Dr. Pat's Psychology Blog

Being a fan of a sports team: How to enjoy the psychological benefits while minimizing the psychological costs

2017-04-23T23:35:25+00:00 By |Psychology, Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss how you can enjoy the psychological benefits of being a fan of a sports team while taking steps to prevent the psychological downsides. Some of my most memorable times have been those in which I have been a fan of sports teams. Team Canada’s narrow win over the Soviet Union in the 1972 hockey Summit Series brought excitement and passion to me and millions of other Canadians who watched the landmark event. In my younger days, I also regularly enjoyed going to the games of my hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team which I attended with my father and siblings.  On the other hand, my support of sports teams has at times had negative effects on my mood. For example, I have recently seen my hometown Winnipeg Jets miss making the NHL playoffs and my adopted hometown Calgary Flames get swept out of the playoffs in the first round. For the last two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ baseball success had me and many Canadians on a high as we followed their exploits. In contrast, so far this season I cannot bear to watch the Blue Jays as they currently sport the worst record in the major leagues. These examples illustrate that being a fan can have highs and lows...[more]

How to perform well in sport—whether you are in or out of the zone

2017-04-10T16:03:30+00:00 By |Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss skills to enhance performance in sport by getting in the zone and how to perform well when you are not in the zone. Top performances in sport and other endeavours are associated with being ‘in the zone’. Being in the zone, also known as achieving the state of ‘flow’, is defined by being completely absorbed in the present moment as well as in the movements and actions needed to perform at your best. It is a state of relaxation and optimal concentration in which the athlete is not preoccupied with worries about the result or other matters and is able to focus in the midst of distractions in the setting in which they are performing. Because top performance is associated with being in the zone, athletes strive to learn and practice psychological skills to help them achieve this state...[more]

Habits for preventing and overcoming depression: It’s how you behave and what you think

2017-03-25T22:14:14+00:00 By |Depression|

In this article, I discuss habits to prevent and overcome depression which stem from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help you prevent and overcome depression. These habits are rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Using CBT as a framework, in the following sections I will discuss behavioural habits followed by cognitive habits...[more]

Habits for healing from traumatic events

2017-03-12T22:45:11+00:00 By |Anxiety, Trauma|

In this article, I discuss habits to help people heal from traumatic events--either to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder or to recover from it. When a person suffers a traumatic events involving actual or feared death or serious injury, they experience a shock to their physical, cognitive and emotional system. Whether it be wartime experiences, assaults of various kinds, severe car accidents or other traumatic events, the multi-pronged negative impact can significantly disrupt a person’s life. Fortunately, there are habits a person can engage in following a traumatic event which can help them to heal from it...[more]

Habits for addressing social anxiety issues: Part 2 – Coping skills to use during exposure to social situations

2017-02-28T21:25:40+00:00 By |Anxiety|

In this second of two articles, I discuss coping skills you can use while getting the exposure to social situations which is key to addressing your social anxiety issues. In my first article on habits for addressing social anxiety issues, I indicated that the key to success is getting as much exposure as possible to social interaction situations. This exposure yields two positive results which are integral to addressing social anxiety issues—desensitization and inhibitory learning. Desensitization (also called habituation) refers to lasting reductions in anxiety levels which come from getting enough exposure to situations in which you experience anxiety. Inhibitory learning entails realizing through sufficient exposure to anxiety-provoking situations that you can cope effectively in these situations despite your discomfort. In this article, I will discuss coping skills you can use during your exposure to social interaction situations which will help you keep your anxiety at a manageable level in these situations...[more]

Habits for addressing social anxiety issues: Part 1 – The key to addressing social anxiety issues

2017-02-12T19:52:54+00:00 By |Anxiety|

In this first of two articles, I discuss habits to help you or someone you know address issues with social anxiety. In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help people address issues with social anxiety. These issues focus on the experience of significant discomfort in social situations which is often accompanied by avoidance of social interaction as a result of this discomfort. There are two categories of social anxiety issues—general and specific...[more]

Habits for addressing substance use and other addictions

2017-01-30T14:44:07+00:00 By |Addictions|

In this article, I discuss habits to help you or someone you know address issues with substance use and other addictions. In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help people address addictions including substance use (alcohol and drugs) along with gambling, shopping and sex, among others. If you are struggling with an addiction, you may feel at times that you have no control over your urges. In fact, there are many habits you can cultivate which will help you gain confidence in your ability to manage your urges to engage in addictive behaviours. In the following sections, I will discuss these habits which are rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)...[more]

Habits for good self-esteem: It’s how you behave and what you think

2017-01-19T16:10:33+00:00 By |Self-Esteem|

In this article, I discuss habits to help build self-esteem which stem from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help you have good emotional health. In this article, I discuss habits which help you to have good self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to how well you value yourself. Having good self-esteem is associated with better emotional health and being less prone to emotional health issues. The most notable of these issues is depression, of which low self-esteem is a key symptom. Having good self-esteem is also predictive of better relationships and success in various endeavours including academics and career. Fostering good self-esteem to help you achieve these benefits can be accomplished by incorporating habits into your routine. These habits focus on cognitive and behavioural strategies which have been demonstrated help you to think positively about yourself on a regular basis. In the following sections, I will describe these habits and how to make them part of your self-esteem-building routine...[more]

How to stick to your New Year’s resolutions: Combine outcome and process goals

2017-01-19T16:09:51+00:00 By |Psychology, Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss how goal-setting concepts can increase your effectiveness at making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. The start of the New Year is a time when many people make resolutions involving setting goals for everything from losing weight to being a better person. And a short time after the New Year begins is typically when many of those who made resolutions give up on achieving them. Although lack of a plan is often a key factor in people not sticking to their resolutions, there is an additional reason people fall short which often gets overlooked. This factor relates to the types of resolutions people tend to make with a focus too much on outcome-oriented goals in which achieving a particular result is the aim. If people were to have their resolutions based on measures of success in addition to outcome measures...[more]

The holiday season: A time for cheer, a time for psychological skills

2017-01-19T16:08:54+00:00 By |Anxiety, Depression|

In this article, I discuss how you can practice using psychological skills over the Christmas holidays. The Christmas holiday season is a great time to relax and enjoy good times with family and friends. It also offers many opportunities to practice psychological skills which sometimes get neglected during the rest of the year. In the following sections, I will discuss how you can practice several psychological skills this holiday season...[more]