The best way of overcoming your fears is to confront them. Exposure therapy – exposure and response prevention or ERP, to use the proper name – is a proven psychological treatment for all forms of anxiety, but how exactly does it work?
Relaxation is good for all of us. If you’re a worrier, however, you may well find that you actively resist relaxation, instead choosing to continue worrying. Why? My latest column explores research showing that worriers don’t like negative emotional contrasts – for example, when you suddenly go from feeling relaxed or upbeat to feeling stressed or fearful. To avoid this negative emotional shift, you stay on guard and continue to worry.
The word 'clutter' brings to mind the image of a messy house. That's not the only downside of clutter, however, because a physical mess can also mess with your mental health. My latest Southern Star column discusses why we hold onto things we don't need and offers some tips on how to live a clutter-free life.
Excessive checking, excessive preparation, organising and planning, writing long to-do lists, spending excessive time editing short emails, ruminating on things you could have done better – my third column in a three-part series on perfectionism offers advice on how to tackle perfectionist behaviours.
Perfectionism is sometimes seen as a positive trait, but the reality is the psychological downsides to perfectionism can be very grave indeed. In the first of a three-part series, I explain what underpins perfectionism and why it drives and maintains unhappiness and pain.
Exposure to certain pathogens when you're young can help build immunity to them in later life. It's the same thing with mental health – exposure to feared situations and to discomfort in general will build up your immunity to those same forces. Put differently, too much safety can be dangerous; the biggest risk you can take is to try and live a risk-free life.
"I must always feel completely in love with my partner, or else he is not 'the one'"; "I noticed another attractive person so I must not love my partner"; "I often get angry with my partner so I must not love him"; "Other couples are happy all the time".
All-or-nothing thinking, catastrophising, hyper-responsibility, excessive 'should' statements – my latest column explores thinking errors often seen in cases of relationship OCD (ROCD).
What if I don’t really love my partner? What if my partner doesn't really love me? Is s/he "the one"? What if I am not as attracted to my partner as I should be? Would I be better off with someone else? Would s/he be better off with someone else? What if my partner doesn't know me well enough and realises too late I am not the person s/he thought I was?
This column explores relationship OCD, or ROCD, which is characterised by agonising doubts and uncertainty about your relationship.
Good mental health requires that you be both self-compassionate and honest with yourself. The latter point is important because as humans, we are gifted when it comes to codding ourselves. We often rationalise our behaviour and tell ourselves that we’re being “gentle” and “kind” with ourselves when we’re really being avoidant and fearful. My latest column gives some hypothetical examples and explains why it's so important to be honest with ourselves.