Brain and Behavior

Treatment’s Toughest Assignment

“Just this one Netflix episode. I mean, it is Game of Thrones.”

Or “I can spend another five minutes surfing ESPN.com.”

We stall before delving into an unpleasant task. We search for discounted shoes, binge watch reality TV, and devour Ben & Jerry on dreary Tuesday nights. On Thursday nights, we devote two hours to adorable puppy cams and addictive Friends reruns. And don’t ask about Wednesday nights -- after a draining day at work, we slam the apartment door and collapse on the couch.

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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 11, 2016


Earlier this week, I experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. It wasn't my first time (though I've experienced it only a handful of times at most), but it was definitely the most terrifying time. I was exhausted and decided to take a quick midday nap...only, when I tried to wake up, not only could I not move, but I couldn't keep my eyes open for longer than a second.

During that second I could keep them open? I hallucinated a creepy, hunchbacked old man pilfering around my living room and sheer panic took over.

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Anxiety and Panic

Walk, Don’t Rush, to Judgment

"Why isn’t my date texting me? I thought she had a good time. I mean, we had fun, didn’t we?”

You check your phone again. Once again, your smiling visage greets you. No text, Facebook message, or InstaPic of you and your date.

As your anxiety marinates, you instinctively check your phone. Nothing. Still. You call her again; the call buzzes to voicemail.

Now panicked, emotion overtakes logic. Four times. Six times. Your voice rising, anxiety coats your messages. “Hello, this is (insert name). I just wanted to check in. The date was fun -- call me when you get this.”
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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 4, 2016


Last Friday, I went to another Dave Matthews Band concert. I know what you're thinking: "Three DMB concerts in one month?!" Well, considering they're my favorite band and they're going on a break next summer, I have to get it while the gettin's good, right?

However, last Friday's trip wasn't planned; it was completely spontaneous. While I was finishing up some work, I received a message from a friend who couldn't make the show and had two free tickets for me if I wanted them.

The show was almost five hours away, meaning I had about an hour to get ready, get packed, and get on the road.

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Anger

How to Heal After an Abusive Relationship

If you’ve recently gotten out of an abusive relationship or are considering doing so, your sense of self has likely been altered -- or even destroyed. So, too, have your feelings of safety and your ability to trust others.

You can and will regain these things, but it will take time. This is likely one of the hardest things you will ever do, so be patient with yourself. You can move on...
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Brain and Behavior

The Key to Success? Not Comparing Yourself to Others

The grass is always greener. I’ve been there, scrolling through newsfeeds on social media, talking to friends, seeing successful people all over the place. That's when the feeling starts to creep in that I’m not good enough, that I’m not motivated enough, that I need to do better.

It seems like we focus on the people who appear to be doing better than we are, instead of focusing on ourselves or those who may be struggling the most.

I think, "If I could just do what that guy is doing I’d have enough money to buy a house, to live comfortably for the rest of my days, and my worries would be over."
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Anger

Past Tense

I stop: a droll smile and infectious cackle singe my synapses. I feel good. Like endorphins-are-murmuring good.

Maybe it is a sun-baked trip to the beach, the well-received Psych Central articles, or heartfelt conversations with my aunts and uncles. Or maybe it is learning to accept past failures for what they are: character lessons, not character flaws. The past can be a vengeful lover; she will terrorize you if you allow her to.

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Brain and Behavior

Making Stress Work for You

Stress gets a lot of negative press, and for good reason. Chronic stress is linked to a host of health and emotional problems. Yet stress comes in a variety of forms. Despite what the news headlines say, some types of stress are actually good for you. Consider the acute stress events of exercise and learning to ride a bike. Done properly, these events invoke a desired adaptation in mind and body.

In fact, research shows that moderate levels of short-term stress stimulate genesis of new brain cells. So keep up that exercise routine and those daily challenging crossword puzzles. Just remember that the stress should be acute, not chronic, and moderate, not excessive. Furthermore, it is not only the amount of stress you experience, but your perception of it that determines its lasting effects.

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Addiction

Are You Sabotaging Your Brain?

It does not take much to rob your brain of its essential vitality. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned psychiatrist, has spent his entire career trying to understand the ways we can preserve or sabotage our brain health.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Dr. Amen explores the root of these essential brain robbers. The good news is that because the brain is highly plastic, any good habit that forms over time can replace short-term damage.

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Brain and Behavior

A Painful Appreciation

Give thanks for the soul-crushing anxiety. Say amen when the sinking depression floors you. Raise your glass for repetitive negative thoughts.

“What?” you screech. “My mind teases me, toying with my emotions for sheer pleasure. And you -- you of all people -- are saluting my mental brain tricks. Are you happy when my mind twists me into a human pretzel?”

Hardly. I do not take perverse pleasure in another person’s suffering. But as your taunting mind ridicules you, let’s express gratitude. Before spewing invective in a berating email, hear me out.
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Anxiety and Panic

Calling All Perfectionists

In my obsession with perfection, I forgot a valuable life lesson: pretty good can be perfection too.

Adventurous and fun-loving and driven and studious, I have sought it all. The dreamy vacation, the fulfilling career, the steamy romance. But the mind has always craved more.

Growing up, I would spend hours poring over an essay. I rehearsed clever rejoinders before dates. I would analyze events from 2002. I am laughing and cringing at these memories.

I was comfortable in my skin as long as I met my own exacting standards.
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