Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


6 Comments

3 Ways To Practice Living In The Now

If you haven’t read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, you’re missing out. This philosophic and somewhat spiritual book is a game-changer, which is probably why it spent years on the New York Times bestseller list and sold more than 3 million copies in North America alone.

I won’t give away too much here, but the general thesis of the book is that in order to achieve enlightenment, one really has to learn how to live in the now. It sounds simplistic, but Tolle elaborates on the idea to explain how far-reaching the consequences of future- and past-focused thinking actually are.

Whether you’ve read the book or not, you’re probably familiar with the concept of living in the now. It’s heralded as a solution to many of life’s problems, and yet for most of us, being entirely present is an immensely difficult task. If you’re struggling to live in the now, here are five tips for refocusing your thinking and re-immersing yourself in what IS, rather than what has been or what will be.

Focus on Your Breathing

It’s been said over and over again, but focusing on your breathing is a fantastic way to get into the present moment. When you focus intently on your inhales and exhales, you develop an awareness of your body that helps you to feel more rooted in exactly where your body is at this particular point in time. I could get into all the metaphorical reasons that breath is so central to yoga and other spiritual pursuits, but that’d be another article entirely. For now, suffice to say that training your mind to focus on the breath can be absolutely beneficial.

Some techniques to try include breathing up and down the spine (that is, focusing your mental energy along the spine as you inhale and then exhale), inhaling and exhaling in a deliberate, rhythmic manner, and noticing the way air comes into your body cool and leaves it warm.

Get Into Your Body

Have you ever noticed that when you’re forced to focus on a difficult physical task, such as moving a large piece of furniture or racing with a friend, your mind zooms in on the task at hand? This is because these adrenaline-pumping states force us into the now. One can hardly ruminate on past loves while she is focusing all of her attention on staying afloat when her canoe turns over.

Obviously, you don’t want to create dangerous situations for yourself, but difficult physical tasks that require all of your attention are a fabulous resource for jolting you into the now. Pick a favorite type of exercise and, as long as you’re physically able, take it to the next level. This is why yoga and mindfulness are so interrelated. The goal of yoga is to take you into the present moment, where you’re forced to focus on balancing and maintaining your form, and out of the caverns of your mind.

Watch Your Mind

It goes without saying that meditation is closely bound to living in the now. However, it can be very difficult for some people to achieve productive meditation. If you struggle with clearing your mind, try this little trick: Start to look at meditation not as clearing your mind, but watching your mind.

By this, I mean you should learn to observe your thoughts. Sit and meditate as if watching yourself from just above your head (your crown chakra, if you’re into that kind of thing). Learn to observe your brain no matter what happens. If a thought drifts in, take note of it and recognize it immediately. Then consciously let it go.

This extends into your daily life as well. Watch your mind in such a way that each time an angry or toxic thought enters your mind, you can immediately acknowledge it and dismiss it. Over time, this ability will result in healthier relationships, a better self-image, more realistic thinking and a generally more enlightened way of being.

By: Maggie McCracken       March 25, 2017
 
Follow Maggie at @MaggieBlogs
 
source: www.care2.com


Leave a comment

This Simple Realisation Linked To 80% Depression Recovery

Six months later, 80% had recovered from depression, researchers found.

Rumination — thinking about the causes and consequences of depressing events — is common in depression.

However, simply realising that you don’t have to ruminate can be liberating, new research suggests.

When people learned to reduce how much they ruminated, 80% had recovered after six months (including 10 weeks of therapy).

Professor Roger Hagen, who led the research, said:

“Anxiety and depression give rise to difficult and painful negative thoughts.
Many patients have thoughts of mistakes, past failures or other negative thoughts.
Metacognitive therapy addresses thinking processes.”
One of the problems in depression is that people…
“…think too much, which MCT [metacognitive therapy] refers to as ‘depressive rumination’.

Rather than ruminating so much on negative thoughts, MCT helps patients to reduce negative thought processes and get them under control.”

Taking control of your thoughts is an important part of modern cognitive therapies.

Professor Hagen said:

“Instead of reacting by repeatedly ruminating and thinking ‘how do I feel now?’ you can try to encounter your thoughts with what we call ‘detached mindfulness.’

You can see your thoughts as just thoughts, and not as a reflection of reality.
Most people think that when they think a thought, it must be true.
For example, if I think that I’m stupid, this means I must be stupid.
People strongly believe that their thoughts reflect reality.”

