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How to Overcome the Fear, Doubt, and Anxiety That Inhibit Growth

Perhaps you want to be a better coder, a better writer, or a better musician. Perhaps you want to start a new business or begin an exercise program. You are full of good intentions, but your efforts seem to sputter out. You’re not alone.

When you work towards a meaningful goal, expect to face “a repelling force.” Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance.” In his journey of becoming a best-selling author, Pressfield came to know well the many faces of Resistance.

In his book The War of Art, he explains the aim of Resistance “is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” Pressfield warns, Resistance arises whenever we attempt “any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.”

Pressfield shares this insight:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Pressfield spells out the mindset of a professional and that of an amateur. The amateur gives in to Resistance, placing blame for unmet goals on life circumstances—their upbringing, their partner or lack of one, their busy schedule, and on and on.

Using external circumstances to rationalize our lack of progress is self-defeating. Pressfield instructs,

Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated… Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor.

Did you procrastinate today? Again, you’re not alone. Pressfield writes,

Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead, we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Resistance, Pressfield warns, “will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.” Living with our self-deception, “we feel like hell,” there is constant low-grade unhappiness and misery.

Succumbing to Resistance, most of us have experienced the feelings Pressfield describes:

We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.

If you think your stars have to align to beat Resistance, you’re wrong. What happens after you get a new desk and new computer? What happens after you find a quiet apartment or house, live with a supportive partner, and find a great job with a supportive boss? Resistance won’t retreat merely because you have changed your circumstances. When you’re still not ready to do your work, notice how your excuses morph.

There is nothing wrong with you. Everyone faces Resistance. Fear, self-doubt, and anxiety never fully go away. Resistance is always there in full force when we entertain its bad advice. Professionals realize these thoughts will fade away if they turn toward their work.

Amateurs resist Resistance, which only tightens its grip. Pressfield writes,

Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it.

“The professional knows,” Pressfield counsels, “that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished.” Heed his advice. Pressfield wrote The War of Art before smartphones were drawing our attention from our work. If you are constantly checking your phone while you are doing your work, Resistance will beat you. (Watch for my follow-up essay, “How to Break Your Digital Addiction”)

It took me years to learn a simple truth: To beat Resistance, show up and keep a regular schedule, whether or not you feel like it. The amateur thinks their feelings are providing important information; the professional knows they need to think about doing their work, not themselves. Pressfield shares this anecdote:

Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

According to Pressfield here are three clear signs of an amateur:

One, he doesn’t show up every day. Two, he doesn’t show up no matter what. Three, he doesn’t stay on the job all day. He is not committed over the long haul; the stakes for him are illusory and fake.

Amateurs cast themselves as victims. Pressfield pointedly observes those playing the victim role seek

to achieve gratification not by honest work or a contribution made out of one’s experience or insight or love, but by the manipulation of others through silent (and not-so-silent) threat.

Pressfield adds,

Resistance knows that the more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired, boring injustices of our personal lives, the less juice we have to do our work.

Have you had a bad break? Get back to work. Pressfield explains,

The professional conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged. The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.

Doing your work comes with no guarantees of success. Are you having “grandiose fantasies” of how the world will receive your work? That’s the sign of an amateur mindset. Pressfield observes,

Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and overterrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyzes him.

I write almost every day. If I don’t show up, seeking to improve my technique, Resistance will kick my butt. Resistance will kick yours too, if you don’t practice. Be a professional; do your work.

Pressfield makes it clear, if you are seeking inspiration, begin by “mastering technique.” Toil “beside the front door of technique, [leave] room for genius to enter by the back.”

“Everything in life worth achieving requires practice,” writes Thomas Sterner in his book The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life. Sterner provides an excellent definition of practice:

When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal.

Sterner makes clear,

Good practice mechanics require deliberately and intentionally staying in the process of doing something and being aware of whether or not we are actually accomplishing that.

Here is the rub: The only way we can effectively practice is to suspend our attention to our goals. Sterner explains,

When you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing.

We torture ourselves by remembering past failures or dreams of future success. Our mind isn’t present, and our efforts are diluted. Sterner discerns, frustration results:

[W]hen your mind is only on the finished product, not only do you feel frustrated in every second that you have not met that goal, but you experience anxiety in every “mistake” you make while practicing. You view each mistake as a barrier, something delaying you from realizing your goal and experiencing the joy that reaching that goal is going to give you.

