The sheer nature of boss-employee relationship, regardless of how laid-back it might be, guarantees that there will be at least some friction and tension. The boss, in essence, needs you to do some work for them and has a spectrum of tools to use in getting what they want out of you. This will always cause strain, that’s just how it is. Work-related stress falls under the top five life pressures for the majority of working people. Read more “Difficult Bosses: A Man’s Survival Guide”
You might be saying, “duh” right now that pets can help you with mindfulness and loneliness. Or, maybe the connection isn’t as clear to you yet. Have you owned a pet before? How did your pet make you feel? If you have had one, you probably remember the times you were doing something and then had to completely shift your focus because your pet did x, y or z. Or, the times when you were running around the house, then stopped to hang out with your pet because it just felt good for a minute (or… a mindful moment). See what we did there?
Pets help us shift our focus, sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the “not so good” like when you have to clean up a mess. Yet, either way, they can take our attention from our heads to our hearts and that unconditional love they give (except for a few swarmy cats perhaps!) is a trait humans should be aiming for each day. Read more “Pets Can Help You With Mindfulness (And Loneliness)”
A friend of mine recently went home for the holidays to discover some members telling him that “there is no more Aunt Carrie.” He grew up with Aunt Carrie from birth. Aunt Carrie was at every family holiday, his graduation, his wedding, everything.
Aunt Carrie and Uncle Mike had a divorce when they were in high school, but they still stayed friends and he still saw them together at holidays and events as they had two children that were my friend’s cousins from their marriage. “There is no more Aunt Carrie,” they told him, because she had recently moved in with a new boyfriend.
Family Changes Are Hard
Aunt Carrie also had a few other issues that came to light, including the fact that for all these years, her coca cola was laced with the vodka that she carried with her everywhere she went. Family secrets unearthed, family changes happening. My friend’s first thoughts were not even thoughts at all, they were confusion. They love Aunt Carrie.
In all reality, my friend will possibly not see her Aunt very often, possibly ever again, or who knows. You see, they live far apart to begin with and now she has moved even farther, and my friend may very well be the only person in the family to visit her along with her own children. My friend is experiencing family changes and they are hard.
How to Cope with Family Changes
There are other parts to family changes too. They can happen from a divorce like my friend, but they also happen in another way such as a new family member. This one, I personally understand. I recently had a child of my own and having a new baby and new family member is strange!! (Mind you, awesome, but strange!!)
There is a new person to consider in plans when it comes to, well, everything. Also, my relationships with my cousins and family members is different now. We’re not drinking quite as late or as much on special occasions. The language I use has changed. My priorities are different. Again, family changes.
Coping with change is a challenge, but both the most adept men and the most casual of us can thrive during change, even when it feels unnatural. First thing? Let go. Literally breathe it out. I often think about the book the Great Gatsby when I think of change. You see, the main character tries to recreate the past, exactly as it once was, in hopes that it will be the same. It will never be the same and in the end, he is consumed by his efforts. Try not to “Gatsby” yourself and accept these new family changes. In the end, the path of least resistance is usually best.
What Can You Change?
Nothing really. We can’t change anyone besides ourselves. We can gain understanding though and we can make sure we are drinking enough water, eating our vegetables and practicing mindfulness. Sometimes, when the mind is stressed, taking care of the body can help you regain focus. I recommend the Mood Food Clinic in Denver if you think diet might be something to take a look at in your life. Simple dietary changes affect the gut which directly affects the mind. This is being proven repeatedly in reputable scientific studies.
Counseling is the other piece. Men don’t have much acceptance in being able to talk about their problems. If we do, we tend to turn it into a joke or let it come out in anger or passive aggressiveness. It’s not “manly” to talk about your problems to your friends and family. We disagree. Talking and working out your problems man to man is a way to grow immensely. It actually makes you mentally and physically stronger. Taking care of emotions can even improve your immune system. And you might find yourself experiencing more “luck” on a regular basis because you’re more often a better version of yourself.
