Problem Solving

Mindfulness Based Therapy as Effective as Antidepressants?

Mindfulness Based Therapy as Effective as Antidepressants?

Can therapy be as effective as antidepressants? A new study shows that mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MCBT) is more effective. 

Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved

Can a relationship survive infidelity? Many do. This is a wonderful and insightful talk about the whys and hows of surviving infidelity. 

Click on the Ted talk link to view Esther Perel's discussion of infidelity. 

Link to Ted Talk

How to Fall Asleep in Under a Minute

4, 7, 8: Can following asleep really be this simple? A few breaths and asleep within minutes? This technique has been used for years and has proven effective for many. Laura Wiley / Bit of News

Here is how you do the exercise:

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the tissue ridge right above your upper front teeth. Keep it there for the remainder of the exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshsound as you do so.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose while mentally counting to four.
  4. Hold your breath for a mental count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth for a mental count of eight. Make the same whoosh sound from Step Two.
  6. This concludes the first cycle. Repeat the same process three more times for a total of four renditions.

In a nutshell: breathe in for four, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight. You must inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. The four-count inhale allows chronic under-breathers to take in more oxygen. The seven-count hold gives the oxygen more time to thoroughly permeate the bloodstream, and the eight-count exhale slows the heart rate and releases a greater amount of carbon dioxide from the lungs.

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What Not to Say to a Sick Friend

What Not to Say to a Sick Friend

Your friend is sick? What to say can be truly stressful. You worry about whether acknowledging and bringing up their illness will remind them that they are sick or upset them. When people are sick, they don't forget. But saying something that is insensitive or invalidating can make it worse. Read on for some simple suggestions on what not to say to a sick loved one.

How to Really Help a Sick Friend

How to Really Help a Sick Friend

Having a sick friend is scary. The possibility of losing them can paralyze.  Many want to offer help and support, but struggle with how to do it in a meaningful and non-imposing manner. Gluck offers thoughtful ways to offer support to an friend or loved one with a serious illness.What to do—and what not to do—when someone you love gets a serious diagnosis

The 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health

The 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health

Do you practice any of these unproductive mental health habits? This article discusses the most common pitfalls that people engage in that hurt our mental health and why they are so damaging.

Health.com / Carey Rossi@goodhealth  /  Nov. 3, 2014

Change these simple, everyday routines to live a happier life

Depression is usually brought on by factors beyond our control—the death of a loved one, a job loss, or financial troubles. But the small choices you make every day may also affect your mood more than you may realize. Your social media habits, exercise routine, and even the way you walk may be sucking the happiness out of your day, and you may not even know it. Luckily, these behaviors can be changed. Read on for 12 ways you’re sabotaging your good moods, and what you can do to turn it around.

How we feel can affect the way we walk, but the inverse is also true, finds a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Researchers found that when subjects were asked to walk with shoulders slouched, hunched over, and with minimum arm movements, they experienced worse moods than those who had more pep in their steps. What’s more, participants who walked in the slouchy style remembered more negative things rather than positive things. Talk about depressing.

Get happy now: Lift your chin up and roll your shoulders back to keep your outlook on the positive side.

An Update On Screen Time

Parents get conflicting information about what is best for their children's health and development. Screen time is no different. As a result, it is easy for parents to feel guilty for not following the strict recommendations of no screen time for children younger than 2 and an hour for kids older than that. This article discusses changes to these recommendations. Its not about the number of hours alone, but the quality of the interaction.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Sufferers Have More Than Just Winter Blues

What are the winter blues? Can you just power through until the Spring? Should you seek treatment or are there things you can do to improve your mood? Dr. Rohan answers these questions in this article. SAD expert Kelly Rohan, PhD, explains the difference

Reporters/editors/producers note: The following feature was produced by the American Psychological Association. You may reprint it in its entirety or in part. We only request that you credit APA as the source.

7 New Year's Resolutions To Stop Making + What To Do Instead

How often have your new year's resolutions failed? For a majority of individuals, the answer is most if not all. Often the problem has to do with the type of resolution you set and whether it is truly achievable. Unfortunately, many set unrealistic goals and once they "fall off the wagon" feel they failed.  This article discusses the most common resolutions and how to go about setting yourself up for success.

