Archive for category Affective Neuroscience

Can’t Sleep? Little Research Supports Use of Herbal Sleep Aids


Can’t Sleep? Little Research Supports Use of Herbal Sleep Aids

by Rick Nauert PhD

Cant Sleep? Little Research Supports Use of Herbal Sleep Aids Experts say that approximately one in three Americans suffers from chronic sleep deprivation and another 10-15 percent of the population has chronic insomnia.

But a recent review has found little evidence that herbal sleep aids are effective.

Health practitioners know that sleep disorders can profoundly affect a person’s whole life and have been linked to a range of diseases, including obesity, depression, anxiety, and inflammatory disorders.

Often over-the-counter or herbal sleep aids are used to induce sleep, but surprisingly, very little research has been done to study their efficacy.

This topic is discussed in an article found in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

People need many hours of sound, restorative sleep every night to maintain an optimal state of physiological and psychological health. However, many factors can disrupt sleep schedules and compromise the quality of sleep.

In the review article, researchers conducted a search of the Internet and electronic databases to identify literature on herbal remedies that are commonly used to manage insomnia.

They found allopathic solutions of valerian, hops, kava-kava, chamomile, and St. John’s wort have all been suggested as sleep aids.

Unfortunately, few scientific studies had been published on the therapeutic potential and safety of these herbal remedies and, when a study has been performed, the results were either inconclusive or contradictory.

The authors concluded that, considering the benefits that a natural management strategy could offer patients with insomnia, additional research is required to assess the effectiveness and safety of herbal remedies as therapeutic agents.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert

Herbal medication photo by shutterstock.

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In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? 5 Steps to Take move out.


In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? 5 Steps to Take

by YourTango Experts

In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? 5 Steps to TakeThis guest article from YourTango was written by Julie Orlov.

If you’ve ever been in a controlling relationship, you know how easy it is to get caught in its web. It usually starts out with a simple suggestion like, “Do you think that outfit is the best you can do for the banquet tonight?” or “I think you’re better off ordering the salad,” or “You should get a real job and stop all that nonsense about making it as an artist.”

At first, you take their suggestions as a reflection of their love and concern for you. After all, their comments are not that far off base, and you certainly don’t want to appear unappreciative or defensive. At this stage of the relationship, you want to please your mate, not alienate him or her. It’s more important to appear receptive and understanding of your partner’s opinions than to challenge them.

Some time goes by. You now notice that your significant other’s opinions of you continue to be critical. Only now, there is an emotional undertone that suggests if you don’t abide by his opinion, he will be angry, punitive and emotionally manipulative.

The scariest times come when you believe the threats of rejection and abandonment.

 

The cycle has repeated itself in such a way that somehow, you’ve become sucked in and are believing the rhetoric. Or, at the very least, you’ve been trying to manage the critical outbursts. You’re now so consumed with keeping your partner’s emotional judgments at bay that you have trouble considering if his demands have crossed over into an abusive and inappropriate arena. Your judgment is clouded.1

You continue to ask yourself, Is it me or him? You feel anxious around him, believing that somehow you can make things right again; you want to feel the love you did when the two of you first got together. Deep down, your biggest fear is that his opinions of you are right … that there really is something wrong with you, and you just may not be lovable the way you are.

The bad news? You are now caught in the web. The good news? There is a way out. It is so important to understand what control is really all about. Let me show you the way.

Why Do People Want to Control Others?

Here’s what a person’s controlling behaviors are generally all about:

  • Their own sense of helplessness and powerlessness
  • Getting someone else (like you) to make them feel okay
  • Wanting to hand-off their own anxieties so they don’t have to deal with them themselves
  • Ensuring that you will never abandon or reject them
  • Projecting their deepest fears of being inadequate and unlovable

A person’s controlling behaviors are virtually never about you.

Take Control Back

Here are five steps to getting out from under a person’s control:

1. Get your power back.

The quickest way to do this is to be willing to walk away from the relationship if need be. This enables you to move forward with the next steps from a place of power, not a place of fear.

2. Set limits on his criticism and emotional outbursts.

Let your partner know that you are open to hearing his concerns about your actions and how they impact him, but will no longer engage in conversations that attack who you are as a person.

