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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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

A Recipe for Recovery: Ingredients for Good Mental Health


I believe mental health self-care starts with the right medication. The right medications are crucial for recovery. Personally, I have realized finding the right combination of drugs really makes the difference between being well or unwell.

Medications, while imperfect, are the leading treatment for mental illness and could make the difference between being high-functioning or going through a lot of pain. There are a few principles that help when choosing to take medication. Do not go off prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. Psychotropic medications are powerful, with serious side effects. Withdrawal can cause, at the very least, a flare in mental health symptoms.

Secondly, when making medication changes, work with a doctor, do it slowly and pay attention to the warning signs of relapse. Third of all, do research on medications. Know the side effects, in particular how to detect them and how to reduce them. 
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Happiness

3 Tips to Worry Less

I worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people. Many people worry about how much they worry!

The New York Times recently had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin titled “Worried? You’re Not Alone.” In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.” Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people -- for instance, like my sister Elizabeth -- feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”
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Happiness

7 Ways Knowing Yourself Leads to More Happiness


You need to know yourself a little better.

Who are you when no one sees you? When you have an opportunity to spend time alone, how do you fill that time? Just as importantly, what do you leave out?

When you know yourself well, you can answer these questions easily. When you don’t understand yourself, not only are the questions more difficult, days drift together rather than develop with a sense of organization and purpose.

So how do you know yourself better at any age? Tune in to your core.
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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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General

Identifying How You’d Like to Spend Your Days

I recently penned a piece about the importance of being selective. Because the reality is that we can’t do everything. Our time is limited. And trying to do everything only stops us from focusing on what matters most (to us). It overshadows it. One day might run into the next, and before we know it, a week has flown by. And yet we feel empty and unfulfilled. We feel aimless.

This might be because we’re unclear about what is actually significant to us. We might not know our priorities. Maybe we’ve been so busy focusing on the minutiae -- checking off random tasks and chores -- that we’ve neglected the bigger picture. Maybe we’ve been so busy following other people’s definitions of success and productivity and meaning that we’ve neglected to consider what feels true and right for us.

These questions can help you name what’s important to you and discover how you’d like to spend your days.
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Books

Living a Life by Design Instead of by Default

Some days, or maybe most days, you might feel like a passenger in the backseat of your own car. You are being driven to destinations you don’t want to go by a driver you didn’t pick. You feel stretched too thin. You are exhausted. You feel overwhelmed. You are attending events you’d rather not attend. Your to-do list is filled with tasks you don’t want to do. And the things you do want to do? Somehow those aren’t on the list.

This might mean that you're living life by default, not by design.

Thankfully, this is something you can change. In his eye-opening book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown shares valuable tips on how we can start living (and working) by design. Essentialism is pursuing less and better (versus trying to get everything done). It is constantly asking the question: “Am I investing in the right activities?” And by "right," he means whatever is essential to you. It is being deliberate and thoughtful about our days.
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Family

What to Do with a Cruel Inner Critic

Our inner critic might be loud and clear: I’m such an idiot! It’s always my fault. I can’t do anything right. What is wrong with me? I don’t deserve this happiness. I don’t deserve this success.

Or our inner critic might be more subtle -- and even unknown to us. Yet it still exerts its power, dictating the actions we take.

Each of us has an inner critic. Some inner critics are crueler than others. As we grow up, our self-worth and self-esteem derive their roots from our environment and surroundings. Our caregivers and anyone close to us has a big effect on both.
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General

9 Ways to Bring More Joy to Your Days

Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that joy only resides in the big things. Birthdays. Baby showers. Weddings. Holidays. Vacations. Even weekends. But we can cultivate joy every day. We don’t have to wait for momentous once-a-year or once-a-week occasions. Below, two therapists share their strategies -- some of which might be very familiar and others which just might surprise you.

Get enough sleep

You might not equate sleep with joy. But when you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to manage emotions diminishes, said
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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Brain and Behavior

10 Flimsiest Excuses for Not Taking Action

When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. More often than not, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:

I don’t know how.
Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project as a way to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don't push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience in doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to take action.
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