Category Archives: Blog

World No Tobacco Day- 2017

Every year, 31st May, is marked as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) by WHO, lay emphasis on the risks associated with tobacco use. According to WHO 2010 statistics, it was estimated that about 13% (approximately 111,856,400 persons) Of India’s population smoked out of which about 24% of were men and about 3% were women. The highest rate of smoking among men was seen in the age-group 40 – 54; and among women in the age-group 70+.

Majority of the smokers start out young. At such a tender age, one doesn’t think of health risk associated with it and generally smoke to fit in peer circle, family influences or to experiment. Some people start tobacco use because they believe that it helps them cope with stress, anxiety while others may do it because they feel smoking helps in weight loss.

The poisonous nicotine is the chief active ingredient in tobacco and is found in such items as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and cigars.  When a person smokes, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain. Initially, it improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite. However, regular doses of nicotine lead to changes in the brain chemistry, which can cause withdrawal symptoms when there is a decrease in the supply of nicotine. Smoking briefly reduces these withdrawal symptoms and this therefore reinforces the habit. Prolonged usage of tobacco contributes to damaged blood vessels, disturbs cholesterol levels and BP, and increases the risk of coronary heart diseases and respiratory diseases.

Not only does tobacco usage cause physical damage to our body but it also affects our mental health in several ways. Research confirms that smoking is directly proportional to levels of stress- with long exposure to nicotine, stress levels are likely to increase rather than decrease. Other consequences include instability, diminished cognitive intelligence, loss of memory and panic attacks affecting mental well being at work and home. Sudden episodes of sadness and mood swings can also be included.

Suggestions:

  • Since smoking affects physical and mental health in a serious manner it is advisable not to start smoking altogether.
  • If someone is experimenting they must try and quit as soon as possible as they will find it easier at this stage because nicotine has been rated as a very addictive substance.
  • Those who are regular smokers should plan to taper off tobacco gradually.
  • It’s best to avoid the company of smokers and situations that can act as triggers.
  • Develop alternative ways to keep mouth busy through chewing other things like chewing gum, fennel, cardamom etc.
  • Focusing on health can be a strong motivating factor to quit tobacco.
  • Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and mindfulness are of a great help.
  • It’s beneficial to seek professional help if you are unable to quit smoking on your own.

On this World No Tobacco Day let’s try to abstain from all forms of tobacco for healthy physical and mental being and a better environment.

World Autism Awareness Day

Autism spectrum disorder or autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social functioning, language and communication and unusual behaviours and interests. Autism is commonly understood as a neuro-biologically based lifelong developmental disability that is present in the first few years of life. Typically,  by the age of 2 ½ years odd behaviours are visible in most cases, however it may occur later in the childhood as well. Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning its symptoms, abilities and characteristics are expressed in many different combinations and in any degree of severity. Not only do children with autism vary in their cognitive, language and social abilities, they may also display features not common to autism.

 Unlike other children, children with autism have difficulty in forming loving relationships with others, expressing gestures to communicate their needs, little or no interest in sharing pride or pleasure. Autism is much more common than most people think. A recent study conducted by the Intervention Clinical Epidemiology Network Trust (ICENT) suggests that more than 100 million children in India i.e. 1 out of every 150 approx. children suffer from autism in India.

 Autism has a range in terms of the degree of the impairment. Sometimes autistic features range from mild to moderate and children may display average or above average intelligence in particular areas. If they receive adequate intervention in childhood, these children can lead a successful and meaningful life. A few researchers argue that, world famous personalities like Einstein and Mozart also displayed signs of autism and nonetheless have left their mark on the world! On the other end, children who exhibit moderate to severe impairments and deficits fall in the low functioning autism range. Such children need lifelong training and support.

