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  • doubtful woman
    Lacking Confidence? Try Changing Your Posture Lacking Confidence? Try Changing Your Posture

    Lacking Confidence? Try Changing Your Posture

Lacking Confidence? Try Changing Your Posture

If you know what it feels like to doubt yourself and your capabilities, you also know that you could use all the help you can get when it comes to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone!

This Ted Talk is an interesting watch.

Professor Amy Cuddy describes her research on the impact of nonverbals on our perception of ourselves. 

This is new.

We know that nonverbals influence how we perceive other people but there has been limited research about how they impact our perception of ourselves.

Prof Cuddy’s work is fascinating.

It shows how adopting different postures for as little as two minutes before a stressful situation (in this case a job interview) leads to changes in your physiology (increased testosterone, decreased cortisol).

This makes you feel more confident and able to be more authentic, in her words “show who you really are”.

I have heard from a number of people who have tried this before meetings or presentations and have noticed a difference in how they felt.

Have a watch and give it a try!

  • ID-10088148
    The Power of Slowing Down The Power of Slowing Down

    The Power of Slowing Down

The Power of Slowing Down

ID-10088148Ask anyone how they are and you are likely to be given the answer “Busy!”, accompanied by a tired, sigh! Life is face paced and we are juggling many demands that seem to be urgent and important. But are they really? Few of us take the time to really interrogate and question what we are doing with our time and whether our priorities are being reflected in how we spend our days. More likely we are rushing through our to-do lists on autopilot!

This is for the most part the result of the chronic activation of the stress response, brought on by our fast paced way of living. When the stress response is chronically activated, the part of the brain responsible for stepping back and getting a broach perspective, as well as evaluating priorities, shuts down and we become reactive, feeling more and more our of control. When we are juggling multiple demands and feeling overwhelmed, the best possible thing to do is step away and do something to lower your level of arousal, which allows your frontal lobes to come back online. This could include a few minutes of breath awareness, exercise, listening to music, anything which brings you back to a more relaxed state. Many people respond to this saying “I don’t have time!”. This feeling of urgency is in part the result of the stress response and by slowing down, more possibilities emerge, and things that felt urgent may be re-evaluated as not.

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell in Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform, describes what he has labelled Attention Deficit Trait (ADT) which “Like the traffic jam, ADT is an artifact of modern life. It […]

By |June 25th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Restoring Vitality and Energy

ID-100113134The pace of modern life can be frantic and relentless. The constant demands and juggles of daily life may leave little time to restore our resources and replace the energy that has been lost. Ernest Rossi describes a daily cycle called the ultradian cycle, otherwise known as the basic rest and activity cycle, which described daily 90 – 120-min fluctuations in states of consciousness, similar to the cycles that occur during sleep. This means that when we are awake, we move from higher to lower levels of alertness every 90-120 minutes.

Our bodies sends us clear signals when we need a break, including fidgetiness, hunger, drowsiness and loss of focus. But mostly, we override them, by caffiene use or other ways to activate our body’s stress hormones to keep use energised. According to Ernest Rossi, this results in a state of chronic stress which results in degradation over time of both our mental and physical health. One of the consequences of relying on stress hormones for energy is that our prefrontal cortex begins to shut down, and as a result we become less capable of thinking clearly and seeing the big picture, which leads to a decrease in creativity, productivity as well as physical restoration.

The antidote to this, in an idea world, is becoming increasingly aware of your own daily cycles of alertness, and allowing for periods of rest when you notice the signs described above. However, for many this is not possible.  Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, decribes a process which he calls, resting in the green, which may be a more manageable place to start. The practice involves noticing when you move into the yellow zone of […]

By |June 19th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments
  • What is Mindfulness?
    What is Mindfulness? What is Mindfulness?

    What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness and explores how developing the capacity to be mindful is a way of “connecting to your life”.

By |June 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Stress Impairs Decision Making (Building Stress Resilience Series)

I’m sure we can all remember a time when we have tried to make a lifestyle change, whether it is exercising or eating more healthily, where we have failed when we are under stress. It turns out there are reasons why being under stress makes it difficult to change a habit. Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct explains how stress primes the brain to take automatic action, making impulses harder to control. We are sometimes described by neuroscientists as having one brain but two minds. The one makes conscious choices based on self awareness and reflection, the other automatic reactive choices based on habit and instinct. Stress hormones switch on the reflex automatic mode and switch off the conscious reflective mode, making it much harder for us to resit temptation and stick to our conscious goals.

The good news is that by changing your stress physiology, you can start moving your brain to the mode that supports better choices. I’ll explore how to do this in more detail in another post, but for now anything that gets you out of the stress response will help. Kelly suggests possibilities including a few minute of deep abdominal, focused breathing, going for a walk, snuggling a pet or being hugged by a loved one, or even watching a funny Youtube video.

