Jump to content
  • Sky
  • Blueberry
  • Slate
  • Blackcurrant
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Emerald
  • Chocolate
  • Charcoal


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Admin last won the day on September 5 2016

Admin had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

6 Neutral

About Admin

  • Rank

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. The triple whammy syndrome: Perfectionism – demanding things be done flawlessly Obsessiveness – holding on to thoughts way too long Rigidity – being inflexible, unyielding, uncompromising Heavy stuff! Calls for a bit of levity, don’t you think? What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and an overly controlling person? A Rottweiler eventually lets go. As you might imagine, the triple whammy syndrome is not funny. It makes living and loving extremely difficult. So, if your need for control is out of control, listen up so that you can loosen up. Get Back to Basics The most basic thing in life is the rhythm of breathing. Take a few moments to do nothing except focus on taking deep breaths — inhaling slowing, exhaling slowing. Feel your body and mind relaxing. Tell yourself that it’s okay to let go of your concerns and responsibilities – at least for a few minutes. If you did this exercise, you’re already feeling more relaxed. Doesn’t that feel good? Accept What Is Western philosophy emphasizes the importance of being in control while Eastern philosophy emphasizes surrendering control, accepting “what is.” There’s a time and a place for each of these belief systems. Many of us need to be reminded that not everything is in our control. We need to accept what is and stop berating ourselves (and others) for what has happened. Delegate Control If you have a strong need for control, you probably feel overburdened, overstressed. Yet, you hesitate to let someone else take over because that person won’t do it “the right way.” Yet, many things don’t have to be done only one way. Just like there are “50 ways to leave your lover,” there are many ways to do laundry, prepare a meal, respond to a request. Focus on What’s Realistic, Not Idealistic While perfectionism in the abstract may seem like a virtue, in real life it’s often a curse. If your need for control is strong, lots of times you’ll be upset with yourself and others. So try to seek accomplishment, not perfection. With some tasks you may want to put in mega effort to make it a first-class accomplishment. Others, however, just have to get done and out of the way. No gold star necessary. And still others, if you really think about it, don’t have to get done at all. Accept Yourself — with All of Your Flaws Quick — think of five things that are “right” about you. Now, think of five things that are “wrong” about you. Which of these questions was easier for you to answer? If you’re more aware of your vices than your virtues, do yourself (and others) a favor by reversing that pattern. Not only will you ease up on yourself but, since we tend to treat others as we treat ourselves, you’ll ease up on what you expect from others. Do Something Differently Prove to yourself that you can do things differently by deliberately changing how and when you do a task. Take a new route! Respond to a request in a different way! Say “yes” to something you’d typically say “no” to! When you’re always in control, life is predictable, safe — and boring. So try surrendering the control. You’ll find that most things will turn out just fine. And in the rare situation when it does not, trust that you’ll be able to meet the challenge, becoming stronger and wiser as a result of the experience. Okay, you’ve read the article. Now how many of these ideas will you put into practice? I know, it’s hard to do. Or maybe you don’t believe doing any of them will make a difference. Who knows, maybe it won’t. But I have observed that, if you practice these behaviors over a period of time, you’ll begin to relish your relationships, take pleasure in your work, and love your life’s journey. What could be better than that? ©2018 View the full article
  2. The end of summer brings about an assortment of mixed feelings. For families with school aged children one of those feelings is often anxiety. Both parents and children alike may be worried about the new school year, and for many those worries can be tough to handle. A little nervousness as the school year begins is normal. Both parents and kids will have concerns about the new expectations, academic challenges, social environment and managing the new, likely hectic, schedule. But when does school anxiety become more than a little nervousness and what do you need to do when it does? Kids of all ages can experience anxiety when going back to school. For most it is the fear of the unknown and concern that they will somehow fail at their assigned tasks. These worries may not always be expressed verbally, but rather through actions, behaviors, or physical symptoms. Children may suddenly develop a variety of ailments like stomach aches, headaches, or restless sleep. Or they may act out, becoming angry, oppositional or withdrawn. It is easy to want talk to them about why they are acting the way they are and try to get them to communicate about it, but generally kids do not want to open up. And at young ages many won’t be able to pinpoint the reasons. Instead try giving them opportunities to express their feelings in a physical way, such as game play or a creative activity like art. It can also help to do what you can to make their environment and circumstances more comfortable. If your child is struggling with anxiety related to school, try some of the following: Talk in positive terms. Children listen to everything you say and the way you say it (even if you don’t think so). Make sure you talk about school in the most positive manner. Highlight the cool new things that the year will bring and perhaps relate it to your own personal enjoyment of school. Watch out for talking in terms like, “math is so hard this year,” “social studies bored me to tears,” or “P.E was the worst.” Hearing you talk like this will give them unspoken permission to see things the same way and not give school a chance. Point out the fun. Each year brings new opportunities. Get excited for and with your child over these things. New field trips, new subjects, and new projects can all be made fun. Your enthusiasm will be noticed and remembered. Help them find friends. Social anxiety is a big issue for many kids, especially if they are naturally shy. Encourage new friendships by setting up play dates, after school activities, or enrolling your child in new activities. If you have a chance, you might even pay attention to the kids in the classroom or playground that look like they would be a good fit as a friend. Suggesting that your son or daughter might have things in common and would enjoy them might give them some direction. Be careful about being too overbearing about this though. Trying to choose your child’s friends can backfire. Talk to the teacher. A conversation with the teacher about your child’s anxiety can help as well. Teachers generally like to know when a child is having difficulties. Most teachers will work with you and your son or daughter to ensure the environment feels comfortable and safe for them. Anxiety symptoms will likely go away within the first week or so, but for some anxiety can be more serious. Social pressures, fear of bullying, and even the many news stories regarding school safety can affect children deeply and cause problems that go on for some time. If nothing you have tried works and you are still dealing with debilitating anxiety in your child, you may need to seek help from your family physician or a counselor. Anxiety issues in children are on the rise and while most will get through things with family support, some will need more. As parents we want the best and happiest experiences for our kids. Childhood is supposed to be fun, formative and educational. When dealing with an anxious or constantly worried child and your efforts to alleviate the problems aren’t working, it can be difficult to know what to do. Don’t discount the experience of those people who work with your child on a regular basis. Teachers and principals are good resources. They may not be able to solve the problems, but it is likely that they can help point you in the right direction for assistance if you need it. Whether it is kindergarten or college, anxiety at the start of a new school year is normal. You may not remember (or maybe you remember all too well), but you probably experienced it as well. No matter if it is short-lived or more serious your child will need you to be patient and supportive as they work through things. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that it will likely to get better as their comfort level with the new environment grows. View the full article
