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 …

Facing Fear Through Prescribed Worry

In this time of heightened fear and anxiety, all of us need to work on strategies for managing fear.  The usual way most people try to manage fear is by repression or distraction, but we all know that those “strategies” just let the fears fester and come sneaking back later. How can we manage our fears in a constructive way …

Stress and the Coronavirus

Stop. Breathe. Think. How to deal with stress when you’re stuck at home and the TV keeps sending in more and more scary images?  Stop. Breathe. Think. Our brains are hardwired to deal with threats by the primitive fight or flight response.  Adrenaline flows, higher thinking goes offline, emotional and bodily responses take over, blood pressure goes up and you …

Getting Back to Nature

Connections between mental health and the natural world Urbanization is a reality of modern life, and many people feel that their connection to nature – green growing things, animals, trees, the stars, the wind, the ocean and the mountains – has been disrupted, or has simply vanished.  Mental illness is another reality of modern life that shows some correlation to …

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution Work

Are you contemplating a significant lifestyle change this year?  Quitting smoking for good, or really getting fit, not just losing a few pounds and gaining them back later? Research shows that making real changes in life is not just a matter of motivation, commitment, or not being “lazy”.  Change requires skills and knowledge that can be learned and applied for …

Can Smiling Make You Happier?

Can smiling make you happier?  A long held folk belief holds that if you smile even when you don’t feel happy, the act of smiling itself will lift your spirits, and conversely, frowning makes you feel worse.  A 1998 study asked volunteers to hold a pencil between their teeth in such a way that their mouths were forced into a …