Category: coping skills

50 HOBBY IDEAS

If you’re always the one  taking care of responsibilities, taking care of others and doing everything for everyone else, you really need to do something just for you. Doing something for yourself is not selfish, it’s practicing self-care.

Self-care is supposed to be a relaxing and fun activity, just for you. A great way to practice self-care is by engaging in a hobby. A hobby should not be work related or something that is asked of you.

Here is  a list of hobby ideas to get you started.

  1. Making music
  2. Playing an instrument
  3. Dancing
  4. Running
  5. Going for walks
  6. Yoga
  7. Meditation
  8. Hiking
  9. Biking
  10. Surfing
  11. Camping
  12. Being part of a sport team
  13. Fantasy Sports
  14. Crafts
  15. Scrapbooking
  16. Making jewelry
  17. Fashion
  18. Making candles
  19. Knitting
  20. Painting
  21. Drawing
  22. Reading
  23. Start or join a Book Club
  24. Learning
  25. Writing
  26. Practice Calligraphy
  27. Photography
  28. Cooking/Baking
  29. Barbecuing
  30. Brain games
  31. Word searches
  32. Crossword puzzles
  33. Model cars/planes, etc.
  34. Woodworking/Metalworking
  35. Fishing
  36. Boating
  37. Gardening
  38. Doing nails, hair styles and makeup for fun
  39. Playing games
  40. Working on cars
  41. Going for scenic long drives
  42. Going to poetry readings
  43. Star gazing
  44. Collecting things (coins, antiques, comic books, autographs, souvenirs, etc.)
  45. Theater
  46. Podcasting/online radio show
  47. Building computers/Electronics
  48. Graphic designing
  49. Watching movies
  50. Give things just laying around in the house new life. Such as remodeling a coffee table or dresser.

Try practicing at least one activity every day. BONUS (Although hobbies are for relaxing, you can actually make side money doing a lot of these activities)

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

 

 

 

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6 Stretches to Relieve Stress and Tension

If you’re not motivated enough to exercise I have good news. You can do several moves right from your chair, bed, and even your car when you’re at a red light.

It won’t have the same effects as exercise does, but stretching does help with relieving stress. Stretching gets the blood flowing, so it improves circulation and relieves muscle tension. Combine stretching with deep breathing and you’ll notice that it could also help to release mental, emotional, and psychological stress. Here are some simple but effective moves to try.

 

Grab one hand with the other, take a deep breath in, and lift your arms as high as you could. When you feel the stretch down your arms, hold it there for at least 10 seconds. Try to reach as high as you could. Breath out slowly. You can do this while sitting or standing  up. Like this lady…

stretching up

Take a deep breath in. Stretch out your arms as if your making a “T” or trying to tell someone how long something is. Stretch it as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your chest. Breath out slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

stretch T

Sit up straight. Keeping your body straight, take a deep breath in,  try looking down until your chin touches you chest. Breath out slowly. You should feel your neck and shoulders stretching. Now do the opposite and look all the way up by only moving your neck. Now move your head so the your right ear almost touches your right shoulder. Do the same on your left ear and left shoulder.

worry

While sitting on your bed or couch, sit up straight, take a deep breath in and reach to touch your toes. Breath out. You’ll feel the back of your legs and your back stretching.

reaching for toes

While sitting down. Place your left leg over right right leg where the left ankle is touching the right knee. Usually how a lot of men sit. With your hands hold your left knee and ankle. Keeping your back straight, take a deep breath in, and try leaning forward as far as you can. You will feel your hip stretching. Now repeat on the other side.

hip stretch

Stand up straight with legs shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath in. Pretend you’re going to sit down. Hold your body in a squat position. Breath out slowly. Hold it for as long as you can.

squat

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

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Simple Activities To Boost “Happiness Chemicals”

How we feel in life basically has to do with our  “brain chemicals” These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Although we don’t have a way to measure how much you have when giving diagnosis, scientist do know that certain chemicals create specific feelings. Sadness, anxiety, excitement…all these feelings are produced by neurotransmitters.

How much or how little of these chemicals are produced depends on a lot of different things. Genetics, environment, past experiences, and diet to name a few.

The good news is that we can do things, on purpose, to help our body out in creating some of these chemicals. Try to do at least one of the following suggestions, everyday.

Eat organic yogurt. We’re talking about “brain chemicals” but the truth is that most of these hormones are in the lining of our stomach. The health of our stomach greatly affects our mood. Think about it. When you have  a “bad” feeling, or feel nervous, what part of your body do you feel it most? It’s usually the stomach.

Probiotics and prebiotics help keep our gut healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber to keep your gut healthy.

Give or get a hug. When you give a long hug to someone that you really care about, and you get that warm loving feeling, the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. Basically, physically intimate moments releases this hormone. This chemical calms down the amygdala, the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when we think we’re in danger. Oxytocin has been called the “bonding hormone”  or “love hormone” because it makes you feel closer to people.

For women, oxytocin helps in contractions when giving birth and it’s released during breast feeding.