  3. The prevalence and rise of anxiety is documented and, with the abundance of informational sources available at arms-length, you do not have to look far for bad news. A sense of danger, both subtle and blatant, projects from the screens that dominate attention. As the world gets bigger in an interconnected way, the interpersonal sphere of those closest and most important to us becomes more influential, particularly to the basic needs of children. The holding environment created by parents while children are dependent, as well as the health of the attachment, become crucial to the quality of two vital parenting responsibilities: providing the safety of “home base” as well as the conditions for exploration. How some have chosen to engage this challenge may seem to have some value on the surface, but on a deeper level sabotages fundamentals of growth. “Helicopter” parenting, the hovering, overinvolved, and overprotective posture assumed by many moms and dads, attempts to spare children from pain, suffering, conflict, and the darker, cruder side of life. While it may appear to come from a place of positive intent, the approach derives from pain and fear. While hovering may have its roots in a parent’s personal history or lack of insight into healthy development, insulating children from the challenge and emotions of conflict, responsibility, and adversity comes at a cost. Equal to the importance of providing nurturance and support, is what balances the authoritative parenting style: setting limits and building the coping and problem-solving skills so important to resilience, self-control, and personal responsibility. Interestingly, when we examine the four parenting styles that emerge from the combination of levels of the factors of support/nurturance and demand/expectations, only one style is associated positively with self-regulation: the authoritative style. This style is one that is high in support and demand. The authoritative parent acknowledges that building relationships, competence, and autonomy all require a flexible, resilient character, one that uses the ups and downs of life as opportunities to grow and learn. Self-regulation emerges both from modeling as well as allowing children the opportunity to experience, modulate, and manage the negative emotions that accompany conflict, disappointment, and adversity. Hovering and clearing a sterile swath of problem-free terrain does not provide a realistic environment for children to grow from dependent to independence. Studies consistently point to the connection between this parenting approach and less than optimal developmental outcomes in the areas social-emotional, academic productivity, and self-regulation. The meta-message of hovering is “You are weak and you can’t handle this.” The fear that fuels protectiveness over time creates the conditions of entitlement, anxiety, and dependence. Helicopter parents assume that there are no consequences to their actions, and that independence and resilience are a function of age and genetic make-up, and not experience. But the detriment to development surfaces very early as other children only will play with someone for so long when that child always has to have it his way and falls apart when he doesn’t. This does not mean parents should go looking for conflict and challenge. Everyday life offers plenty of opportunity to increase autonomy and resilience. For young children, play can be as challenging as it gets, full of negotiation, delaying gratification, and things just not going your way. For older children, peer relationships and developing a sense of competence are challenging with plenty of room to learn and practice coping skills, problem-solving, and regulating emotions. Here are 5 strategies to help parents shift from helicopter mode to a more authoritative approach: Make sense of your experience of being parented. Our most intense and intimate experience of parenting is the first-person experience of our own upbringing. A great deal of this time we were dependent upon our parents on our way to becoming independent. This point of view is critical to understanding how we learned about ourselves, relationships, and how the world works. A robust predictor of parenting is whether or not we have made sense of our experience of being parented. Simply put, if we have made a coherent narrative of the past, these experiences will not intrude upon the present. This is a hopeful notion for regardless of past conditions, we can make sense and parent in a proactive and responsive manner. Build problem-solving skills. Problems are a regularly occurring part of life and are opportunities to build our thinking capacity as well as reciprocity within relationships. Studies find that intrusive and over-controlling parenting interferes with the development of emotional regulation and inhibitory control that children need to handle problems. Normalizing the inevitability of problems and modeling aloud the problem-solving process builds skills and reduces anxiousness. Process disappointments. Feeling fully from start to finish when things do not go our way is a valuable experience. Processing the sequence of emotions, choices, and outcomes creates coherent narratives and is more likely to promote an approach attitude rather than the avoidance stance that is common in anxiety. Coach children through conflicts. At the psychological core of well-being is the attitude of approach rather than avoid. Providing the appropriate scaffolding through conflict builds the cognitive and emotional resources needed for present and future challenges. This empowering stance is much different than letting kids figure it out for themselves for the literature points out that early on children require scaffolding and co-regulation from adults. Model resilience and composure. Children learn substantial lessons by watching us. How we handle when things go our way and when things do not is in full view. We can use these moments purposefully in modeling the beliefs, skills, and attitudes that we say matters. Do not underestimate the power of walking your talk for this creates the conditions within the family culture for grit and resilience to develop. References Panepinto, J.C. (2016). Up follows down: Resilience in everyday life. Bradenton, FL: Booklocker. Perry, N. B., Dollar, J. M., Calkins, S. D., Keane, S. P., & Shanahan, L. (2018). Childhood self-regulation as a mechanism through which early overcontrolling parenting is associated with adjustment in preadolescence. Developmental psychology. Siegel, D. J., & Hartzell, M. (2013). Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. TarcherPerigee. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml View the full article
  4. ​Seeing as most kids nowadays have their eyes glued on different types of screens, one might argue that social development is now more important than ever. Our children still need to learn how to interact with other people in the community and that’s where social skills come in. Children with better social skills have a greater chance of cultivating more positive relationships and interactions with others and they generally have healthy self-esteem. Conversely, poor social skills have been linked to an increased risk of various physical and mental health problems including loneliness, anxiety and depression. While many aspects of social development are an innate part of your kid’s unique personality and temperament, the environment they grow up in also determines how socially adept they become. Luckily, social skills can (and should) be taught even from a young age. As you endeavor to improve your kids’ social skills, remember that these are best learned in a social environment so have your kids interact in groups as much as possible. Here are some fun activities and tricks that can help hone your kids’ social skills: 1. Board games to teach kids how to cooperate and take turns. There’s nothing like a game of Snakes & Ladders to teach your kids how to play together, negotiate on who goes first and wait patiently for their turn. A good board game will also help your child learn how to follow instructions, stick with rules and be a good sport whether they’ve won or not. You can also change up the rules of some games to encourage kids to cooperate towards a common goal, e.g. instead of competing against each other while playing Uno, you can have them work together to eliminate adults instead. Remember to choose age-appropriate games and they’ll have so much fun that they won’t realize they’re also learning. 