3. Consider your partner’s concerns.

What are you willing to do for him? What is completely off the table? Make sure you align these requests with your personal well-being and integrity. Don’t agree to do things simply in order to keep the peace or save the relationship, especially if deep down you know it isn’t right for you.

4. Be clear and honest with yourself first, then your partner.

Consider your values, goals and needs. Make sure your decisions are in alignment with your highest self, needs and all. Let him know what you can and can’t do for him. Whatever you do, do not be intimidated. Have a powerful “no” and make it clear that he will need to accept the “no.” If he can’t, then it may be best for the two of you to part ways.

5. Find people and experiences that celebrate who you are.

Find ways to reconnect with the powerful person you truly are, i.e. someone that would never tolerate being treated in such a manner. Engage and connect with other people that support and love you for exactly who you are.

At the end of the day, only you can decide if his controlling behavior is something you are willing to live with or not. Relationships should be something that supports your growth, not something that diminishes it. Love celebrates who you are; it does not put you down. You deserve to have a powerful and loving relationship. So start with yourself. Love yourself enough to take the first step in reclaiming you.

Most couples deal with issues of control; it is a common tension that arises from time to time. However, if you and a loved one are struggling with how to deal with control issues constructively, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help. I want you to have the best possible outcome when it comes to strengthening your relationships.

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Martin Seligman on positive psychology


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Why Good People Lie


Why Good People Lie

By SANDRA KIUME

The Wright Show

– Behavioural economist Dan Ariely, author of the new book “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty,” talks with Robert Wright about why most people lie and how reality is not black and white.

He discusses the death penalty and other consequences that don’t deter people, cost benefit analyses, rationalizing, and describes some psychological experiments as well as real world examples.

Ariely does the interview from a fun summer hammock.

http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/10062?in=00:00&out=37:12

MSI Behavioral Econ - Dan Ariely

MSI Behavioral Econ – Dan Ariely (Photo credit: Iamctodd)

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6 Steps to Finding New Love


6 Steps to Finding New Love

by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

6 Steps to Finding New Love If your relationship has ended, you might be nervous about dipping your feet in the dating pool. Or you might worry that you’ll never find love again. Maybe you’ve even assumed that you’re just unlucky when it comes to love.

Relationship and family therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, often hears people say they’ve lost hope. But she wants individuals to know that it’s absolutely possible to find a fulfilling partnership. For instance, in her 25-year study of 373 married couples, Orbuch found that 71 percent of divorced singles found love again.

Also, love has very little to do with luck. In fact, “there is a method to the love madness,” said Orbuch, who’s also author of the recently published book Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.

She believes in working from the inside out. Before pursuing a new relationship, Orbuch stresses the importance of working on your own beliefs, emotions, behaviors and sense of self. She helps readers do just that in Finding Love Again, along with offering tips on everything from first dates to building a strong relationship.

Below, Orbuch discussed her six steps for seeking and finding a great relationship.

 

1. Adjust your expectations.

“Forget everything you know about relationships,” Orbuch said. That’s because you might be holding onto certain relationship myths and unrealistic expectations, which can set you up for failure and frustration, she said. (Frustration also can eat away at your happiness, according to Orbuch.)

For instance, it’s unrealistic to think that your partner will automatically know what you want and need — even after many years of marriage, Orbuch said. In the beginning, people simply don’t know each other that well, while over the years, people naturally change, and so do their wants and needs. (Remember that no one is a mind reader. If you want or need something, Orbuch said, you have to ask for it.)

Another common myth is that there’s a specific amount of time you have to wait before you start dating. However, according to Orbuch, there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate a certain timeframe. “Everyone is different.” Some people are ready to date right after a relationship ends, while others need more time to heal, she said.

2. Start with a clean slate.

In her study, Orbuch found that divorced singles who didn’t feel anything for their ex were more likely to find love. “In order to find love again, you need to emotionally separate or detach from previous or past relationships,” she said.

Remaining emotionally attached to the past prevents you from being fully present — and trusting someone else — and keeps you trapped in a cycle of negativity, she said. Everyone has emotional baggage. The key is to make sure that your baggage isn’t too heavy, she said.

For instance, in the book, Orbuch includes a helpful quiz with questions such as: Do you still keep photos of your ex, compare others to them or visit their social media sites?