BY JINI CICERO DECEMBER 29, 2014 5:17 AM EST

Every January 1, millions of people make New Year's resolutions. Chances are, they won't stick around for too long. Why?

Because most resolutions are unrealistic, or even unreasonable. Here are seven outdated fitness and nutrition resolutions that are destined — and deserve — to fail, along with smarter options to make sure you follow through and succeed.

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

This is an amusing Ted talk about positive psychology, a focus on resilience and strength. Dr. Shawn Achor shares insights into how we can become more positive and in turn become more productive and creative. There are simple steps you can take to reprogram your mind into a more positive frame of being and acting.

From Ted website: We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity. (Filmed at TEDxBloomington.)

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One more reason to get a good night’s sleep

The brain is magnificent. Sleep and its function is one more reason to marvel at it's efficiency. Watch this informative and entertaining Ted talk on how the brain "cleans up" during sleep.

From Ted.com website: The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.

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Silver Lining: Life’s disappointments offer great lessons to kids.

What do you do when your child is disappointed? How do you manage those moments so they become a learning opportunity. In this article I was interviewed on how to help your children learn and grow when they don't succeed. 

No one – including Supermom – can prevent kids from experiencing setbacks in life. Your daughter may miss the class field trip because she caught a nasty cold. Or she may come home crying when her science-fair project earns a less-than-hoped-for grade. Kids’ disappointments are no fun for parents to witness. But kids learn to lift themselves up when they get knocked down. Marriage and family therapist Christina Steinorth, M.A., author of “Cue Cards for Life” (Hunter House, 2013), says parents can help kids learn to bounce back from adversities by taking a teaching role. During tough times, aim to build your child’s coping skills and reinforce the value of persistence. Here’s how. 

5 Things No One Ever Told You About Raising a Toddler (but You Need to Know)

Ever wonder why the terrible 2s are so terrible? This article goes into 5 reasons why toddlers are different and why it is important to nurture those differences. by  

Sometimes parenting books feel like they're a dime a dozen — a handful cross my desk each week promising to provide the definitive method for raising sweet, well-adjusted tots — spoiler alert: few actually do. But when I learned that Dr. Tovah Klein, a mother of three and the director of the Barnard College Center For Toddler Development in NYC who has been observing toddlers for over 20 years, would be speaking at my son's preschool PTA meeting, I made sure I was seated in the front row to hear her philosophy and learnings firsthand. Dr. Klein's recently released How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today For Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success ($19, originally $25) was already generating buzz, and after hearing her in person, I understand why.

Based on the philosophy that toddlers are not miniadults, that they're individuals fueled by a desire to know was just the beginning. In just 45 minutes Dr. Klein took us deep into the magical world of the toddler years and got to the root of many of our biggest frustrations with our tots. I learned a few fascinating philosophies about young kids that have already helped me better understand my child. I highly suggest you pick up a copy, but in the interim, here are a handful of teasers you'll find in the book.

1: Toddlers Have No Sense of Time

2: To Them, the World Is All About Power and Control

3: Happiness Doesn't Come From Trying to Make Them Happy

4: They Need to Stumble and Fall

5: The Qualities That Drive Us Nuts Now Are the Ones We'll Want Later

To read the descriptions and how to cope click on the Link to article below.

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Depression, the secret we share

Andrew Solomon shares his experience of depression and poses many challenging questions within this Ted Talk.  Is the opposite of depression not happiness but vitality? What role does our shame about mental illness play in maintaining our silence and avoiding treatment? Is access to treatment prejudiced by our expectations? Link to Ted talk

Brain's Stress Circuits Undergo Profound Learning Early in Life, Scientists Find

Can stress in the earliest days of our lives set us up for how we cope and our preferences to eating comfort food? This study finds evidence for this.

Apr. 7, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute have discovered that stress circuits in the brain undergo profound learning early in life. Using a number of cutting edge approaches, including optogenetics, Jaideep Bains, PhD, and colleagues have shown stress circuits are capable of self-tuning following a single stress. These findings demonstrate that the brain uses stress experience during early life to prepare and optimize for subsequent challenges.

