Top 6 Signs of Abnormal Behavior

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

anxiety-1337383_640I think that due to a wider acceptance of psychology as an important field of study and of course, thanks to the internet, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of some of the basic signs and/or symptoms of the major psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) etc.

While I think that this increasing awareness is great, one possible downside is that sometimes people use their limited knowledge to diagnose themselves or others as having certain mental disorders.

We all have certain quirky or peculiar habits and behaviors and we all go through different emotions however, this does not automatically mean that we have some sort of mental disorder.

Here are the 6 most common criterion that psychologists often use to determine if certain behaviors are abnormal and possibly a sign of an underlying mental disorder.

Unusualness:

One sign of possibly abnormal behavior is behavior that is unusual. One example would be going through extreme anxiety inside of a crowded elevator. One important thing to point out is that unusual should not be mistaken for uncommon. For example, there are many people who are very talented in one particular way and may be able to do things that the rest of us cannot do, however, this definitely does not mean that their behavior is abnormal.

Social Deviance:

As many of us know, every culture and society has its own set of norms and standards of appropriate and acceptable behaviors in any given situation. For example, in the U.S. and other Western societies giving eye contact to the person you’re talking to is an absolute necessity. However, there are some other cultures in which giving direct eye contact may be considered inappropriate or in extreme cases can be seen as a sign of disrespect.

Misinterpreting Reality:

An example of this would be hallucinating, where we see and hear things that are not present. Another example would be having the delusion that someone is out to get you. It is important to consider cultural norms. Hearing and seeing things that are not present is certainly considered abnormal in our culture, however, in certain other cultures, such as the Native American culture this may be seen as a perfectly normal or even as a spiritual experience.

Significant Personal Distress:

This is when an individual is always feeling  one or more  negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. Of course, we all go through our fair share of ups and downs and its totally normal to go through negative emotions. Having such emotions can be considered abnormal when these negative emotions are persistent for a very long period of time.

Maladaptive or Self-Defeating Behaviors

These are the types of behaviors that prevent an individual from properly fulfilling his or her roles and responsibilities. An example would be a person who consistently drinks too much alcohol and as a result is no longer able to function properly at work and/or in their interpersonal relationships. Also, any type of behavior that is a self-defeating behavior is considered abnormal. For example, there are people that have Agoraphobia which is basically a fear of going outside the house.

Dangerousness:  

I think this one is pretty obvious. Any type of behavior that is a danger to ourselves or others is abnormal. Of course, the social context is important. In times of war, soldiers or others who risk their lives for the greater good are rightfully praised. Unfortunately, certain actions that could potentially harm innocent civilians are also considered normal due to the wartime context. A slightly unrelated but important point to be made is that contrary to popular opinion the overwhelming majority of people with a mental disorder are not a danger to society.

I would just really like to emphasize that the six criteria mentioned above are just some of the many criterion  that mental health professionals use to judge whether a behavior is abnormal.

Meeting one or more of these criterion certainly does not mean that there is anything wrong with you. Only an experienced mental health professional can make a true and accurate judgment. This post is only for informational purposes.

With Love,

Yasmin

Top Three Tips for Staying Hydrated This Summer

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

It’s officially summer and the heat is soaring in many parts of the world including my own city.  For many, summer is a time for relaxing, enjoying the warmer weather, and having fun in the sun. However, with all of this fun comes the danger of dehydration from the intense heat.

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I have to admit that for the longest time I had a false sense of confidence that I would never become dehydrated. Recently, however, I learned my lesson the hard way and this inspired me to do some research and write this post for you so hopefully you can all stay hydrated and healthy this summer.

According to the Mayo Clinic the following are some of the signs of dehydration in adults:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Urinating less frequently
  • Dark colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Here are some tips for staying hydrated this summer:

Drink Water:

I know this one is very obvious but many of us simply forget to drink water and this can lead to trouble. If you’re out and about throughout the day it might be a good idea to carry a bottle with you preferably a BPA free bottle.

Its best to drink water before we get thirsty because by the time we’re thirsty we are already at an increased risk for dehydration. According to the Institute of Medicine the average female should drink about 11 cups of water each day and the average male should drink about 16 cups of water each day. Of course, this is just an average estimate and this will vary on many factors such as your body type, how active you are, and how hot is it outside. This estimate also includes other sources of water including tea or coffee, and the water that is in the foods that we eat.

I know that this might sound a little gross but one of the ways that you can make sure that you are properly hydrated is to look at the toilet the next time you urinate. The color should be a pale yellow.

