Tag: cbt

Lasting Change is a Process Not a Resolution

mindful-eating-and-the-positive-effects-of-cbt

OK, so I may be the only person in the world telling you NOT to start a diet today, but there’s a really good reason because…

Diets don’t work

In fact the most likely outcome for you going on a diet is that you will put on more weight (which is naturally tragic news when you know you’ve wasted so much precious time of your life on a diet, depriving yourself and wishing the weight away.)

Albert Einstein put it very aptly when he said:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If your same old New Year’s Resolution to ‘lose weight’ hasn’t worked for you all this time, isn’t it time you thought about doing something different..?

As we look forward to this brand New Year, it’s time for you to let go of all the old inhibiting ideas you are holding on to about weight loss and diets.

Let go of those stories and you can change the way you view food and your body, for life. Because, here’s the thing:

  • Restricting yourself from the foods you want, only makes you crave them more.
  • Punishing yourself for eating something ‘forbidden’ only diminishes your self-esteem.
  • Cursing yourself when you look in the mirror only crushes your self-respect.

There is some DELICIOUS NEWS though.

What does work, is when you stop depriving yourself of what you want. When you learn to love your body, and to treat it with respect. And when you recognise what foods make you feel good, what foods don’t make you feel good, and most importantly: why?

And I’m here to teach you all of that and more through Mindful Eating…

I’ll help you rewire your lifelong beliefs around food and your body, so you can learn to completely shift your thinking and patterns around eating, and never have to go on another diet again.

As a Psychologist in the science of eating, I’m here to help you understand why you’ve struggled to lose weight for so long, and to totally transform your mindset so that you can learn how to thrive in your healthy body, for the rest of your life.

Let’s face it: the same way you’ve started January every single year hasn’t worked.

So it’s time to change that, so you can finally get the results you crave.

If you want to kickstart the New Year with high-level knowledge about your unique body, why dieting hasn’t worked for you so far, and what you can do to finally feel free from food and lose weight as a joyous consequence, you can book in a complimentary call with me where we’ll dig into all of this and set you up for a 2017 that has you brimming with motivation and confidence.

(And none of that misery and restriction you usually punish yourself with right about now.)

Ready to do things differently? Get in touch now… 

Events Don’t Upset You — Your Beliefs Do

events and beliefs

We all like a bit of ancient wisdom. But how many of us have actually read any of the Classics? How ancient wisdom, the Stoics and Albert Ellis can help you

The funny thing is, we’re more likely to live happier lives if we visit the classics section of the book store than the self-help aisle. So, if we don’t read the classics, how can we learn what one group of brilliant dead blokes —The Stoics — had to say? Well, let’s have a go…

Events Don’t Upset You — Beliefs Do

So, you get dumped by someone you’re totally in love with. Feel sad? Yes. The world feels like it’s going to end. I think we’ve all been there… Let’s move on… Same scenario, but afterwards you find out that person was actually a psychopath who killed their last three partners. Feel sad you got dumped? No, you’re thrilled…

So, clearly getting dumped isn’t the important issue here. What’s changed? Actually, nothing other than your beliefs.

If you lose your job and you believe it was a lousy job anyway, and you also believe it won’t be hard for you to get a better job, you’re likely not going to be too bothered.

However, if you believe it was the greatest job ever and believe you’ll never get another one that good — you’re devastated. Emotions aren’t random. They follow from beliefs.

So, let’s move on to the Stoics. They believed there are no good or bad events, there’s only perception. Shakespeare put it well when he said: “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” What Shakespeare and the Stoics are saying is that the world around us is indifferent, it is objective. The Stoics are saying: “This happened to me,” is not the same as, “This happened to me and that’s bad.” They’re saying if you stop at the first bit, you will be much more resilient and much more able to make some good out of anything that happens to you.

Does this sound too simple? Well, yes, actually it is that simple. But this philosophy is what led renowned psychologist Albert Ellis to develop Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (or REBT) which was the first form of the more-widely known Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) pioneered by Aaron Beck and now well accepted as one of the most effective treatments for depression, anxiety and other disorders, including disordered eating.

