Author: Dr. Holland

Report finds burnout prevalent in health care community

Addressing clinician burnout will require a deliberate and substantive health care system redesign

Clinician burnout is affecting between one-third and one-half of all of U.S. nurses and physicians, and 45 to 60% of medical students and residents, according to a National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is among 32 institutions and foundations that sponsored the 296-page report, "Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being," which investigates the causes of widespread clinician burnout and offers solutions to address the problem at its source.

"There's an all too direct connection between clinician burnout and health care safety and quality. While clinician burnout isn't a new problem, its worsening prevalence and impact are due to system factors inherent in the modern health care system," said Matthew Weinger, MD, professor of Anesthesiology and Norman Ty Smith Chair in Patient Safety and Medical Simulation at VUMC, and a member of the NAM authoring committee for the new report.

"The Committee came to realize that addressing clinician burnout will require a deliberate and substantive health care system redesign with a focus on those activities that deliver the most value to patients while enabling and empowering clinicians to deliver high-quality care," he said.

The report discusses key issues that need to be addressed:

  • Clinician burnout needs to be tackled early in professional development and special stressors in the learning environment need to be recognized. Leaders in health care and health professions education have a responsibility to foster, monitor and continuously improve work and learning environments.
  • While some health care technologies appear to contribute to clinician burnout (poorly designed electronic health record systems, for example), there is real potential for well-designed and implemented technologies to help reduce burnout.
  • Federal and state governments, other payors and regulators and the health care industry itself have important roles to play in preventing clinician burnout. Increasing administrative burdens and distracting clinicians from the care of their patients can directly affect burnout.
  • Medical societies, state licensing boards, specialty certification boards, medical education and health care organizations all need to take concrete steps to reduce the stigma for clinicians seeking help for psychological distress and make assistance more easily available.

The report concludes with goals and recommendations centered on creating more positive work and learning environments, reducing administrative burden, enabling technology solutions, providing more support to clinicians and learners, and investing in research to address clinician burnout.


Story Source: Materials provided by Science Daily ---> Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Consensus report shows burnout prevalent in health care community." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191023172121.htm.


Dr. Jenny Holland"On the job burnout reduces productivity and saps energy, causing feelings of being helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. The negative effects of burnout will eventually spill over into every area of life—including home, work and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term physical changes and increased vulnerability to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to work through feelings of burnout with a counselor."

Dr. Holland works with professionals suffering from burnout by connecting the dots between symptoms and the root of the problem. She will help you to creatively work with your situation to help you discover new meaning in your work and offer ways you can stay healthy. Dr. Holland will help you learn how to help yourself so you can continue to do the work you love of helping others.

Contact Dr. Holland to get help with these problems today.

Grief Support Group Available

Support group meeting

After the loss of a loved one, a wide variety of feelings and emotions naturally emerge. While family and friends are important during the grieving process, unless they have experienced a close personal loss, they most likely don’t fully “get it.” This is where a support group can become a valuable resource. Grief support groups offer companionship and understanding from others who have experienced a similar loss and are experiencing similar challenges that living with grief brings.

Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD announces a new weekly support group for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. This group is open to anyone who has lost someone they love. Together we will explore, validate and support feelings and experiences that often accompany loss. Dr. Holland will guide the group through techniques that help to ease emotional pain.

Each group member will have time to share memories while discovering new ways to honor their loved one and themselves through the process. This group is limited to a small number of participants, to facilitate intimate conversation and safe sharing.

The Grief Support Group starts November 8, 2019 and will be held every other Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Dr. Holland’s office located at 621 Cherry St., Santa Rosa, California. To reserve your seat call Dr Holland at 707-479-2946. Participants will be pre-screened to qualify, and a sliding scale fee is offered.

