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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

7 Life changes that will improve your mental health for good

No matter how major or minor the problem may be, there will be somebody close by who can help you to heal. Never keep your problems bottled up inside you; stay positive and be open with your friends and family.

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The ongoing topic of mental health has been in the public eye for a number of years now; the importance of maintaining a well-balanced life that helps to keep your ongoing state of mind healthy is ever growing. Mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical health so it is fundamental that people learn how to change their lifestyle to improve their overall mindset.

Whether you have been through a traumatic incident over the recent months or you need to remove toxic people from your life, there are several ways to conquer ongoing mental health battles. Even if you don’t think you are suffering from any major mental health traumas, all of the ideas mentioned below will help you to maintain a healthy state of mind.

If you have a history of mental illness in the family or you are worried that your past experiences will cause you to suffer, you might want to start incorporating some of these methods into your day to day lifestyle. The most important thing to remember is to stay positive and look for the best in every situation. If you can stay humble and grateful for the amazing things you do have in your life, you will find it so much easier to maintain a happy and health state of mind throughout your entire life.

1. Removing Toxicity

Getting rid of negativity in your life will help you to move on and become much more positive in your mindset. Whether you have a family member that keeps putting you down or you are with a partner who has domestic violence charges against them, when you feel unsafe in an environment it can begin to take its toll on your mental health. Make sure you find a way to get rid of the toxic elements that are holding you back from being happy. Talk to somebody you trust and there will be a way out of your current situation.

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2. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Lack of sleep can take a huge toll on your overall mental health, so if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night you need to make this a priority. Think about how you can set a calming atmosphere in your bedroom so that you can drift off peacefully. Operate a no phone policy in your bedroom when you are ready to go to sleep; the blue light from electronic devices can prevent you from switching off completely. Read a book, drink a caffeine free hot drink or take a long hot bubble bath to help you relax as a bedtime routine.

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3. Writing Down Your Feelings

Sometimes you can overthink certain situations in your head, which can lead to a lot of ongoing anxiety and troubled mental health. Grabbing a pen and paper and writing down exactly how you are feeling in that moment can really help you to lighten your load. You might come to a conclusion that you were overthinking silly situations in your mind and you will then be able to move on quickly. Even if you aren’t particularly creative, writing is the perfect outlet to let go of pent up feelings.

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4. Turning Things into a Positive

When something goes astray in your life or it doesn’t quite go to plan, it is very easy for this to become a negative in your mind. Perhaps you didn’t land the dream job you wanted or you haven’t managed to find the perfect house to live in yet. Whatever goes wrong in your day to day life, there will be a reason, so turn it into a positive. Perhaps a better job is round the corner or a better value house is just ready to be snapped up. Every cloud has a silver lining so always look on the bright side when you can.

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5. Changing Your Eating Habits

The food that you put into your body can have a huge knock on effect to your overall mood. If you are feeding yourself junk food that is full of saturated fat and refined sugar you are going to go through highs and lows, whilst feeling sluggish. Nourish your body and mind with delicious food and plenty of water every day and you will have a much better chance of standing up to those mental health demons. You will feel more energized and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

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6. Exercising Regularly

The endorphins that are released when you undertake exercise are renowned for making people feel happy and uplifting their mood. No matter what type of exercise you enjoy, you can instantly put a smile on your face if you get your blood pumping. It’s even better if you can enjoy exercise with a friend.

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7. Practicing Mindfulness

Whether you meditate for ten minutes each morning or really focus on the foods you are eating, mindfulness is an amazing tool for mental health. It can help you appreciate the beautiful world around you so you aren’t taking anything for granted. Write down all of the positive things you have going on in your life and you will soon find a reason to smile every single day.

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Sometimes it is easier said than done when it comes to keeping your mental health in check. More and more people are being diagnosed with mental health issues each day, so it is very important that you take these things seriously. Small and subtle changes to your lifestyle will help you to live a happier and healthier life overall, which will then have a positive impact on your overall state of mind. When you become anxious or worried about something, you should always try and talk to somebody who can help you through.

