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Posted by on in Artículos y entrevistas
Panic Attacks

“I was on my way back from work on the subway, when I suddenly found it really hard to breathe. I was sweating, clutching at my tie desperately. I could feel my heart racing, and my knees felt very weak. I was terrified -I honestly thought I was going to die!” Have you ever experienced anything similar? 

 

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is much more than experiencing anxiety. Although it involves anxiety symptoms, such as palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling weak, chest pains, trembling; it also includes the feeling that something terrifying is happening to you, such as losing control, going crazy, or even having a heart attack. This is why when someone suffers from a panic attack they desperately try to escape from the situation, and might even go to ER to check that they’re not dying. 

 

What can happen after a panic attack

After having experienced a panic attack, some people can then develop frequent panic attacks and/or worry constantly about having another one. This is what is known as Panic Disorder, where you’d constantly be worrying about having another panic attack and its consequences (losing control, fainting, etc). In other cases, people fear being in a place where it would be hard to get out of if they did have a panic attack, and therefore begin to avoid certain places (supermarkets, public transport, the cinema, etc), leading them to isolate and even struggle to leave their house.  

The Four Horsemen Romantic Relationships and How to Manage Them

When does love end and become friendship?

Is there a time limit or happily ever after?

Why do some couples seem unaffected by the passage of time?

Why do other people repeat the same patterns in different relationships?

 

These topics are probably nothing new; most of us have discussed the secrets and obstacles of dating relationships on multiple occasions.

It is not surprising that it is one of the topics with the highest demand within psychology sessions or that it is something that worries us and in which we want to work and learn more.

We are social beings and dependent on the group (even for our survival) and probably due to the way we have articulated our relationships throughout the history of humanity, the romantic relationship is the chosen group in which we spend the most hours and in which that more projects we share.

Studies that try to discover which are the variables related to greater happiness, well-being, and even longevity have shown that, above aspects such as economic, labor, or social class, what most influences our subjective well-being are the relationships we have with other people and more specifically with close family.

How can we not worry about our romantic relationships then? How not to try to learn more about building and maintaining a healthy, exciting, and long-lasting relationship? But above all, how can one not be aware of difficulties and learn to navigate them?

Mental Health During Corona Times

The Corona pandemic is a difficult period for many. The changed everyday life can affect well-being and mental health.

 

Anxiety about the risk of infection, along with isolation and distance, can lead to loneliness and symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.

 

The corona pandemic wears on the psyche of many-from the young people who miss the parties with friends, to the lonely elderly people who feel extra alone when corona restrictions lead to cancellation of activities and events on a strip.

 

Loneliness fills a lot – especially for those that their social circle are people out in the city. It also affects people who normally invest a lot socially in their jobs, but now sit alone at home.

 

The disease also causes concern in many people: some fear being infected or infecting others with corona. Others stress that the pandemic does not have a known expiration date, with ’everything’ becoming normal again. Financial problems triggered by corona can also knock people off their feet.

Diary of a Global Therapist Part 4

It has been three months since the last post in which I shared my experiences working with expats from different parts of the world.

 

Three months of uncertainty, of continuing to hear very different stories, and of working hand in hand in managing difficulties.

 

They have also been three months marked by many changes, some due to the COVID-19 pandemic and others to social movements. But of course, a time in which we have not stopped working and learning.

 

From Sinews (and I imagine that from anywhere) we have been aware of two important and relevant changes in the day-to-day life of international companies and institutions, on the one hand teleworking and on the other the importance of respecting and empowering diversity.

Emotional Well-being in Children and Teens

Due to "Children’s day" I was asked to write this article about emotional well-being. As I thought about it, I realized that the concept of "emotional well-being" is commonly used but when looked at carefully its not clear what it actually is, it has become a "junk drawer" for almost any topic that includes emotions.  

 

Bearing this in mind, I hope this article helps you understand what it is and how we can help our little ones to develop a state of well-being that helps them in their personal growth throughout their life.

 

What is emotional well-being? 

It could happen that when I hear the words “emotional well-being”, I believe that it means a constant state of peace and contentment. This would be our first mistake, emotional well-being involves acceptance of the emotions that arise, no matter if they are positive or negative. In other words, our goal is not that our children don´t feel sadness, loneliness, anguish, etc. We take for granted that these emotions will arise, but the goal is to be able to feel these emotions and allow them to run their course, without getting stuck in them.