To a professional, the process they follow to reach their goal is not a nuisance. Process is a necessity that amateurs overlook. Amateurs are fixated on the goal, professionals

continue to use the final goal as a rudder to steer [their] practice session, but not as an indicator of how [they] are doing.

Sterner advises us to avoid comparisons. Using the metaphor of a flower’s development, Sterner asks, “At what point in a flower’s life, from seed to full bloom, does it reach perfection?” We can’t proceed to “full bloom” and skip the process. Comparing our lives to “ideal images” will create unhappiness:

Do you think that a flower seed sits in the ground and says, “This is going to take forever. I have to push all this dirt out of my way just to get to the surface and see the sun. Every time it rains or somebody waters me, I’m soaking wet and surrounded by mud. When do I get to bloom? That’s when I’ll be happy; that’s when everybody will be impressed with me. I hope I’m an orchid and not some wildflower nobody notices. Orchids have it all . . . no, wait; I want to be an oak tree. They are bigger than anybody else in the forest and live longer, too.”

Seeking perfection is an amateur’s false goal, steering us away from our process. Sterner writes, “Our impatience to reach some false goal that will not make us any happier than we are right now.” Absorbed in what we are doing, impatience “fades away.”

Go pro, face Resistance; watch your commitment to a process pay compound interest.

You know when you are not in process mode. Your mind is flitting all over the place. Should haves, could haves, would haves come and go. Resisting the process, you are sure—like everyone else in the grip of an amateur mindset—the world is to blame for your lack of focus and progress.

You won’t find more than fleeting happiness by reaching a goal. Instead, go pro, face Resistance; watch your commitment to a process pay compound interest. You’re may be in the valley today but progress up the side of the mountain occurs one step at a time.

 

Source: How to Overcome the Fear, Doubt, and Anxiety That Inhibit Growth

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This video will show you how to deal with anxiety at work by addressing the #1 cause of all your anxiety at work. Get relief. — Want help? I do 1-on-1 Counseling on Skype: http://www.liveinthemoment.org/session/ — Get my FREE 40 page e-book: http://www.liveinthemoment.org/free-e… — Check out my #1 Amazon Bestseller: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A… — Use my FREE web app “The 5 Steps”: http://www.liveinthemoment.org/the-5-… Noah Elkrief This video is about how to deal with anxiety at work, and how to handle anxiety at work. If you have been dealing with anxiety at work, it most likely seems as though the anxiety is created by your job, your co-workers, or your boss. But, in any moment that you don’t think about any of these, you will experience no anxiety at work. If your anxiety at work was caused by the facts of your situation, then you would feel anxiety in every moment at work. If you want to know how to deal with anxiety at work, or get anxiety relief, you first have to recognize that your anxiety is created by your thoughts and not by the facts. The next step for how to deal with anxiety at work is to recognize that your actions at work are not who you are.

 

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How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

I met Brianna Sedillo when she pitched my radio station a personal perspective on anxiety, a topic that comes up over and over as teachers and parents try to support young people.

“Everything kind of started with the anxiety and depression after the passing of my grandfather,” Brianna said. “He was kinda my safe space. And losing that was really big.”

Brianna missed her grandfather’s supportive presence acutely during her middle school years, which were difficult. Middle school can be a difficult time for anyone, but for Brianna it was particularly hard socially because her family moved several times. She had trouble making new friends and felt each change of school acutely. Despite all that, she was a good student; she made the honor roll all three years in middle school.

But everything got worse when she started at El Cerrito High School, just outside San Francisco. Brianna’s feelings of isolation intensified, and her depression and anxiety kicked into high gear. She knew that she should be doing her homework, participating in class, and trying to be more social, but she couldn’t bring herself to do any of it. By sophomore year, Brianna was barely passing.

“It was just really rough for me,” Brianna said. She couldn’t stop worrying about what people thought of her, which made her so self-conscious she could barely function. “With my anxiety I tend to overthink everything. And I’m always aware of who’s looking at me and who’s talking about me, who’s judging me.”

Brianna remembers an endless cycle of waking up, going to school, taking work she couldn’t bring herself to do, and coming home to hide in her room and sleep. She lost a lot of weight and didn’t even enjoy playing soccer anymore, her favorite activity. She scrutinized her appearance every few minutes, and became so self-conscious she avoided answering questions she knew in class because she didn’t want people to look at her. When she got home, where she felt safe, all the anxiety she’d been bottling up all day came spilling out.