No matter how major or minor the problem may be, there will be somebody close by who can help you to heal. Never keep your problems bottled up inside you; stay positive and be open with your friends and family. There might be a sufferer just like you sat close by, so look around and believe that everybody is around to help you through.

Health & Wellness

Sexual minority women less likely to receive appropriate sexual, reproductive health support

A research emphasizes the importance of considering both sexual orientation and recent sexual behaviors when addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of sexual minority women.

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Lesbian women were less likely to report receiving a birth control prescription or birth control counseling compared with heterosexual women. This is according to a new study that used data from the National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2015 in the US, and which highlighted sexual and reproductive health care disparities among women.

In “Do Sexual Minorities Receive Appropriate Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Counseling?”, Bethany Everett, PhD, University of Utah (Salt Lake City) and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and the University of Chicago (IL) investigated sexual orientation disparities in the use of sexual and reproductive health services and receipt of contraceptive counseling in clinical settings in the past 12 months.

The researchers also explored whether having male sex partners influenced sexual minority women’s use of sexual and reproductive health services and the types of sexual health information that they received.

The findings – published in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. –  noted that in a clinical setting, lesbian women were less likely to report receiving birth control counseling at a pregnancy test, and lesbian women without recent male sex partners were less likely to report receiving counseling about condom use at an STI-related visit compared with heterosexual women.

However, they were more likely to report having received sexually transmitted infection (STI) counseling, testing, or treatment, after adjusting for sexual partners in the past 12 months.

“This new research emphasizes the importance of considering both sexual orientation and recent sexual behaviors when addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of sexual minority women,” said Susan G. Kornstein, MD, editor in chief of Journal of Women’s Health and executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA. “Using inclusive sexual and reproductive health counseling scripts may facilitate the delivery of appropriate sexual health-related information.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Many single men may not have developed necessary social skills to find a partner

Today, men must be able to turn on the charm if they want to find a partner. And many men who have difficulty flirting, or are unable to impress others may remain single because their social skills have not evolved to meet today’s societal demands.

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You’re single because – yes – you may not have the looks and/or confidence; but also because you may also lack the necessarily skills to find a partner.

This is the gist of the study – entitled “Why men stay single? Evidence from Reddit” that appeared in Evolutionary Psychological Science – done by Menelaos Apostolou of the University of Nicosia in Cyprus.

Apostolou quipped that those from the past may have had things somewhat easier – i.e. forced or arranged marriages meant that socially inept, unattractive men did not have to acquire social skills in order to find a long-term love interest. But today, men must be able to turn on the charm if they want to find a partner. And many men who have difficulty flirting, or are unable to impress others may remain single because their social skills have not evolved to meet today’s societal demands.

For this study, Apostolou analyzed over 6,794 (out of13,429) comments left by men on the popular social news and media aggregation internet site Reddit, where he posted (anonymously) this question: “Guys, why are you single?”

Apostolou’s findings sadly indicate that most of the men commenting on the thread were not willingly single but wanted to be in a relationship.

Apostolou established at least 43 reasons why these men thought they were single. These reasons included:

  • Having poor looks and being short or bald (the most frequent reasons put forward)
  • Lacking confidence
  • Not making the effort
  • Simply not interested in long-term relationships
  • Lacking flirting skills and being too shy
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Still others said that they had been so badly burnt in previous relationships that they did not dare to get into another; while others felt that they were too picky, did not have the opportunity to meet available women or had different priorities. Still some of the men experienced mental health issues, sexual problems, or struggled with illness, disability or addiction.

Apostolou cited the so-called mismatch argument, where the existing social skills do not align with the qualities needed today to make a good impression. “Single modern men often lack flirting skills because in an ancestral pre-industrial context, the selection pressures on mechanisms which regulated mating effort and choosiness were weak,” Apostolou was quoted as saying. “Such skills are needed today, because in post-industrial societies mate choice is not regulated or forced, but people have to instead find mates on their own.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Moments when hashtag activism really worked

Every now and then, a new cause encourages users to send in a flurry of social media posts, all backed by a common tag used to grab the users’ attention to the issue. While some campaigns have backfired, some have really, really worked creating defining moments.

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It’s been more than 10 years to the use of this so small and unprepossessing symbol – #. Little did its users know that it would contribute to changing the world. It’s emerged as the prelude to every important online conversation.