As with all other good things in life, too much water is not a good thing. Drinking too much water is dangerous and can lead to water intoxication. Also, drinking too much water causes you to lose sodium at a faster rate than your body can replenish and this can lead to hypothermia.

Exercise with Caution:

Exercise has countless benefits for our physical and mental health and well-being. However, in the summer it is especially important to stay hydrated while you are exercising. Some experts point out that during a workout session we can lose up to four pounds of fluid before we feel thirsty. This is why its recommended that we should drink about half a cup of water 15 minutes before starting to exercise then continue to repeat this every 15 minutes during the workout session and then once more after we’ve finished the workout session.

During a particularly intensive workout session water may not be enough to keep us hydrated. This is because when we sweat a lot our body loses electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that are found in our blood and they help regulate the amount of water in the body and they help transmit nerve signals to our muscles. Drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade can rehydrate our body and replenish the electrolytes that we may have lost.

Coconut water is a possible natural alternative to sports drinks. Coconut water has electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. Coconut water is a fairly low calorie drink, it has between 60 to 90 calories. During extremely intensive workouts sports drinks may be your best option. However, these drinks are high in glucose and sodium so if you have diabetes or high blood pressure it is best to talk to your doctor before taking these sports drinks.

While exercising, its good to push ourselves a bit, however, it is vital that we know our limits and we stop before we have reached a certain point. If your muscles feel very tired and/or you feel dizzy then it is definitely time to stop or take a break to hydrate yourself. Muscle fatigue and laziness are signs of dehydration and need to be taken seriously.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

According to the National Institute of Health about 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from the food that we eat. During these hot days it is it is vital that we include and/or increase the amount of fruits and veggies in our diets because they contain electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Here are the fruits with the highest water content:

  • Strawberry (92 percent water)
  • Watermelon (92 percent water)
  • Cantaloupe (90 percent water)
  • Peaches (88 percent water)
  • Pineapples (87 percent water)
  • Oranges (87 percent water)

Note: Bananas and dates should also be consumed because they contain potassium.

Here are the veggies with the highest water content:

  • Cucumbers (96 percent water)
  • Lettuce (96 percent water)
  • Celery (95 percent water)
  • Radishes (95 percent water)
  • Tomatoes (94 percent water)
  • Cauliflower (92 percent water)
  • Bell Peppers (92 percent water)
  • Spinach (92 percent water)

Of course fruits and vegetables should be consumed in moderation. Fruits are high in sugar. Also, those people that are on a blood thinning medication such as Warfarin should be careful because some fruits are blood thinning and some vegetables are high in Vitamin K.

Bonus tip: Try adding some sea salt to your food. Sea salt not only adds flavor but it is also has sodium and potassium which can help you stay hydrated.

I hope you found these tips to be helpful in keeping you hydrated this summer!

With Love,

Yasmin

The #1 Myth about Stress

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!stress

Stress needs know no introduction. We have all been through some sort of a major stressful episode in our lives and many of us face some form of stress on a daily basis. We have also heard of how dangerous stress can be for both our physical and mental health and well-being.

However, Stanford University lecturer and health psychologist Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. argues that it is not the actual stress that is dangerous for us and can make us sick rather, it is how we think about and perceive stress that can make it harmful for us.

She cites a study conducted in 2012. This study tracked 30,000 Americans for a total of eight years. Towards the end of each year the participants were asked two questions. First they were asked: “How much stress have you experienced in the past year? Then they were asked: “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?”.  Each year researchers used public death records to find out how many of these people died that year.

As we might expect the people who reported that they experienced a lot of stress in the last year had a 43 percent increased risk of death.

However, this increased risk of death was only true for the people who also believed that stress was harmful for their health.

The people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view this stress as being harmful were not more likely to die. These people actually had the lowest rate of death compared to everyone else in the study (even compared to those who had only a little bit of stress but viewed stress as being harmful).

The researchers of this study generalized the results of this study to the overall American population and they estimated that each year nearly 20,000 people die not from the actual stress but the belief that stress is harmful for them.

The major takeaway from this research is that changing how we think about stress can make us healthier and actually improve our stress response.

When we are going through a stressful episode we experience certain physiological changes such as a faster heart rate, faster breathing and sweating. Normally, we interpret these physical changes as a sign of weakness and thus we may start getting anxiety.

Now that we are equipped with this new knowledge, the next time we are experiencing a stressful episode and we are experiencing our heart pounding or any other signs of stress we should practice thinking of these signs as helping energize our body and helping us to face the challenge that we are about to face.