Poor sleep and job stress even more toxic than predicted

Employers should provide stress management and sleep treatment in the workplace

Stressed at work and trouble sleeping? It's more serious than you think

Work stress and impaired sleep are linked to a threefold higher risk of cardiovascular death in employees with hypertension. Study author Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig said: "Sleep should be a time for recreation, unwinding, and restoring energy levels. If you have stress at work, sleep helps you recover. Unfortunately poor sleep and job stress often go hand in hand, and when combined with hypertension the effect is even more toxic."

One-third of the working population has hypertension (high blood pressure). Previous research has shown that psychosocial factors have a stronger detrimental effect on individuals with per-existing cardiovascular risks than on healthy people. This was the first study to examine the combined effects of work stress and impaired sleep on death from cardiovascular disease in hypertensive workers. The study included 1,959 hypertensive workers aged 25-65, without cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Compared to those with no work stress and good sleep, people with both risk factors had a three times greater likelihood of death from cardiovascular disease. People with work stress alone had a 1.6-fold higher risk while those with only poor sleep had a 1.8-times higher risk.

In the study, work stress was defined as jobs with high demand and low control -- for example when an employer wants results but denies authority to make decisions. "If you have high demands but also high control, in other words you can make decisions, this may even be positive for health," said Professor Ladwig. "But being entrapped in a pressured situation that you have no power to change is harmful." Impaired sleep was defined as difficulties falling asleep and/or maintaining sleep. "Maintaining sleep is the most common problem in people with stressful jobs," said Professor Ladwig. "They wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning to go to the toilet and come back to bed ruminating about how to deal with work issues."

"These are insidious problems," noted Professor Ladwig. "The risk is not having one tough day and no sleep. It is suffering from a stressful job and poor sleep over many years, which fade energy resources and may lead to an early grave." The findings are a red flag for doctors to ask patients with high blood pressure about sleep and job strain, said Professor Ladwig. "Each condition is a risk factor on its own and there is cross-talk among them, meaning each one increases risk of the other. Physical activity, eating healthily and relaxation strategies are important, as well as blood pressure lowering medication if appropriate."

Employers should provide stress management and sleep treatment in the workplace, he added, especially for staff with chronic conditions like hypertension.

Components of group stress management sessions:

  • Start with 5 to 10 minutes of relaxation.
  • Education about healthy lifestyle.
  • Help with smoking cessation, physical exercise, weight loss.
  • Techniques to cope with stress and anxiety at home and work.
  • How to monitor progress with stress management.
  • Improving social relationships and social support.

Sleep treatment can include:

    • Stimulus control therapy: training to associate the bed/bedroom with sleep and set a consistent sleep-wake schedule.
    • Relaxation training: progressive muscle relaxation, and reducing intrusive thoughts at bedtime that interfere with sleep.
    • Sleep restriction therapy: curtailing the period in bed to the time spent asleep, thereby inducing mild sleep deprivation, then lengthening sleep time.
    • Paradoxical intention therapy: remaining passively awake and avoiding any effort (i.e. intention) to fall asleep, thereby eliminating anxiety.

Story Source: Materials provided by Science Daily. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. European Society of Cardiology. "Stressed at work and trouble sleeping? It's more serious than you think." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190428143520.htm.


Every job situation will come with varying degrees of stress and frustration that ebb and flow. Burnout, however, is more than that. It is an all-encompassing feeling that you are being pulled in every direction at once and that no matter what you do, you are unable to make progress or move forward. If chronic burnout is left untreated, it can lead to issues with physical and mental health.

Dr. Holland understands that successful people are not immune to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and addiction. Yet, many successful people are often hesitant to seek treatment because of their high-profile statuses and stressful career responsibilities. For this reason, Dr. Holland takes great pride in offering a private environment that caters to the needs of these individuals, providing them with a therapeutic atmosphere that offers a sanctuary where they can step away from the stresses of their everyday lives.

A good first step for healthcare providers and other professionals suffering from burnout and exhaustion is to acknowledge those feeling and to talk about it with a trusted counselor. Dr. Holland works with professionals suffering from burnout by connecting the dots between symptoms and the root of the problem. She will help you to creatively work with your situation to discover new meaning in your work and discover ways to stay healthy. Dr. Holland will help you learn how to help yourself so you can continue to do the work you love of helping others.