This knowledge can help you have a more compassionate response to yourself when you notice yourself failing to make lifestyle changes, as it is very hard to do using pure willpower when under stress. However, if you soothe the stress response first, you may find it easier to start making changes that build your resilience to […]

By |April 11th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Developing Shame Resilience

ShameIn this week’s Sounds True Self Acceptance Project, Brene Brown speaks about the process of building shame resilience. I highly recommend listening to this talk. For those of you who won’t get the opportunity, I will summarize the main points.

Brene has been researching shame, courage, authenticity and vulnerability for many, many years and has given an excellent talk on Ted that is also worth watching. In this talk she starts off by stating her belief that the obstacles to self acceptance are feelings of lack of worthiness of love and belonging. The root of this is shame. Shame is a feeling which she describes as universal, part of our basic need for love and belonging which is hardwired into us. So shame is part of the human experience and unless we have psychopathic tendencies, it is unavoidable. Therefore she recommends that instead of trying to set unrealistic goals like trying to avoid the unavoidable, we should rather focus on building resilience to shame.

  • The first thing Brene recommends is recognizing the physiology of your shame experience so that you can recognize when you are feeling shame. For most people, the feeling corresponds to the stress response  as shame feels traumatic. So you may notice a sinking sensation in your stomach, rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, and specifically to shame, the urge to hide away, such as avoiding eye contact.We also need to identify what triggered the feeling. In some cases this may be obvious whereas others it may be more subtle, and may even be a thought we have.
  • She then suggests we reach out and share our shame experience with […]

The Self-Acceptance Project: a free video event from Sounds True

Sign up for this free video event from Sounds True, including speakers like Kristin Neff, Brene Brown, Tara Brach, Kelly McGonigal, Rick Hanson and many more.

 

Register here

By |March 15th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The “Dark Side” of Neuroplasticity

The discovery that the brain can develop new neurons and connections, in others words can grow and change, depending on mental experience, is an exciting discovery. It has wonderful implications for the treatment of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as well as a range of other possibilities. However, Norman Doidge author of The Brain that Changes Itself , warns that neuroplasticity is neither good or bad, and that the dark side means that if the brain is continuously exposed to negative mental experiences, it will adapt towards those experiences and entrench those habits and thoughts that can use to suffer.

By |March 8th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Self-Compassion as an Antidote for Depression and Anxiety

Dr Kristan Neff, who has been conducting research on self-compassion for the past decade has found that people who are compassionate to themselves rather than self critical are much less likely to be depressed, anxious and stressed, as well as far more likely to be happy, resilient and optimistic.

The reasons for this can in part be explain through the physiology of what happens when we soothe our own pain. When we are able to do this, we tap into our mammalian caregiving system, which leads to the release of the hormone oxytocin. Research has found that increased levels of oxytocin increases feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity, and connectedness,and facilitates the ability to feel warmth and compassion for ourselves. On the other hand, when we are self critical, we trigger the fight-or-flight response, which leads to an increase in blood pressure, adrenaline and cortisol, preparing the body to response physically to threat by either fighting or running away. However when the threat is internal (e.g. giving yourself negative messages), these responses are not appropriate and therefore the system can not be switched off. The result is that high levels of the hormones stay in the system with negative and toxic effects. Research has shown that self compassion when feeling under threat can lower cortisol levels, allowing the body and mind to heal.

Dr Neff however warms against taking a critical stance against our critical attitudes towards ourselves as she maintains that this attitude has developed as a strategy to keep ourselves safe. So rather than trying to suppress these thoughts which will lead to them increasing, we […]

By |March 7th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Relationship anxiety may lower immunity

Anxiety about our close relationships may function as a chronic stressor that may lead to lowered immunity. Married couples were asked to complete questionnaires about their relationship and key stress related hormones and immune cells were collected in a research study published in the journal Psychological Science.  The researchers found that people who had high levels of attachment (separation) anxiety produced more cortisol (a steroid hormone that is released in response to stress) and had fewer T cells (which form an important part of the immune system) than those who were less anxiously attached. People who are on the high end of the attachment anxiety spectrum are excessively concerned about being rejected, have a tendency to constantly seek reassurance that they are loved, and are more likely to interpret ambiguous events in a relationship as negative.

Attachment anxiety is considered to develop during early childhood. At a very young age, children learn whether or not their primary caregivers will respond when the children are in distress. If caregivers are responsive, children learn they can rely on other people. If care is inconsistent or neglectful, children can develop feelings of insecurity that might manifest as attachment anxiety later in life. For more on attachment please see attachment related blog posts.

Click here to read the original research article.

 

 

By |February 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments