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On Jealousy

Burlington, Vermont, Summer 2018

Even despite its universality, jealousy – like so many other emotions labeled as “negative” – has long had a bad rep. From being listed as one of the seven deadly sins to pop culture references such as “Green Eyed Monster,” jealousy has long been been viewed as “bad” and mythology and history have overflowed with examples of evil queens and murderous rivals who did awful things, thanks to the roots of jealousy.

No wonder so many of us experience shame and humiliation when we admit to ourselves we’re jealous of what we see others having. Let’s face it: jealousy doesn’t always feel good to feel but that doesn’t mean it’s a “bad” emotion.

Jealousy, like so many emotions, can be a good teacher. Here are three ways and ideas about how and what jealousy can teach you if you tune into this clue:
– A clue towards your inner or true desires.
Instead of shaming or blaming yourself for feeling jealousy, I invite you to consider that jealousy is actually trying to get your attention and make you aware of what you truly want, what your deep desires are, and possibly take action on those desires. If you’re not getting what you want, and you’re feeling jealous, this is important information.

– An opportunity to notice what’s going well.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, I actually think that jealousy can give you a chance to notice what’s actually working well in your life. Jealousy can actually provide a chance for us to practice gratitude if we’re willing to untwist our thinking and change our perception about the situation. It shows you your capacity for love, loyalty, and honor.

– A chance to practice being with what is.
Finally, I think that acknowledging and accepting our feelings of jealousy can give us the proverbially ultimate personal growth opportunity: a chance to practice being with what is.
This is the work – the real work we’re always aiming for in psychotherapy: expanding our emotional containers so that we can feel all the multitude of feelings life contains. This personal growth work isn’t about eliminating or numbing out certain emotions; it’s about practicing feeling all of them so we can live our most enlivened life.

At the end of the day, jealousy is a great opportunity for us to practice being with what is and expanding our capacity to tolerate uncomfortable feelings.

It’s absolutely OK to have desires. To want. Without judgment.

How to be more introverted

You read that correctly. While traditionally Western culture has minimized the importance of introversion, most people have a mix of extroverted and introverted tendencies. We have a lot to learn from introverts when it comes to mental health.

1. Reboot
Don’t confuse being an introvert with being shy. An introvert acquires psychological energy or a “reset” after expending energy, by time spent alone.

2. Create
Nurture your individual creativity: Art, music, poetry, writing. Somehow, we lost track of the fact that the arts are important to our cognitive and social growth. When kids play they like to pile blocks, mold a sandcastle, fingerpaint, make a fort, build a treehouse, bake cookies with lots of sprinkles, draw on the walls. We derive an inherent joy in creating that rarely gets built into our adult schedules.

3. Enjoy solitary tasks
We live in an easily bored society. From an early age, learning to master the arts of self-engagement and self-soothing is invaluable. For example, I encourage parents and children to work together to put together a small backpack of goodies to take with them wherever they go; books, sketchpad, favorite pens and pencils, coloring materials, a small stuffed animal or action figure, word finds, squeaky toys for stress, and so many other possibilities. Being able to entertain yourself requires practice. And it’s great for your brain.

4. Practice mindfulness
Have you ever driven past your own exit or street? Mindfulness is the opposite of auto pilot, and it requires practice. Notice what is around you. I have teens practice walking into the kitchen (or any room) and observe/notice five things. Use all of your senses when you’re eating something delicious; when you’re washing the dishes, when you’re making a bed.

5. Reflect
Contemplate the mysteries of existence; the universe, quantum physics, nature, why your companion animal does what they do. The natural curiosity we had as children can be nurtured and stirred at any age.

6. Day-dream
One of my teen clients has an elaborate imaginary life, a running story with nuanced characters, dialogue, and interactions. Others I work with mentally design their dream house, sketch designs or patterns, collect a bucket list of things to do, solve problems. One young person I know has come up with an art theme spread across 12 different works/mediums of art to show how social media impacts the self-esteem of girls.

In a loud and bustling world, we have a lot to learn from introverts. See also Quiet.

