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Health

The sound of anachronism

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When I open my mouth.

My whole heart comes out.

I don’t even care what the world thinks about how I sound

Christina Aguilera, Sing For Me

water

Anachronism (noun): an error in chronology; a person or thing that’s chronologically out of place

I put my hand under the faucet, letting cold water touch my skin, skin warmed up by my boiling mind. I am here. The really cold water reminds me of this simple fact that we often forget. I close my eyes a bit, to enjoy the sensation.

Closing my eyes brings back memories from other times when I was not in the here and now. When my chaotic life consisted of more tomorrows and yesterdays than life today. That was the time when my colors were grey, my mood black and my road consisted of an invisible color. I made no sound then, only some lamenting noises that I`d rather mute.

We come to this world from a watery place that feels safe like a warm, cozy house. There we are all alike, we know nothing more except what our fluid surroundings tell us. When we finally come out to our version of reality, we have to find our place in it.  Some of us, never quite do. At one point we`d rather be at a mountain top, smoking plants with ancient monks, at another rather lie burrowed in the earth we supposedly come from. We swim upstream and downstream, seldom relaxing to just float. Bubbles burst, and shattered pieces remind us of who we once were.

Last year I got the chance to travel to dream-destinations of mine. China. It was my chance to be in my tomorrows, walk on my mountain-tops and my chance to just be. comP9c165416270d54f35ead568db79bdc96From early on, I feel in love with simple life-views portrayed in movies like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and.. Spring and books like “Eat pray, love”. The first steps to some of these philosophical views were mapped out by Asians, so the wish to walk at the same earth as they did,  grew until the turning compass-needle in my heart pointed directly at Asia. What would I see in my own personal mirror?

One of the many places I got the chance to touch with my Norwegian shoes, was Hong Kong. There I enjoyed an extraordinary experience where I sure felt out of place constantly, silently enjoying it.

When you eat, do you taste every bit like it would be your last? When I was a child, I remember how I enjoyed a German chocolate after coming back to Norway. I saved it as long as I could, prolonging the joyful taste and thereby squeezing more happiness from it. I did this since I knew it would be long until next time a piece of  Yogurette could melt on my tongue. The more grown-up and richer one gets, the less one savors what enters our senses. For this reason, “Dialogue in the dark” was just what my under-stimulated nerve-cells needed. Before I attended this unorthodox tourist-experience, I just knew that it was created by blind people, and that we would learn something from it. My inner owl hooted in satisfaction, even when someone put a blindfold over me over me and 9 other unknown people’s eyes. It was pitch dark, but the next hour were filled with so much color that it felt like I finally could see again.

sympho
the sound of anachronism

I heard a classical piece of music that whirred up strong emotions, I touched objects that made my senses boomerang in wonder. I heard sounds never noticed before, and my body was drenched in water that almost crept under my skin. The excitement I felt was doubled by the mere presence of the strangers around me who had their own surprised exclaims and sounds. Although I`ll never meet those people again, their voices and laughter has left an imprint on my soul.

The exquisite meal we had at the end, felt like it must have done for the 12 disciples. With no sight and no disturbing white noise, I could fully appreciate what I tasted and how lucky I was to be there.

I sure felt the truth of this after we had touched, tasted, felt and walked in the dark, but shining, room in Hong Kong. In the loud silence of our journey through the dark, I could focus completely on how the food tasted and felt. I also had time to appreciate the fact that I sat there, completely free from inhibitions and restrictions, enjoying food some children never get to taste. I am one of the one percent of the population with this chance,

Even if this can be categorized under the most disorganized experiences of my life, I have never felt so clear about anything before.

Where have you arrived, and what is the sound of your symphony in the dark?

 Daily Prompt 

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Meditation Reduces Emotional Pain by 44%: Study

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RESEARCH

Meditation Reduces Emotional Pain by 44%: Study

a young woman meditating
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According to a new study, mindfulness meditation exhibited even stronger physical pain reductions than morphine, says the study’s lead investigator

Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has studied mindfulness for 15 years and has observed improved health outcomes as a result. “But what if this is all just a placebo?” he wondered. “What if people are reporting improvements in health and reductions in pain just because of meditation’s reputation as a health-promoting practice?” He wanted to find out, so he designed a trials that included a placebo group.

Zeidan recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment.

“I want to be restrained about the efficacy of mindfulness, and the way to be restrained about it is by making it harder and harder to demonstrate its effectiveness,” Zeidan says.

First, there was a placebo cream group that participants were told reduces pain over time, Zeidan says (it was really just petroleum jelly). For four days, they rubbed it on the back of their leg and tested it against that painfully hot thermal probe. Little did they know, the researchers cranked down the heat each day; the participants thought the cream was working.

