Advertisements

I’m a Psychotherapist Who Sets 30-Day Challenges Instead of Long-Term Goals. Here’s Why

As a psychotherapist, I spend a fair amount of time completing paperwork that convinces insurance companies to pay for someone’s mental health treatment.

In order to help people get their services covered, I have to help patients answer questions like, “How do you hope your life will be different in 90 days?”

Asking people with a mental health problem to look that far ahead can feel like torture. People struggling with depression often can’t see 10 minutes into the future, let alone 3 months down the road.

And individuals experiencing anxiety are often consumed with the future–and they’re usually making catastrophic predictions. They might imagine themselves losing their jobs, becoming homeless, or contracting a rare disease all within the next three months.

But even if you aren’t experiencing a mental health issue, pinpointing how your life will be different 90 days in advance is tough.

Establishing a 30-day challenge can be a more effective way to create positive change. In fact, 30-day challenges (or sometimes 30-day experiments) are how I stay motivated to reach my goals–especially my fitness goals.

Most recently, I set out to see if I could get six-pack abs in 30 days. I hired Robert Brace, a fitness trainer who is known for getting people in shape fast, to help me reach my goal.

And just as he promised, over the course of one month, I saw my formerly flabby stomach morph into a muscular set of abdominal muscles. Almost every day, I could see progress, and it helped me stay on track to reach my goal.

Had I set out to do the same challenge in 90 days, I’m certain it wouldn’t have worked. Having more time would have led to fewer results. Not only do I know this from personal experience and anecdotal evidence from my therapy clients, but science also backs up this notion.

Your Brain Is Designed for 30-Day Challenges

Studies show our brains view time according to either “now deadlines” or “someday deadlines.” And “now deadlines” often fall within this calendar month.

For example, if you have a project due at the end of the month, studies show that you’re likely to start working on it earlier in the month, because your brain tells you that your deadline is looming. You’ll prioritize the project as something that is due “now.”

If however, that same project is due at the beginning of the next month, your brain will categorize it as a “later project”–even if the calendar is set to roll over to the next month within a few days

You’re more likely to procrastinate when it comes to working on the goals you categorize as “later.”

So whether you’re trying to quit smoking, or you want to lose weight, your brain will categorize a 90-day goal as something you can work on later. And if you don’t start out filled with motivation and momentum right from the beginning, you aren’t likely to pick up steam as time passes.

Why 30-Day Challenges Work So Well

Whether your goal is to pay down debt, or you want to start going to the gym, design your own 30-day challenge. In addition to your brain viewing it as a “now” goal, you’re more likely to succeed because:

  • You won’t have time for excuses. When you have a short-term goal, there isn’t time to take days off because you feel tired. And you don’t have time to make up missed work later. You have be all in if you want to reach your goals.
  • Fast progress builds momentum. Your hard work will begin to pay off fast. And when you begin to see results, it’s easier to stay motivated. Building momentum early can help you stay on course and finish your month-long challenge strong.
  • Short-term pain feels tolerable. Working hard to reach a new goal means you’ll have to give something up. It’s easier to give up time with your family or your daily latte when you know there’s an end in sight.

Create Your Own 30-Day Challenge

There are many 30-day challenges that can improve your physical health, mental health, social life, or spiritual life.

And as we approach the beginning of a new year–where many people will be setting gigantic annual goals that they never reach–it’s a great time to launch a 30-day challenge. You might find that a short-term objective is a much more effective way to create big changes in your life.

By: Amy Morin

Source: I’m a Psychotherapist Who Sets 30-Day Challenges Instead of Long-Term Goals. Here’s Why

8.9K subscribers
Dr. Paul Thompson talks about how imaging has revealed the positive effects of exercise on the brain as well as the detrimental effects of stress and cortisol on the brain. For more information visit: http://www.loni.ucla.edu/ http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/ Photos courtesy of: LONI, the Human Connectome Project For NIBIB’s Copyright Policy: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/policies#co…

Advertisements

7 Ways To Become More Mentally Immune And Emotionally Resilient

Mental immunity is the foundation of emotional resilience.

The same way in which a cold or flu can derail the health of someone who is already ill, a small setback or troubling thought can do the same to someone who is not “mentally immune.” Mental immunity is what happens when we condition our minds to not only expect fearful thoughts or external challenges, but to tolerate them when they arise. It is shifting one’s objective in life from avoiding pain to building meaning, recognizing that pain will be some part of the journey regardless.