Loneliness is Dangerous

Loneliness is the new smoking. Meta-analysis of over 300,000 patients found that social isolation poses as high of a mortality risk as chronic smoking. Thanks to the interwebs and the widespread use of social media, we are supposedly more “connected” than ever before. Yet as a nation, we are also more lonely. In fact, a recent study found that a staggering 47 percent of Americans often feel alone, left out and lacking meaningful connection with others. This is true for all age ranges, from teenagers to older adults. The number of people who perceive themselves to be alone, isolated, or distant from others has reached epidemic levels both in the United States and in other parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, four in 10 citizens report feelings of chronic, profound loneliness, prompting the creation of a new cabinet-level position (the Minister for Loneliness) to help combat the problem.
However, exactly how the subjective sense of loneliness (experienced by many even while surrounded by others) is a threat to health, may be less intuitive.

While this “epidemic” of loneliness is increasingly recognized as a mental health issue, what’s becoming more recognized to researchers is the role loneliness plays as a critical determinant of health.

Loneliness can be deadly: it has been estimated to shorten a person’s life by 15 years, equivalent in impact to being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes per day. A recent study revealed a surprising association between loneliness and cancer mortality risk, pointing to the role loneliness plays in cancer’s course, including responsiveness to treatments. Biologists have shown that feelings of loneliness trigger the release of stress hormones that in turn are associated with higher blood pressure, decreased resistance to infection and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. There’s even evidence that a perceived sense of social isolation accelerates cognitive and functional decline and can serve as a preclinical sign for Alzheimer’s disease.

More than ever, during and post-pandemic, combating the mental and medical health deficits of loneliness appears to be a crucial goal for public health. Also see 13 Ways to Fight Loneliness.

What is Mental Health?

Foundations of Wellbeing
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I am frequently asked by interviewers and websites about what defines mental health.

I believe there are seven interrelated foundations that underlie mental health: Physical, Intellectual, Environmental, Vocational, Social, Emotional, and Spiritual health.

Physical Wellbeing
Move More. Eat Better.
This dimension of wellbeing focuses on practicing healthy daily habits. It is important for building strength, flexibility, and endurance. Many of us have a genetic loading for chronic health conditions, including pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol. Starting early with self-care makes a huge difference. When it comes to exercise, variety and individual preferences are key. The biggest variable: Consistency.

Intellectual Wellbeing
Boost your Brain.
An active and open mind (mental flexibility) leads to a life filled with passion and purpose. To engage in a variety of creative and stimulating activities is ideal, helping to keep your mind sharp and your brain healthy and happy. In fact, when a patient suffers a brain injury or trauma, I prescribe a regimen of word and strategy games, reading, art, trying new recipes, and other activities to stimulate our juices. You can also challenge your brain with a thought-provoking seminar or class, learning a new language, or engaging in interpersonal topical activities, such as joining a photography club or reading group.

Environmental Wellbeing
Love the Earth.
Help the planet and bring a sense of accomplishment and wellbeing to your own life. Have you asked how your daily habits can affect the world around you in a positive way? One environmentalist, my mother, Salma Siddique, I have worked with in this area, cultivates small personal and family habits that have a cumulative affect on our niches in this world; not wasting resources, recycling, sharing with neighbors and community all protect our planet and contribute to our collective mental health.

Be in Nature.
From going for a daily walk, to raising house plants as green babies, to spending time with companion animals, nature is good for our mental health.
Have a personal environment that resonates.

Whether it’s an apartment, house, garden, office, or even a single room, create a space that is soothing and rejuvenating.

Vocational Wellbeing
Live and Work with Purpose.
This aspect of wellbeing focuses on enriching your life and that of others by sharing your special gifts, skills, and talents. Whether through work, your craft, or volunteering, you can make a positive impact and reap the documented health benefits of adding purpose to your life.

Social Wellbeing
Connect with Others.
Personal connections contribute to a long and fulfilling life. When you nurture relationships with family and friends, you create healthy support networks that I call a scaffolding for good and bad times.

Sustain caring relationships.
Humans are social creatures, and having ongoing meaningful relationships is crucial for mental health. Be intentional about regularly FaceTiming,  texting, or Zooming with your close friends and family. You don’t even need to talk explicitly about personal problems. You can connect deeply on anything—from your week at work to a fantasy trip or home project you are planning. Research is unequivocal that a not-so-secret path to a long and healthy life is through human attachments.