Counseling for Men
Our practice focuses specifically on men’s issues because let’s face it, we need a place to go to figure out complex problems, and there aren’t many. We work with mindfulness, encourage healthiness, and listen to what’s going on in your life so that you can be a better man. Perhaps one you are proud of, who knows when to say no and when to say yes. Maybe, just maybe this could the step you’ve needed, but didn’t know you did. If you’re ready to take a leap, try scheduling a session with one of our therapists at Stephen Rodgers Counseling of Denver.
You might already have noticed that many (if not all) of your significant romantic relationships tend to have something in common.
Your current and ex-partners all might be fairly different from each other in most of their characteristics, but there is probably at least one thing that they all share, and that is the way in which you relate to them.
Some relationships will work out and some won’t, but in all probability, you (and your partners as well) will have a tendency to behave, feel, and react in one specific manner. This relatively steady form of relating to our love partners is called attachment style.
Attachment style is something that is formed during our early childhood, and it is something that affects (maybe even dictates) how we will choose our partners, how those relationships will develop, and usually, how they will end.
This and our next blog post will explain what attachments styles are there, how they are formed and help you determine how you relate to others. After you get to understand yourself in your love life a bit better, we will also explain how destructive attachments can be mended with the help of psychotherapy so that you can love and relate to others free of unhealthy patterns in behavior and emotions.
What are Attachment Styles and How We Got Ours?
When we were children, we had certain experiences within our family, and everything that we experienced, either directly or indirectly, affected who we will become in our future relationships.
Our first taste of the world and others came when we were infants through the way in which our caregivers interacted with us. Human infants, similar to other mammals, are equipped with a range of behaviors that have a function to maintain physical proximity of the caregiver (usually mother in the first months of life), thus ensure protection, care, and support.
Babies cry, cling, search for, and do everything in their power to remain close to their mothers. This closeness needs to be not only physical, but also psychological, as the child’s emotional needs become almost equally important as biological ones. And mothers (or other primary caregivers) react in a certain way to their child, responding to their attempts to get attention they need in a certain way.
These dynamics develop our means of getting needs met which develops into stable attachment styles projecting themselves into adulthood (although it is not uncommon that attachment style changes over time, both towards more secure and towards insecure attachments).
Adulthood attachment styles, in essence, are manifested as the way in which we react to our emotional needs in a relationship, and how we try to meet those needs.
Based on our attachment style and that of our partner’s, we will most likely feel either confident and secure in our relationship or marriage, or we will feel insecure in a number of ways.
What follows is a brief overview of four attachment styles that we see in adults as well as children.
Four Attachment Styles
The basic dimensions of attachment, according to attachment theory, are avoidance and anxiety. These can be low or high in our relationship with others, and based on the combination of these dimensions we get the four attachment styles: secure (low avoidance and low anxiety), preoccupied (low avoidance but high anxiety), fearful-avoidant (high avoidance and high anxiety), and dismissing-avoidant (high avoidance but low anxiety). Apart from the secure model (which, fortunately, is found in approximately 60% of adults), the remaining three usually come with problems in emotional life.
A securely attached person is confident, and tends to be more satisfied with their relationship. They feel connected and close to their partner, but also have a need to allow themselves and their partner enough space and freedom. A securely attached person is independent, but in distress finds and offers comfort within the relationship. It is an ideal way of relating to others, with affection, intimacy, and healthy independence.
Preoccupied individuals have a burning need to be close to their partner as their anxiety is high to the point of emotional hunger. This is especially true in any stressful situation, when a preoccupied person will have a strong need to be constantly reassured of their partner’s affection. Yet, by being clingy, possessive, and highly demanding, they often drive the partner further away and the vicious cycle of insecurity and clingy-ness closes.
Fearful-avoidant persons experience high levels of ambivalence in their relationships, as they are afraid of both being both too close with and too separate from their partner. Such difficult position often results in true emotional outbursts, and their relationships tend to be chaotic, dramatic, with many break-ups and getting back together. In essence, a person with this attachment style will feel the need to be close to their partner, but will also believe that if you’re too close to someone, you are bound to be hurt and betrayed.
Finally, dismissing-avoidant individuals have a strong need for something that is only pseudo-independence. They distance themselves from their partners and tend to their inner world, disregarding the human need to be close to another person, which allows them to detach from their partners with ease and remain somewhat cold and composed in situations that would make others lose their cool. Such person will have difficulties forming meaningful relationships, as true relationship with another person demands certain level of bond and closeness.