Another group was taught a kind of fake mindfulness meditation—they were told to breathe deeply for 20 minutes but were given no instructions on how to do it mindfully. The control group was subjected to 20 minutes of a very boring book on tape: The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.

For the real intervention, people sat for 20 minutes with straight posture, closed their eyes and listened to specific instructions about where to focus one’s attention and how to let thoughts and emotions pass without judgment. “Our subjects are taught to focus on the changing sensations of breath and to follow the breath with the mind’s eye as it goes down the chest and abdomen,” Zeidan says.

After four days, everyone re-entered the MRI machine and endured the same pain from the 120-degree probe. They were told to use their training—breathing deeply, mindfully meditating or the cream. They used a lever to indicate the physical intensity and emotional unpleasantness of the pain.

They found that people in all of the groups had greater pain reductions than the control group. The placebo cream reduced the sensation of pain by an average of 11% and emotional unpleasantness of pain by 13%. For the sham mindfulness group, those numbers were 9% and 24% respectively. But mindfulness meditation outperformed them all. In this group, pain intensity was cut by 27% and emotional pain reduced by 44%.

That shocked Zeidan. Past research has indicated that the opioid morphine reduces physical pain by 22%—and mindfulness had surpassed even that. But the MRI results, which showed how pain was registering in their brains, surprised him even more. People who had practiced mindfulness meditation seemed to be using different brain regions than the other groups to reduce pain.

“There was something more active, we believe, going on with the genuine mindfulness meditation group,” Zeidan says. This group had increased activation in higher-order brain regions associated with attention control and enhanced cognitive control, he says, while exhibiting a deactivation of the thalamus—a structure that acts as the gatekeeper for pain to enter the brain, he explains. “We haven’t seen that with any other technique before.”

It’s an important preliminary study, Zeidan says, but exactly who will benefit from meditation’s impact on pain is still unknown. “We’re now at the stage, at least in my lab, where we have enough evidence that meditation reduces pain and it does it in a really unique fashion, different from any other technique we’ve seen,” he says.

And as for the questions left unanswered? “We don’t have the studies yet,” he says, “but we’re getting there.”

Metaphors in psychotherapy

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Good Friday to everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? IMAG0458

I have had a good day at work, with interesting meetings and memorable conversations. I have also had some time to read a bit, and came across two interesting metaphors. In addition, a doctor I work together with, also pulled a metaphor up his sleeve, and when I came down to my office, I had to write them all down. Then I got the idea? Wouldn`t it be great with a book full of metaphors (it probably exists already, but an update is always welcome) ? And then I started to wonder:

Do you have metaphors fitting for life in general and for psychotherapy?

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Life is like a camera

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care

Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. During those long hours, the office setting either promotes good mental health or contributes to poor emotional well-being. Despite the large role that office culture plays in employee well-being, most companies rarely – if ever – mention the subject of mental health.

Employers certainly can’t prevent all mental health problems. Genetics and past traumatic experiences are just a couple of the factors that can influence a person’s mental health. But there are steps employers can take to reduce stress and promote resilience.

The Cost of Mental Health Problems to Employers

Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.

Employees with untreated mental illness cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services. Additionally, mental illness and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

Fotolia.com

Employees are Stressed Out

2014 survey by Buck Consultants at Xerox found that 84% of employers report believing they have a high responsibility to provide a working environment that promotes mental well-being. The survey found that employee performance is the most important reason organizations want to address work-related stress and poor mental well-being.

Despite employers’ good intentions to promote mental well-being, the survey found that that 53 percent of U.S. respondents rate their stress levels as above average, with 33 percent saying that stress has increased in their organizations over the last five years. Stress is a major factor that can influence a person’s mental health and can contribute to problems such as depression and anxiety.

Treatment for Mental Health Problems

When people are diagnosed with physical health problems – like diabetes or heart disease – they don’t wait to seek in treatment in hopes their illness will disappear on its own. Yet, most mental health problems go untreated for years. Unfortunately, without treatment mental health problems may get worse, making them more difficult to treat.

The good news is, most mental health problems are very treatable. The bad news is, there are several barriers that prevent people from getting treatment. Many people fail to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. There’s also still a stigma associated with seeking treatment for mental health problems. And for many people, treatment simply isn’t affordable.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an Opportunity

People aren’t either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum. An organization’s culture and policies can greatly influence where employees fall on the continuum. Providing a healthy work environment assists people in being at their best.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to consider what steps they want to take to promote mental well-being in the workplace. Implementing resilience-building and stress awareness programs are just a few of the ways companies can promote positive well-being in the workplace. For more tips, check out my previous article, How to Foster Good Mental Health in the Workplace.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.

