Posts tagged "stress management"

How your inner speech shapes your thoughts and decisions

December 29th, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “How your inner speech shapes your thoughts and decisions”
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Charles Fernyhough is a writer and psychologist at Durham University. He directs Hearing the Voice (hearingthevoice.org), a project on voice-hearing and inner speech funded by the Wellcome Trust. 

In his study, conducted in 2011 at Durham University, UK, Dr. Fernyhough and his colleague Simon McCarthy-Jones found that 60 per cent of people report that their inner speech has the same  quality of a conversation. Inner speech has some very special properties. Much of modern research has been inspired by the long-neglected theories of L. S. Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist whose career unfolded in the early days of the Soviet Union.

Starting with observations of children talking to themselves while playing, Vygotsky hypothesised that this “private speech” develops out of social dialogue with parents and caregivers. Over time, these private mutterings become further internalised to form inner speech.

Vygotsky proposed that inner speech undergoes some important transformations as it becomes internalised, such as becoming abbreviated or condensed relative to external speech. For instance, when hearing a loud metallic sound outside at night and realising that the cat is to blame, you probably wouldn’t say to yourself, “The cat has knocked the dustbin over.” Instead, you might just say, “The cat,” since that utterance contains all the information you need to express to yourself.

Because it develops from social interactions, self talk takes on some of the qualities of a dialogue, an exchange between different points of view.

Vygotsky’s theory also suggests some possibilities about the way inner speech is created in the brain. If it is derived from external speech, as he proposed, both might be expected to activate the same neural networks. 

One of Vygotsky’s most important finding was that private and inner speech give us a way of taking control of our own behaviour, by using words to direct our actions. While driving up to a roundabout in busy traffic, for example says Dr. Fernyhough, I’ll still tell myself, “Give way to the right”. 

Therefore, improving our inner speech means improving our behaviour.

Inner speech can foster our personal growth when used to make plans and improve self awareness.

People with autism, meanwhile, who often have problems with linguistic communication, seem not to use inner speech for planning, although they do use it for other purposes such as short-term memory. A more dramatic difficulty comes from damage to the language areas of the brain, which can silence some people’s inner voices. One such individual, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, reported a lack of self-awareness after a stroke that damaged her language system – supporting the view that verbal thinking may be important for self-understanding and self control.

Adapted by Life in the chatter box, New Scientist, June 2013

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How to restore your mental energy

December 22nd, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “How to restore your mental energy”
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In her book  “The Happiness Track” Emma Seppala reminds us of a saying attributed to Confucius: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Now, she says,The problem is that we can’t always choose to do what we love. However, we can choose how we approach our work so we can enjoy it more”. Rather than thinking of work as work, we can reframe it by thinking of what we love about it. Here are a few research-backed suggestions reported by Dr. Seppala.

 

Remember the Big Picture

Focus on the why, rather than the how, of a task or job. Understanding how your work connects to what you care about and to your values will restore your energy. You can think about how the device or product your company sells is helps people to fulfil their needs.

Adam Grant, Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business studied a call centre in which employees made calls to raise money for financial aid. After Grant brought in one of the student recipients to explain what a big difference the aid had made in his life, there was a steep increase in productivity at the centre. Why? Because the centre workers were personally moved when they saw the impact their work was having.

 

Turn what you’re doing into something you want to be doing

What happens if you have a job that you don’t particularly like and that is not related to your happiness? In that case, think about how it is indirectly related to your passions. Remembering how your job allows you to indulge your passions will help you to appreciate the job rather than experience it as a burden.

Remember why you care about the work you’re doing. As a consequence, you’ll start to want to do what you are doing, rather than thinking you have to do it. 

 

Practice Gratitude

Research has shown that feeling grateful helps you replenish your energy in the face of fatiguing tasks. Maybe you don’t feel motivated. However, there are always things that warrant being grateful: You have a job when many others don’t. You enjoy the company of some of your colleagues. You experience positive emotions when you accomplish a goal.

Feeling grateful both increases positive emotion and helps you see the big picture.

 

Detach from Work When You’re Not Working

Psychological detachment from work is particularly difficult when the job’s your workload and time pressure are high, so many people take work home with them at night or do it during their time off.

Sabine Sonnentag, Professor at the University of Mannheim, has found that people who do not know how to detach from work during their off time experience increased exhaustion over the course of one year and are less resilient in the face of stressful work conditions.

Sonnentag has found that psychological distance from work is the fastest path to recovery (total absorption in a non-work-related activity) and leads, surprisingly perhaps, to increased productivity. “From our research, one can conclude that it is good to schedule time for recovery and to use this time in an optimal way.”

“Manage energy is done by cultivating calm” says Dr. Seppala. The result? Less stress, a clearer mind, and sharper focus to get your work done. “You get the same amount of work done, but you remain balanced and enjoy the process. Because you are able to think more clearly, you do a far better job. The best part, of course, is that because you are not as tired, your energy levels remain high. As a result, you are happier and more successful.”

Adapted from Emma Seppala. “The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success”. HarperCollins

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Get rid of the ANTS in your mind

December 9th, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Get rid of the ANTS in your mind”
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Shani Tsadik, in his book “A Quick Guide To Happiness” says that all the people in this world, including us, deal with unhelpful thoughts every day, whether they are aware or not. 

These thoughts hold us back from developing and fulfilling our full potential. Some of them can even bring down our self-esteem and affect our identity and the way we perceive ourselves.

“Every time we allow these kinds of thoughts to be our truths, we put ourselves in situations where we attract negative situations, other than the ones that life throws at us. It creates a domino effect and makes us cope through unhealthy ways”, writes Tsadik.

We definitely need to know more about our negative thoughts and how they affect us.