Connect with Self.
You also have a relationship with yourself, your most important connection.Celebrate your self-image. Real confidence is being true to yourself and recognizing your strengths and vulnerabilities. Give yourself space for those moments and remember you’re a unique, multidimensional person. Self-image affects every aspect of well-being.

Spiritual Wellbeing
Nourish your Soul.
Is your mind at peace? A set of core beliefs or values that shape you and how you live your life often creates harmony. Personal prayer, meditation, volunteering for those in need all contribute to a positive mental health.

Emotional Wellbeing
Incorporate stress-free activities.
Practicing relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi can serve as powerful tools to diminish stress and regulate emotions.

Decrease screen time.
Unplug from work, social media, web surfing, and anything that may be distracting you from being centered.

Write.
From Journaling, to poetry and creative writing, to just keeping a list of wins and losses for the week, writing helps you understand and ventilate emotions.

Love.
Surround yourself with positive people who bring out the best in you, encourage you, believe in you, and occasionally scrape you off the floor when needed.

Be kind to others.
Volunteering and community service can be the most powerful feel-good actions.
Promote knowledge and safety.

Microaggressions, racism, financial hardship, vicarious trauma from images on social media and screens, and an inability to access resources can create a pervasive state of internal danger and emotional dysregulation.

Spiral Up

You are driving on the Washington DC beltway, and somebody cuts you off abruptly. You slam on the brakes as hard as you can. A near miss. A moment later you get a surge of almost electric energy, followed, often, by feeling weak at the knees.

Stress is a natural physiological reaction to perceived danger. The body reacts immediately with physical changes, and a cascade of hormones causes increase in heart rate and a surge of energy. The stress response occurs in the face of things that matter to us: our health, our safety, our loved ones, our livelihood, our passion, our causes.

What do we do with the energy we get from stress?
I’m exploring a personal new intervention with clients, called spiraling UP. In physics, because I am a science geek, a spiral is a plane curve on a graph. It winds around a point, while moving ever farther from that point. Spirals are functional in nature, and used by humans for architecture, design, and machinery. When we talk about spiraling, in therapy terms, it generally has negative connotations. A downward spiral. However, spirals move in both directions- laws of physics.

It’s not the stress that hurts you, it’s how you react to it. Yes, stress, is harmful for the body over long periods of time. What if you cannot avoid it, especially in the short term? How can it be used effectively ? We can take a burst of stress related energy and put it to good use. Overall, stress is a curvilinear relationship: A mild or moderate amount of stress can be motivating; whereas unremitting stress can be debilitating.

On Loneliness and Valentine’s Weekend

The American Psychological Association recently declared that loneliness is a bigger health epidemic than obesity and smoking combined. Because it doesn’t just impact our emotions, it impacts our health in an extraordinarily negative way. Research shows that people struggling with chronic loneliness have up to a 14% higher chance of experiencing an early death and are more vulnerable to other health conditions.

Our emotional evolution makes us want to avoid pain. Loneliness hurts. Valentine’s weekend is a time when trying to avoid pain can lead to poor decisions and additional hurts from unmet expectations, unhealthy behaviors, and a sense of loss or grief. Most mental health professionals receive an uptick of phone calls from clients on V Day.

Strategies to use when the loneliness feels too much:
Connect with a close friend
The marketing of Valentine’s Day usually refers to a romantic connection, but it can also be viewed as a day to celebrate the “power of relationships of all kinds.” Ask yourself: who would I like to spend some time with today?

Social connection calms our physiology, so when we feel lonely, we are walking around in fight or flight mode, which can put tremendous strain on our hearts and immune system. Even a conversation with a friend over the phone or FaceTime has a calming effect

Be careful how you speak to yourself
Self esteem is like an emotional immune system that protects you from emotional pain and strengthens your emotional resilience. An effective way to increase self-esteem is to practice compassion for yourself. When you hear that inner voice telling you, you’re not worthy of friendship or a loving partner, or that you deserve to be treated without respect, imagine what you would say to a close friend who is feeling bad about themselves. Offer yourself that same encouragement.