Contact Dr. Holland to get help with these problems today.

Unresolved childhood trauma linked to poorer health for women

Researchers have long known that childhood trauma is linked to poorer health for women at midlife.

Researchers identify one specific way childhood trauma can affect women

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The national study of more than 3,000 women is the first to find that those who experienced childhood trauma were more likely than others to have their first child both earlier in life and outside of marriage -- and that those factors were associated with poorer health later in life. The findings have implications for public programs to prevent teen pregnancy, said Kristi Williams, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University. These results suggest that early trauma -- such as the death of a parent, physical abuse or emotional neglect -- may affect young people's decision-making in ways that they can't entirely control.

"It's easy to tell teens that they shouldn't have kids before marriage, but the message won't be effective if they haven't developed the capacity to do that because of trauma they experienced in childhood," Williams said. "It may be necessary to do different kinds of interventions and do them when children are younger." Williams conducted the study with Brian Karl Finch of the University of Southern California. Their results were published today (Sept. 17, 2019) in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Early childhood trauma is "shockingly" common in the United States, the researchers said in the study. One national study conducted between 1995 and 1997 found that only 36 percent of respondents reported having no such adverse childhood experiences. Other research has shown that childhood trauma is strongly associated with multiple health risks, including cancer, diabetes, stroke and early death, Williams said. Much of this work has focused on how early adversity may have biological and neurological effects that would lead to worse health throughout life. "But there hasn't been any attention given to how childhood adversity may affect social and developmental processes in adolescence and young adulthood -- factors that we know are also strong predictors of later health," she said. One of those factors in women is the timing and context of first birth.

Data for this new study came from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which includes a representative sample of people who were aged 14 to 22 in 1979. The NLSY is run by Ohio State's Center for Human Resource Research. Participants were interviewed every year through 1994 and once every two years since. The final sample for this study included 3,278 women. Each participant reported whether she experienced one or more of six adverse childhood experiences before age 18: emotional neglect, physical abuse, alcoholism in the home, mental illness in the home, death of a biological parent and parental absence. The researchers examined data on how old each participant was when she first gave birth and whether she was married, cohabiting or neither at the time. Finally, participants rated their health at or near age 40.

Findings showed that each additional childhood trauma experienced by the participants was associated with earlier age at first birth and a greater probability for a first birth during adolescence or young adulthood compared to later (age 25 to 39). In addition, each additional trauma was associated with a 24 percent increase in the probability of being unmarried and not cohabiting at first birth compared to the likelihood that they were married when their first child was born. The researchers then conducted statistical tests that showed early and non-marital births were a key reason why children who experienced trauma were more likely to report poorer health at midlife.

"It is the idea of 'chains of risk' -- one thing leads to another," Williams said. "Childhood trauma leads to social and biological risks that lead to early and nonmarital birth which can lead to health problems later in life." The findings also cast doubt on the notion that childbearing decisions are the result only of the culture in which children grow up, she said. Some policymakers have claimed that some people don't value marriage enough, and if they were just encouraged not to have kids until after they're married, they would be better off, Williams said. "You can promote this 'success sequence' -- go to college, get a job, get married and have a child -- exactly in that order. But the reason some people don't do that isn't just cultural, it is structural," Williams said. "When people experience traumas early in life, it makes it less likely that they will be able to make those positive choices."


Dr. Holland's Perspective

"If we experience an extremely stressful or disturbing event, it can us feeling helpless and emotionally out of control. Psychological trauma can cause a person to struggle with upsetting emotions, recurring memories and every day anxiety. Unresolved childhood trauma can also cause feelings of being numb, disconnected and unable to trust other people. Whether the trauma happened in your childhood or just yesterday, it is important to understand that you can make healing changes and move on with your life in positive ways."

