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Brain and Behavior

Want to Break that Good Habit Just Once? 5 Tips to Avoid Backsliding

I’m working on Better Than Before, a book about how we can change our habits. The most fascinating subject ever.

In it, one thorny question that I tackle is: How can we make an exception to a good habit, without disrupting that good habit altogether? After all, sometimes we do want to break a habit -- to take advantage of a rare opportunity, say, or to celebrate.
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How to Sit with Painful Emotions

Feeling painful emotions, not surprisingly, can be painful. This is why so many of us don’t do it. Instead, we ignore our emotions, or dismiss them. We try to numb the pain with a glass of wine or three. We isolate ourselves. We cut or burn ourselves, or engage in other kinds of self-harm.

Basically, we turn to anything that’ll help us get rid of our feelings.
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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: September 30, 2014

Every difficult person, the rude cashier, the ungrateful relative, and the draining friend could be excuses for your bad day, maybe even an unhappy life. But they could also be like the sound of your fan blowing in the background-simply white noise.

What you choose to zoom in on and what you relinquish your power to is an indication of what needs healing in your life.

When petty matters cause huge flair ups threatening your stability, and mental health, it's time to refocus your energy within.

Since life will always be chaotic, difficult and upsetting at times, the key is to cultivate a sense of inner peace. As you'll read in our posts this week, this may mean embracing whatever you're feeling or challenge you're currently going through, or it could mean making a positive change by adopting a new mindset.
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Porn Addiction: Not the Whole Story

The issue of whether porn addiction is real has produced a storm of controversy. Yet all this noise may be distracting us from a graver risk to healthy sexuality: sexual conditioning of adolescents.

I monitor a number of popular online recovery forums. I have read self-reports of thousands of otherwise healthy young men who heal severe symptoms, including sexual dysfunctions (anorgasmia, delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, loss of attraction to real people) by removing a single variable: Internet porn use.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Have You Tried Meditation to Help With Migraines?

A new study shows that mindfulness meditation may help lessen the duration and severity of a migraine -- one of the most painful and debilitating types of headaches. This is a significant finding as many sufferers have found little to no relief with conventional treatments.

Most migraine sufferers share similar symptoms -- throbbing headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound -- but there is no single specific cause. Therefore, conventional medicine can only treat the symptoms, never truly getting to the source of the problem. For some individuals, migraines are so severe and persistent that the only option is to lie down in a dark, soundless room until the pain finally subsides.

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Benzodiazepines & Alzheimer’s Disease

If you're taking an anti-anxiety medication referred to as a benzodiazepine -- such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan or Klonopin -- there's a new eye-opening study out that should get your attention.

When used PRN -- on as needed basis -- sparingly for times of increased anxiety, these drugs can be life-savers.

But some people use them more frequently. And for those kinds of users, new research suggests an important link to the risk of eventually developing Alzheimer's.

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Brain and Behavior

The Heartbreak of Mental Illness

I was talking to a friend the other day who is a clinician at a home for people with mental illness, and I told her I know what it’s like to suffer. She said something that struck a chord, though: she said she thought it was more a case of heartbreak than anything else.

I had never heard it described that way before, but I knew exactly what she meant.

I can remember when I was first diagnosed. I was so crushed by the label of schizophrenia that I could hardly will myself to do anything. I was in fact, heartbroken.
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Your Dreams Are Your Own and Bring Both Warnings and Gifts

“Letting go of the past means that you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now.”
- Don Miguel Ruiz

I grew up on a small cattle farm in the very small farming town of Savannah, Missouri with my grandfather and great grandparents.

My great grandmother used to sit outside on the back porch and string green beans or peel apples when the weather was mild, a worn dish towel over her knee and an ancient paring knife moving with practiced ease. As a very small child I would often sit with her, watching, and sometimes we would talk.

One evening we shared a conversation that would come to influence me for the rest of my life, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

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Brain and Behavior

Sleep and Light Exposure

The information and research findings on sleep are coming fast and furious these days. There seems to be a backlash to the cult of productivity and the former “badge of honor” for functioning on the least amount of sleep. There is a recurrent theme, which is that by not making restorative sleep a priority, there are both short-term and longer term negative consequences.

The negative impact of too much artificial light has become increasingly more relevant, as many of us are using multiple light-emitting devices right up until when our head hits the pillow. If you are interested in the optimal functioning of the human organism, it’s time to evaluate your sleep quantity, quality, and routine, as well as your exposure to both natural and artificial light.
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Anxiety and Panic

5 Mindful Treatments for Rumination

Rumination is a mental habit which leads to fixation on flaws and problems, thus extending a negative mood.

With continued attention to our problems, we become obsessed with our pain and can retreat from life. We stop eating (or eating more), sex drive disappears, sleep is disrupted, we are tired all the time, life is dull, and we do less and less.

Rumination starts off as a dim light that we stop putting energy into, allowing it to get darker and darker until we can’t see anymore.

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Brain and Behavior

Adapting to Change

The leaves soon will turn into the familiar shades we love to remind us that the seasons change and nature transitions. People also experience transitions requiring adjustment. We experience loss, whether it be in the form of a person, pet, place, job, habit, or object. We experience loss in the form of change. We experience loss within ourselves.

Loss is scary. It is unsettling and can feel overwhelming. With it, feelings of sadness, nostalgia, anxiety, and confusion may arise. It is difficult to fully accept loss. After the immediate loss, the brain rejects change and resists adapting to the new version of what your life will be. Resisting change only intensifies our reactions of fear and panic.

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