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Meditation may help treat anxiety

Meditation can help treat anxiety

Meditation and mindfulness meditation in particular  have been trending in popular culture in recent years and have been found to be beneficial in treating anxiety. There is a fair amount of existing research  that suggests  meditation  changes the way  our brain functions  and our brain structure.

Research recently discussed through media outlet Forbes looked at a small sample size  of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  nearly 20,000,000 people will have  symptoms consistent with this diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes. a unique aspect of this study  was that participants were applied to a mindfulness  stress reduction treatment  or a stress management education course.  The hope was that this would eliminate  some of the placebo affect in previous studies on mindfulness meditation  that offered a treatment and nontreatment group only. initial findings from the study suggests that individuals who engaged in the mindfulness stress reduction treatment had significantly lower levels of stress markers ACTH, IL-6 and TNF-α.

There have been a number of findings consistent with the potential benefit of mindfulness meditation  for treating anxiety. A 2009 study on Anxiety, from Harvard, looked at the connection between stress reduction and changes in brain structure. This study suggested that an eight week trial of meditation can change the structure of the amygdala, a part of our brain that responds  to stress and arousal. These changes to the amygdala  were found to correlate  with one’s  perception of reduced stress. Slightly different but in a similar vein a 2013 meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins suggested  that meditation was linked significantly with reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Information presented in this  entry is not intended  to treat or diagnose any medical or mental health disorder.  In addition, the techniques referenced in this article are likely to be most beneficial  when implemented under the guidance of a trained professional.

Is your desk cluttered? If it is your mind might feel that way too.

A lot of times we hold on to belonging so we can be prepared or have what we need when we needed. Frequently these external items can become symbolic representations of things that are happening inside of us.when we reform our space physically it can also bring significant mental changes.

American Psychological Science has found that a tidy desk can support generosity and  healthy eating.

“Most of us are operating in a state of chronic stress; we’re always on,” David W. Ballard, Psy.D., the assistant executive director for the American Psychological Association‘s Center for Organizational Excellence previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. Adopting a sense of tidiness is how some people are “able to really stay focused and stay organized do things to manage their stress effectively,” he said.

Here are a few tips to work our way through…

1) Expect that things are likely to feel worse on the short run. When we take on change or face what we have been avoiding we tend to feel feelings associated why we avoided in the first place.

2) Keep focus on both the long term goal (cleaning or getting de-cluttered) and the short-term (working toward making change). If our feet are moving toward our goal we can say we are making progress even if we did not accomplish a complete goal as expected.

3) Look for the positive. Ask yourself “what does this add to my life?… do I need to keep it to feel better?” Keep things that bring joy.

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Mindfulness, antiaging, fountain of youth?

In recent years mindfulness has become a hot topic in popular culture. Meditation, the book- The Power of Now, Marcia Linehan’s dialectical behavioral therapy for borderline personality disorder, yoga, and even martial arts all have common threads of hope for increased health and aim to focus on the present moment and our experiences in it. This is described by some as mindfulness.

In addition, recent research in neuroscience suggests that focusing our senses in the present moment while using frontal lobe function ( executive planning, impulse control, “playing the tape through” to see if the outcome is something we would like ) places us in the best position to be resilient in life. These functions also mitigate the impact of dopamine which research also suggests contributes to impulsive, compulsive, or abusive behaviors ( eating disorders, gambling, substance use problems, addiction to gaming, ect). While some dopamine can be a positive thing, we have found that it’s sustained-release augments  frontal lobe slowdown which can manifest as impulsivity, and activities and thoughts frequently seen with addiction, anxiety, depression, and adhd. 

Dr. Davenport works at Charles R Davenport Psy.D. LLC with offices in Venice in Sarasota Florida providing counseling and therapy services for adults and children struggling the situations similar to the ones discussed here.

Check out this recent article on how meditation may protect the brain from aging.

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