Experiencing trauma in childhood can result in a severe and long-lasting effect. When childhood trauma is not resolved, a sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for more trauma. There are steps you can take to overcome the pain, learn to trust and connect to others again, and regain your sense of emotional balance. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Holland call 707-479-2946.

Bullying prevention study highlights a healthy need to belong

A sense of belonging among youth prevents bullying

A supportive community environment reduces likelihood of bullying in children

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Research has shown that, despite great efforts, one in three children continue to experience bullying in school. However, research also has indicated that environmental and psychological factors might play an important role in minimizing bullying behaviors.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that students who feel a greater sense of belonging with their peers, family and school community are less likely to become bullies. Their findings suggest that parents and teachers should consider ways to create a supportive and accepting environment both at home and at school.

Christopher Slaten and Chad Rose, associate professors in the MU College of Education, along with Jonathan Ferguson, a graduate candidate in the counseling psychology program, analyzed survey responses from more than 900 middle school students from rural schools throughout the U.S. The survey addressed their sense of belonging among peers, family and school community as well as bullying behavior. For example, they were asked if they upset others for the fun of it or if they spread rumors.

The results indicate that the more a student feels like they belong among their peers and family, the more likely they will feel like they belong at school. In addition, the more they feel like they belong within their school community, the less likely they were to report bullying behaviors. This indicates that parents might be able to play a proactive role in increasing their child's sense of belonging at school by focusing on improving family belongingness. Slaten suggests that one of the ways parents can increase a child's sense of family belonging is to organize activities that cater to every child's interests.

"If you have children with varying interests, it might be beneficial to suggest the whole family get together to attend each other's events and activities, even if it doesn't please the whole crowd every time," Slaten said. "By encouraging siblings to support each other, parents can help their children feel like their interests are accepted and that they fit within the family unit."

Rose adds that teachers and school leaders also should consider techniques and programs that create a supportive environment for students. Some examples include starting clubs for students with various interests, offering to lend an ear to students who need someone to talk to and consider community-building events.

"What we have found is that students' perceptions of how supportive and accepting their school environment is has the power to alter bullying behavior," Rose said. "This means that even acts of simple compassion and efforts to create an accepting and supportive space for students can help prevent bullying in schools. This is empowering news for teachers, students and their families."

"Understanding the relationship between youths' belonging and bullying behavior: An SEM Model," was published in Emotional & Child Psychology.

Story Source: Read this article on Science Daily - Materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. University of Missouri-Columbia. "Students with a greater sense of school-belonging are less likely to become bullies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190730125331.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

Bullying is a behavior pattern that expresses as harming and humiliating others. Bullies typically seek out those who appear to be more vulnerable than themselves. In the real world, bullying is not the same thing as aggression; it is a deliberate and repeated attempt to cause harm to others who are more vulnerable. In our digital environment electronic bullying has also become a significant problem, an attractive alternative for bullies as this type of harassment can often be carried out anonymously.

Adults have a very important role to play in making children bully-proof, and that involves empowering children with self-confidence and a sense of belonging, as this article highlights. Parents who model healthy assertiveness to their children at home are taking the correct measures to prevent bullying. It is also important to make sure that children know how to, and feel free to speak up for themselves both at home an when in public.

Therapy for tweens, teens and their parents

Every child responds differently to life changes. Some events that may impact a child or teen’s mental health include:

  • The birth of a sibling
  • The death of a loved one, such as a family member or a pet
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Poverty or homelessness
  • Natural disaster
  • Domestic violence
  • Moving to a new place or attending a new school
  • Being bullied
  • Taking on more responsibility than is age-appropriate
  • Parental divorce or separation

Therapy is a place for you to connect and process your thoughts and feelings in a safe place. Dr. Holland can help you develop effective tools to cope with what is going on. However bad you think it is right now, we can face it together.  I believe that forming a strong personal identity is an important aspect of your growth and development, leading to a brighter future.

