IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH with Positive Psychology

The goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. The goal is to change your response to them.

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy.

In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, we must devote equal attention to our psychological needs.

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Where do we begin?

P E R M A Theory of Well-Being

PERMA..

PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by UPenn professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.

The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.

Original Source:

This blog post first appeared in The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/cultivating-mental-health-daily

mental health

Positive Emotion

Feeling good is an essential part of well-being.

That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity — What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? Why did this happen to me? Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun.

Which is why it’s essential to schedule good vibe moments into each day.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror.
  2. Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles.
  3. Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work.
  4. Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors.
  5. Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
  6. Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you.

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Engagement

Remember when you were a kid playing with friends, and before you knew it the street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your mom yelling your name, you would be outside playing all night long. In that moment, you were in a state of flow.

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You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent of everything around you.

Your mom could have called your name for hours, and you wouldn’t have heard a word.

One hundred percent of your attentional capacity was taken up by the activity right in front of you.

Most likely you still experience a state of flow and engagement, but not as often as you like.

Activities that create a flow state include:

  1. Writing
  2. Dancing
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Sports

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Engagement and flow are important for mental health. When you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for distressing thoughts and emotions.

Relationships

Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges.

That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortunately, lead to a deterioration in mental health.

Which is why CHOICE is an especially powerful tool when it comes to relationships, well-being, and happiness.

Consider the following when you spend time with people:

  1. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
  2. Do you feel listened to or ignored?
  3. Do you feel encouraged or criticized?

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Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Meaning

Meaning comes from serving something bigger than ourselves.

Whether it be family, charity, occupation, or community, meaning unites us in a common vision and gives us the will to get through adversity.

Students Are My North Star

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That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day.

Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose.

I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each:

  1. Pick one person — thank a custodian for their hard work.
  2. Pick one place — post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall.
  3. Pick one time — declare 3 pm gratitude hour.

 Achievement

Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction.

The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness.

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The solution?

Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into your highest dreams.

In Conclusion

Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. Small things on repeat change the world.

PERMA

Video 1 of Blog Post  Click Here
Video 2 of Blog Post  Click Here

 

SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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Do you have a difficult time saying no?

While others in your life say no without a second thought.

Is this confusing and at times upsetting for you?

Are you hard on yourself because of this discrepancy between yourself and others?

You may be interested to discover that Saying No is not a one size fits all.

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Join me in my
virtual psychology classroom as I share one factor that explains why some people have more difficulty saying no and holding boundaries than others — Your Personality.

Feelers vs. Thinkers

Feelers

In this video I describe how individuals who are overly sensitive to the feelings of others (HSPs, Empaths, ENFJs) often focus on the needs of others to the exclusion of themselves.

Video: SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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❤️ Feelers take things more personally than thinkers.

Often causing feelers to say YES on the outside when on the inside their intuition is telling them to SAY NO.

Result = Mixed Messages + Unnecessary Stress

Thinkers

By contrast, individuals who are left brain dominant (thinkers on the Myers Briggs scale) are more straightforward and logical in their response to requests from friends and coworkers.

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Consequently, thinkers do not focus to the same extent on the emotions of “the requesters” in the same way that feelers (eg., ENFJ’s) on the on the Myers Briggs do.

💡 Saying no comes naturally to thinkers.

Thinkers know what they want and use analytics + logic not the emotions of the person in front of them as their guiding force.

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Learning from each other

On the plus side:

Feelers and thinkers make incredible teammates.

At work and in life.

Balance is everything. 🧠 + ❤️

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Additional Information

1. Right Brain versus Left Brain
2. Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
3. Learn About Myers Briggs Personality Profile
4. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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Let me know in comments below how your personality impacts different areas of your life, including saying No.

Please share techniques you’ve developed for setting boundaries too!

I’d love to know!

Dr. D 📚

One Final Note:

In Addition to Personality and Individual Differences

Situation Also Impacts Our Ability to Say NO + Stand Firm

Video: Saying No is Easier When You Feel Safe

Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction and helped me to develop strength and authenticity, ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become

F. A. I. L. = First Attempt In Learning

• The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most, no matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.

• The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself, no matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.

• The layoff from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself, no matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again.”

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Source: https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

 Your Turn:

What life lessons has failure taught you?

How does a psychologist make a clinical diagnosis?

Psychology in Your Life

The intention for this post is to introduce you to one aspect of the diagnostic process — specifically: differential diagnosis.

And ultimately to help you understand that psychological assessment is a complex, worthwhile process.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo

What’s normal 🆚 clinical?

To answer that question, I would like to invite you into my clinical psychology class. 

Specifically, when I teach the concept of “Differential Diagnosis” using the STATE versus TRAIT anxiety distinction. 

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STATE 🆚 TRAIT ANXIETY

Misdiagnosis

People often believe they have generalized anxiety or panic disorder, when in fact, what they are experiencing is an acute reaction to a short-lived, stressful circumstance.

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Differential Diagnosis

For example, STATE anxiety involves temporary and situational symptoms to stress inducing events (public speaking, midterms, first dates) universal to all of us. 

In contrast, TRAIT anxiety has more lasting, debilitating, and pervasive symptoms (eg., impacts all aspects of an individual’s life) independent of external events.

Psychology on Campus

For additional insights into the diagnostic process, including how I teach this concept in the liberal arts program, check out my latest video:

Reflection Questions

1. How is understanding the state 🆚 trait distinction applicable and/or helpful in your daily life?

2. Have you ever jumped to the conclusion about yourself or someone else regarding a diagnosis, only to discover later that the condition was temporary?

