Archive for March, 2012

When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Don’t Exist

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Dont ExistThe distorted stories we tell ourselves can amplify our anxiety — which, ironically can occur when we’re trying to reduce the worry, jitters and angst. One of the most damaging of distortions is the desire for perfection.

In his book Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear, author and professor Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D, describes this desire as “the belief that there’s a best solution and that nothing less than the best is acceptable.”

Since we can’t predict how events will unfold, that perfect solution simply doesn’t exist — not to mention that the idea of perfection only puts added pressure on ourselves and sets us up for failure. As Reinecke writes, “When you expect perfection, the only guarantee is that you’ll be disappointed.”

A more helpful way to approach anxiety is by being flexible — which I know is tough because when you’re anxiety-prone, the last thing you probably feel comfortable with is variability. But with practice and a shift in perspective, you can get there.

Art Inspired by Psych Hospitals

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Art Inspired by Psych HospitalsMemorializing a hospital is no simple feat, and yet the most simple and elegant concepts are the most powerful. A perfect example is “Bloom.” Commissioned in 2003 for the closure of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, artist Anna Schuleit filled the hospital with 28,000 potted flowers, creating carpets of African violets and daisies in hallways, waiting rooms, and annexes.

In a facility whose patients saw few visitors arrive with flowers, the statement is especially touching. Colossal features a great article with amazing photos from the exhibit.

What Are Your 8 Auspicious Symbols?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Lotus-flowerOne consequence of my happiness project is that I’ve grown to love numbered lists. My 12 Personal Commandments. My 8 Splendid Truths. The 10 Myths about happiness.

Buddhism has many numbered lists, such as the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths. This is a little bit surprising to me, given Buddhism’s emphasis on gateless gates and transcending the bounds of rational thinking.

There’s a koan to be written about that paradox, for sure. Let’s see… how about, “Use numbers to throw away enumeration.”

4 Ways to Leave Work at Work

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

4 Ways to Leave Work at Work Even for people who adore their job, work can still be stressful, exhausting and all-consuming. It can come home with you, lingering through dinner and stealing your supposed relaxation time.

(If you work from home — like I do — unwinding may be trickier because you’re technically physically still at work.)

Maybe you’re like me and reply to emails in your head or rewrite stories you’ve already published. (Yes, I realize this is a problem.) Maybe you check your smartphone before bed and scramble to answer a few emails. Maybe your laptop has a special place on your bed. Or maybe you’ve created strict boundaries between work and home, but you still can’t shake the stress of an upcoming project or the usual day-to-day grind.

If you need some help with leaving work at work, here are four activities from the book Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Unwind from the Day & Make the Most of Your Night by Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, NC. In many of their activities, the authors suggest breathing or listening mindfully.

Introducing a Good Life with Coaching and Learning

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Introducing a Good Life with Coaching and Learning

Psychology is a big topic. So big that people often have a hard time wrapping their heads around all the areas one could learn about for self-improvement and help.

Sometimes it might help to improve our lives if we had a little help. Sure, psychotherapy is always available. But so is something newer, called “coaching,” which focuses on self-improvement and building on your strengths (rather than focusing on treating a mental health issue or disorder).

I’m pleased to introduce our newest blog, Good Life with Coaching and Learning which will help introduce you to these topics. This blog is written by Jennie S. Bev and hopes to help people better understand the psychology of learning and teaching, learning styles and personality inventories, in relation to self-coaching and coaching others for performance optimization.

9 Ways to Support Your Child’s Creativity

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

9 Ways to Support Your Childs Creativity Kids are natural innovators with powerful imaginations. And creativity offers a bounty of intellectual, emotional and even health benefits.

One study found that kids’ imaginations helped them cope better with pain. Creativity also helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn better. Below, three experts share how parents can encourage their kids’ creativity.

1. Designate a space for creating. Carving out a space where your child can be creative is important, said Pam Allyn, executive director of Lit World and Lit Life and the author of many books, including Your Child’s Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age.