Contact Dr. Holland to learn more and to schedule an appointment or call 707-479-2946.

Dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depression

Eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive symptoms, finds a new UCL-led study looking at whether different types of chocolate are associated with mood disorders.

Dark chocolate associated with reduction of depressive symptoms

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Eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive symptoms, finds a new UCL-led study looking at whether different types of chocolate are associated with mood disorders. The study, published in Depression and Anxiety, is the first to examine the association with depression according to the type of chocolate consumed. Researchers from UCL worked in collaboration with scientists from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services Canada and assessed data from 13,626 adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants' chocolate consumption was assessed against their scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire, which assesses depressive symptoms.

Dark chocolate positively affects mood

In the cross-sectional study, a range of other factors including height, weight, marital status, ethnicity, education, household income, physical activity, smoking and chronic health problems were also taken into account to ensure the study only measured chocolate's effect on depressive symptoms. After adjusting for these factors, it was found that individuals who reported eating any dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70 per cent lower odds of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who reported not eating chocolate at all. The 25 per cent of chocolate consumers who ate the most chocolate (of any kind, not just dark) were also less likely to report depressive symptoms than those who didn't eat chocolate at all. However researchers found no significant link between any non‐dark chocolate consumption and clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, and is the leading global cause of disability.

Lead author Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care) said: "This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. "However further research is required to clarify the direction of causation -- it could be the case that depression causes people to lose their interest in eating chocolate, or there could be other factors that make people both less likely to eat dark chocolate and to be depressed. "Should a causal relationship demonstrating a protective effect of chocolate consumption on depressive symptoms be established, the biological mechanism needs to be understood to determine the type and amount of chocolate consumption for optimal depression prevention and management."

Chocolate is widely reported to have mood‐enhancing properties and several mechanisms for a relationship between chocolate and mood have been proposed. Principally, chocolate contains a number of psychoactive ingredients which produce a feeling of euphoria similar to that of cannabinoid, found in cannabis. It also contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator which is believed to be important for regulating people's moods. Experimental evidence also suggests that mood improvements only take place if the chocolate is palatable and pleasant to eat, which suggests that the experience of enjoying chocolate is an important factor, not just the ingredients present.

While the above is true of all types of chocolate, dark chocolate has a higher concentration of flavonoids, antioxidant chemicals which have been shown to improve inflammatory profiles, which have been shown to play a role in the onset of depression.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University College London. Read this article on Science Daily -University College London. "People who eat dark chocolate less likely to be depressed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190802145458.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

"Researchers point out in a 2007 study that the mood changes associated with chocolate last only about 3 minutes. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, causes the brain to release these ”feel good” chemicals (endorphins). While chocolate may give your mood a small boost, its short term effects emphasize why - for chronically depressed people in particular, it is important to find other ways to work with depression as well."

Therapy for Depression

  • Do you find yourself feeling sad, empty tired, guilty or hopeless. Are you to the point where nothing makes you happy?
  • Have you become more isolated or lonely than usual, and feel like you can’t reach out to people?
  • Does life seem like more trouble than it’s worth?

Everyone experiences the blues sometimes. But clinical depression is more than just feeling down, unhappy or a sad feeling. Major depression is not a simple emotion. It is a medical disorder that affects more than 10 percent of adults annually. Women are twice as likely to get depression as men.

With depression, you may feel sad and hopeless and you may not understand why you feel this way. Unlike sadness or the blues, depression is actually a biochemical disorder that can affect just about every area of a person's life. Some people with depression may even have had self-destructive or suicidal thoughts. If this is your experience, it is crucial that you seek help.

Contact Dr. Holland for more information and to get help with depression.