In this article, we will get acquainted with these thoughts that Dr. Daniel Aman, a psychiatrist and brain health expert, calls ANTS – Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) . Here are the nine most common ANTS and some examples of our unhelpful self-talks:

 

Black or White

Thinking in terms of a dichotomy: things are good or bad, right or wrong. All the thoughts that view things at the extremes and with no middle ground or nuance.

Example: “I made so many mistakes! If I can’t do it perfectly, I might as well not bother fixing it at all.”

 

Negative filtering

These are the thoughts that make us concentrate on the negative side while ignoring the positive events or any other information that contradicts our negative view of the situation.

Example: “My boss said most of my submissions were great, but he also said several mistakes had to be corrected. He must think I’m hopeless.”

 

Negative fortune teller

Anticipating an outcome and assuming that our prediction is a fact. These expectations can be self-fulfilling. Predicting our actions based on past behaviors may prevent us from seeing the opportunity to change our situation.

Examples: “I’ve always been like this. I’ll never be able to change. I know it’s not going to work out, so there’s no point in trying.”; This relationship is going to fail again, for sure.”

 

Magnification

A tendency to exaggerate jokes and empty words. Even though it was a joke, we accept it as if the person really meant it. We just spiral down and make a big deal out of it.”

Example: “You look so wimpy today!”

 

Emotional Reasoning

Feelings are mistaken for facts. It refers to every lie about ourselves that we believed to be true because they feel real.

Example: “I feel like a failure, therefore, I am a failure. I feel ugly, so I must be ugly. I feel hopeless, so does my situation.”

 

Blame

Blaming ourselves, knocking down the motivation, and creating false beliefs about ourselves.

Examples: “It was all my fault”; “I shouldn’t have said that”; “I always ruin the beautiful things”;. “Why do I always bring bad luck?”

 

Personalization

Taking offense or feeling upset with what people say or do, thinking that their remarks are directed at us.

Example: John was in a terrible mood and didn’t notice you in the hallway. You took it the wrong way and thought, “It must be something I did. It’s obvious he doesn’t like me, otherwise, he would’ve said ‘hello.’”

 

Mind-reading

Making assumptions about other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without checking the evidence, i.e., “John is talking to Molly, so he must like her more than me. Maybe he thinks I was stupid.”

 

Labeling

Generalizations and labels we give to ourselves as if it’s an innate characteristic or a burden we carry in our pocket.

Example: “I’m the black sheep wherever I go.”

 

As Plutarch said, “What we change inwardly will change outer reality.” Acknowledge these negative thoughts and getting rid of them is the first step to happiness. 

Adapted from  Tsadik, Shani D. “A Quick Guide To Happiness: Life Changing Tools and Techniques to Transform Your Life Immediately”, Ses Ventures

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Three very good reasons for being lazy

December 1st, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Three very good reasons for being lazy”
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Cal Newport in his book Deep Work suggests to inject regular and substantial freedom from professional concerns into your day providing you with the idleness paradoxically required to get (deep) work done. 

At the end of the workday, shut down your consideration of work issues until the next morning—no after-dinner e-mail check, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle an upcoming challenge; shut down work thinking completely. If you need more time, then extend your workday, but once you shut down, your mind must be left free.

Reason #1: Downtime Aids Insights

Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis’s gave subjects the information needed for a complex decision regarding a car purchase. Half the subjects were told to think through the information and then make the best decision. The other half were distracted by easy puzzles after they read the information, and were then put on the spot to make a decision without having had time to consciously deliberate. The distracted group ended up performing better.

Dijksterhuis proved that some decisions are better left to your unconscious mind to untangle. In other words, to actively try to work through these decisions will lead to a worse outcome than loading up the relevant information and then moving on to something else while letting the subconscious layers of your mind mull things over.

Reason #2: Downtime Helps Recharge the Energy Needed to Work Deeply

A paper appearing in the journal Psychological Science describes a simple experiment. Subjects were split into two groups. One group was asked to take a walk on a wooded path in a botanical garden. The other group was sent on a walk through the bustling center of the city. Both groups were then given a challenging task called backward digit-span. The nature group performed up to 20 percent better on the task. The nature advantage still held the next week when the researchers brought back the same subjects and switched the locations: It wasn’t the people who determined performance, but whether or not they got a chance to prepare by walking through the woods.

Walking through nature exposes you to what lead author Marc Berman calls “inherently fascinating stimuli. These stimuli “invoke attention modestly, allowing focused-attention mechanisms a chance to replenish.

Reason #3: The Work That Evening Downtime Replaces Is Usually Not That Important

Anders Ericsson studied the practice habits of a group of elite violin players training at Berlin’s Universität der Künste and discovered that the capacity for deep work in a given day is limited. It follows, therefore, that by evening, you’re beyond the point where you can continue to effectively work deeply. Any work you do fit into the night, therefore, won’t be the type of high-value activities that really advance your career; your efforts will instead likely be confined to low-value shallow tasks (executed at a slow, low-energy pace). “By deferring evening work”, says Newport, “you’re not missing out on much of importance”.

The three reasons just described support the general strategy of maintaining a strict endpoint to your workday. Only the confidence that you’re done with work until the next day can convince your brain to downshift to the level where it can begin to recharge for the next day to follow. As Newport says, “trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown.”

Adapted from Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport, Grand Central Publishing

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Mindfulness online: Paolo Bisazza speaking

May 15th, 2020 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Mindfulness online: Paolo Bisazza speaking”
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My teaching career began in 2010 in “Alchemy – The Centre”, a splendid centre in London. I offered weekly individual and group meditation sessions and seminars, often with up to fifty participants. (more…)

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Stress lies within

July 31st, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Stress lies within”
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Today’s world of work is shaped by constant social, political, and economic changes, which means that many of us are having to learn how to live with constant stress. (more…)

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