False Myths About Bilingualism

In many countries and in some regions of Spain, being bilingual, or even speaking more than two languages, is considered the norm. But in other regions of Spain, learning a second language is something for new generations, especially learning English as a second language, and many parents wonder if this is the best option, since sometimes they can worry about whether bilingualism is going to cause language development delay, or if it is advisable if your child has special needs. At the same time, they may worry about whether their child will be fully capable of working life if she or he only learned one language.

 

In this article, we are going to dismantle some false myths about bilingualism, and, based on scientific evidence*, explain why bilingualism, in any case, brings benefits in the cognitive development of people.

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Posted by on in Artículos y entrevistas
Winter Blues

Winter blues is not a diagnosis but a general term and it means feeling sad and down, melancholic and unhappy and it´s related to the shortening of daylight hours and Autumn or Winter approaching. They are often linked to something specific, such as stressful holidays or reminders of absent loved ones. 

On the other hand, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of affective disorder related to changes in seasons. The symptoms usually start in Autumn and continue into the winter months, and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. The symptoms may include: 

  • Feeling depressed
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Low energy
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having thoughts of death

Winter blues are usually temporary and the symptoms disappear, while Seasonal Affective Disorder can last for several months. 

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On Children and Gratitude

 

How many of us can think back to our childhood days and remember our parents, grandparents and even early-years teachers urging us to say thank you when we were presented with a gift, a nice gesture or a helping hand? I certainly remember that showing appreciation and being thankful was tremendously important for the grown-ups around me. With time, I understood that people felt good when I said thank you to them, but before empathy entered the picture, thankfulness felt like one of those things I had to do, one more rule to go by: Saying thank you was equivalent to being polite.

Politeness was and continues to be a highly valued quality among humans. One to make sure our children possess and carry with them. After all, if we stop to really be honest for a moment, we can agree that politeness speaks well of the child that practices it, while also singing hidden praises to the caregivers responsible for that child. We could agree that it is a social skill that opens doors. A win-win all around. But in this case, politesse is merely one small part of a much bigger stance: Gratitude. And if we were conscious about the psychological weight of gratitude as general value, we would be less concerned with mere politeness. Harvesting gratitude would then become a must (something just as important as promoting mathematical dexterity, if not more).

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Learning the practice of mindfulness, by Vicente Simón

To anyone who wishes to live the present moment more fully, escape the “automatic pilot mode” and experience emotional fulfillment, we are introduced to the practice of mindfulness by psychiatrist Vicente Simón.

 

The closest definition of “mindfulness" would be "full attention or awareness". Which means: paying close attention to the present moment with full intent and passing no judgement over what is being experienced. Or in other words: being aware of our experiences while they are being experienced. According to the author, mindfulness can  also be described as “the universal and basic human ability of being aware of our mind’s content moment to moment”. 

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Hooked to New Technologies

When we talk about addiction to new technologies, it is frequent that, automatically, we bring to our mind the image of a boy or girl with any electronic device. It is not uncommon nowadays to take a look around a restaurant and see parents slow down their children's activity through a device, be it tablet, mobile or other. The effectiveness of this technique is unquestionable. As a sedative for children and parents, keeping children absorbed in digital activity reduces their activity, as we have been saying, but also our involvement in managing their behaviors. However, the victims - yes, victims - of this strategy are not only children, but also adults, the subject on which this article will focus.

In summary, we could describe addiction to new technologies as the excessive use of electronic devices, added to the need to use them when we have been a long time (or not so long, in some cases) away from them, and with a powerful calming function and / or pleasant sensation that is, sometimes, difficult to recognize. In the era of hyperconnectivity, it is expected that many of our activities will be done through new technologies like meeting our friends, getting informed about something quickly or buying a product in a matter of seconds. The utility is more than evident. However, the dark side of this utility lies in the immediacy of the reward, reinforcement or satisfaction. We feel calmer when we get a response from our partner in the moment instead of waiting to see each other. We feel especially recognized when the “likes” grow like foam and we can observe this very satisfactory phenomenon in real time. We feel more in control being able to go immediately to information that solves a question of the moment. Ultimately, the promptness of the response takes on a strong tint of reward. This of course is far from being harmless.

