|Addicted to Busy: 4 Strategies to Ease the Guilt & Burnout
||Keeping busy at all costs is the cultural status quo, but the drive to do more is impacting our families, our work, and our health. The result of being Addicted to Busy is not only a lack of time, but also exhaustion, anxiety, guilt, fear, social comparison, inauthenticity and physical illness.
|How you cope with stress before it happens may affect recovery, study suggests
||Some strategies, like daydreaming about the problem fixing itself, might make you feel worse.
|When kids think parents play favorites, it can spell trouble
||Most parents have a favorite child, psychologists say, even if they try to be fair.
|How brain waves guide memory formation
||Two brain regions that are key to learning -- the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex -- use two different brain-wave frequencies to communicate as the brain learns to associate unrelated objects, researchers have discovered.
|Brain activity shows infants are hardwired to link images, sounds as they learn to speak
||We are biologically predisposed to link images and sounds to create language, new research examining electrical brain activity in infants suggests. These findings reveal that sound symbolism allows 11-month-old infants to spontaneously bind the speech sound and the visual referent, and this spontaneous binding may provide infants an insight that spoken words refers to objects you can see in the world, an author explains.
|Study shows how the brain can trigger a deep sleep
||Switching on one area of the brain chemically can trigger a deep sleep, scientists have found. The new study, which explored how sedatives work in the brain's neural pathways, could lead to better remedies for insomnia and more effective anesthetic drugs.
|A Pattern Break # 74-1a
||I’d ask you out for lunch but, dear reader, we have a virtual relationship only. So, instead, here’s an invitation to a pattern break for you (or, as the cliche goes, some food for thought): “You must find your basic question. My basic question was: ‘Is there anything behind the abstractions...
|This Rat Experiment Will Haunt You, But Not For The Reason You Think
||This experiment, done on lab rats, isn't terribly cruel. It will still probably keep you up at night when you're thinking about hiring an exterminator....
|A Mindful Minute: How to Observe a Train of
||Kids have anxious thoughts all the time . . . “I’m going to fail math and never get into college.” “I’m totally screwing up this speech right now, and everyone knows it.” “What if I don’t get asked to the dance? I’ll be humiliated for life.” Research shows us that...
|An Awkward Proposal
||Last week’s cartoon was about the Rolling Stones song, You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Friends used to sing it to me in college, so I sing it to you now. All rights reserved, and content including cartoons is ©Donna Barstow 2015. My Donna Barstow site is here. And...
|Authentic vs Romanticized Love: What Love Is Not
||What is authentic love in a couple relationship, and how is it different from romanticized love? For one, whereas authentic love is not designed to be easy, rather an experience that challenges two individuals to keep growing and cultivating their capacity to love and be loved, romanticized love if anything is easy. Love is...
|NOW is the Right Time (and You CAN Do It)
||Sometimes I look back with awe – and, frankly, horror – to remember all the years I spent “waiting.” I was waiting to recover later (after the eating disorder had delivered on all of its false promises). I was waiting until I had more friends, a better personality,...
|A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 1 of 3
||In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute, in 1,000 words or less, the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." In a three-part blog post, I explain why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.
|How To Sleep Better: Ancient Technique Beats Modern Therapy
Learning how to sleep better can improve quality of life, depression and fatigue.
Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
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|Experimenting preteens may have different brain processes
||Preteens who experiment or explore new things may have brain processes that work differently than those of preteens who do not, according to a new study.
|Let me introduce myself.
||Hello, everybody and welcome to the blog about all things bipolar! I’m LaRae and I’ll be leading you on adventures of dealing with bipolar disorder on a personal level. You may have noticed, I don’t have the letters M.D., Ph.D., PsyD or anything inferring that I’m a psychological professional. That’s...
|Dismiss Your ADHD – Five “True” Dismissive Statements
||You’ve met them. You may even know some of them quite well. Those people who, unencumbered by any valid instruction in the concepts of mental health issues or disorders, are perfectly happy to dismiss ADHD as fake. Maybe you are one of them. I love the line, “Well, I have...
|6 Tips to Help You Through a Depressive Episode
||So you’re doing okay, cruising right along. Suddenly you realize that you’re slipping into a depressive episode. Once that depressive state starts to hover over you like a dark cloud, remind yourself that it’s only temporary. You will get out of it. It’s so much like a rollercoaster ride that...
|Did You Make Yourself Sick? Part 2 of 2
||Chronic emotional distress can magnify the effects of all the other physiological stressors, because emotional distress causes physiological stress. Think of a time when you developed a headache, neck ache, bellyache, or backache as a result of feeling emotionally distressed. The pain, discomfort, burning, or other unpleasant sensation is a...
|How a Challenging Past Can Lead to a Happier Present
||“That which does not kill us outright makes us stronger,” wrote Friedrich Nietzsche more than 100 years ago. As a psychotherapist for 20 years, I’ve seen clients bear this out many times.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through my divorce without losing my sanity,” my client Karen told me just last week, “but looking back now, I realize I was much stronger than I thought, and I know that I’m much stronger now. Whatever curveball comes next, I know I can trust myself to handle it.”