In fact, a study done by Harvard University demonstrates that thinking differently about our stress response really does help us deal with the stress in a healthier manner. In this study participants were taught to view their stress response as being helpful and not dangerous. Then when the experiment started they were all placed in a stressful environment (they had to perform various challenging tasks such as arithmetic in front a number of “judges”). The results of the experiment showed that those who viewed their stress response as being helpful were less anxious, less stressed out, and more confident.

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings of this Harvard study was that those who viewed stress in a positive manner had their physical stress response actually change. Under normal stressful conditions when our hearts are pounding, our blood vessels really tighten up and constrict themselves and over the course of a lifetime this type of stress reaction can lead to heart disease. Those with a positive attitude about stress still had a pounding heart however, their blood vessels were much more relaxed and this is a much healthier state to be in.

Without a doubt, long-term stress or a lifetime of stress, can cause health complications however, this research gives us hope that we can prevent some of the detrimental effects of stress by simply changing the way we think about stress.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

A Bit of A Change

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well! autumn-1850717_640

As some of you may have already noticed I have changed the name of this blog from Yasmin’s Lifestyle Blog to A Bit Better.

When I initially created this blog the only thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted this to be a lifestyle blog and I wanted to share certain aspects of my life on this blog. Of course, this is why I initially chose the name Yasmin’s Lifestyle Blog.

Now, more than a year later not much has changed. This is still a lifestyle blog, with a greater emphasis on physical and mental health. However, I ultimately decided to change the name because this blog will not revolve around me rather my main mission is to create posts that will hopefully make the lives of you my dear readers just a bit better.

Of course, if something notable happens in my life I would love to share it on this blog. However, I am really passionate about creating posts about issues and topics that will hopefully play a role in improving the lives of others.

I know that I have mentioned this before but I would be truly honored if this blog makes even one person’s life a bit better.

Thank you all for your continued love and support! I truly hope you will all continue to join me on this blogging journey!

With Love

Yasmin

 

World Refugee Day: How You Can Help!

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

asylum-914183_640

Today June 20th 2017 is World Refugee Day and this is a topic near and dear to my own heart because my parents immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan and if they had not done so, or rather, if they were not allowed to do so, then I probably wouldn’t be here today.

In order to better shed light on this issue  and present you, my dear readers, with some tangible solutions to this heartbreaking humanitarian issue, in this post I will summarize a recent  TED Talk by David Miliband about this issue.

David Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been a member of the British parliament and he is the chief of the International Rescue Committee charity.

Speech Summary

  • The current refugee situation is indeed a humanitarian crisis however, it is manageable.
  • Facts in numbers: In 2016 65 million people were displaced from their homes. Of these 65 million people most of them stayed in their own countries but 25 million of them became refugees. Most of these refugees are currently living in developing nations.

Causes: (as presented by Miliband in this TED Talk)

  • Weak states that cannot support their own people
  • An international system weaker than at any time since 1945.
  • Differences in theology, governance, engagement, with the outside world, in significant parts of the Muslim world.
  • This refugee crisis is a long term problem with deep causes however, it can be solved.

Solutions:

  • The refugees need to get into work in the countries they’re living in and these countries that they’re living in need massive economic support.
  • Education for kids is a lifeline and not a luxury especially since many of these people are going to be displaced for a long time.
  • Most refugees live in cities and so they need cash to pay rent, buy clothes etc. Give refugees cash to boost their economic power and to help the local community.

Controversial Solution:

  • The most vulnerable refugees need to be given a new start and a new life in a new country including in the West. The numbers (of those needing to be admitted into Western nations) are small but the symbolism is huge. Now is not the time to ban refugees but it is the time to embrace victims of terror.
  • It is a good question to ask are they properly vetted? However, the reality is that refugees are among the most properly vetted people that enter our countries.
  • Refugee is not another word for terrorist.
  • If refugees are not given the proper help, they take risky journeys in unstable boats with life jackets that cannot even prevent children from drowning. He describes this as not just a crisis but a test of our humanity.
  • Yes, refugees are often very different from us but this should not prevent us from helping them.
  • Empathy and altruism are two of the foundations of civilization and we should use these beliefs as our motto to help others.
  • In this modern world, thanks to our smartphones and other gadgets  we cannot say that we did not know what was going on.
  • If we fail to help then it shows that we are lacking a moral compass.
  • Saving refugees is a part of Western history, especially after World War II. So if we trash refugees, we trash our own history.

More Solutions:

  • If you’re an employer hire some refugees
  • Take on the myths that friends and family have about refugees.
  • If you have money try to donate some it to charities that make a difference for refugees.
  • If you’re a citizen try to vote for politicians that will implement some of the above mentioned solutions.

