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2016

The Many Benefits of Being in Nature

The Many Benefits of Being in Nature

By: Dr. Lisa Linardatos, Clinical Psychologist
Photos: Sarah Glaser and Lisa Linardatos

I never really articulated my love of nature until relatively recently. I didn’t grow up participating in many organized outdoor activities, and I never considered myself a particularly “outdoorsy” person. I knew when I moved from my rural hometown to the city I missed being able to see the milky way on a summer night, but the diversity and excitement afforded by a big city mostly overshadowed that loss. As I get older though, I find myself more and more drawn to nature, and when I take the time to appreciate it, it feels like a gift. I delight in it.

Inevitably, as a psychologist, I became curious about how being in nature affects people. As a researcher, I did not want to talk about the benefits of nature to my clients unless I felt there was adequate data to support such claims. Sure enough, as I describe below, being in nature not only positively affects our physical and mental health, but the benefits likely reach beyond the individual and have broader environmental and societal implications. Moreover, therapy is unfortunately inaccessible to many given its cost and long waiting lists. I also find therapy somewhat limiting in its usual format of weekly, one-hour sessions, so I’m always on the look-out for how clients can change their everyday environments to improve their mental health, and being in nature is one way to do so. Being in nature is a relatively simple and accessible way to better our well-being and mental health, and in giving it a try we have little to lose.

How is being in nature helpful for us?

Physical Health

I think many of us intuitively know that being in nature is helpful, but what does the science say about how it helps us? In terms of physical health, studies have linked exposure to nature to decreased diseases and a longer life span. Researchers Jolanda Maas and colleagues did a study where they looked at the medical records of 345143 people living in the Netherlands, and found that people living within a one-kilometre radius of a green space were less likely to suffer from various diseases including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory disease, and neurological disease, as well as other health problems such as diabetes, migraines, asthma, and urinary tract infections (1). Also, at least one study has shown that living near green space is associated with living longer, even if people didn’t use the green space, and possibly has the most benefits for lower income individuals (2).

Mental Health and Cognitive Functioning

In addition to the slew of evidence linking exposure to nature and physical health, much research has found a link between nature and mental health. People living within a one-kilometre radius of green space experienced less anxiety and depression (1). Even just a short walk can affect our thoughts and feelings. For example, in a study done around Stanford, California, 60 participants were randomly assigned to a 50-minute walk either in a natural setting or an urban environment. Those who did the nature walk reported less anxiety, rumination, and negative mood and they were more likely to hang on to their positive mood (3). Similarly, a survey done on of over 10000 people in England has linked living in urban areas with more green space to greater life satisfaction (4).

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."      
Henri Matisse

Our brains also seem to perform better when we’re exposed to nature. Our working memory is better, and we score higher on tasks that require concentration and “directed attention” (focussing on one specific thing while inhibiting distractions) (5).  Even children with ADHD concentrated better after a 20-minute walk in the park vs. a walk through the city centre or a walk through a neighbourhood (6).

Social and Environmental

There is an abundance of research showing that social support, social cohesion (i.e., shared norms and values and a sense of belonging and feeling accepted by one’s group), and a sense of community are beneficial for mental health (7). Common green spaces have been found to facilitate social contact, and could thereby increase a sense of community (8). That is, if you’re living in a neighbourhood where there’s a park, or an apartment building that has a shared garden or courtyard, you are more likely to have informal social contact with your neighbours. Some health professionals and local residents in London are capitalizing on the therapeutic benefits of gardening, and have created a network of food-growing gardens in various health care and hospital settings, where patients learn how to grow food that is then used to feed the hospital patients. As discussed in the article (check it out here), gardening can be used as way to reduce social isolation, not to mention depression, anxiety, stress, and disease, and may even increase the well-being of patients with dementia.

Being in nature might also make us nicer to others and nicer to the environment. In one study, people who watched a nature video were more cooperative and indicated a greater willingness to engage in environmentally sustainable behaviours compared to people who watched a video on architecture (9). And people who are exposed to nature vs. man-made environments reported valuing community and close relationships more and were more generous with their money (10). We also know that being nice to others increases our own positive emotions, such as happiness (11). I love these findings because it shows how far-reaching the benefits of nature can be. That is, exposure to nature seems to benefit us on a personal level, but also has environmental and societal benefits.

Spirituality and Connectedness

Many people also find that being in nature is a spiritual experience, and can facilitate the feeling of being connected to something greater, thereby decreasing feelings of loneliness. Feelings of awe, which is often elicited during exposure to nature (12), have been linked to an expanded perception of time and a greater wiliness to volunteer one’s time to help others (13). Awe-inspiring moments can also help us keep things in perspective, allowing us to feel like our problems are relatively small and fostering the belief that we can cope. For a dose of “awe”, check out the time lapse video below taken from one of Spain’s highest mountain.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."    
John Muir

Being in nature also provides a great opportunity to practice mindfulness, a particular state of present-moment, sensory awareness linked to lots of positive mental and physical health benefits. Check out my colleague Natsumi’s blog post for more on mindfulness: Mindfulness: An Introductory Guide. And here’s a summary of research on mindfulness.

Fun tip: To learn more about my natural surroundings and to facilitate mindful moments, I bought this fun and easy-to-use field guide, Small Adventures Journal. It makes you feel like a kid again!

Why is being in nature beneficial?

What is it about nature that is beneficial for our well-being and health? One theory is based on the idea that in urban settings, we have more social stress, and this frequent processing of social stress may put us at risk for mental health issues (14). For example, it’s probable that in an urban setting we more often experience what is referred to as social evaluative threat - feeling judged and negatively evaluated by others – than in a rural setting.

Attention Restoration Theory (ART), on the other hand, suggests that urban environments cause mental fatigue as we’re often having to control where we direct our attention and filter out irrelevant information (15, 16). According to ART, natural environments and nature scenes (think sunsets, butterflies, and streams) are not overly demanding and easily engage our attention, and promote a sense of “fascination” and “being away” (15), thereby allowing us to rest our attentional resources.