Shock yourself with cold water. Either splash your face with cold water if you’re at school or work, or turn the water to cold at the end of your shower. The cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve that goes from our head all the way down to the gut. It helps regulate a bunch of bodily functions like the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, and other organs of the chest and abdomen.

Reminisce about happy times. Remembering happy memories helps increase serotonin. Serotonin does a bunch of things like helping neurons communicate with each other, improve memory, and most popularly known for increasing our mood. Anti-depressants (SSRI, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) is supposed to help our brain “lock in” the serotonin that we already have by preventing it from “fading away” (This is my explanation of it, not the scientific explanation.)

Watch a comedy. There’s a reason for the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. I completely agree with this. When we laugh we release several hormones responsible for releasing stress and tension and making us feel good, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.

Create small, challenging goals for yourself. Remember when you finished up a presentation you worked hard to prepare for, graduated from school after all those years, or completed a challenge you set for yourself? That small rush of pleasure was your brain releasing dopamine, the chemical responsible for reward and pleasure.

Try setting goals that challenge you in some way. It could be something as simple as cleaning up a messy room, or bigger goals like getting a new job, or getting fit.

Write down how you feel. Writing doesn’t necessarily release hormones, but it does calm down the mind. You could journal, or write short stories. A study done at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that writing calms down amygdala activity. As I said before, the amygdala is the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when it thinks we’re in danger. Our brain can’t tell if something is real or you’re imagining it. That’s why just thinking about certain things will cause you to feel stressed and activates the amygdala.

None of us can feel happy all of the time. But staying positive and healthy will help you feel more satisfied with your life. And when you feel satisfied with your life, everyone around you benefits.

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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

 

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Simple Ways To Exercise Without Going To The Gym.

We all hear about how good exercise is. It not only takes care of you physically but socially and emotionally. But how can we find the time to exercise when we’re so busy? The good news is you do not have to join a gym to get a good work out. You just have to get your body moving and raise your heart rate.
Here are some fun and simple ways to fit in exercise into your daily routine in order to improve your mood. Of course make sure you’re healthy enough to do some of these.

  1. While watching TV, hold a plank for 30 seconds.
  2. Since you’re already on the floor, do 10 push-ups.
  3. Try to always take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Go on YouTube and look for a workout routine that’s less than 10 minutes, then follow along.
  5. Stretch your body as soon as you wake up and before going to bed.
  6. Follow a Yoga Video.
  7. Go for a 20 minute walk in your neighborhood.
  8. If it’s too cold or your neighborhood is not good for walking, walk around the mall. (Don’t shop, just walk around the mall as if you were running late)
  9. Park far away on purpose.
  10. Play. Tennis, racket ball, basketball, baseball, swimming, wii fit, xbox Kinect games, etc.
  11. Download a pedometer app on your phone to keep track of how many steps you take a day. Try to go for 3500 steps a day. Fitbit does this already.
  12. Dance!
  13. Play in the snow. Have a snow ball fight.
  14. Lift Dumbbells. No Dumbbells? Lift cans of beans or half gallon of milk.
  15. Rough house with kids and/or partner.

Try to do at least 2 of these suggestions every day. Have fun with it and you’re more likely to do them.

About the Author.
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

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25 Coping Skills

Here’s a list of coping skills to try when you’re feeling really stressed out, worried or depressed. Try to do at least 2 things on this list every single day.

  1. Talk to one person about your feelings. Supportive friend, family or therapist.
  2. Have a “lazy” day or hour where you do NOTHING.
  3. Go for a walk in nature or a quiet environment.
  4. Help someone out by volunteering somewhere or help someone who you know needs help.
  5. Do a random act of kindness, on purpose.
  6.  Write out what you’re thinking as if you’re talking to someone. Then destroy it.
  7. If you don’t like writing, record yourself instead. Like a video diary.
  8. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for and write at least 3 sentences of why you’re grateful for that thing. Think bigger than your life, like being grateful for having the sight to read these words, or that your family does not do arranged marriages.
  9. Color/paint/draw/doodle.
  10. Listen to music.
  11. Create play lists for different moods.
  12. Take a bubble bath.
  13. Take a hot shower. Before turning off the water, turn the water as cold as you can stand.
  14. Clean/organize your environment; room, house, desk, etc.
  15. Play/cuddle with a pet.
  16. Search “guided mediation” on YouTube and listen to one.
  17. Watch a funny movie or video.
  18. Create a vision board with pictures of things that you would like to do and have.
  19. Play games. Video games, board games, or games on your phone.
  20. Take a nap or just make sure you get enough rest.
  21. Read something that makes you feel good.
  22. Pamper yourself, like doing your hair or painting your nails.
  23. Watch your favorite movie or TV show.
  24. Write down or think about 5 good things you have going for yourself. For example, if you hate your job, at least you have a job. If you don’t have one, think about your strengths that will get you one, such as being responsible or being a hard worker.
  25. Create and stick to a daily schedule. Scheduling out your day will give you a routine and a sense of accomplishment.

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in  Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

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