The team was able to show the existence of unique time windows following brief stress challenges during which learning is either increased or decreased. By manipulating specific cellular pathways, they uncovered the key players responsible for learning in stress circuits in an animal model. These discoveries culminated in the publication of two back-to-back studies in the April 7 online edition of Nature Neuroscience.

"These new findings demonstrate that systems thought to be 'hardwired' in the brain, are in fact flexible, particularly early in life," says Bains, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. "Using this information, researchers can now ask questions about the precise cellular and molecular links between early life stress and stress vulnerability or resilience later in life."

Stress vulnerability, or increased sensitivity to stress, has been implicated in numerous health conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and depression. Although these studies used animal models, similar mechanisms mediate disease progression in humans.

"Our observations provide an important foundation for designing more effective preventative and therapeutic strategies that mitigate the effects of stress and meet society's health challenges," he says.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

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Toxic Teachers: Are teachers the new mean girls? QL Investigates the bullies in front of your blackboard.

When you think about being bullied as a teenager, would you include your teachers as the culprits? I was recently quoted in an article exploring the negative impact of teacher bullying and how to cope. Publication: Girls' Life Author: Abbondanza, Katie Date published: August 1, 2013

"She said a 6-year-old could do better work."

"He criticized every little mistake I made."

"She called me stupid in front of the whole class."

As tough as it is to report, each of those statements came straight from GL readers discussing their very real experiences with bullies. But these bullies aren't fellow classmates - they're teachers.

We grow up thinking that teachers are kind, trustworthy and fair. And most are. But that's why the reports of educators singling out and berating students are troubling. This isn't girls being sensitive or overreacting to one-off comments. Teacher bullying is happening in classrooms across the nation. In fact, a 2012 study found that 45 percent of the 116 teachers surveyed copped to bullying a student. And the effects can be devastating to girls' self-esteem.

Bad Teacher

While it may seem harsh when your teacher doles out a detention after you flaked on the homework for the third time, if that's her rule for everyone, it's not bullying. Rather, teacher bullying is typically defined as using a position of authority to either manipulate or belittle a student past what's accepted as normal discipline, according to Dr. Stuart Twemlow, who has researched this topic.

It's important to remember that teachers are human, so they may lose their cool on a stressful day. But repeatedly lashing out or acting controlling is different. Name-calling, singling someone out, overreacting to the point that a student is afraid or physically intimidating or hitting a student all count as bullying or abusive behaviors.

Miranda H., 17, knows firsthand what it's like to be bullied by a person in power. During her sophomore year, she was harassed by her band instructor after a scheduling conflict didn't allow her to sign up for two periods of music.

Due to her other classes, Miranda, a talented saxophone player, had to take a seat in a less prestigious ensemble.

"I was one of his favorite students freshman year, but he made my sophomore year terrible," she says. "He would yell and be cruel, saying I was a 'disgrace to the band.'"

Just as scary, Miranda's teacher blamed her for his outbursts, a classic trait exhibited by abusers. He told her if she had just done what he wanted, he wouldn't have to call her out all the time.

"It was terrible," she says, adding that she'd go home in tears nearly every day. "I was constantly on edge, and I couldn't concentrate in my other classes."

Miranda's father talked with the band teacher at one point, but he denied any abusive behavior. And though she took all the right steps, his reaction made her feel like she was wrong, which is typical among bullying victims.

"If a teacher is calling you inappropriate names or repeatedly singling you out for minor mistakes [which are different from behavioral issues], know that you did nothing wrong," says Jennifer Musselman, a therapist who works with teens.

Speaking Up

It's easy for students to feel powerless in these situations, but all the experts we spoke with stressed the importance of talking to your teacher before things escalate. In some cases, he or she might simply have high standards for you and be inadvertently treating you differently than the rest of the class. Regardless of the reason, you have to say something.

Where to start? Be direct. You should bring up exactly what's bothering you, whether it's the way your teacher ignores your hand when you raise it or how it hurts your feelings when she teases you, even if she's joking.

Mention that you've noticed it more than once. Maybe your teacher isn't aware her behavior is bothering you, and all it will take is a quick after-class conversation to get her to back off.