Another theory, the Stress Reduction Theory (SRT), suggests that being in a natural environment reduces stress by activating our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system responsible for calming us down (17). In support of SRT, studies have shown that viewing photos and videos of nature scenes decrease stress as measured by various physiological indicators, such as heart rate (18), and walking in parks and forests has been shown to reduce cortisol levels (19).

Although more research needs to be done to clarify, for example, how much exposure to nature is needed to make a difference in one’s health, benefits from nature exposure have been found across different mediums (e.g., images, window views, urban parks, rural areas) (5), for a variety of durations of exposure (minutes to hours to days to years) (20) and for a variety of things - mental and physical health, attention, concentration, and working memory (21). One of my favourite articles summarizing some of these findings is from National Geographic: This is Your Brain on Nature (22).

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."       
John Muir

Nature in and around Montreal

As many of us have busy schedules and some of us live in urban settings, it can be difficult to access nature. While writing this blog post, I thought it might be helpful to give readers some ideas of where to find nature in the Montreal area. So, I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations of nature spots in and around Montreal. Many graciously replied and below are their responses. I was delighted to read their responses and hear not just about great nature spots, but how nature fuels the imagination.

  • Parc nature de l'ile de la visitation

  • My daughter and I love Lachine rapids in Verdun. Lots of bird species, plants, trees, water stream changes a lot which is so exciting to watch for kids especially.

  • Parc des Rapides

  • Maybe a classic... But I always love a little excursion in Parc Mont Royal.

  • Morgan Arboretum is nice, and always love iles de boucherville and mont. st. hilaire.

  • Dawson college has an amazing peace garden. It's small but it completely lives up to its name! It is gorgeous! Parc lafontaine is nice and in the fall the botanical garden is magnificent (in a groomed kind of way). The absolute outdoor spot is mont saint-sauveur. I can get lost there for days (or I wish I could hehe)

  • Ps: the Dawson peace garden is a great green oasis in the middle of the concrete of the city.

  • Champ des possibles!

  • Canal walks daily keep me sane!

  • I love walks along the canal - and also love the sweet fairyland alleyways of NDG in the spring and summer.

  • Westmount park, Mont-Royal, Lachine canal, Nuns Island at the path along the water

  • Love this! #naturebath

  • The Stereo's back fire escape has one of the most breathtaking sunrises....

  • This may be a little gauche, but I love the cemeteries on the mountain...all of them. The back of the Mont-Royal cemetery (I think) has that new lookout which no one goes to and in the summer the smell of hot wildflowers is intoxicating. And all of the "secret" off-road trails on the mountain.

  • I love to get under the weeping willows at Parc Jarry. If there's people around, I use their trunks as "support for stretches"...but really I just want to pet them and be in contact with them! I will also give a love tap to massive old trees that are slowly uprooting the sidewalk in places. It's fun to just pause and look up up up from the bottom of the trunk and breathe it all in.

  • Oh! Actually, I think I also love the contrast here in Montreal. Like the tiny urban parks or even the cedar hedges in my backyard. Sometimes I feel like the proximity to streets/cars/city-ness makes me really appreciate the green even more. Like the front of our house is on a big-ish street, but when I get to the ruelle out back, I like to pretend that I've transitioned to our cottage.

  • Les îles de Boucherville are super pretty, the Botanical Gardens are lovely, Mont St Bruno parc for a child friendly hike, any of the state parks especially when the fall colours are here...

For more suggestions on how to get to know nature, check out these 10 tips from David Suzuki. You can also learn more about his 30 x 30 nature challenge (30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days) here. Montrealers also have the opening of this “secret garden” to look forward to.

Last but not least, for some added inspiration, check out this audio clip of birds singing recently recorded from a balcony in the heart of Montreal.


Lisa Linardatos is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


References

1. Maas, J., Verheij, R. A., de Vries, S., Spreeuwenberg, P., Schellevis, F. G., & Groenewegen, P. P. (2009). Morbidity is related to a green living environment. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 63(12), 967-973.

2. Mitchell, R., & Popham, F. (2008). Effect of exposure to natural environment on health inequalities: an observational population study. The Lancet, 372(9650), 1655-1660.

3. Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 138, 41-50.

4. White, M. P., Alcock, I., Wheeler, B. W., & Depledge, M. H. (2013). Would you be happier living in a greener urban area? A fixed-effects analysis of panel data. Psychological science.

5. Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19(12), 1207–1212. 

6. Taylor, A. F., & Kuo, F. E. (2009). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. Journal of attention disorders,12(5), 402-409.

7. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med, 7(7).

8. Kuo, F. E., Sullivan, W. C., Coley, R. L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(6), 823-851.

9. Zelenski, John M., Raelyne L. Dopko, and Colin A. Capaldi. Cooperation is in our nature: Nature exposure may promote cooperative and environmentally sustainable behavior. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42 (2015): 24-31.

10. Weinstein, N., Przybylski, A. K., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Can nature make us more caring? Effects of immersion in nature on intrinsic aspirations and generosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(10), 1315-1329.

11. Nelson, S. K., Layous, K., Cole, S. W., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2016). Do Unto Others or Treat Yourself? The Effects of Prosocial and Self-Focused Behavior on Psychological Flourishing.

12. Shiota, M.N., Keltner, D., & Mossman, A. (2007). The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 944-963.

13. Rudd, M., Vohs, K. D., & Aaker, J. (2012). Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being. Psychological science, 23(10), 1130-1136.

14. Lederbogen, F., Kirsch, P., Haddad, L., Streit, F., Tost, H., Schuch, P., ... & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2011). City living and urban upbringing affect neural social stress processing in humans. Nature, 474(7352), 498-501.

15. Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.

16. Kaplan, R. & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. New York: Cambridge.

17. Ulrich, R. S. (1981). Natural versus urban scenes some psychophysiological effects. Environment and behavior, 13(5), 523-556.

18. Gladwell, V. F., Brown, D. K., Barton, J. L., Tarvainen, M. P., Kuoppa, P., Pretty, J., et al. (2012). The effects of views of nature on autonomic control. European Journal ofApplied Physiology, 112(9), 3379–3386.

19. Tyrväinen, L., Ojala, A., Korpela, K., Lanki, T., Tsunetsugu, Y., & Kagawa, T. (2014). The influence of urban green environments on stress relief measures: A field experiment. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 38, 1–9.

20. Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G. C. (2012). The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1249, 118–136.

21. Hartig, T., Mitchell, R., De Vries, S., & Frumkin, H. (2014). Nature and health.Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 207-228.

22. Williams, F. (2016, January). This is Your Brain on Nature. National geographic, 48-67.

Ten things I tell my clients about weight loss…  with compassion and hope.

Ten things I tell my clients about weight loss… with compassion and hope.

With the recent buzz about weight loss after the NY times article about Biggest Loser contestants regaining their weight I took out this long overdue draft of a blog post and decided to buckle down and get it done. For those of you who have not read the Times article, in a quick synopsis it relays research being done on weight loss that shows that the vast majority of people who lose weight put it back on and that this is not an effect of willpower but of a combination of metabolism, hormones and food cravings. Essentially, the body puts in place a combination of factors that encourage you to put back on the weight and if you want to keep it off you’ll be working against these on a daily basis. This is very important for people to understand as it explains why it is so hard to maintain weight loss and counters the naïve notion that it is due to weak willpower. On the other hand, it is sad because it means that many people cannot maintain a weight that they want. So, as a psychologist specialized in eating, here is what I tell my clients who are living with obesity and want to lose weight:

1) Manage expectations. I know this is hard, very hard. I see it over and over again as the number one factor that contributes to giving up: Disappointment with results and feelings of failure when people are doing the very best that they can and not getting the results that they want. It’s true that most people who lose weight end up putting the weight back on. But, studies suggest that through behavioural modification, which focuses on teaching skills to help identify and modify eating and activity behaviors, people can lose and maintain a weight loss of about 5-10% of their original body weight. This requires persistent effort and can have significant health benefits (Wing & Phelan, 2005). And findings might be more hopeful than this as suggested by the American National Weight Control Registry in which over 10,000 people have lost an average of 33 kg and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. The biggest misconception about weight loss is that it should be do-able to reach an “ideal weight” according to BMI charts and that it’s your fault that it’s not working. This leads to guilt, shame, and ineffective behavioral measures that yo-yo between rigid over-control and giving up. It has a devastating impact on people’s self-worth, and can make strong, hard working, resilient, and smart people believe that they are a failure solely because of their weight. So, if you are living with obesity and want to lose weight the Canadian Obesity Network suggests focusing on attaining your “best weight”, which is whatever weight you achieve through healthy lifestyle changes. So, instead of buying into diet ads that say it should be easy to reach an ideal weight, look at this as something challenging that you can do if you figure out how to make it work for you, prioritize yourself and accept realistic outcomes. People do it and they practice every day to maintain it.

2) Find your internal motivation. The number on the scale is not a good motivator. It is an external reward like money, which will not sustain motivation on a daily basis. Sustained motivation comes from something more personal than an external reward (Koestner, 2008). The two types of internal motivation we are looking for are intrinsic motivation and integrated motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when you do something out of pure fun or pleasure. If you can tap into some things that help you and are intrinsically rewarding YES! Do that. For example, some people learn to really love cooking, others find out they love playing squash, some find they enjoy writing about food in their blog. However, this will not likely be the only thing that will carry you through because some things will not be pleasurable (like eating salad when others are eating fries or going to the gym at 6am on a cold winter morning), so as important or more than intrinsic motivation is integrated motivation which is WHY is this important to me? What personal value does this uphold or strengthen? Why are healthy eating, exercise, self-regulation, planning, cooking, and grocery shopping important to me on a daily basis? For example, because it is important for me to play outside with my children, travel and explore new places, learn new things and challenge myself, be a good role model for my daughter, etc. If you can find this reason or these reasons the daily changes you are making will feel less effortful. When it gets hard and you feel like giving in to temptation or making excuses or giving up entirely you will know why you WANT to keep going with this lifestyle. At these moments, because I SHOULD is not enough. At these moments you need to know why you WANT to, why this is so important to YOU.

3) Plan ahead and write down your plans. There is ample evidence to suggest that if we can write down a plan for HOW we will reach our goals we will have a significantly greater likelihood of success (Gollwitzer, 1999). Iron out your daily systems rather than focusing on your long-term goals. “I want to lose weight” will do nothing for you, except for maybe a few days, weeks or sometimes months of deprivation riding on sheer willpower. But, it will not last. The key is to invest in creating daily routines that will require less effort once they have become habits. It is an accumulation of different daily habits that will make things change. So, instead of focusing on losing weight focus on setting up a healthy daily habit like walking a certain number of steps per day or bringing a healthy lunch to work. Don’t try to break a bad habit like no more croissants for breakfast because bad habits don’t really go away (for more on habits read the Power of Habit) but we can replace bad habits with new habits that we want to have. So, if breakfast is a trigger for having a croissant, turn breakfast into a trigger for having something healthier like a poached egg and avocado on a piece of whole wheat toast with a side of fruit & cottage cheese. The good thing is that the more we do these new habits the more they will become automatic and eventually stronger than old habits. Start with one change at a time and when you feel like you’ve nailed one down (let’s say after a week of repeated practice) then move to another change in your system.

4) Plan for things that will upset your system. Because there will be things that upset your system and you will need to know what you will do to stay on track. We call these If, Then plans. For example, IF on the weekend it is harder to exercise at the gym because my young kids are at home, THEN instead of going to the gym those days I will go biking with my family or cross-country skiing or simply take a long walk along the path. I cannot emphasize how important planning is. You will not always follow your plan and this is normal and ok, but those experiences when you go off track or something comes up to upset things should be treated as learning experiences rather than evidence of failure. These experiences are the most important ones in helping us grow and achieve success. We need to adopt what researcher and professor Carol Dweck has labeled a growth mindset that rewards effort, strategy & progress, rather than a fixed mindset, which leads to thoughts like “I’ve either got it or I don’t”. So, each off-track moment is an opportunity to reflect, learn, ameliorate and create another If, Then plan.

5) Set up your environment to help you. Seriously, you have to do this. We live in a toxic environment when it comes to food and physical activity (Wadden, Brownell, & Foster, 2002). There are triggers for eating high calorie foods everywhere and the more you eat those high calorie foods the more sensitive you are to all the triggers around you. The other day one of my clients told me all the restaurants around my office in a few blocks radius. Not necessarily because she had been to them but because in parking and walking here so many times her brain picked up on all the cues for food. Another friend of mine could probably name all of the clothing stores around my office because she shops a lot and that is what her brain will pick up on. My husband sees a Starbucks everywhere we go and I spot the wine bars from a mile away :) Realize that if you have the habit of buying food, or eating certain foods you are more vulnerable to the triggers all around you and unfortunately there are a lot! A toxic amount. So, it is in your best interest to protect yourself at least for a good long while until your brain sees things a bit differently (and even then to some extent since habits die hard). So, set up your environment to eliminate cues for eating that will be tempting. For example, if you make cookies plan how many you will eat yourself beforehand, how many will go to your children and husband and then give the rest away. Do not keep them sitting out on the counter. If you have leftover pizza put it in the fridge in the basement out of your sight. Your family can walk downstairs to get it tomorrow. If you are going to a restaurant and there will be an abundance of choice go online to check the menu and make your choice ahead of time. You can even tell the waiter you don’t want a menu when you get to the restaurant. There are also ways to avoid physical activity all around us, escalators, cars, elevators, etc. so it is helpful to set up ways to ensure we get our physical exercise. One of my favorite ones is to make a plan with a friend or join a league of some sorts so that you have a commitment. Another good one I use personally is to ensure I have no car present at work so that I have to walk or run home. Get creative and find out what’s going to work for you. 

6) Figure out how to deal with the feeling that this is not fair. It may seem to you that this is unfair and you may feel restricted. If this is the case these are normal feelings to have. It is unfair, because some others don’t have to put as much effort into eating as you and appear to eat what they want when they want (that may or may not be true) but in all honesty if you are living with obesity and are losing weight or maintaining weight loss yes you will be putting in more effort, self-awareness and possibly eating less treats than those who never had a weight problem. It may help to know you are not alone in this and that others are faced with this same challenge. It may help to hear from someone else who is doing the same thing as you, and maintaining weight loss. It may also help to remember that other people who do not have the same challenges with weight have their own challenges (likely ones you don’t have) because we all have our own challenges. It will help to remember why you are doing this – your personal reason and to turn that feeling of “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” into “I am doing this because…” and remember that all this planning and safeguarding your environment is in this aim and a self-compassionate act to keep you safe, in line with what’s important to you and helpful for you. 

7) Prioritize effectiveness over fear of judgment. We do not pursue our goals in a vacuum. You most likely cannot lose weight and keep this to yourself. You will need to take the risk and tell some people for the sake of effectiveness. One of the big barriers I see with people is that they don’t want people to know they are trying to eat healthier because they are scared that people will judge them if they don’t lose weight – which is absolutely understandable. I think the most unfair thing about this challenge is that everyone can see it as opposed to a different challenge, that people cannot see as evidently. But, it is indeed a reality and so it takes a lot of courage to come out and say, “I’m eating healthier”. Yes, you leave yourself open to judgment if you don’t change physically but the fact is you will likely do much better if you use social support to your benefit. Jane McGonigal, author of the book Super Better (described more below) calls it recruiting allies. For example, at a dinner party you will likely be too vulnerable if you do not know what is coming out ahead of time so it is in your best interest to call the host ahead of time and ask her what will be on the menu. I had a client recently who told me she kept thinking it was the last course so she kept treating each one like it was her main meal. Sometimes if there are no healthy options it is in your best interest to bring something with you that you can add to the dinner party (e.g. a healthy quinoa, vegetable, or chicken dish). And it is often in your best interest to ask for help or accept help from other people. For example, one of my clients has a partner in her lunch group and they remind each other each day of something important for them (e.g., take your time when eating). Another one of my friends started a group with his friends in the morning to do physical activity before work. People who care about you likely want to be helpful but may not know how, so tell them how to help. For example, if they are nagging you about something or making you feel guilty tell them that this is not helpful. If they want to be helpful you will let them know how they can best do this when the time comes (if you want to put it off or just get them to back off) or tell them right away what they could do to help (e.g., cook that dish you love once a week and freeze a batch of it). If someone seems to really be sabotaging you or does not want you to succeed this can be very difficult – you will have to either address this with them or create a separation from this person. 

8) Get creative. This is not a one rule fits all process by any means. It is a personal journey. And it is not something that has to be a terrible struggle every day. In his response to the NY Times article about the Biggest Loser Dr. Yoni Freedhoff says, “Liking the life you're living while you're losing weight is the key to keeping it off”. There will undoubtedly be moments of struggle but don’t go into this thinking everything is inevitably a struggle. Yes, it requires sustained effort and self-awareness but get playful and creative. Find ways to enjoy your new systems. Find ways to make things that are difficult into fun challenges. Adopt a playful, game mindset about things. For example, check out Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter website about adopting a gameful mindset. She has you think of things as challenges (like in a sport or game) rather than chores and turns things like drinking water into Power-Ups so that you feel like you’re gaining power each time you do something good for yourself. I also think you can add value to things by pairing up something you don’t necessarily like or want to do with something that is internally motivating, so either something you enjoy or something that is important to you. For example, one of my clients loves podcasts so she pairs up her walk to work in the morning with a podcast episode. We call this a 2-in-1. Elizabeth Gilbert describes this (in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear) as developing your trickster mindset. Find a creative way to get something done in a way that will be more fun, and more motivating.

9) Develop self-compassion and acceptance. If your daily system is pretty good, you’re still learning and tweaking but you are pretty much incorporating the most important elements for weight loss (eating healthy and being active) you may want to learn to accept that this weight is your best weight. This is a long post in and unto itself so I won’t go into too many details about self-acceptance. I will instead direct you to a post on learning to love your body more by Lisa Linardatos (part 1 & part 2). I will say briefly that body acceptance is a process that involves developing compassion, appreciation and gratitude towards your body. Some practices that may be helpful include mindfulness and yoga. Now, if your daily system is in place and you have persistent health problems that would warrant further weight loss, please consult a trained professional in obesity management (dietitian, psychologist, medical doctor) to look over your system to see if there are any ways you can change it further (in a realistic and not life-ruining way). You may be able to improve your system by improving your sleep and better managing your stress. For people with severe obesity or significant obesity related health problems you may also consider bariatric surgery. Adding surgery to behavioral modification can help people lose significantly more weight. If surgery is appropriate for you it is something to consider very carefully, educate yourself about thoroughly, weigh the pros and cons, and talk with family members and friends about. It is by no means a magic weight loss pill, but it is a helpful tool as it works on the biological aspects that you have limited control over such as appetite and cravings. For more on bariatric surgery see Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes “Why I Support Bariatric Surgery” and “Why Bariatric Surgery Can Fail”.

10) Make it part of your identity. The people I know who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off have something in common, their daily system is a big part of their identity. They have become a healthy cook, an avid exerciser, an active grandmother, a mountain climber, a food blogger etc. You will not be this at first but you must believe that you can become this and act as if along the way. Too many people I see continue to say things like “I have such a sweet tooth”, “You know me, I can’t resist chocolate”, “Don’t put those in front of me you know I’ll eat them all”. We develop these types of self-deprecating dialogue as a means of self-protection: I’ll call myself out on it before other people can. But, the problem is two-fold: 1) we believe what we say to people and, 2) it gives us an easy out when things get tough. In order to be effective it helps to talk and act as if we are the change that we want to make in ourselves. So, when someone at the table says, “Anyone know any healthy recipes?” YES in fact you do, you know lots of them so share this. When someone talks about a new cross-country skiing club with friends YES in fact you do cross-country ski and are looking for some buddies to do this with. When your grandkids ask you to play soccer with them (even if you play goalie for now) YES you are interested in doing this with them. Leave the dishes for later and go play because that’s who you are (or who you are becoming). Acting as if we are the change that we want to make in our life will lead us to be that way, whether it’s sporty, healthy, an avid reader, a good cook etc. Changing your systems in a way that will result in being healthier is a challenge that takes daily, sustained awareness, effort, planning, creativity, and support so you will need to integrate this change into your person. You are not helping yourself saying and believing that you are “lazy”, “cannot resist temptation”, “don’t like exercise” etc. Act as if and you will come to believe. And remember all the times you have made changes in your life before and have come to be the person you are today! 

Let’s all band together and stop judging people based on their weight. It would make it much easier for people who are actively trying to lose weight or maintain their best weight to persist in their efforts if they were supported rather than judged. Shaming is never a helpful motivator for behavior change, so please, if you are shaming yourself based on your weight try a more compassionate attitude towards yourself and if you are shaming others based on their weight try to educate yourself about obesity and support all individuals, all shapes and sizes, in their attempts to live a healthy, balanced, enjoyable lifestyle.


Jodie Richardson is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


References & Resources

Read the New York Times article by Gina Kolata: After the “Biggest Loser”, Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.

Read this piece by Dr. Yoni Fredhoff, MD and obesity expert to learn more about managing expectations and successful weight loss: I’m an obesity doctor. I’ve seen long-term weight loss work. Here’s how. Vox Media. 

Wing R. R. & Phelan S. (2005). Long-term weight loss maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82, 222S-225S.

Also listen to: Public Webinar #1: Why Obesity is a Chronic Disease (Feb. 2016) by Dr. Arya M Sharma.

Koestner, R. (2008). Reaching One’s Personal Goals: A Motivational Perspective Focused on Autonomy. Canadian Psychology, 49(1), 60-67. 

Listen to Connecte’s podcast episode with Professor Richard Koestner: The Why, How and With Whom of Goal Pursuit.

Gollwitzer, P.M. (1999). Implementation Plans: Strong Effects of Simple Plans. American Psychologist, 54 (7), 493-503.

Also check out James Clear’s website about behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement. Read his free guide on Transforming Habits.  

Wadden, T.A., Brownell, K.D., Foster, G.D. (2002). Obesity: Responding to the Global Epidemic. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70 (3), 510–525.

Also visit the website of the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.

Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset', by Carol Dweck. Published online September 22, 2015.

Go explore Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter website and read her book Super Better.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Qu’est-ce que la douleur chronique?

Qu’est-ce que la douleur chronique?

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« J’ai mal au dos ! » Bon nombre de gens, moi y compris, se plaignent d’une telle douleur. Pour certains, il s’agit d’un inconfort temporaire que l’on désigne comme étant une douleur aiguë. Celle-ci peut être causée par une blessure, une chirurgie ou un faux mouvement. Dans ces cas-ci, il est possible de s’adapter et de composer avec en sachant que cette douleur ne persistera pas. Toutefois, lorsque cette douleur s’échelonne sur une plus longue période (trois mois et plus) ou qu’elle se présente à maintes reprises, il s’agit d’une douleur chronique.

Bien que 20 % de la population canadienne souffre de douleur chronique et que le quart de celle-ci en souffre à un point tel que les activités habituelles quotidiennes sont perturbées, elle demeure méconnue et souvent sous-estimée (Rivard et Gingras, 2012). Dans le livre, « La douleur. De la Souffrance aux mieux-être », plusieurs exemples de conséquences socioéconomiques et psychosociales liées à la douleur chronique sont énumérés : visites médicales fréquentes, absentéisme au travail, réduction ou arrêt d’activités, isolement, colère, impuissance, troubles liés au sommeil, anxiété et dépression (Rivard et Gingras, 2012). Tel que défini par l’Association internationale pour l’étude de la douleur : « la douleur est une expérience sensorielle et émotionnelle déplaisante associée au dommage actuel ou potentiel des tissus. La douleur est très personnelle et subjective » (site internet de l’Association Québécoise de la Douleur Chronique, AQDC, 2015).