2. Play “Would you rather” to practice decision-making skills. Decisions are part of life and what better way to help your kids refine those skills than engaging in a silly, goofy and outlandish game of “Would you rather…?” The good thing about this game is that you can come up with lots of options that compel kids to pause and think before making a decision. You can stimulate further thought by asking them to explain why they chose one option over another. Have kids come up with their own questions to make it more fun. Some favorites include: Would you rather grow all your own food or sew your own clothes? Would you rather be able to control water or fire? Would you rather always talk in rhymes or sing instead of speak? 3. Improve their communication skills by getting them to discuss favorite topics. The ability to communicate effectively with others will determine the kind of interactions your child will have as well as the kinds of relationships they’ll forge in life. Effective communication consists of many distinct skills including conversation skills, listening skills, remembering what others say, reading body language and non-verbal cues, to mention a few. One of the best ways to help kids learn these skills is by encouraging them to talk about their favorite topics. If you have more than one child, group them into pairs and have them practice the back and forth of a conversation. Make it a game where they have to listen intently to what the other person says, perhaps even write it down and then you can ask what they’ve learned about each other’s favorite topics. 4. Use books and videos to help kids identify and express their emotions. The ability to identify, express, accept or manage feelings is crucial to a child’s emotional development. Identifying emotions and finding healthy ways to express them are skills that last into adulthood. Being young, kids struggle to name what they’re feeling and they might also struggle with managing emotions. As part of your kid’s learning, you can read kids’ books about feelings or watch videos together that help them understand their emotions. To make things more interactive, you can create a chart listing different emotional states then have your kids draw different faces showing those feelings and stick them on the corresponding areas on the chart. 5. Teach kids to problem solve with entertaining activities. We parents are often guilty of stepping in to help our kids whenever we see them struggling. Unfortunately, this can cripple their ability to solve problems on their own. Luckily, there are a variety of activities your kids can participate in to encourage them to look at problems from different angles and come up with alternative solutions. Some classic problem-solving games include jigsaw puzzles, jenga blocks and charades. Older kids can be introduced to origami or you can even have them follow a recipe to make a simple snack. Several games and activities can always be modified to tickle your kids’ creativity in order to polish their social skills. Above all, remember that you are your kids’ biggest role model, so ensure you set a good example for them to emulate. Resources: Improving Communication With Your Teen- Infographic (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.sundancecanyonacademy.com/improving-communication-with-your-teen-infographic/ Emotional Development (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/social-and-emotional-learning/emotional-development Katie (2017, May 3). 45+ books about feelings for kids. Retrieved from https://www.giftofcuriosity.com/books-about-feelings-for-kids/ Editor. (2016, October 4). 17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids, Adults and Teens]. Retrieved from https://icebreakerideas.com/problem-solving-activities/ View the full article
  5. Happy Saturday! School just started back in my neck of the woods, so in addition to the connection between brain function and heart health, the psychology of food, and other mental health news, this week’s Psychology Around the Net takes a look at some important kid-specific topics like dealing with back-to-school anxiety, the impact of mental illness on teen friendships, and why doctors are going to start prescribing playtime! How to Help Your Kids Cope With Back-to-School Anxiety: Some worry is normal, right? Naturally kids are going to be a little anxious (and maybe even excited) about who their teachers will be, whether they’ll have class with their friends — whether they’re going to make friends — and if they’ll be able to keep up with their school subjects. However, just because it’s normal doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can help smooth the transition, and there are signs to look for when “normal worry” turns into “extreme anxiety.” Scientist Explores the Nexus Between Appetite and Psychology: A bad mood could make your food taste sour. Organic foods could make you feel superior and judgmental. Want to eat less? Try putting your food on a red plate. The psychological influences on our appetites are fascinating! Brain Function Tied to Heart Health Early and Late in Life: Two new reports show that the cardiovascular health of both young and older folk is tied to brain function. Regarding Teens and Friendship, Misery Does Love Company: Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and collaborators studied whether internalizing poor mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depressions, and social withdrawal could predict the end of teen friendships. Does a teenager’s friendships end because of the teen’s mental health problems or because of the differences in the ways friends suffer from these problems? The Secret to Business Success That Will Improve Your Mental Health: I won’t give it away here, but be prepared to think about how the success of your business can benefit more than just your bank account. The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children: The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a report emphasizing the important role playtime plays (pun sort of intended) in helping children develop social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills and providing pediatric doctors with the information they need to “write a prescription” for playtime. View the full article
  6. Admin

    OCD and Flooding Exposure

    As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment, I thought I was familiar with most things related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it was not until recently that I heard the term “flooding” in reference to OCD, and over the past couple of months I have connected with three parents of young adult children with OCD who have dealt with this technique. For those of you who aren’t familiar with flooding as it relates to OCD, it involves the use of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. But instead of those with OCD creating a hierarchy and then working with their therapists to determine which exposures should be tackled first (also known as graduated exposures), they are “flooded” with the exposures that cause them the most fear and anxiety — the ones at the top of their hierarchy. As with any exposure, the person with OCD needs to remain in the situation, refraining from compulsions, until the anxiety subsides. To help clarify the difference between flooding and graduated exposures, the analogy of going for a swim is often used. If you jump right into the icy cold water, you feel the shock of the cold, though you will eventually acclimate. This is comparable to flooding. Entering the water slowly, perhaps dipping your toes first and then dabbing your arms, is similar to a graduated exposure. There is less shock to the body and it is likely more tolerable. The hope is that both approaches lead to the same result – an enjoyable swim. Now back to the parents I mentioned. In each case, their young adult children experienced flooding while attending residential treatment programs specializing in the treatment of OCD. None of the parents felt it was helpful, and two were firmly convinced this treatment backfired, as their children regressed considerably. This is not surprising to me or to most people familiar with OCD and its proper treatment. Whereas graduated exposures afford those with OCD a measure of control over their treatment, flooding does not. And exposing someone with OCD to their worst fears immediately? It is too much too quickly. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I actually think it borders on inhumane treatment. So why was flooding used in these cases? As far as I know, the only reason is because health insurance coverage limited the length of time their children could stay in the residential program, so there was only enough time to use flooding, not graduated exposures. There is so much wrong with this picture. Unless I am missing something, flooding does not ever appear to be in the best interest of those with OCD who have bravely reached out for proper treatment. And certainly not being allotted enough time by insurance companies to get the help they need and deserve is also not in the best interests of anyone — except perhaps the insurance companies. This is frustrating to say the least, and just one more example of why we need to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones when it comes to the fight against OCD. There is much work left to do! View the full article