Clinical Features:

  1. Marked impairment in reciprocal social and interpersonal interaction
  • Does not smile while acknowledging others.
  • Fails to imitate behaviours of others.
  • No social play and marked impairment in making friends
  • Lack of attachment to parents and lack of awareness of others’ existence
  • Absence of fear in dangerous situations
  1. Marked impairment in language and nonverbal communication
  • Lack of facial response to voices
  • Delayed speech and absence of communicative sounds like blabbing.
  1. Abnormal behavioural characteristics
  • Repetitive stereo typical behaviours such as head-banging, rocking, clapping
  • Attachment to inanimate objects e.g. blankets, toy
  • Fussy eating habits
  1. Learning Disabilities
  • Since some children with autism show intellectual, sensory, perceptual and cognitive impairments, there are chances that such children are likely to display symptoms of learning disabilities as well.
  1. Co morbid conditions
  • Sometimes autism can be accompanied by mental retardation, epilepsy, ADHD which can cause additional behavioural issues however these may occur separately also.

Treatment

Treatments for autism are directed at minimising the core problems of autism, maximising child’s independence and quality of life and helping the child and family cope more effectively with the disorder. Treatment may consist of different modes of intervention such as medication, behaviour therapy, parental counselling, speech and occupational therapy along with special education.  Assessing the inherent talents and with proper training in those areas, parents can see positive developments in these children.

Women’s Day

Celebrating Women’s Day

 

Nineteenth century marked the onset of International Women’s Day on 8th of March which was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975 to commemorate the social, cultural and political achievement of women and to bring about gender parity. Today we are in the 21st century and yet the markers of the movement remain underachieved globally.

Likewise, India has also witnessed a noteworthy change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about gender equality. However, amidst the modernity there are certain troubles that are still prevalent and being faced by women. A woman is central in her family and plays a significant role. Women of today are managing both family and workplace responsibilities which becomes difficult and stressful. Besides this, difficulties such as income disparity, eve teasing, harassment at workplace, domestic violence, lack of decision making powers are also experienced by them. Though conflicts, difficulties and problems are a part of every individual’s life but women tend to suffer more than men and the care and attention they get in return is less than expected. These life stressors take a toll on their physical and mental health leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression in women as compared to men, as researched by WHO. It is important to provide women with good facilities for improving their health for the benefit of functioning of healthy societies. Research has also shown that the societies where women are educated and empowered have greater economic growth, so providing positive, supportive and caring environment to them is good for the growth of better social systems.

For a progressive nation it is important for today’s women to be nurtured, educated about her rights and be fearless to voice her opinions. When women are empowered, it leads to a change in their perspective and behavior, which enhances their self esteem, self efficacy and improves problem solving and decision making skills and they provide better child rearing for next generation. The least we can do is give women a platform they deserve by being more supportive to utilize her potential, which in the longer run, will benefit the society as a whole.

On this Women’s day, we at Mindfirst would like to honor every Woman and salute her for her contribution in shaping the society.

 

 

 

Improve your child’s Emotional Quotient with a new program of Emotional Intelligence

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EQ shapes our interactions with others and improves our understanding of self. It allows us to set priorities for majority of our daily activities. Research suggests that EQ is responsible for 80% of success in our lives.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the capacity of an individual to recognize their own emotions, others’ emotions and handle interpersonal relationships with empathy and understanding to take responsible decisions for reaching goals of life for success and happiness.

Every child is unique with different levels of emotional and social abilities. Our Emotional Quotient (EQ) development program helps a child develop skills in order to enhance positive psychological health, job performance and leadership skills.

The basic components of the program are understanding and experiencing all emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, frustration, tension, anxiety etc., and developing skills to deal with these emotions to maximize performance. The program also helps a child develop skills for better attention & concentration, problem solving, decision making, good interpersonal relationships and building resilience to take on the challenges of life.

John Gottman quoted “In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.”
–From Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

A research study in the U.S. found that approximately 50% children enrolled in EQ development programs had better achievement scores than those who had not enrolled and it was also linked to better development. EQ programs increased school attendance and reduced discipline problems.


Result Anxiety

Anxiety, self doubt, panic and fear about the future are just some of the feelings that the students may go through in the next few days as they await for their board results.

Feeling anxious before the result of any performance is quite normal. It is probably related to their own expectations and those of people close to them. Just because they feel anxious doesn’t necessarily mean that they did poorly. In fact, even people who passed their exams with flying colours were equally anxious as they waited for their results.

