Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mood and the Weather

How is it that a person's mood can sometimes be dominated by the weather?

It seems that if there is an abundance of rain and we are all quarantined to inside activities our moods can change. When its raining we wake up when it is dark out, get wet when we go outside, require extra paraphernalia like raincoats, boots, and umbrella's. Often we have little desire to go do a Fred Astaire move like "Singing in the Rain", so we just do our necessary activities and try to get back home as soon as humanly possible. There are some people that when it rains out find it difficult to get out of bed. Their room is dark, the bed is dry and seemingly extra comfortable and cozy and the last thing that is on the forefront of any one's mind is to get out and face the rain.

There are people that do love the rain and welcome it with open arms. Rain is a necessary part of nature's process and we don't want the opposite affect of a drought so all our crops and flowers dry up. Our rivers, reservoirs, grass, trees, and animals need rain My point is that when it does rain several days in a row it can some how alter our moods, but it is required necessity of life.

I find that snow storms are similar to rain, but they do seem a little more exciting and are an overall brighter experience. When it snows children get excited that they may be missing school, people get anxious that they have to shovel and travel in the snow, and the snow plower people get happy knowing that they will be earning overtime during their seasonal profession. There are a lot of positive experiences that come out of snow. It is pretty, you get to build a snowman, go sledding, skiing, and get additional exercise from shoveling. Unless it is a massive snow storm where the sky gets dark, snow seems to make everything pretty around us and lights up the outside. It seems that the snow has a more encouraging effect emotionally on people's mood, at least temporarily until it becomes a nuisance.

In those areas where there are seasonal changes, after combating a long and difficult winters it is welcoming to have our first nice beautiful day of weather with the sun shining, getting to open the winds and get fresh air, and even taking a walk so that sunglasses are required. Those first several days when the weather is good after a dreary winter seems to brighten out moods, re energize us about good things to come and allows us to think more positively about doing outside activities.

When the weather is good and warmer we get to wear lighter clothing (which doesn't weight us down), drive around with windows and tops down,and it prompts us to exercise outside like ride bikes/roller skate/go for walks. Even just sitting outside in the sun seems to readjust our moods and inspires us to want to do positive things in our lives even if it is as small as a smile.

There are mental health diagnosis that are impacted by the weather called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but typically people who suffer with this problem have to experience symptoms for at least 2yrs before they are classified. These people who experience the "Winter Blues" seem to have their moods altered significantly from the weather and suffer with depressive like symptoms during the winter months, but then their moods improve during the changing of the seasons.

My point is in talking about the weather and moods is just to raise am overall awareness about how something that may seem insignificant can greatly impact on how he function on a daily basis. If you noticed that you are more sluggish or melancholy then usual during those winter months try to inspire yourself to get out of the bed, out of the house to do something to recharge your energy level like going for a walk, working out at the gym, or going to visit a friend. Physical activities can be stimulating just like a sunny day. It is important to remember that as life changes, so do the seasons and we will once again welcome those beautiful spring days soon.

The weather can impact a mood but not guide it on a regular and routine basis. If you think you may suffer with a mood disorder, possibly during the winter months, you should go to a mental health specialist for a consultation and evaluation.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Text Messaging, Emails, or Telephone Calls?

What is the best mode of communicating using a device?

In this era of technology we have the opportunity to speak with our family, friends and colleagues in different forms of communication. Years ago people would send mail through the postal service to inform others about how they are doing, what is the latest things happening in their lives, and to express their feelings. Then came along the telephone which became and instantaneous way to have direct contact with someone. How easy was it just to dial and number and to have people on the phone right away? You probably remember the lyrics, "I just called to say I love you". The telephone became such an effective way to stay touch with someone, do business, and gather information. Then the answering machine was made and if the person you were trying to reach was not home you had a way to leave a message. The answering machine allowed people to leave messages whom you wanted to talk to and those you didn't. Oh, then of course we had to check the machine and return the calls. People would become offended if someone didn't call back right away.

Before long the computer came out and someone thought about a form of communication through something called the Internet which later became referred to as emailing. How nice was that to be able to send a letter to a person and they would have it almost right away? The scary thing about the emailing was that it gave a person incredible power to share their immediate feelings with someone without first taking the time to think things out. I know of many fights that were created because someone wrote down their feelings to someone impulsively without taking the time out to think the situation through. Have you ever wondered after you sent an email if you could take back what you sent before the other person read it?

Then there was Instant Messaging which was like being on the telephone but you were on a computer and you could have a conversation right away. The dialogue was immediate and you could be multitasking while you were having one of these instant messages. All I coult think about was how convienent.

Somewhere in between the computer and instant messaging was when the mobile phone was born. Now a person could go anywhere and talk on the telephone. At first, cellular phones were expensive and only the affluent could afford it. But just like any other form of economics when something becomes popular, supply and demand, the cost goes down. Soon everyone was getting a cell phone including kids.