Mental immunity is not being able to resist or deny negative thoughts, it is being able to observe them without acting on them, or automatically believing they represent reality.

uncaptionedWhen we have mental immunity, we are able to become a third party observer to our thoughts and feelings. We can identify what we need, what we don’t want, and what really matters to us. Through the process of reintegration – or nonresistance – we become more capable of tolerating thoughts that scare us. The less reactive we are to them, the more we can learn. Frequently, there is an unhealed root association with recurring thoughts we have, or feelings that keep coming up. Being able to process these uncomfortable sensations will not only help us overcome singular issues but progress our lives forward in other ways, too.

So, we know that mental immunity is good, but when we are in the thick of our suffering, how do we begin to build it?

Today In: Leadership

1. Adopt an attitude of progress, not perfection.

Aiming for even a 1% improvement in your behavior or coping mechanisms each day is more effective than trying to radically revolutionize your life for one reason only: the former is actually attainable.

2. Be careful not to identify with that which you struggle.

A lot of people who have spent their lives struggling with anxiety begin to assume that it is just part of their personality. “I am an anxious person,” or similar phrases, are common but not necessarily true. Adopting an idea about yourself into your identity means that you believe it is who you fundamentally are, which makes it significantly more difficult to change.

3. Stop trying to eradicate fear.

Expect the fearful thought, but recognize that it is not always reflective of reality.

4. Interpret “weird” or upsetting thoughts as symbols, not realities.

If you are afraid of driving in the car by yourself, or losing a job, or being stuck in some kind of natural disaster, consider what that could represent in your life (perhaps you feel as though you are disconnected from loved ones, or that you are “unsafe” in some way). Most of these are trying to direct you to make a change, so honor them.

5. Be willing to see change.

When people struggle with something for long periods of time, there can be a resistance to seeing anything change, simply because of the length of time it has been going on. The willingness to see something change actually begins to change it. If you can do nothing else in a day, say out loud: I am willing to see this change. 

6. Imagine what you would do with your life if fear were no object. 

That is what you should be doing now. Focusing too much on trying to “get over” something actually reinforces it. It keeps us in the space of being broken. Learning to refocus on what matter is what actually gets us to move on.

7. Be present.

Everything in your life that is sabotaging you is the product of being unwilling to be present. We shop, spend, eat, drink, dream and plan our way out of the present moment constantly, which means that we never confront the feelings that we are carrying around. Being present is essential for developing mental strength and emotional health, because it allows us to actually respond to our thoughts and feelings in real time, and to confront that which unnerves us before we adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to eradicate it.

The subconscious mind believes whatever it feels to be true. Therefore, it is easy for us to program ourselves to be subconsciously convinced that we are inadequate, in danger, or unloved. Mental immunity is what happens when we bring those ideas to the forefront of our consciousness and debunk them by marrying our feelings with reason.

Consistently reminding ourselves that a spectrum of feeling is healthy and helpful and letting go of the idea that overcoming something means eradicating it, rather than learning to act in spite of it, will help us to inch toward the lives we aspire to, rather than succumb to being victims of our own minds.

Source: 7 Ways To Become More Mentally Immune And Emotionally Resilient

Watch today’s video to learn about the importance of having what the Dalai Lama calls ‘mental immunity’ in life and love. Listen to a story about my firstborn son, and how he helped me develop the mental immunity that saved my sanity. ▼ Don’t Miss Out! Subscribe to my YouTube channel now. ►►
‘ FREE download: “Top 10 Reasons Why Men Suddenly Pull Away” → http://lastfirstdate.com/top-10-reaso… ▼
Get My Latest Dating Tips and Connect With Me… ▼

Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker,  that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.

7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of? With thanks to Amy Morin, I would like to reinforce my own abilities further in each of these areas today. How about you?

Cheryl Snapp Conner is a frequent speaker and author on reputation and thought leadership. You can subscribe to her team’s bi-weekly newsletter, The Snappington Post, here.

