• Anxiety,  Depression,  Stress

    Mental Health & The Holidays: Tips From Buddhist Psychology

    While the holiday season can be an extremely joyful time, many people report a rise in stress, anxiety and depression during the holiday season. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 64% of people surveyed endorsed having the “holiday blues” (defined as “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season”). When it comes to the holiday blues, many possible factors are cited, including the added financial stress, time with family, old memories, and even seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Some “symptoms” of the “holiday blues” include headaches, overeating, excessive drinking and insomnia. If you search “mental health and the holidays”, you’ll find a plethora of articles detailing…

  • Stress

    What Chronic Stress Does to the Body

    Humble Warrior Therapy is a holistic, integrative approach to mental health, emphasizing the inextricable link between mind and body. This mindfulness-based therapy is rooted in philosophies of yoga and Buddhism, which both promote an extremely comprehensive notion of health. When we experience a certain state of mind, our physical body is affected (and vice versa). So what are the effects of chronic stress on our physical health? How does feeling stressed affect the various systems and functioning of our bodies? Read on to learn about some of the physical health symptoms of chronic stress: Headaches Insomnia Heartburn Weakened immune system Increased heart rate Risk of heart attack Fertility problems Missed periods…

  • Stress

    Stress & The Power of Perception

    Various theories on stress and the stress response exist. From a psychological perspective, stress is directly related to perception (good news for those in Buddhist psychotherapy!). Lazarus and Folkman’s “Cognitive Appraisal Theory” (1984) highlights the role of perception in regard to stress, demonstrating that stress is a result of two appraisals. In the first or primary appraisal, an individual would perceive that a threat or challenge exists, and in his or her secondary appraisal, that individual would determine that he or she is not equipped to meet said challenge. More recent research, highlighted by Kelly McGonigal in her TED talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend” (watch it here), further…

  • Buddhist Psychology,  Coping Skills,  Happiness & Well-Being,  Mindfulness & Meditation,  Stress

    Acceptance, Non-Attachment & Surrender: How Buddhist Principles Decrease Stress

    I recently watched an episode of “Portlandia” in which Fred and Carrie, discussing all of the political/environmental/social justice issues one can be concerned about, decide to just “give up”. While the video is obviously a spoof and meant to be tongue-in-cheek, as a Buddhist psychotherapist, I couldn’t agree more with their plea to unburden their minds and let it all go! Since Trump became President, I have had numerous clients come to see me for psychological distress (anxiety, rage, etc.) caused by our current political reality. And while I would never tell any of them to just “give up” caring about the topics and issues that interest them, I do…

  • Buddhist Psychology,  Coping Skills,  Happiness & Well-Being,  Stress

    The Stress of Change & Life Transitions: How Buddhist Psychology Can Help

    Many of the harder aspects of life relate to change. Whether you’re undergoing a life transition such as being a newlywed, new parent or new employee, or trying to adopt a new habit, change is something we all struggle with (even when it’s a “positive” change!). Why? Human beings are creatures of habit; recent research on the psychology of change demonstrates that people have a clear and reliable preference for things that have been around longer. Simply put: whether we’re happy in a certain situation or not (ie, a relationship or a career), we believe that longevity implies “good” and that any change (which is always unknown) is “bad”. But why…

  • Happiness & Well-Being,  Mindfulness & Meditation,  Stress

    Stressed Out? How Buddhism Can Help You Find Peace of Mind

    Regardless of the issue or problem – depression, anxiety, stress, etc. – therapy is ultimately about finding peace of mind. We all wish to be happy, at peace, and able to remain grounded amidst life’s ever-changing ups and downs. But what does “peace of mind” really mean? How CAN we be happy and at peace when life will inevitably involve pain? Is it even possible to find a lasting sense of peace and contentment, to ALWAYS be happy? Buddhism – which the Dalai Lama calls “the science of the mind” – offers some extremely illuminating insights when it comes to these questions. The Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do…

  • Stress,  Uncategorized

    Is Stress Your Constant Companion?

    Stress. Stress Management. Being stressed out. For so many of us, these words are part of our daily vocabulary. We find ourselves stressed out by anything and everything, constantly anxious and about to explode. Why? Does it have to be this way? Can we ever find peace of mind or are we doomed to live a life of chaos? According to Buddhist psychology, the answer is no, it doesn’t have to be this way, and yes, we CAN find peace of mind. Stress is the result of cognitive appraisal: according to appraisal theory, stress occurs when we evaluate a situation as being something we can’t manage or handle. The key…

  • Buddhist Psychotherapy,  Coping Skills,  Depression,  Stress,  Trauma

    Pain vs. Suffering

    Buddhists say that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Pain is our physiological reaction to distressing and difficult experiences in life such as the death of a loved one, divorce or job loss. It is a physical sensation, an energy, that we experience in our bodies (hence the word “feeling”!) While pain is a bodily sensation, suffering is the result of our minds. Suffering occurs when our minds create stories around the pain. For example, if I’m fired from my job, I’ll feel pain; if I then spiral out of control and tell myself things such as “I’m worthless”, “I’ll never get a job again” and “Now my spouse…

  • Buddhist Psychotherapy,  Coping Skills,  Happiness & Well-Being,  Stress

    The Pursuit of Happiness

      As I sit down to write my first blog post, I find myself flipping through various topics and subjects that seem to constantly come up in therapy with clients, and that are often discussed in Buddhist psychology. Ideas around happiness, the present moment, being still, sitting with feelings, etc….and the truth is, I could go on forever. The list of important issues that we need to be discussing in the realm of mental health seems almost endless; there is still so much shame, secrecy and stigma around suffering. We don’t love ourselves, and we feel constantly anxious, stressed out and unworthy. Not to mention different, broken and never enough.…