  7. We are surrounded by the message to “live in the moment.” But sometimes, the moment just seems too hard to manage. Our breath shortens and muscles tighten, and all we want to do is break free from the present. This experience happens to us all — a medical exam we want to avoid, a work project we want to erase from our plate. It’s all we can do to breathe and take a step forward. The thing is, that stress and fear are what continuously hold us back. And they exist in the present. As a result, the only place to handle them is in the here and now. So I am, for a moment, going to be like all the others — because I want you to feel free of the worry and to tell you what you’ve heard one hundred times before: live in the present. Sit in the present. Be present. But don’t sit in that hard-to-manage present unprepared and alone. Instead, equip yourself with these simple reminders today, so that you can face your fear and worry with your truest strength: 1. Highlight your strengths. We are beautiful creatures, built with a balance of strengths and weaknesses. Our minds, though, are these curious things, focusing mostly on the parts of our lives that need improvement. We don’t see ourselves in a fair light in the least. But when you look at those around you, what do you see? That neighbor who is living the life of your dreams; that classmate living great adventures; people finding more time than you can imagine to be social and sparkling. I’ll let you in on a secret: when they look at you, that’s also what they see. You are their sparkling, glowing, brilliant comparison, the one they want to be. And YOU ARE! Everything others see in you, everything you deny from your own self-reflection, is true. Highlight your strengths and choose to embrace the part of your reflection that others see. 2. Live without barriers. We all face obstacles. Walk down the street — take in the sun and the movement; it’s great for your soul! And notice the people around you. I guarantee that not one of them got to where they are today without facing an obstacle. And no obstacle is greater than another; they are just different and a result of being human. So, when faced with obstacles, we are left with two options: freeze, or take a step forward. Perhaps we could just not be human and voilà! Obstacles will vanish. But until we morph into an alternate life form, we will face obstacles, and we will face the choice to stay frozen in the past or continue moving forward in the present. The thing is, you have already made this choice — and the brave choice at that — plenty of times! To get to where YOU are today, you chose to move forward despite your life challenges. And you made it through! I’m even willing to bet some of those obstacles that seemed so daunting in the past have become silly little memories. It might be hard to believe those obstacles would have ever held you back! So for a moment, remember that you are here. Remember all you have been through to get here. And smile in the mirror, telling yourself that YOU did that. 3. Live YOUR life. We grow up in a society that makes us think we are supposed to be a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. If we don’t follow a certain life trajectory, we are led to believe something is wrong. If we make a choice outside of the norm, we are forced to justify our position, if not to others than to that internal dialogue we have established from all that we’ve learned growing up. We’ve learned we are unique, and yet we fall into a pattern where no two lives ‘should be’ different. It’s time to take the temperature of this environment, though. Are the choices you make bringing you joy? Is the life you wake up to fueling your energy and feeding your passions? Are you laughing every day and finding yourself with connections? Do you feel free to unapologetically be you? If you answered yes to all of those questions, celebrate the life you’ve created. Rejoice in the realization that YOU are someone who brings you and the world around you joy. If you find yourself leaning towards no, don’t worry! You are not alone! We all end up in that place from time to time. And not all of us are so good at recognizing it, so great work! You really do know who you are — you know enough to realize some changes need to be made to live the life of your dreams. And knowledge is power enough to start to make small choices every day to return to living for YOU and authentically as you. And it’s okay to be wrong; a simple choice can change your trajectory again. Trial and error, when guided by your authentic voice, will lead you on the right path before you know it. So remember, check in with yourself. Support yourself. Let your inner self shine! You can create the life of your dreams. You can create a life where every present moment is as beautiful as a dream. View the full article
  8. Fixing. Solving. Smoothing over. We often reach for the metaphorical superglue when we feel bad or out of sorts. We seek to plaster the cracks of ourselves so the negative emotions don’t leak out, keeping a self-imposed equilibrium of what life “should” be like. But it is OK to be frightened, sad, stressed, anxious or feel grief because it’s OK for it not to be OK. The amount of effort it takes to hold the self imposed equilibrium tells us something — something important if we choose to listen. What it’s pointing out is we are fighting a battle we may not win. We are effectively fighting our own pain which often results in further pain. It’s a cycle of ouch. As well as denying ourselves the opportunity to develop healthy ways to cope with adversity. We are giving power to the emotional energy and building it into an insurmountable beast. The Cycle of Ouch The actions of fixing, solving or smoothing over suggest to our subconscious that what we are feeling is wrong. Its an inadvertent judgment saying it’s not OK to be in pain. We try to turn the tap off to our emotions by diverting attention or ignoring it, which triggers yet further pain, continuing the cycle of ouch. If we give ourselves permission to experience the emotion, open ourselves up to the vulnerability of pain we can find security. It is scary to even consider it. But being in the present with it, simply saying, “Hey, I feel you and I’m not fighting today,” takes away some of the energy of the emotion. This is a neutral position of working with the emotion rather than against. Neither holding it in or pushing it down into our bodies and hoping it will just go away. Or expressing it to its fullest so it bubbles over and becomes a bit messy. Neutral is a softer way to experience emotions. Rather than fighting life, we go with it. We find more inner peace as we embrace our experience just as it is. This won’t be easy to start with as this approach is a skill you practice and develop over time, but once you have it, it’s an approach that you will get plenty of use from. Five Skills to Develop to Break the Cycle of Ouch Say hey to it – Give the emotion recognition: “I see, hear and feel you and I’m OK with that.” Name it – Identify the emotion you are experiencing. The more honest you can be with what you are feeling, the gentler you can ultimately be with yourself. “I feel you ‘anger,’ I feel you in the pit of my stomach, I’m not going to fight you today, its OK that I feel you and it hurts.” Hang out – Just sitting with the emotion and even giving it space in your mind and body brings the potential for calm with no effort on your part. The emotion’s energy sometimes runs out when you allow