“It’s like something goes off and the anxiety kind of kicks in,” Brianna said. She would go over every tiny detail of the day. “Everything that I did that day. The way I pronounce something, the way I did something, The way I walked.” Then she would start thinking about her mom and how she should be working harder to make her mom proud, and that only made her feel worse.

“And then I start to panic and then it’s like, what am I going to do? Like, I’m going to disappoint my mom. And then I can’t breathe and then I get shaky, and I end up in a ball on the floor just trying to get my breathing back on track,” she said.

Brianna is just one of many young people around the country experiencing anxiety, and often the depression that comes with it. Teachers and parents all over the country are noticing an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, among students.

There isn’t much research directly surveying adolescents on their anxiety. In 2004, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that about a third of adolescents (ages 13-18) have been or will be seriously affected by anxiety in their lifetimes. More recently, a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, based on parent surveys for the National Survey of Children’s Health, concluded that more than one in twenty U.S. children (ages 6-17) had anxiety or depression in 2011-2012. And a UCLA survey of college freshman conducted each year, found in 2017 that close to 39 percent frequently felt “overwhelmed by all I had to do.” Parents and educators are scrambling to understand why kids seem to be more anxious and how to help them.

One School’s Attempt to Dispel the Isolation That Accompanies Anxiety

Brianna is far from the only student at El Cerrito High suffering from anxiety. In fact, counselors at the James Morehouse Project, the school’s wellness center, began noticing a few years ago that more and more students named anxiety as a chief concern. Most felt completely alone.

“A lot of students [were] coming in saying, ‘people don’t get this. Other students don’t experience this. People don’t know what it’s like,’” said Rachel Krow-Boniske, a social work intern at the James Morehouse Project. “And seeing that from so many different students made me want to be like, ‘Actually, this is really common! And if you all got to talk with each other and connect with each other over the experience, it might feel less alienating.’”

So Krow-Boniske and another intern, Forest Novak, started an anxiety group in the 2018-19 school year. They recommended some students they were seeing individually, and spread the word among teachers, who also recommended students who might benefit from participating.

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The group includes students from all grades and fluctuates in size from eight to ten. It meets once a week so students can discuss their anxiety, gain confidence that they aren’t the only ones struggling, and learn coping strategies. Krow-Boniske and Novak want students to become more aware of the signs of their anxiety, what triggers it, and how they can tell themselves a different story about what’s happening.

The course is broken down into sections. The first several weeks the two counselors facilitate a process of self-discovery for students. They do writing exercises with students to help them think carefully about how their bodies feel when they’re getting anxious, what’s happening around them, and what messages their anxiety tells them about themselves. After they validate that a lot of people are having similar feelings, the curriculum moves on to dig into seven types of coping strategies: grounding, distraction, emotional release, thought challenging, self-love, and accessing the truest parts of oneself to help hold all the other coping mechanisms.

“I’ve been amazed by how much they know about their own anxiety,” Krow-Boniske said. “They seem so aware of what’s happening for them and just haven’t quite had the words or the space to talk about it.”

Part Of a Broad Strategy to Support Students Where They’re At

The anxiety group is just one of many student wellness services offered at the James Morehouse Project, or the JMP as everyone at El Cerrito High calls it. The center is named for a former staff member who had a gift for connecting with students. Jenn Rader, a former history teacher, started the JMP when she realized that her students were struggling with far more than academics in her classroom.

“Those things were taking up so much space that there was really nothing left over to receive what was being offered in the building,” Rader said.

When it opened more than 20 years ago, the James Morehouse Project focused on providing health services and a little bit of counseling to students. Now, it offers an impressive array of services. It has a free, full-service medical clinic where students can get physical exams and an array of reproductive health services. It also has a dental clinic for students with MediCal, California’s Medicaid program.

It offers a youth development program aimed at cultivating students’ leadership and activism. Its staff provide one-on-one counseling services, as well as groups dedicated to almost everything a struggling student would need: support for queer-identified young people of color, an Arabic-speaking girls group, a support group for Muslim students, another support group for students who’ve suffered a catastrophic loss, and social skills groups for students who have a difficult time connecting with other young people.

“I think there’s been kind of a culture shift, a growing awareness and a growing commitment to ensure that children and young people arrive in a building with what they need in order to enter a classroom ready to learn,” Rader said.

