Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: October 9, 2015

As we near the end of Mental Health Awareness Week (tomorrow rounds it off with World Mental Health Day), we're guessing you've seen plenty of mental health-related articles around the Internet.

If you haven't (or, even if you have and you just want more), fear not! Our Psych Central bloggers have been hard at work to bring you some of the most well-rounded information about mental wellness around.

Today, take some time to learn about the brains of anxiety sufferers, telling the difference between mental health professionals and hacks, how to start and keep practicing mindfulness, and more.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: October 6, 2015

TED Talk speaker, author, and former business school professor Srikumar Rao once said, "If you have an ongoing relationship with a person, think of everything positive about that person that you possibly can and enter your interaction from that space."

Today, let's set aside the "negative" for a minute and figure out how (and if) we can productively move forward based on the positive.

Today's Best of Our Blogs offers some insight on overcoming emotional unavailability, tips for...
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: October 2, 2015

From being cautious about how much information you get from Facebook (and what you actually believe) to the lunar activity and how the moon affects our moods, it's been an informational and enlightening week here at Psych Central.

How Facebook Misinformation Makes You Look Like an Idiot
(Positive Psychology & Personality) -- It's not your battle to enlighten the let those "lower need for cognition" folks get what they want from social media.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 29, 2015

I heard an insightful passage this weekend with marriage and family therapist Bonnie Badenoch for Sounds True's Psychotherapy 2.0 Online Training Summit. Badenoch shared Colorado psychotherapist Matt Licata's blog post on how we have a tendency to want to solve people's problems instead of doing what truly works, which is to simply be with them. I thought the passage was inspiring and wanted to share it with you here:
“In speaking with a friend this morning, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with a friend who is depressed, feeling hopeless, shut down or otherwise not beaming in joyful, we can become convinced quite quickly that something is wrong. That some mistake has been made which needs fixing. We scramble to put them back together to remind them of all the gifts in their life to let them know everything will be better soon and that it will all turn out okay. It is possible the kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them removing the burden that they change, transform, feel better or heal in order for us to love them.”
Maybe someone you love is enduring hardship or change. Maybe they are courageously confronting some of the topics our bloggers mention here. Although it's tempting to want to make things better for them, take note of Licata's post and try being present with them instead.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 25, 2015

Shocking, but true. There's still judgment, shame and stigma associated with seeking therapy. This while research in psychotherapy and counseling are revealing amazing things. In fact, I just listened to Dr. Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. in Sounds True's Psychotherapy 2.0 Online Training Summit, talk about the relationship between what we eat and how we feel. Research is showing that certain diets like the mediterranean diet and eating walnuts and drinking coffee can affect our mood. It's exciting to see how much the field of psychotherapy is growing.

And it's not just that.

I love what Thomas Moore says about therapy in A Religion of One's Own:
"Therapy is a creative act, a making, a craft, and an art. John Keats called it soul making. I could call it soul carpentry or soul sculpting.

It's far better to be under construction than to be shabby and in need of repair. The person who hasn't sorted out his life experiences acts them out in daily life, repeating negative patterns. The alchemical or therapeutic work not only liberates you from your past, it makes you a thoughtful and less impulsive person, less prone to acting on raw emotion. You also become a better leader, parent, teacher, friend. You become a person of substance, liberated from the raw, interfering patterns and emotions that are useful only when refined."
Remember that the next time someone makes you feel small for seeking help. Remember that when you feel embarrassed about being in the self-help/psychology section of a bookstore or reading any of our blog posts this week. If you're seeking help, you're not only changing your own life for the better, but you're having a positive impact on everyone around you. And that's an amazing thing.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 22, 2015

Some people have the option of operating on a very superficial level without having to delve very deep into their lives. They can, for example, spend their energy on outward appearances, their job, and gossiping about the world with little awareness or openness to what's going on the inside.

I used to think this was a privilege, a luxury even. But being forced to face your illnesses and issues may actually be the more effective option for those who want a deeper, richer, and more meaningful life.

Yes, it sucks sometimes to have to prepare and plan for ordinary moments with medication, support and therapy that other people may take for granted. But growth happens when you stretch yourself. As you learn ways to navigate the world, you're gaining wisdom, compassion and resilience to tackle what most people aren't capable of dealing with. It's all in the way you look at your situation.

The good news is that even if you're currently stuck in a place of negativity or difficulty, with the right tools, you're headed for potential healing, self-growth and positive change. Let our top posts on everything from self-care to positive thinking guide you from stuck to self-aware.
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Best of Our Blogs: September 18, 2015

Feel like your life lacks meaning?

If you feel stuck in the monotony of every day and have been searching for ways to fill it, that could be your problem. In this day and age of accomplishing, doing and striving we've neglected our inner world. The buzz and beeps that alert us to what's going on outside are distractions from the life we really want to be living.

In A Religion of One's Own, author Thomas Moore reflects on the impact of our quickly changing technological world:
"We don't seem to appreciate how deeply we are affected by changes in science, technology, and culture...Science wants to answer all your questions, and technology wants to make life livable. But you still get depressed and anxious. You feel the absence of purpose and meaning."
What he offers instead is to take note from mystics, people he says, "who have actually gotten in touch with what is real. They have powers of receptivity and sympathy that are particularly acute. They are porous and have the ability to be so open as to stretch beyond the usual small and protective ego, and they are often unusually courageous."