 

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How To Protect Your Voice In Mask Times

For a few months and due to COVID-19, mask use is mandatory whenever we are outside our home. Although the mask serves as a protective shield when communicating with others, so we don’t share bacteria or viruses with other people, it can have some negative consequences, such as having our voice damaged. The mask reduces the volume of our voice and distorts the sound of the words we use, so we are often forced to speak louder when we are using it. This continuous increase in the volume of the voice can cause the vocal cords to become irritated, and, if we do not take the necessary care, it can end in aphonia or dysphonia. 

 

When we speak of aphonia, we mean to lose the voice completely; while dysphonia refers to the alteration of our vocal quality, pitch or volume. Some examples of dysphonia are hoarseness or the inability to speak or sing in the range that one is used to, and it can be secondary to different disorders, such as nodules.

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Why does my therapist ask me about my childhood and the relationship with my parents?  The importance in psychotherapy of exploring early childhood relationships

Usually, when we decide to start therapy it is because we have a problem in the present that generates discomfort or pain, and we do not have enough resources to handle the situation adequately. Sometimes the problem may have been in our life for some time (months, years); other times, something sudden happens which makes us seek help immediately. Regardless of the time we have been living with the problem, when we decide to start therapy is when the problem starts to interfere significantly with different areas of our lives (personal, family, work, academic, couple, etc.).

 

During therapy, our therapist will ask questions to understand how the problem manifests (symptoms), how long we have been living with the problem and how it impacts different areas of our life. Our therapist will also ask questions about our childhood, adolescence and adulthood, but especially, he/she will want to deepen in early childhood experiences with our parents or people whom we grew up with.

Back to School and Separation Anxiety

September has been a tough time for everyone, especially for teenagers and children.

 

After a very long time away from school, they had to go back with a lot of restrictions and measures for their safety and their teachers.

 

Most of them have shown an incredible amount of strength, giving us a valuable lesson adapting to our new normal. They have learned the proper distance they need to maintain from their peers, they wear their masks at all times, wash their hands as many times as we remind them, and learn new ways to greet their peers and adults. And they have made this whiteout complaint.

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

Why is it important to identify and express emotions properly? 

Emotions provide important information about what is happening around us, how external events affect us and what they mean to us. Emotions also inform about the impact of internal events such as thoughts or physiological responses. Therefore, emotional responses to external or internal events are guides to our behavior, set us to behave in one way or another, tell us what to do depending on the emotion we are feeling. 

 

If we do not know how to properly identify the emotions we feel, it is very likely that we will have difficulty managing our feelings, reflecting on why we feel the way we do and what we need to do to change our emotional state. Therefore, it is very important that we know how to identify emotions properly and to observe to which thoughts they are related to, so that we can make decisions to manage our emotions and respond to the situation we are facing.

 

The skills to identify and express emotions need to be fostered in childhood so that children develop an emotional system that allows them to manage and handle emotions properly. However, sometimes, these skills have not been adequately developed during this stage of life and we see adults with difficulties in identifying, expressing and managing their emotions. Sometimes, people with these difficulties can only determine if they feel "good", "so so" or "bad", but they do not know how to identify exactly what emotion they are feeling. At other times, they are able to differentiate between basic emotions (such as joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise), but have difficulty being more specific with more complex emotional states.

 

I don’t feel good, how can I find out if I am depressed?

Depression manifests itself in many ways. Here you will find some of the typical signs of depression that are good to keep an eye on. When browsing the list, remember: You can easily have one or more of the signs without having a depression.

  • You feel depressed and sad: Some days are good; others are not good at all. That is how it is in life. It goes up and down. We are all hit by adversity and downturns: Boyfriend brakes up, you fail exams or lose your job. However, as a rule, we know well (deep down) that we will probably will be ok again - eventually.

 

With a depression, it is different. Here the sadness is experienced bottomless and endless. You feel that you cannot do anything to change things. Sometimes it is something specific that triggers a depression - for example, that you lose a person you loved very much. Other times, depression hits out of the blue without you knowing why.

 

How to help my child with dyslexia

 

With the return to school and the beginning of the new year, some parents may have received from the teachers the suspicion that your child has dyslexia. Other parents may already suspect it, due to the reading and writing errors that you saw your son or daughter commit, or because of the great difficulties that he or she presented in this area.

