Month: August 2021

Protest Behaviors: Unhealthy Ways We Try to Win Back Love and Attention

protest behaviors

Protest behaviors are actions we take when something is going wrong in a relationship and we’re trying to “fix” it. While they can often come with good intentions, they are ultimately an unhealthy and potentially toxic way of expressing ourselves.

Every relationship has problems. The big difference between healthy and unhealthy ones is how we respond to them.

When your needs aren’t being met in a relationship, how do you react? Do you calmly express your thoughts and feelings to your partner, or do you kick and scream until they give in?

“Protest behaviors” are actions we take to try to reestablish a connection with someone and get their attention. They are often done in response to something going wrong in a relationship.

While protest behaviors are an attempt to “fix” something going wrong, they are usually misguided. Often instead of getting a person to change, or see things from your perspective, they just add further conflict and tension.

At best, a “protest behavior” may get someone to begrudgingly give into your demands. At worst, they can escalate into a toxic and abusive relationship.

When left unchecked, protest behaviors become just a normal way people communicate in their relationships. Instead of voicing themselves honestly and openly, they end up playing games and following old patterns that always turn out the same way.

Keep in mind, protest behaviors don’t necessarily mean someone doesn’t love you anymore – or that the relationship can’t work out in the long-term – they are just a sign that you need to work on your communication skills more.

Common Protest Behaviors in Unhealthy Relationships

Here are the most common protest behaviors. Do you recognize any of them?

  • Badgering: Badgering is excessive attempts to get someone’s attention, including excessive texting, calling, messaging, etc. Badgering is often pressuring someone to connect with you or respond back to you when they aren’t available or simply don’t want to at the moment. In many healthy relationships, it is important we learn how to give people space and not need their undivided attention 24/7. One follow-up call/message can be appropriate, but if a person still hasn’t gotten back to you by that point it usually means they aren’t going to.
  • Stonewalling: Stonewalling is purposely withdrawing your attention and ignoring someone. Sometimes it can be a way to punish or manipulate a person, including not answering calls, texts, or messages – or purposely not spending time with them. One common example of this is the silent treatment. In unhealthy relationships, a person can become very “hot” or “cold,” where one day they are showing a lot of love, attention, and affection, then the next day they turn it all off when they don’t get exactly what they want.
  • Keeping Score: Keeping score is a “tit for tat” approach to relationships. It can take many forms, but often the idea is to “give back” what someone else did to you. So if someone takes two days to answer a call or text, then you wait two days to respond back. Or if someone forgets to give you a gift on your birthday, then you don’t celebrate their birthday. It can also take more extreme forms such as if someone cheats on you, then you have to cheat back to “even the score.” Ultimately, keeping score is a game people play that only escalates toxic behaviors and increases tension and conflict.
  • The Jealousy Game: A person may try to create feelings of jealousy to prove their worth or make their partner feel inferior or insecure. This can include flirting with others (especially in front of their partner), sharing stories about people hitting on them or giving them positive attention (both online or in the real world), still spending time with ex’s and staying in close contact with them (keeping past relationships on the “back-burner”), or always comparing their partner to their ex (“My ex always laughed at my jokes” or “My ex and I always had the same movie tastes.”) The jealousy game is toxic because it’s a way for the person to try to boost their ego and convince themselves, “I can do better than you” or “I have other options too.”
  • Threatening to Leave: Threatening to leave or end a relationship is another unhealthy way people try to rekindle love and attention, even if they aren’t serious about leaving. These empty threats are often designed to try to jolt the other person to change their ways or shape up. Like the jealousy game, it’s an attempt to diminish a person’s value by saying things like “I’d be happier without you,” or “I can leave you whenever I want,” or “You need me more than I need you!” While there are certainly situations where leaving a relationship is the most appropriate response (especially if the relationship is truly toxic, abusive, or unfixable), threatening to leave (but not being serious or following through) is ultimately a tactic used to manipulate people and maintain a sense of dominance or superiority in the relationship. It’s essentially a way of saying, “Give me what I want or I’m going to take the whole ship down with me.”
  • Acting Hostile: Most actions that spring from anger or hostility aren’t going to help a relationship. This can start off with “harmless” passive aggressive behaviors, including nonverbal communication such as rolling your eyes, looking away, distracting yourself while someone is talking (with phone/TV/video games), leaving in the middle of a conversation, or a sarcastic and condescending tone of voice. It can also escalate into active aggression including yelling, getting into someone’s personal space, and outright physical violence and abuse.

