Signs That You May Be Experiencing Depression

 

 

It is normal to be sad on the occasion, but it is not healthy you find yourself in this state day after day. However, millions of people do find themselves in the grip of sadness and when this is a common part of your life, it is known as depression.

Have you been feeling quite down lately? You might have depression. If you exhibit any of the following signs, make an appointment with a therapist to talk about your situation.

Loss of Interest

Do you have hobbies or other pursuits that usually bring you joy in life, but they are of less and less interest to you?

Loss of Energy

Are you normally a person with a lot of get up and go, but lately, you have been feeling tired and unmotivated? Are you sleeping more or suffering a loss of energy from an inability to get a good night’s sleep?

Extreme Anger

Do you find yourself getting mad over things that would normally not bother you? Or are you getting excessively angry over situations that would usually only cause mild annoyance?

Worry and Anxiety

It is normal to have some degree of worry and anxiety in our lives, but do you find yourself constantly getting worried about what could happen in the future? Do you obsess over past mistakes?

Relying on Distractions

There is nothing wrong with having an occasional drink, but excessive amounts of alcohol are signs of a problem or an attempt to avoid coping with one. Drug use can also indicate a desperate need to escape from reality.

Do not feel ashamed if you have identified any of the above behaviors as something you are currently doing. There should never be any shame associated with mental health challenges and don’t forget that you are not alone in this struggle. Good luck!

 

How to Help Your Children Become Better Writers

Some people are born with a love of writing and language, while others develop those through practice and feedback. If your child gravitates towards English and displays a natural interest in writing, that is a wonderful asset. Even if they don’t pursue writing as a career, a solid grasp of language will benefit them in almost any vocation and give them a real edge over the competition. People may be proficient with a computer, but that doesn’t automatically mean they know how to write. In fact, increasingly these days, it is often just the opposite.

If your child is struggling with their language studies, don’t worry, there is still hope. In addition to tutoring, here are some things you can do on your end to help them become better writers:

Make Writing a Family Activity

Children consider homework to be a burden, but if you can make writing into something everyone does, then that can help to lift the curse. In addition to helping them with their writing, demonstrate that writing is something that you like to do yourself. If a child sees you writing on a regular basis, that can raise their curiosity and make them more interested in learning how to do what their parents enjoy.

Be Helpful and Encouraging

These go without saying when working with your children, but are particularly useful with writing. Even if the child’s work has notable problems, point out the positive aspects and then offer constructive criticism on how the rest could be better.

Writing Activities

Children won’t be interested in writing if their work only consists of school assignments. Encourage them to write letters or birthday cards to family members and friends, party invitations for their friends, writing lists, etc. Making writing both fun and second nature will help to cultivate a love for it.

What You Need for a Picnic at the Beach

Picnics are an age-old family tradition. It can be quite relaxing and enjoyable to eat outdoors, and a picnic is a great way to bring friends and family together.

People often have picnics in parks, but you can also enjoy them at the beach (another bonus for this location: far less chance of being invaded by ants!). Sounds like a great idea? Here are some tips on what you will need:

Avoid Foods That Can Spoil in the Heat

A quick rule of thumb here: avoid bringing anything that needs refrigeration at all times. You can always put these in a cooler, however.

Bring Fun Foods

Eating healthy is important, but doing so all of the time can be a drag. Picnics are meant to be fun occasions, so be sure to bring some chips, cheezies, and chocolate to help balance off the healthier items. It can’t hurt to break the rules once in a while, especially if you have kids with you.

Prepare for Sun Exposure

You will be out of doors for sometime, so make sure that everyone has a hat and sunscreen. An outdoor umbrella will also help to cut down on the excess UV rays and assist in keeping everyone comfortable.

Bring Water

Nothing wrong with bringing a variety of beverages, but make sure you also include water to help keep everyone properly hydrated. For extra coolness, you can freeze the bottles of water before you leave.

Utensils

Unless you are only bringing food that can be eaten by hand, make sure you have all of the utensils you will need. That includes extras, like bottle openers and a hand-operated can opener. Include some napkins and wet naps as well.

Be sure to also bring along a frisbee, football, or something else you can easily have fun with after your feast. Enjoy!

VPNs Increasingly Under Fire

You may have heard about how some people have gotten into trouble for downloading illegal copies of movies and TV shows. This happened because, while they were doing it, their internet address was visible to the copyright holders, who then took action. Essentially, it is like someone going in to rob a bank without covering their face: they’re pretty easy to identify as a result.

However, just as a bank robber can always put a ski mask on, internet users interested in stealing content have a way of disguising themselves. VPNs (or Video Private Networks) are a subscription service that allows users to hide their internet address by offering alternatives, some even in other countries. Thus, let’s say you are in Buffalo, New York and download an episode of GAME OF THRONES. If you are using a VPN at the time, the copyright police acting on HBO’s behalf might actually see an address leading them to Oslo, Norway, Toronto, Ontario, London, England…essentially anywhere but Buffalo.

Subscribers also have the option of choosing the country for their address. Ever try to watch a clip from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE only to receive a notice saying that it is not available in your country? No problem, just switch your VPN to an American internet address and you will be enjoying Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonation in no time.

In addition to angering copyright holders, VPNs are thorns in the side of authoritarian countries like China and Russia. Both of those nations have a large list of internet sites they do not want their citizens to see, so people there have been using a VPN to access them. However, that is no longer possible in China and will become illegal in Russia on November 1st.