Most Bad Feelings Are Caused by Irrational Beliefs

Next time you’re feeling negative emotions, don’t focus on the event that you think ’caused’ them. Ask yourself what belief you hold about that event. And then ask yourself if it’s rational:

  • “If my partner dumps me, I’ll never get over it.”
  • “If I lose my job, my life is over.”
  • “If I don’t finish reading this post, the writer will hate me forever.”

Only the third one is true. The other two are irrational. And that’s why you get anxious, angry or depressed.

Revise your beliefs and you can change your feelings: “Even if I lose my job, I can get another one. It’s happened before and I was fine.”

So, you’re revising your beliefs to overcome sadness and anger. Great. But what about when you’re unhappy because you’re worried about the future?

In the next article, Control What you Can and Ignore the Rest, we’ll look at the Serenity Prayer, the Buddhist angle and more about the Stoics…

 

Mindful Eating and the Positive Effects of CBT

mindful-eating-and-the-positive-effects-of-cbt

Just like all skills, health and well-being can be cultivated through training and practice by using mindful eating and the positive effects of CBT

Whether you’re learning to play the piano, moving from a sedentary life to an active one, or developing more effective ways to handle emotional triggers, the same type of neural circuitry is at play. One of the most inspiring advancements in recent neuroscience is that the neural pathways in our brains are ‘plastic.’ What this means is they change in response to training and experience.

Now, this is wonderful news! What it means is we’re not stuck with any set of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors if we don’t want to be. If we’re willing to commit to learning, training, and practice, we can change anything that’s not working for us.

One of the reasons I love CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is because it’s basically all about changing neural circuity. Instead of focusing on rules about when, what, and how much you ‘should’ be eating, CBT guides you through a process of rewiring yourself from the inside out. By using this rewiring process, you can begin to think differently, address emotions and other triggers more effectively, and make choices that support greater well-being.

Positive Effects of CBT

Because this change in neural pathways is based on awareness and intentional decision making, it has far reaching consequences in other areas of your life, not just eating and activity. For example, CBT guides you to identify thoughts and feelings that might be driving your desire to eat when you’re not hungry. You can then pause to intentionally decide if you’ll eat anyway, redirect your attention, or meet your real needs.

If you choose to eat anyway, instead of doing so automatically and out of habit, you’ll be fully aware of the likely outcome and can then enjoy eating mindfully and without guilt. If you choose to redirect your attention until you are hungry or meet your underlying needs, you’ll have a different experience that will propel you one step closer to your desired future habits. Whichever choice you make, you’re re-training your brain to pause in the face of an impulse or urge, weigh your options, and then consciously decide what to do next.

Pause, Think… Act

You can probably see how applicable this process can be to virtually everything else in your life – and most of my clients quickly see that connection too. For example, let’s say you notice that you feel irritated because your child’s room is a disaster… again. Instead of automatically reacting with a disciplinary yell — which doesn’t feel great and doesn’t seem to help in the long term anyway — you pause, weigh your options, and decide whether and how to respond.

Or perhaps you receive yet another email from your boss with a tight deadline with more work than you can reasonably do. Before complaining to your co-worker or sending off a return email you’ll later regret, you pause, weigh your options, and decide whether and how to respond. It’s hard to think of a situation where this process of identifying, pausing, and intentionally choosing wouldn’t be valuable for you.

However, as with most things in life, there is a catch… This type of rewiring takes training and practice. Caring for ourselves and making decisions that support our greatest interests are skills — skills that can undoubtedly be developed if we’re committed to doing the work. And, like most worthwhile life changes, the outcome is well worth the effort!

As you work on sharpening your mindful eating skills, think about what other areas of your life have you started to shift too?

The Belief That Inspires Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

Study identifies belief that could be crucial to inspiring healthy eating and weight loss


People who believe they have control of their weight — and they were not ‘born fat’ — eat more healthily, a new study finds.

Believing that DNA does not totally determine weight is also linked to higher personal well-being. The authors of the study, published in the journal Health Education & Behavior, explain:

“If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviors that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviors with more long-term benefits for weight management.

By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviors among their patients.” (Parent & Alquist, 2015)

The study of almost 10,000 people found that with age, believing you are in control of your weight was linked to more healthy eating behaviour.