How some people control sad thoughts after a major loss

Grieving a major loss

The bereaved use different coping mechanisms to deal with loss

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People who are grieving a major loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child, use different coping mechanisms to carry on with their lives. Psychologists have been able to track different approaches, which can reflect different clinical outcomes. One approach that is not usually successful is avoidant grief, a state in which people suffering from grief show marked, effortful, repeated, and often unsuccessful attempts to stop themselves from thinking about their loss. While researchers have shown that avoidant grievers consciously monitor their external environment in order to avoid reminders of their loss, no one has yet been able to show whether these grievers also monitor their mental state unconsciously, trying to block any thoughts of loss from rising to their conscious state.

A collaborative study between Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center published in SCAN: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience demonstrates that avoidant grievers do unconsciously monitor and block the contents of their mind-wandering, a discovery that could lead to more effective psychiatric treatment for bereaved people. The researchers, who studied 29 bereaved subjects, are the first to show how this unconscious thought suppression occurs. They tracked ongoing processes of mental control as loss-related thoughts came in and out of conscious awareness during a 10-minute period of mind-wandering.

The researchers used a new approach to track the interactions between mental processes: a machine-learning approach to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) called "neural decoding," which establishes a neural pattern or fingerprint that can be used to determine when a given mental process is happening.

"The major challenge of our study was to be able 'look under the hood' of a person's natural mind-wandering state to see what underlying processes were actually controlling their experience," says Noam Schneck, lead author of the study, a postdoctoral fellow in Sajda's lab and now assistant professor of clinical medical psychology (in psychiatry) at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry/ New York State Psychiatric Institute. "No one has done this kind of work before, showing this type of consistent control of one mental process -- thinking about loss -- by another -- selective attention -- as it happens spontaneously and unconsciously. These findings are significant because they open the door to building a fuller picture of the unconscious mind. We know that the experiences we have arise as a combination of constantly interacting networks. Now we have shown this interaction as it happens naturalistically as well as the way it controls experiences."

The team recorded fMRI from people who had lost a first-degree relative (a spouse or partner) within the last 14 months. The subjects performed a modified Stroop task, a test widely used in psychology to measure a person's ability to control the contents of attention, and a separate task presenting pictures and stories of the deceased. Using machine learning, the team then trained respective neural fingerprints for attentional control based on the Stroop task and mental representation of the deceased based on the pictures and stories. The team observed spontaneous fluctuations in these processes that occurred during a neutral mind-wandering fMRI task. They discovered that those with more avoidant grief engaged their attentional control process to block representations of the deceased from conscious awareness.

Grieving a major loss

"Our findings show that avoidant grief involves attentional control to reduce the likelihood that deceased-related representations reach full conscious awareness," says Schneck. "Even though they are not aware of it, avoidant grievers actively control their mental state so that spontaneous thoughts of loss do not enter their consciousness. This kind of tailoring of mind-wandering likely exhausts mental energy and leads to time periods when the thoughts actually do break through. It is like an ineffective pop-up blocker that runs in the background of your computer. You might not be aware that it's there but it slows down the overall operating speed and eventually breaks down and the pop ups get through."

The researchers suggest that one treatment goal for avoidant grievers may be to relax the conscious and unconscious mental controls that they maintain over their thinking of the loss. Since this control and monitoring happens outside of conscious awareness, this would be challenging to do, but training in mindfulness and acceptance may help some people relax both their conscious and unconscious mental controls.

"This research approach is an innovative collaboration between engineering and psychiatry that optimizes the tools of engineering to address critical questions in psychiatry," says Sajda, who is also a member of Columbia's Data Science Institute. "What we've shown in this paper is that outside of our conscious awareness, we are constantly editing our own mental experiences to control what does and does not get in. And this process of editing is not always helpful."

Story Source: Read this article on Science Daily Materials provided by Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science. "Editing consciousness: How bereaved people control their thoughts without knowing it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181210122909.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

"To a certain degree we all avoid painful experiences. No one willingly enters into painful emotional and or physiological states without extreme provocation. I think the interesting thing about this article Is the attention it gives to the idea of our thoughts and feelings constantly running in the background, zapping us of our energy and ability to concentrate on the here and now."