More than 1,500 students attend El Cerrito High. Rader says almost a third of them have a meaningful interaction with the JMP each year either through groups or counseling. That’s only possible because the JMP runs a robust clinical social work internship program.

All those extra adults make a big difference in the lives of kids. When Brianna first came to the JMP, she saw an intern counselor who she says changed her life.

“She didn’t tell me what I was supposed to be, who I was supposed to be,” Brianna said. “She sat there and she listened, and she helped me just discover who I was. She helped me get deeper with myself and realizing things I hadn’t realized before. By the end of that, I was a much happier person. It was like a weight was on my shoulders, and piece by piece, she helped me take it off.”

How Parents Can Help Their Kids With Anxiety

Many students I spoke with for this story feel misunderstood by the adults around them. Their anxiety makes it difficult for them to complete assignments or be proactive, and that can look like procrastination. Brianna, for example, felt she was letting her mother down when she couldn’t bring herself to do her homework. Feeling inadequate made the anxiety and depression worse.

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Nina Kaiser is a child psychologist based in San Francisco who has been working with anxious kids for over 15 years. She says the feelings Brianna describes, as well as the misunderstandings that can arise with parents, are common. If parents want to get to the bottom of the problem, the first step is to understand how anxiety works.

“Your brain is constantly scanning your environment, looking for danger,” Kaiser explained. “It’s true for all of us, every single one of us, but when you are experiencing anxiety, it’s like a smoke detector or alarm that goes off more frequently.”

Kaiser likes working with anxious kids because there are effective treatments. One of the most effective ways to treat anxiety is with cognitive behavioral therapy. She helps her patients address both their physical responses to anxiety, as well as their distorted thoughts or “cognitions.” These thoughts often tend towards catastrophizing or ruminating on something that happened in the past, or could happen in the future.

“You’re teaching kids strategies around noticing those thoughts and being able to push back against them, or to shift gears instead of getting stuck in that pattern,” Kaiser said.

But it takes a lot of practice to step back from the panicked feelings and to look at them with a little more objective distance. She describes anxious thoughts to her clients as junk mail or spam. She directs them to look for evidence that supports the negative thoughts, or disproves them. So, if a student is anxious about failing a test, Kaiser will coach them to think about their past performance on tests, their grades overall, and whether this one test even matters that much.

But, she adds, “Those [anxious] thoughts tend to be really powerful and really automatic. They’re coming into your mind really quickly, really loudly, and it’s challenging to step back and notice that there are other ways to think about the situation.”

Kaiser says anxiety can be tricky for parents to handle because they may see it as laziness on the part of their child. But rather than judging them for not doing their homework or not wanting to go out with friends, she recommends they try to approach the situation with curiosity. When parents don’t assume they know what’s happening with their child, they can open up more space for the child to confide what’s really going on.

Kaiser also says that one of the hardest parts about treating anxiety is confronting the things that make a person anxious. Kids aren’t going to want to do that, and a parent’s first instinct is often to protect their child from things that cause them distress. Kaiser reminds her clients and their parents that anxiety is trying to control them and the best way to get out from under that is to push back.

“So if a kid is really spiraling about something, if parents are overly reassuring, they’re also sending a message that there’s something valid about that anxiety,” Kaiser said.

She recommends parents and their kids read reputable sources about anxiety ahead of time, when tensions aren’t high. Then, when a panic attack hits or a student is particularly anxious, it’s easier for parents to gently push them without making their child feel they aren’t emotionally supported. Kaiser knows this is hard for parents to do, but she says having a collaborative relationship established ahead of time will make it easier.

It’s All About Resilience

After Brianna got help with her depression at the James Morehouse Project, she also developed coping strategies for her anxiety. She still gets panic attacks sometimes, but now she knows how to handle them. And she’s headed to community college in the fall, a new phase of life that excites her.

James Morehouse Project director Jenn Rader says it’s no surprise students are anxious in today’s world. Her students are dealing with a lot of trauma from the world around them. Their families are struggling to make ends meet in an economy that is increasingly unequal. They are worried about their futures in an insecure world. Many feel that if they aren’t perfect, they’ve failed. And they’re constantly comparing themselves to others on social media. They are terrified of school shootings, immigration raids, violence in their neighborhoods, and even not getting into a good college.

Nina Kaiser says she’s seeing patients with serious anxiety at younger and younger ages. She’s even started an anxiety group, called Mighty Minds, with elementary school-aged children to help kids build up the resilience they’ll need to face middle and high school stress before they get there.

