How to flip the switch – Shame, guilt and worry

Our brain wants us to feel good but it hasn’t quite figured out how to differentiate “good” feelings from “bad”.  When you feel shame, guilt and worry your brain is trying to reward you by activating its reward center! 

Feel’n Blue by Peggy

When you are being followed by a black cloud, Alex Korb* has some insights that might help you find the sun. It’s all about neuroscience.

According to Korb, “Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.“

“A similar thing may be going if you just can’t seem to stop worrying. Korb says worrying stimulates the medial prefrontal cortex and lowers activity in the amygdala, thus helping your limbic system, your emotions, remain copascetic. His theory is that, even though worry is widely recognized as a pointless thing to do from a tactical point of view, apparently the brain considers it better than doing nothing at all when you’re anxious.”

How do you redirect your brain from “rewarding” you with guilt, shame or worry?

“Korb suggests asking yourself: “What am I grateful for?” His reasoning is chemical: “One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.”

“Even more intriguingly, actually coming up with something you’re thankful for — not always an easy thing to do in a dark mood — isn’t even required. Just the acts of remembering to be thankful is the flexing of a type of emotional intelligence: “One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.”

Serotonin Boost by Peggy

We’ve written about gratitude before – and will undoubtedly continue.  Quick and easy ways to refocus on what you can be grateful for is often hard when you’re feeling down.  Force yourself to name, list, draw 3 – 5 things every day.

They can be the same things every day and minor things taken for granted.

Examples of my gratitude:

  • I have teeth to brush

  • When I turn on the faucet water runs out

  • Blog followers clicked “like” on this post whether they “liked” it or not

Ahhhh. . .  I feel a serotonin surge in my anterior cingulate cortex and my  emotional intelligence increasing as I type . . . 

(jw)

*Alex Korb,  The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/4-things-you-can-do-to-cheer-up-according-to-neuroscience

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Faithfully Yours – Retrospective #3

Boundries, man & dog

“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

The Baha’i World Faith

Earth by God.  Woofer by judy

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”  

“One of the great reasons of separation is colour. Look how this prejudice has power in America, for instance. See how they hate one another! Animals do not quarrel because of their colour! Surely man who is so much higher in creation, should not be lower than the animals. Think over this. What ignorance exists! White doves do not quarrel with blue doves because of their colour, but white men fight with dark-coloured men. This racial prejudice is the worst of all.”

The Old Testament says that God created man like unto His own image; in the Qur’an it says: “There is no difference in the Creation of God!” Think well, God has created all, cares for all, and all are under His protection. The policy of God is better than our policy. We are not as wise as God”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith

http://bahaiteachings.org/

bahai-faithwww.bahai.org/

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“We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient, but also with our own poor selves.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Judgement by Peggy, originally published on Pawsitively Tuesday

A Tidbit 

The “Founder”, Bahá’u’lláh

(1817-1892)

Bahá’u’lláh—the “Glory of God”—is the Promised One foretold by . . . all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new Revelation from God to humanity. Thousands of verses, letters and books flowed from His pen. In His Writings, He outlined a framework for the development of a global civilization which takes into account both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life. For this, He endured 40 years of imprisonment, torture and exile.

http://bahaiteachings.org/

bahai-faithwww.bahai.org/

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FAITHfully Yours – Anne Frank & Reflection

 “One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship

Baha’u’llah

“How noble and good everyone could be, if every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the while day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realising it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that: “A quiet conscience makes one strong!”

Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition

Cat ‘n Mouse journaling by Peggy

“Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Baha’i World Faith

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Loving-Kindness

 “Be not content in showing friendship in words alone. Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Loving-kindness Treat ME, by Peggy

The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve… 

One Human Family 

A Nosh of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, spanning the globe and working to unite it. Baha’is have no clergy or churches, gathering together in democratically-led communities and welcoming everyone.

The millions of Baha’is in the world come from every ethnicity, nationality, tribe, age, racial group, religious background and economic and social class. 

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life.

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Independent Search for Truth

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” In other words, thoughts are most certainly things”

Gandhi

Food for Thought

Baha’is believe in the independent investigation of reality, and encourage everyone to question dogma, tradition and superstition by embarking on a personal search to discover the truth

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 “Be not content in showing friendship in words alone. Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Loving-kindness Treat ME, by Peggy

A Nosh of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, spanning the globe and working to unite it. Baha’is have no clergy or churches, gathering together in democratically-led communities and welcoming everyone.