But this doesn’t mean having a fancy playroom. It could be a tiny corner with a sack of LEGOs or a box of your old clothes for playing dress-up, she said. Allyn has seen creativity flourish in the most cramped spaces, including the slums of Kenya. The key is for your child to feel like they have power over their space, she said.

Best of Our Blogs: March 13, 2012

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”) has been helpful for many. But for me personally, it’s been a difficult pill to swallow.

Some of you are either on or have kids who are on or will be on Spring Break. Vacation often signals more time spent with family. And any time we’re in a situation where family is priority, things get, well a little messy.

How do you deal with the difficulties of spending time with those you love? Be it friends or family, I often return to that Serenity Prayer and find ways to accept what seems unacceptable.

Whether you are grappling with your own mental health issues or trying to accept and understand those you love, this week’s post has something valuable for you. You’ll learn how to accept your own imperfections and others as well as learn ways to change what we can (through nutrition and even a clean room). Maybe reading these will make digesting that Serenity Prayer just a tad bit easier. Here’s hoping.

Introducing Your Body, Your Mind

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Introducing Your Body, Your MindThis is going to be a busy week for us and new blog introductions, as we have a whole slew who are joining the Psych Central Blog Network family. We’re proud and honored to introduce each of these blogs and bloggers individually, because each one is a new, valuable member worth highlighting.

First up actually comes from one of our existing bloggers, Alicia Sparks (whom you may recognize from her blogging on Celebrity Psychings, which she will also continue).

Your Body, Your Mind is intended to explore the impact that physical health has on our brains and mental health. It will examine  the intersection of our minds and mental health with exercise, walking, diet, types of foods we eat (like a gluten-free diet), and other physical activities, to figure out what things might improve our well-being, and what things are likely to have little impact.

Survey: Online Psychotherapist Reviews

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Survey: Online Psychotherapist ReviewsA colleague of mine, Dr. Keely Kolmes, is conducting a survey about what you …

Do You Ever Wish You Could Hire a Boss?

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Do You Ever Wish You Could Hire a Boss?I’m not a huge fan of Andy Warhol’s visual art, but I’m a devoted fan of his writing. (Sidenote: it’s striking how many visual artists are brilliant writers, for instance, I love Eugene Delacroix’s Journal and Edward Weston’s Daybooks).

What interests me about Andy Warhol is that he makes seemingly obvious observations in very simple language — and yet, upon reflection, I often realize that he has managed to articulate something very subtle. As one of my Secrets of Adulthood holds:

It’s very important, and surprisingly difficult, to grasp the obvious.

History of Psychology: A New Twist in the Case of Little Albert

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

History of Psychology: A New Twist in the Case of Little AlbertIn 1920, behaviorist John Watson and his graduate student-turned-wife Rosalie Rayner conducted a conditioning experiment that everyone who’s ever taken an intro psychology course knows all too well: They taught 9-month-old Albert to fear a variety of stimuli that were seemingly innocuous to him from the start.

The most famous example involved a rat. When a rat was first placed alongside Little Albert, he appeared interested and unafraid. When the researchers paired the rat with a loud noise, over time, Albert got scared.

In fact, Albert would start crying at the mere sight of the rat, even though the noise was gone. It turned out that Albert’s newfound fear also extended beyond the rat. He started fearing other furry objects.

Watson used this experiment to substantiate his theory that babies were blank states, and the environment was powerful in influencing them. This experiment was always considered controversial, and many psychologists were curious if Albert’s learned fears continued into adulthood. (That’s because Watson and Rayner never deconditioned him.)

But no one knew Little Albert’s identify or his fate… until a few years ago.

Two Quizzes: Your Emotional Type & Schizophrenia Screening Test

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Two Quizzes: Your Emotional Type & Schizophrenia Screening TestWe have dozens of quizzes here at Psych …

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