Short-Term Therapy for Insomnia Can Help Depression

Insomnia and depression have a “what came first, the chicken or the egg” sort of relationship. Most people who habitually struggle with sleep will acknowledge that this takes a toll on their mood. Indeed, insomnia can frequently predate an episode of depression.

On the other hand, one of the common symptoms of clinical depression is disturbed slumber – either tossing and turning throughout the night or sleeping excessively.

The trick is to stop this vicious cycle, and recent research suggests that a short course of talk therapy focused on treating insomnia can indeed do the trick.


The Healing Power of Self-Disclosure

Searching within ourselves and coming to terms with the issues and habits that have perhaps hindered us (and those that helped us) can be transformative. While it’s possible to do this introspective process on our own, there are a number of important reasons to divulge our secrets to someone else:

1. We may have a skewed view of ourselves, either minimizing, exaggerating, or misinterpreting our actions and attitudes. Another person who has our best interests at heart can gently point out where we may be rationalizing or where we may be beating ourselves up, either of which can block us from moving forward.

2. We may be too close to a situation to see it clearly. Another person can help us “back up” and see the bigger picture. For instance, reframing our past or current situation may reveal that where we’ve perceived ourselves as the victim or a terrible person, we were in fact a survivor or someone standing up for his or her rights.  We no longer have to be bound to our old and limited (and limiting) stories.


Finding Comfort In Difficult Times

Happiness. Anxiety. Delight. Frustration. Serenity. Impatience. In other words, emotions.

We all have them. And so far nobody has figured out a way to remove the uncomfortable feelings without also erasing exuberance and the other pleasurable emotions. So, our options are either to accept occasional emotional pain or relinquish feeling much of anything at all.

Feelings have important functions. Among other things, they signify that we care, that we are affected by what goes on around us, and that we aren’t inanimate robots or statues. Feelings also communicate to us and those around us what we want and need.

Our responses to our feelings can run the gamut, with one extreme being denial of our emotions and the other extreme being utter immersion and identification with our emotions. The healthy middle ground consists of our bearing witness to our feelings, without judgment, with warm regard, and the recognition that however painful, our feelings won’t last forever.


Things Your Brain Needs to Function Correctly

Having trouble concentrating lately? Are you walking into your kitchen or living room, only to forget the reason why? Has concern crept up that something may be “wrong” with your mind?

We all have times when we feel as if we’re not firing on all cylinders. This isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. However, the following tips can help to maximize your mental well-being:


Yoga and Mindfulness

This past weekend I took what turned out to be the most raucous yoga class I've ever experienced.
Five minutes before the scheduled start time, more men than women were lined up outside the yoga studio, stretching and looking very intense. This should have been my first clue that we were in for a serious workout – well, that and the fact that the class was termed Power Yoga. Then I spotted the instructor (who I’ll call Mike) and had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. He's also a personal trainer at the gym and is quite talkative, energetic, and given to bursting into song. All good, just not your stereotypical serene yoga instructor. Mindfulness note: Notice, don’t judge. Let go of assumptions. Practice "beginner's mind".


How to Bring More Beauty Into Your Life

Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on a brisk January work day in 2007, a man dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap began to play the violin in a Washington DC Metro station. Over 1000 people passed by in the next 45 minutes, during which time the musician played six Bach pieces, his open violin case at his feet with a few coins and dollar bills placed inside.

Out of the multitude of passersby, a mere six people stopped to listen to the performer. 27 individuals dropped money in the case but proceeded to walk on at their normal pace. Before concluding his concert (to no applause), the man collected $32 and change -- not counting the $20 donated by one woman who recognized the musician's identity.


The Key Ingredient to Good Health and Well-Being

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” (Albert Schweitzer)

It turns out that those who serve are a whole lot more likely to be physically healthy, too, down to the cellular level. Researchers at the University of North Carolina and UCLA recently discovered that people who scored high on the sort of happiness associated with meaning, defined as devotion to a cause bigger than oneself (eudaimonic well-being), had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and high levels of antiviral and antibody gene expression. 


14 Ways to Manage Anxiety

The majority of our emotional responses result from how we interpret a situation. People go to amusement parks to be intentionally scared out of their wits on roller coasters. We term the heart-pounding and adrenalin rush experienced in such situations “excitement”, but if we endure the same sensations due to an unplanned event, such as narrowly escaping being hit by a car, we probably wouldn’t consider this pleasant.

The difference lies partially in how competent we perceive ourselves to be, and such a feeling is not developed in a vacuum. We need to seek out challenges and adventure to increase our belief that we can play well the hand that life deals us. Here are some tools to help pave the way:


Why and How to Forgive

Life is precarious, people aren’t perfect, and so it’s inevitable that at some point we’ll be hurt or injured emotionally by somebody’s words or actions. The offense may be something relatively mild (making a thoughtless remark) or horrendous (child abuse).

The question is how do we heal? Should we forgive, and if so, why? And how? And what does forgiveness mean, anyway?


Essential Life Lessons

So, another school year begins, and students once again apply themselves to their studies, vying for top grades and possibly a spot at a prized university.

Regardless of our academic achievements, we learned (or should have learned) many important lessons in school.