 

Source: Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid

Everyone has the ability to build mental strength, but most people don’t know how. We spend a lot of time talking about physical strength and physical health, but much less time on mental strength and mental health. We can choose to perform exercises that will help us learn to regulate our thoughts, manage our emotions, and behave productively despite our circumstances – the 3 basic factors of mental strength. No matter what your goals are, building mental strength is the key to reaching your greatest potential. Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. Since 2002, she has been counseling children, teens, and adults. She also works as an adjunct psychology instructor.   Amy’s expertise in mental strength has attracted international attention. Her bestselling book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, is being translated into more than 20 languages.   Amy’s advice has been featured by a number of media outlets, including: Time, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Success, Glamour, Oprah.com, TheBlaze TV, and Fox News. She has also been a guest on dozens of radio shows.   She is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc., and Psychology Today. She serves as About.com’s Parenting Teens Expert and Discipline Expert.   As a frequent keynote speaker, Amy loves to share the latest research on resilience and the best strategies for overcoming adversity and building mental muscle. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

7 Reasons Mental Health Issues And Financial Issues Tend to Go Hand-in-Hand (And It Has Nothing to Do With the Cost of Treatment)

Of course, it comes as no surprise that most people who walk into my therapy office are experiencing psychological distress in one form or another. But, the vast majority of those individuals are also experiencing financial distress.

It’s no coincidence. Research shows financial issues and mental health problems often go hand-in-hand.

One study found that individuals with depression and anxiety were three times more likely to be in debt. Other studies have even found a link between debt and suicide.

A slight decline in mental health (long before you’d meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness) can be linked to increased financial stress. And increased stress can lead to poorer mental health.

Think of psychological well-being as a continuum. On one end of the spectrum is mental health. On the other end is mental illness.

You fall somewhere on the spectrum–and it’s likely to change slightly from day to day depending on a variety of factors, such as your physical health, sleep quality, nutrition, exercise level, stress, and overall mood.

If your mental health stays in a poor state for a length of time–or it just continues declining–you’re at increased risk for financial problems as well. Here’s how poorer mental health can take a toll on your financial situation:

1. Life Feels Out of Control

When you feel as though you’re losing control over your mood and your thoughts, you’ll likely begin to feel as though life is out of control too–especially your financial life.

You may even lose hope about a brighter future. And who wants to save for a big purchase or put money away for retirement when life feels as though it’s spinning out of control. You might feel like the one thing you can control is your ability to buy something right now.

2. You’re More Likely to Avoid Problems

It takes a lot of concentration and fortitude to tackle a tall stack of bills or to call the credit card company to address your late payment.

And of course, sitting down to create a budget creates high anxiety and it’s often painful to face the facts. It’s much more tempting to avoid those sorts of problems when you aren’t feeling your best.

3. You Get Desperate for Temporary Relief

When you’re in pain, you’ll do almost anything to get out of it–even if it’s going to hurt you more in the long-term. It’s one of the reasons the term “retail therapy” was invented.

Buying something right now, whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a car you can’t afford, will give you momentary pleasure. But, there’s a good chance it will create more financial distress in the long-term.

4. Self-Esteem Plummets

Quite often, the worse you feel, the worse you feel about yourself. And that can lead many people to try and overcompensate.

Low self-esteem can cause someone to buy expensive clothing, a name brand watch, or even a luxury car in an attempt to project an image of success.

5. Energy Levels Decrease

A decline in mental health often means poorer quality sleep, increased feelings of fatigue, and more trouble staying on task.

All of those things make it much more difficult to think about paying off debt–let alone take action. And it’s hard to create a plan for the bigger overall picture when you aren’t in the right state of mind.

6. Unhealed Wounds May Come Back to Haunt You

When you’re feeling down, your brain will recall all the other times when you felt similar feelings–and those just might be the lowest points in your life. Quite often, emotional wounds that never healed get re-opened as your mental health declines.

And for many people, that leads to changes in financial habits. A father who was teased for not having nice things as a kid may overspend on his children to prevent them from experiencing the same pain. Or, an individual who has never felt good enough might take out a bigger loan than she can afford in an attempt to get the attention she craves.

7. It’s Tough to Think Clearly

It can be hard to think about your grocery list, let alone your financial future when your mental health is on the decline. Making decisions, planning ahead, and organizing your financial situation may feel like an uphill battle that you’re unequipped to fight.

How to Improve Your Mental Health

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your mental health–which can also improve your financial health.