These are just basic descriptions of four attachment styles and of their foundational characteristics. Every person is somewhere on the plane where anxiety and avoidance cross, and the exact nature of our attachment can usually be expressed as a level to which we are securely or insecurely attached, rather than us falling into a strict attachment style category. In order to understand how you relate to others, take this free online test that will help you determine your own attachment style and maybe get to know yourself in your love life a bit better:
Men face some serious challenges when it comes to mental health. Men make up nearly 80% of suicide deaths and are less likely than women to seek help for problems like depression. To make matters worse, the mental health resources geared towards helping men in a way that is authentic and appealing to them are sparse and hard to find. One place men can start right away is with their own nutrition. Bottom line? Your food affects your mood. And diet and nutrition make up a big piece of the puzzle for many people.
Did you know that the food you eat can have a significant impact on your mood? It comes as a surprise to many people, but it’s true!
Like Stephen, I too am passionate about helping men. Before I get into information about nutrition for mental health, let me tell you very briefly about myself and why I do the work I do.
I started MoodFood Clinic to help men with practical solutions to physical and mental health issues.
I became a Nutrition Therapist because of my own experience with bipolar disorder in my early 20’s. I went through a suicidal bipolar nightmare, during which time I went to years of talk therapy and took more psychiatric medications than I can recall.
After multiple suicide attempts I was eventually hospitalized. I even tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) before finally discovering that a junk food diet was at the root of my struggles.
By fixing my diet and healing myself with good nutrition, I was able to recover from bipolar disorder and go back to work after years of being too sick to hold a job or go to school. I am now recovered from bipolar disorder and no longer take any psychiatric medications.
I was so moved by my recovery that I quit my previous career in IT as a computer technician to attend nutrition school to learn everything I could about nutrition for mental health. My passion in life is bringing that knowledge to other men who are struggling.
My approach appeals to men because we discuss their feelings in the context of their biochemistry (aka the millions of chemical reactions in the body that determine things like whether you have enough serotonin to feel happy, and whether you have enough dopamine to have good energy, focus and concentration). If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading and I’ll give you some pointers you can implement today to improve your mood just by changing what and how you eat!
I tell my clients, “Fix your biochemistry and you will fix your mood.” I’ve seen it work.
MoodFood Clinic’s approach is science-based and supported by an ever-growing body of research. Common problems that contribute to depression and anxiety are gut infections and dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the intestine. Yes, really! Gut health is strongly correlated with mental health and chronic gut inflammation resulting from gut infections like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), candida (a yeast overgrowth) and Clostrium difficile, or C. diff for short.
These problems are all strongly implicated in depression and anxiety. They are also scientific examples of root causes that can lead to serious mental health issues. I work with my clients to identify whatever root cause is leading to their symptoms of depression and anxiety. Then, I use advanced lab testing to identify these conditions and targeted nutrition with high power supplements to address them. At MoodFood Clinic, clients can reclaim their lives and get back to doing the things they want to do instead of dealing with depression and anxiety.
Yet another common cause of these depression and anxiety symptoms is blood sugar imbalance.
Many Americans over-consume sugar and refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta. Unfortunately, this puts them on what I call a “blood sugar roller coaster.” And, when you’re on a blood sugar roller coaster it’s very difficult to maintain a stable mood. So, if you struggle with depression or anxiety, this is one step you can take on your own to improve your mood today!
Try these simple tips to keep your blood sugar more balanced:
- Start the day with plenty of healthy fats and adequate protein for breakfast
- For example, eat two eggs fried in butter, half an avocado and a small apple
- Good quality uncured bacon is another good choice
- Eat healthy fats and protein with every meal
- Eat a portion of protein like chicken, beef, lamb or bison the size of your palm
- Include nuts and seeds like walnuts and hemp seeds
- Eat regularly and don’t skip meals
- Snack on organic beef jerky and celery sticks with almond butter
- Make sure not to skip meals – this deregulates blood sugar
- Minimize refined carbohydrates and sugars
- Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, onion and bok choy
- Cut down on bread, pasta, tortillas, pancakes, candy and soda
Want to give it a try? Try implementing these changes for a period of two to three weeks and see how you feel. After making these relatively simply changes, many people are surprised by how much better their mood and temperament become.