Have you ever used a VPN to access content? What is your take? Is this a freedom that all internet users should have? Let us know in the comments!

Transgender People in the Military

U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that transgender people would be banned from serving in the American military in any capacity. This comes as a stark contrast to his earlier statements that he would be a staunch ally for the LGBTQ community.

Of course, Donald Trump lies almost as often as he breathes, so this latest affront seems to be yet another desperate bid to maintain popularity with his base. Trump knows all too well that once that percentage of the Republican voter base deserts him, the party will throw him under the bus and start impeachment proceedings. It’s just a shame that transgender people have been demonized yet again.

The Canadian military has already extended an invitation to American transgender soldiers to come and serve up north. If these individuals would like to serve elsewhere, they actually have a number of options as several other countries allow transgender people to serve.

The Netherlands was the first to change their rules in 1974, followed by Sweden two years later, and Denmark and Norway two years after that. No more countries followed suit until the early ’90s, with Australia and Canada in 1992, and Israel in 1993. The Czech Republic followed their lead in 1999. The UK, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland (all 2000), Belgium (2003), Austria (2004), Spain, Thailand (2005; the latter in administrative positions only), and Bolivia (2010) round out the list to date.

There has already been backlash in the U.S., not to mention the world, to this stupidity. The White House is now saying it has not decided on how to implement the policy change. This leads one to hope that this is just another of Trump’s pathetic distractions and will not come to pass. However, it is important to remain vigilant in the face of such of government-sanctioned discrimination as we have likely not seen the last of it.

Murder In Your Hometown

One of the things I love about Guelph is the safety. While it’s true that the city does have a meth problem, it remains a place where I feel comfortable more often than not. However, I was a bit unsettled to learn that a murder had taken place in Guelph this week.

While unquestionably a tragedy, it is one that we should not blow out of proportion. We are more than halfway through 2017 and this is the first (and hopefully, only) murder of the year.

How one feels about safety is often dictated by where you live. There was a fatal shooting at Guelph General Hospital in 2015 and it captured headlines because that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. The police in this city almost never draw their guns, let alone fire them. On the rare occasions that they do, they are almost never pointed at human beings.

When I mentioned that to a friend who lives in New York City, he just laughed. While the Big Apple is much safer now than it was, the idea that only one or two people might be murdered there per year seemed like a fairy-tale to him.

Of course, that is the United States and this is Canada. That same friend owns a gun. During a visit, I saw him take something out of a bedroom drawer and there it was. He noticed the look on my face, laughed, and said, “Have you ever held one of these before?” I hadn’t. In fact, I had never even seen a gun up close.

It was a strange feeling to know that I had a friend who owned a handgun. Few people in America would think that way, but I’ll bet many Canadians would be just as spooked as I was. I’m glad I live where I do and try to keep that in mind during those inevitable times when Guelph experiences a tragedy.

By Optionbooter [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Is Coffee Actually Good for You?

Coffee is something everyone talks about and seemingly everyone drinks. Every time I pass by a Tim Horton’s with a line out the door, I wished I owned that location. Many people rely on coffee with the same degree that they need water and food. There was a period when I drank 6-7 cups per day and could hardly get out of bed without one. It became such a monkey on my back, that I eventually quit. I’ve backslid a little, but try to have no more than one caffeinated drink per day.

We all know that caffeine has negative affects upon sleep and is also not good for your heart. However, there are periodic articles stating that, no, caffeine is actually beneficial for the human body. The latest tells of two studies that claim people who drink coffee 2-4 times a day have an 18% lower risk of death than those who did not indulge. The studies were conducted using diverse populations, which can lend credence to the validity of the results thanks to divergent diets and lifestyles. Among the reasons cited for this good health are lower instances of inflammation, healthier lipid profiles, and better glucose control.

It can be very difficult to know what to believe when we hear such studies. I am tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but while a plethora of studies yield more information, they also mean more contradictory results. There are also studies where the results have been manipulated to favour interested parties or the people conducting the tests are not above board.

The best answer is to decide what works best for you and monitor how you feel. If you think you would like to try the 2-4 cups of coffee strategy, go for it, but if the added caffeine results in you sitting awake at night, it’s not worth the trade-off for something not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Weight Loss in Middle Age

We all know (all too well) how important fitness is at any stage in life. Excess weight can put a real strain on your heart and make you more susceptible to all manner of diseases, including cancer.

However, the ease with which one can lose weight changes at different stages in life. When you are young, the body has more energy and you can bounce back faster from any injuries or illness. As we age, our muscle density decreases and we feel stiffer and tire out faster.

Life can be more difficult when you are older, but letting your fitness decline will just make things worse. That said, there is no reason you cannot make adjustments to your physical fitness plan in order to reflect the changes your body undergoes with age.

First off, talk to you doctor. The two of you can discuss your fitness and weight loss goals. It is important to include your physician because they will have a good idea of what is suitable for you at this stage in life, based on your current physical state.

At this part of your life, the key is to lose fat. Don’t worry so much about what your scale says. You need to maintain your muscle, so doing so will make it seem like you are gaining weight.

In addition to exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water. Yes, water is important for maintaining proper bodily function, but it can also help you lose weight. As we age, the body has a more difficult time telling the difference between thirst and hunger. Thus, some people end up eating more than they should and that leads to weight gain.

Finally, make sure you have enough lean protein in your diet. Protein is an important component for both muscle growth and repair.