Of course, confronting your teacher doesn't always guarantee success. Maggie L., 17, had an eighth-grade art teacher who constantly singled out her work. She loved to draw, but her teacher always criticized her. One day, Maggie spoke up and asked what she could do to improve her piece.

"Well, if I were you, I'd throw it out and start over," the teacher told her, even though she was almost done with the entire assignment.

"Sometimes, her comments hurt my feelings." Maggie confessed. "Teachers are in such a powerful position. No matter if you like them or not, their opinion of you really matters. It's very different from classmates being judgmental or not liking you."

Maggie's thoughts get to the heart of why teacher bullying is so troublingand why girls have to continue to defend themselves even after that initial chat with their teacher.

"[If a teacher's behavior is] starting to affect your self-esteem or your grade, it's time to take your concerns to a trusted adult like your mom, dad, school counselor or another teacher," says Jennifer. She recommends documenting the day, time and what the teacher said so you can have a record of what happened.

"Be very clear on what the teacher is saying or doing that is causing you to feel this way," she says. "If possible, list any classmates who can vouch for you."

Ask your parents to talk to the teacher with you, and give them your written list of concerns and incidents. They might decide it's time to talk with the principal or the vice principal, who will hopefully remedy the situation. In the meantime, focus on your work and, if necessary, ask for extra help from a friend or school counselor.

Damage Control

Truth is, just one semester with a toxic teacher can negatively influence your life for years to come, which is why it's extra important to deal with the damage before it's too late.

Miranda, the one-time band star who was bullied, ended up quitting her instrument altogether by the time junior year rolled around.

After having her teacher read her English paper out loud and then call her stupid, Nina J., 14, is now afraid to make her presence known in class. "I never raise my hand in class anymore, because I'm afraid she will make me feel dumb," she admits.

Nina's case may be extreme, but the psychological effects of dealing with a toxic teacher can linger long after class is dismissed. Dr. Nerina GarciaArcement, a clinical psychologist, says to put your feelings down on paper - either by journaling or writing a letter to your teacher that you don't send. Talking with a school counselor also can help sort through the issue.

A Fresh Start

If all else fails, know you can remove yourself from the situation if you and your parents talk with the school's administration. "If the teacher doesn't change, it may be time to transfer out of that class," says Jennifer.

Take Emily M., 15, who eventually decided to take it one step further. She switched schools after her former school's only drama teacher picked on her endlessly.

"He'd say I'm obnoxious and ugly and annoying and stupid. That there was no way I'd ever be an actress," Emily says.

In the end, Emily made the tough decision to transfer, opting for a fresh start. "As hard as it was to leave, it would have been even harder to continue to deal with that teacher," she says. "I'm finally back to my old cheerful self. I'm a lot happier as a person now."

But even if the cruel comments cease or you remove yourself from dealing with critical remarks by changing classes or schools, check yourself for any persistent habits you may have picked up during that time period - like not speaking up in class or thinking you're not good at a certain subject - just because a bully teacher told you so.

"Try to figure out, 'How did this impact me?'" says Dr. GarciaArcement. And then, if you realize you're scared or are avoiding something you used to love, figure out a plan to get involved again - away from the watchful eye of your toxic teacher.

Miranda, who quit playing saxophone because of her experience, could form a jazz band with some friends outside of school. Maggie, who stopped believing in her artsy abilities, could take a lowpressure drawing class at a ree center.

And remember, while it's unfair that you have to deal with a bullying teacher, know that most educators are supportive, professional people who want to see you go far. So for every toxic teacher in this world, there are hundreds of others out there ready to guide you in the right direction. Keep an eye out for the ones who will truly help you shine.

Read more: http://www.readperiodicals.com/201308/3030678731.html#b#ixzz2eQjJuSRa

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How to make stress your friend-Ted talk

Can how we think about stress make us healthier and stronger? Can seeking social support extend our lifespan despite our stress level?  Watch this insightful Ted talk and find out. http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

Can Meditation Make You a More Compassionate Person?

Meditating doesn't just reduce anxiety, it can make more aware of your surroundings and the needs of others.

Apr. 1, 2013 — Scientists have mostly focused on the benefits of meditation for the brain and the body, but a recent study by Northeastern University's David DeSteno, published in Psychological Science, takes a look at what impacts meditation has on interpersonal harmony and compassion.