The Internet brought spontaneity to a whole new level or at least I thought until text messaging was created. Which leads me to my most biggest concern, text messaging. If all these other modes of communication weren't enough there became a way to talk to someone instantly by telephone,, but you didn't have to actually speak to them directly. To be able to write something out in 170 characters or less was unbelievable and have someone read it right away, now that is awesome. People have been doing so much text messaging that carpel tunnel syndrome is making a comeback. I think there should be a competition made by how some people can text message so fast. There are even fancier phones available that have all different forms of communication accessible on one device. Where has our lives been going that we have went from face to face contact to typing a message and sending it through a telephone?

Talk about impersonal, how are messages received through a texting? Voice intonation, sarcasm, humor, anger is all so hard to read and translate with just a small text messaging note. I know it is easy to do to send a quick message to let someone know you are thinking about them. Texting may be in a long run a great way of staying in touch with others, but there are still so many unanswered questions about texting. Like what is the proper texting etiquette for responding back? What happens if someone doesn't contact you right away, did they get the text, was it lost in translation, maybe the person is busy or they just don't know what to say as a response. Do you send a second text message to make sure the first one was received or do you have to make an actual phone call now?

Due to breakdowns in communication over texting, I have heard people have done some quite ironic things like ending a relationship, arguements have began, or reputations have been hindered. What is wrong with just picking up the phone and calling someone? Is it that painful to actually talk on the telephone for a few minutes? I know all those questions people ask when speaking on the phone is difficult to manage, writing a message seems much easier.

My point in talking about texting, emails and phone calls is that although some forms of communication are easy to do and we can get a lot accomplished with these devices like texting and emails, it isn't always the best way. Rather than thinking about what is the quickest way to contact someone, take the time out if it is important to talk to that person on the phone or face to face. Believe it or not, I think the old fashion way to communicate is the most sentimental, expressive and special way to let someone know effectively how you truly feel and where you stand. We sometimes choose these other modes of contacting people because it is impersonal and it allows us to be disconnected with others.

Life is about a balance and all the things we do should be in moderation including how we communicate using our devices. Having an awareness about ourselves is very empowering.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Good Communication

It is important to maintain good communication in all facets of life be it at home, school, work and amongst people you encounter everyday. If you want to get your needs met you have to clearly express in a palatable way what it is you are striving to do in your life. Communication involves listening, observing, clarifying, paraphrasing, discussing, analyzing and evaluating. Sometimes the direct approach is effective where you ask specifically what you want in a cordial and pleasant way. Then there is the indirect approach where you set a foundation of what your situation is, explain the circumstances that effects your position, and discuss the actions you need to take in order to rectify your current status.

There is verbal communication when you express your needs and concerns to your parents, children, significant other, friend, teacher, colleague or boss. Then there is nonverbal communication when your actions dictate how you are feeling through your body language and reactions to circumstances. By explaining things in a calm tone of voice, maintaining good eye contact, and having a pleasant disposition helps to engage the one you are sending this message to. When a person gets upset, starts to yell, cry and/or gets assaultive verbally/physically the reciever of the the information shuts down and the message is lost. The most obvious thing that stands out to someone when you are acting irrationally is that a situation is making you upset and that they just want you to calm down. Sometimes people can say things to trigger more hysteria, rather than to try and appease you about the pending circumstance at hand.

It is important to communicate your feelings, issues and concerns to those that are close to you so that you can determine if you are in fact thinking accurately or maybe you are blowing things out of proportion. A peer, mentor, parent, or mental health professional can help you to become more grounded about your issues at hand so that you can effectively pursue how to make action happen. So discuss your issues at hand and encourage those closest to you to provide feedback about how you are thinking about a situation.

Children seem to tell things like it is and are unfamiliar with how to sugar coat a position. They tend to be very raw in their feelings, when they are able to express them, so that they can get their needs met. I have heard kids say "that person is fat, why does she have a mustache, or that person is ugly". As we grow older, some of us become more aware that the things we say can hurt others and that we have to express feelings and concerns in a more diplomatic fashion. For instance when you are concerned about someones weight you may say "you know I am concerned about your eating habits and your physical condition have you been exercising lately"? Or if you want to talk about your own issues and someone made you upset you may say "you know it hurt my feelings and made me upset you did so and so". This way you are expressing things instead of letting them fester and turn into a bigger problem later on. I think some people obsess about issues rather than just doing identification, clarification, and problem solving into how to resolve a situation.

Everyone needs to take time out in their household (personal lives) and at work/school/community (professional lives) to communicate feelings and share concerns with one and other. We are all role models to our children, family, friends and colleagues when we communicate. By promoting open communication, it allows people to feel comfortable to share what is going on inside so that they can be more productive in everyday life. If we all take the time to communicate with each other on a daily basis our lives would be more harmonious.

What do you think is the most effective ways to communicate your issues? Is it helpful to talk about it through or writing it out? Where have you encountered issues with communicating? How have you overcome obstacles in your communication skills?