Avoid Attaching a Story to Your Loneliness
Loneliness is a strong feeling, but we need to be careful not to attach a story to that emotion. “I am lonely because I am unlovable,” or “ I am not good at relationships,“ are examples of stories that are not accurate, but can become internalized if we repeat them to ourselves.

Engage in healthy distractions
When you’re caught up in negativity and can’t stop replaying painful scenes in your head, interrupt the negative self-talk with a task that requires concentration. Do a challenging crossword puzzle, lose yourself in a complicated recipe, play a video game, watching an engrossing movie, or take an online exercise class. Studies show that even two minutes of distraction can reduce the urge to focus on the negative.

Practice Self-Care
Be kind to yourself in a way that feels comforting. Treat yourself with a warm-scented bath, an uplifting movie, a special treat to eat, or a snuggly blanket. Also see The Tenderness Ritual for ideas.

Look for purpose in loss
Deriving purpose from loss can promote recovery from it. It may be challenging but try to imagine the changes you could make that will help you live a life more aligned with intention, values, and purpose.

Help others
When we volunteer or take time to help others, it helps to build our social connections and to make us healthier and happier. In one study, participants reported greater happiness if they spent money on someone else (as opposed to spending it on themselves). In another study, teenagers who volunteered for community service had lower levels of risk factors for heart disease than those who didn’t volunteer. Colleagues of mine have given out roses and candy at women’s shelters for Valentines, and described having a wonderful experience.

Plan a Zoom Date With Single Friends
If you have single friends, plan a party night for a Zoom date with them. Be sure to keep the evening upbeat. Activities that the group could do might include the following:

  • Play online games as a group
  • Watch a movie together
  • Cook the same meal or prepare the same cocktails together over Zoom

In addition to feeling less lonely, spending some quality time with your friends will keep your social skills strong and will provide you with feelings of love on this day.

Mental health benefits of having a companion animal

Living with a companion animal is certainly good for your mental health, sometimes in surprising ways. A brief survey of recent studies:

– Within five minutes of playing with a pet, our stress hormones, especially cortisol goes down. Our levels of the “feel good” hormones: serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin go up. Companion animals increase happiness and decrease stress.

– In one study, a group of adult participants who scored high on stress measures, were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle, or a toy.  Touching the toy did not have any effect. However, stroking and playing with a rabbit or turtle reduced stress and anxiety. Interestingly, even people who said they did not like animals experienced the same benefits.

– The sensory act of stroking a pet lowers blood pressure, providing a health benefit in addition to mental health.

– Having a pet supports executive functioning development. Pets require planning, organizing, staying on schedule, prioritizing, immediate recall, sustaining effort, and task completion.

– Studies have shown that dogs can help calm hyperactive or aggressive children. In my own practice, both my dogs work with children with behavior disorders, and I have seen anecdotal evidence for this repeatedly.

– A large study by the CDC, in 2015, found that children who grew up with pets in the household had lower anxiety and stress levels. The study controlled for screen time, medical health, and physical activity. Having a pet is a protective mental health variable for children, extending through the teenage years.

– Individuals with companion animals are more mindful. Feeding, walking, veterinary care, schedules, are all prominent in the daily lives of pet owners.

– Our animals help us feel loved. One recent study asked teenagers to write about a time when they felt excluded or bullied. Then they were asked to do one of three things: write about their pet, write about their best friend, or draw a picture of their house or school. Writing about their pets was AS effective as writing about a close friend in reducing feelings of rejection.

-Companion animals support self care.  From getting up in the morning no matter what, to spending time outside in nature, to physical activity and exercise, to reminders of self-care: our animals require these things, and bring us along with them.

– Pets help people with chronic mental illness. A meta-analysis, which is also known as a synopsis of multiple studies, found significant evidence that having a pet benefits people with severe mental health conditions. One study was conducted at the University of Manchester in 2016 with patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. 60% of the participants identified their pet as one of their strongest support systems. They reported that their animals distracted them from severe symptoms like suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and ruminative worry.

The Mental Health Benefits of Random Acts of Kindness

I was recently interviewed for a popular mental health and wellness website about Random Acts of Kindness, and some of the psychological science behind them. Neuropsychological research shows that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable as the act of receiving, if not more so. A brain-imaging study led by neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health showed that the “pleasure centers” in the brain are fully activated when we engage in random acts of kindness (the parts of the brain that are also active when we experience other pleasures, including eating, hugging, and intimacy). Neurotransmitters- oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, are all released when we engage in random acts of kindness.

One of the interview questions asked me about creative ways people can show random acts of kindness in a time where they are more needed than ever, but also a time when people have financial and social limitations.

Some of my ideas:
Try babysitting for a parent who works from home, while their children are engaged in virtual learning. Being able to help the child, maybe making a snack, or even serve lunch can be tremendously helpful to a parent torn between meetings and childcare.

I work with some families who have very limited resources, and are attempting virtual learning using cell phones. If you have tech skills, helping families who lack reliable Wi-Fi or computer access set up their virtual learning, and answering questions about possible glitches and problems they may be experiencing can be tremendously helpful.

Befriending a senior who is stuck at home and becoming a phone pal on a weekly basis.

Set a socially distanced movie date every week with a friend or family member who may be lonely or isolated.

Help those who help others. A local restaurant owned by a friend in the DC area, literally serves 100s of delicious meals, delivered, to front line healthcare workers every week. Several patrons who come to the restaurant to buy food for their families have added very generous tips to their bill to help fund this pro bono meal service. Acts of kindness are contagious.

Community food service. A group of neighbors have started making trays of lasagna on weekends and delivering them to housebound folks in their neighborhood who have financial hardship or health issues that make it difficult to leave the home.

Practical donations. From coat and mitten drives in the cold winter months, to toiletries, thoughtful gestures matter. In my clinic, donated designer purses were stuffed with toiletries for women and were much appreciated by clients experiencing hardship.

Using your own personal talent online: random acts of kindness may include hosting a free art lesson, yoga class, writing class, tutoring, even stand up comedy. Many families have lost after school services and recreational opportunities and this can go a long way.

More:

  • Plan a special surprise you would do for someone special in your life.
  • Hold the door for a stranger.
  • Send a hello email or text to a family member or friend you hardly ever see.
  • Give a compliment to someone every day.
  • Make a handmade card, or write a hand written letter.
  • Smile at everyone.
  • Say “I love you” to everyone you love.
  • Do a chore or errand for someone who needs help.
  • What are some other ideas? … please share in comments.
  • More to come.

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

I am frequently asked about narcissism, especially by clients who are living or working with a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder takes its name from a story in Greek mythology. Narcissus was a hunter who was the son of a god, and was very good looking. His good looks meant that many people fell in love with him, but he treated those people with contempt. This caused anguish for many who loved him. In order to exact justice on Narcissus, a goddess by the name of Nemesis lead Narcissus to a pool. On looking into the pool, Narcissus saw his own reflection and immediately fell in love with it. So fixated was he by his reflection that he was unable to leave it, and eventually wilted away.

What is the difference between narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. They easily feel a deep sense of shame and humiliation and low self-esteem. This used to be known as a “narcissistic injury. “

These are people who do not function well. They alienate friends and family and often end up feeling socially isolated and depressed. This is very difficult for them because they do not want to think anything is wrong. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are caught between thinking they are superior and feeling miserable, all at the same time.

There are also people who are narcissistic but who do not have a mental illness. They often feel superior to others and see nothing wrong with that. They have little or no empathy with the feelings, conditions, situations or plight of others. They also have no difficult exploiting others in order to get what they want. Importantly, they do not feel like they have a problem and do not experience the shame and pain of an individual with NPD.

What are narcissistic characteristics?
Lacking Empathy
The vast majority of us are able to understand how others are feeling. We will offer comfort or sympathy if others are sad. For the narcissist, though, empathy is alien. Even if you are having a terrible day, the narcissist is unlikely to sympathise, they may not even understand why you are sad at all.

The narcissist is also unlikely to feel bad about any of their own actions that may have caused upset to other people. Instead, they will continue as normal as though nothing has happened.

Lack of Reciprocal Communication or Conversation
Narcissists often want to dominate the conversation, and they value their own opinion above others. The narcissist does not like to be corrected in a conversation. They expect you to agree with them all the time, and they don’t like any suggestion of disagreement. Don’t agree with what they are saying and you can expect to be rebuked, corrected and even ignored.