it space; it kind of gives up as it’s not causing the desired drama. Focused breathing – Just noticing your breath, not making an effort to breathe deeply, just noticing where you are breathing from and maybe even counting the length of breath in… and out… will help the mind and body cope with what it is experiencing. Our minds can’t multitask so focusing on the breath rather than the emotion will automatically break the cycle of ouch. Trust yourself – Remembering that you are the best person for the job and your willingness to feel uncomfortable is a true sign of strength. Trusting in the knowledge that this will last for as long as it lasts but it won’t be forever, is powerful. This isn’t easy, but fighting or ignoring it isn’t easy either and takes more effort. Once the emotion has lessened, when you feel able you can choose to reflect on your experience and recognize your thoughts that triggered the emotion, you can do so, but you don’t have to do anything with these thoughts — again it is just acknowledging them because it is OK. Having simple, but effective techniques we can call upon when we experience negative emotions takes the power and energy from what is a scary experience. You can start to break your own cycle of ouch by just by remembering it is OK, for it not to be OK. View the full article
  9. If you take a moment to reflect, you will notice that almost 99% of the things that “bother” you are either in the past or the imagined future. Virtually none of them are in the here and now. That’s because that which is in the here and now is available to us to interact with, encounter, know, and influence. We usually have a great sense of control about things — even problems — as long as we feel we can see and wrestle with them. Things in the past or the future aren’t available to us to wrestle with in a concrete way … they are ambiguous, and therefore we are left either making plans A, B, and C, or rehashing versions D, E, and F of woulda, shoulda, coulda. We despise ambiguity because it renders us helpless to act, and acting is where we are comfortable. We are largely accustomed to taking in data, churning it around, and then focusing our efforts on doing something. Ambiguity makes it hard for us to do anything. And we hate that. We are action-oriented critters who find the feeling of helplessness highly unpleasant at best and severely distressing at worst. Being able to act gives us the illusion of control that makes us feel safe. Consequently, ambiguity makes us feel unsafe and unable to do anything about it. Often, this feeling is so uncomfortable that we act out in other ways that are largely irrelevant but nonetheless give us the sense that at least we are doing something, as unrelated to The Problem as it may be. This is the essence of the classic scene in which a rejected lover sits on the couch eating a half-gallon of ice cream. The character can’t do anything about making the object of their affection return the feeling, but he/she surely can locate a spoon, open the freezer, remove the goods, settle on the couch, and effectively eat loads of premium Rocky Road. It’s some kind of mission accomplished, if the other one is inaccessible. Many of our unhealthy behaviors are just that — stand-ins for other things that we can’t quite get our arms around, for whatever reason. Recognizing our discomfort with ambiguity and learning to tolerate the uncertainty of life is a choice, a practice to be cultivated on a daily basis by those who seek to decrease their engagement in unhealthy stand-in behaviors (such as eating ice cream when you don’t understand why someone doesn’t like you, or smoking cigarettes when you’re waiting for medical test results because you’re “stressed”) and cope directly with the reality of how much we dislike the grey area. If you’d like to start cultivating a greater tolerance for uncertainty so that you can decrease your unhealthy avoidant behaviors, one way is to practice on “little” uncertainties. For example, we’re used to having our phone with us 24/7 and constantly “checking” all kinds of things, keeping up on a million little pieces of information. A lot of these pieces of flotsam and jetsam aren’t really very important to definitively know and yet we’re more or less addicted to knowing them anyway. You might start by going off the grid briefly. When you meet a friend, let them know you’re leaving your phone in the car so that you can practice tolerating little nonthreatening pieces of ambiguity such as, is your friend late? Did they get held up in traffic? What happened with that work thing that you don’t really need to know about this very minute? Like anything else, we can’t get better at tolerating uncertainly and ambiguity unless we practice it, and modern technology creates the illusion that we never have to do so, which makes us all the more unprepared for the moments when we have no choice. Technology has increasingly facilitated our avoidance of uncertainty, but by no means has actually changed it. We can help ourselves tremendously by choosing to practice coping with what is an inevitable part of life regardless of how much we dislike it. View the full article
  10. More than the actual anxiety was the anxiety about the anxiety. I felt tremendous shame for having negative feelings at all. It was 3pm on a Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk with my head on my keyboard; I was too revved up to sit still, much less concentrate on work. I was in the midst of a resurgence of my lifelong anxiety and couldn’t talk to anyone or even focus on anything. Months later, I would finally be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The diagnosis was a relief. It made sense of overwhelming feelings I’d had my whole life that had mostly been regarded as a character flaw. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and I’d been going to therapy for years to face the trauma of my childhood. For the first time I was feeling my emotions instead of mashing them down, and expressing anger before it turned into resentment. My anxiety had decreased throughout this process, but then I decided to get married. My fiance did nothing wrong, mind you, but somehow the thought of marriage made me feel trapped and put me mentally back in my childhood home. I grew incredibly anxious — and yet completely unaware of it. I’d had trouble sleeping for months but I wasn’t upset or stressed about anything — at least not anything conscious. My stomach felt like it’d been glued shut. I couldn’t eat. Soon enough my weight starting dropping enough for other people to comment on it. Compliments at first that slowly morphed into expressions of concern. I felt nervous all the time and I was hyper-vigilant, no matter who I encountered or where I was. If I was in a car, I’d flinch at the sight of another vehicle pulling out of a parking space as though it was about to hit me — even if it was well outside my physical range. I was sleeping two hours a night and not even feeling tired the next day. Sitting still felt like torture, and I was constantly second guessing myself as if I couldn’t trust my perceptions. I’d had episodes like this off and on for most of my life but I’d always pushed it down. But now, after a lot of therapy and ACOA recovery work, when the anxiety attacks returned, I had to acknowledge them. My overwhelming anxiety was there and I couldn’t hide it no matter how badly I wanted to. But that was the problem: I really really wanted to… Generally, social media gets a bad rap when it comes to how it affects our mental health; however, Erica has more to say on how Facebook actually helped her deal with her Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the original article How Facebook Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety at The Fix. View the full article