“Why are we waiting until kids are already struggling? These are really life skills. The ability to calm yourself down, to notice when you’re feeling stressed. I’m practically 40 years old. These are still skills that I’m practicing day by day.”

She hopes with these tools available to them, kids will have skills to fall back on when they run up against adversity.

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Source: How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

 

No, Eating Chocolate Won’t Cure Depression

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately, we cannot use this type of evidence to promote eating chocolate as a safeguard against depression, a serious, common and sometimes debilitating mental health condition.

This is because this study looked at an association between diet and depression in the general population. It did not gauge causation. In other words, it was not designed to say whether eating dark chocolate caused a reduction in depressive symptoms.


Read more: What causes depression? What we know, don’t know and suspect


What did the researchers do?

The authors explored data from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This shows how common health, nutrition and other factors are among a representative sample of the population.

People in the study reported what they had eaten in the previous 24 hours in two ways. First, they recalled in person, to a trained dietary interviewer using a standard questionnaire. The second time they recalled what they had eaten over the phone, several days after the first recall.

The researchers then calculated how much chocolate participants had eaten using the average of these two recalls.

Dark chocolate needed to contain at least 45% cocoa solids for it to count as “dark”.


Read more: Explainer: what is memory?


The researchers excluded from their analysis people who ate an implausibly large amount of chocolate, people who were underweight and/or had diabetes.

The remaining data (from 13,626 people) was then divided in two ways. One was by categories of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, chocolate but no dark chocolate, and any dark chocolate). The other way was by the amount of chocolate (no chocolate, and then in groups, from the lowest to highest chocolate consumption).


Read more: Monday’s medical myth: chocolate is an aphrodisiac


The researchers assessed people’s depressive symptoms by having participants complete a short questionnaire asking about the frequency of these symptoms over the past two weeks.

The researchers controlled for other factors that might influence any relationship between chocolate and depression, such as weight, gender, socioeconomic factors, smoking, sugar intake and exercise.

What did the researchers find?

Of the entire sample, 1,332 (11%) of people said they had eaten chocolate in their two 24 hour dietary recalls, with only 148 (1.1%) reporting eating dark chocolate.

A total of 1,009 (7.4%) people reported depressive symptoms. But after adjusting for other factors, the researchers found no association between any chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms.

Few people said they’d eaten any chocolate in the past 24 hours. Were they telling the truth? from www.shutterstock.com

However, people who ate dark chocolate had a 70% lower chance of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who did not report eating chocolate.

When investigating the amount of chocolate consumed, people who ate the most chocolate were more likely to have fewer depressive symptoms.

What are the study’s limitations?

While the size of the dataset is impressive, there are major limitations to the investigation and its conclusions.

First, assessing chocolate intake is challenging. People may eat different amounts (and types) depending on the day. And asking what people ate over the past 24 hours (twice) is not the most accurate way of telling what people usually eat.

Then there’s whether people report what they actually eat. For instance, if you ate a whole block of chocolate yesterday, would you tell an interviewer? What about if you were also depressed?

This could be why so few people reported eating chocolate in this study, compared with what retail figures tell us people eat.


Read more: These 5 foods are claimed to improve our health. But the amount we’d need to consume to benefit is… a lot


Finally, the authors’ results are mathematically accurate, but misleading.

Only 1.1% of people in the analysis ate dark chocolate. And when they did, the amount was very small (about 12g a day). And only two people reported clinical symptoms of depression and ate any dark chocolate.

The authors conclude the small numbers and low consumption “attests to the strength of this finding”. I would suggest the opposite.

Finally, people who ate the most chocolate (104-454g a day) had an almost 60% lower chance of having depressive symptoms. But those who ate 100g a day had about a 30% chance. Who’d have thought four or so more grams of chocolate could be so important?

This study and the media coverage that followed are perfect examples of the pitfalls of translating population-based nutrition research to public recommendations for health.

My general advice is, if you enjoy chocolate, go for darker varieties, with fruit or nuts added, and eat it mindfully. — Ben Desbrow


Blind peer review

Chocolate manufacturers have been a good source of funding for much of the research into chocolate products.

While the authors of this new study declare no conflict of interest, any whisper of good news about chocolate attracts publicity. I agree with the author’s scepticism of the study.

