Brain and Behavior

Workplace Environment Affects Mental Health

The workplace environment you spend 40 or 50 hours in per week has a very real and substantial impact on your mental health, according to multiple studies and expert opinions from psychologists all around the world.

According to a 2011 research study on how workplace design contributes to mental health and well-being, the average person spends 33 percent of their waking time in their workplace on a weekly basis. As such, the physical workplace environment has a major impact on everything from happiness and mood to productivity and focus. The study concludes that “good working conditions enable employees to work effectively” and that “investments in the physical workplace that create those conditions pay back quickly.”

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

The Unattainable Standard for Men

Picture a 24-year-old adorable, intelligent, but anxious and insecure young man. Joe, as I will call him, often feels frightened. If he were to pause for a moment and check his physical state, most of the time he would feel his heart beating in his chest and a subtle full-body vibration. Sometimes he has a pit in his stomach, and his appetite for food disappears.

These are all common physical symptoms of anxiety. Sensations like these are at best annoying, and at worst upsetting, debilitating and scary. Joe wonders why he feels anxious so often. Thoughts like, "What's wrong with me?" come often preoccupy him, which of course makes matters worse by adding anxiety on top of anxiety. This experience is all taking place secretly inside him. To the rest of the world he seems fine.

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

How to Use a Journal for Better Emotional Health

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, one in every four Canadians will develop at least one anxiety disorder in his or her lifetime. The pressures associated with our fast-paced society can take their toll on the best of us. Repeated exposure to moderate levels of stress can lead to the development of any anxiety-related disorder, such as panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as other psychological and physical ailments.

Most advertisements would have you believe that medication such as antidepressants are the only way to deal with anxiety. Medication does have its merit for certain conditions such as agoraphobia. Before the problem gets out of hand, however, there are simple ways to better manage your emotions and increase your psychological health.

Continue Reading

Bipolar

Living through a Medication Change

I was diagnosed with bipolar illness in 1991. Since then, I’ve taken a variety of drugs, starting with Lithium and moving forward to drugs that worked and felt better on my psyche.

For five years, I’ve taken a nightly cocktail of meds including Depakote, Cymbalta, Clomipramine and
Trilafon.

On these drugs, I was perfectly stabilized and high-functioning. I could hold down a part-time job, raise a child, take care of a home and a hubby, and work on a freelance writing career.
Continue Reading

Anger

7 Signs You Need a Little ‘Me Time’

With all the things on your daily to-do list, it’s easy to get lost in the whirl of activity and forget one essential activity: taking time for yourself. It isn’t selfish, but it is definitely important. While you might think you have everything under control, here are seven signs you need some me time.

Everything gets under your skin
The sound of the kids playing loudly in the other room, the wind messing up your hair, the grease-clogged sink you have to clean, that red sock that found its way into the laundry and colored the sheets pink, the last-minute assignment your boss handed you just as you were ready to leave for the day -- when you get overly upset by everything, this is a clear sign you need some time for yourself.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

4 Fitness Tips to Turn Your Negative Emotions into Success

Jennifer was alone with a 6-month-old infant and only enough money to cover one month of living expenses. She had no income or safety net. “It was me against the world with only a computer as my weapon,” she said. Overwhelmed with anxiety and worry, she asked, “What am I going to do?”

The first thing she had to do was to change the way she thought, and she knew from years of experience that the only way to do that was with rhythmic exercise. She needed to jog, cycle, walk or do the stepper or elliptical. That was how she was going to spin anxiety and worry into success.

Continue Reading

Addiction

Social Media, Anxiety, and the Highly Sensitive Me

I have had a love/hate relationship with social media since the craze began.

I see those obnoxious graphics proudly boasting the fact that you are a rhymes-with-witch all over social media. Seriously, why is this okay and generally accepted behavior? I hope you’re simply confused about the definition of the word. Perhaps you engage in healthy assertiveness, not general nastiness. Sorry, but I wouldn’t be willing to "handle" you or anyone. Why would I? Why would anyone?

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Exhausted Mothers, It’s Not Your Fault that You Feel Like This

I felt like that, too. I was head over heels in love with my daughters, but that didn't protect me. I had been so determined to be the best mother I could be that I dedicated myself to the job beyond reason and became exhausted and depleted in the process. I wondered if perhaps I was a bad mother. But actually, I am surprised nearly all mothers don’t suffer like this. Here's why it's not our fault.

Motherhood is tough
This is the hardest job I have ever had. Heaven and hell at the same time. Frequent interruptions, lack of control over the agenda, constantly switching tasks, too much to do, emotional outbursts, no holidays -- all when while I'm sleep-deprived.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

4 Perspectives to Build Resilience in Difficult Times

We live in uncertain times. From one day to the next, we can’t say for sure if our jobs will be secure, our health will stay good and our loved ones and ourselves will be safe from terror attack. When troubles strike, it can feel like life is hopeless, even if it isn’t true. If you're going through difficult times now, the following four perspectives may help you be more resilient.

Remember that life always changes. Things can get better.

When troubles strike, it can feel like things will only get worse, but that is the pessimist in us talking. If we keep the faith and respond to the situation with positive and constructive actions, we can break out of the cycle and things can get better. Sometimes all we need to do is simply to let time pass and to resist the temptation to overreact and aggravate the problem. During times like these, distract yourself by actively engaging in other areas of your life.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Tapping into Your Resilience After Abuse

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." -- Khalil Gibran
Facing the fact that we’ve been abused isn’t simple. It’s wrapped up in feelings of being deeply flawed. When we’ve been hurt emotionally, physically, or sexually, we tend to internalize our anger and turn it on ourselves.

We may feel that we’ve done something wrong to deserve the abuse or feel that we’re marked by the abuse. The shame and guilt that should belong to the abuser is transferred to the victim, giving them a sense of being defective or contaminated. That’s one of the reasons it took me so long to face the truth.
Continue Reading