The sound of my compassionate letter

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The sound of my compassionate letter

Today is a calm day at work, maybe simply because it’s Friday and people are getting ready for the weekend. Who wants to be serious then? I am using the time diligently (almost) and have for example taken some phone calls and been to 2 hours of supervision. I`ve had one patient, and have read a little bit, also. The chapter I`m reading right now is about giving yourself as much compassion as everyone else. This is maybe one of the most central themes in my work, and something especially hard for takecare

traumatized people. They`re so used to focusing on others, because they had to, before. If mother was in a good mood, then maybe that day would be okay. Maybe it would even be possible to do something nice together.

Right now I feel the need for comfort, myself. It’s 5 month after my big love left me, and my heart is healing so slowly. If I try to contact him, just in case he has changed his mind, I never get anything else than more disappointment, and the knowledge that he`ll never ever be with me again, is just so hard to take in. When I hear songs reminding me of the situation, I have to turn it off, and I still haven`t seen one romantic movie after the break-up. I don`t even like to be around couples. I have no problem connecting with my patients and their pain from rejection.  So now I want to try to give myself crutches, myself a chance to stand upright even when I feel nothing is right.
First of all, it’s not the first time I`ve lost somebody. Like I`ve already written in my narrative, I lost my very best friend and my first real love while still struggling to grow up. I spent years trying to come to terms with loosing my first love, and I even thought about us while I was in new relationships. If I read books about people finding each other again after a long time, I hoped that would happen to me. After some time I felt better again, and tried to move on. 

I have to remind myself of the struggles I`ve had, and how I always tried to continue fighting even when I just wanted to lay down, letting nature take me back to the earth. I`ve been in the rain countless times, and I managed to crawl back into a dry house after a while. These last months have been so difficult, and I am really proud that I got through Christmas, New Year and Valentine in one piece. Valentine was even a good day, because I treated myself so nicely; Ate something good, did scrapbooking, put on music and was proud that I could enjoy myself so much. It’s the first time I spent any of those big occasions without a boyfriend, and I feel stronger. Instead of finding some random person to soothe me, I soothed myself, and I am proud of myself.

I still see his face when I close my eyes, but now I work towards mixing the good things with the bad. How I felt when he was never there, how it hurt when he thought I was demanding too much, the way he never asked about my day or how he was restless when he finally was at home. I was always trying to make him, and still he only told me I was reacting the wrong way. He told me I was overreacting when I tried to talk about how I felt, and that I made it more uncomfortable for him to be home. I did many things wrong, because I felt neglected, and that made me feel even worse and more unstable. I know I`m to blame for a lot of things, but I ALSO have to remember I always did my best.

Another thing I must remember is how hard I have worked to be a better person. I have reproached myself, cried my frustrated tears without anyone to dry them, and gone to sleep alone most nights. I`ve had a warm shower when I really need it, and been social and active. I`ve not missed one day at work, and always focus 100 % at my patients, and I have been completely honest with people around me on how I`m lodoing. I`ve also been honest with people who liked me more than what I could return, and felt I have been able to not let anything go too far. I`ve also had my share of rejections from some people I’ve met, who I could have liked a bit more, without feeling too bad about it. I`ve told myself I have to take the time I need, and given myself some invisible hugs when the world is grey around me. I must remember that I need this time to heal, and that I obviously deserve it. I shouldn`t feel bad for using several hours on nothing, like staying on the internet or watching some tv-show. I`m much harder on myself than with anyone else, and always keep these unreasonable standards on what I have to accomplish.

To elevate my mood and take care of my body I have started swimming and running 2-3 times a week. Even when on vacation or at home, I try to put some exercise into the program. Today I walked to work for the first time in a long time, and it felt great! I am eating healthy most of the time, but still eat dessert, chocholate or drink chai caramel when I want to. I have met people I and prioritized spending time with them. I also have to learn to not feel bad if I say no to something, because I MUST have time on my own. It`s essential that I can just be with the bad feelings, that I see I can bear it and even learn more about how to control them.

everyone need love
everyone need love

And what about who I am? I have sometimes done bad things, but that doesn`t mean that I AM bad. I have hurt people because that`s easier than being hurt myself, but it still doesn`t make me a person unworthy of love. I struggle, and instead of dragging myself down, by thinking I’m horrible, I have to see that I also do good things, every day. 

It can be the small things like holding the door when I see someone coming towards me, and bigger things, like saying to my supervisor today that it`s not okay that my patient is treated bad by her mother. It can be to give my brother a hug and a heartfelt compliment, and it can be to validate someone else`s pain. I think about the environment, and don`t use my money on fancy and expensive stuff. I want to be real, and am proud that I actually can show that it`s okay to do mistakes. We all do, and we will probably do them again. Most of us don`t have energy or time enough to really work on our issues, and there are so many expectations the whole time, that we just have to fail once in a while. I can be creative, get new ideas from diverse bits of information and try to keep updated on what`s going on in the world. I also try to be open to meet new people, and to let the unknown rest where it should be: In the future that no one can see.