To do this requires simply living in the moment. He says, for example, that if you're a parent, this means, "hav[ing] a moment of bliss as you step back and look at your children. As a creative person, you may finish a project and suddenly feel light-headed with joy of having created something worthy. You may enjoy occasional bursts of wonder and know what it means to extend the boundaries of a self."

Keep reading our top posts this week to get a fresh perspective, and new ways to garner a richer, more meaningful way of living your life.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 15, 2015

I bet you're pretty hard on yourself.

You might, for example, hold yourself accountable not only to your own problems, but others as well.

You rehash conversations you had with friends and loved ones and can't stop thinking about all the things you shouldn't have or could have said or did.

You're overly apologetic.

You befriend people who are draining and toxic.

This and you can never figure out why you're unhappy.

I think most of us who read this blog are people-pleasers. A lot of us who seek self-improvement and therapy are constantly burdened by the thought that we're burdening other people. Yet there is freedom in forgiving and accepting yourself wherever you are on your journey. Just because you haven't resolved all your issues doesn't mean you don't deserve to be loved, treated with kindness and cared about, especially by yourself.

This week's top posts on self-reflection whether it's on over-apologizing or getting through a difficult time, are all prompts to help get you on the path not towards more self-criticism, but self-understanding, self-empathy and self-love.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 11, 2015

What if the cause of your problems wasn't due to lack of intense positive experiences, but your fear of fully enjoying them?

It may sound like a radical idea. But it's something Colorado psychotherapist Bruce Tift believes and spoke about in his podcast with Sounds True:
"A lot of people see neurosis as something that happens to them or they inherited from their history. I prefer to think of neurosis as a practice that has to be maintained continually. I think that our basic agenda in our avoidance strategies is to stay out of too much aliveness—too much openness...But also, I think we organize our lives around avoiding too much sexual intensity, power, joy, open appreciation, uncertainty—things like that. It’s actually very, very intense to be fully present in our life...I think it’s true that we want aliveness and I think it’s true that we want safety and security. But, in a very primitive, unconscious way, I think most of us are probably going to go for safety and security if the aliveness gets to be too much."
The next time you're experiencing anxiety or a feeling of being stuck, ask yourself if you're holding back out of fear from being fully present in your life.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 8, 2015

The heat. Work. Your family. The change in seasons. There's a growing list of things that can easily pull you down. The weight of life and all its potential problems can easily translate to fear, disappointment and anxiety.

You can try deep breathing, exercising and drowning yourself in music to sweep the darkness away. But what if you need more to calm your soul?

I find that when I'm in the throes of a problem, I ruminate. I play, rewind and run through a situation back and forth as if it was a sports game. And my body suffers. I feel the tension in my stomach, the heat rise up to my face, and an overall heavy feeling takes over.

But something that I've discovered recently is to reorient my perspective. Instead of focusing on the single issue I'm facing, I've learned to spread my vision. Like a camera, you can choose to zoom away from what's really bugging you and check out what's going on in your peripheral vision. Maybe you're feeling emotionally distraught, but if you tune into your surroundings, you might experience pleasure from the wind tickling your skin. Maybe you're angry at your dad, but there's joy in the sunsetting in the background.

If we can zoom out from the situation we've trapped ourselves in, we might see all the things that are actually working in our lives. Call it distraction or being open to the healing properties of the present moment, but try reading our top posts this week to see if it can widen your current view.
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Best of Our Blogs: September 4, 2015

Some people let criticism slide off their back. I'm not one of them.

It's taken work and years as a writer to develop a thicker skin, and the ability to tune into what's actually going on when I'm feeling criticized.

Harmless words can take on a life of its own when it's rooted in childhood hurts. Critical parents, peers and authority figures can shape the way you perceive your life, forever. Even a small slight can easily domino into criticism of your worth. I know someone haunted by his teacher's statement that he would never amount to anything in life. He's still taking it to heart, fifty plus years later.

While it's still one of my greatest challenges, I've learned a few tricks to stop things from developing further. Being curious about where the criticism is coming from and from whom is important. If you can dissect the situation logically, then you're less likely to build drama around it. It's quite possible especially with email and texting these days, that you could unnecessarily construe a situation as negative.

It's also important to ask whether what's being said is helpful. If the person is honest and trustworthy and what they're saying sort of rings true to me, I'll accept it as helpful information. On the other hand, if criticism comes from a person who is consistently critical, intentionally hurtful and what they're saying sounds wrong to me, I'll just as easily let their statements go.

Someone might accuse you of being a narcissist, question your decision to go to therapy or go on medication, but regardless of what someone tells you and how judged you feel, remember to never give someone the power to decide your potential or your self-worth.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 1, 2015

You can't do much to change your height. You're born with the family, skin color and inborn traits you've got. We spend a great deal of our youth trying to compensate for that. But as adults, there are some things even more difficult to contend with.

Things like wanting something about yourself, others or a situation to be different than it is, for example, can be immensely difficult to deal with. There's always a part of you that wishes or fantasizes about what life would be like if you didn't have this illness or that relative. It hurts when you compare your life to a friend or an acquaintance who is illness and dysfunctional family free. How do you reconcile the life you equate with happiness with your own reality?

I listen, read and observe people who's had unbelievable, inconceivable challenges-the type of problems that make my life seem easy. What I've found is surprisingly more admirable than the seemingly seamless life we're all secretly envious of. The gifts of resilience, strength, gratitude and wisdom are ingredients for a life filled with beauty and meaning.

Whether you're wrestling with external circumstances, your own self-doubt or challenging childhood, you'll begin to reap the gifts of acceptance by reading our top posts this week.
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