Cette définition met en lumière deux aspects distincts de la douleur, soit la sensation et la perception. La sensation fait appel à nos sens (la vision, le touché, l’olfaction, la gustation) et les messages de douleur envoyés au cerveau. L’expérience sensorielle permet de dire au docteur qu’il s’agit d’un pincement, d’une sensation de brûlure ou de picotement. La perception réfère à comment on vit l’expérience sensorielle de la douleur. Autrement dit, à quoi pensons-nous lorsque nous frottons nos tempes pour tenter de nous soulager des maux de tête récurrents ? Quelles émotions surgissent lorsqu’on ne peut prendre son enfant dans ses bras en raison d’une douleur lombaire ? Que faisons-nous lorsque nous annulons la journée de ski tant attendue en raison d’une douleur persistante au genou ? Finalement, quelle attitude adoptons-nous lorsqu’on ne connaît pas la cause de la douleur chronique, lorsque les médicaments ne parviennent pas à l’éliminer ou lorsque le médecin nous annonce qu’il n’y a pas de traitement de guérison et que celle-ci repose plutôt dans les mains du patient qui doit gérer sa douleur.

Ces questions sont très importantes car les réponses à celles-ci peuvent influencer l’intensité perçue de la douleur chronique. Ce phénomène peut s’expliquer par la théorie du portillon (Melzack et Wall, 1965). Cette théorie demeure toujours d’actualité malgré son âge ! En somme, elle explique qu’un mécanisme neurologique dans notre moelle épinière agit comme une porte battante en contrôlant l’accès des messages de douleur au cerveau. Plus l’ouverture du portillon est grande, plus l’intensité de la douleur est élevée. Finalement, la gestion de ce portillon repose sur plusieurs facteurs physiques, physiologiques, cognitifs, émotifs et sociaux. Autrement dit, certains facteurs sont hors de notre contrôle MAIS d’autres le sont. Alors mettons l’emphase sur ces derniers!

Parmi les facteurs pouvant être contrôlés, il y a les pensées catastrophiques liées à la douleur chronique pouvant mener à un sentiment d’impuissance ou de désespoir et à un comportement d’inactivité. Plusieurs études ont démontré qu’entretenir des pensées telles que : « Cette douleur est incontrôlable !! », « Je ne pourrai jamais mener une vie normale », « Je ne peux pas bouger car je risque d’avoir mal », génèrent un sentiment d’impuissance et intensifie la perception de la douleur (Vienneau et coll., 1999). Par ailleurs, Dr. Gamsa, psychologue et directrice d’un programme de gestion de la douleur à Montréal, révèle qu’il importe d’aider les individus souffrant de douleur chronique en validant leur souffrance, en ajustant leurs croyances liées à la douleur ainsi qu’en ajustant leurs objectifs personnels (Faire équipe face à la douleur chronique. Un ouvrage conçu pour les patients écrits par leurs professionnels de la santé, p.152).

À cet égard, plusieurs programmes regroupant différentes professions (médecins, anesthésistes, infirmières, psychologues, physiothérapeutes, ergothérapeutes) ont été élaborés pour améliorer la qualité de vie d’individus souffrant de douleur chronique. Un groupe de chercheurs ayant recueilli plusieurs études afin de mesurer l’efficacité des programmes multidisciplinaires pour la douleur chronique ont conclu que ceux-ci étaient efficaces (Scascighini et coll., 2008).    

Voici plusieurs stratégies pouvant améliorer la gestion de la douleur chronique: 

SAVOIR = POUVOIR

Se renseigner sur la douleur chronique est primordial ! Avoir de l’information sur les facteurs et les conséquences de celles-ci peuvent guider nos choix. Il existe plusieurs ressources accessibles à tous :

SORTIR DE L’ISOLEMENT

Évitez de vous isoler et de ruminer sur votre douleur chronique. Parlez-en à un ami, un parent, un psychologue ou un médecin. Il existe des groupes de soutien et une ligne d’écoute. Vous n’êtes pas seul!

Pour les informations groupes de soutien:

  • Association Québécoise de la douleur chronique

514-355-4198° 1-855-230-4198

Ligne d’écoute : 1-855- DOULEUR 

PORTEZ ATTENTION À SON DISCOURS INTÉRIEUR

Prenez le temps d’explorer votre attitude face à votre douleur. Qu’est-ce que vous vous dites ? Que ressentez-vous ? Que faites-vous lorsqu’elle survient ? Il s’agit ici d’une première étape de prise de conscience et celle-ci vous aidera à cheminer vers une meilleure gestion.

EXERCICE DE RESPIRATION

Avoir une pratique d’une respiration profonde pourrait vous aider à gérer l’anxiété liée à la douleur chronique, vous offrir un moment de distraction à la douleur et un moment de détente.

La respiration diaphragmatique est un exercice qui permet de remplir l’air en totalité des poumons en utilisant le bas du ventre plutôt que le thorax. Elle permet de ralentir le rythme de respiration et d’augmenter son amplitude.

Installez-vous confortablement dans un endroit calme et concentrez-vous sur votre respiration sans la modifier. Placez une main sur le thorax et l’autre sur le ventre. Maintenant portez votre attention sur votre main sur le ventre. Inspirez profondément par le nez (3 à 5 secondes) et visualisez votre ventre se gonfler comme un ballon. Ensuite expirez doucement par la bouche (3 à 5 secondes) comme si vous vouliez enfoncer votre nombril le plus loin possible. Répétez l’exercice à plusieurs reprises.

Bonne gestion!