  11. We think of anxiety as something terrible and awful and wrong. We think it makes us weak and worthless, deficient and defective. And we keep our anxieties hidden like a shameful secret, telling ourselves regularly that we’d be mortified if anyone ever found out. Being anxious is like “a private prison we carry with us,” writes Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D, a licensed psychologist and anxiety expert in Washington, D.C., in her eye-opening book, Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Your Anxiety Work for You in Life, Love and Work (co-written with Jon Sternfeld). Over time, we try to avoid our anxiety and pretend this prison doesn’t exist. Nope. No anxiety here. Nothing to see here. “This is completely understandable,” Clark told me. “[A]nxiety is uncomfortable, unsettling, can be confusing, and the vast majority of messages we hear about anxiety warn of its dangers and advise us to calm down at all costs.” But the discomfort of anxiety is actually a good thing. Anxiety is supposed to be uncomfortable. Clark further explained: “Like a baby’s cry, anxiety is designed to focus our attention and fuel action to solve the issue. It’s not designed to be ignored.” Which means that we can use anxiety to help us accomplish our goals. Specifically, we can use moderate anxiety—what Clark calls “chatter” anxiety—to fuel optimal performance. In fact, we rarely do our best without anxiety’s extra push of arousal, she said. In Hack Your Anxiety, Clark cites the Yerkses Dodson law, which illustrates that a moderate amount of anxiety can actually be motivating and energizing, such that performance increases as physiological arousal increases (but only to a point). The key is to be open to our anxiety, to listen to its message—and not to resist or fear it. Because this only escalates anxiety, and makes it less useful. Below, Clark shared two ways we can use anxiety to our advantage. Adjust Your Attitude How we think about anxiety dictates how we experience it, Clark said. If you fear anxiety, you’ll avoid it (which, again, only boosts it). You’ll also experience anxiety negatively if you see it as a massive obstacle you wish you could overcome (but can’t). And you’ll experience anxiety negatively if you see it as interfering with or hindering your progress, as something that only holds you back. If only I wasn’t anxious, I’d apply for that job. I’d ask for a promotion. I’d submit a book proposal. I’d have a relationship. I’d have a closer relationship. I’d apply for that grant. I’d start giving talks. However, if you see anxiety as a tool that can help you connect to what you care about and give you the energy to tend to it, you’ll experience it as a sincerely useful emotion that helps you to succeed. Because anxiety can be genuinely helpful. In Hack Your Anxiety, Clark quotes David Barlow, founder and director of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, who calls anxiety “an ambassador of responsibility, nudging you to taking care of the things that you need to take care of.” Clark also notes that anxiety activates the brain circuit associated with motivation (i.e., dopamine): “We want to act, we want to do something. This is our brain circuitry helping us to take action. As anxiety summons our attention, it is also activating dopamine to keep us motivated to act. The reward is solving the problem to remove the stressor, and dopamine helps us keep our efforts focused.” We can use our anxiety as a sixth sense that helps us guide our focus, and supplement our energy to keep growing, Clark said. Channel Your Anxiety Once you see your anxiety for what it is—a potentially helpful tool—you can channel it into creating solutions. Clark shared these examples: If you’re anxious about handling your job situation, use your anxiety to work on what you can control and improve (e.g., learning certain skills, submitting work on time, talking to your supervisor). If you’re anxious about how your partner will react to bad news, use it as energy to be more thoughtful about how you approach your partner and to listen more empathically. If you’re anxious about making a deadline, but your concentration is waning, use your anxiety to fuel your focus. If you’re anxious that your connection with your spouse is weakening, use your anxiety to identify how you can carve out quality time, and have fun together. The next time you feel anxious and wish to harness your energy, Clark suggests asking yourself these two questions, which she lists in Hack Your Anxiety: What problem is my anxiety trying to tell me about? How can I use my anxiety to solve that problem? Ultimately, when we’re stressed out and worried, our anxiety has already been triggered. It’s already moving. As Clark said, it’s already translating itself into energy and fuel. It’s up to us to figure out where to steer it. In other words, Clark suggests thinking of anxiety as a burst of energy that we can’t stop, but we can direct. Which is great, empowering news. That is, anxiety can be a strength, instead of a symptom, Clark said. We can capitalize on our anxiety, using it as a strategy to get what we want. “The choice is always ours, and this to me is the great hope,” Clark said. *** If your anxiety is way beyond moderate, please know that you have nothing to be ashamed about either. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting around 18 percent of the population every year. Thankfully, these disorders are also highly treatable. You can learn more here. View the full article
  12. The transition to college is an exciting time for students and families. The rites of passage associated with a senior year of high school in particular lend significant buildup to the college transition. Whether going directly from a senior year in high school or from a “gap” year, students are looking forward with intense anticipation to all of the mysteries and wonders of college life as they’ve come to understand it: meeting new people, a profoundly new degree of independence, exciting new surroundings, studies that may one day connect to a career, and a symbolic point of entry into their adult lives. This excitement can mask an equally profound sense of anxiety associated with this transition, and students often struggle to reconcile these co-existing emotional experiences. Leaving home can be as scary as it is exciting. Choosing a course of study (or feeling like one has to choose one) can feel as much like pressure as it can feel like possibilities. Meeting new people often goes hand-in-hand with fears about losing old, comfortable, and familiar friends with whom one has shared an extensive history. Being geographically distanced from one’s parents can feel deeply unnerving even as it feels liberating. Additionally, individuals may have significant concerns about the ramifications of the decisions they have made. The college application, acceptance, and selection processes and all of the inherent details such as securing financial resources and making housing decisions may render students with the sense that they have made profound and unbreakable commitments of epic proportions, which can feel like intense pressure to thrive no matter what — all the while having nagging anxieties that they may not have made “the right” decisions but are now stuck with them regardless. What was at one point an elated fantasy about four years of bliss may alternately seem like a foreboding, ominous, inescapable, and very expensive black hole. What if I hate it there? What if I should have picked the other school/program/scholarship/dorm/etc.? What if I’m too far away from my family? Will my family be disappointed/angry/upset if I want to change programs? Will Mom and Dad be angry/hurt/lose money if I try this program and it’s not right for me, and I want to transfer? What if I’m miserable on the soccer team and have to play to keep my scholarship/etc.? These are just a few examples of the kind of anxieties that frequently intrude on the festivities and glow surrounding the college transition. Students transitioning to college frequently feel anxious about being open about concerns they have because they fear that they will be perceived as unready for the change if they show signs of hesitation. It is important to them to prove their ability to go forward and engage their futures, and they may be reticent to verbalize any sentiments that have the potential to undermine their perceived readiness. The anxiety of transitioning to college is as likely to be a factor for individuals who do not have a history of anxiety or other mental health concerns as it is for those who do. In fact, it’s important to remember that individuals with no history of anxiety may feel even more pressure to appear to be “handling” the transition well, as individuals who have had anxiety in the past may be more comfortable discussing their concerns as feeling anxious is not an unexpected experience. They may feel less pressure to keep up an appearance “keeping it together” having already dealt with similar feelings previously, and therefore more inclined to seek help and support. For the people who care about them, supporting students through the transition to college means being empathetic to their conflicting feelings and not personalizing the stress. Often, the college process can be stressful and anxiety provoking for the people who make up the student’s