Many patients who took part in the study were pleasantly surprised, said Professor Hagen:

“The patients come in thinking they’re going to talk about all the problems they have and get to the bottom of it, but instead we try to find out how their mind and thinking processes work.
You can’t control what you think, but you can control how you respond to what you think.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Hagen et al., 2017).

 

MARCH 19, 2017
source: PsyBlog


2 Comments

Beating Depression May Be All About Learning to Ignore Negative Thoughts

A promising type of therapy focuses on quitting the worry cycle.

People who struggle with anxiety or depression often ruminate on negative thoughts, like past missteps or feelings that they’re not good enough. The secret to better mental health may be learning how not to dwell on these thoughts, according to new research by a group of British and Norwegian researchers.

Their study focuses on a technique called metacognitive therapy, or MCT, which was developed in Europe in the 1990s. MCT trains people to lessen the ruminative process, says study co-author Stian Solem, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

In the United States and Europe, the current recommended treatments for depression and anxiety are medications and cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Sometimes called talk therapy, CBT encourages people to analyze their negative thoughts and challenge whether they’re really true.

That’s what makes MCT different: Instead of drilling deeper into those thoughts, MCT helps people reduce negative thought processes and take control over them, says Solem.

Solem and his colleagues tested the MCT method in 20 patients with depression, who attended 10 therapy sessions over a 10-week period. The study also involved a control group of 19 people who were wait-listed for MCT, and receive no treatment for the first 10 weeks.

After those 10 weeks, about 80% of patients in the MCT group reported a full recovery from depression symptoms, based on a standard screening questionnaire. Anxiety symptoms also improved overall, and no patients reported worsening of their condition. In comparison, only about 5% of patients in the control group had a similar recovery.

Six months after completing MCT, recovery rates were similar, with only a few patients reporting relapses. Studies on CBT have shown that only 40% to 48% of patients are recovered after treatment, the authors write, and between 40% and 60% relapse within two years.

For a lot of people, the authors say, realizing that they don’t have to worry and ruminate about things can be quite liberating. They say MCT patients are often pleasantly surprised that they didn’t have to rehash all of their problems in their therapy sessions.

Smaller studies at the University of Manchester, where MCT was developed, have also shown that this method can be effective at treating depression—but this is the first published study to involve a control group. This helps support the theory that improvements are really from the therapy, and not just symptoms getting better on their own over time.

The researchers say a soon-to-be-published Danish study also found similar results. They hope that, with these findings, MCT becomes more popular in Norway and around the world.

MCT has not yet caught on in the United States, says Solem, and no U.S. practitioners are included in the MCT Institute’s online database of registered therapists. (The MCT Institute is in the process of developing self-help materials, its website states, but these aren’t yet available.) However, Solem says that the principles of MCT can be helpful for most people, even without formal training.

“Many of our patients have conflicted beliefs concerning worry and rumination,” Solem told Health in an email. “They experience that it is uncontrollable, exhausting, and dangerous—‘I can go mad,’ ‘I can make myself sick.’” At the same time, they think they need to ruminate in order to find answers and prevent danger.

“In MCT we often start out with postponing worry and rumination (which most people are able to do) and later we use something called detached mindfulness,” he says. “It involves being aware of the trigger thought, but choosing not to engage in it.”

 By Amanda MacMillan       March 15, 2017


1 Comment

8 Ways to Stop Over-Thinking and Find Peace in the Present Moment

We all do our best to stay positive, but occasionally we can slip into negative thinking patterns that can wreak havoc on our lives. We might worry about our past mistakes or current stresses, and how these could lead to negative outcomes in the future. We might obsess about or over-analyze regular experiences and interactions, reading into them things that aren’t actually there. We might find that as soon as one bad thing happens, we associate it with all the other bad things that have happened in our lives and begin to feel miserable. We might feel anxious in the present, having a hard time getting out of our own heads as we worry and obsess about the things that could go wrong.

If you find yourself in this place frequently, you are what psychologists call a ruminator, or, an over-thinker, and this way of thinking can be harmful to your health. Psychologists have found that over-thinking can be detrimental to human performance, and can lead to anxiety and depression, especially in women, who are much more likely than men to ruminate on stress and disappointments than men.

As a psychologist and recovering over-thinker myself, I have a lot of compassion for people who end up in these spiraling negative thought patterns. Many over-thinkers are lovely, intelligent, nurturing people who value relationships and care deeply for the people in their lives. Unfortunately, they often push away the very people that they are worrying about or seeking support and reassurance from, because they can become obsessive, anxious, depressed, negative and difficult to be around. This is not a switch in the brain that can be easily flipped off, but rather, a pattern from which it requires dedication and work to recover. Based on research in psychology and my personal experiences, here is my advice for how to stop over-thinking and find peace in the present moment:

1) Accept that You Have a Problem with Over-Thinking.

