Nearly everyone has an irrational fear of something. Many fears, such as heights, spiders and snakes, have been hard-wired through evolution. Avoiding these things was good for survival. However, nowadays we also encounter modern phobias, such as, the fear of syringes and flying in an aeroplane.
What does 2016 hold in store for you? For many of us, we have some things we would like to do much more, and some things we’d like to do a lot less. So, maybe we would like to spend more time with our families, or keeping fit. Or on the other hand we’d like to be watching less TV, drinking more moderately, or to stop being so crazily busy.
Sadly, knowing what you want out of life is no guarantee that this is how it will be. There is often a mismatch between what we would like our lives to be like, compared to how our lives actually pan out.
Like our lives in general, Christmas has dramatically changed over the years. The great majority of us have lives that centuries ago would have been on a par with royalty! On a material level we have an abundance of food, warmth, clothes, electronics, and so on. Does this make us happier? Unfortunately, our expectations of what we should have has also risen and this can undermine our enjoyment of life. Some psychologists have described this as the ‘abundance paradox’.
As Christmas approaches, we are reminded that not only is it a time for family and giving, but it is also a time when many people may feel a sense of isolation and loneliness. The John Lewis ad tugs at our heart-strings with the story of a young girl sending a message to a lonely old man on the moon. The ad’s strapline, “Show someone they are loved this Christmas”, dovetails well with Age UK’s seasonal message that, “No-one should have no-one this Christmas”.
Mindfulness has been shown to increase our resilience to stress and it can be an effective treatment for depression. So, what is it all about? It sounds mysterious but it is, in fact, very simple. Basically, it involves becoming quiet and focusing on just one thing at a time. You can try the following mindful eating exercise as an example. You just sit down at a table, switch off the TV, and slowly focus on the experience of tasting, smelling and eating a small meal.
Around 6,000 people in Cornwall will have a fairly severe type of anxiety called panic disorder. What is panic disorder? Imagine for a moment, if you can, that it is possible that you will have an experience of utter dread and fear whenever you venture far from the house. Furthermore, you believe that, if this happens to you, then you will need to escape as fast as you can and flee to the safety of your home.
As Dr Phil is fond of saying, “Life is not the pizza man – it doesn’t deliver”. We all know that we get out of life what we put into it. If you want to improve your physical and mental well-being you might want to explore the following steps.
Every one of us is a ‘work in progress’. We move slowly but surely through our lives and change is inevitable. Without doubt some people seem to have a better handle on the direction they are going in, and their life changes for the better. However, others get stuck in the daily grind and their life stutters and stalls. Unfortunately, the life these people have is probably not the one they would have hoped for.
The brain is a truly wonderful organ. However, sometimes it can over-do things. Due to the need to survive it can be a little over-zealous in predicting possible dangers. This is what happens when we worry too much.
Another aspect of our brain is its ability to weigh up things and make judgements. However, this automatic functioning of the brain is both a blessing and a curse. To see it in action look around the things around you right now. Is there one thing that your brain can’t criticise in some way and think of a way it could be improved?
No-one is surprised to hear that modern living seems to be increasing our rate of stress and depression. Many people point to the relentless pace of life and the constant bombardment of information. We also stress ourselves by comparing ourselves with one another.