The millions of Baha’is in the world come from every ethnicity, nationality, tribe, age, racial group, religious background and economic and social class. 

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life.

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Here’s the Best Way to Cope with Family Tensions

The rosy pictures of family harmony is ever-present in the media during holiday season.  

As therapists we were privy to the fact that holidays are stressful and often bring out the worst in family and interpersonal relationships.  

Clients who had no family fantasized about what they were missing and clients with families fantasized about how to miss family gatherings.

Family Dynamics by Peggy

It’s gratifying to know we were on track with how we approached client holiday stress & strain.  The research bears this out:

  • It is not helpful to ruminate on what was, what could be, ruminate over and over about the hurt, anger, injustice of it all.  Rumination leads to depression and/or anxiety.  
  • It’s best to tell the “tale” once, focus on what hasn’t worked and find new ways to cope.

Here’s a synopsis of the research and article:

Family Arguments Over The Holidays? Replaying Them in Detail May Be the Best Way to Cope

“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.”

“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”

“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”

“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”

“For people experiencing depression learning to focus on stressful incidents and to re-imagine them in full technicolour asking themselves ‘What is unique about this situation?’ ‘ How did it happen?’ – instead of ‘Why did it happen to me? had an a ‘significant’ impact on helping to alleviate mental ill health.”

Then again, one way to avoid all the holiday tension is to eat out or . . . leave town.

Read the full article:

http://neurosciencenews.com/psychology-replay-arguments-5819/

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Want to be happy? Eat Your Dessert First

We’ve all fallen into thinking “I will be happy when ___________”.  Sometimes it’s a mind set we’ve been taught: Eat your vegetables before you can have dessert;  There’s no time for happiness just “hard” work.  Often it’s simply paddling as fast as we can to keep our head above water.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, maintains we need to get happy first and success will be easier for when we are in a good mood we work better, are more creative, and cope better.

The neurochemistry says it all
“Positive emotions flood our brain with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good, but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural connections, which allows us to think more quickly and creatively, become more skilled at complex analysis and problem solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things.”

Heels over Head by Peggy

Smple activities that will increase the “happy” neurotransmitters in your brain.

Recall a memory of something happy or funny
Take a brisk walk
Watch a funny video clip or cartoon
Hang out with someone who makes you smile

Proven ways to increase happiness which take a bit more time and effort:

1. Meditation (Joy on Demand”, a book on easy ways to meditate)

2. Think of something you can look forward to doing

 3. Perform an act of kindness

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

4.Modify your physical environment (go outside in nice weather, surround yourself with pictures that remind you of loved ones, happy times, trips, read positive magazines, books, videos or surround yourself with objects or symbols that bring a smile.

5. Exercise 20 – 30 min. 3X week

6. Create & nurture relationships.

 7. Use your skills and do something you enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feeling down? Take a hike!

A new study finds quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.

“Specifically, the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.”

“These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” said co-author Gretchen Daily, the Bing Professor in Environmental Science and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Our findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more livable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them.”

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings, and that is forecast to rise to 70 percent within a few decades. Just as urbanization and disconnection from nature have grown dramatically, so have mental disorders such as depression.

“City dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.”

Is exposure to nature linked to mental health? If so, the researchers asked, what are nature’s impacts on emotion and mood? Can exposure to nature help “buffer” against depression?

Natural vs. urban settings

“In the study, two groups of participants walked for 90 minutes, one in a grassland area scattered with oak trees and shrubs, the other along a traffic-heavy four-lane roadway. Before and after, the researchers measured heart and respiration rates, performed brain scans and had participants fill out questionnaires.”

“The researchers found little difference in physiological conditions, but marked changes in the brain. Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination – repetitive thought focused on negative emotions – decreased among participants who walked in nature versus those who walked in an urban environment.”

“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation – something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better,” said lead author Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, the Stanford Psychophysiology Lab and the Center for Conservation Biology.”

“In a previous study, also led by Bratman, time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and aspects of cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a dampening effect on anxiety.”