The first step to healing is acknowledging that you have a problem. If you feel like you can’t get out of your own head and over-thinking is stopping you from living a happy life, making decisions, getting things done, or forming meaningful relationships, then you have a problem. If you find yourself spiraling into negativity and depression when a bad thing happens, you have a problem. If your anxiety about the future is stopping you from enjoying the present, you have a problem. Burying your head in the sand or denying this reality will only make the situation worse. If you are not sure if you have a problem, ask your friends and loved ones to be honest with you, because they are usually the ones who will see it even if you cannot.

2) Forgive Yourself: Our Brains are Hardwired This Way

Once you can admit that you are an over-thinker, forgive yourself, because the brain is actually wired to make over-thinking a natural tendency. According to Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the leading expert in this field, “the organization of our brains sets us up for over-thinking” because our thoughts and memories are intrinsically woven together, not compartmentalized. So when stressors are triggered or you get into a bad mood, it can unlock a ‘cascade’ of racing negative thoughts that have nothing to do with the original trigger for the bad mood. Nolen-Hoeksema gives the example of “when poor job performance causes you to think about your aunt who died last year.”

Furthermore, when something bad happens or someone is feeling negative, they are more likely to think negative things and also see connections (that may not actually exist) between all the bad events that have happened in their lives. The more frequently this happens, the more likely the individual is to engage in this over-thinking pattern in the future.

While the brain might be wired to make these associations, once you become aware you can begin to solve the problem.

3) Breathe More

If our brains are wired in this ‘interconnected spider web’ where one bad event can trigger a tidal wave of negative thought associations, how can we break this pattern?

The first and easiest thing you can do is BREATHE. Breathing will relax you, calm you, connect you to the present moment, and ground you to Mother Earth. It sounds so simple but often when our mind starts to race to bad places, we become manic and frantic when what we need to do is relax the body and mind.

The breathing technique that works for me involves lying down and taking a two-second long deep inhalation in through the nose, followed by a four-second long exhalation out through the mouth. This breathing pattern increases the CO2 in the bloodstream, which can relax the body and calm the adrenal system’s response to the obsessive thoughts. Do this for 10 minutes or until the excessive thinking slows down.

4) Talk Less

So many over-thinkers, especially those of us of the female persuasion, can’t help but want to ‘talk it out’ when we are feeling stressed and worried. While talking about the worries can sometimes help, it usually will make things worse, especially if the person you are talking to is also an over-thinker, and you spend the entire time over-analyzing and dissecting every detail of every negative problem in your lives. You might end up working yourself up into a frenzy of negativity and feeling even more upset after the conversation.

This type of co-rumination, where two ruminators get together to over-think about their lives together, can lead both people deeper into negativity and stress. For example, research has uncovered an association between co-rumination amongst female friends and increases in the stress hormone cortisol.

If you really feel the need to express your issues, you can always write them down, to clear them out of your mind and realize that your concerns might sound silly when you read them back to yourself. This type of free-association journaling has been incredibly beneficial for me.

Exercise

5) Get Physical and Get Busy

What should you do instead of talking? Well, you already know to breathe to calm the body and mind, but sometimes you just want to let the energy out! In this case it can be incredibly beneficial to do something physical, whether it is going for a brisk walk, playing with a pet or children, doing yoga, playing sports, swimming, or running. Activities that are both mentally and physically engrossing are the best, because they require enough absorption to pull you out of obsessive thinking patterns and into a state of flow.

In addition to physical exercises, engrossing activities that stimulate the brain can also be effective for redirecting obsessive thought patterns. Playing cards, learning a language, or playing all different types of games can be great diversions or interrupters of these thoughts. Or you could always learn a new hobby, make art, draw, paint or take up crafting, such as making jewelry, clothes, dream catchers, hair extensions, really anything, You might actually discover a hidden talent you never knew you had, or be able to start a new career or meet new people as a result.

6) Practice Mindfulness

One of the big things that over-thinkers struggle with is the ability to live in the present moment. So consumed by the failures of the past and the worries over the future, the present moment does not get the attention and love it deserves. Lao Tzu said that “if you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, and if you are at peace you are living in the present.” So how can we live in peace in the present moment?

