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

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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Family

Handling New Responsibilities

At some point in time, we all face new and challenging responsibilities. It may be for work, for our family, or even for the sake of living on this planet with 7 billion other people.

These responsibilities can encompass small everyday things -- brushing our teeth, putting on clean clothes, taking showers, or eating dinner -- or special occasions -- buying gifts and sending thank you notes to loved ones on their birthdays. They can be boring and tedious like finishing up a report for work or attending that meeting that you really don’t want to go to.

The point is we all face responsibilities we’d rather not. The alarm goes off in the morning and we're filled with hesitation.
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Bipolar

New Quizzes on Bipolar, Eating Disorders, Paranoia & Stress

Here at Psych Central, we're always developing new quizzes to help you better understand yourself. We believe self-knowledge is power, and so the better you know yourself, the more in control of your life you will become. It's a simple equation that works.

That's why I'm pleased to introduce a number of new self-help psychological quizzes that we've been working on over the past few months. We now have two new ways to test for bipolar disorder and eating disorders (which join our existing quizzes on these topics), and two new topics we've never had quizzes on before -- paranoia and stress.

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General

4 Different Types of Divorce

Divorces can be messy and complicated. But an amicable divorce need not be impossible to accomplish. A peaceful divorce not only saves you from mental anguish, but it also protects your kids from the pain of seeing their parents fight acrimoniously. You can prevent the narrative of family from ending on a tragic note in your children's lives.

Here are a few types of divorce proceedings that possibly could make it easier on all involved:

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Books

3 Ways You Might Be Making Yourself Miserable

There are many things that make us miserable that we can’t control. Our employer is forced to make cuts, and our job is part of the downsizing. Our colleagues are bullies. We’re born with a bad lung or poor eyesight. We’re too short for the sports team we’ve always wanted to join. There’s traffic, construction zones, storms, and a driver who was texting and smacked into your parked car.

But thankfully there are other...
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Happiness

5 Ways to Weather the Storm and Find Lasting Peace

"You can find peace amidst the storms that threaten you." -- Joseph B. Wirthlin
Does your mind ever feel like a tornado of whirling thoughts? And when that happens, do you wish for inner peace?

Well, not too long ago, after I quit my corporate job, I was stuck in that exact position. I realized that the degrees I earned and the jobs I chose made me miserable.

My inner chatter became unbearable, and my self-sabotaging, pestering thoughts sparked anxiety attacks, jitters, and nightmares. That forced me to go into therapy.
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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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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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Children and Teens

Helping Your Tween Navigate Their Emotions

Teaching your tween to effectively navigate their emotions is vital. After all, the skills of identifying and expressing emotions are valuable well into adulthood for everything from cultivating healthy relationships to practicing compassionate self-care.

It also helps your kids right now. Because as your child gets older, they have more experiences without you. It’s important for them to be able to pinpoint how they’re feeling on their own (e.g., “I don’t like this”). And it’s important for them to be able to articulate those feelings, so they can get the help they need, said parent coach Mercedes Samudio, LCSW.

Of course, this isn’t easy to do. Many parents naturally try to protect their kids from painful emotions.
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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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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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