3. What psychology topics and ideas would you like to learn more about?

Dr. D 📕❤️

DrAndreaDinardo.com

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

This post is for anyone experiencing FOMO. Particularly on a long weekend holiday!

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

Consider these questions as you explore what’s going on below the surface.

1. Do you remember the first time you experienced FOMO?

2. How did you cope with the anxiety of missing out?

3. What if anything would you be willing to give up in your life in exchange for the fantasy of someone else’s life or experience?

4. What about your life do you cherish above all else?

Please share in the comments below, including your own strategies for handling FOMO. I’d love to know!

Savour this moment.

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Body Image: Don’t Believe Everything You Think 💭

Perception versus Reality

I was motivated to write this post and film the accompanying video after witnessing so many students overwrought by feelings of inadequacy regarding their body image and self worth.

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There was no doubt that in reality they were healthy and whole, but in their minds, they believed the opposite.

 The Antidote

The following is a set of questions that challenge irrational perceptions and cognitive distortions using reality itself.

The inquiry is not limited to body image and weight and thus can be applied in any areas where you find yourself caught in a repetitive thought loop.

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Reality Testing Homework:

  1. How do I know if this thought is accurate?
  2. What evidence do I have to support this thought or belief?
  3. How can I test my assumptions/beliefs to find out if they’re accurate?
  4. Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
  5. Is this thought helpful?
  6. Are there other ways that I can think about this or myself?
  7. Is it really in my control?
  8. Am I overgeneralizing?
  9. Am I making assumptions?
  10. What would I say to a friend in this situation?
  11. Can I look for “shades of gray”?
  12. Am I assuming the worst?
  13. Am I holding myself to an unreasonable standard?
  14. Are there exceptions to these absolutes (always, never)?
  15. Am I making this personal when it isn’t?

Source: Challenging Cognitive Distortions

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Related Research & Articles

1. Past visual experiences weigh in on body size estimation. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-18418-3#Sec2

2. The image in the mirror and the number on the scale: Weight, Weight Perceptions, and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610322/

3. Perception versus reality of body weight: Which matters most. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032713002905

4. How social media contributes to body dysmorphia. https://www.thelexingtonline.com/blog/2018/5/7/how-social-media-contributes-to-body-dysmorphic-behaviors

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REFLECTION QUESTIONS

What are your perceptual filters?

Rose coloured? Perfectionist? Overachiever?

How often do you TEST reality?

Do you believe everything you think?

Click Here to Watch Video

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology on YouTube: Helping people live a better life.

Psychology for Everyone

My number one intention for becoming a psychologist and psychology professor has always been to help people live a better life, no matter their life circumstances.

And since there are only so many hours in a day, I’m always looking for new ways to reach and teach as many people as I can. All at once, if possible.   

Which is why I created a Psychology Tips Playlist on my YouTube Channel that I contribute to weekly.

101 psychology videos for you to enjoy! ⤵️

Psychology Tips: Video Playlist

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Fun Learning Opportunity

The purpose of my Psychology YouTube Channel is to share the key lessons of my 3 hour psychology lectures in 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Giving people far and wide access to virtual classes, especially those who don’t have the money or means to an undergraduate education.

I know how busy everyone is. And I love a good challenge! 

I also include videos of psychology workshops and keynote speeches.

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Wishing you a day filled with love & learning! 📕💙

ABC Technique: Transforming Painful Experiences

 Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves 

In this blog post and classroom video, I share strategies for transforming painful experiences. Especially those beyond your control.

Strategies include: Cognitive reframing (identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts) and the ABC technique (Antecedent, Belief, Consequence).

Dr. Andrea Dinardo ABC Technique

I also discuss my latest article in The Drive Magazine (link to article below) where I help a good friend transform the painful story in his life (house flood) into a more meaningful and empowering experience.

Read Here: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves

Dr. Andrea Dinardo The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Tips for Transforming the Painful Story in Your Life

1. Talk to others who have overcome similar circumstances. Be open to their lessons.

 2. Ask five people to identify five strengths. Refer to them during the low points in your day.

3. Reflect on times in your life when you have successfully overcome adversity.

4. Be proud of what you’ve been through and have faith in where you’re going.

Excerpt From The Stories We Tell Ourselves, The Drive Magazine

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

To Watch Video Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Visualization Exercise: Look for the signs

Signs pointing us in the direction of our dreams are everywhere.

Everywhere!

But we have to look UP to see it.

OPEN our minds to BELIEVE it.

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Daily Visualization Exercise

The next time you see a 40 km, 50 km, or even 100 km sign — take it as an opportunity to visualize where (and who) you want to be at that age.

Additionally, use each “sign” as instant reflection time for contemplating: 1) what you need to do more of and 2) what you need to let go of to get there.

We only get one life.

Let’s imagine the best one possible!

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What signs have you noticed lately?

Optimism Bootcamp – Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com

The Shadow Effect.

Psychology Class

The Shadow Effect

One of the things I love to do is share what’s happening on campus in my psychology class.

Today’s topic: The Shadow Effect

Watch this short video and consider the following questions:

  1. What is your shadow?
  2. How does your shadow serve you?
  3. Where does your shadow come from?

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How do I bring shadow side of myself into the light?

Helpful resources and activities:

  1. One Minute Meditation: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ucdU7URx5g
  2. Give Pain Room to Breathe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp_QjmmCzeU
  3. Lean into Loneliness: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness
  4. Failure as Feedback: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback
  5. The Positive Power of Negative Emotions: amazon.ca/books

There is transformative power in our negative emotions. The key is to create a safe, welcoming space to lean in and hear their lessons.