 

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Posted by on in Artículos y entrevistas
Attached

Attached, written by psychologists Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, is an interesting self-help book that aims to bring the reader the latest advances in scientific research on how adults tend to form emotional bonds with their partners. 

 

The authors do a great job in conveying, in simple and understandable terms, the main scientific findings on attachment theory and its influence on adult relationships. 

 

Attachment theory explains the way in which we establish affective bonds with other people, especially with people close to us, based on the experiences with our parents or main caregivers during the first years of life. Through these experiences we learn basic notions of the functioning of relationships in terms of intimacy, security, care, dependence and autonomy. The way in which adults establish affective ties with their partners is similar to those established between parents and children. Therefore, these early experiences will end up forging our particular style of attachment; that is, the specific way in which we tend to relate affectively with other people. 

Posted by on in Artículos y entrevistas
Atypical

Autism spectrum disorder, shortened as ASD, is a neurological condition that affects a person's learning abilities. Normally the signs begin to show, and consequently it is diagnosed, in childhood, and it’s one of the conditions that concern parents the most when they receive the news, as there is popularly a fairly limited or erroneous knowledge about the disorder due once again to the disinformation we have about it. In summary, ASD is a neurological condition that affects the ability of an individual to adequately relate to their environment, everything and everyone around them, people who suffer from it may have problems with communication, learning knowledge, noise discomfort, a wide variety of other issues, which is why a few years ago it started being called autism spectrum disorder, since the same condition created a great variety of problems depending on the person. In society, the information that we usually have about this condition, unless we know a family member or acquaintance who suffers from it, usually comes from famous movies and series, which usually generate myths and / or confusion about what it really is. A spectacular example of this is Barry Levison's famous movie Rain Man (1988), where actor Dustin Hoffman plays the role of a person with ASD and Savant syndrome (extraordinary abilities in a certain field such as memory or mathematics). But all these myths and exceptional cases do not allow us to know what people with this condition really are, and they can create fear, as we have already said, in people close to someone who is diagnosed.

Emotional validation: A fundamental need in childhood and adolescence.

I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was still small. The memory I am a bout to share happened definitely some years before my 10th birthday. I can’t remember exactly what had happened either or why I was upset, but I remember I was and I also remember that my inner turmoil had carried on for some days. By this point you must be wondering why I’ve chosen to tell a story which facts I do not seem to have in a straightforward manner. The answer is simple: because I remember how I felt.

Let´s go back to the story. As a result of my sadness, I spoke to one of the significant adults in my life about whatever it was that was occurring. Their answer -slight grunt included- went somewhere along the lines of “well, this can´t continue, something needs to be done and we need you to help us out with it”. I distinctly remember the tone of voice in which this was said to me and the expression on the person´s face, maybe the words weren’t exactly as I phrased them here, but I vividly remember the emotional tone of the whole interaction. One could argue the message in itself was good because after all, the adult in question was letting me know they were going to help me, but I remember feeling tense, worried and a little overwhelmed. I thought to myself “uh oh, this person is stressed and worried now and its because of me”. Having thought about this scene several times and years after, I was able to clarify something I was experiencing and didn’t quite know how to  articulate at the time my foggy memory occurred: I felt as if there was a sense of urgency being conveyed to me, as if I need to “get well fast”, but no such words where actually used. It was as if there was no space for what I was feeling, and even though I know that this adult was well intentioned and that I mattered to them, this action-oriented problem-solving approach was short of a very crucial step that should have preceded it: emotional validation 

A book recommendation by Ines Zulueta: Hyperfocus, by Chris Bailey

For all of us who struggle to focus on difficult, important projects for extended periods of time, suffer when taking too long to complete boring, repetitive tasks; or feel we are not using our time in the way we wished, the book Hyperfocus has arrived to alleviate our burden and worry.

In a time when our attentional resources are continuously being swamped by an overwhelming flow of information, calls, emails, messages and images coming out of every single one of our electrical devices; the ability to focus on an activity without getting distracted by something else, or the capacity to resist the temptation of constantly changing between different tasks, is frequently depleted.

 

With an easy and entertaining prose, the Canadian productivity expert Chris Bailey guides us through the fascinating universe of human attention, helping us understand why making an adequate use of our attentional resources proves to be such a challenge. 

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