Archives for December, 2011
Do you grip the arm rest during take off and landing when flying, break into a cold sweat at the thought of a long car ride or avoid trips and vacations that involve any sort of travel? I am an anxious flyer. I don’t avoid trips, but I think twice before booking one. I have all sorts of techniques to take my mind off the flight, particularly during take off and landing, which always feel like the most vulnerable parts of the flight.
We all have a holiday story: Uncle Joe who drinks too much and tells offensive jokes at dinner; old sibling rivalries revived; our own sudden reversion to childhood behaviors the second we walk in through the front door. We might love the holidays, but find ourselves trapped in a recurrent family drama year after year. A romanticized version of family life promoted in holiday songs, television ads, magazines and stores throughout the country would have us believe that “home for the holidays” involves crackling fires, roasting chestnuts, warm embraces and comfort. But, in reality, during this season of family gatherings many experience tension, conflict, shame, embarrassment, irritation and disagreement. And, for better or wore, what we remember about holidays is usually more about family, gathering together and spending time with loved ones, than about any one particular gift that we receive.
Walk into any store or watch advertisements on TV and you might think that the only road to giving this season is through a diamond necklace, a new electronic gadget or a plastic toy. But greater happiness is not closely correlated with getting things. It’s our experiences that increase our happiness over time. And many experiences are free. Below are suggestions for giving this season that don’t cost anything and just may be the gifts that are remembered long after the hustle and bustle of the holidays has passed.
This is a time of year when we hear a lot about peace and forgiveness. These are important values and vital to our ability to function in society, in our communities and with those we care about the most. But often it is very hard to admit wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness, when we have been the one who has behaved poorly. We’ve all seen how failure to admit wrong-doing and mistakes can impact public figures. Martha Stewart, for example, went to jail, not for her original actions, but for trying to cover them up. On the news this morning, I heard another case of public figures who had mishandled allegations of sexual abuse. They are now the subject of a grand jury investigation—not for their mishandling of the allegations, but for their attempts to cover up (with lies and by perjuring themselves) their original mismanagement. We’ve all made mistakes and blunders, have forgotten or failed to act at important moments or unintentionally or callously hurt others at some point or another. Sometimes our errors in judgment are small and relatively inconsequential, while at other times, such as in the mishandling of sexual abuse allegations, there are considerable consequences.
We’re surrounded by information about the benefits of exercise, but many of us still have trouble incorporating regular exercise into our lives. Although we know it’s good for our bodies and more and more studies point to the benefits for our mental health, we often still don’t make it a habit. The following are 4 tips to start an exercise program that you will stick to.
People generally understand that eating healthy is beneficial to physical health. Healthy eating can lower the risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. According to Roger Walsh in the October 2011 issue of The American Psychologist, there is now a sizable body of evidence indicating the importance of nutrition for mental health. A review of over 160 studies suggested that diet and nutrition can impact the mental health of nations (Gomez-Pinella, 2008).