Taking all this together, I`ve done a considerable amount of work, and that shows my strength. It shows that I can Survive and thrive, and when I get through this I will surely grasp the opportunities that I deserve. I will take my time, mull it over, and really feel if its right or not, when I go into a new relationship, and I will be honest anout my past and what I hope for. I want to give myself this letter, because I have felt a unhappy the last days, and I need to remind myself that what I`m trying to do is hard work.  I am allowed to hope that things will turn around again. I can choose which path I choose,  and no one can stop me.

Enjoy your time while waiting for the last scraps of sorrow to fade away, because there is no reason not to.

I want to ask everyone who’s reading this: How would your letter be? What is good about you? Do you give yourself enough comfort? Could you give even more? What would be really great for you, and why do you deserve it in the first place? If you don’t feel like writing a whole letter, is it possible to think about those questions? It`s far too common to forget oneself in a hectic life.

Hugs to myself and to all my readers

Do you have any blog-posts related to psychology you would like to have in a book?

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Like some of you know, I am working on a book version of this blog. After 500 posts I have shared my own reflections and reblogged interesting posts. But, I want the book to entail a number of posts written by others, so if you write about psychology and would like to share those posts, write a comment or an email (forfreepsychology@gmail.com). Feel free to add a link to the post you are especially proud of. You can share your own struggle With mental illness, or more theoretical posts. You can also share your thought on the Health care system, or on society at large.

I am looking forward to hear from you!

uten navn

The choices that matter

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images-19Every day we must choose from different alternatives. Most of them are small, like if you want salad or bread for lunch. But even those small choices can have a great effect in the long run. Today I came home from work, ate dinner, and sat down to make a card to someone I know. I knew I had to go to the gym, since I had booked an exercise class. As the afternoon melted over to evening, I felt my  motivation drop. Wasn`excercise it better to just stay in? Make some tea, eat some chocolate and watch a movie? But no, I managed to haul myself away from those cozy fantasies, and went to the gym. When I came home, I felt good.  Knowing what happens inside of me each time my heart starts pumping in tune with the music, makes me satisfied. I know I do something good for myself, something that will last longer and give me more than watching another movie that I`ll soon forget. So, every day we make choices. We can choose better health, and we can choose small things that will affect us positively in the long run. .

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 Market Place Lesson

The sound of being alive

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Right now I’m at a course about group therapy. The lecturer, Marius Råkli, works at “alternatives to violence” and talks about his work there. I feel bubbly and alive, since something huge is going on in my life at the moment. Yesterday I was interviewed by the local news-agent, and today an article was published. You can read the interview in Norwegian here.

  I have learnt a lot about Group therapy, and realized there is hope when it comes to treatment, also for people abusing others. 2014-04-17 22.39.11

Quotes to Refresh Your Body and Mind This Winter Season

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BodyMindQuotes.jpg

Although he’s not quite here yet (there are still a few red and orange leaves clinging for dear life), Old Man Winter is definitely heading up the driveway.

Personally, I love winter. I love snow and fireplaces and hot chocolate. I love snuggling up with my dog (and other loved ones!), decorating for the holidays, and baking warm goodies.

However, winter is hard on some folks. For many, it’s difficult to nourish our bodies and minds when we’re overwhelmed by the cold and dark. Some people deal with seasonal affective disorder, while others simply cope with the winter blahs.

Below are 12 quotes that can boost your spirits and keep you going throughout the rest of autumn and the upcoming winter months. As always, take what works for you and leave the rest behind.

  1. “A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.” — William Arthur Ward
  2. “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” — George Santayana
  3. “One kind word can warm three winter months.” — Japanese Proverb
  4. “Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” — Buddha
  5. “The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.” — Terri Guillemets
  6. “When snow falls, nature listens.” — Antoinette van Kleeff
  7. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” — Rabindranath Tagore
  8. “Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes, but I’ll work it out…” — Dave Matthews
  9. “Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” — Terri Guillemets
  10. “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” — Victor Hugo
  11. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” — Alfred Wainwright
  12. “There is no season such delight can bring / As summer, autumn, winter and the spring.” — William Browne

How about YOU, sweet readers? What’s your favorite quote (or quotes) to get you through tough times?

My brain

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My  brain looks sad
My brain looks sad
Lateral side: Medulla, pons, corpus callosum, cerebellum
Lateral side: Medulla, pons, corpus callosum, cerebellum

Ever wanted to look inside yourself? I have, and now I`ve done it. It is a bit surreal to look at my brain, but also a bit exciting.

https://mirrorgirlblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/the-sound-of-clocks-ticking/

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