Benefits of Mindfulness

It’s a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that forsythia is in bloom along your route to work?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

Read more about the benefits of mindfulness at helpguide.org!

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions: Living with Depression

Living with mental illness this time of year can be particularly difficult. There’s a lot of pressure to “start over” or “begin again” or revamp how you live your entire life. But this stigmatizing thought process is not only unhelpful, it’s actually harmful to mental health recovery.

The fact is, we can’t start over or become entirely new people when the clock strikes midnight. We can only try a little bit harder from where we already are—to be better people, to help others, to improve the world around us. And odds are, if you live with mental illness, you’re already trying incredibly hard every minute of every day.

So, if you live with depression, I’d like to push you a bit further in 2018 with these suggestions from NAMI.org. Click here!

4 Tips for Healthy Relationships

Couples who experience happiness and satisfaction in their relationship feel appreciated, respected, and understood by one another. They treat each other with love, kindness, and consideration. What are some ways for making sure this happens? Research suggests the following things to keep in mind:

• Express any negative feelings or concerns without insult or injury to the other person. This means communicating without blaming, condescension, or sarcasm. Instead, try expressing your feelings in a non-hostile, diplomatic way. Practicing effective communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship.

• Take time to do activities together, experience something new together, and to set aside time for conversation. We live in a world that is moving at an incredibly fast pace. It is easy to get so busy with all the various tasks we try to manage that finding time to just share conversation gets lost in this whirlwind. Finding opportunities to talk over the day’s events keeps you connected and a part of each other’s world.

• Conflicts and disagreements come up in every relationship from time to time. Keep them from becoming huge arguments by approaching them cooperatively. Remember that whatever the disagreement, you are both responsible for trying to work it out. Try to keep from taking a competitive stand with each other – “You did this! No, you did that!” – etc. Think instead about how each of you can help one another create a solution.

• Think about your partner’s needs, not just your own. This might mean having to stretch beyond your own likes and dislikes to see things from his/her point of view. Get in the habit of thinking about how your behavior affects the person you love.

Developing Good Communication Habits – Part Two

Here is a simple “Do’s and Don’t’s” checklist of communication habits. See how you and your family measure up!

Poor
•Insults
•Interrupts
•Criticizes
•Lectures
•Looks away
•Slouches
•Sarcasm
•Goes silent
•Denial
•Commands
•Yells
•Swears
•Throws a tantrum

Good
•State the issue
•Take turns speaking
•Note good and bad
•Calmly disagree
•Simple and straightforward
•Make eye contact
•Sit up straight
•Talk in a normal tone
•Say what you feel
•Accept responsibility
•Ask nicely
•Use normal tone of voice
•Use emphatic but respectful language
•Cool it, count to 10, take a hike

Remember these general principles of effective communication:

1. Use active listening to encourage each person to express opinions and feelings.
2. Honestly express how you feel, good or bad, without being hurtful to your listener.
3. Show that you truly understand and respect the other person’s feelings.

(Adapted from “A Clinician’s Manual for Assessment and Family Intervention,” by Russell A. Barkley, Gwenyth H. Edwards, and Arthur L. Robin, The Guilford Press, 1999)

Developing Good Communication Habits – Part One

Couples who experience happiness and satisfaction in their relationship feel appreciated, respected, and understood by one another. They treat each other with love, kindness, and consideration. What are some ways for making sure this happens? Research suggests the following things to keep in mind:

• Express any negative feelings or concerns without insult or injury to the other person. This means communicating without blaming, condescension, or sarcasm. Instead, try expressing your feelings in a non-hostile, diplomatic way. Practicing effective communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship.

• Take time to do activities together, experience something new together, and to set aside time for conversation. We live in a world that is moving at an incredibly fast pace. It is easy to get so busy with all the various tasks we try to manage that finding time to just share conversation gets lost in this whirlwind. Finding opportunities to talk over the day’s events keeps you connected and a part of each other’s world.

• Conflicts and disagreements come up in every relationship from time to time. Keep them from becoming huge arguments by approaching them cooperatively. Remember that whatever the disagreement, you are both responsible for trying to work it out. Try to keep from taking a competitive stand with each other – “You did this! No, you did that!” – etc. Think instead about how each of you can help one another create a solution.

• Think about your partner’s needs, not just your own. This might mean having to stretch beyond your own likes and dislikes to see things from his/her point of view. Get in the habit of thinking about how your behavior affects the person you love.

Men and Anxiety

Before that first panic attack at age 34, Bruno Feldeisen lived a charmed life in New York. A celebrated chef who had won awards and competitions, with a throng of friends, he felt invincible. But one summer day 16 years ago, something inside him snapped. “The light dimmed, my vision got narrow, I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I thought I was having a heart attack.”

It wasn’t his heart that was ailing, it was his mind. A French national, Feldeisen had left his native country years earlier in pursuit of the American dream. In fact, he had escaped. From a young age, Feldeisen had suffered horrific abuse from his drug-addicted mother.

While Feldeisen had learned to suppress his trauma, the past caught had up with him. Even though the cardiologist reassured him his heart was fine, Feldeisen couldn’t stop worrying about his health.

“My mind was totally focused on the symptoms in my body—a tight chest, a little dizziness. Every small symptom would trigger a panic attack,” he said. As he spent entire days scanning his body for illness, his old life melted away. He stopped going out in public because restaurants made his back spasm and busy streets caused hyperventilation. He quit his job, drifted, and eventually went bankrupt. “I didn’t enjoy life anymore,” he said. READ MORE

7 Essentials for Parents of Kids with OCD

Looking back to what I now know suggests that my 3 1/2 year old son’s long lasting temper tantrums may have been an indication that something was up. I just didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure how to become better informed. All I remember is that it seemed like it was his way or the highway. He eventually grew out of those temper tantrums by the time he started pre-school. READ MORE

What’s the Difference Between Feeling Anxious and Having Anxiety?

Whether it’s giving a toast at a friend’s wedding or waiting for the results of medical tests, we all get worried, nervous, or stressed out sometimes. But what’s the difference between feeling anxious and having anxiety?

To find out, we talked with Dr. Karen Cassiday, president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. She says the essential feeling is the same—it’s the intensity that matters, and the effect the feeling has on a person’s life. READ MORE

5 Principles of Effective Couples Therapy

If you’re part of a couple in distress, you may feel that there’s no way out of your troubled relationship. Myths about the low success rates of couples therapy and counseling only make your situation seem worse than it is. Recently, New York Times columnist Elizabeth Weil reinforced that unfortunate impression in her column “Does Couples Therapy Work?”  She concludes that, even regarding the most effective methods: “Both types of therapy are structured, and the results of both are well documented, at least in follow-ups for a few years. Still, the entire field of couples therapy suffers from a systemic problem.” The problem she refers to is real enough- couples often wait until very late in the game to seek intervention and by then, one or both may have decided to call it quits. It’s also true that, as she observes, being an effective couples therapist requires different skills than the skills demanded by being an effective individual therapist. Nevertheless, the data largely refute Weil’s claims.  When properly conducted, couples therapy can have demonstrably positive effects.

READ MORE ON PSYCHOLOGY TODAY