Category Archives: psychology

Can Mindfulness Improve Standardized Test Scores?

ps_imageCheck out Christie Nicholson’s Scientific American story about new research published in the journal Psychological Science that suggests that meditation training may boost GRE scores.

Recently scientists analyzed whether such a practice could help improve undergrads’ test scores… (read more)

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Skateboarders: Unsung Social Heroes

dailyn

Have you ever considered the social relevance of skateboarding?  An article out this week looks at the impact that skateboarders have on our physical and social environments.

I love the fact that people are out there studying this stuff.

The paper, published in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, basically says that we should take skateboarders more seriously.  It explains how skateboarders “ascribe new meanings and pleasures to otherwise mundane built forms,”  declaring that skaters have created an “alternative ethic of care for built environments… that transforms ordinary urban spaces into temporary autonomous play zones.”

The author, focusing on the skate scene in Chicago, write: An alternative sustainability model emerges from waxing ledges and other spatial tactics that seek to care for built environments through play….Waxing ledges contributes to a vision of the city that fosters collective uses and creative experimentations with built environments. Unintended pleasurable engagements with architectural forms challenge prescribed uses by welcoming unexpected encounters. Furthermore, waxing ledges fosters communal land-use practices…Skate boarders scout, usurp, and maintain spots of spatial desire by practising an ethic of care for the built environment that transforms ordinary urban spaces into temporary autonomous play zones . The spaces crafted through the ethic of care outlined above are both subject to an urban politics of disciplined accommodation and figure as groundwork towards resistance to punitive spatial regulation.  

Read more here.


Group Therapy On The Go

Here’s a beach sculpture –aka sand castle– I created in Long Beach Island, NJ about 24 hours after completing my first coed sprint triathlon.  It’s a self-portrait inspired by the minor torment I felt during the final two miles of the run.

Have you ever considered doing a race?  Don’t over think it.  Just register, train and show up.  Then let the magic happen.  A little like group meditation, the communal experience is truly a mind body one. Read about upcoming fitness events near you at active.com

Related alternahealthgrrrl content:  All You Need Is Psychosocial Support


Science Stories For The Rest of Us

Bob Dylan + CAM

Are most writers and editors too creative in their coverage of science, health and medicine? Steve Myers’ commentary offers some great insights into why it is so hard to write about science, including complementary and alternative medicine, psychology, and other topics covered on alternahealthgrrrl. One example:

This is why reporters are constantly making science out to be what it isn’t, and why scientists are almost always unimpressed with journalists reporting on their work. The point is, this messiness of science, with its endless years of research, cannot be summed up in a few hundred words and neatly tied with a bow harboring a big idea or mindblowing theory.
Read more here, Science writers: Jonah Lehrer’s scientific errors worse than fabricated quotes

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Can Pinterest Help You Lose Weight In A Healthful Way?

Cynthia SassHere’s an enlightened body image blog entry.  In this week’s Shape weight loss column, Cynthia Sass, RD, author of S.A.S.S! Your Self Slim, talks about dietsporational boards on Pinterest.

In Pinterest Dietspo: Motivational or Menancing?, she writes:

In addition to being a whole lot of fun, when kept in balance (I know, easier said than done!), I think Pinterest can be a great tool for supporting a healthy lifestyle, as I wrote about in a previous post How Pinterest Can Help You Lose Weight. But many of the dietspo or dietsporational boards really bum me out. Rather than viewing nutrition as a means of restriction or deprivation, I look at it as a strategy that allows me to feel well, have energy, nourish my body, manage stress, look better (hair, skin, etc.), sleep well, and be healthy, both physically and emotionally, and I want my clients to feel the same. That’s why pins like ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ make me sad.>>> Read more here.

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Five Good Minutes At Work: Mindfulness Strategies

Dr. Jeff Brantley

Dr. Jeff Brantley, founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine, reads from his book, “Five Good Minutes At Work,” during a DukeWell seminar. “The five good minutes concept is simple,” Brantley writes in the book. “Take the time, for just five minutes to be present mindfully.”

1. Focus on a calming object. When negative thoughts fill the mind, ground yourself by looking at an object that invokes calmness, such as a plant or a personal photo. Then focus your attention on your breath for several minutes. When your attention wanders toward the negative thoughts, focus it gently again on your breath and the object.
2. Train your attention. Choose a rote task like washing your hands and train yourself to pay attention to the sensations of the moment each time you do it. “This is a way of practicing focusing our attention,” Brantley said. “Focusing on physical sensations brings the mind back to the present.”
3. Take a power break. In his book, Brantley suggests taking five minutes for a silent meditation retreat away from all electronics. “Take notice of the simple vibrancy of your immediate surroundings,” he writes. Sitting quietly at your workplace, focus on your senses; listen to passing noises, enjoy patches of color and notice the warmth of your hands in your lap. Pay attention to the world around you without feeling the need to respond.
4. Take a hike. “Just before lunch, give yourself permission to get outside,” Brantley writes in his book. “Take five minutes to be mindful of your natural surroundings. When it comes time to return, with every step you take toward your job site, become increasingly aware of the calming power of being outside.”  For more, click here. 

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To Feel Less Stressed, Try MBSR

MBSRIt only takes a few weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training to notice an improvement, according to a new study.  The findings support an existing body research showing that mindfulness leads to less perceived stress.

Find an MBSR program near you via the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness

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Citation: Baer, R. A., Carmody, J. and Hunsinger, M. (2012), Weekly Change in Mindfulness and Perceived Stress in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. J. Clin. Psychol.. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21865