All posts tagged: Psychology

Coping With Loneliness: The Basic Psychological Need for Relatedness

This is the fourth and final post in a series about the three most important needs identified in psychological research to human health and happiness: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Today, we’re rounding out the series with a discussion of the importance of human connection. This third need, called “relatedness,” is the idea that we need to feel close to other people. You might be thinking, “Duh, Elly. Everyone needs people,” and you’re right. This need is likely one you’ve thought a lot about, and there’s a reason for that: because it’s so darn essential to human living. Need For Human Connection: What the Research Says To prove my point, here are just a few of the hundreds of studies on this need for human contact. The need for social connectedness is statistically linked to: self-esteem (Leary & Downs, 1995), depression (Peeters, Nicolson, Berkhof, Delespaul, & deVries, 2003), suicide risk (Christensen, Batterham, Mackinnon, Donker, & Soubelet, 2014), sense of vitality and life satisfaction (Léon & Liew, 2017), and positive and negative affect, meaning the emotional states …

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 Ways to Find Motivation to Exercise

We all love the high that comes from finishing a good workout. It makes us feel good, it’s good for us, blah blah blah. The trouble is, getting to the gym is often very, very difficult. Why is it that, after a day of sitting, continuing to sit feels so good?? As a former college athlete, I have been on both sides of this dilemma: at certain points in my life, I have been the person who effortlessly goes to the gym most days. More recently, I have also experienced the daily struggle of not having the motivation to get off the cozy couch. Below are some simple steps to bridge the gap. 1. Expand your idea of what a “work out” is. When a lot of us think of “exercise,” we have a mental picture of sweating on an elliptical, hating every minute of it. Exercise is anything that involves moving your body. Walking is a workout. Dancing is a workout. Spending 2 hours going on what my husband calls a “cleaning rampage” is …

Fostering Autonomy in Your Daily Life: Basic Psychological Needs Part 2

This post is the second of a four-part series on three of the most important needs identified by psychologists. If you have not read part one of the series, that’d be the best place to start! Consider this series a “How To” for becoming more motivated and satisfied in different areas of your life. Why Autonomy Matters What is autonomy, and why should you care? Well, first, autonomy is the sense that you are able to make your own choices. It’s the feeling of being in charge of important areas of you life, feeling you have the freedom to decide your own path. Autonomy is important because so much research has found that it leads to more satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and happiness. Sounds good, right? This isn’t surprising. Ask any teenager whether they would be more likely to enjoy doing the dishes when their mom tells them to, or when they spontaneously decide to do so on their own. We all know the answer to that question. If you’re not convinced, let me spout just …

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!

Mindful-What?? Exploring the Practice That’s Taken the Psychology World by Storm

“Mindfulness.” It’s a buzz word, isn’t it? It’s something we throw around because we feel like we should know what it means (and at this point, we’re too afraid to ask.) Mindfulness has been the subject of countless studies, and it’s something many psychologists and therapist believe to be enormously effective in reducing the symptoms of a variety of psychological disorders. Mindfulness is firmly planting your feet in the “here and now.” It is the act of being intentional, purposeful, and present in whatever you are doing: if you are breathing, you’re focused on your breath; if you’re studying, your mind is fully occupied by what you’re learning; if you’re thinking about your emotions, you are present in what you’re feeling. If you’re like me, so far, this doesn’t sound that revolutionary Hang in there, this is where it gets good! If you think about how you go about your day, you probably think, feel, and behave almost completely on autopilot. You wake up, groggily eat breakfast, zone out as you drive to work, react …