While some campaigns have backfired, some have really, really worked creating defining moments.
Image by irfanahmad from Pixabay.com

The phenomenon of using this symbol is popularly referred to as hashtag activism. Every now and then, a new cause encourages users to send in a flurry of social media posts, all backed by a common tag used to grab the users’ attention to the issue. While some campaigns have backfired, some have really, really worked creating defining moments. Let’s take a look at some of them:

1. #DressLikeAWoman

When President Trump was alleged for asking his staff to dress like women, the internet was flooded with suggestions and opinions. Gendered clothing is available everywhere but unlike hashtags, their purpose is to only divide. Some women voiced their preference to dress their best for work while some pointed out how black is the new black. The campaign received extensive female support for obvious reasons.

2. #StopFundingHate

This UK-based campaign aimed at taking action against the anti-migrant position of several British newspapers. It started somewhere around 2016 and has repeatedly gone viral several times. It has also made some great victories in the process. For instance, Lego ended its agreement with The Daily Mail and now does not offer any promotional giveaways with the newspaper.

Every now and then, a new cause encourages users to send in a flurry of social media posts, all backed by a common tag used to grab the users’ attention to the issue.
Photo by KoalaParkLaundromat from Pixabay.com

3. #YouAintNoMuslimBruv

The British respond to tragedy with both class and honesty. In fact, the Londoners like hashtag activism because it always keeps to the left. The #YouAintNoMuslimBruv campaign was the reaction to an incident that took place a few weeks before Christmas 2015. A man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia cut the throat of a passenger at a London tube station. The judge denounced the act to be motivated by Islamic extremism and sentenced him to life imprisonment at a high-security psychiatric institution.

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However, before the papers went all gaga over Islamophobia, a young man gave the perfect reply to this religious criticism since the culprit was arrested by a Muslim policeman.

4. #HeForShe

Gender equality has been talked about for generations. It affects everyone. The HeForShe campaign is just about that. The UN Women Campaign, supported by Emma Watson and Justin Trudeau, encouraged men and boys to support the women in their lives and actively involve themselves in the struggle that had previously been regarded as a ‘woman’s thing.’

Several countries participated in the campaign with their pledges and commitments to support the cause. Some of the leading countries worth mentioning are Rwanda, the UK, the US, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The hashtag has emerged as a prelude to every important online conversation.
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5. #WomensMarch

The Women’s March in 2017 was a powerful campaign as women across the world united to fight for their status-quo and optimistically change the future. It focused on demanding an equal footing in society. The uniting power of the hashtag proved that women are not alone and can create a euphoric moment that will change history.

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Travel

China’s ban on online LGBTI content deemed lawful

A court in Beijing, China ruled on October 23 that the country’s ban on online LGBTI content was lawful.

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Backward step in China.

A court in Beijing, China ruled on October 23 that the country’s ban on online LGBTI content was lawful. This was first reported by GayStarNews.com.

In January, Fan Chunlin challenged China Netcasting Service Association’s (CNSA) June 2017 decision to label homosexuality “abnormal sexual behavior” and ban it from China’s internet. Fan filed a case with the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.

But in the last week of October, the court ruled against the 30-year-old Fan from Shanghai.
Banning LGBT-related content has been making news in China.

In July 2017, China also banned gay content from the internet, with the regulator calling it “abnormal”. As published by the China Netcasting Services Association, the regulation censors online content ranging from movies and documentaries to cartoons and educational videos. The new rules “will edit or ban content if it displays ‘abnormal sexual behaviors’.”

Along with LGBT content, also to be removed are those that promote ‘luxurious lifestyles’, show ‘violent and criminal processes in details’, or demonstrate ‘obscenity’ including masturbation.

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Health & Wellness

Trauma increases heart disease risk in lesbians, bi women

Women were 30% more likely to suffer from anxiety if they experienced any forms of adulthood trauma and 41% more likely to be depressed if they faced childhood trauma.

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Trauma, including abuse and neglect, is associated with higher cardiovascular disease risk for lesbian and bi women.