As you can see from the recommendations above, supporting your mood by eating well doesn’t mean you are doomed to a fate of eating a vegetarian diet or one made up of nothing but salads, smoothies and rice cakes. In fact, the opposite is true! I recommend foods that real men eat. Consequently, there are no fad diets or juice cleanses at MoodFood Clinic.
If you have benefited from talk therapy but feel like there is another piece missing from your mental health, or if you’re interested in natural alternatives to psychiatric medication, contact Aaron at MoodFood Clinic today!
I offer a free 20 minute introductory phone call. In the call, we’ll discuss your specific symptoms and needs. It’s a great way to determine if MoodFood Clinic is a good fit. Additionally, we can answer any questions you may have about what it’s like to work with me.
Meditation is Part of Mindfulness.
It’s a notion that is possibly as foreign to an average Western guy as is yoga, if not even more. (Lotus flower what?) Yet, meditation has always been traditionally practiced by men in the Eastern Hemisphere where it originates from. In our previous post, we spoke about yoga for men. We discussed why it is so difficult for men to initiate interest in practicing it, and once they’ve overcome that hurdle, how to get past the social, physical, and psychological barriers that are prominent in Western society. Most classes are still a majority women.
Yoga is becoming more and more widely known, and accepted by men however. It’s been long known that football teams have used other balance-oriented physical activity such as ballet to improve strength. Thus, mindful, wellness oriented men are aware of the good benefits of yoga. Empirically, meditation has also been proven repeatedly to increase mental and physical wellness. Yet, even so, it’s still difficult to overcome those societal “barriers.”
Mindfulness meditation is a practice in which a person exercises voluntary attention in order to bring their mind into a state of greater clarity, calmness, and balance. You’ve probably heard about mindfulness here or there and you might even know that it supposedly brings a lot of good to those who practice it. While this is definitely true, let’s dig deeper into the effects it has on your mind and body.
Why Try Mindfulness Meditation?
- Mindfulness reduces rumination.
- Intrusive repetitive thoughts are associated with depression and other emotional disorders. Even novices report ruminating less after as little as ten days of mindful meditation.
- Mindfulness reduces stress.
- This is among the most researched and solidly established effects of mindfulness meditation.
- Mindfulness boosts working memory.
- Mindfulness boosts our cognitive functioning and our working memory efficacy. Such effects of mindful meditation increase our overall productivity and clarity of mind.
- Mindfulness increases focus.
- Those who practice mindful meditation have a greater ability to focus one’s attention and ignore distracting stimuli.
- Mindfulness leads to a reduction in emotional reactivity.
- Mindfulness makes us the rulers of our own emotions. You can better control your anger, jealousy, bitterness, or any other negative feeling.
- Mindfulness brings greater cognitive flexibility.
- By being less emotionally reactive (and having greater focus as well as a more efficiently operating working memory), our minds become more flexible. Some would describe it as being more creative in work, relationships, or thinking in general.
- Mindfulness helps our relationships.
- Many studies show that mindfulness increases our self-awareness and empathy by reducing impulsive reactions. Meditation also helps to decrease rumination and holding on to past (negative) events or conflicts.
- Mindfulness brings health benefits.
- In addition to these psychological effects, mindfulness is closely associated with a range of health benefits. Meditation helps increase immune system functionality, reduces in the strain put on cardiovascular system, improves cortisol levels and provides a neurological system “reset.”
There are Many Forms of Meditation.
In essence, this is a wide term that can encompass many practices, some of which you might already be exercising in some way even if you’re not aware of it. Meditation, in a sense, is any form of conscious and deliberate effort to focus your mind or influence the state of consciousness for the sake of greater balance, concentration, empathy and understanding, and gain control over your thoughts, emotions and actions. Therefore, whenever you, for example, tried to count to ten before reacting, attempted to stop ruminating, reminded yourself to be in the present instead of thinking of past ills, you performed a kind of meditation without knowing it. So, there’s no good reason why not to try a more structured and guided mode of those efforts in a form of mindfulness meditation.