Just 1.1% of people in the study ate dark chocolate (at least 45% cocoa solids) at an average 11.7g a day. There was a wide variation in reported clinically relevant depressive symptoms in this group. So, it is not valid to draw any real conclusion from the data collected.

For total chocolate consumption, the authors accurately report no statistically significant association with clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

However, they then claim eating more chocolate is of benefit, based on fewer symptoms among those who ate the most.

In fact, depressive symptoms were most common in the third-highest quartile (who ate 100g chocolate a day), followed by the first (4-35g a day), then the second (37-95g a day) and finally the lowest level (104-454g a day). Risks in sub-sets of data such as quartiles are only valid if they lie on the same slope.

The basic problems come from measurements and the many confounding factors. This study can’t validly be used to justify eating more chocolate of any kind. — Rosemary Stanton


Research Checks interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.

Associate Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics, Griffith University

Rosemary Stanton is a Friend of The Conversation.

Visiting Fellow, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

Source: No, eating chocolate won’t cure depression

I’m Not Broken, But I’m Definitely Glitching

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They’re right. I’m not broken. It’s not that I can’t be fixed. It’s not that I can’t overcome my anxiety. It’s not that there is no hope and I should just be thrown out like the pieces of my favorite porcelain mug that I accidentally dropped. I can be put back together and there’s a great possibility that I will one day return to my former, non-anxiety-filled self.

I’m not broken, but I’m definitely glitching.

definition of the word glitch

I can’t wake up, get myself ready for the day and get things done, without some sort of malfunction. Anxiety has been a constant disruption in my daily life, for years now.

Some days it’s the inability to stop working long enough for a little self-care. Other days, my anxiety level is so high, I have to lay down or cry, or a combination of the two. Then, there are the days when I have errands to run, but have to continuously tell myself that I won’t have a panic attack while we’re on our way to the store, inside of the store, or on the way home from the store.

I’m not broken, but I’m definitely not ok.

My mind’s first reaction to just about any invitation, experience or opportunity is fear. Pure fear. Fear that I’ll have a panic attack in front of people. Fear that they will talk about me. Fear that they will stare. Fear that my kids will witness it. Fear of how far our car will be from wherever we are and whether or not I can get back to it quickly, if I need to. Fear of waiting on a line that might be one minute too long and I’ll have to walk out of the store, because the anticipation of the anxiety attack has already overcome me and I know I can’t come back from that.

I know I’m not broken, but sometimes I don’t believe it.

Every morning, I tell myself that this is not permanent. Nothing in life is. Tomorrow will be better. I will overcome something big today and celebrate my victories, no matter how small. With each victory, every obstacle ahead will seem easier and easier. I don’t have to settle for what anxiety has brought into my days.

I’m not broken. I’m just glitching and glitches can be fixed.

When a computer glitches, we restart or reset it. I just need to restart myself, clear my memory of the thoughts and feelings that seem to be the root of the problem. If I can get rid of whatever combination of factors that created the glitch in the first place, I can restore myself to the time when I didn’t have a care in the world.

But what are they? How do I find them and more importantly, how do I drag them to the trash?

My faith is bigger than my anxiety.

I have faith that one day, those obstacles won’t be an issue anymore.

Fear won’t be an issue anymore.

Anxiety won’t be an issue anymore.

I refuse to believe that anxiety will cause a total system failure. I have too much life left to live. Too much to see. Too many places I want to travel to. Too much to say to too many others like me who are reading this and know exactly what I’m feeling.

We may be glitching, but we aren’t broken.

Heather is the Mom of three and a marketing professional. She enjoys graphic design, writing, photography and making new memories with her family.

Can’t Stop Worrying? Try Tetris To Ease Your Mind – Maanvi Singh

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If you’ve ever played Tetris whether it was at an old-school Gameboy, or just on your iPhone then you know: It’s 8-bit enchantment. “Years of my life were lost disappearing into a game of Tetris on my Nintendo system,” says Kate Sweeny, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside. But maybe the hours she spent lining those little blocks (“tetriminos”) into perfect rows of 10 weren’t a total waste. Her latest research suggests that Tetris can ease us through periods of anxiety by getting us to a blissfully engrossed mental state that psychologists call “flow.” “The state of flow is one where you’re completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity,” Sweeny explains. “You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by………

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/11/05/662212524/cant-stop-worrying-try-tetris-to-ease-your-mind

 

 

 

 

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We Need to Talk More About Mental Health at Work – Morra Aarons-Mele

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Alyssa Mastromonaco is no stranger to tough conversations: she served as White House deputy chief of staff for operations under President Obama, was an executive at Vice and A&E, and is Senior Advisor and spokesperson at NARAL Pro-Choice America. So when Mastromonaco switched to a new antidepressant, she decided to tell her boss. “I told the CEO that I was on Zoloft and was transitioning to Wellbutrin,” Mastromonaco said. “I can react strongly to meds, so I was worried switching would shift my mood and wanted her to know why…….