Researchers call this “post-traumatic growth”; a 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that adverse experiences promote hardiness and resilience, shaping how people handle subsequent challenges. In other words, experiencing trauma doesn’t simply condemn us to a life of suffering and helplessness. Instead, we can pull strength, courage, and wisdom out of misfortune after having been caught in it.
Now there’s evidence that the benefits may run even deeper than that: A recent study suggests that experiencing adversity not only equips us to deal with negative events but helps us appreciate the positive ones, possibly increasing our overall satisfaction with life.
In the study, published in Psychological Science, Alyssa Croft of the University of British Columbia and her colleagues surveyed 15,000 adults, asking them to indicate whether they had ever experienced major traumas in the past or were experiencing them in the present; the participants cited discrimination, divorce, death of a spouse, illness or injury, and military combat, among other challenges. The research team also measured the participants’ capacities for savoring—that is, how much they prolong and deepen their positive emotional response to pleasurable moments, such as a physical comfort or being in nature.
Croft’s team found that people currently experiencing serious difficulties in the present were not necessarily able to enjoy simple pleasures of the moment very well. However, they also found that people who had experienced serious difficulties in the past showed stronger capacities for savoring in the present than people who had not experienced such traumas. “People who have overcome more adversity in the past are better at savoring life’s small pleasures,” write the authors, “which in turn could promote greater life satisfaction.”
That said, Croft and her colleagues caution that adversity is not beneficial under all circumstances, and not all people who have suffered a trauma will inevitably lead more satisfying lives as a result. “Emotionally overcoming a negative event,” they write, “is an important prerequisite for turning adversity into appreciation.” And overcoming that event often requires a lot of time and work.
Still, after working through a negative event, I have very often seen my clients enjoy the benefits identified by this study. Surviving a life-threatening illness can help them appreciate the very gift of being alive at all. Experiencing a serious loss can help them appreciate what they have now.
“I pay more attention to the little things now—the dimples in my daughter’s cheek when she smiles, the text my friend Kathy sent just to say ‘Hi,’” my client Karen told me after getting through her difficult divorce. “I know these moments are precious, and I know I don’t want to miss them.” In fact, I now deliberately teach my clients to find the links between past adversity and a deeper enjoyment of the present (see below for an example).
It’s important to note that Croft and her colleagues found that this link between savoring and adversity was not correlated with personality traits, meaning that this benefit might be available to most anyone, regardless of his or her personality. The researchers propose that future research could explore whether capacities for savoring correlate with emotional intelligence or the social support one receives from others.
It’s also important for psychotherapists, as well as clients, to recognize the signs of unresolved trauma—withdrawal and isolation, feeling overwhelmed in the face of life’s ordinary ups and downs, not being able to move forward with one’s life and progress toward achieving one’s goals—and take appropriate steps to bring unprocessed trauma to resolution.
To move in this positive direction—and in light of Croft’s study—here is an exercise to use past adversity as a way to savor the present.
1. Pause. Take a few seconds to come to conscious awareness of being present and aware in this moment
2. Bring to mind one moment of difficulty, pain, suffering, loss from the past. Feel into every facet of the memory—visual images of what happened, all the people you were with, any emotions you felt then or any emotions you feel now as you remember the event. Notice where you feel those emotions in your body. Notice any thoughts you have about yourself now as you remember this event.
3. Shift the focus of your awareness to reflect on how you coped with the event and its aftermath. What lessons did you learn? What wisdom did you pull out of the misfortune you were in? What would you do differently now, having coped with and survived this event as you did?
4. Shift the focus of your awareness again to how you feel about yourself now, noticing any sense of self-acceptance, self-appreciation, pride, or strength available to you now.
5. Shift the focus of your attention once more. Notice anything in your surroundings or circumstances, right now, or anything you encounter during the rest of the day, that brings even a small acknowledgement of delight: the warmth of the sun on your face, the bitter-sweetness of a piece of chocolate, the memory of a recent conversation with a friend.
6. Take 30 seconds to simply be with and appreciate the joy and pleasure of the moment; let any warm, peaceful feeling sink into your body. Savor the feeling.
7. Repeat savoring this same or similar moment several times during the next six hours. The repetition will strengthen the memory of it; you are creating a resource of positivity you can draw on any time you encounter a new moment of adversity.