Dr. Jenny Holland provides cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based care, proven effective with depression and anxiety, grief & life transitions; pregnancy, parenting, ageing, loss and caring for a parent or loved one during a health crisis or decline. To schedule an appointment call 707-479-2946.

A simple practice of kindness can help to improve your mood

Extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection.

Offering kindness to others reduces anxiety and increases happiness

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We all have a remedy -- a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate -- for lifting our spirits when we're in a bad mood. Rather than focusing on ways to make ourselves feel better, a team of Iowa State University researchers suggests wishing others well.

"Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection," said Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology. "It's a simple strategy that doesn't take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities."

Gentile, Dawn Sweet, senior lecturer in psychology; and Lanmiao He, graduate student in psychology, tested the benefits of three different techniques intended to reduce anxiety and increase happiness or well-being. They did this by having college students walk around a building for 12 minutes and practice one of the following strategies:

  • Loving-kindness: Looking at the people they see and thinking to themselves, "I wish for this person to be happy." Students were encouraged to really mean it as they were thinking it.
  • Interconnectedness: Looking at the people they see and thinking about how they are connected to each other. It was suggested that students think about the hopes and feelings they may share or that they might take a similar class.
  • Downward social comparison: Looking at the people they see and thinking about how they may be better off than each of the people they encountered.

The study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, also included a control group in which students were instructed to look at people and focus on what they see on the outside, such as their clothing, the combination of colors, textures as well as makeup and accessories. All students were surveyed before and after the walk to measure anxiety, happiness, stress, empathy and connectedness.

A simple practice of kindness to improve your mood

The researchers compared each technique with the control group and found those who practiced loving-kindness or wished others well felt happier, more connected, caring and empathetic, as well as less anxious. The interconnectedness group was more empathetic and connected. Downward social comparison showed no benefit, and was significantly worse than the loving-kindness technique.

Students who compared themselves to others felt less empathetic, caring and connected than students who extended well wishes to others. Previous studies have shown downward social comparison has a buffering effect when we are feeling bad about ourselves. ISU researchers found the opposite.

"At its core, downward social comparison is a competitive strategy," Sweet said. "That's not to say it can't have some benefit, but competitive mindsets have been linked to stress, anxiety and depression."

The researchers also examined how different types of people reacted to each technique. They expected people who were naturally mindful might benefit more from the loving-kindness strategy, or narcissistic people might have a hard time wishing for others to be happy. They were somewhat surprised by the results.

"This simple practice is valuable regardless of your personality type," Lanmiao He said. "Extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection."

Social media comparisons

Social media is like a playground for comparisons: he makes more money than I; she has a nicer car. While the study did not look specifically at social media, Gentile says the results demonstrate that comparison is a risky strategy.

"It is almost impossible not to make comparisons on social media," Gentile said. "Our study didn't test this, but we often feel envy, jealousy, anger or disappointment in response to what we see on social media, and those emotions disrupt our sense of well-being."

Comparison works well when we are learning something or making a choice, Gentile said. For example, as children we learn by watching others and comparing their results to ours. However, when it comes to well-being, comparison is not as effective as loving-kindness, which consistently improves happiness.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Iowa State University. Read this article on Science Daily ---> Iowa State University. "A simple strategy to improve your mood in 12 minutes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190327112705.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

Dr. Jenny Holland, Psy. D."Several studies reported in the 1990s and early 2000s that mindfulness based treatments can be effective for a range of psychological problems, particularly those associated with anxiety and mood disorders. A study Published by NCBI found that Loving Kindness exercises were effective for self-critical individuals for reducing self-criticism and depression and improving self-compassion along with positive emotions.