Read more: https://hbr.org/2018/11/we-need-to-talk-more-about-mental-health-at-work

 

 

 

 

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Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health – Olga Khazan

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Often when I complain to my therapist about how stressed out I am by a problem I’m having, she says a variation on the same thing: “Well, like all Ashkenazi, you have a lot of inter generational trauma. You know, because of everything that’s … happened.”The effects on longevity showed up for the sons of men who were imprisoned in 1863 and 1864, when conditions in POW camps were especially bad. Crowding was extreme—each man was said to have had a grave’s worth of square footage to himself—and deaths from diarrhea and scurvy were common…….

Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/10/trauma-inherited-generations/573055/

 

 

 

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Why You Should Be Using Worry Time To Help Tackle Anxiety – Me Against Myself

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During my recent studies and research on anxiety I came across the notion of ‘Worry Time’. To begin with, this baffled me. Why would I put aside time to worry each day? Surely this seems counter-productive when you suffer with anxiety? Surely you don’t want to be having extra time to worry when you already suffer with anxiety? This isn’t the case at all. In fact, when I read about worry time I felt suspicious about whether or not this would work but nonetheless I decided to give it a go. In this article, I am going to describe the process of worry time and why I think it’s important and a great way to start tackling your anxiety……

Read more: https://meagainstmyself.blog/2018/09/18/why-you-should-be-using-worry-time-to-help-tackle-anxiety/

 

 

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No Scientific Evidence That Probiotics Improve Anxiety Symptoms In Humans, Finds Study – David DiSalvo

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A new review and analysis of several studies has found that probiotics do not improve self-reported anxiety symptoms in humans, although there was evidence of minor improvements in rodents.

The study reviewed 36 preclinical studies in total, 14 involving humans and 22 involving rats and mice. That’s a decent-sized sampling of the research covering a variety of probiotic strains, and it turned up zero evidence that humans with self-reported anxiety symptoms benefited from taking any of them.

“Probiotics did not significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety in humans and did not differentially affect clinical and healthy human samples,” the study concluded.

One of the strains, Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, did appear to reduce anxiety symptoms in rodents, but further analysis showed that effects were most pronounced only for the sickest of the specimens, and even in those animals the results weren’t dramatic.

Probiotics are one of the strongest selling nutritional products in the world, with annual US sales exceeding $3.3 billion in 2016. That market size is predicted to more than double by 2025. Clearly a large chunk of the supplement-buying public has confidence in these products, and the marketing push is only intensifying. But this study, like others turning up similar findings, suggests caution is warranted.

“I think people should wait — that’s the best takeaway here,” said lead study author Daniel J. Reis, a doctoral student of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas. “We’re in the early days of this research into probiotics. I’ve seen a lot of stories hyping probiotics as helpful for anxiety. We’re not saying they do nothing, but we have a lot to figure out before we know if they can be used therapeutically.”

Why some effects were found in rodents and not in humans isn’t clear, but the researchers noted that the differences in dosage between humans and rodents were significant.

“If you control for the weights of animals versus humans, animals are getting much larger doses of probiotics in these experiments by one or two orders of magnitude. Sometimes the doses were hundreds of times higher than we see in human studies,” said Reis in a press statment.

The researchers also noted that while this study didn’t find anxiety-reducing benefits for humans, it’s still possible that a pathway exists for certain strains to yield therapeutic effects. And they were clear that the anxiety levels among the human participants in the reviewed studies weren’t necessarily “clinically elevated.” Future research has an opportunity to delve more deeply among that expanding population.

“We see a lot of pathways between our digestive systems and our brains,” Reis said. “We see nervous system connections, the inflammation response — these microorganisms seem to be able to influence the human brain through this gut-brain axis. We wanted to know if changes to the microbiota could improve mental health. But in terms of research, it’s all at a very preliminary stage.”

And that, for the moment, is the big takeaway on probiotics – the research is still very preliminary, despite marketing claims of conclusive results. Evidence supporting the claims just isn’t there, at least not yet.

