From The Ringer—Digital Natives Struggle with Traditional Therapy. How to get help with anxiety or depression from a therapist who has never used a dating app?
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Los Feliz is a deep blue neighborhood in a deep blue state. Right now, a lot of people are experiencing an unpleasant combination of lingering shock and continued anxiety. From How to Cope with Post-Election Stress (The Atlantic), come some suggestions. First, there’s basic self-care. Then:
At an individual level, people can check in on their families, friends, and coworkers, to see how they’re doing, and host gatherings or create opportunities for people to socialize and be together. They can donate or help organize or volunteer at charities, organizations, or religious groups that work in their cities and neighborhoods[…]
Ultimately, taking action is likely the biggest thing people can do to combat the anxiety and fear they may feel while waiting for Trump’s inauguration, and after. A trap that it’s easy to fall into is what psychologists call “counterfactual regret”—thinking of all the ways an outcome could have been prevented, how the world could be different if people had just done something different.
Can therapy help? Yes, it can. Call or write to get started.
Experiencing a spike in anxiety connected with the election? You’re not alone.
The American Psychological Association says that 52 percent of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election, according to national Harris Poll survey data released last week. Therapists around the country said in interviews that patients are coming to appointments citing their fears, anger and anxiety about the election.
Both poll data and anecdotal reports show that the high levels of election anxiety are affecting both Republicans and Democrats equally.
Therapists nationwide on are on the case (including here in Los Feliz).
More help via mindfulness, this time for elementary school kids in Watts:
Mindfulness has been found beneficial for stress reduction, anxiety and depression, dietary challenges, addiction recovery, and many other conditions. Now it has found its way into a classroom where children as young as three are using its techniques to manage emotions and stay calm.
Using a strategy called Calm Classroom, Los Angles students, ranging from transitional kindergartners to fifth graders, are being guided by teachers three times during the school day through three-minute mindfulness exercises. The drills call on students to refocus their attention on deep breathing, relaxation, and body awareness.
Haven’t tried it? For some free, short, guided meditations, check out UCLA’S Mindful Awareness Research Center.
In case you missed it: Why Therapists Should Talk Politics (NYT):
There comes a time when people can’t take it anymore, when too much is being demanded of them. How much blame can people tolerate directing at themselves? When do they turn it outward?
My sense is that psychotherapists are playing a significant role in directing this blame inward. Unfortunately, many therapists, because they have been trained not to discuss political issues in the consulting room, are part of the problem, implicitly reinforcing false assumptions about personal responsibility, isolation and the social status quo.
If the patient describes a nearly unbearable work situation, the therapist will tend to focus on the nature of the patient’s response to the situation, implicitly treating the situation itself as unchangeable, a fact of life. But an untenable or unjust environment is not always just a fact of life, and therapists need to consider how to talk about that explicitly.
“Stop Googling. Let’s Talk” (NYT again) surveys the trouble-with-cell-phones research (distraction up, empathy down). This jumped out:
Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.
If you make it through the article wanting more, there’s a whole book of this stuff (to read on your phone, of course).
Research says nostalgia is good for you (NYT). One study:
First, the experimenters induced nostalgia by playing hit songs from the past for some people and letting them read lyrics to their favorite songs. Afterward, these people were more likely than a control group to say that they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living.”
Then the researchers tested the effect in the other direction by trying to induce existential angst. They subjected some people to an essay by a supposed Oxford philosopher who wrote that life is meaningless because any single person’s contribution to the world is “paltry, pathetic and pointless.” Readers of the essay became more likely to nostalgize, presumably to ward off Sartrean despair.
Moreover, when some people were induced to nostalgia before reading the bleak essay, they were less likely to be convinced by it.
“Americans, like other people around the world, used to sleep in an unconsolidated fashion, that is, in two or more periods throughout the day.” They went to bed not long after the sun went down. Four or five hours later, they woke from their “first sleep” and rattled around—praying, chatting, smoking, or making love. (Benjamin Franklin reportedly liked to spend this time reading naked in a chair.) Eventually, they went back to bed for their “second sleep.”
In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert surveys a crop of “unparenting” books that take aim at parental overproviding and overprotecting:
Madeline Levine, a psychologist who lives outside San Francisco, specializes in treating young adults. In “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success” (HarperCollins), she argues that we do too much for our kids because we overestimate our influence. “Never before have parents been so (mistakenly) convinced that their every move has a ripple effect into their child’s future success,” she writes. Paradoxically, Levine maintains, by working so hard to help our kids we end up holding them back.
“Most parents today were brought up in a culture that put a strong emphasis on being special,” she observes. “Being special takes hard work and can’t be trusted to children. Hence the exhausting cycle of constantly monitoring their work and performance, which in turn makes children feel less competent and confident, so that they need even more oversight.”
As the name suggests, endocannabinoids are chemicals that, like cannabis in marijuana, alter and lighten moods. But the body produces endocannabinoids naturally. In other studies, endocannabinoid levels have been shown to increase after prolonged running and cycling, leading many scientists to conclude that endocannabinoids help to create runner’s high.