let’s build a happy and healthy environment for everyone!
Min, A. (2019). MOE, MSF ‘very concerned’ about spike in youth suicides; experts say more support and awareness necessary. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/moe-msf-very-concerned-about spike-in-youth-suicides-experts-say-11775260
Remes, O. (2018). Commentary: No marks, scars or bruises but anxiety more debilitating than some illnesses. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/anxiety-always-anxious-how best-to-cope-10596732
Sue-Ann, C. (2019). More teens in Singapore seeking help at IMH for school stress. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/more-teens-in-singapore-seeking-help-for-school-stress-at-imh