Several religious traditions have suggested that mediation does just that, but there has been no scientific proof -- until now.

In this study, a team of researchers from Northeastern University and Harvard University examined the effects meditation would have on compassion and virtuous behavior, and the results were fascinating.

This study -- funded by the Mind and Life Institute -- invited participants to complete eight-week trainings in two types of meditation. After the sessions, they were put to the test.

Sitting in a staged waiting room with three chairs were two actors. With one empty chair left, the participant sat down and waited to be called. Another actor using crutches and appearing to be in great physical pain, would then enter the room. As she did, the actors in the chair would ignore her by fiddling with their phones or opening a book.

The question DeSteno and Paul Condon -- a graduate student in DeSteno's lab who led the study -- and their team wanted to answer was whether the subjects who took part in the meditation classes would be more likely to come to the aid of the person in pain, even in the face of everyone else ignoring her. "We know meditation improves a person's own physical and psychological wellbeing," said Condon. "We wanted to know whether it actually increases compassionate behavior."

Among the non-meditating participants, only about 15 percent of people acted to help. But among the participants who were in the meditation sessions "we were able to boost that up to 50 percent," said DeSteno. This result was true for both meditation groups thereby showing the effect to be consistent across different forms of meditation. "The truly surprising aspect of this finding is that meditation made people willing to act virtuous -- to help another who was suffering -- even in the face of a norm not to do so," DeSteno said, "The fact that the other actors were ignoring the pain creates as 'bystander-effect' that normally tends to reduce helping. People often wonder 'Why should I help someone if no one else is?'"

These results appear to prove what the Buddhist theologians have long believed -- that meditation is supposed to lead you to experience more compassion and love for all sentient beings. But even for non-Buddhists, the findings offer scientific proof for meditation techniques to alter the calculus of the moral mind.

 

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Anxious? Activate Your Anterior Cingulate Cortex With a Little Meditation

Practicing mindful meditation lights up the parts of the brain that control thinking emotions such as worry are activated. Anxiety levels are reduced.

June 4, 2013 — Scientists, like Buddhist monks and Zen masters, have known for years that meditation can reduce anxiety, but not how. Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, however, have succeeded in identifying the brain functions involved.

"Although we've known that meditation can reduce anxiety, we hadn't identified the specific brain mechanisms involved in relieving anxiety in healthy individuals," said Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow in neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. "In this study, we were able to see which areas of the brain were activated and which were deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief."

The study is published in the current edition of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

For the study, 15 healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety were recruited for the study. These individuals had no previous meditation experience or anxiety disorders. All subjects participated in four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions.

Both before and after meditation training, the study participants' brain activity was examined using a special type of imaging -- arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging -- that is very effective at imaging brain processes, such as meditation. In addition, anxiety reports were measured before and after brain scanning.

The majority of study participants reported decreases in anxiety. Researchers found that meditation reduced anxiety ratings by as much as 39 percent.

"This showed that just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can help reduce normal everyday anxiety," Zeidan said.

The study revealed that meditation-related anxiety relief is associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain involved with executive-level function. During meditation, there was more activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls worrying. In addition, when activity increased in the anterior cingulate cortex -- the area that governs thinking and emotion -- anxiety decreased.

"Mindfulness is premised on sustaining attention in the present moment and controlling the way we react to daily thoughts and feelings," Zeidan said. "Interestingly, the present findings reveal that the brain regions associated with meditation-related anxiety relief are remarkably consistent with the principles of being mindful."

Research at other institutions has shown that meditation can significantly reduce anxiety in patients with generalized anxiety and depression disorders. The results of this neuroimaging experiment complement that body of knowledge by showing the brain mechanisms associated with meditation-related anxiety relief in healthy people, he said.

Support for the study was provided by the Mind and Life Institute's Francisco J. Varela Grant, the National Institutes of Health grant NS3926 and the Biomolecular Imaging Center at Wake Forest Baptist.

Co-authors are Katherine Martucci, Ph.D., Robert Kraft, Ph.D., John McHaffie, Ph.D., and Robert Coghill, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist.

 

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