Tag: staying happy

Tips From the Expert: Staying Grounded

Tips for Staying Grounded

In a crazy world, it can be difficult to know how to keep grounded. Here are a few suggestions that I hope might be helpful.

LIMIT your exposure to social media and news coverage. Once you learn about a devastating event, ask yourself if it is helpful to see the same graphic images and listen to the same sound bites again and again. Set a timer if you need to.

KEEP moving! Physical activity boosts our mood, gives us energy and a sense of agency and empowerment.

GET support from trusted allies, friends, colleagues and organizations. Isolation can heighten our painful emotions making them harder to manage.

SUPPORT and help others who may be struggling. Generously is a powerful response to suffering. This can be as simple as lending an ear or helping organize a community event or sending a donation if you are able.

BREATHE consciously -- When we are stressed, when we are tired and overwhelmed, it’s easy to hold our breath without even knowing it. And when we do that, we deprive ourselves of oxygen, which, in turn, limits our ability to think clearly in the moment and do things like problem-solving and affect-regulation. Which means, it’s harder for us to calm ourselves down. And we want to calm ourselves down right? So, JUST BREATHE And make it a habit to check in with your breath as often as you can. You might be surprised at how much calmer and clearer you immediately feel by taking a minute to catch your breath.

TAKE ACTION! Doing something to create change can be mobilizing and help ease depression and feelings of helplessness and anxiety that can coincide with loss and overwhelm.

Contact your Representatives at State and Federal Levels.

Educate yourself about the issues that concern you most.

Talk to others and attend marches, rallies and protests

Sticking to life goals can fend off depression, anxiety, panic disorders

Looking on the bright side also acts as a safeguard, according to 18-year study

People who don't give up on their goals (or who get better over time at not giving up on their goals) and who have a positive outlook appear to have less anxiety and depression and fewer panic attacks, according to a study of thousands of Americans over the course of 18 years. Surprisingly, a sense of control did not have an effect on the mental health of participants across time.

The study was published by the American Psychological Association in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

"Perseverance cultivates a sense of purposefulness that can create resilience against or decrease current levels of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder," said Nur Hani Zainal, MS, from The Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the study. "Looking on the bright side of unfortunate events has the same effect because people feel that life is meaningful, understandable and manageable."

Depression, anxiety and panic disorders are common mental health disorders that can be chronic and debilitating and put a person's physical health and livelihood at risk, according to Zainal and her co-author, Michelle G. Newman, PhD, also of The Pennsylvania State University.

"Often, people with these disorders are stuck in a cycle of negative thought patterns and behaviors that can make them feel worse," said Newman. "We wanted to understand what specific coping strategies would be helpful in reducing rates of depression, anxiety and panic attacks."

Zainal and Newman used data from 3,294 adults who were studied over 18 years. The average age of participants was 45, nearly all were white and slightly fewer than half were college-educated. Data were collected three times, in 1995 to 1996, 2004 to 2005 and 2012 to 2013. At each interval, participants were asked to rate their goal persistence (e.g., "When I encounter problems, I don't give up until I solve them"), self-mastery (e.g., "I can do just anything I really set my mind to") and positive reappraisal (e.g., "I can find something positive, even in the worst situations"). Diagnoses for major depressive, anxiety and panic disorders were also collected at each interval.

People who showed more goal persistence and optimism during the first assessment in the mid-1990s had greater reductions in depression, anxiety and panic disorders across the 18 years, according to the authors.

And throughout those years, people who began with fewer mental health problems showed more increased perseverance toward life goals and were better at focusing on the positive side of unfortunate events, said Zainal.

"Our findings suggest that people can improve their mental health by raising or maintaining high levels of tenacity, resilience and optimism," she said. "Aspiring toward personal and career goals can make people feel like their lives have meaning. On the other hand, disengaging from striving toward those aims or having a cynical attitude can have high mental health costs."

Unlike in previous research, Zainal and Newman did not find that self-mastery, or feeling in control of one's fate, had an effect on the mental health of participants across the 18-year period.

"This could have been because the participants, on average, did not show any changes in their use of self-mastery over time," said Newman. "It is possible that self-mastery is a relatively stable part of a person's character that does not easily change."

The authors believe their findings will be beneficial for psychotherapists working with clients dealing with depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

"Clinicians can help their clients understand the vicious cycle caused by giving up on professional and personal aspirations. Giving up may offer temporary emotional relief but can increase the risk of setbacks as regret and disappointment set in," said Zainal. "Boosting a patient's optimism and resilience by committing to specific courses of actions to make dreams come to full fruition despite obstacles can generate more positive moods and a sense of purpose."

Story Source -- Read this article on Science Daily: American Psychological Association. "Perseverance toward life goals can fend off depression, anxiety, panic disorders: Looking on the bright side also acts as a safeguard, according to 18-year study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502100852.htm.


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.