Well, we have already discussed some of the strategies that can help you quiet the mind and ground yourself to present moment, including breathing, talking less, getting physical and doing other activities that help redirect attention and bring the mind into flow. But one of the best things you can possibly do is practice mindfulness, a form of meditation where you focus on the present moment without judgment. As the obsessive, worrying thoughts come in, you acknowledge them, and then let them go, energetically releasing them and clearing your space. I strongly recommend learning mindful meditation techniques such as Transcendental Meditation, or if you are having trouble doing it yourself, seeking counseling from someone who practices Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

7)   Surrender to the Universe

When we worry, we are essentially hoping to control the flow of life because we are attached to the outcome of a situation. We want things to happen a certain way, and we are terrified that things could go wrong or that bad things could happen. In reality, we have little to no control over the unfolding of events in life, at least not from the conscious standpoint that our worrying will directly impact the outcome in the way we want. So, we can worry and obsess, or we can accept all that IS and let go of our attachment to the outcomes. The universe is way older and wiser than us, and instead of obsessively worrying, we can let go of control and with love and trust, surrender to the universe.

Surrender does not mean giving up; It just means you are willing to go with the flow of the current, instead of trying to swim against it and getting repeatedly bashed into the rocks. Surrender is a form of release and a form of peace, because it means you are willing to trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to: Trust that everything happens in its proper time and place and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Even the concept of worrying about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcomes is flawed from this perspective and nothing more than a symptom of duality, which is only an illusion. As you zoom out to the grand scheme of the universe, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it is all ONE, two sides of the same coin.

8)   Remember, Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Even though I just said that ‘we have no control over the unfolding of events in life,’ and this is true at least from the part of the conscious mind and its ability to dictate events, our thoughts do energetically shape and create our reality over time. Like attracts like, and so the more you worry about something, the more you will begin to attract exactly the energy you are worried about! If you still haven’t seen the wonderful online series Spirit Science, I strongly recommend you view Episode 1, which does an excellent job explaining how our thoughts create our reality.

We must be mindful of our thoughts because our thoughts have power, more than we realize. If you obsessively fear losing your job, you are actually INCREASING the likelihood of getting fired, not decreasing it. Same if you are worrying about contracting a life-threatening disease or medical condition: The more energy you send in that direction, the more likely you are to unknowingly give permission to your body to manifest this condition.

Your thoughts and feelings will energetically create your life, which is why my life partner, sound healer Jimmy Ohm always says, “Worrying is a misuse of creative energy.” Do you want to create a happy life, living at peace in the moment? If so, you have all of the tools to make this a reality by being mindful and present in your thoughts. You also have all of the tools to create a life of worry and negativity, if you continue to over-think and obsess about negative events. The choice is yours and I lovingly hope that you choose wisely. Blessings and Love!

Authors Note: Do you agree? Are you an over-thinker or recovering over-thinker? Have these tips worked for you? What other suggestions can you make to break this cycle? I would love to hear from you on Facebook!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Kelly Neff is a renowned psychologist, author, founder of The Lucid Planet and the host of the hit new show, Lucid Planet Radio. She has reached millions of people with her articles on psychology, transformation, and wellness, which have been featured on websites like The Mind Unleashed, Mind Body Green, My Tiny Secrets, and now, The Lucid Planet. Before she became a full-time author, Dr. Neff spent seven years as a psychology professor where she helped thousands of students learn about health, relationships, love and sexuality, and co-authored the groundbreaking manual in her field, Teaching Psychology Online. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Neff is an avid participant in the visionary art, music and culture scene in her home state of Colorado and beyond. You might find her traveling the globe to give workshops, speeches and do research at transformational festivals. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Light and Love!

source: themindunleashed.org   Sep 9, 2014


1 Comment

This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

How four weeks of supplementation can help stop a sad mood getting worse.

Probiotics may stop sadness turning into depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past.

Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

“Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression.
Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks.

Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic.

The other half received a placebo for the four weeks.

Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad mood can turn into something more serious.

depression

The authors explained the results:

“…in the probiotics supplementation condition participants perceived themselves to be less distracted by aggressive and ruminative thoughts when in a sad mood.”

In other words, when people felt sad, those taking the probiotics ruminated less.

The authors write:

“…studies have shown that the tendency to engage in ruminative thoughts is sufficient to turn mood fluctuations into depressive episodes, and that individuals who typically respond to low mood by ruminating about possible causes and consequences of their state have more difficulties in recovering from depression.”

Probiotics have been increasingly linked to good mental health.

But this is the first study to identify this specific link.

Dr Lorenza Colzato, another of the study’s authors, said:

“Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.
As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”

The research is published in the journal  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Steenbergen et al., 2015).

source: PsyBlog