According to Orbuch, one way to become emotionally neutral is to release your emotions in healthy ways, such as engaging in physical activities and social events; volunteering; writing an honest letter to your ex (that you never send); and getting creative with activities such as painting, gardening and playing music. What also helps is to share your story with loved ones and seek their support, she said.

3. Shake up your routine.

Orbuch suggested making one small and simple change and committing to it for 21 days. In her study, she found that divorced singles who cut their work hours by at least one hour a day were more likely to find love. Changing your routine can open up new opportunities to meet people and even revise how you see yourself, according to Orbuch.

4. Discover the real you.

After your relationship ends, “you need to step back and re-examine you,” Orbuch said. Before you can determine if you’re compatible with someone, you need to know who you really are, she said.

Your past relationship probably shaped your personality and preferences in some way. You no doubt compromised, changed and accepted certain traits, she said.

As Orbuch writes in her book, “Singles who find a long-lasting, successful partnership have one trait in common: they put the focus on who they are and what they want, rather than worrying about what others will think.”

To find out who you are, define your key life values. What matters most to you? For instance, how important is faith, your job or your health?

Orbuch also suggested making a list of the qualities you’d like in your partner — and to be specific. For instance, as she writes in the book, by “funny,” do you mean you’d like your partner to have a dry sense of humor or tell jokes or something else entirely? Getting specific helps you reflect and consider the true qualities you’d like in a mate — and not waste your time, she writes.

5. Start dating.

Again, it’s important to be hopeful. The divorced singles in Orbuch’s study who were hopeful were much more likely to find love.

In the beginning of your relationship, you want to “disclose or share parts of yourself gradually,” Orbuch said. Don’t spill your guts right away. This might seem obvious, but many people do just that: They reveal everythingimmediately because they assume that if their date or partner doesn’t like what they hear, then it’s “Too bad,” and they’re on to the next person, she said.

But a lot of information is overwhelming for anyone, especially when it’s about topics like your ex, kids and finances, she said.

Don’t try to sell yourself, either, Orbuch said. Dating isn’t about winning someone’s approval; it’s about about finding out if you’re compatible.

6. Determine if you’re in the right relationship, and keep it strong.

When evaluating your relationship, Orbuch suggests considering the following: Do you think in terms of “we” or “I”? Do you trust each other? Do you share similar values? Do you handle conflict effectively?

To keep your relationship strong, “empty your pet peeves pail frequently,” she said. Small annoyances add up — and can damage your relationship — so talk to your partner about what bothers you.

Also, “make sure that you recognize and affirm each other frequently over time,” she said. It’s all too easy to put your relationship on the back burner when other people and tasks require your immediate attention, such as your kids, parents, jobs, health and finances, she said. But just a sweet phrase or small behavior can go a long way.

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How to Get Over a Breakup


How to Get Over a Breakup

By NATHAN FEILES

Relationship breakups are tough. They are emotionally exhausting, and can be incapacitating at times. For some who begin to dwell in regret and sadness, breakups can even spiral into depression. Even the breakups that make the most logical sense are still emotionally painful. And in fact, it is the emotional — not logical — part of ourselves that causes us to dwell in these relationships that we may logically know are not healthy for us.

While a grieving period is expected after a breakup, as breakups are a form of loss, it can be easy to get caught in an emotionally harmful pattern if we don’t actively push ourselves forward in our lives.

So how do we emotionally get through a breakup and also move forward in an emotionally healthy manner?

7 Tips for Getting Over a Breakup

1. Make plans.

How to Get Over a Breakup

Social interaction is one of the keys to moving forward after a breakup. Isolation often leads to being consumed by emotions and thoughts that exacerbate our sadness and upset. Schedule plans in advance to see friends or family at least a few times during the week and weekends, especially if you live alone, and be sure to follow through with them. If you feel you don’t want to be around anyone, which can be common after a breakup, this is the time to act opposite of the urge. Push yourself to interact with people and prevent a pattern of loneliness and depression.

2. Be aware of the rebound.

Breakups often are a time of intense emotional vulnerability. We are seeking stability. When we feel we can’t internally create it, it is quite possible to engage in unhealthy new relationships that cover up healthy relationship grieving.

