Would you be happy if someone told you your life would be exactly the same 10 years from now? Probably not; most people recoil at the thought. At the same time, people are often afraid of change. What’s going on? My latest column explores why we often choose to stick with things that aren't working for us and asks: are you putting up with unhappiness because you are afraid of uncertainty?
To manage anxiety, you must first understand it. And to understand it, you must know your brain was not designed to make you happy; it was designed to help you stay safe and to stay alive, even if that means spooking you out and sending countless false alarms. How often the brain sends these false alarms, how often we feel fear, is partly determined by how we live our lives.
Cancelled exams, predictive grades, online classes – 2020 has been an enormously uncertain year for young people. My latest column offers some pointers as the school year resumes amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
An estimated one in six adolescents have self-harmed at least once while research indicates about 6 per cent of young people are actively and chronically self-harming. What should you know about this serious and growing problem?
“Selfish”, “idiots”, “name and shame!” There's been a lot of dramatising on social media in recent months, which isn't too surprising when one considers the tensions and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. When times are difficult, it's important not to make a bad situation worse by choosing drama over calm. A dramatic, black-and-white worldview isn't boring, but be careful - it can breed resentment and become a bad habit.
Since the global coronavirus outbreak, the sight of medical experts like Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Anthony Fauci on our TV screens has become a familiar one. Both men appear serious and concerned but calm; informed, but quick to emphasise what they don't know (unlike, for instance, Donald Trump). My latest Southern Star column argues we can all benefit by developing these thinking habits – essentially, learning to think like a scientist.
Do you frequently try to manage your worries by seeking reassurance? It's human to want a little reassurance when times are tough, but excessive reassurance-seeking doesn't help you manage anxiety – it perpetuates and worsens it. This article explains why and offers advice on how to kick the reassurance habit.
Let's say you make a mistake or hear disappointing news. How do you talk to yourself in these situations? For many people, negative and punishing self-talk can become a bad habit. You may not even notice how much you berate yourself. My latest column explores some really good advice from Irish writer Maria Hoey on this important subject.
Think of a loved one. If I asked you to write down and read out the following sentence – "I hope (name of your loved one) dies today in a car crash" – would you do it? This 'test' was originally designed for use with people with OCD, but most people (not just people with OCD) feel icky about it. My latest Southern Star column explores what's known as thought-action fusion and suggests that most of us are prone to taking our thoughts and feelings too seriously.
‘As human beings, we are all “stuck in the mud-hole.” We are all slogging through the “muck,” we are all equally dirty, and we all “stink,” but we give meaning to our lives by pursuing our goals and overcoming challenges.’ Dr Steven Phillipson is a celebrated psychologist today, but as a child he felt inferior and ashamed. My latest column explores how nobody has it easy in life and why we are, as Dr Phillipson says, 'all in the mud-hole together’.