Scientific research is nearing a consensus that bacteria in our digestive systems affect our brains. The microbiome in our guts, populated by billions of bacteria, appears to play a significant role not only in our digestive health, but also our mental health. Exactly how this happens is still being worked out, with each new study turning over another proverbial rock of possibilities. Despite these advances, we don’t yet know how, or if, probiotic supplements can improve our mental health by influencing gut bacteria. The marketing of these products is far ahead of the facts, as a quick review of what we know will show.

First, a brief sampling of the latest bacteria-brain research, which includes a study that found specific hormonal exchanges enabling communication between gut bacteria and the brain. This is especially noteworthy because the hormone in question is cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”– a well-established indicator of stress levels in humans and other mammals. The study was conducted in pigs, which share several physiological similarities with humans, and it identified a possible communication pathway between gut bacteria and the brain that uses cortisol as a channel to send “messages.” The implications of this research will take some time to unravel, but one initial takeaway is that our stress-response system may play a key role in how gut bacteria communicate with the brain.

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Another recent study suggests that gut bacteria may influence anxiety and depression. This study was conducted with mice raised in a sterile, germ-free environment devoid of bacterial influence. Researchers exposed these mice to gut bacteria and watched what happened compared to mice that were raised in a normal, germy environment.  The germ-free mice exposed to bacteria developed anxiety and depression symptoms on par with the human equivalent. The researchers identified a specific brain region influenced by the bacteria, and suspect that our early-life exposure to bacteria may predispose us one way or another to anxiety and depression later on. Again, the conclusions are speculative, but the research is exciting because it moves us a little closer to figuring out what’s going on.

More studies like these are underway and another wave is in the planning phase. So why, with all of this research, can’t we make grand claims for the promise of probiotics? After all, if we have even an inkling that gut bacteria affect our brains (and we certainly have more than an inkling at this point) then why not jump onboard the probiotic supplement express?

The reasons can be boiled down to a few big ones.

The probiotic philosophy is to blast the gut with billions of allegedly “good” bacteria, in hopes of populating out the bad ones. While re-populating the gut with good bacteria sounds plausible, there’s little scientific clarity around which gut bacteria are objectively “good” or if that qualification is even valid. Bacteria can be “good” or “bad” depending on a slew of variables. Even less clear is which bacteria influence the brain and how they’re exerting their influence.

But let’s say we could achieve perfect clarity on that point, there’s still an enormous gastric obstacle ahead. Whether you’re ingesting a probiotic with one billion or 30 billion live bacterial cultures, they still have to survive your stomach acid to do anything worthwhile. Only a couple types of bacteria have proven resistant enough to survive that peril (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria), which means almost everything else in your pricey probiotic capsule is toast.

But let’s say that problem is solved by a fantastic pill coating – what will this army of bacteria do once they arrive in your gut?  We simply don’t know enough to know for sure. Last year a review of probiotic trials in humans concluded that the research “demonstrates a lack of evidence for an impact of probiotics on fecal microbiota composition in healthy adults.” In other words, we don’t know precisely what probiotics are doing in the gut – and there’s at least a possibility that they aren’t doing much to make a difference.

Given how little we understand about what probiotics can accomplish in our guts, jumping to a further conclusion that they can improve our mental health is really reaching. That hasn’t stopped those marketing these products from making outlandish claims, but that’s standard operating procedure for a large chunk of supplement marketing.

Where actual science is concerned, we don’t yet know if probiotics can achieve the promises made for them, or what sort of probiotic formula will prove effective. We may eventually find out that probiotics need to be tailored to a given person’s microbiome like bespoke clothing. Once that’s established (if it can be established), then perhaps we’ll have a better opportunity to understand how probiotics might improve our mental health – assuming the underlying theory holds up over time.

Right now, we don’t know enough to justify the claims made for probiotic supplements. The marketing is leagues ahead of the evidence, and we’d do well to view these claims with skepticism. Perhaps one day probiotics will give our brains a boost, but we’re just not there yet.

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Living with Anxiety and Depression

*I am honored that Author Renee Antonia has provided a guest post while on her WOW: Women on Writing Book tour. She will talk about her experience with anxiety and depression, which inspired her book I’m Not Okay. .* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By clicking on the link provided and purchasing the book mentioned in […]

via Living with Anxiety and Depression — Strength 4 Spouses

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