Self-entitlement
Narcissists tend to feel as though they deserve special treatment. They expect others to treat them as if they are special, but see no reason why they should do the same in return. “My way or the highway,” could be their mantra.

Image Projection
The narcissist feels it is important to always give others the impression that they are highly successful. They feel the need to be seen in expensive cars and will often only consider living in the ‘right neighborhood’. Their clothes have to be brand name designs, they have to go to the best restaurants, and they have to let people know about it. They also try to surround themselves with others who appear successful, in order to enhance their own image.

Rule Breaking
Narcissists tend to think that they are above ‘normal’ people and this includes the rules that others are expected to adhere to.

Manipulation
A narcissist will have little problem in manipulating others’ thoughts and emotions to suit their needs, even people that are close to them. Spouses, siblings, parents and even children can be manipulated for self-serving gains.

Blame
When everything is going well, the narcissist is more than happy to take the plaudits. But they will look to blame what they can, or who they can, when things are not going well. This includes colleagues, family, and friends.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosis
Clinical psychologists diagnose NPD when you have at least five of the following characteristics:

  • Overinflated sense of self-importance.
  • Constant thoughts about being more successful, powerful, smart, loved or attractive than others.
  • Feelings of superiority and desire to only associate with high-status people.
  • Need for excessive admiration.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • Willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals.
  • Lack of understanding and consideration for other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Arrogant or snobby behaviors and attitudes.

Causes
The exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is unknown. It is probably a mixture of genes, early childhood experiences, and life long psychological factors.

Early childhood risk factors include:

  • insensitive parenting
  • over-praising and excessive pampering – when parents focus intensely on a particular talent or the physical appearance of their child as a result of their own self-esteem issues
  • unpredictable or negligent care
  • excessive criticism
  • abuse
  • trauma
  • extremely high expectations

Treatment
NPD can be treated in psychotherapy. Usually what brings individuals to treatment is estrangement from family, friends, or colleagues. They feel alone. Similarly, they may come for therapy when their partner or family makes it an ultimatum, or when they are experiencing significant difficulties in the workplace.

Friendships are good for your mental (and physical) health

In neuropsychology, co-regulation is when you are in a close relationship, friendship or intimate, where your nervous systems actually attune to each other in ways that are soothing. Research shows that it has the effect of reducing anxiety and depression.

Co-regulation is usually applied in the context of overall emotion/affect. That The emotions of each individual within a dyad are constantly in flux. If emotion co-regulation is in effect, the result will be a decrease in overall emotional distress. A working definition of emotion co-regulation has been offered as “a bidirectional linkage of oscillating emotional channels during interactions between two people, which contributes to emotional stability for both.”

Although most of the co-regulation literature is based on parent and child relationships, there is an emerging body of research on adult relationships. Primarily, co-regulation in adult relationships is defined by reciprocity between two individuals, such that the responsibility to regulate the other is more or less equally split. Of course, the split may not be constant, but the fluctuation evens out over time. Second, research on adult co-regulation is more likely to incorporate physiological measures. For example, there is an increase in oxytocin, which is the bonding and comfort hormone, there is a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone. Most importantly,  co-regulation in caring adult relationships increases vagal tone.

The vagus nerve is one of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves within the sensory-somatic nervous system. The 10th cranial nerves called vagus are the main nerves of the parasympathetic nervous system originating at the brainstem in the medulla oblongata. They travel from behind your ears, down the sides of your neck, across the chest, and down through the abdomen. People who have low vagal tone often clench their jaw, have muscle aches and pains, and gastrointestinal distress.

This nerve is the sensory network that tells the brain what’s going on in our organs, most specially the digestive tract (stomach and intestines), lungs and heart, spleen, liver and kidneys, not to mention a range of other nerves that are involved in everything from talking to eye contact to facial expressions and even your ability to tune in to other people’s voices. It is made of thousands upon thousands of fibers, operating far below the level of our conscious mind. It plays a vital role in sustaining overall wellness. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed “fight-or-flight” adrenaline response to danger. People with higher vagal tone are able to soothe themselves more easily in situations of stress.

Love, laugh, hug. This seems a little “kumbaya” but if you hang out with people who fill you up with love, laughter, and kindness, it’s actually good for your mental and medical health.

Relationships matter.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.