  • Manipulations: All of the protest behaviors mentioned above are types of manipulation (whether direct or indirect) – their purpose is to try to change someone’s behavior – but keep in mind that manipulation can take many different forms. Any type of lying or dishonesty has its roots in manipulation, such as saying you have plans when you don’t, or not being truthful about where you were last night, or refusing to admit when you’ve made a mistake, or changing the facts of a story to better serve you (gaslighting), or any other type of psychological game. This article highlights some of the most common protest behaviors, but it’s by no means a complete guide.

Have you seen any of these protest behaviors in action? Perhaps you’ve committed some of these in the past – or maybe you’ve had other people do them to you?

The first step is to recognize when you fall into these behavioral patterns. The next step is to learn how to voice your needs and communicate your feelings openly and honestly, in a non-threatening and non-manipulative way.

Of course this is easier said than done, especially if you have a history with these unhealthy patterns. Becoming a better communicator is a never-ending process. It requires that we are always listening, observing, learning, and adapting to others in the moment.

Try your best to recognize the next time you want to do a protest behavior, and instead turn it into an opportunity to have a real conversation about what you value in a relationship and what you need from your partner to feel safe, loved, and secure.

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I Traded Hot Girl Summer for a Healing One Instead

It was supposed to be Hot Girl Summer. I was supposed to be celebrating myself, enjoying lighter COVID restrictions, and generally living my best life. That was the plan, and I was happy with it. Hot girl summer was on!

We all needed a light and fun summer after a full year of pandemic life. I was hopeful. I was ready.

I was disappointed.

It wasn’t just the Delta variant that derailed my plans either. I didn’t expect to still be grieving the end of a relationship. I didn’t expect the hormonal rollercoaster that is PMDD. I certainly didn’t expect to be revisited by another wave of depression. Hot girl summer was canceled, and I made it my summer of self-care instead.

It sounds less glamorous, but it’s exactly what I needed. I didn’t need to live large. I needed to live small and to pay attention to the details. I didn’t get the light and happy summer I expected. Instead, I got to work on my healing.

Hot Girl Summer plans shelved, I dove into Healing Summer, Recovery Summer, and the summer that just might change the rest of my life.

Begin With Therapy

Therapy is a great place to start when we’re healing. I would spend 45 minutes crying in weekly sessions while feeling all the emotions that had been simmering under the surface. I made it the summer of my trauma recovery, the summer of unpacking decades of baggage and leaving it behind.

Therapy isn’t always accessible or affordable, but online options can help make it more so. I opted for an in-person option, but my insurance wouldn’t cover it. I had to shift around finances to accommodate those sessions. I’m grateful that I could, but I’m aware that it’s a privilege to have been able to afford it. I absolutely believe every single person should experience the benefits of therapy whether they’re going through a crisis or not. It is worth every penny.

Address Underlying Medical Issues

I squared away my therapy appointment before I even had the energy or emotional resources to address the underlying medical issues. Sometimes, we have to do one thing before we can even think of handling the other. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to address the symptoms of PMDD I was experiencing. Nearly half of every month was spent dealing with mood swings, severe headaches, and debilitating cramps. I found a doctor who diagnosed the problem and talked me through my treatment options.

I’ll be honest: the treatment options for PMDD aren’t great. Birth control and antidepressants feature in the plan, but what they’re really saying is enjoy the rollercoaster until menopause. It’s not exactly reassuring. Welcome to healthcare for women.

Addressing underlying medical issues can help get to the root of why we feel the way we do. Our bodies and minds are inextricably intertwined, and we can’t neglect one without feeling the impact in the other. Well checks are important, but it’s also essential that we take the time to address medical concerns as they present.

Consider Holistic Options

There are numerous holistic options out there that can help with self-care. I booked a Thai massage for stress management, workout recovery, and to address the ongoing PMDD symptoms. I also scheduled a session with a chiropractor to help manage PMDD and talked to a wellness center about utilizing the services of a nutritionist. None of which my insurance will cover. I made this my self-care summer, and I’m making healing a priority.

Be Gentle With Yourself

There was so much pressure this year to have fun and enjoy the season, but so many of us are still experiencing pandemic fatigue. It’s not over, and with the Delta variant spreading, there’s no end in sight. I crave normal, too. I want life to feel fun and carefree again. That’s what I signed up for this year, but it’s not the reality.

