Compassion and Family Stress

Tips for surviving a quarantine with the family. Quarantines and lockdowns have become a common feature of our lives, and while we may be grateful for not being exposed to dangerous viruses, we are also suffering in a real sense from too much closeness to the people we live with. Weeks of stay-at-home orders may still be ahead of us, …

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 …

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 …

Stress Levels in Dogs Match that of Their Owners

A recent study from Sweden has uncovered a correlation between stress levels in dogs and in their owners.  Though small, the study found some suggestive results, and the researchers believe that the dogs are mirroring levels of stress in their owners, not the other way around. The study looked at 25 border collies and 33 Shetland sheepdogs, all of them …

What is Biofeedback? – Nancy

Biofeedback is a stress management technique that uses devices that give you information about your body’s physiologic response to stress. The idea is to provide you with information that would ordinarily be outside of your conscious awareness, such as your body temperature, blood pressure, or heart rate.  Generally, there are three stages of biofeedback: Developing increased awareness of the body …

Impossible Job

Impossible Job – Nancy

Do you have an impossible job?  An impossible job is a job where the scope of the work is so great that it is not possible to do all of the reasonable things related to that job. As an extreme example, if you are a busy emergency room doctor, there is no way you can do everything that you possibly …

crisis prevention

Crisis Prevention

Crisis prevention is a great goal, but it sometimes seems like the goal is always moving ahead into a cloudy future.  How can we get crisis prevention into our action planning right now? First, think ahead.  Any big changes coming up? Starting school, kids starting school, travel, new job, new home.  These are the kinds of changes that can be …

Language Predicts Stress Levels

The way that people use language predicts stress levels quite reliably, according to a 2017 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many different stressors (traumatic stress, poverty, loneliness, being told that you have a life threatening illness) all activate a single pattern of profound changes in the function of the immune system. The changes are known …

Hope

Find Hope Despite Adversity

Finding hope can feel miraculous when wrestling with the endless challenges of any chronic illness, including depression. At the end of a long week struggling to help others I ran across an article by a psychiatrist who has thought long and hard about the sources of hope, and felt the wonderful sense of renewal that hope brings to the beleaguered. …

News Media Create Stress

News Media Create Stress – Nancy

Bipolar disorder can make it hard to maintain stability of moods, and deal with the stresses of life.  The news and social media are one of the biggest sources of stress that can make stability challenging, and the media overload only seems to be getting worse.  In a 2014 study conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation …

Recovering from Disaster

Recovering from Disaster – Reclaim Your World

It seems appropriate to write about an aspect of recovering from disaster. We have been through an extraordinary period of natural and human caused disasters these past few months. And while every experience is different, one thing that successful recovery requires, is the capacity to reengage with the world as it is, and with a sense of the possibility of …

Feeling Trapped

Feeling trapped is one of the most painful emotional experiences. The need to escape from this place can sometimes lead us to do things that are irrational and self-destructive. A young woman who I’ve been working with for couple of years who struggles with chronic depression, finally seem to be making some headway in her life with a new relationship …

return to work

Return to Work

Successful Return to Work Return to work is an important step in the recovery process for many people with bipolar or depression. Work is not just important financially. It is an key source of self-esteem and purpose, and a place where many people experience a strong sense of community. For these reasons, return to work is often an extremely important …

Increased Alcohol Use in US

Increased Alcohol Use in the US

A detailed and impressive study finds dramatically increased alcohol use disorders in the US in the past decade. Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, regular high-risk drinking increased by almost 30%, and the number of people meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder grew by 49.4%. What else do we know about the health of Americans in the past few years? We know …

PTSD Prediction

For people who have been exposed to violence or trauma, and who naturally experience some symptoms of anxiety, what approaches are most useful for PTSD prediction? The majority of people exposed to violence or trauma do not go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD, but, depending on the nature of the trauma (sexual trauma has the highest risk) …

Avoid Intimidation

Rick Hanson has written an elegant and timely newsletter article about how to avoid intimidation and fear from paper tigers and media demagogues. I love his weekly email newsletters and it is again time to encourage readers of this blog to sign up. Here is the link. One of Rick’s themes, elegantly outlined in this most recent article, is how …