People who felt in control took more notice of nutrition labels on food and were more likely to have fruit and vegetables at home.

They were also less likely to eat frozen meals, unhealthy restaurant food and ‘ready-to-eat’ foods. People who thought their weight was controllable also took more exercise and had higher well-being. The study found little difference between men and women:

“Although previous research has found gender differences in weight as a motivation for exercise and healthful eating, we did not find evidence that gender affected the relationship between health beliefs and physical activity or healthful eating.

However, we found evidence that the relationship between belief in weight changeability and exercise, healthful eating, and unhealthful eating differs by age.”

5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

Instead of taking a pill, maybe you should talk about it.

That’s the upshot of a slew of recent studies that show many health conditions previously believed to be completely physiological in origin, actually have psychological causes — and psychotherapeutic cures.

“A wealth of research has surfaced showing clear relationships between psychological stress and major diseases,” psychologist Dr. Jack Singer told Newsmax Health.

Mind-Body Connection

The origins of disease-causing stress are rooted in our evolutionary history, says Dr. Singer.

“Our bodies are hot-wired genetically from the cavemen days to react to perceived danger by shutting down bodily systems not necessary for immediate survival.”

Dr. Judith Beck, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy in Pennsylvania, told Newsmax Health:

“We have found that the mind-body connection is inextricable. By applying cognitive behavior therapy to a wide range of medical situations, we can improve the quality of life of even chronically ill patients and cure many diseases without drugs or medication.”

Here are five examples of common physical conditions with surprising psychological solutions:

Headache: When headaches hit, most of us reach for over-the-counter drugs. However, a growing body of research shows that psychotherapy can prevent chronic headaches.
This is especially true of tension headaches, the most common kind.

Dr. Beck says that teaching “mindfulness” helps people identify stressors and deal with them before a headache strikes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This chronic gastrointestinal disorder is on the increase, now affecting an estimated 45 million Americans. While diet and lifestyle changes may be necessary, experts say that 50-90 percent of IBS patients benefit from psychological counseling.

Obesity: More than two-thirds of Americans over 20 are overweight or obese. Dr. Beck, co-author of the best-selling book, The Diet Trap Solution, says that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) often helps patients lose weight — and keep it off.

“It’s not only that people are eating too much, they aren’t paying attention to why they are eating,” she says.

“We teach our clients how to avoid mistakes and not to beat themselves up when they slip up. There is a vast amount of research that shows CBT along with diet and exercise greatly improve weight-loss outcomes.”

Chronic Pain: Millions of Americans are living with chronic pain. Dr. Beck helps her clients learn to deal with the fear and anxiety that comes with pain, which, in turn, provides relief.

“Many people are fearful and anxious because they feel that they cannot enjoy life anymore,” she says. “For example, they love dancing but are afraid that this will exacerbate their pain.

“In the office we encourage them to take a few dance steps and gradually build on small successes so that they realize they can enjoy certain activities and stop putting limitations on their lives. We shift the focus away from the pain to enjoying life again.”

Insomnia: Studies have shown that people who have trouble falling and staying asleep fare better with CBT than by taking popular sleep drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien.

“We not only stress good sleep hygiene habits like shutting off electronics and eating lightly before bed, we also teach our patients that losing some sleep isn’t a disaster and they can still function,” says Beck.

“Very often it is the anxiety and fear of not being able to sleep that keeps them awake. They think, ‘What if I can’t sleep tonight? What will happen tomorrow?’

“When they realize that tomorrow will come along and they will make it through the day, the anxiety lessens and the insomnia often disappears.”

Panic Attacks: Study Reveals Best Type of Treatment

Panic attacks

Large study compares the effectiveness of different types of therapies for panic disorders.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the best treatment for panic disorders, a new study finds. In addition, most people prefer therapy over taking anti-anxiety medication. Dr. Barbara Milrod, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said:

“Panic disorder is really debilitating — it causes terrible healthcare costs and interference with functioning.

We conducted this first ever large panic disorder study to compare therapy types and see if one type of therapy is preferable over another.”

Panic disorders involve suffering from an extreme feeling of anxiety and fear, sometimes for no apparent reason. Panic attacks can also be triggered by many things, including irrational fears such as phobias. During panic attacks people can tremble, become sweaty, feel sick and may experience heart palpitations.

