“In the 1970s, a professor of psychology named James W. Pennebaker began experimenting with the effects that talking, confessing and self-understanding had on human well-being. Nearly 30 years later, he and his collaborator, Joshua M. Smyth, a professor of behavioral health and medicine, produced a body of research that found the emotionally connective and relieving effects of expressive writing to promote self-understanding, ease emotional pain and aid in physical healing.[viii] Since their book, Opening Up by Writing It Down, was published in 1997, their findings have been corroborated by other scientists’ independent studies around the world.”
The 2016 edition of their book explains that expressive writing:
• Offers those who either don’t wish to talk about their feelings or have no one to confide in a way to unburden themselves
• Reduces stress, fear and isolation
• Boosts immune systems, optimism and sense of connectedness
• Allows minds to process, organize and understand their experiences and feelings, enhancing learning and memory
“When expressing themselves in writing, people often report that they feel safe. They are actually creating an artifact—one that symbolizes some of their thoughts and feelings but is not them. With that safety, people often find they can put things down on the page that are often hard to speak about, and explore the deeper truths that we all carry with us.”
“The writing itself is a “made thing”—something with weight and substance. Therefore, it has a place in the world and you become identified with that creative construction. For many people, this gives them a way to bootstrap out of negativity and to start to identify themselves in a powerful and positive way.”
“Years before they conquered the Internet, cats colonized our sofas. But they haven’t spent the last ten thousand years just snoozing.”
“A new study reveals that tamed cats swept through Eurasia and Africa carried by early farmers, ancient mariners and even Vikings.
“The researchers analysed DNA from over 200 cat remains and found that farmers in the Near East were probably the first people to successfully tame wild cats 9,000 years ago, before a second wave of cat domestication a few thousand years later in ancient Egypt.”
Read the original research paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-…
Nature news story about the study: http://www.nature.com/news/how-cats-c…
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.
- “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 ‘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
Acts of Kindness by Peggy
8) Practicing mindfulness with a daily 10-minute breathing exercise, concentrating on the breath
As psychotherapists we saw more people who were walking worriers (to coin a phrase) than most people meet in their lifetime. Our “treatment” evolved over time based on our interest in neurochemistry and brain research.
Thirty plus years ago, when we were in school, excessive worry was labeled as an Anxiety Disorder. What we weren’t taught was there was a positive biological adaptation for the brain to “worry”. Simply put the “brains” that knew best how to scan for danger were the “brains” that stayed alive long enough to produce progeny.
In our jungle days it was prudent and life saving for acute “worry”. The clients we saw who were anxious actually had very smart brains that were trying to keep them alive. Unfortunately, our 21st century brains don’t realize we no longer live in the jungle and chronic worry is a problem.
We also live considerably longer than in caveman times and recently research has discovered that in addition to creating biochemical changes, dysfunctional worry profoundly affects our genetics.
“Obsessive worries — negative responses to stress — actually can shorten the component of DNA that governs a person’s life expectancy. Under excess stress, this DNA component becomes shorter.”
So our DNA structure is literally changed by dysfunctional worry that does not lead to resolution but that instead leads to destructive biological changes in the body.
Take a look at The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety for a simple and highly effective way to better control, if not curb, chronic worry.
The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety.
The answer is sitting in your imagination (and in your kitchen) right now.
This was the topic in a group of patients who had been discharged from our hospital psychiatric unit. That’s not me you’re thinking. BUT you, too, have undoubtedly been confronted with “toxic” people.
If not “toxic”, all of us, at one time or another, have wanted protection from otherwise unpleasant people . Most of us don’t have the money or the wherewithal to move away or “divorce” ourselves from family or colleagues.
The BIG question
How do you protect yourself from the negative energy of people when they are standing right in front of you? Listen to what this incredibly imaginative group of people came up with!
ELEVEN Uses for Press ‘n Seal
Imagine using “Press N Seal” to separate yourself from the person who is making you feel anxious, fearful, sad or just plain downright uncomfortable!
While the “toxic” person is right there in front of you, in your imagination, rip off a huge piece of Press N Seal and put it between yourself and the offending party, then “seal” it with your finger.
Research shows our brains can’t tell the difference between what is literally happening and what we imagine happening.
Imagining “press ‘n sealing” puts mental space between you and them – you stay calm and better able to cope with what they are saying or doing. It may even make you laugh, but consider the consequences of doing that . . . probably better to imagine yourself smiling while you wrap them tightly in another ripped off piece of Press ‘n Seal.
When I was growing up the only way the brain could be studied was after you were dead. With current technology researchers can now see electrical activity and brain structure in living brains. The information on emotional states and the brain has exploded (the information, not the brain).
Meowie Getting Her Move On by Peggy
We known for a long time how important exercise is for our body, but what we did not realize is how important exercise is for the brain.
Exercise has the same effects on the brain chemistry as antidepressant medications. Several studies have demonstrated that its benefits can ‘exceed even those of medication’.
“Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for the brain. Most people suffering from depression due to a deficiency of serotonin depend wholly on psychiatric medications and consume antidepressants which target the serotonin system in your brain to elevate serotonin levels, that increase your motivation and willpower-and minimize the activity of depression. Today neuroscientific research provides evidence that exercise can also ‘boost serotonin activity’.”
“Any movement such as:
- walking up and down the stairs
increases ‘the firing rate of serotonin neurons’, which causes them to release more serotonin to treat your depression or create new good habits. Similarly, exercise with moderate intensity increases your norepinephrine– which controls in depressive people the difficulties with concentration and deep thinking.”
“When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that act on your neurons like opiates (such as Vicodin or morphine) by sending ‘neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief’. Exercise also speeds up activation of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids (marijuana) are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain which reduces pain and increases positive feelings.”
Get Your Move On! It’s legal everywhere.
To read the entire article by Professor B L Chakoo
Click here: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/depression-and-neuro-science/