Taking care of your body with adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition, socializing with supportive people, engaging in leisure activities (even when you don’t feel like it) and setting aside time to take care of your needs (like managing your budget) can help improve your psychological well-being.

If you’re struggling to build mental strength, get professional help. You might start by talking to your doctor to rule out physical health issues that might be behind your symptoms (like a thyroid problem). Then, you might try talking to a therapist who can help you identify concrete strategies for feeling better fast.

By: Amy Morin

Source: 7 Reasons Mental Health Issues And Financial Issues Tend to Go Hand-in-Hand (And It Has Nothing to Do With the Cost of Treatment)

People with financial issues are more likely to suffer from mental health problems. The opposite can be said as well – People with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in debt. Guy Shone from Explain The Market says, “One in four are likely to suffer from mental health problems this year. And this is largely associated with financial issues.” In this segment, Shone explains how we could break the vicious cycle of financial issues and mental health problems. Shone talks about ‘Money and Mental Health’, a private body that puts problems faced by individuals in front of industries and attempts to break the vicious cycle. Tip TV Finance is a daily finance show based in Belgravia, London. Tip TV Finance prides itself on being able to attract the very highest quality guests on the show to talk markets, economics, trading and investing, keeping our audience informed via insightful and actionable infotainment. The Tip TV Daily Finance Show covers all asset classes ranging from currencies (forex), equities, bonds, commodities, futures and options. Guests share their high conviction market opportunities, covering fundamental, technical, inter-market and quantitative analysis, with the aim of demystifying financial markets for viewers at home. See More At: www.tiptv.co.uk Twitter: @OfficialTipTV Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialtiptv

9 Signs You’re Overdue for a Mental Health Day

1.jpg

As a culture, we tend to toss around the phrase “mental health day,” joking about these kinds of sick days as if they’re somehow less important than those we take to recover from being physically ill. And the worst part? Even with all the joking, few of us actually cash in on the vacation and sick time that’s part of our total compensation from our employers, which means that we’re way backed up on our self-care.

The truth is that mental health days are genuinely important, and if you have the flexibility to take time off from work to tend to this part of your well-being, you absolutely should. Keep scrolling for nine signs that, according to experts, it’s time to take a break for your own good.

1. Your tolerance for other humans has reached an all-time low. Are you shutting down your coworkers more quickly than usual? Reacting emotionally to feedback from your boss? Snapping at your partner or kids even after you’ve gone home? If this sounds familiar, certified life coach and co-founder of the Conscious Coaching Collective Dr. Ariane Machín, PhD advises that you treat yourself to a day off.

2. You have to talk yourself into going to work. “Does it take you several minutes to actually leave your car after you arrive in the morning?” asks mental health therapist and Transcendence Counseling Center LLC owner Jessica Singh. “Often, this type of avoidance is a sign that something is wrong. This could be from a work-life imbalance, anxiety, boredom, or a lack of support at work.” It’s only a lucky few who feel genuinely excited to get to the office every day, but if you’re having to actively psych yourself up to make it happen at all, a mental health day is in order.

3. Your sleep is out of whack. When we experience elevated stress during the day, those annoying stress hormones keep firing well into the night, making it all the more difficult for us to fall asleep. This state, according to hormone and gynecological health expert Dr. Nisha Jackson, PhD, can leave our bodies completely confused, making us feel wired through the night and exhausted during the day. A restful mental health day is a good first step to get back on track.

4. You’re struggling to manage your emotions. You’re crying more frequently than usual. You’re angry and you’re not sure why. You’ve lost total control of your feelings, and your usual emotional coping mechanisms are letting you down. Per wholeness coach Jenn Bovee, these are all cues that it’s time to pump the brakes on your normal routine.

5. You can’t focus. If your mental health is suffering, you may find that it manifests physically and behaviorally, so stay tuned in to how your body and brain are working. “When you are no longer able to focus extended periods of time and attention toward completing your duties, chances are you may need a mental health day or two to reset your brain,” licensed mental health counselor and Grey’s Counseling Services founder Jovica Grey tells us. Even a single day off may be just what you need to come back with the concentration you need to succeed!

