How to be happy during stressful events: Focus on your activities and your thinking–not on your circumstances

In this article, I discuss how it is possible to experience positive mood in a stressful situation like the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps you can take to facilitate this. One of the most fascinating phenomena I’ve learned about as a psychologist is hedonic adaptation. As detailed by researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness, hedonic adaptation occurs when people who experience events and circumstances which affect their mood positively or negatively eventually return to the level of mood and happiness they experienced prior to the event or circumstances. Research on hedonic adaptation consistently shows that events and circumstances typically have a temporary effect on mood and happiness so that one’s mood and happiness levels revert over time to the levels they were at previously...[more]

2020-05-24T22:09:22-06:00By |Categories: Depression, Stress|

Finding the silver lining: Coping with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic by noticing positives

In this article, I discuss how you can cope better with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic by appreciating the positives while acknowledging and acting on the negatives. While watching a special coronavirus episode of Dr. Phil, I was struck by the excellent advice a psychiatrist guest offered on how to cope with the stress of the pandemic. Among the guest’s advice was to focus on the positives at the start of the day and at the end of the day. This entailed beginning the day by making it a point to look for the positives followed by a bedtime routine of thinking of the positives you encountered throughout the day. The psychiatrist’s advice led me to focus in this article on the soundness of the strategy of coping with a negative situation by noticing the positives...[more]

2020-04-13T15:23:55-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Depression, Stress|

Happiness: To pursue it or not to pursue it—that is the question

In this article, I discuss whether it is reasonable to pursue happiness as a goal. The title of this article may raise some Spockian eyebrows, to borrow a phrase from one of my favourite sports commentators. That is, it may seem obvious that pursuing happiness as a goal is both a worthwhile and reasonable endeavour. After all, doesn’t almost everyone want to be happy or happier? And are there not many steps people can take to make it more likely they will be happy or happier? Despite evidence pointing to an affirmative answer to these questions, it is not a foregone conclusion that people should pursue happiness as a goal...[more]

2019-08-11T21:56:19-06:00By |Categories: Depression, Psychology|

How to manage your moods behaviourally while waiting for cognitive skills to take effect

In this article, I discuss how you can use behavioural skills to manage your moods while waiting for your efforts with cognitive skills to pay off. My work with clients typically entails helping them learn cognitive and behavioural strategies to address their issues. Many of these issues involve managing moods such as depression, anxiety, anger and frustration. One challenge in using this dual-pronged approach is that behavioural strategies generally show more immediate benefits compared with cognitive strategies. This occurs because behavioural strategies usually involve taking some action in a straightforward manner whereas cognitive strategies entail learning and applying skills to change your interpretation of situations in order to experience emotional relief...[more]

2019-07-28T21:40:18-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

Negative social comparisons: How they affect your mood negatively and how to stop making them

In this article, I discuss how comparing yourself negatively to others is an example of distorted thinking which you can address with skills from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often work with clients who engage in negative social comparisons. This involves having thoughts which focus on not doing well compared with another person, a group of people, or people in general. Negative social comparisons can focus on beliefs regarding coming up short relative to others in areas such as abilities, personal characteristics and performance at work or school, finances, sports and relationships...[more]

2018-12-30T21:54:31-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

How to be consistent at setting boundaries: Focus on the internal results

In this article, I discuss how focusing on the boundary-setting benefits to your self-esteem and mood can help you to be consistent at this activity. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who have challenges in setting boundaries in social interactions and relationships. The most common difficulties involve managing the stress involved in letting others know when they have crossed a boundary and the fact that the stress involved does not appear to be worth enduring based on the limited benefits. That is, clients commonly report that on most occasions the party toward whom they have set boundaries does not respond positively to their boundary-setting attempts. The stress involved in setting boundaries and the lack of positive results which appear to occur when doing so leads many people to give up on setting boundaries...[more]

2018-12-16T22:16:24-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

The importance of engaging in mastery activities at work and in your leisure time

In this article, I discuss why it is important to schedule activities which are good for your self-esteem. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients with issues involving low self-esteem or low self-confidence. One of my go-to strategies to help these clients is to have them incorporate mastery activities into their lives. Mastery activities are those in which a person accomplishes something and uses their talents and skills...lmore]

2018-11-04T21:47:04-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

How to catch hot thoughts so that you can check and change them to feel better

In this article, I discuss several techniques to help you pinpoint the negative thoughts which are causing your emotional distress. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who can benefit from skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of the most beneficial CBT skills is a thought record. The use of thought records helps a person to feel better by catching, checking and changing ‘hot thoughts’. Hot thoughts are negatively skewed beliefs which people have when they are experiencing strong and unpleasant moods like sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, shame and embarrassment, among others...[more]

2018-08-26T21:08:13-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

Inspiration from M*A*S*H: How to persevere to overcome adversity

In this article, I discuss how the key to success is often continuing to try ideas until you find the ones that work. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often get inspired by ideas from the media to help clients. One memorable example came from the long-running television show based on the Korean war called M*A*S*H which is set in a mobile army surgical hospital. Although the program originally aired many years ago, it still appears in reruns. One M*A*S*H episode was so moving in its focus on resilience and perseverance that it inspires me to keep going when I feel like giving up...[more]

2018-08-12T21:58:42-06:00By |Categories: Depression, Sport & Performance|

How to get through the day when you’re ‘not on’

In this article, I discuss how to cope with those days when you’re not feeling good emotionally. There are some days when you’re ‘on’ and other days when you’re ‘not on’. When you’re on, you feel relaxed, have positive thoughts and emotions and things just seem often seem to flow along effortlessly. When you’re not on, it’s just the opposite. You don’t feel good emotionally, you frequently have negative thoughts, you feel tense instead of relaxed, you lack energy and feel like getting even the smallest tasks accomplished is a grind. Sometimes you’re on or not on because of what happened to you that day or because of your ongoing life circumstances. At other times, being on or not on is an internal state unrelated to what’s going on in your life or what happened during your day. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to get through the day when you’re not on...[more]

2018-06-04T15:17:36-06:00By |Categories: Depression, Psychology|
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