The study randomised around 200 people with panic disorders to various different commonly-used therapies. Therapy lasted for around three months and involved one 45-minute session each week.

Across the two different sites where the therapies were tested, cognitive behavioural therapy was the most effective, and only one-quarter of people dropped out.

Professor Milrod said:

“If patients stick it out and continue with therapy rather than drop out, they have a far greater chance of seeing positive results or getting better.”

The study was published in the  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Mildrod et al., 2015).

The Benefits of Monotasking

Multitasking verses Monotasking

Multitasking verses Monotasking

It’s official! Multitasking is out and Monotasking is in! And it’s about time too…

Personally, multitasking has never been my thing. I’ve simply never been able to do more than one thing at time and I’ve never particularly wanted to. But, I know many of you out there will gleefully claim to be able to juggle the washing, watch the kids, answer your emails and walk, talk and eat all at the same… but why, oh why would you want to? I blame the 90s. I really do. But times change, and us monotaskers may have had it right all along…

It turns out that what our brains are actually best at is concentrating on one job at a time. What they’re in fact doing when we ask them to double or triple task is jumping at super high speed and inefficiently from one thing to another. Literally scatter brained.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of thinking research and learning organization Herrmann International, said: “The brain is not a parallel processor. There’s at least a 50 percent increase in error rate and it takes you 50 percent longer to do something while multitasking.” A simple examination of how many car accidents happen because of people eating, texting, talking or otherwise not devoting all their attention to the road proves this theory. “We feel like we can do many things at the same time, but really we’re just switching between the different parts of the brain handling each task.”

What happens to your brain when you Multitask

Multitasking brain

Multitasking brain

Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, explains. “Our brains are not wired to multitask. Though we think they’re handling multiple activities at the same time, what they’re really doing is constantly switching between them. “The problem is, there’s a cognitive price to pay each time we put them through that process.”

By which he means we become less productive and more anxious, because multitasking pushes up our levels of the stress hormone cortisol. We even become measurably less ‘intelligent’, because the noise in our head from all those activities clouds our concentration, resulting in a drop in IQ scores.

Dr Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Montreal’s McGill University and author of The Organized Mind, Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, says brain scans prove this.

“The message is very clear: we don’t multitask. We think we’re juggling a lot of different things but really we’re like amateur plate spinners. We get one thing going, move on to something new and then have to run back to the first thing to check on how it’s going.”

And each time we go through that process, we waste energy and time. And besides, think how much nicer it would be to have your partner all to yourself, instead of having a ménage-a-trois — you, your partner and a mobile phone…

7 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Anxiety

If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, you’re probably familiar with the control it can have over you and your life. And you’re not alone — it affects approximately 40 million adult Americans per year.

Anxiety and panic disorders can cause feelings of fear and uncertainty — and with that suffering often comes comments that are more hurtful than helpful. According to Scott Bea, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, while it usually comes from a heartfelt place, a lack of understanding from others can make working through a panic attack incredibly challenging…

“So many of the things you might say end up having a paradoxical effect and make the anxiety worse,” Bea told The Huffington Post. “Anxiety can be like quicksand — the more you do to try to defuse the situation immediately, the deeper you sink. By telling people things like ‘stay calm,’ they can actually increase their sense of panic.”

Despite everything, there are ways to still be supportive without causing more distress. Here are seven comments you should avoid saying to someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder — and how you can really help them instead.

1. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
spilled milk

The truth is, what you consider small may not be so minute in someone else’s world. While you may be trying to cast a positive, upbeat light on a tense situation, you may be diminishing something that’s a much bigger deal to another person.

“You have to enter the person’s belief system,” Bea advises. “For [someone with anxiety], everything is big stuff.” In order to help instead, try approaching them from a point of encouragement rather than implying that they “buck up” over something little. Reminding them that they overcame this panic before can help validate that their pain is real and help them push beyond those overwhelming feelings, Bea says.

2. “Calm down.”
calm

The debilitating problem with anxiety and panic disorders is that you simply can’t calm down. Finding the ability to relax — particularly on command — isn’t easy for most people, and it certainly can be more difficult for someone suffering from anxiety.

