Psych Central

Emotional Awareness Articles

You Don’t Have to be Buddhist to Experience the Benefits of Meditation

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

There is growing interest in the use of meditation and other contemplative practices to promote mental and physical health.

Until recently, the practice of meditation has been traditionally relegated to the private study of those willing to be specially trained in a particular style or technique.

However, in the past 10 years, things have changed as meditation’s universal appeal and access has begun to broaden, and the real-world applications and neuroscience research has followed.

Even more interesting is exploring the valuable effects of combining frameworks and techniques from different contemplative traditions to improve emotional experiences and regulation.

A recent study published in the Journal of Emotions (2012) examined the emotional changes that can result from meditation practice and emotional intelligence training, by delivering a program to 82 female participants over 8 weeks.


How Mindfulness Can Help You Regulate Emotions

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. No matter how much we try to be aware of our triggers and keep calm, there will probably be times we simply lose our cool.

We live in a day and age where people are consumed with daily pressure and overloaded with stress from work, family, finances and other obligations.

What do you do to cope during these moments of stress and frustration?

Whether you’re personally struggling to manage your emotions or you know someone in your life who seems to be emotionally sensitive, practicing mindful awareness can be a tool for regulating these difficult emotions.

Mindfulness is generally characterized as having present moment awareness, where we observe our current experience of thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental manner.

Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for therapeutic purposes by decreasing emotional distress and helping to reduce depression – though mindfulness can also be a valuable means for dealing with everyday pressures as well.


How to Be Healthy and Happy the Mindful Way

Monday, January 9th, 2012

If you’re like me, you have to make an effort to slow down, be present, and unwind.

We live in a fast paced world with incessant activity and multiple points of attention.

This is why learning and practicing mindfulness is such a wonderful tool for experiencing greater emotional and physical health.

Mindful practices and interventions such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and general mindfulness mediation have been shown to benefit people with chronic pain, stress, cancer, depression, anxiety, and numerous other mental and physical ailments.

Mindfulness can help us to relax, have greater self-control and manage our behavior, change how we think about things, be less judgmental, and develop healthy levels of acceptance.

All of which have merit when it comes to our overall health and well-being.


How to Maintain and Enhance Positive Emotions

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

All day long we are confronted with situations where we must manage our emotions. We might run into some unexpected setback and need to manage stress, we may need to spark our motivation by dealing with a negative attitude, or we may need to manage anger when someone cuts us off in traffic.

Much of psychology and counseling focuses on how to regulate these negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, anger and stress.

Fortunately, there are many strategies which allow us to use these emotions most adaptively.

On a similar note, much of our life includes the experience of positive emotions as well, and learning to regulate emotions such as joy, gratitude, optimism, and hope has significant benefits.

Regulating positive emotional experiences can offer the specific benefit of greater resilience and the ability to cope with stress.


Does the Impact of Positive Emotions Differ Across Cultures?

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Research reveals positive emotions and psychological well-being play a role in our physical and mental health.

Positive emotions help us to be more resilient and mediate our ability to cope with stress and manage mental health concerns.

Simply put, being happy can actually lead us to be healthier and live longer.

(he majority of these studies are based on Western (middle-class European American) samples, however, and haven’t revealed clear insight about how culture plays a role in this process.

I wrote a previous article exploring how important the context and situation is to the value of positive emotions, and it’s not necessarily one size fits all.

A further research study I came across applies this same notion to the construct of culture, and asks if positive emotions are just as positive culture to culture?


Flip Your Script: Use the “Positive” Cognitive Triad to Enhance Resiliency

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

There are many factors involved when it comes to suffering from depression or anxiety, and when taking an integrative approach, we would consider such areas as biological, cognitive and social circumstances.

In particular, our cognitive domain including our perspectives, interpretations and beliefs related to ourselves, the world around us, and our future holds a great deal of power over our ability to manage stress and experience greater well-being.

People with a sense of hopelessness and lack of control are particularly vulnerable to stress and psychopathology.

We will go through difficult times in life, so having the ability to bounce back from adversity is crucial for building mental health and having life-satisfaction.


How Do “Flourishers” Flourish?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

A flourishing person is someone who experiences positive emotions, excels in daily life, and is a contributing and productive member of society.

In other words, they consistently feel good and do good.

Some people just seem to be full of energy, positivity and have optimal mental health.

So, what leads someone to flourish and thrive mentally, emotionally and physically? Is there something fundamentally different about them?

According to recent research by Barbara Fredrickson, “flourishers” displayed more positive emotional reactivity to pleasant events compared to non-flourishers or depressed individuals.

Fredrickson is known for the broaden-and-build theory, which posits that “recurrent experiences with positive emotions ultimately “build” a variety of beneficial personal resources.”


Are Positive Emotions Always Beneficial?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The positive psychology movement has been criticized for being Pollyanna and sugar coating real issues by simply thinking positively.

Positive psychology is much more than “positive thinking,” and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives.

But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.

Recent research presented in the American Psychologist explains how positive emotions are not necessarily direct and distinct in the way they function and affect us.

According to these researchers, psychology is not necessarily positive or negative. Ascribing a label such as positive to emotions and states of mind like optimism, forgiveness, and kindness may be a misnomer when considering the bigger picture.


How to Break Your Worry Habit and Overcome Anxiety

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

If you have ever had a problem with excessive anxiety you know how debilitating it can be. When anxiety is serious it can really steal our joy and impact our ability to live a full and meaningful life.

We may be genetically predisposed to anxiety, though most often anxiety is caused by our thinking, particularly excessive worrying.

There might be feelings of fear and dread, and apprehensive expectations and thoughts about the future.

Someone with anxiety may tend to assume the worst is going to happen and constantly focus on all the things they “must,” “should,” and “need” to do.

If this is something you struggle with, here are some strategies to help you overcome excessive worry and anxiety.


How to Overcome the Negativity of Others

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

What do you do when you’re around someone who can’t seem to notice or say anything positive? It can be tough to not let their mood and outlook have an effect.

So, who tends to breed negativity in your life? Is it your boss, coworker, family, or friends? Maybe you’re the one who tends to view things pessimistically at times.

Either way, no one will always have a wonderful day free of frustrations. We are simply going to experience negativity at times; but despite this we do have a choice in how we let negativity effect us. When we experience a negative person it’s important to not them bring us down.

If you’re having a difficult time with a negative person, here are a few ideas to consider.

1) Learn to respond instead of react. This means recognizing when we are encountering negativity so we can prepare mentally and decide how we want to respond. We may want to ignore the comments and not let them get to us, however depending on the situation we may have to interact with the person.

Have you ever been in a work meeting where someone shoots down every good idea and can only see the negative side of things? In these cases we may have to deal with the negativity to prevent it from spreading to others.


 

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