What is interesting is that many interventions in psychotherapy incorporate mindfulness and meditative techniques. So, if you feel that you need a gradual introduction to meditation, visiting a psychotherapist who will help you with your focus, stress, emotions, balance… This could be a little closer to our Western way of thinking and an opening to the benefits of Eastern practices at the same time. Speaking of, that’s how I also operate my practice. Read more about my unique zen-influenced modalities.
Davis, D. M. & Hayes, J. A. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness. Monitor on Psychology, Vol 43, No. 7, p. 64
Stop. Breathe. & Think. App on iPhone.
You might as well stop reading this right now. Seriously. Go outside! Read a book! Anything’s better than scrolling, scrolling… well, you get the picture. Ah, well, since you’re here though, let me explain why you should get out there and experience the world rather than sit here and listen to me. Maybe you can take a walk when we’re done and see how you feel afterwards.
Basically, it’s just all an illusion.
Truly. It’s been proven time and time again how easily someone can manipulate pictures just by the angle or lighting. Here is one of my favorite collections of how we know that everything on Facebook and Instagram could be a lie.
There are powerful companies and influential bloggers behind so many social media profiles that you have to remember that not every picture is reality. Then, advertisers pay them to keep up their profiles. “Real life” is how marketers operate now. In some ways, it is transparent, showing you what people are eating, doing, seeing. Yet, the other side of the camera is someone carefully crafting the photo and set up. Then, many times, adding after effects.
Everybody lies a little bit on social media.
Disagree? Okay fine. How about exaggeration at the least? The fact is, we don’t take pictures of the mundane activities in our lives. Everyone is sharing their “amazing” parts in life. Have you heard the quote about not comparing your behind the scenes with another person’s on-stage performance? It applies to social media too. It’s important to remember that they too have regular lives behind the scenes.
And, here’s some more evidence that we found from a New York Times article recently. Basically, the stats add up to show that things are disproportionately attributed on social media. For example, “Americans spend about six times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing. But there are roughly twice as many tweets reporting golfing as there are reporting doing the dishes.”
Further, people also keep some guilty pleasures to themselves and thus represent an incomplete picture of who they really are. (Who’s that busting some Taylor Swift back there?) They might never admit it, but there are activities and interests that many people have that they also keep to themselves. Thus, once again, social media only represents a curated section of our lives.
In my practice, it usually comes back to balance every time. I can’t say to not use social media whatsoever, for to do so, you might limit yourself to only knowing about certain events or miss out on staying in touch with an old friend. However, limiting your own access to social media or even deleting the app from your phone from time to time can really help you break the semi-addictive “scroll cycle” that many of us are victims to.
Checking in with social media is fun sometimes and helps you stay connected by sharing news or something you’re proud of. A little too much and you start to know a few too many details about each other’s lives! (Totally not weird? Weird? Yeah.) Either way, looking at social media and getting affected by its contents is where it starts to affect your day.
How does it go down? How about this. You call a friend to hang out, get lunch, dinner, whatever. No response. Then, a few hours later, you see this epic group shot of a majority of your friends climbing a mountain together. What? No invite? Are we even friends? Am I someone people don’t want to be around or something? And, it can go downhill from there. Remember Rule #1 though, it’s all an illusion. Once you find out the reason behind the lack of an invite (i.e. “We knew you had to work at 3pm and this was a 10 hour thing,” etc.), it all makes sense. Yet, the emotional response to the picture is what affects us so much and causes us to draw false conclusions at times (leading to potential arguments and meltdowns!).
Social media is a place where people’s ego’s can shine. It is also a place for connection and beautiful moments. In a digital “world” like social media, any number of real life feelings are going on. It can be a “Wild Wild West” of content and jibber jabber. And, when you open up your device, you never know what you’ll see first to set your mood off for the day. Remember this and try to set your own boundaries so social media doesn’t sweep you up and steal your precious time and energy. Okay, bye now!!!