In a blog post on Psychology Today, psychologist Shawn Smith wrote an open letter to a loved one from the viewpoint of someone with anxiety, stating that even though there may be good intentions behind it, telling someone to calm down will most likely have the opposite effect:

Let’s acknowledge the obvious: if I could stop my anxiety, I would have done so by now. That may be difficult to understand since it probably looks like I choose to [panic, scrub, hoard, pace, hide, ruminate, check, clean, etc]. I don’t. In my world, doing those things is only slightly less excruciating than not doing them. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but anxiety places a person in that position.

According to Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, your words don’t have to be your most powerful method — offering to do something with them may be the best way to help alleviate their symptoms. Humphreys says activities like meditation, going for a walk or working out are all positive ways to help.

3. “Just do it.”
When someone with anxiety is facing their fear, a little “tough love” may not have the effect you’re hoping for. Depending on the type of phobia or disorder someone is dealing with, panic can strike at anytime — whether it’s having to board an airplane, speaking with a group of people or even just occurring out of nowhere. “Obviously if they could overcome this they would because it would be more pleasant,” Humphreys says. “No one chooses to have anxiety. Using [these phrases] makes them feel defensive and unsupported.”

Instead of telling someone to “suck it up,” practicing empathy is key. Humphreys advises swapping pep-talk language for phrases like “that’s a terrible way to feel” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“The paradox is, [an empathetic phrase] helps them calm down because they don’t feel like they have to fight for their anxiety,” Humphreys said. “It shows some understanding.”

4. “Everything is going to be fine.”
While overall supportive, Bea says that those with anxiety won’t really react to the comforting words in the way that you may hope. “Unfortunately, telling someone [who is dealing with anxiety] that ‘everything is going to be alright’ won’t do much, because nobody is going to believe it,” he explains. “Reassurance sometimes can be a bad method. It makes them feel better for 20 seconds and then doubt can creep in again.”

Bea suggests remaining encouraging, without using blanket statements that may not offer value to the situation. Sometimes, he says, even allowing them to embrace their worry — instead of trying to banish it — can be the only way to help. “They can always accept the condition,” Bea said. “Encouraging them that it’s okay to feel what they’re feeling — that can be a pretty good fix as well.”

5. “I’m stressed out too.”
secondhand stress

Similar to “calm down” and “don’t sweat the small stuff,” you may be accidentally trivializing someone’s struggle by creating a comparison. However, if you are stressed or suffering from a mild anxiety or panic disorder, Humphreys warns that camaraderie after a certain point can get dangerous. “It’s important not to obsess with each other,” Humphreys advises. “If you have two people who are anxious, they may feed off each other. If people have trouble controlling their own anxiety, try not to engage in that activity even if you think it might help.”

Research has shown that stress is a contagious emotion, and a recent study out of the University of California San Francisco found that even babies can catch those negative feelings from their mothers. In order to promote healthier thoughts, Humphreys advises attempting to refocus the narrative instead of commiserating together.

6. “Have a drink — it’ll take your mind off of it.”
drink at bar

That cocktail may take the edge off, but when dealing with anxiety disorders there is a greater problem to worry about, Humphreys says. Doctors and prescribed treatments are more of the answer when it comes to dealing with the troubles that cause the panic. “Most people assume that if someone has a few drinks, that will take their anxiety away,” he said. “In the short term, yes perhaps it will, but in the long term it can be a gateway for addiction. It’s dangerous in the long term because those substances can be reinforcing the anxiety.”

7. “Did I do something wrong?”
It can be difficult when a loved one is constantly suffering and at times it can even feel like your actions are somehow setting them off. Humphreys says it’s important to remember that panic and anxiety disorders stem from something larger than just one particular or minor instance. “Accept that you cannot control another person’s emotions,” he explains. “If you try to [control their emotions], you will feel frustrated, your loved one suffering may feel rejected and you’ll resent each other. It’s important not to take their anxiety personally.”

Humphreys says it’s also crucial to let your loved ones know that there is a way to overcoming any anxiety or panic disorder — and that you’re there to be supportive. “There are ways out to become happier and more functional,” he says. “There is absolutely a reason to have hope.”

Lindsay Holmes
The Huffington Post