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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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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General

How Quitting Facebook Helped My Mental Health

About a year ago, I quit Facebook. It had become a place for me to experience disappointment and agitation. Distant relatives whom I hadn't seen in years were messaging me for favors. The presidential election was gearing up and people were getting very vocal about politics. And some of my best friends were dropping out of the site or not sharing anything anymore.

I decided it was time to close my account and do something more positive with my time. It was hard to break the habit, but there was much to be gained.
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Aging

Going Back to School Later in Life

This past September my mother, at age 70-something, returned to graduate school after a 40-year career in interior design.

Going back to school brought great joy to her life. She loved learning and being part of a collegiate community with its accompanying youthful energy and enthusiasm. But she also experienced high anxiety about grades, keeping up with the workload, reading small print with her failing eyesight, and getting to class in bad weather.

When I went back to school at age 39, I also remember feeling both excitement and fear. My mind raced with questions: will I be able to study and do well while maintaining my family responsibilities? Will I be the oldest in my class? Will I still have the focus to study after all these years? Will the classes be interesting? Is it worth the money that school costs? Will it lead to a better life? I had many hopes and dreams but also the fear of failure, dread of embarrassment, and anxiety about all the unknowns.

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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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Aging

How Failure Breeds Success

Our weaknesses are the source of our strengths; our failures are the roots of our successes.

This is not another motivational cliché, this is a fact of history and science. Evolutionary theorists long ago concluded that the power of the human species lay in its weaknesses. Aware of their bodies' fragility compared to that of other animals, human beings had to compensate for their powerlessness in order to survive. Individuals were too weak to hunt by themselves, so they collaborated and hunted in groups. Collective activity emerged, communication evolved, tools were built, and the human species ruled all others.

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Habits

Psychology Around the Net: May 14, 2016


It's been a great week for me, sweet readers!

Not only have I made great strides in getting back on track living a healthy lifestyle, but I finally took Your Body, Your Mind off hiatus!

For those of you who don't know, I write the Your Body, Your Mind blog here at Psych Central. I took a break from the blog for several months because my "healthy lifestyle" slowly but surely came to a halt. However, thanks to some good talks with good people -- and teaming up with some inspiring friends -- things are looking up!

If you're interested in exploring how exercise and healthy foods can help manage mental health, head on over to my re-intro post, Welcome Back to Health Living!, and subscribe to the blog.

Now, let's get on with this week's news in mental health!

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Addiction

How ‘Mad Men’ Taught Us about Trauma, Shame & Healing

Don Draper, a character on the TV series "Mad Men," was a survivor of childhood trauma.

But when we first met Don, we met a man who had it all. He was at the pinnacle of his career, happily married to his gorgeous wife, Betty, and father of two adorable children. His haughty, arrogant and aloof facade was easily mistaken for genuine confidence.

We soon found out, however, that Don was a man with flaws. An alcoholic, a womanizer and an adulterer, he lied about things, not the least of which was his fake identity. These flaws, or what a therapist would consider symptoms, were an indication that Don was unwell. Symptoms are often brilliant clues that let an individual know they have underlying yet blocked emotions, often from the past, that need attention and release.
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College

The Ladder of Success is Different for Different People

“Welcome to the neighborhood. You will love our cozy cul-de-sac. See you at the annual block party!” the Jones’s pastel invitation coos.

Don’t know the Joneses? In reality, you have known them your entire life.

The Joneses represent homecoming Barbie and Ken, doting college sweethearts, first-time homebuyers, the ascending professional couple, and the glitzy “it” couple living in the tree-shrouded corner home. Which, incidentally, is where you and your family will be mingling awkwardly at the Friday block party.
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Children and Teens

Running in Place: Improving Public Education

Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. In popular culture, we have a cheerful image of little Jim and Jane skipping to their suburban elementary school. Cute? Yes. Accurate? Only if Jim and Jane hail from upper-class backgrounds.

Compare Jim and Jane, two adorable first-graders from Coldwater Canyon, to Marcus and Mariel, two adorable first-graders from Los Angeles. For Marcus and Mariel, domestic violence, physical violence, and food insecurity pervade their daily lives. On Mariel’s walk to her gang-infested school, she dodges used needles and condoms. In their bleak environment, elementary school represents a critical, stabilizing influence.

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