Apart from the obvious fear of receiving results that are not what they or their parents expected, a lot of other factors are at play during this time e.g. fear of failure, result similar to your friends, to get admission in a particular course or institution.

However it is important to cope with this result related anxiety and manage their expectations accordingly. Even if they know that the exams didn’t go well, don’t forget that they have done all the hard work. Even if they don’t get the grades they want, there are other options.

It is important to help the student to realise his own expectations realistically. Dealing with their own or others unrealistic expectations can be very difficult to cope with. If the stress is the result of the unrealistic expectations of others, one needs to address this issue. Sit together and talk about it. Once this expectation is discussed and managed properly, it can be of huge relief. There are more than 800 career options available today. There is no reason to tread the conventional road. Grades are not a measure of self-worth.

Tips for Students:

  1. You might feel better if you try to think like an optimist, even if you’re not normally an optimistic person. There is nothing you can do about the grades at this point, so the best attitude might be to assume the best.
  2. Learn to recognize “negative self-talk” and combat it with positive, self-supportive statements such as “I have done my best”, “I’ll get good marks”.
  3. Learn and use relaxation techniques. Progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing and visualization can help you fight some of the physical responses to anxiety and stress.
  4. Get enough sleep and don’t stay up all night before results day, however nervous you are.
  5. One practical thing you can do is to have a plan B. Plan for what to do if you don’t get expected grades. There are options such as re-takes and going to a different university or course.
  6. Tell yourself that if it’s not gone well it’s not the end of the world. You can re-take to improve grades.
  7. Talking to your parents or a teacher about how you feel could really help. Your elders are there to support you and may not be aware of the pressures that you feel.
  8. Explore the career options available for you on the bases of different grades that you are expecting. Its better to go through some career decision making test to get an idea about the career that will be best for you according to your skills, abilities, interest and personality.

Tips for parents:

  1. Be alert for hidden signs of stress as young people don’t always show how much pressure they’re under. Watch for changes in behaviour.
  2. Go out to divert attention from impending results and tell your child that however they have done you are proud of them.
  3. Stay calm and be supportive. If you panic as a parent they will think there’s something to panic about.
  4. Whatever you feel, don’t show it so they can rely on you to help them through a stressful time.
  5. Tell your child “Nothing is forever. This has happened, now let’s see what we can do.”
  6. It can be helpful to seek the assistance of a counsellor, therapist, or psychologist who can help you and your child to deal with the emotional components of the result related anxiety.

Career Decision Making

Most people spend much more time deciding which car to buy than choosing a career. Why do they spend so little time on such an important task? Because career decision-making is hard work!

Perhaps people avoid thinking about this decision for other reasons. They might feel that the start of their career is far in the future. Maybe they have bypassed the process and are pursuing a career that fulfils family expectations. Perhaps they assume that they will be happy working in a well-known field like teaching, engineering, or medicine and see no reason to research other possible occupations. Or perhaps they just don’t know how the decision-making process works or where to begin.

Delay in the decision-making process and you may find yourself:

  • In a career that doesn’t fit with your values, interests, personal attributes, and skills
  • Completing a degree that you have no interest in
  • Feeling your work lacks meaning or challenge
  • Suffering from boredom or burnout
  • Feeling caught between life and work values

 Thoughtful decision-making paves the way to a satisfying career choice. The more focused you are, the less onerous the process will be. The decision-making process can be used for making many types of career-related choices, including:

  • Which training/educational program to pursue
  • Which occupational field to enter
  • Which paid/volunteer experience would be most satisfying
  • Whether to change occupations and/or fields
  • Whether to start a small business

 The five steps to career decision-making are:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Make an initial decision
  3. Set a goal
  4. Develop an action plan
  5. Take action

Career decision-making can be complicated and overwhelming for both students and advisors.

The problem of choosing, preparing and entering into careers have existed since the dawn of Civilization. The process of vocational development denoting psychological, sociological, cultural and economic ingredients across time results in outcomes which are effective in vocational behaviour, decision-making ability and vocational maturity. Just as physical and intellectual development can be stunted, if appropriate interventions are not applied, similarly the normal developmental process of vocational development can be stunted, if appropriate interventions are not available in planned and systematic manner.