While at first the replacement relationship brings a sense of euphoria, the unresolved emotions from the previous relationship often return, creating a more complicated and confusing emotional environment. If you find yourself falling into a new and exciting relationship too soon, you could be experiencing a rebound.

3. Participate in hobbies.

Hobbies are a positive way to keep from dwelling in sadness and forming negative patterns. Whether it’s doing a puzzle, going to museums, gardening, bowling, reading, or whatever it is you enjoy doing, allow yourself to create time and space for them. Be sure to include social hobbies as well as individual ones.

4. Keep up daily self-care routines.

It is also important to remember to take care of your daily needs when dealing with a breakup. Go to the gym, jog, swim, walk, cook, etc. Some may feel less motivated to grocery shop, prepare meals, eat, or shower after a breakup. These may require some extra effort at times, but push yourself to continue your daily routines as before.

5. Don’t overwork.

Some might say that throwing yourself into work is a great distraction from a breakup. However, overworking often is an emotionally avoidant behavior. Overworking may allow us to avoid sadness or loneliness because we are busy; however, it creates an imbalance in our lives as well as a negative pattern that can be tough to break. (Decreasing the work to regain more personal time later becomes difficult.) Work as you would normally work, and reserve those other hours in the day for self-care, hobbies, and social plans that you’ll hopefully be continuing or increasing into your week.

6. Set a daily time limit for grieving.

Each person grieves a loss differently. There is no actual time limit for grieving. However, there is a difference between healthy grieving and dwelling in regret and sorrow. Some could spend months consumed by guilt and sadness if we allow ourselves to.

As we move forward, it is still important to acknowledge our pain and other emotions we may feel as the result of a significant breakup. Set a time each day that you will allow yourself to reflect, feel, and process your relationship loss. Setting a timer is helpful for this. I would recommend no more than 20-30 minutes a day, and have an activity scheduled to immediately follow this time.

7. Seek professional help.

Some people feel ashamed and embarrassed that a breakup is consuming or impacting them, especially when the ex-partner is considered “not worth it.” But breakups are painful! We put time, effort, hope, emotion, and much more into our relationships.

Seeing a therapist to process the residual emotions and thoughts is a healthy way to deal with a breakup, especially if you’re feeling guilt, regret or starting to dwell in sadness.Breakups are rarely going to be easy; however, with healthy tools and motivation, we can heal.

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How to Say ‘No’ and Make it Stick


How to Say No and Make it Stick

 

“‘No’ may be the most powerful word in the language, but it’s also potentially the most destructive, which is why it’s hard to say,” saysWilliam Ury, director of the Global Negotiations Project at Harvard University, and author of”The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes.

Ury believes that saying no is so difficult because it surfaces the “tension between exercising your power and tending to your relationship.”

In other words, you want to put your foot down and be true to your convictions. But you also don’t want to estrange yourself from friends and family members. You want everyone to like you.

My neighbor often asks me to go on errands with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I often say “Yes,” when what I really want to do is to say, “No.”

That’s why many people choose avoidance (like pulling down the blinds and telling the kids not to answer the door when the neighbor comes calling). Unfortunately, this gets you neither respect of your opinions or warm fuzzies from friends.

A winning solution, says this negotiation specialist, is to sandwich your “no” between two “yeses.” That way you can assert your stance without alienating allies (versus enemies, which you don’t really care about, right?).

Take my wimpy approach to my neighbor dilemma. I suspect Ury would council me to push my double jogger over to my neighbor’s house, invite myself in, and tell her something like this:

  • “Your friendship is valuable to me. And I care about you.” (That’s the first “yes.”)
  • “However, given all of my demands between the kids and work and all the extras I do, I just don’t have time to run errands with you.” (That was my “no…” which I can’t picture myself saying in a thousand years. I’m way too much of a people pleaser.)
  • “But maybe once and awhile I could go to prayer group with you.” (Another “yes.”)

The conflict expert also suggests (and this is especially important in political and business negotiations) that we focus on common interests with a second party, rather than specific positions; that we develop an alternative plan to a negotiated agreement; and that we devise a plan that is easy for people to agree with (use lots of logic).

In a culture so demanding of our time and productivity, Ury claims that it’s more important than ever to say no. Because, according to him, “to say yes to the right things, you have to say no to a lot of other things.”

That’s pretty much Commons Sense 101, but I can surely benefit from a refresher.

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