This is according to preliminary research presented in Chicago in the US, at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018, a global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. The research – led by researchers from the Columbia University – showed that sexual minority women with increased severity of childhood, adulthood or lifetime trauma had higher risk for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a perception of less social support.

For this, the researchers studied 547 sexual minority women. They measured three forms of childhood trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and parental neglect; three forms of adult trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence; and lifetime trauma, which was the sum of childhood and adulthood trauma. They analyzed how increasing trauma severity was associated with higher report of several cardiovascular risk factors.

They found that women were 30% more likely to suffer from anxiety if they experienced any forms of adulthood trauma and 41% more likely to be depressed if they faced childhood trauma.

Other findings included:

  • 22% more likely to be depressed if they had experienced more forms of lifetime trauma.
  • 44% more likely to report overeating in the past three months if they experienced increased forms of childhood trauma.
  • 58% more likely to have diabetes if they experienced increasing severity of childhood trauma, and lifetime trauma notably increased their risks of obesity and high blood pressure.
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These findings suggest healthcare providers should screen for trauma as a cardiovascular disease risk factor in this population, according to the researchers.

The results were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

The research was recognized as the “Cardiovascular Stroke Nursing Best Abstract Award.”

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Travel

Tanzania’s anti-gay initiatives worsening HIV situation

Key populations are particularly at risk of HIV infection. While national prevalence among adults in Tanzania is 4.5%, 17.6% of the country’s men who have sex with men are living with HIV.

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Identified as a major barrier to ending AIDS, homophobia, the irrational hatred, intolerance, and fear of LGBT people, is worsening the HIV situation in Tanzania.

On 31 October 2018, the Regional Commissioner for the capital city, Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced the creation of a task force to identify and arrest people suspected of being gay and he appealed to the public to identify and report them. This follows a broader pattern of arrests and state-sponsored harassment of LGBT Tanzanians that includes the forced closure of HIV clinics accused of promoting homosexuality. In the wake of this announcement, 10 people were unjustly arrested in Zanzibar on spurious charges.

These actions are contrary to Tanzania’s stated commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In its National Guideline for Comprehensive Package of HIV Interventions for Key Populations from 2014, the government declares: “To ensure an effective and sustainable response to HIV there is a need to reach out to KPs (key populations) with a comprehensive package of prevention, treatment, care, support interventions and other public health services.” It goes on to acknowledge: “Public discussion of MSM elicits strong reactions of fear, hatred and disgust. MSM and transgender people have remained largely invisible to many of the ongoing interventions for HIV prevention, treatment and care.”

Key populations are particularly at risk of HIV infection. While national prevalence among adults in Tanzania is 4.5%, 17.6% of the country’s men who have sex with men are living with HIV.

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On behalf of the International AIDS Society (IAS), the IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives expressed “grave concern regarding the reported anti-gay initiative underway in Tanzania.”

The IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives added: “Institutionalized discrimination, such as the public scapegoating now occurring in Tanzania, drives many people away from the services that can save their lives. The climate of fear created by such stigmatizing official actions undermines the ability of HIV programs to reach those in greatest need. Barring vulnerable communities from specialized services that play a critical role in linking them to essential HIV services leaves them with few options for accessing lifesaving and medications and information.”

Tanzania is said to have made some important gains in its response to HIV, with new infections dropping by 22% from 2010 to 2016 and AIDS-related deaths dropping by 54%. Indeed, its national guidelines – based on the principle that “services and programs implemented are non-stigmatizing, non-discriminatory, accessible, acceptable, affordable and equitable for all” and that “the legal, policy, and social environment [should] allow access by KP to available health services” – exemplify this capacity. The epidemic among key populations including gay men and other men who have sex with men, however, continues unabated.

“Now is the time for Tanzania’s government to take seriously its human rights-related responsibilities as stewards of the public health. As colleagues in the global HIV response, we call on Tanzania to end this initiative that threatens to hobble the national HIV response at a moment of such promise. We plead that our colleagues in Tanzania heed their own government’s advice – stated so clearly in its national guidelines – and commit to providing equitable, unobstructed access to high-quality, non-stigmatizing prevention, treatment and care services to all communities, including gay and other men who have sex with men,” IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives ended.

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