How to Stop Work From Working Your Last Nerve

Many people come to therapy feeling overwhelmed and overworked. What is often being neglected is a self-care routine that can build resilience, reduce anxiety, and increase calm, making life in general more satisfying and enjoyable. This article outlines all the details:

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Whether you hunkering down at home, or showing up at your job, work can be a big contributor to life stress. Here’s help.

By Gary McClain

MAY 05 2021 7:24 PM EDT

So here’s how the cycle works:

A hard day at work. You hit traffic on the way in. The boss is in a bad mood. A co-worker is out sick and you have to pick up the slack. Customers are acting like customers and being especially difficult. Under pressure, you crank out a rush job. And you make an error.

The result? You guessed it! Stress.

And what didn’t happen that day?

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The Dangers of the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression

Image: Illustration Forest / Shutterstock

This article outlines how the long held belief about mood issues being caused by chemical imbalances in the brain just does not pan out with science.

A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.

DEREK BERES

10 August, 2020

  • A study at Harvard’s McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
  • Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a “brain-based diagnostic system.”
  • Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.

The pharmacological revolution began with tranquilizers. Miltown was the country’s first “blockbuster” drug. Touted for relieving everything from skin problems and stomach distress to lack of focus and social anxiety—and, of course, “the blues”—tranquilizers were the first psychiatric pills to widely infiltrate a country that, for the first time in its history, had expendable income and leisure time.

By 1971, 15 percent of Americans had taken a minor tranquilizer. 

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We Are Not Our Thoughts

IMG_1869Most of us believe that what we think is who we are. This is supported in western culture. There are many sayings and affirmations that reinforce this idea. We often get stuck there. We believe our thoughts are one hundred percent true. Not only that, we believe we must act on them. What if that is not the case? How many times have you made the mistake of acting thoughts you believed were true only to find out that you made an erroneous assumption, or lacked all the information to make a sound judgment? What about emotions? How often have you acted on impulse, without thinking something through, without asking yourself, what is the evidence this is true? Is there another way to look at this? What if I wait for this thought or feeling to pass? Have your impulsive responses led to damaged relationships, an inability to connect with others, lost jobs, income, or opportunities ?

One of the tenets of psychology is that we have the power to change our thoughts and feelings. It is possible to distance ourselves from our thoughts, to feel less ruled by them. The first step occurs by increasing awareness of those thoughts and feelings and beginning to question their validity. This is challenging because we believe so strongly that our thoughts define us. This is not an easy exercise. Start by practicing a deliberate pause before speaking or taking action, especially in relationships, which I introduced in this blog entry on communication: Setting BoundariesBut what do we do when our internal dialogue is self-defeating? What about thoughts that I’m not good enough, that I can’t handle this, that I feel too anxious or sad, or angry, or want to die? Then what? What do we do with that?

One skill to develop is self-talk. We all talk to ourselves. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have conversations with ourselves. Start noticing how you speak to yourself. If you drop a glass on the floor, do you call yourself an idiot or do you say it’s just a glass, it was a mistake? This noticing will help you understand how you treat yourself, what you think of yourself, what you like about how you treat yourself, and what you want to change. You can use that same self-talk in new ways. You can learn to become your own coach. You can say to yourself I’m okay right now. I don’t like this feeling but I know it will pass. It has passed before. Pairing self-talk with other skills like distraction, especially if pleasurable, increases the chance that change can happen. Changing your environment, going for a walk, listening to music, calling someone can change your thoughts and feelings and provide relief. Even temporary relief can build emotional resilience. It takes practice and does not work all the time but it’s a start. Give me a call and we can talk about other changes you have the power to make if you are willing to take a look and consider the possibilities.