6. You’re not enjoying anything you do. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect that the good times will roll 24/7 — especially during office hours — but when you can’t bring yourself to find joy in anything, that’s a big red flag. “When we start to reach a state of burnout, we usually stop enjoying things — even the things that used to bring us joy,” explains licensed marriage therapist and Wright Wellness Center co-founder Rachel Wright. “Once you’re resenting the work, it’s definitely time to take a mental health day.”

7. You can’t make decisions. “It’s time to take a mental health day when you can’t, for the life of you, make a decision,” says licensed psychotherapist and coach Tess Brigham. “You’ve hit decision fatigue, which happens when we have too many decisions to make. We get decision fatigue not because we have to make too many decisions but because we’re lacking energy and focus.” Stop beating yourself up if you’re struggling to make choices. Instead, consider it a potential cue that you need to give yourself a break (literally).

8. You’re routinely getting sick. Cold and flu season is one thing, but don’t eliminate the possibility that constant illness is actually pointing to something happening below the surface. “We know from research that physical and mental health are strongly linked, so if you’re getting ill a lot, then it’s a sign that you need to take some time to get yourself back into balance,” reveals online fitness coach Emma Green.

9. You can’t remember the last time you took time off. If you’re scratching your head trying to recall the last time you were out of the office, let us be the first to inform you that you’ve got a problem on your hands! You deserve some down time. Mental health and emotional well-being expert Kim Roberts tells us that regular mental health days are critical for maintaining healthy relationships with our minds, so make sure they’re coming up on the calendar at least every few months.

By: Alli Hoff Kosik

Alli Hoff Kosik is a freelance writer who is passionate about reading, running, rainbow sprinkles, her lipstick collection, watching embarrassing reality TV, and drinking pink wine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and (in her dreams, at least) three golden retriever puppies. Listen to her talk books on The SSR Podcast.

Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

People struggling with mental illness, from the mildest and most routine to the intractable and utterly devastating, are also burdened by the stereotypes and prejudices of stigmatization. The stigma of mental illness interferes with getting needed care and causes social isolation and alienation. This is not how things should be. Instead, people with emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems, regardless of whether the causes are external traumas or circumstances, internal events, or some combination, should be given the same respect and access to treatment as someone dealing with a mild sprain, a flu, or a life-threatening cancer. Healthcare should be healthcare. But it’s not. And stigmatization is largely to blame.

Everyone has a stake in fighting stigmatization. With around 1 in 5 Americans suffering from a mental illness over the course of a year, chances are pretty good you either are, have been, or are close to someone bearing the burden by stigma. The fight to reduce that burden really should involve everyone. So, after some context, I want to talk about three ways anyone can join the fight.

The context of stigma

Regardless of good intentions, people tend to perceive anyone whose psychological problems are worse than one’s own as “them” and not “us.” They are “other.” For the really serious problems there tends to be a perception of people as dangerous and deserving social isolation; we should “lock ‘em up!” People with milder conditions often confront a “weak-not-sick” attitude; they should “just get over it.”

These stereotypes help create social and emotional distance between the stigmatizing and the stigmatized. By creating this distance people can nurture the comforting fiction that instead of a fine line there’s a large gap between the mentally ill (them!) and the mentally well (us, whew!!). But that’s a myth. The line is very fine. They is us.

Sure, people differ in how psychologically resilient they may be, just like how people differ in how physically resilient they may be. But the fundamental reality about mental illness is that it can, and often does, happen to anyone. The social and emotional distance people create is just a way to avoid the anxious-making reality that things like depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, behavioral disorders, and the rest can strike anyone. Just like with physical illnesses where a wayward cell or pathogen can strike anyone, mental illness can strike anyone anywhere. We take illusory comfort from the distance stigma creates.

Stigma is insidious. A recent experience from my clinical practice illustrates the burden of stigmatization people with a mental illness must carry. A young man shows up at the ER complaining of an unusual set of symptoms: nausea, trembling, tingling in his legs, numbness around his mouth, and weakness in his hands. He also had an extensive history of mental illness, although he was psychiatrically asymptomatic at the time of this visit and doing very well.

But after the ER doc learned of this history, he quickly sent the patient home with a vague reassurance not worry since it was probably just a panic attack. Of course, it wasn’t. Happily he’s now under the care of an excellent neurologist and making progress. But this episode shows stigma’s insidious influence in stark relief.

