All posts tagged: Anxiety

Comparison and Contentment

In a time where we are preoccupied with maintaining appearances both online and in-person, we go through our days managing the impressions we make on other people. We wear clothes we think strangers will approve of, we post pictures we think will accrue the most “likes,” all the while running from the feeling that we’re doing it all wrong. At the end of the day, we pour over the profiles of beautiful people with impressive resumes, comparing our messy life and stained pajamas with that carefully curated picture. We know it’s not real: that the beautiful smiles of airbrushed influencers or the perfect home of that mommy-blogger are not real life. We know that everyone posts their shiny moments, the ones where they look brave, the ones where the dirt is swept beneath the rug, and demons safely locked away. We know that we are comparing our worst moments to other’s highlight reels, and yet, we still set down our phones with the heavy feeling that we are inferior, that we are not enough. The …

Tricking Your Brain into a Happier Life: The Power of Selective Attention

As we go through our daily lives, we are bombarded with a sea of new sensory input. Scientists have discussed how, in a given moment, there are thousands of sights, sounds and ideas our brains have to sift through to decide what’s important. So, in any moment, what we actually, see, hear, and think about is simply what our brains decided was worth our time. What does this have to do with anxiety, mental health, and happiness? Glad you asked. Selective Attention: The Problem What our brains tells us to pay attention to dictates the information we have about our world. Importantly, the information that our brain believes to be relevant is determined by our own beliefs. Here’s an example: I’m terrified of spiders. Fortunately (and unfortunately), I also possess a super-human ability to notice even the tiniest or most well-hidden spider. Why is this the case? Well, because my fear of spiders has told my brain that any information pertaining to spiders is something that the boss-lady (a.k.a. me) is probably going to want …

Self-Worth: What the Research Has to Say

Psychologists are really interested in what they call “contingencies of self-worth.” This is the idea that our assessments of our own worth depend on things around us that fluctuate: we may feel worthy when people give us praise, when we get a good grade or a promotion, or when we have a productive day. Conversely, we may feel unworthy when we receive criticism, a poor grade, or when we aren’t as productive. The point is, when our worth is tied things in our daily lives that are inconsistent, we are left in a perilous state which wreaks havoc on our well-being. Below are some summaries of recent research findings about self-worth, and what you can do to start grounding your self-esteem in something more consistent. Finding #1: When students’ self-esteem is tied to their academic performance, they tend to be more depressed. Crocker and colleagues (2003) investigated these “contingencies of self-worth” and found that students tend to feel better about themselves on days they get good grades and worse about themselves on day they get …

5 Minute Mindfulness: Leaves on a Stream Visualization

If you haven’t read my first post describing what mindfulness is, I suggest reading it before playing the recording below. Below is an audio clip I made of one of my favorite mindfulness visualization exercises called, “Leaves on a Stream.” This exercise is designed to help individuals who struggle with racing thoughts, negative self-talk, anxiety, etc. It helps us practice not giving weight or power to the thoughts we have, but rather act as a non-judgmental observer of these thoughts. This exercise involves a high amount of visualization, so if that’s not a strong-suit for you, it might not be as impactful. If that’s you, I will be posting other mindfulness audios that are a less visualization-heavy, so stay tuned. 🙂 Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

How to Help a Loved One Who Struggles with Depression

Many of us who try to educate ourselves in mental health/psychology have experienced that feeling of helplessness when someone we love is suffering with clinical levels of a disorder. When we see someone in pain, often times, our first instincts are to try to “fix the problem,” do something to make it better, or say the perfect thing to help. A lot of times, these efforts don’t have their intended impact. This post is dedicated to those of us who want to help our loved ones with depression, but aren’t sure where to start. First Things First: Understanding Depression While we all experience sadness, hard days, and times when we feel down, depression is something over and above just ‘having a hard time.’ This is an essential thing to understand about depression: if you don’t have it, you probably don’t understand. I am sure you’ve all seen the check list of possible symptoms of depression, so I won’t bother by listing what a quick google search can tell you. What the DSM-V doesn’t explicitly say …

Series Introduction: Mental Health

Our thoughts and emotions are powerful. They dictate how we see the world and how we act on it. Having unhelpful ways of thinking, along with some deep and unaddressed hurts is so, sonormal. And yet, these are really hard to talk about. It’s all too easy to slap a smile over our struggles and pretend they aren’t there. We put that painful stuff in a dusty box in the farthest corners of our closet, and keep the new, shiny shoes up front. And that’s okay for a little while. The problem is, the longer we wait to really look at what we’ve put in that closet, the heavier our box becomes. So, let’s do some spring cleaning: let’s look at what we’ve put away and see if it’s something we really want to carry with us into our next chapter. If not, let’s work day by day to slowly set it down.

Stuck Like Gum: What to Do with Anxious Thoughts

First of all, why do people think it’s okay to stick gum in random public places? I will step in gum, realize I stepped in gum, and then silently resign myself to have that gum be part of me forever. Maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but brace yourselves because I’m about to make it worse with a cheesy transition: The problem with gum is that it’s sticky, and unfortunately, the same can be said of life. (Did you cringe? I cringed.) Sometimes people or situations hurt us in ways that get stuck in the grooves of our mind. It leaves a sticky little scar that won’t seem to really heal. What’s something that’s gotten stuck for you? Something that you feel should have been long forgotten, but still pops up to rear its ugly head? Maybe it’s something that was painful in a way you didn’t understand, or something that struck a chord very close to some big insecurities. For me, one of those somethings is my relationship with a former boss of mine. They …