support system, especially parents. Be mindful of your own attitude — verbally and nonverbally — towards the new college student. There may be a little part of you that resents them being less than completely positive about the upcoming experience into which you may also have put great time, effort, and resources. But you need to remember that their feelings of anxiety having nothing to do with their appreciation for the part you have played in the process. Their anxieties really exist independently of that, and your compassionate empathy for their conflicting feelings is as important as any other kind of support you have provided along the way. Consider trying to have some open and low-stress conversations with your student about their transition. You can help open the doorway for them to share their feelings by letting them know it’s okay for them to have some ambivalence … perhaps by sharing your own conflict (i.e., You know, I’m so excited for you and yet I find myself also a little anxious about having you so far away). Preemptively explore the support resources available on campus such as the student mental health center or counseling service, and review those opportunities with your student the same way you would take note of other resources such as the dining hall or the registrar’s office. In doing so you make your student aware of the opportunities while at the same time normalizing the idea that they might have anxieties and that seeking additional support is a good way to handle such feelings. Also, make sure your student knows that you will always be glad to hear from them, and you want to know how they are doing no matter what. By preemptively letting your student know that you expect there to be downs as well as ups and lows as well as highs on this exciting time in life, you are taking the pressure off of them to only be calling home with good news. View the full article
  13. We’ve entered the last month of summer (well, sort of — I don’t really consider September summer, bring on the pumpkin spice please and thank you!), and I have a question for you: Have you felt stressed this summer? Have you felt anxious and guilty? Have you withdrawn? If so, you’re not alone. There are many reasons why people with mental illness struggle during the summer, as surprising as that sounds to some people. That’s just one topic we’re covering in this week’s Psychology Around the Net. Keep reading for more on summertime blues, increased sales of books related to stress and anxiety, why we need to stop “merchandising mental illness” (and what that means), and more. 15 Reasons Summer Can be Hard for People With Mental Illnesses: It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could struggle during the summer — when it’s warm and sunny and there’s time to do all sorts of fun things — and yet…those examples are just a few reasons why summer actually is hard on some people with mental illness. Support From People With Lived Experience Reduces Readmission to Mental Health Crisis Units: A randomized controlled trial of more than 400 people in England shows that when they receive care from peer support workers who have personal experience with mental health conditions, people with mental health problems could be at a lesser risk for readmission to mental health crisis units. 5 Ways to Start the Mental Health Conversation in Creative Industries: Showing some compassion and empathy (and not just caring only about profit), setting an honest example, and sharing resources are just a few of the ways you can help boost mental health awareness and support in the workplace — whether you’re the boss or an employee. Please Stop Merchandising Mental Illness: “Seeing or experiencing illness makes any glamorization of it entirely ridiculous. Depression is not an effective way of ensnaring a man. Nor is it a love song to bop along with, a fashionable illness, or a fad for bloggers to wear for a few weeks, post about on Instagram, favorite and then disregard.” — Rhiannon Picton-James ‘An Anxious Nation’: Barnes & Noble Sees a Surge in Sales of Books about Stress: In the last year, sales of books related to anxiety increased 26 percent at Barnes & Noble. According to the senior director of merchandising, Liz Harwell, the company has never seen a comparable increase in books on this subject, and she suggest “we may be living in an anxious nation.” However, according to Harwell, there might be some good news. Alongside the idea that we’re “living in an anxious nation,” this increase in anxiety-related book sales could suggest that we’re also living in a nation where people are looking for solutions. 20 Morning Mantras to Start the Day Loving People (Instead of Judging or Ignoring Them): Not only can these mantras help you change the way you see and treat others, but also they can help you change the way you see and treat yourself. View the full article
  14. Dr. Brady Nelson and colleagues at Stony Brook University recently published a study in the journal Biological Psychology which found that you can mute the brain’s anxiety/threat response with simple shifts in attentional training. They found that a brief 5-10 minutes intervention of Cognitive Bias Modification (or CBM) training is enough to reverse a default neural response, a supposed hardwiring that creates a negativity bias in our attention. In CBM training the default gets shifted to allow a person to instead focus more on positive cues. At the level of cognition, this helps cuts off the cascade of an anxiety response. Let’s imagine you’re giving a pitch to a group of investors. You’re nervous. Your gaze falls on the person in the front row. You notice their facial expression: a furrowed brow, sideways smirk, maybe a disapproving head shake. You begin to panic. You notice other people in the crowd looking the same. Your mind races and you can’t concentrate. You completely botch the presentation. The negative feeling sticks with you, and every time you have to give a talk, you’re faced with a crippling sense of anxious dread, triggered by the thought of repeat failure. But all the while, you didn’t notice that there were actually more smiling happy faces in the crowd than scowling ones. Humans notice the negative more than the positive. It’s a hardwired evolutionary-based response that makes the brain more sensitive to loss than to gain. This negativity bias in cognition allowed us to survive as a species, but is crippling for life in the modern world. New research, however, offers a solution: We can change our brain (and overcome anxiety) by training ourselves to pay more attention to the positive. Train your attention, change your brain. The tendency to pay attention to negative things is the reason you often have such difficult overcoming anxiety. It is, unfortunately, a default psychology. But the science is beginning to show that this default state can be overridden and reversed. You can train your attention. You can change your brain. It’s called cognitive bias modification training, or CBM. A simple but highly effective intervention practice that nudges you to look for the positive things in your immediate environment. The best cues you can use for training: Faces. Why faces? Because your brain is highly sensitive to the information they convey. You are programmed to detect all kinds of emotions, both positive and negative, on the faces of other people. Try the following. Next time you’re in a social setting, challenge yourself to “find” the positive emotions on faces. There are several different contexts where this can work: People watching (on transit, out in crowded public spaces, etc.): Start off by just watching other people in a crowd. Make sure that you’re looking around at people is “normal” given the context you’re in. You have to be careful that your people watching doesn’t become awkward staring. Small group gatherings: These are places where there’s a larger group of people all broken off into smaller groups for discussion (e.g., networking event). As you engage in conversation with a few people, try to find the positive facial expressions. Formal presentations: This can be a great place to do CBM training. But it can quickly backfire, as our initial example in the above intro illustrates. The reason is because those emotional reactions are directed towards you and what you’re saying. It’s much more personal. Work your way up to this last stage of CBM training. Across all these contexts, what positive emotion cues are you looking for? It’s more than just a simple smile. Go deeper. For example, positive emotion (on the face) happens through the