There are specific skills that should be constructed and maintained throughout the life span in order to deal with career choice and management tasks at any given point in time. A set of skills need to be developed include: knowledge of self-attributes (e.g., interests, skills/abilities, and work-related values), a well-defined self-concept, broad knowledge of the world of work, detailed knowledge and reality testing of occupations under consideration, awareness of the need to plan ahead, decision-making skill, knowledge and use of appropriate resources for career decision making. This set of skills, indicative of career maturity is used in making career choices in this changeable 21st century work environment.

Career maturity refers to a person’s ability to make career decisions that reflect decisiveness, self-reliance, independence, and willingness to compromise between personal needs and the requirements of one’s career situation. Moreover, it is not uncommon to find that students choose subjects of study, which have little relationship with their vocational goals, with the result, that many people get a traumatic shock when they find that they have not prepared themselves for the career, which they wanted to enter. Often the mistake is realized too late in life.

An organized programme of Career guidance assists students in taking decisions wisely and realistically. Career Guidance may be seen as a process of helping a person to develop and accept an integrated and adequate picture of himself, and of his role in the world of work to test this concept against reality and to convert it into a reality with satisfaction to him and benefit to society.

There are three key requirements of career deciders: self-knowledge, knowledge of work opportunities and conditions, and the ability to combine rationally the two sets of information.

Career Decision Making System (CDM) is an assessment tool by Harrington & O’Shea (revised 2000) based on Holland’s (1983) theory of vocational development, which proposes career interest in concurrence with the personality types of an individual. CDM is an online assessment tool that helps students match their values, interest and abilities with the potential career choices.

CDM has been successfully used by millions of students, individual job seekers and jobholders undergoing a transition to consider career choices and shifting options. The Career Decision Making System (CDM) help students to choose education streams suited to their career choices.

CDM is being offered by Pearson Clinical & Talent Assessment (PCTA)’s training division, Pearson Academy India (PAI) and is a combination of assessment with CDM followed by post-assessment counseling with the student.

The world is now a global village, with global occupations coming to India and Indians increasingly working outside the country in professions not known to previous generations. CDM lets students align their career aspirations to such global occupations. CDM, unlike conventional career guidance tools that tend to offer guidance based on measurement of ability and aptitude, CDM lets students self-assess their interests, abilities and work values, to offer career interest areas students can use to guide their career decision. Choosing careers or further education linked to students’ interests, abilities and values leads to more satisfaction throughout their career.

Using CDM at school can help students look beyond the Engineer-Doctor continuum, and at careers they really want to pursue, are able to pursue and that align to their future work values. CDM opens students’ worlds to endless career opportunities they didn’t even know existed.

CDM is built to help students and career changers

  • Identify occupational interests
  • Match interests to career options
  • Focus on opportunities that match abilities and work values

 CDM is a quick online test that can be completed in less than 30 minutes!

We are pleased to announce that Mindfirst is Pearson Academy India’s Authorized Training Centre in, Punjab. Mindfirst provides coaching, counselling and therapy services to promote psychological health and well being of children, adolescents and adults. Mindfirst will offer career-counselling services to students across Punjab, using CDM. Each assessment with CDM is followed by a comprehensive counselling session by a Pearson trained counsellor, so that the student is able to clearly understand the test report and is aided in making an appropriate career decision. Students will be able to take CDM online at the Mindfirst centre. Mindfirst will also provide schools with the option of administering the CDM on the school premise, with the post assessment counselling at the school or at the Mindfirst centre.

“World Autism Awareness Day”

“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we can teach the way they learn”

Today, April 2 is celebrated as World Autism Awareness Day. Around the world autism organizations celebrate to raise awareness for the cause.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Autistic children most of the time have normal intellgence but have difference in expression and it is possible to find the best attributes in these children to make them deal with the world in the better way.

We at Mindfirst do our bit by providing psychological assessment and counselling services for people with autism,  their families, teachers and other significant adults who can help these children reach their full potential.