I’ve spent the summer learning to be gentle with myself. Healing is hard work, and it takes so much of our time and energy. It can help to lower our expectations of what we can do outside of that. I had full weekends where all I did was rest because I needed rest more than I needed anything else. I’m an active person, and it wasn’t easy for me to make that choice at first. Learning to listen to our bodies and honor what they need often means overcoming the mental narrative that we’re supposed to be doing something else.

Self-compassion is an ongoing practice. My self-care varied from day-to-day. I was addressing my mental and physical health with professionals, but I also developed daily routines to support my well-being. I bought the most ridiculously large water bottle online as a reminder to stay hydrated. I modified my exercise plan to allow for more rest but also worked in shorter but more intense workouts in the time that I allotted for fitness. I focused some effort at better managing my time to have better work-life balance, and I began practicing mindfulness with more consistency.

My summer of self-care didn’t involve parties or lavish vacations. It wasn’t light and carefree. But every week, I got lighter as I unpacked more of that baggage. Every week, I learned how to love myself better. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but it’s real and important.

I think I would have enjoyed that hot girl summer if I’d had it. It would have been amazing, and I would have looked back on it with fondness. My summer of self-care was bittersweet. I handled hard things — but I did handle them. It may have been the less exciting option, but I know that the healing I’ve done — the healing I’m still doing — is changing my life.

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, and The Good Men Project. She’s also the author of Left on Main, the first book in the Heart of Madison series. When she’s not writing for Medium and working on her next book, you can find Crystal traveling, paddle boarding, running, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, doing yoga, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her two wild and wonderful children.

Image courtesy of Puwadon Sang-ngern.

Managing diabetes in a pandemic: the role of exercise and stress

Managing diabetes in a pandemic: the role of exercise and stress

There’s no denying this pandemic has been tough for a lot of us. But for those living with a chronic illness like diabetes, the added stress can have a variety of additional implications. In this blog, we take a look and how exercise can help to mitigate the impact of stress on type 2 diabetes management.

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world has not only taken its toll on the global economy, but also our health. In statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 20% of the Australian population reported their health had declined as a result of the pandemic. And it’s not just our physical health that’s suffering, it’s our mental health as well. In August 2021, Lifeline reported the largest number of calls to their helpline in history.

We’re all feeling the stress of this pandemic. And for those with a chronic condition, the negative  impact of stress can be even greater.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is a condition that affects a vast proportion of the world. In Australia, diabetes contributed to 11% of deaths (16,700) in 2018, with 4.9% of the population (1.2 million) living with the condition.

Diabetes is a condition that impacts the ability to regulate blood sugar levels. In people living with type 2 diabetes, there’s increase in insulin resistance that results in an inability of insulin to play it’s role within the body.

When we eat a meal, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules which in ideal circumstances enter the muscle cells with the assistance of insulin. In healthy circumstances a large proportion of the carbohydrates we eat are stored in the muscle as glycogen. With type 2 diabetes, there’s an inability to get these glucose molecules into the muscle, so blood sugars rise. This increases the risk of related complications like tissue injury to nerves, blood vessels and vital organs such as the eyes, kidneys or heart and its blood vessels. Energy that is unused can accumulate as adipose tissue which increases the risk of metabolic disease and associated co-morbidities.

The link between stress and glucose

When stressed, our bodies release glucose to provide energy for our bodies to ‘fight’. When I say that I’m referring to the sympathetic nervous system and our bodies ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. It’s an adaptive response to escape a potentially dangerous situation. In the short term this can help us survive potential threats, however longer term, this isn’t so great for our health!

Here’s why…

In this situation adrenaline is released causing the liver to secrete glucose, spiking an increase in insulin and reduction in glucagon levels within the blood. Cortisol, the so called ‘fat storing’ hormone also increased its concentration in the blood. This cortisol release combined with increased glucose levels are definitely something we don’t want chronic exposure to.

stress and diabetes

Exercise can help to manage stress

Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels. It plays a vital role in your mental health, boosts your mood and can improve your sleep quality (which is a crucial part of stress management).

Sadly, those living with type 2 diabetes often experience additional barriers to being active.

One study looking at women over 65 years of age living with diabetes identified pain as a primary barrier to their participation in structured exercise. Another study and found 58.15% of individuals with diabetes experience some form of musculoskeletal disorder.

