Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
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General

5 Simple Ways to Relax and Recharge

Many of us have a hard time relaxing. Maybe just the thought of taking a break actually stresses you. And that’s understandable. Because, as “a society we value being busy, so it can almost feel that we are doing something wrong by relaxing,” said Agnes Wainman, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and self-proclaimed self-care activist in London, Ontario.

Christine Selby’s clients regularly tell her that relaxing is a waste of time because it means they’re not being productive. That’s when she asks them why they’d bother relaxing at all. They usually mention that relaxing feels good or helps them to wind down and destress. “My next question,” she added, “‘Is that not doing something?’”
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Anxiety and Panic

Mind Games

What does your morning shower feel like?

“Come again, Matt?”

Yes, what does your morning shower feel like?

“Why? Before work, I typically hop in and hop out. Can’t be late for boss -- he’s a real jerk. I rinse off in 10 minutes. Why? Are you planning on opening a Turkish bathhouse?” you snidely remark.

Not quite. But I am interested in washing away the incessant worry that pervades our daily lives. That humming cacophony drains us, greying life’s days.
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Anger

5 Proven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Cool at Work

At one point or another, we’ve all felt totally irritated while at work: You pull an all-nighter on a project that then gets scrapped; a client criticizes your team for no apparent reason, or your co-worker shows up late for a meeting again, dumping all the prep work on you.
These office aggravations can make your blood boil. Your focus is immediately hijacked from the important task at hand. Instead, your mind goes into fight-or-flight mode and you become reactionary; not thinking clearly, blaming others, or beating yourself up for getting upset. In this state, you’re prone to making poor judgements and saying things you may regret later.
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Creativity

6 Tips for Effectively Navigating Information Overload

You’re probably familiar with the term “information overload.” If you’re not, you’re probably all-too familiar with what it describes. Therapist Melody Wilding, LMSW, defined information overload as the unease you feel when you have multiple tabs open on your computer -- except the tabs are in your head. You feel frantic. Your attention is fractured. You have “one foot in and one foot out,” she said.

“Information overload describes the difficulty a person may have making decisions or thinking clearly because there is just too much information to be processed,” said Marsha Egan, CSP, PCC, CEO of The Egan Group Inc., and author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of Email Excellence.
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Ethics & Morality

A Life with Meaning

Many things motivate us as people. Living with meaning is a crucial component that helps us to enjoy a fully operational and gratifying life. Like having air in one’s sails, the possession of what matters uniquely to each of us fuels us in many ways. As human beings we need connection to our ideals and to one another. We also need to connect introspectively within ourselves so we can connect to our inner truth, deeper wisdom, and core ideals that drive us in the world.

For some, meaning is attached to the creation of a happy, healthy, and enduring family life. For others, it is the quest for rich and meaningful relationships in our associations and social circles. Some individuals’ driving force lies in their desire to make a difference in their work life, political, environmental or social causes that affect the world stage.

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Anxiety and Panic

Managing Panic Attacks at Work

When you’re having a panic attack, it might feel like you’re drowning. You feel like you can’t breathe and your chest is constricted. You might feel detached from your body, from your surroundings, as though you’re floating in a dream. You might become overheated with clammy hands, a flushed face and sweat trickling down your spine. You also might be shaking.

This is how Alyson Cohen’s clients have described their panic attacks. Of course, panic attacks are different for every person. Maybe you don’t feel any of the above. But you hear or feel your heartbeat. Your vision is blurry. You’re dizzy. And your ears are ringing. According to Washington DC-based psychologist Alicia H. Clark, PsyD, these also are common symptoms.
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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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General

Five Tips to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

If you're an introvert like me, who sees any "confidence boosting'" tip online as the tastiest link bait in the online ocean, you'll have read this common piece of advice: "Fake it 'til you make it." Right? Of course! That's what we have to do to appear more confident: just fake it.

Like anything in life we struggle with, "faking" our skill level gets us to where we want to be -- right? Not for me.

One of the reasons I lack confidence in many situations is that I feel like an imposter. Like I'm a total fake, just waiting to be found out.
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Creativity

The Joy of No Sex

Full disclosure: I work in advertising. It's an industry where husky-voiced, hair-flicking women smolder in ads selling cat food and sneakers, and where shirtless hunks flex fuzz-free pecs to sell salad dressing and synthetic butter.

The following viewpoint will therefore get me into trouble, which I’m familiar with.

Here are two commonsense truisms:

While great sex is joyful, lousy sex is not
Happiness is possible without a daily grind (I’m not talking coffee)

Yet for reasons such as the availability heuristic -- a cognitive shortcut that encourages us to think of commonplace examples in our everyday environment when making decisions -- we often overestimate the importance to our well-being of having regular sex. When we pause to think of the world around us, we more often remember non-nude pretzel-like scenarios in which we were happy.
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Ethics & Morality

4 Steps to Setting Healthy Personal Boundaries


Sometimes it just feels easier to please others than to stand up for what we really want. Why? Maybe we don’t like confrontation. Or maybe we just like making other people happy. That’s not a bad thing. It can feel great to give others what they want, but it’s important to recognize when they overstep the mark.

Personal boundaries are how we set our personal limits. They are how we separate ourselves as individuals from the influence and intentions of others. They are an essential tool for communicating our needs, our integrity and our self-worth, both to others and to ourselves.

Without them, negative emotions such as resentment, guilt, frustration or shame could take hold. Your relationships may become frayed, and your self-respect could suffer.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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