Concluding Remarks:

  • He mentions the story of a French man who helped his Jewish grandmother  and aunt during World War II by giving them refuge in his village. When Miliband, as a teen visited this now elderly French man and asked him why he took such a risk the man’s reply was: “one must” meaning that helping others was a natural and innate thing to him as it should be to us too.
  • He concludes by reiterating the point that it is possible to solve this problem and by helping refugees we are upholding our own cherished morals and values.

Here is the link to the TED Talk

Want to know more about the refugee crisis? Check out CNN’s article on this topic. This article also has a how to help section at the very bottom of the page.

if you’re in the U.S. and want to contact your elected official regarding the refugee crisis or any other issue that you’re passionate about? Click here for some tips and pointers.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

Graduated!!!

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well! pic1

I am so sorry that I have not been able to update this blog for almost a year. This past year was my senior year of college and I was so busy focusing on my course work and studying that I was forced to completely abandon this blog!

I am happy to report that this past weekend I graduated from the University of California Irvine with a Bachelors degree in Psychology.

This certainly would not have been possible without the help of God and the unconditional love and support from both of my parents.

My journey through college has been a slightly unconventional one. I started off at a local community college and due to certain life circumstances I was a part-time student at the community college for a number of years.  However, after I transferred to UC Irvine I became a full time student.

I have to admit that my motivation to study did decrease a bit during this past year. In other words, I did develop a bit of senioritis. However, what really kept me going was the  realization that I was so incredibly fortunate to attend a prestigious public university and I was fortunate that my parents were completely supportive of my passions and they never put any pressure on me. More importantly, I constantly reminded myself that there are thousands if not millions of girls and young women who have a very strong desire to have an education yet due to certain circumstances they are not able to pursue their dreams.

I honestly feel so grateful for the opportunities that I have been blessed with and of course I am proud of the fact that my hard work has paid off!

Now that I have graduated I am super excited about finally being able to continue my blogging journey. For me blogging is literally a means of expressing my voice to the world. As some of you may know I was born with a rare disability that causes me to have a speech impediment often making it very difficult for others to understand me when I speak.

However, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am looking forward to using this blog as a means of communicating about a wide range of lifestyle topics and issues with an emphasis on topics relating to psychology. I will consider myself fortunate if I can help slightly improve the life of even one person.

I am looking forward to blogging again and I hope you will join me on this journey 🙂

With Love,

Yasmin

 

Benefits of Walking

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re doing well!little-girls-walking-773024_1280

The overwhelming majority of us humans have been blessed with the ability to walk. However, with our ever increasing sedentary lifestyle fewer of us are taking advantage of this ability.

If you are anything like me and you don’t have any formal exercise routine, walking can be a great way to start your journey towards living a more active lifestyle. Although walking may not replace a more rigorous exercise routine it can provide numerous health benefits.

It is important to mention that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity. The CDC mentions that one way to meet this recommendation is through brisk walking. Although this post only focuses on walking the CDC also recommends performing muscle strengthening activities at least two times a week.

Some of the physical benefits of walking include:

Heart Health:

Walking improves our blood circulation which helps maintain a healthy heart. Research shows that walking regularly can protect us from heart disease and over time can strengthen the heart. Also, walking can help reduce blood pressure.

Bone, Muscle, and Joint Health:

For those who suffer from osteoporosis walking can help stop the loss of bone mass. Walking also tones and strengthens the leg and abdominal muscles. Walking is especially important for joint health because the joint cartilage does not have a direct blood supply and so the only way our joints get the vital nutrition that they need is if we move.

Better Sleep:

Research shows that walking can help relieve some of the effects of insomnia allowing for better sleep.

Weight Management:

Walking at a brisk pace can help burn calories which can eventually lead to weight loss. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight walking can help you maintain a healthy figure.

Walking also benefits our mental health and well-being.

Better Mood:

A study by Cal State Long Beach revealed that the more steps people took in a day the better their mood was. Also, walking releases endorphins which are natural pain killers.

Better Memory:

A study by the University of California San Francisco showed that age related memory decline was lower in people who walked.

Lowers Risk of Alzheimer’s:

A study of men between the ages of 71 and 93 showed that those that walked more than a quarter mile a day had a decreased rate of incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The excuse that most of us use is that we don’t have time to walk. However, recent research shows that we can break up our exercise routine into short periods of exercise performed multiple times a day.

The most important step we can take for our own well-being is to simply start walking a few minutes a day and gradually work our way up in increasing our time and speed.

With Love,

Yasmin