Rumination

What is rumination and how can it be overcome? Rumination, or repetitive negative thinking, can be a symptom, and possibly even a cause of depression.  But where does it come from, does it have any upsides, and what can you do about it if you feel stuck in an endless loop of regret, recrimination and overthinking the past? Psychologists distinguish …

Own Your Courage

Living with mental illness or mood disorder day after day can be taxing and tiring.  You have to be more disciplined, stronger, more organized and more on top of things than anyone else you know.  You are bombarded with advice about dealing with a chronic illness: exercise helps, diet is important, be sure to get enough sleep, but not too …

Horticulture Therapy

Gardening improves mood Spring has sprung and people are looking to the outdoors, plants and gardening for a mood lift, a lifestyle change and a tried and true path to happiness and fulfillment. For those who think such attitudes are maybe a tad over-optimistic, we can show a surprising amount of research on the mental and physical health benefits of …

Quit Smoking

Grade A for effort In a conversation with a patient who was trying to quit smoking we discovered that people often grade themselves only for final success and not for “effort”.  The patient said that he did feel like he is doing better, but he still has cravings for a cigarette, and he would like to be at a place …

take pleasure

Take Pleasure

What’s the best way to cope with stress?  Our friend Rick Hanson, whom we frequently quote in this blog, wonders why people don’t Take Pleasure.   There are so many fun things to do, some take hardly any time or money, why don’t we just take time out to smell the roses, or the dinner cooking, or the perfume…  Why don’t …

Shame, Guilt and Bipolar

A manic or hypomanic episode (mild or severe) can lead a person to taking actions that may be unhealthy, unwise, or even harmful to self or others.  This can lead, afterwards, to feelings of guilt and shame.  We feel bad about what we have done, but we don’t always know how to move on and make amends.  These feelings can …

Increasing joy in response to stress

Build in Joy

Time to build in more joy Anxiety, stress, loneliness, grief, and a welter of other emotions are becoming familiar to many of us during this pandemic.  Lockdowns and quarantines, being unable to visit or hug loved ones, worrying about employment, children’s schooling, and how to pay the bills – it’s no wonder it’s getting us down! The idea of increasing …

Resilience

How to develop resilience to face difficult times Resilience is a process that people can learn and activate to help recover from personal or community disaster, trauma or loss.  While it has sometimes been described as a trait that some people have and others don’t, it is better understood as a skill, or series of skills, that we can all …

Mood Homeostasis and Depression

MoodSurfing advocates identifying strategies for managing moods without medications, not because we think medications are bad, but because they do have potential adverse effects. We think that some of these strategies are very helpful, but the psychiatric establishment has not always agreed. A recent study1 provides evidence that choosing activities to stabilize mood can have a big impact on mental …

Seven Great Coping Strategies for the Pandemic

Moodsurfing readers have been sharing their thoughts and findings about “what works” in navigating these difficult times, and we’ve collected a series of coping strategies that everyone can use while homebound and social distancing. Keep Active.  Some people report that they are walking up and down the stairs at home, some have unearthed old exercise equipment that they had lying …

Anxious Times

Anxious Times, Anxious Thoughts Anxiety is a common companion for mood disorders, in fact, anxiety is, for many people, the first mood-related symptom they remember from childhood, before other symptoms began to develop.  Studies show that as many as 90% of people with bipolar also have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety often takes the form of constantly repeated worry about worst-case …