The topics during the last 5-10 weeks have been very thought provoking and really provided valuable insight into my own lifestyle and the relationships with those around me.
When Dr. Sood spoke about mood states and depression she mentioned that “Not everyone has a sunny disposition”. This statement struck a chord with me because depression runs in my father’s side of the family and I have always viewed myself as having a more pessimistic outlook on life. When she discussed the psychological risk factors of anxiety and depression; loneliness, lack of social support, and early child hood trauma/abuse it allowed me to take a closer more objective look at my own relationship with both anxiety and depression. Initially I found this to be uncomfortable and it brought up certain emotions I was not ready to examine, however it enabled me to see things from a different perspective. Learning about the causes and susceptibility one may have to these mood disorders helped me understand them in a different way. Although anxiety and depression stem from the same biological vulnerabilities, there are ways in which a person who suffers from them can benefit from preventative care and an array of different treatments. Depression has been stigmatized in our society and there is this unspoken expectation for people to cope on their own, in silence. Part of understanding and coping with depression and anxiety, is simply talking about it and even more importantly each person has the ability to take care of their mental health, just as they take care of their physical health.
Dr.Sood spoke of challenging negative thoughts and practicing self-care through yoga, meditation, exercise, sleep, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques. I found this to be really inspiring because they are things I have control over and they are completely free. After this lecture I wrote down on a notecard “Did you make time for yourself today?” and this has encouraged me to view my “me” time as equally as important as going to a doctor’s appointment. I have become more aware of my negative cyclical thoughts and tried to combat them through positive affirmations. I practice meditation and also exercise daily to lift my spirits but I have started to implement more relaxation tools which help me create an environment of mindfulness.
I found the topic of relationship style attachment through socialization and social modeling to be very insightful. It forced me to examine the relationships I have had in the past as well as the relationships I had with my parent as a child. The group exercise in class in which we discussed what changes we would consider making in terms of our romantic relationships was a very uncomfortable one. It forced people to open up about a very personal topic and also be honest with ourselves, which obviously doesn’t come easy to most. I struggled with this topic as it caused past emotions to resurface but it was important to understand and examine them. I also appreciated the other exercise of examining the healthiest couple we know and comparing them to the most dysfunctional. These exercises were important because they created relationship awareness which I think is hard to do on your own.
The lecture on emotions tied in nicely to the previous topic of relationships, because the one which we have with ourselves is the most important and also affects every relationship we have in life. Emotions serve many purposes and getting in touch with them helps us understand ourselves better, as well as our own coping strategies. When we examine our emotions, it enables us to regulate them and adapt to changes in our environment. I learned that building positive identity is extremely important in knowing what motivates you as a person. When we have a better understanding of this and a solid foundation of positive identity it allows us the ability to navigate all interpersonal relationships.
This directly tied into the topic of active listening as well as the four measures of social facility; synchrony, self-presentation, influence, and concern. I really enjoyed the in class exercise of practicing active listening in which we paired up with a partner and each took turns telling a story using the technique of RASA; Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask. After this lecture I made an extra more conscientious effort of practicing active listening with the people I communicate with the most. It’s not easy to remain present and not let your mind jump to what your response will be in a conversation.
The last lecture by Dr.Vassilera on substance abuse was fascinating and I found the survey for the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS) to be very telling. Discussing the major four personality traits associated with addiction was eye opening. Talking about the science based aspects of addiction was interesting as I had never had an in depth look into addiction. One thing she said that stood out to me was “Thoughts are guesses, not facts” and the correlation between addiction and the “cognitive triad” which are negative thoughts about yourself, the world, and the future.
The pith of all of these lectures for me has been to learn to cultivate a healthy relationship with myself through getting in touch with my emotions as well as making sure to prioritize my self-care which has a positive impact on my mental health. Over the last few weeks I have been more conscientious about my thoughts and how they affect my well-being as well as the relationships around me. I always knew that meditation and exercise were important for me, but I now have a understand that these are preventative tools I can always build with.
This image was taken from: http://www.alustforlife.com/section/mental-health/mindfulness