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.
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.
‘Anyone else feeling just a little overwhelmed at the prospect of all this additional out and aboutness – even though we’ve been yearning for it?’
Journalist Alison O’Connor posed this question on Twitter recently. Back-to-normal hesitancy, re-entry anxiety – call it what you will, but there are many reasons why people may be feeling a little anxious right now.
Have you ever found yourself worrying about something you’ve got to do in the near future – say, giving a work presentation to a large group of people – and thought: if I’m this anxious now, imagine how freaked out I’m going to be on the day itself?
Here’s the thing: chances are, it won’t be that bad at all. My latest column is about anticipatory anxiety and explains that the anxiety you feel when anticipating a feared event is not a true predictor of how you will feel on the day.
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.
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.
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.