movements of tiny facial muscles. Look out for the ever-so-subtle musculature changes in these three main areas: The sides of the mouth pinching together and raising up (muscle called the zygomaticus major). The nose raising on either side and creating a “shelf” across a line of the nostrils (muscle called the levator labii). The outer edges of the eyes crinkling and creating a squinting expression (muscle called the orbicularis oculi). The most positive facial cues are when all three muscle regions are activated (also creates the distinction between a “real” and “fake” smile). Challenge yourself to find people’s faces that have all three. In addition to these in-the-moment interventions, there’s also now various CBM apps/games being developed. An online program called MindHabit includes a number of games that get users to find the smile in an array of faces. They also have a similar game that uses positive/negative words rather than faces. Similarly, a new app called Happy Faces is giving user-friendly CBM training with various types of stimuli. A bonus feature with their app is it offers personalized training where you can include your own pictures as part of the game stimuli. So the faces you attend to during the game aren’t random strangers, but people you know. Get into the simple habit of playing these games for as little as 5-10 minutes a day. These small exercises and games are easy to implement and have shown to effectively train attention. By focusing more and more on the positive, and pulling attention away from the negative, you are effectively cutting anxiety off at the pass. You aren’t letting it take hold. And now, new research is offering further evidence that it works by altering activation patterns in certain key brain regions. The study: The brain’s response to CBM training The researchers behind the study were curious to see if a single training session of CBM would affect a neural marker called the error-related negativity (ERN). The ERN a brainwave that reflects a person’s sensitivity to threat. It fires whenever the brain encounters possible errors or sources of uncertainty, leading a person to notice things that might be going wrong around them. But it’s not all good. The ERN can go haywire. For instance, it’s known to be larger in people with anxiety-related disorders, including GAD and OCD. A large ERN is indication of a hyper-vigilant brain that is constantly “on the lookout” for potential problems—even when no problems exist. In the current study, the researchers predicted that a single CBM training session would help curb this threat response and lead to an immediate reduction in the ERN. The researchers randomly assigned participants to either a CBM training or control condition. Both groups performed a task, once before the training (or control) and then again after. They had their ERN activity monitored using electroencephalographic recording (EEG). This technology uses a wearable cap with embedded electrodes that track and record the electrical activity of the brain — in real-time. The participants in the study completed a task that generated a number of performance failures. What the researchers were curious to see was the level of reactivity the brain showed (in this ERN signal) in response to these failures. Remember: a sensitive (and anxious) brain would see failures as more negative = larger ERN signal a resilient (and calming) brain would see failures as less negative = smaller ERN signal So the real question: Can a one-off “find-the-face” CBM task help pull a person’s attention away from the negative and lead to a smaller ERN? In line with the predictions, they found that those who underwent the short CBM training elicited a smaller ERN compared to the control participants. The brain’s threat response was reduced from before to after the training, simply by instructing people to shift their attention towards positive (and away from the negative) stimuli. The results indicate that CBM training minimizes the brain’s negativity bias by targeting the ERN—in effect by dampening the brain’s sensitivity to failure and uncertainty. And an actual change in brain state through a single session of CBM is particularly encouraging when you consider the fact that cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) have not been shown to elicit such neural changes. One important implication of this work is that CBM is capable of altering brain activity in people from a non-clinical population. Majority of prior research has looked at people with anxiety-related psychopathologies. Here the findings suggest that everyone can benefit from CBM, and that everyone looking to achieve peak mental performance can benefit from overcoming anxiety. Recap and wrap-up A minimal level of anxiety and stress is a good thing for peak performers. It keeps you on your toes. But too much of the negative, and things can begin to go awry. The question is, then, how do you stay in that optimal zone? CBM training is highly effective in its ability to alter the target source of your brain’s hardwired negativity bias. Through implicit, experiential, and rapid-based training, we are coming to understand that the core negativity response can be muted in order to get into the anxiety sweet spot. Remember to engage in these simple exercises, whether it’s in-the-moment or on an app. Your job is to override the negative default state, and direct your attention towards the positive, away from the negative. Start with the apps/games to familiarize yourself with the process. Then work your way up to real-life social situations. View the full article
  15. Whether you read this with your Saturday morning coffee or while winding down after a busy weekend, you definitely want to make some time to catch up on the latest in this week’s mental health news! This week’s Psychology Around the Net takes a look at the so-called “narcissism epidemic” of Western culture, whether or not “scream therapy” is a useful tool for treating anxiety, how poverty affects the mental health of menstruating women, and more. How the West Became a Self-Obsessed Culture: Many blame smartphones and social media as the self-indulgent tools that have fostered a so-called “narcissism epidemic,” but according to British author and journalist Will Storr and his new book Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us, Western culture has always been self-obsessed; we’ve just spent the years building up a culture that helps overstate our own successes and failures. Police Killings Tied to Worse Mental Health for African-Americans: A new U.S. study suggests that the police killings of unarmed black people are associated with worse mental health for African-Americans throughout the United States, even if they have no direct connection to the killings or deaths. Millions Are Battling Mental Illness — These Entrepreneurs Are Trying to Tackle it Via Technology: Two entrepreneurs are using technology to help the millions of people who manage mental health problems every day. Alison Darcy has founded Woebot, a chatbot and app that utilizes the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, and April Koh has cofounded Spring Health, which sells digital mental health benefits to employers. And these women aren’t going unnoticed — both are featured in Business Insider‘s list of 30 health-tech leaders under 40 to keep your eye on. Beef Jerky and Other Processed Meats Associated With Manic Episodes: Could nitrates — the chemicals used to cure meats like salami, hot dogs, beef jerky, and other processed meats — contribute to mania? An analysis out of John Hopkins University shows it might. New Study: Period Poverty Could Have Mental Health Consequences: Some of us take access to menstrual products for granted. For some of us, it’s like purchasing hygiene products as basic as soap. So, have you ever stopped to think of what your life would be like if you didn’t have such easy access to them? A new study reports that not only does a lack of access to these items not only disrupts everyday life like going to school and work, but can also put women at a greater risk for depression and anxiety. Does “Scream Therapy” Actually Work for Anxiety? Psychologists Weigh In: “Scream Therapy” is exactly what it sounds like: pure, raw, and primal screaming at the top of your lungs. It’s controversial among psychologists, but psychotherapist Franklin Porter explains screaming — which is actually a component of “Primal Therapy” — isn’t a therapy by itself. It’s the release you feel after you scream that can acts as the bigger therapy tool. View the full article