July 4, 2020

Self Care: You Know It Don't Come Easy



Dr. Laurie Santos shared a fascinating insight on Dax Sheppard's podcast: Expert Armchair.

What you are motivated to get is completely separate from what you're actually going to appreciate once you get it. There is a part of your brain designed for wanting and craving, and another part of your brain that governs liking and satisfaction.

I'll give you some real world examples. Some people spend all of their time and energy working toward getting into that prestigious school. Other people strive to get a promotion at some competitive business firm. And then there are those who get their fix from junk food, sex, or psychoactive substances. The list goes on. People are designed to crave money, status, and instant gratification. But does the feeling of accomplishing these things last?

Most of us know that we will benefit from various acts of self care. For whatever reason, activities like exercise, journaling, and eating healthy take up a lot of mental energy.

Take meditation for instance, we know we'll feel better after we do it... but for whatever reason, most of us aren't naturally inclined to meditate. Instead, we might binge watch the latest series just to return to our rooms before bedtime feeling regret as we look at the overflowing stack of laundry in the corner.

The craving system and the liking system are disconnected. How awesome would it be if our brain was able to reset after noticing, "Hey! Meditating actually reduced my stress today. Let's crave it tomorrow!" But no. What's good doesn't come easy.

How inconvenient.

So, for those of you who think, "One day I'll want to go on that run!" Yeah, maybe. But probably not.

Just Do It turns out to be more than just a slogan.

Meanwhile, I'll be over here waiting for that day when we find out how to kick in that motivation some other way.

June 12, 2020

Need Cheering Up? Cheer Up Someone Else



Staying sober is not easy. During their using days, addicts have been using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate chronic unpleasant feelings, physical sensations, and negative self-talk. Some refer to the constant stream of negative self talk as being "stuck in my own head." Alcoholic Anonymous recommends that many addicts commit to helping other addicts as a way of "getting out of my head."

Volunteer work is a win-win strategy for turning attention away from one's own problems and turning toward others.  Helping those in need is a way to help oneself, most say.  I often recommend volunteering as one strategy in the treatment of depression and loneliness. Finding the volunteer experience that's right for you is key.

Some volunteer organizations require a commitment. Other volunteer opportunities are on a case by case basis, where the obligation ends after one or two appearances. When looking for volunteer activities, be sure to investigate the many different volunteer centers for a situation that fits your time constraints and your needs.  I typically suggest starting with an organization that asks for occasional participation or a low number of hours (8 hours per month, for example) and get a feel for showing up. Give different types of experiences a try until something feels like a better fit.

Here are a couple suggestions for getting started:

Austin's Public Radio KUT's Get Involved
Central Texas Food Bank
Meals On Wheels with special attention to their Other Programs you might not have heard about


May 1, 2020

Mental Noting in Meditation



Typically, a person's first attempt at meditating is extremely frustrating. The mind wanders, they realize they've become distracted, they try to come back to their breath... Then, their mind wanders off again, maybe for a few minutes, until they realize they've become distracted yet again, and feelings of anger arise. These feelings of anger leave many people feeling defeated.

It's common for people to give up during the beginning stages of meditation. Expecting to be thought-free and tranquil, the fear of failure creeps in. The expectation of failure.

However, it's crucial for beginners to know that this experience is not only common, but also part of the process. If anything, meditation is supposed to bring attention to how easily distracted the mind can be. Getting past this frustration and into the rhythm of meditation takes practice, patience, and a lot of self compassion.

One technique that helps to reduce frustration and distraction is called mental noting. During meditation, thoughts and feelings will inevitably arise. To remind yourself that these thoughts and feelings are normal, and to notice and label them as they appear, helps you reach a meditative state.

Andy Puddicombe, who developed the app called headspace, explains the concept of mental noting in the video linked HERE. A close connection of mine recommends the dozens of free guided meditations that Andy's app provides for free.

March 13, 2020

Therapeutic Breathing and Grief

Grief is one of the heaviest emotions we can experience. When we are trying to suppress our feelings of sadness and our tears, which we believe we must do on our jobs, at public events, at group gatherings, our grief can present as anxiety and panic.

Intentional breathing, as demonstrated by yoga teacher Max Strom,can help.

For a video on breathing instruction in response to grief using 4-7-8 pattern, click Here.

January 24, 2020

The Quality of Your Thoughts









Marcus was the last Roman emperor of the age of peace and stability (161 to 180 AD).

Listen to Marcus.

October 10, 2019

Food for Feminist Thought



Women who are hostile toward feminism tend to fake more orgasms according to findings in this study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.  

Feminism, by the way, is a belief that women are equal to men, not better than, and not more deserving than men.  Equal.

Equal rights.

Equal pay for the same work.

Equal treatment under the law.

And yes, equal enjoyment during sex.

Orgasms for all! Who can be hostile to that?


Sandy Andrews, PhD 
Psychologist Austin, TX 

Self Care: You Know It Don't Come Easy

Dr. Laurie Santos shared a fascinating insight on Dax Sheppard's podcast:  Expert Armchai r. What you are motivated to get is comp...