“The studies are part of a growing body of research exploring the connection between nature and human well-being. The Natural Capital Project, led by Daily, has been at the forefront of this work. The project focuses on quantifying the value of natural resources to the public and predicting benefits from investments in nature. It is a joint venture of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.”

Coauthors of “Nature Experience Reduces Rumination and Subgenual Prefrontal Cortex Activation” include J. Paul Hamilton of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research and Kevin Hahn, a psychology research assistant at Stanford.

Take a look at these!

5 Things you can do to cheer up quickly according to Neuroscience

Falling Waters and rising Spirits

 

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Teaching Happiness is POWERFUL medicine


We’ve been posting about the benefits of developing “Happiness Habits”.  We all say sure, sure and then let those “habits” slide.  This recent research from Northwestern University study got our attention:

Teaching happiness to men with HIV boosts their health

“This is believed to be the first test of a positive emotion intervention in people newly diagnosed with HIV. Based on the study results, the intervention is promising for people in the initial stages of adjustment to any serious chronic illness.”

Learning skills for positive emotions result in less HIV in blood and less anti-depressant use.

Summary:
“When individuals recently diagnosed with HIV were coached to practice skills to help them experience positive emotions, the result was less HIV in their blood and lower antidepressant use, reports a new study. Men using positive emotion skills learned to cope with their stress, while men in the control group increased their use of anti-depressants.”

The findings extend to dementia caregivers and women with metastatic breast cancer.”

Here are the “Happiness Habits”  taught.  We’ll give you how-to in posts to follow.

1) Recognizing a positive event each day

2) Savoring that positive event and logging it in a journal or telling someone about it

3) Starting a daily gratitude journal

Cat journaling

Cat ‘n Mouse journaling by Peggy

4) Listing a personal strength each day and noting how you used this strength recently

5) Setting an attainable goal each day and noting your progress

6) Reporting a relatively minor stressor each day, then listing ways in which the event can be positively reappraised. This can lead to increased positive affect in the face of stress

7) Understanding small acts of kindness can have a big impact on positive emotion and practicing a small act of kindness each day

Mouse rewarding cat

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

8) Practicing mindfulness with a daily 10-minute breathing exercise, concentrating on the breath

If you want to read the research study here’s the link:

Materials provided by Northwestern University. Original written by Marla Paul

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5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHEER UP QUICKLY, ACCORDING TO NEUROSCIENCE

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off.  Easier said than done.  When I’m “down” I often just want to wallow in my misery, lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself.  It’s easier just to brood.  

There are, however, easy things to do that actually alter your brain neurochemistry to help you feel better .   When you get tired of brooding:

1. Go for a Walk outside.

Moving releases feel-better neurotransmitters.  Research  shows that if you walk outdoors, somewhere green,  the effect is enhanced.  scientifically proven to make you feel better. 

Journal Writing by Peggy

2. Vent Your Frustrations Into a Journal

Get paper and pen and write whatever comes to your mind, and no matter what it is, just keep writing. Even if it’s just, “This is stupid. Why am I doing this? Need to take out the garbage,” Focus on your frustrations. Write for a minimum of 20 minutes so your unconscious takes over.  Once you’ve done a mind-dump your brain can move on .

3. Call a Friend or Family Member

You may not want to burden anyone else with your bad mood but sometimes a friend or family member is needed . Let them know up front you don’t need advice just a listening ear. It helps you feel not so alone, lets your brain “objectively observe” whatever is stressing you . . . and knowing there are people who care can help shift your perspective.

Cat ‘n Mouse Phone Chat, by Peggy

4. Practice Gratitude

A simple way to stop feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on everything that is going wrong is to focus on what is going right. Write down 3-5 things in your life, or on that day, that you are grateful for. . . .  look for things you take for granted: indoor plumbing, no toenail fungus (that is, of course if you have indoor plumbing and toenails)  . . .  the more you practice gratitude, the more you experience it.

5. Laugh Out Loud in Front of a Mirror

This sounds a bit weird BUT your laugh muscles signal the brain to release positive neurochemicals.   Even if you just smile broadly it works.  

If you want the easiest way to feel better check out an over-the-counter remedy Click here: Rx for Gratitude

More? Four easy ways to get happy 

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