Modern Man. We’re an interesting breed at this point. Living somewhere half in the future with remnants of the past (we use computers for everything except for the main machine we use each day, our cars).
And, some of us have decided that the sky’s still the limit. And, we work on ourselves. Each day, we strive to be better than the day before. We’re list makers. We’re doers. We’re organized. We fix things. We work out and we eat healthy. Some people call us Super Man. We call ourselves still “improvable.”
Therapy is a way to break through any perceived inadequacies or see a previously unseen angle on a situation. It can be the last puzzle piece to your already well thought-out plans.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
If you’re still reading, you’re the type of guy who seeks to always better himself. It’s noble. It shows you care about yourself and others. There are times though, when you feel less sure of yourself than others, just like all of us humans do. And when you have an objective confidant meeting on the calendar (you’ll know the feeling when you get to this point), it’s so much easier to let the small things be small things and get through your week. Without arguments from those small things, you’ll also notice your time free up. Maybe you’ll even get to squeeze in a hobby you enjoy. Pick up game anyone? Jog through your neighborhood? Actually got the dog on a walk every day?
Having a mental break where you can just let it all go is such a relief too. If you’re the go-getter type, you’re always moving and thinking. Why not take a break. When you take a moment to meditate as well, it’s easier to approach your problems. Meditation is just one part though (you should add it in anyway). The other part is working through sometimes complex details with someone who is trained and interested in the human mind and behavior. A therapist can help you identify the stem of an issue or a pattern you might be creating so that you can attempt to purge negativity from your life in order to take you to the next level.
Broken Records and Brick Walls
In a lot of relationships, talking to the other is either like listening to a broken record or talking to a brick wall. I get it. Communication between loved ones of all types of relationships (family, friends, co-workers, bosses) sometimes breaks down. Your communication with your therapist on the other hand, has a much harder time of breaking down. That’s because I am experienced and trained to listen. I am here to listen to you. And, I’m here to help you breakthrough by being a sounding board to what’s going on in your life.
What types of situations cause a communication breakdown? It can be misunderstandings, dashed expectations, or a loved one just not even thinking about your needs. It can be delicate family situations, an ex-partner, custody or dealing with the aging of a parent. Other times, your career might be the issue. Perhaps you’ve communicated to HR about an issue you’ve been having or your boss just won’t agree with your proposals on a raise. Therapy can help with ideas on how to approach communication issues, by using communication itself within a session. The therapist has no connection with the people who are bringing stress into your life and therefore can help you work on the different options available to you to communicate with them. It’s excellent practice before talking about a loaded subject, a nagging issue, or to ask a request.
99 Problems and Stress is One
Cortisol. It builds up in your body and causes…. stress. Lots of it at times. Sometimes so much that you’re overwhelmed to the point where you’re not even functioning properly. You snap at people you normally wouldn’t. Everything seems to take longer than normal. You dread your day the moment you wake up. These times happen! Regularly. Sometimes in a cycle, sometimes not for a while, sometimes all at once. You know. Anyway, having an appointment to look forward to to simply organize your mind? It’s awesome. And, the goal is that it will make the rest of your life stress easier to deal with, putting you at an even more optimal place of health than you were before regular therapy.
As a counselor specializing in men’s issues, I meet with a lot of individuals who just want to be better. They are into self-improvement, they read books about it, go on adventure courses, are leaders in their careers, etc. These kind of high-powered men often charge through life, and are recognized by their success. I know that too, it can be lonely at the top and having someone to let off some steam and work through issues with can be a crucial component to a holistic health plan. If you relate, try booking an appointment and see if this is something you want to add to your wellness routine. My door’s open.
We humans are hardwired to search for problems, for potential dangers. Such cognitive and behavioral arrangement came as an adaptation to the prehistoric times in which a man and his family were under frequent threat of being killed by carnivores, for example. And this ancient heritage still comes handy when our lives, or lives of those close to us, are endangered. Fortunately, a modern man is rarely, if ever, under such jeopardy. Nonetheless, we often react to minor stressors as if we were attacked by saber-toothed tigers, and such mindset can cause harm to our mind in general and hinder our productivity.