Stigmatization is also pervasive. It has a broad social reach. Just consider the marketing campaigns of companies like Talkspace and Betterhelp who broke into the mental health marketplace with promises of anonymous therapy. Leaving aside the problem that anonymous therapy violates various codes of professional ethics, the promise of anonymity as an initial marketing ploy both builds on and enhances the stigmatization against which we should all be fighting.

It cynically trades on the pervasiveness of stigmatization, otherwise it wouldn’t work. What they did is like confronting racial bigotry by saying people should just try to pass or telling a gay person they should stay in the closet. Anonymity validates the prejudice that one should keep secret one’s struggles with mental health.

The fact that this marketing ploy appealed to so many, and it did, also highlights what’s called in the literature “self-stigma.” That’s the term used to refer to the fact that people internalize stigmatization so that it functions as an obstacle to seeking help and therefore as a magnifier of suffering. For example, one study of college students showed that the more people perceive stigma operating in the world the more they blame themselves for having problems and the more they resist seeking care. Other people’s prejudices about mental illness became their attitudes toward their own suffering and towards seeking help.

There’s actually lots more to say about stigma. There’s even an official APA journal specifically on the topic: Stigma and Health. But hopefully this has been enough to activate interest and maybe motivate at last some action. At least I hope you agree the fight against stigma is worth some attention. Here are three things anyone can do to join the fight.

Support an organization

There are lots of organizations taking the fight to stigma, both generally and for specific communities, like groups fighting the stigma on mental health care that exists in Asian American communities.. A great way to lessen the burden stigma imposes is by finding an organization that resonates with you and then supporting it.

But be careful, you don’t want to get caught in the paradox of choice so you end up doing nothing. Don’t over think. Instead, dive in and be helpful. Whether you donate money or time, or express support in some way, find an organization that speaks to you and support it.

Here are two stigma-fighting organizations I support.

The first is a group called “Phd Balance.” Graduate student mental health is their focus. Their mission is to show that students pursuing advanced academic degrees who are, quoting their mission statement, “dealing with mental health issues are NOT less capable, are NOT less intelligent, are NOT less creative, are NOT failures … [they] might just need support and a different set of tools.”

They pursue this mission by creating spaces where mental health issues can be openly and safely discussed and by curating resources that can be useful for those pursing both an advanced degree and a healthy balance in their lives. As a former graduate student myself, and someone who now treats and works with several people pursuing doctorates, this groups resonates with my interests and values. So, I want to help them achieve their goals. They have my support.

The other organization is The Ride for Mental Health. Started by an attorney, Malcom (“Mac”) Dorris who lost his son to an intractable and ultimately fatal mental illness, this event is a two day bike-ride through the Hudson Valley in New York. Its mission is both to raise funds for research (McLean Hospital’s research programs being the current beneficiary) and, quoting their mission statement, “to end the stigma surrounding mental illness through education and awareness.” I’ve ridden all three years of this growing event and am already looking forward, and spreading the work, about next year’s ride. Not only is it a wonderful ride on gorgeous roads, participation is a way to do good by having fun.

Tell your story

Stigma lives in darkness, in shame. Bringing stories of struggle into the light weakens it. The social distance and self-stigma that comes from the “them not us” myth can’t survive people telling the story of how they, or their loved ones, experienced emotional suffering. Truth destroys stigma.

Truth telling is actually how Phd Balance began. Its efforts to “increase visibility and awareness for students and to let those struggling know they are not alone” began with Susanna Harris, the founder and a graduate student in microbiology, telling her story of depression and anxiety in a moving video monologue. Sinking into a depression after an academic setback, she spoke up about the experience rather than hiding in silence. Phd Balance grew out of her courage and she has inspired many more to do the same.

I also had an email exchange with Mac Dorris from The Ride for Mental Health about this. He told me that after his son Eric died he “suddenly had a key to everyone else’s story or stories about mental illness.” He recounted being at a business dinner and telling Eric’s story to a new business associate who “responded by telling me that he lost his brother years earlier under very similar circumstances.”

He also shared a story about a colleague of his who had previously lost a son to what was called an unusual heart aliment. When he called Mac to express condolences for Eric’s death “I told him that I was sorry I had joined the club of having a kid pre-decease us. He then explained that his son didn’t die from the heart ailment but from an accidental overdose and that he suffered with mental illness.”

