Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Benefits of Sarcasm


From the Greek and Latin for “to tear flesh,” the word sarcasm has been defined as “hostility disguised as humor,” the contempt-laden speech favored by smart alecks and mean girls that’s best to avoid.
But new research by out of Harvard University finds that sarcasm is far more nuanced, and actually offers some important, overlooked psychological and organizational benefits. Sarcasm has been shown to increase creativity for both expressers and recipients.  Sarcasm also enhances problem solvingUsing edgy forms of humor has long been an interest of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. When sarcasm is used in light-hearted ways, it deepens social bonds too. 
Sarcasm also works our brain. Studies show that language we hear is processed through the left hemisphere of the brain which interprets the literal meaning of the words. Then, the frontal lobes and the right hemisphere check the content for intention, contradictions, emotional and social meanings. Finally, the prefrontal cortex of the brain lets us know if what we've heard is sarcasm. 
Bottom line, sarcasm is good for you. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Facebook and Depression


Facebook is the millennium’s new water cooler. 

Though virtual in its design, it serves as a way for us to catch up on the latest trends, share milestones, learn about juicy gossip, or live vicariously through the experience of others. And not only is it a way to keep up with the Joneses, but it’s a way to keep track of the Joneses. 

Facebook provides us with social capital – and these valuable social experiences make us feel connected. But bear in mind that not everyone feels Facebook is an upbeat and pleasing social past time. Reading stories or viewing photos of friends’ activities could cause a user to feel left out or question the value of his or her own social status. Though Facebook can elicit warm feelings of nostalgia and connectedness, it can also spur jealousy and feelings of inadequacy too. With all these things going on, it’s wise to learn the psychological reasons for using social networking. When you understand what they are, you’ll be able to judge for yourself if Facebook is meeting the social expectations you hold. 

Research reports two distinct ways people use Facebook. One is bonding with others – to reconnect with old friends and family or to explore new relationships. The other is bridging as a means of strengthening your identity. Think of bridging as a kind of network that links you to other colleagues, businesses, contacts and organizations that share your political, social and community interests, or your career or professional pursuits. 

6 Tips for Using Facebook 

When you live with depression, it’s important to put yourself in a positive environment. Toxic people and negative experiences only serve to worsen depressive symptoms. So, understanding the reasons why you use Facebook will help determine if this social media is a thumbs up experience – or if you should consider other social avenues. 

1) Ask yourself why you’re on Facebook. Is it to bond or to bridge? Once you determine what you’re looking for – connection or networking– then you can set realistic expectations.

2) Explore your “user pattern” - or how you are using Facebook. Are you spending time too much time reading the news feeds of others? Do you only just cue into your own profile to look for connections - or do you venture beyond to connect with others? Do you leave comments? Do you invite others to respond to your wall status? How about direct messages, do you like using that feature? Do you like being in the app or game community? Are your bridging connections creating support, or are the conversations provocative, challenging or taunting?

3) Once you realize how you’re using Facebook, ask yourself what each of these activities does for you. The goal is to discover what gratifies you not only socially, but emotionally. Essentially, you’ll be cluing yourself into what Facebook activities work or don't work for you. 

4) Next, redefine your Facebook experience. If it makes you feel left out to read about others' daily lives, consider editing your subscriber list. Want to have more connection? Consider direct messaging than commenting on a community level. Personalizing your social media experience will help you feel good about yourself and the others you're choosing to share your online time with. If you discover that using Facebook isn’t as valuable a tool for you, bow out. It’s just as cool to bump the trend as it is to be part of a trend.

5) Now that you know the how, what and why reasons that you use Facebook, give yourself permission to be an extrovert or an introvert. Facebook should be a place that *you* design for *your* social needs. Find your comfort self-disclosing zone and work within it. 

6) Last but not least, remember to interface beyond the virtual world. Make sure you spend quality time socializing in real time with real people. 

Monday, June 01, 2015

Coming Out Proud to Erase the Stigma of Mental Illness

The new groundbreaking book Coming Out Proud to Erase the Stigma of Mental Illness: Stories and Essays of Solidarity edited by Patrick W. Corrigan, Jon E. Larson, and Patrick J. Michaels has just been released.
This book is a collection of personal reflections by people with mental illness, telling their stories of coming out and the lessons they learned from their journey.  Included are diverse stories from people all around the world, comprising of people from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Research states that one of the most effective ways to erase public stigma is through hearing first-hand experiences of people telling their stories of recovery. Being in the closet with mental health experiences often leads to shame while coming out replaces this shame with a sense of authority and empowerment. These stories of solidarity illustrates the fact that people with even the most serious of mental illnesses recover. 

I'm honored to have been invited to share my own personal and professional experiences with living with depression in this collection - and urge readers of my blog to add this important work to their must-read books. 

As Dr. Patrick Corrigan and his team at the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment state the goal of a book like this is "not less stigma, but more affirmation." 


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Logo by Counseling@Northwestern

The designation of Mental Health Awareness Month was created more than 65 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness and promoting good mental health for all. 

During Mental Health Awareness Month professionals, organizations, schools, communities, hospitals and even media outlets will join together in an effort to raise the awareness about mental health and attempt to decrease the stigma that prevents people from getting the help they need. If you have a mental illness or love someone who does, reach out to the many community resources and planned events this month. 

Mental Health Blog Day is May 20th. To be part of it or read the related blogs that are celebrating mental health awareness click the icon link below.

YourMindYourBody.Org

Link here for state and local MHA affiliates. 

And don't forget to wear Lime Green to show your support.

Remember, there's no shame living with a mental illness.


Friday, April 17, 2015

April is Autism Awareness Month


April is Autism Awareness Month. 
Every day, the millions people living with autism and their families face unique and daunting challenges that many of us will never fully appreciate. During National Autism Awareness Month, we renew our commitment to better understand autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and improve the lives of individuals living with it.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with ASD. This latest estimate makes it clear that autism affects the lives of millions of Americans – our friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members.
ASD is a developmental disability characterized, in varying degrees, by persistent difficulties in social communication and restrictive and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities. We know that early screening and intervention at younger ages helps children get the most effective treatments earlier in life.