Focusing on negatives and what it does to us
When we think about it, humans have an astonishing ability to adapt to most diverse situations, to thrive and to succeed, to overcome what sounds impossible to even survive. Yet, we tend to constantly think about our shortcomings, feel pressured by what we believe are our weaknesses, and struggle with feelings of inadequacy and discouragement. Even if we apparently do well in life and have success in our careers, relationships and social life, our mindset might be holding us back from living a “good life” to its fullest, a life filled with what is truly meaningful to us.
Many of us spend a lot of time in negative self-talk, active self-discouragement, and ruminations about our perceived inadequacies. Life cannot be lived without occasional failures. But if we constantly focus on our failure to succeed, we can easily slip into what is known as learned helplessness. We give up control over what is happening to us, believing that we are incapable of fighting the problems we face.
If we succumb to our evolutionary heredity and search for potential problems wherever we look (even if it meant trying to compensate for our weaknesses) both our mental and our physical health can be jeopardized. Such attitude opens door to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. Negative emotions, especially when chronic, put strain on our ability to experience happiness and wellbeing. Our vitality, enthusiasm and energy levels are closely related to stress and to the kind of emotions we usually feel. If we mostly experience negative emotional states (that result from focusing on what didn’t work out and on our perceived flaws), our health, wellbeing and productivity will diminish. On the other hand, positive emotions, optimism and confidence seem to have the power to bring back one’s vitality and lessen the effects of chronic stress.
How positive psychology can help us lead a life worth living
One might think that this is a lost cause then, if we’re so predisposed to think in a negative way. But, regardless of our natural inclination to focus on what doesn’t work, and our learned belief that we have a fixed set of characteristics that limit our development, we can actually challenge this habit of mind. That is, in the same way in which we learned our pessimism, we can also learn optimism. And, as Martin Seligman, the leading authority in the field of positive psychology proclaims, such mindset will lead us to experience more meaning and engagement in everything we do.
Positive psychology and its concepts are not just theoretical considerations. Many studies have been conducted and they concur that psychotherapists’ work should be enriched with positive psychology interventions. Therefore, in order for a person to fulfill their potentials and a productive and rewarding, meaningful life, a guidance from a psychotherapist can be enormously helpful. A professional in the field of self-development can lead you to realize the difference between your top strengths and something you could be good at but might not be worth your time. Your strengths are the activities you are excellent at, enjoy performing them, find them easy, and feel even more rested afterwards than before you started. A psychotherapist can also lead you through a change in your self-perception and thinking habits, so that you can shift your attention away from incapacitating attempts to fix your shortcomings towards self-growth.
When you apply this new mindset to your work, relationships and your self-image, you will reap all the benefits – be happier, less stressed, healthier and more energized, more satisfied and confident, more creative and agile, thus more productive and fulfilled.
Brain power is needed constantly to maintain our careers, family, relationships, and health. Exercise comes in so crucial to optimize cognitive function and decision making. And, we could use that pretty much every day we have to do something difficult, which is usually every day, so read on.
What are White and Grey Matter?
Both white and grey matter are housed in the human brain. Grey matter contains all of the brain’s synapses and cell bodies. White matter contains the axons that connect grey matter to each other. You can think of white matter as the glue that binds the grey matter, the real powerhouses of the brain.
And Why Do They Matter?
When white and grey matter communicate effectively, everything in the body works more optimally. According to a recent study, physical activity “improves the microstructures of white matter in the brain.” They also concluded that “white matter integrity is linked to faster neural conduction between brain regions and thus superior cognitive performance.”
How Does Exercise Affect the Brain?
It helps you make quicker, yet more grounded decisions. It helps with “cognitive flexibility” or the ability to switch between different areas of focus rapidly. And, it keeps your brain young by steadily supplying it with replenishing oxygen. It’s best to maintain a regular schedule than a grueling one. Try to sweat a few times a week and switch it up. Get social and call some friends for a pick-up game. Have fun.
Physically, the body craves activity. And, exercising helps facilitate brain cell communication, helping you think more clearly. Think about how much that would help you at work, in your relationships and with your energy level. There’s no good or bad time to start. It can always be today or tomorrow. Just make sure to get out there.