"Studies also have shown that when people think about, observe or practice a kind act, that act of kindness stimulates that vagus nerve, which is helpful to the heart, and is thought to be be closely connected to the brain’s receptor networks for oxytocin, (a naturally occurring soothing hormone involved in bonding). A well functioning vagus nerve is also associated with greater social and psychological skills covering everything from the ability to empathize to those related to memory and concentration. Practicing kindness also triggers the reward system in our brain’s emotion regulation center releasing dopamine, the hormone that’s associated with positive emotions and the sensation of a natural high."

Dr. Jenny Holland provides cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based care, proven effective with depression and anxiety, life transitions; pregnancy, parenting, ageing, loss and caring for a parent or loved one during a health crisis or decline. To schedule an appointment call 707-479-2946.

Death of a close friend creates significant emotional suffering

The death of a close friend hits harder than previously believed

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The trauma caused by the death of a close friend endures four times longer than previously believed, according to new research from The Australian National University (ANU). The researchers warn a lack of recognition about the time it takes people to mourn a close friend is leading to inadequate support being made available during the grieving process. The study shows the death of a close friend will significantly affect a person's physical, psychological and social well-being up to at least four years. Previous studies suggested the grieving period lasted for around 12 months.

The study analyzed longitudinal data and indicators of health from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey of 26,515 Australians, of whom 9,586 had experienced the death of at least one close friend. Lead author Dr Wai-Man (Raymond) Liu said the study found people grieving a close friend suffered a significant decline in physical health, mental health, emotional stability and social life. "These findings raise serious concerns with the way we manage the recovery for people dealing with the loss of a close friend," said Dr Lui. "We found there are serious declines in the health and well-being of people who had experienced the death of a close friend any time in the last four years.

"We all know that when someone loses a partner, parent or child, that person is likely to suffer through a significant grieving period. Yet death of a close friend, which most of us will experience, is not afforded the same level of seriousness by employers, doctors, and the community. The death of a friend is a form of disenfranchised grief -- one not taken so seriously or afforded such significance. This is leaving people without the support and services they need during a very traumatic period of their lives." Dr Liu has called on medical practitioners and policy makers to rethink the way they approach dealing with people's grief after the loss of a friend. "We need to recognize the death of a close friend takes a serious toll, and to offer health and psychological services to assist these people over an adequate period of time."

Story Source: Read this article on ScienceDaily --> Materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Australian National University. "The death of a close friend hits harder than we think." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190513143835.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

Dr. Jenny Holland, Psy. D."From birth to death we are wired for connection. It is not something that we just want, it is something that we deeply need to ensure our survival. Connections with caring and supportive others helps us develop into the people we are meant to be. These connections keep us thriving and growing as we move through life, and as we experience challenges and successes together.

Friendship is a special kind of relationship because it is one where we are not obligated through family ties or by contracts, but rather we choose to be close, because something in that person brings out the best parts of us. And we bring out the best in them. A close friend loves us enough to tell us the truth about what they see in us, both constructively and with encouragement.

Because our friends have the ability to tell the truth in a way that no one else can, they are in a unique position to help us to see ourselves more clearly. We feel truly seen and recognized, we trust them deeply, rely on them to be there for us and we are committed to being there for them. Our friends know us better than anyone else, and we often tell them things we don’t even tell our spouses or our therapists. Therefore, when we lose a friend, the consequences can be severe emotionally, physically and mentally.

When we are faced with the loss of a close friend, one way to ease our suffering is to try to take care of ourselves the way our friend would if they were here. That includes, paying attention to the way that we talk to ourselves and standing up to thoughts feelings and ideas that tear us down, the way a friend would. Feeding ourselves good food the way a friend would. Showing up for ourselves the way a friend would, consistently, patiently, and with love. This is an effective way to honor their memory and the closeness that you shared." Learn more about Dr. Holland's work with grief and bereavement...

Dr. Jenny Holland provides cutting edge, integrative and evidence-based care, proven effective with depression and anxiety, life transitions; pregnancy, parenting, ageing, loss and caring for a parent or loved one during a health crisis or decline. To schedule an appointment call 707-479-2946.