Annélie S. Anestin est une psychologue à la clinique Connecte Groupe de psychologie de Montréal. L’équipe de Connecte aime bien écrire sur les diverses façons d’améliorer notre santé mentale et inclure la psychologie dans notre vie quotidienne. Pour plus de conseils utiles, consultez les blogues de Connecte, les baladodiffusions, suivez-nous sur Instagram @connectepsychology, sur Twitter @ConnecteMTL ou aimez notre page sur Facebook.


Références

Dionne, F. Libérez-vous de la douleur par la méditation et ACT. 2016. Éditions Payot, Québec.

Dufour M., Lamarche J. Apprivoiser la douleur et la souffrance autrement. 2014. Éditiona AdA inc., Québec

Les productions Odon. Faire équipe face à la douleur chronique. Un ouvrage conçu pour les patients écrits par leurs professionnels de la santé. Productions Odon 2010, Québec.

Melzack R, Wall PD. Pain mechanisms: a new theory. Science 1965; 150: 971-9.

Vienneau TL, Clark AJ, Lynch ME, Sullivan MJL. Catastrophizing, functional disability and pain reports in adults with chronic low back pain. Pain Res Manage 1999; 4: 93-96.

Rivard M-J, Gingras D. La douleur. De la Souffrance aux mieux-être. 2012. Éditions Miléna Stojanac

Scascighini L, Toma V, Dober-Spielmann S, Sprott H. Multidisciplinary treatment for chronic pain: a systematic review of interventions and outcomes. Rheumatology 2008; 47: 670-8.

Depression: Techniques to Help Boost Your Mood

Depression: Techniques to Help Boost Your Mood

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For the last two weeks, Nancy has noticed that her mood has been very low, she’s had a much lower appetite, she’s been sleeping a lot more, she’s been feeling worthless, and she’s had a lot of trouble concentrating; these symptoms have really impacted her ability to function at work and they have been causing her a lot of distress. Could she be experiencing depression?

Depression is among the most common psychiatric disorders1. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition2, symptoms of depression can include: depressed mood, getting less pleasure from (or interest in) activities than we used to, gaining or losing weight (without dieting) or having lower/higher appetite, sleeping too much or too little, feeling slowed down or keyed up, feeling more tired or low energy, feeling worthless or intense guilt, having difficulty making decisions or being less able to concentrate/think, and having repeated thoughts of death or suicide (or having a suicide attempt or plan). One does not need to experience all of these symptoms to be diagnosed with depression.

How can we help reduce symptoms of depression? Both our behaviors and our cognitions (thoughts) can have a big impact on our mood. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, clients are encouraged to target both of these aspects in order to help boost their mood:  

1. Behavioral activation3:

 

a. Sleeping: Low mood can contribute to difficulty sleeping (e.g. trouble falling or staying asleep), but difficulty sleeping can also contribute to low mood (ever feel more down when you haven’t gotten enough sleep?). These tips can help improve sleep quality, which can in turn help to improve mood: Sleep Hygiene.

b. Eating: Low mood can contribute to changes in appetite and to poorer eating habits, but poorer eating habits can also contribute to low mood (ever feel more down or irritable when you’ve skipped a meal?). Eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day at regular intervals can help to reduce hunger-related declines in energy and mood.

 

c. Exercising: Sometimes people who feel depressed may feel slowed down or low energy and may be quite sedentary. However, being sedentary can also contribute to low mood. Exercising can help to boost mood4. If you’re currently very sedentary, consider starting with a walk around the block and gradually building from there. Choosing a physical activity that you like (or at least one that you don’t dislike) can help motivate you.

 

d. Socializing: Low mood can contribute to social withdrawal/isolation (we might not feel like attending a big party when we are feeling down). However, spending too much time alone with our negative thoughts can have a negative effect on our mood. Meeting a friend to talk on a regular basis can provide some much-needed social support. 

Doing pleasurable activities each day can also help to improve mood. Not sure what you might like to do? Check out this Fun Activities Catalogue to get some ideas.

2. Cognitive restructuring:

Imagine that a man named John asked a woman out on a date and she declined. In the first scenario, he thought to himself “I’m such a loser. No girl will ever go out with me”. In the second scenario, he thought: “Well that’s disappointing. Maybe she’s not looking to date right now”.

John is likely to feel a lot more down following the first interpretation than the second one, even though the situation was identical in both cases. The point is that the way we interpret/think about a situation can have a big impact on how we feel as a result of the situation.

Here is how you can start to challenge your negative thoughts about a situation: When you notice yourself feeling a negative emotion (sad, mad and/or nervous), write down a brief description of the objective situation that took place before you started to feel this way, rate the intensity of your negative emotions, and identify the negative thoughts that arose in the situation.

Next, examine these thoughts to identify whether you fell into certain cognitive traps (i.e. negative thought patterns), like jumping to conclusions or black & white thinking, which can contribute to the intensity of negative emotions. Check out this handout, Unhelpful Thinking Styles, for a description of cognitive traps.  

Then challenge those thoughts with examples/evidence showing that your negative thoughts are not always true. It can be difficult to challenge your negative thoughts, especially if they have gotten a lot of repetition over the years. Since we tend to be much more compassionate towards other people than we are to ourselves, it can be helpful to ask yourself: ‘if someone I love were in this same situation and had the same negative thoughts as me’…

·      ‘…would I judge them as harshly as I’m judging myself?’ Often the answer is no, highlighting the harsh double-standard that we apply when it comes to ourselves. If you wouldn’t judge someone else as harshly even if they were in the same situation, then it isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense to do this to yourself.

·      ‘…what would I say to them?’ You might consider extenuating circumstances that played a role, think of other times that the person has been successful, and realize that the person’s overall success/value is not defined solely by this one situation. And then apply this same reasoning to yourself.

Next, try to arrive at a more balanced interpretation of the situation. So in John’s case, it might sound something like this:

Getting turned down definitely does suck. At the same time, I don’t know any guy who has never gotten rejected at some point - it’s a normal part of dating life. Plus, I’ve gotten turned down before, so I know from experience that I’ll get over it eventually. I’ve also had some meaningful relationships in the past so I know that there are some things about me that women find appealing and that I will likely be able to have other meaningful relationships in the future.

