May 22, 2017

Advice for Grandparents Who Want More Time with their Grandchildren

Yes, even psychologists like to read advice columns.  Or at least this one does.  My thinking is we need to keep an eye on our competition. Gain a few common sense pointers for those tricky problems that outcome research hasn't studied yet.

My personal favorite is The Washington Post's Carolyn Hax.  I like the way she frames her answers. She takes many variables into consideration rather than jumping to the most obvious, and sometimes the most judgemental, conclusion.

Recently she tackled one of the most common dilemmas posed by grandparents.  And by grandparents, I mean grandmothers:  When grandparents want to see more of their grandchildren.  When they feel left out, uninvited, unwanted, and unappreciated.  In a word, unloved, but that's certainly not how they put it.

So for any grandparents out there who wish their children would include them more often, I strongly suggest reading, and following the advice of Ms. Hax, here.

January 16, 2017

Mindfulness is the New Black

Like orange is the new black, mindfulness may be the new psychotherapy.

Talking to a licensed therapist can be a critical step to wellness.  It can include sharing problems, worries, and yes, those reliable and messy mainstays, family of origin issues. Getting evaluated by a professional can be one of the most important tools for treating anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders.

Learning cognitive behavioral tools ( CBT ) is another branch on the tree called getting back to wellness. One of the most up-and-coming, state-of-the-art CBT tools is mindfulness.  Thirty years ago, when I was walking my dinosaur on my college campus, mindfulness was never echoed in the hallowed halls of learning.  I'm not sure it was even a thing back then.  But it certainly is now.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation.  It is the art and skill of redirecting one's mind away from the everyday thoughts, worries, judgments, and distractions that occupy our brain when it's on auto-pilot. Where are my keys? Did I take the load of laundry out of the dryer? Don't forget to return those pants, pick up that prescription, talk to my professor, get the car inspected.   "Monkey mind" is what Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D., cardiologist, calls collectively, all those pesky thoughts. As a stress reduction, happy heart tool, Dr. Junger recommends a five-minute mindfulness meditation that you can try, here.

For more ideas on how to learn about and practice mindfulness, have a look at Harvard University Medical School's suggestions, here.    Because maybe, just maybe, fifteen minutes a day is the new 60 minutes on the couch.

Sandy Andrews, Ph.D. Psychologist
Teaching CBT in South Austin, Texas

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