Musculoskeletal pain, insulin resistance and the stress of living in a pandemic are a perfect storm for those living with type 2 diabetes. So, it’s particularly important for these individuals to take steps to manage their stress and physical wellbeing during a time like this.

How much exercise should you do?

Do your best to meet the physical activity guidelines for diabetes management. For adults, that means being active on most, preferably all, days every week.

You should aim to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. That’s about half an hour a day. If you can’t meet these guidelines, then do what you can. Every little bit counts!

Regardless of how much physical activity you’re able to do throughout the day, regularly breaking up periods of prolonged sitting every 20-30 minutes (or wherever possible) will have significant impact on your ability to manage your blood sugar readings. Even just two minutes of low to moderate intensity walking every 20 minutes can help! Research shows that it can help to mitigate the impacts of a meal on blood sugar levels lowering them by around 24-29%.

Is high intensity exercise safe?

You may identify that your glucose levels are elevated after strenuous bouts of exercise. Resistance training or other structured exercise performed at high intensities requiring substantial physical exertion can cause a transient rise blood glucose levels. This is a normal response and is generally caused by the release of adrenaline in response to this type of exercise.

It’s important to monitor your blood glucose levels before, during and after to see how your body reacts. This will help you to avoid hypoglycaemia (lows) and hyperglycemia (highs). Don’t let this dishearten your efforts towards becoming more physically active! In fact, even low and moderate intensity exercise will still help you to reap the rewards of improved insulin sensitivity.

Remember, if you’re experiencing illness or infection, a stress response is provoked in the body. This causes hormones like adrenaline and cortisol work against the action of insulin, increasing blood glucose levels. In these circumstances gentle low intensity exercise is okay, provided that ketones in the blood are under 1.5mmol/L and you’re feeling well. Avoid high intensity forms of exercise such as sprints or other anaerobic activity like heavy lifting.

Need some extra advice?

If you’re living with type 2 diabetes and need some advice on exercising safely, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help. They are university-qualified health professionals who understand the complex relationship between exercise, insulin and blood glucose. They will help to provide you with individualised advice to ensure you’re exercising in a way that’s right for you. To find a qualified professional near you, click here.

Written by Hayden Kelly. Hayden is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who works for Diabetes NSW & ACT.

The Truth About the Egg Industry


egg industry

People like to eat eggs, but most of them don’t know about the cruel conditions in which the eggs they eat are produced.

Do you? If not, then let me tell you.

Nearly all eggs being bought and sold in the market come from the egg industry — an industry that sees chickens merely as egg production machines, and exploits tens of billions of them each year for one and only purpose: to sell their eggs and make profit. And the way it achieves that is… horrifying.

Here’s what the process of industrial egg production looks like:

When they are born, male and female chicks are separated. Right afterwards, nearly all male chicks are killed, usually by being ground alive or thrown into plastic bags where they’re left to suffocate. Why? Because the egg industry considers male chicks “worthless”, since they don’t lay eggs and hence can’t make the industry any profit.

But female chicks have it much worse: once they grow up, they are usually placed in huge barns where they have to live with hundreds or even a thousand of other chickens, confined in small cages where they step and lie on excrement. Living in such filthy conditions, many of them get sick and die. To minimize disease and deaths, the egg industry regularly pumps hens with hormones and antibiotics.

For the rest of their lives, hens have their eggs constantly stolen, which makes them produce more without end. In their natural state, they only lay eggs until they have a full nest, but by removing their eggs this natural process is interrupted, and they feel the instinctual urge to lay more of them in order to fill their nest. This is not only exhausting for them, but also damaging to their health, since every single egg requires tremendous calcium loss from a hen.

But things get even uglier: because of the continuous pressure their laying organs have to endure, some hens even die in the process. Those who don’t, are day in, day out exploited and abused for their eggs. But their life doesn’t last for long: once their production wanes, they all end up in the slaughterhouse where they have their throats slit. This usually happens when they are just a few months old, while in natural conditions chickens live for about 8 years.

This is the truth about the egg industry — a truth most people don’t know about, because it has been intentionally hidden from us. If you didn’t know, now you do, and this gives you the power to make better-informed decisions — that is, decisions that can help put an end to the egg industry, such us saying no to the consumption of its products and raising awareness about the unbelievable cruelty caused by it.