Then re-rate the intensity of your negative emotions. Did the intensity of your negative emotions go down?  

Conclusions

It won’t be easy, and these guidelines won’t be a quick-fix, but consistently and persistently practicing behavioral activation and cognitive restructuring can be a good start towards helping to reduce the intensity of negative emotions.

That being said, overcoming depression can be challenging. Although the tips listed above can be of some help, they may not be enough and it can be a very good idea to seek the help of a health professional. And remember, if you’re feeling hesitant about getting help, just think of what you would tell a loved one in the same situation. 


Simcha Samuel is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


References

  1. Haddad, M., Menchetti, M., McKeown, E., Tylee, A., & Mann, A. (2015). The development and psychometric properties of a measure of clinicians’ attitudes to depression: The revised Depression Attitude Questionnaire (R-DAQ). BMC Psychiatry, 15: 7. DOI: 10.1186/s12888-014-0381-x

  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

  3. Mazzucchelli, T., Kane, R., & Rees, C. (2009). Behavioral Activation Treatments for Depression in Adults: A Meta-analysis and Review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 16, 383–411.

  4. Carek, P. J., Laibstain, S. E., & Carek, S. M. (2011). Exercise for the treatment of depression and anxiety. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 41, 15-28.

Want to maximize your potential? Get happier!

Want to maximize your potential? Get happier!

A common misconception in our society is that success leads to happiness. It's not uncommon to hear people make comments such as: “If I was able to get that promotion, things would be perfect”, or “Things will be great when I finish school and get that job”, “If I could just lose 10 pounds, I’d be happy” or a line I heard a lot in grad school “I’ll be happy when I finally finish this thesis and get it defended” (OK, I admit, I was guilty of this one a few years back!). The problem with making our happiness conditional on achieving these types of goals is that once we reach the goal, we replace is with something else so it becomes a vicious chase (not to mention we are unlikely to enjoy the process!).

In his book, the Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor (2010) does an amazing job of summarizing years of research in the area of positive psychology that proves that this idea that success leads to happiness is just not true. In fact, the research demonstrates the contrary: happiness and a more positive attitude actually breed success (Lyubormirsky, King, Diener, 2005)! “When we are happy - when our mindset and mood are positive - we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful” (Achor, p.37) Seven principles are outlined in the book on how to increase our happiness, satisfaction and ultimately our performance and success. So, what can we do to be happier and more positive in our day-to-day lives? Research has demonstrated that we have more control over our emotional well being than it was believed in the past (Lyubormirsky, Sheldon & Schade, 2005), so here are some ideas taken from Achor’s Happiness Advantage -- a few things to try!

Meditation

We are hearing more and more about the benefits of mediation in the media and it is becoming more and more popular. Achor suggests that just 5 minutes a day of mindful breathing can be helpful and that it is one of the best tools to increase our happiness. Studies have shown that a regular mediation practice increases happiness and lowers stress (Shapiro, Schwartz & Santerre, 2005). If the idea of starting a meditation practice sounds intimidating, there are many great apps (ex. Headspace) that can help, so why not give it a try?!

Exercise

We’ve all heard that exercise releases endorphins which are feel good chemicals, but Achor points out that exercise can also help us feel more motivated and decrease levels of stress. Try to get moving doing something you enjoy, and why not invite a friend to join you? (Achor also stresses the benefits of strong social relationships on our mood).

Plan ahead

Sometimes the anticipation of an event is often a source of great pleasure. Achor suggests making a conscious effort to plan things we enjoy in advance and then reminding ourselves about the upcoming event for a quick mood boost. Studies have found that just thinking about something you’re looking forward to can increase levels of endorphins; also know as “feel good” hormones. A great excuse to book a vacation in advance!

Create a positive environment

Our physical environment has a big impact on our mood. Try getting out during your day for a short walk and a breath of fresh air, place a photo from a family vacation you enjoyed in your office, or bring some fresh flowers from your garden to work.

Acts of kindness

Research has demonstrated that people who engage in acts of kindness report feeling happier (Post, 2005; Lyubomirsky, 2007). Achor suggests trying to make a conscious effort to engage in random acts of kindness for a quick mood boost. Why not do something thoughtful for a colleague or a friend today (send a kind email to a colleague or friend, treat someone to coffee)? A cute example taken from author Jane McGonigal’s book “Superbetter”: Text a friend asking them how their day is going on a scale of 1-10. Then ask them how you can bring their day up a few notches, for example from a 3 to a 5 or a 7 to a 9.

Mind your spending

Studies have shown that spending money on experiences, particularly those shared in the company of others has a more positive effect on our mood than buying objects or things (Frank, 2000). Spending on others (ex. treating a friend to coffee) also has a more positive impact on our mood.  

Find your strength

Achor points out that we all have something we’re good at. What we might not know is that whenever we perform that task, we get a mood boost. The same is true when we use one of our character strengths. Achor shares that he loves to learn, so he tries to incorporate learning into tasks that he finds less interesting. Such a great way to change your mindset!

Practice Gratitude

Try to be mindful about moments you’re grateful for. Make a conscious effort to note five things at the end of the day that you are grateful for, anything from your morning cup of coffee, to the sound of birds chirping, to the restful sleep you had.

I hope you enjoy trying to bring more happiness into your daily lives with these “Happiness Advantage” tips. The fun doesn’t end here though! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post with more ideas from the book. You can also check out Achor’s TedTalk here:


Andrea Martin is a clinical psychologist in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, at Connecte Montreal Psychology Group. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogspodcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or @ConnecteMTL on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.


References

Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. Crown Business: New York.

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.

McGonical, Jane. (2015). SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient--Powered by the Science of Games. London: Harper Collins.

Post, Stephen. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: it’s good to be good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66-77.

Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Santerre, C. (2005). Meditation and positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 632-645). New York: Oxford USA Trade.