Positive Discipline

Mind First, an organisation of psychologists, which focuses on Maximizing Potential of children and adults, conducted a workshop on Positive Discipline during its first anniversary celebrations. This daylong workshop was conducted at a school of YS Group, Barnala with the teachers on 23rd Sep 2014 by Dr. (Mrs.) Ravinder Kala & her team of psychologists from Mind First.

Discussing about this workshop Dr. (Mrs.) Ravinder Kala, Director Mind First said that there was an urgent need for parents and teachers to become aware of Positive Discipline to help our children get focused on goals of life and develop Emotional Intelligence to navigate through the challenges of their life. The techniques of Positive Discipline can help parents & teachers deal with the difficulties of developing educational foundation & fundamentals of life skills & social skills without punishing the children.

The ingredients of Positive Discipline help the adults in establishing clear boundaries, noticing & rewarding positive behaviour and developing fair & pre-discussed consequences of negative behaviour. The approach has to be kind & firm & consistent.

Negative discipline focuses on wrong behaviour, controlling the child to be fearful of adults is unfair, harsh, inconsistent & is based on punishment. Negative discipline makes children anxious, fearful, non-communicative, even angry and resentful. The other extreme of overindulgent soft approach makes children oversensitive, demanding and disrespectful.

Positive Discipline leads to decreased emotional trauma, increased self-esteem & confidence, decreased drug abuse & unhealthy behaviours, better academics & better communication.

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According to Mr Varun Bharti, Director, YS Group of Institutes-

“In an environment of Creativity, Competition and Cooperation, word “Discipline” needs to be replaced with “Positive Discipline”, especially in Schools, as Schools are not only to groom students for the present but also need to prepare students for the future thus arises need to focus on 21st Century Tools and Skills. Keeping same in mind, YS Group arranged “Workshop on Positive Discipline”, conducted by Dr. (Mrs.) Ravinder Kala, from Mind First Group, a renowned speaker and a person whose knowledge and understanding is beyond excellence. This Workshop has proved to be the first step towards developing positive relationship among teachers and students and of immense value in understanding concept of “Emotional Intelligence” and “Positive Discipline”. I recommend all Schools to go for such Faculty Development Programs so as to move towards better and newer horizons in the field of Education.”

Alcohol Addiction

How to Overcome Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Have your regular drinking habit turned up into an ardent addiction? Are you not able to control it in any way? Then you must see a life coaching counselor before your habit takes an ugly yet disastrous turn. The new era medical technology, integrated social communities and psychological counselors make the quitting job easier for the addicts. Alcohol and drug abuse leads to hyper deterioration of health to an imaginable height. Here are a few tips and strategies one can follow to head high on the path to sobriety.

Alcohol Addiction•    Seek Assistance of Physicians/Counselors
Counselors are the best guide who aware you about the deadly outcomes of regular drinking and drug abuse. Symptoms such as panic attacks, shakes, shivering, racing heart beats, severe anxiety call for an immediate medical help.

•    Change In Attitude
Do remember that you’re never forced to give up your friend who supported you well in every situation. Instead, you’re finally getting away from enemy. Brings in a positive attitude what makes quitting easy and quick.

•    Value Your Feelings
Cry when you need it. Laugh when you feel it. Eat when you sense hungry. Sleep when you are exhausted. Initially, you’ll find it weird but gradually you will adapt it. It might take some time to quit as you haven’t felt your feelings since long.

•    Quit that company or situations what drags you towards Drinking
As per the old saying of “Playgrounds and Playmates” – choose yours accordingly. You may need to calls it quit with some old drinking buddies and drinking occasions.

•    Adopt the psychological benefits of sobriety
Embrace the benefits of psychological sobriety. It infuses you with deep refreshment. You feel much lighter and brighter in your daily routines. You become active, smart and vigorous. Embrace how good it feels and love yourself for the dramatic change you brought in.

MindFirst helps you to quit alcohol and drugs. The counseling, therapies, workshops and corporate coaching at the centre helps you to overcome alcohol and drug abuse.