Stories brought to light reduce shame. And one person’s story really can be the key to unlock someone else’s story from the shackles of shame and stigma.

Stop perpetuating it

This one is simple; don’t make things worse. If you insult someone by saying they’re “crazy” or “nuts” you’re inadvertently perpetuating stigma. Same when you judge someone to be “less than” because you found out they’ve been in therapy of years and years. There’s even research showing that even benign, diagnostically accurate labels result in harsher, more negative judgements.

Unfortunately, mental illness is frequently used to explain bad behavior. Instead of describing a mass shooter as a murderer with too easy access to weapons of war, we make them into mental patients as though the illness explains the evil. It doesn’t, any more than one could say someone became a mass murderer because of their diabetes.

We have a particularly pernicious version of this these days. During the Trump presidency mental health professionals have unfortunately fallen into the stigma-supporting trap of explaining his bad behavior with a diagnosis. I firmly believe there are many things that make him unfit for the office such as his racism, history of sexual predation, constant dishonesty, science denial, invitations for Russian election interference and subsequent obstruction, family separations, and historical ignorance, especially about immigration, to name a few.

Just this week he stood in front of an audience of 9/11 first responders and lied about his participation. Of course, your politics may be such that you do not think such reasons disqualify him. OK, difference of opinion. But saying those qualities are symptoms of a mental illness will not convince anyone of his unfitness. I believe the reality is that a mental illness is not what is making him unfit for the office, anymore than someone with a mental illness is unfit to be a lawyer, a plumber, a teacher or any other job or profession. What makes him unfit is how he does what he does, a constellation of evil actions that spells the end of the American experiment. I believe we should not insult people with mental illness by implying it is illness rather than his dishonorable actions that make him unfit for his office. Doing so merely supports the stigma.

And always remember, they is us.

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. For 20 plus years I’ve been practicing on 12th Street, around the corner from what used to be the Forbes Building and right in the middle of New York’s digital revolutions. Having written for professional audiences and become a not infrequent source (e.g., Wired, New York, NY Times, The Today Show) I decided to put my ideas out there myself. First at True/Slant, then Psychology Today, and now at Forbes, my “beat” includes clinical insights and research developments useful for building an authentically good life in our increasingly complex and technologically-mediated world, along with identifying those choices that promise more than they can deliver. Along with my full-time private practice I’m a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute.

Source: Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Mental health crisis in teens is being magnified by demise of creative subjects in school

After the recent report by The Children’s Society that a quarter of 14-year-old girls have self-harmed, many campaigners have called for the root causes of the adolescent mental health crisis to be tackled – rather than just firefighting the symptoms.

Resilience lessons, peer mentoring, awareness campaigns and provision of early intervention may be valuable initiatives. But they do little to challenge the main causes of mental health issues – which are likely to be integral characteristics of a neoliberal economy, including austerity, global uncertainty and a highly pressured education system.

The British Psychological Society’s recently published Power Threat Meaning Framework also supports this viewpoint. It sees mental distress less as an individual medical issue, and more as an intelligible response to the social, material and cultural pressures acting on people.

Much of my experience is as a storyteller and community artist, and I coordinate the Things As They Are network for young artists with experience of mental ill health. I have found that young people with mental health conditions often have a keen perception of how the media, economy and society contribute to their problems. These large-scale issues are often beyond the scope of schools to address, but with a change of focus, the educational environment could move beyond firefighting problems to play a more fundamental role.

More time for play

A vital first step would be measures to reverse the shrinkage of what might be called the “youth public sphere”. By this I mean the space and time that is allowed for dialogue, self-expression, playfulness, exploration, development of personal initiative, and just plain chatting, between young people and caring adults.

These opportunities enable young people to understand the world around them and thrive despite adversity. But they have been dangerously eroded by closely specified curricula, performance-focused education systems and the decimation of the youth service.

Less than one in 20 pupils took music GCSE in 2017. Shutterstock

The Pupil Referral Units to which ever increasing numbers of young people are being sent – because they cannot cope within mainstream schools – make an interesting contrast. These units are frequently criticised, but they do allow space for dialogue and responsiveness to young people’s needs and interests.

I have witnessed conversations between young people too anxious to attend school sharing tips on how to get referred to a unit – because “they treat you like a human being there”, unlike in mainstream school.

Space to grow

At the risk of sounding bitter, I could also cite my own frustrating attempt to establish a lunchtime storytelling club with a group of keen, and vulnerable, young people in a local secondary school. The teachers were supportive – we wanted to establish a space where different “tribes” of young people could make friends and collaborate creatively outside the constraints of the curriculum, which allowed little space for creative writing or group work.

Yet with lunch breaks cut to 35 minutes to maximise lesson time and manage behaviour, and further shortened by frequent detentions, it proved impossible to build up a stable group, and teachers lacked the time to support the ideas for performances and projects from pupils.

Schools are cutting time spent on PE lessons because of exam pressure. Shutterstock

It is widely agreed that education systems centred on exams place stress on young people, yet there is less understanding of their more insidious effect. That is, their tendency to reshape every exchange between teachers and pupils into something directed at an assessment goal.

They also squeeze out of the school day anything that does not contribute to this. Arts and sports activities dwindle away from the curriculum, and teachers find themselves less often in the informal, supportive roles of mentor, facilitator, and guide.

Meanwhile, outside schools, austerity has led to open access youth clubs being gradually replaced by targeted provision to improve “outcomes” for school refusers, teenage parents, or young people in care – and even these are being cut in most areas. Mental health and well-being are also effectively being converted into goals which young people must individually achieve through learning strategies.

Beyond league tables

To thrive emotionally, young people need their own time and space, that is not explicitly directed at particular outcomes. This should be an arena in which diverse groups of young people can form their identities and agendas – perhaps with the non-coercive oversight of sympathetic adults. The arts provide some of the key forums for this – I gratefully remember the music teacher that helped me and my friends set up our band in the lunch break.

To try and tackle the challenge young people are facing, the government could start by mandating time and space in schools for exploratory, informal, and pupil directed activity. This could be done by reinstating leisurely lunch breaks and allowing for extracurricular activities within them. Arts and sports lessons also must be restored where they have been reduced within the curriculum.

The education sector should pay attention to solutions to the mental health crisis which arise from young people themselves – I’m thinking of the group of GCSE students whose protest on London’s tube trains proclaimed the human cost of pupil exclusions in a system focused on exam results rather than compassion and support.

As mental health campaigner Natasha Devon points out, self-harm is frequently a way of being heard. Perhaps then, if we help young people find other, more creative outlets, we might find it easier to hear what they’re trying to tell us.

By: Postdoctoral researcher and arts practitioner, York St John University

 

Source: Mental health crisis in teens is being magnified by demise of creative subjects in school

 

 

When Everyone Abandons You — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

A realization came to me in mid-December. Someone I was close to, had spoken to almost every day for a year and a half, began ignoring me. It was easy to notice. I stepped away from all social media not wanting to be reminded that I’m being ignored. Maybe I said something that bothered this […]

via When Everyone Abandons You — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

Therapy for Pregnant Women With Anxiety Offers Alternative to Medication – Andrea Petersen

1.jpg

“It was something to look forward to,” Ms. Bakker said, while her youngest child, five-month-old Winston, sat on her lap and clutched a fuzzy toy chick. The group is part of Dr. Green and her colleagues’ treatment program for perinatal anxiety at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. It is one of a small but growing number of psychological therapy programs that are specifically designed for pregnant and postpartum women who struggle with anxiety and depression. They address a critical need. While scientific studies have generally found that antidepressant medications are safe to use during pregnancy and breast-feeding, there are still some concerns about their impact on babies……………

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/therapy-for-pregnant-women-with-anxiety-offers-alternative-to-medication-1541257200

 

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

Get Rid of a Headache In 10 Seconds Then Ponder Why You’re Just Now Learning This Trick – Tehrene Firman

1.jpg

Nothing like a massive headache popping up out of nowhere to ruin an otherwise good day, right? One second you’re just minding your own business, and the next the pounding is so intense that you might as well just forget about trying to get through your to-do list. All hope isn’t lost, though. In fact, one physical therapist has a quick trick to help you banish the pain in 10 seconds flat. Tension headaches—the most common type of headache, BTW—often start with something as simple as a clenched jaw. Tightening the masseter muscle—which connects your jawbone and cheekbone………

Read more: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/tension-headache-massage/

 

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar