Walk in Nature Beats Mall for Positive Mom-Daughter Bond

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Walk in Nature Beats Mall for Positive Mom-Daughter Bond

In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to know how a mother-daughter walk through nature would compare to a walk in the mall when it comes to mental and relational benefits.

Their findings show that the walk in nature led to more positive interactions and a greater sense of unity between moms and daughters, compared to the indoor mall walk. The nature walk also restored attention, particularly for the mothers in the study.

The study is based on the “attention restoration theory” which holds that natural environments can reduce mental fatigue and restore attentional functioning. Many studies have supported this theory, but most, if not all, have only looked at the attentional benefits of spending time in nature alone.

Family studies researchers Drs. Dina Izenstark and Aaron Ebata believed that if this theory works for individuals it might also benefit families and help encourage more positive family interactions and cohesion. They developed a new theoretical approach to studying the benefits of family-based nature activities.

“Past research shows that in nature individuals’ attention is restored but we wanted to know, what does that mean for family relationships?” said Izenstark.

“In our theoretical model we made the case that when an individual’s attention is restored, they are less irritable, have more self-control, and are able to pick up on social cues more easily. Because of all of those dynamics, we believe they should get along better with other family members.”

For the study, Izenstark, now an assistant professor at San José State University, and Ebata, an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I, tested their theory by observing sets of moms and their 10- to 12–year-old daughters as they took a walk together in nature as well as in the mall.

A total of 27 mom-daughter pairs met at a home-like research lab on campus before each walk. For 10 minutes they participated in attention-fatiguing activities (i.e. solving math problems, word searches) while a recording of loud construction music played in the background.

The researchers gave the participants a “pre-attention” test, and then set them out on a 20-minute walk, one day to a nature arboretum, and then on another day to a local indoor mall.

After returning from each walk, the moms and daughters were interviewed separately. They were given a “post-attention” test and were asked which type of walk they found the most fun, boring, or interesting. They were then videotaped playing a game that required them to work together.

The findings were clear; a walk in nature boosted positive interactions, helping the moms and daughters get along better. It also restored attention, a significant effect for mothers in the study.

For moms, attention was restored significantly after the nature walk. Interestingly, for daughters, attention was restored after both walks, which Izenstark says may be a result of spending family leisure time with their mother.

“It was unique that for the daughters walking with moms improved their attention,” said Izenstark. “But for the moms, they benefitted from being in a nature setting. It was interesting to find that difference between the family members.

“But when we looked at their subjective reports of what they felt about the two settings, there was no question, moms and daughters both said the nature setting was more fun, relaxing, and interesting.”

Izenstark added that in order to relieve mental fatigue, we need to restore our directed attention. “In nature, you can relax and restore your attention which is needed to help you concentrate better. It helps your working memory,” she said. “We know that both moms and daughters experience mental or attentional fatigue. It’s common especially after a full day of concentrating at work or at school.”

“If you think about our everyday environments, not only are you at work, but maybe your cell phone is constantly buzzing, and you’re getting emails. With all the stimuli in our everyday environments, our attention is taxed more than we realize,” said Izenstark.

The last aspect of the findings looked at improved cohesion or togetherness in the mom/daughter pairs. After analyzing the videotaped interactions during the game, the researchers only found an effect for nature. For example, after the nature walk, moms and daughters showed greater dyadic cohesion, a sense of unity, closeness, and the ability to get along, compared to the indoor walk.

Although this study only focused on mothers and daughters in particular, Izenstark says that the overall aim of the research is to examine different ways in which nature affects family relationships in general.

“First and foremost I hope it encourages families to find ways to get outside together, and to not feel intimidated, thinking, ‘oh, I have to go outside for an hour or make it a big trip,’” she said.

“Just a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood before or after eating dinner or finding pockets of time to set aside, to reconnect, not only can benefit families in the moment but a little bit after the activity as well.”

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

 

 

November 21, 2017 at 07:23AM

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One Type of Social Withdrawal May Benefit Creativity

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One Type of Social Withdrawal May Benefit Creativity

New research suggests that not all forms of social withdrawal are detrimental. In the first study to show that social withdrawal may include a positive outcome, researchers from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, discovered unsociability, one form of social withdrawal, may actually be beneficial.

The findings published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggest that unsociability is not only unrelated to negative outcomes, but linked positively to creativity.

“Motivation matters,” said Dr. Julie Bowker, an associate professor in UB’s Department of Psychology and lead author of the study. “We have to understand why someone is withdrawing to understand the associated risks and benefits,” she says.

Bowker’s study may recall Thoreau’s retreat to Walden Pond or Thomas Merton’s work as a cloistered monk. But the benefits of withdrawing to nature or reconnecting to the self have not been well investigated in the psychological literature, according to Bowker.

The new research challenges the negative view of social isolation. “When people think about the costs associated with social withdrawal, often times they adopt a developmental perspective,” she said.

“During childhood and adolescence, the idea is that if you’re removing yourself too much from your peers, then you’re missing out on positive interactions like receiving social support, developing social skills and other benefits of interacting with your peers. “This may be why there has been such an emphasis on the negative effects of avoiding and withdrawing from peers.”

But, in recent years, Bowker said there is growing recognition for the different reasons why youth withdraw from and avoid peers, and that the risk associated with withdrawal depends on the underlying reason or motivation.

Some people withdraw out of fear or anxiety. This type of social withdrawal is associated with shyness. Others appear to withdraw because they dislike social interaction. They are considered socially avoidant.

But some people withdraw due to non-fearful preferences for solitude. These individuals enjoy spending time alone, reading or working on their computers. They are unsociable. Unlike shyness and avoidance, research consistently shows that unsociability is unrelated to negative outcomes. Bowker’s study is the first to link it to a positive outcome, creativity.

“Although unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others, we know that they spend some time with peers. They are not antisocial. They don’t initiate interaction, but also don’t appear to turn down social invitations from peers. Therefore, they may get just enough peer interaction so that when they are alone, they are able to enjoy that solitude. They’re able to think creatively and develop new ideas, like an artist in a studio or the academic in his or her office,” Bowker said.

In the study, shyness and avoidance were related negatively to creativity. Bowker thinks that “shy and avoidant individuals may be unable to use their solitude time happily and productively, maybe because they are distracted by their negative cognitions and fears.”

For the study, 295 participants reported on their different motivations for social withdrawal. Participants were asked to self-report via a standardized assessment tool that assessed creativity, anxiety sensitivity, depressive symptoms, and aggression. Researchers evaluated participants behavioral approach system (BAS), which regulates approach behaviors and desires, and their behavioral inhibition system (BIS), which regulates avoidant behaviors and desires.

Bowker says there is some overlap in the types of social withdrawal.

Someone might be high in shyness, but also have some tendency toward unsociability. But, the results from her study show that when the research controls for all the subtypes, the three types of social withdrawal are related differently to outcomes.

Not only was unsociability related positively to creativity, but the study findings also showed other unique associations, such as a positive link between shyness and anxiety sensitivity.

“Over the years, unsociability has been characterized as a relatively benign form of social withdrawal. But, with the new findings linking it to creativity, we think unsociability may be better characterized as a potentially beneficial form of social withdrawal.”

Source: University at Buffalo

November 21, 2017 at 06:40AM

Best of Our Blogs: November 21, 2017

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I know you’re here cause you’re hurting. You’re searching for a sense of normalcy, place of belonging, and the sense you’re not alone.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I wanted to tell you this.

I’m so grateful for you. There are people suffering everywhere, and you’re here trying to get better.

I’m so grateful for your courage to seek and spread truth, honesty, healing and empathy. Thank you Psych Central visitors! It may not seem like it while you’re coping with ADHD, a neglectful family or recovering from abuse, but taking care of yourself is how we end up healing the world.

Happy Holidays, Emotionally Neglectful Family
(Childhood Emotional Neglect) – You think you’re alone, but this post shows you’re not the only one suffering through the holidays. Here’s how to get it closer to the loving, meaningful and comfortable season you deserve.

Abandonment Fears of a Vulnerable Narcissist: BPD at the Core
(The Savvy Shrink) – If you’re a survival of narcissistic abuse, this could help.

7 Steps of Healing from Domestic Violence
(The Exhausted Woman) – You can recover from trauma. These steps will move you towards healing.

10 Annoying Things People Do At Work
(Tales of Manic Depression) – Are you guilty of doing the following?

What Happens to Adults With ADHD After They Get Diagnosed?
(ADHD Millennial) – You’ve just got diagnosed with ADHD. Here’s what you need to know.

November 21, 2017 at 06:36AM

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

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Do you compare yourself to others? Well today, I’m writing about why you need to stop comparing yourself to others.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new” ~ Socrates.

At the very early stages of my career, I gave a talk to a local group about hypnosis and then at the end conducted a group hypnosis session. One particular lady came up to me as I was leaving and told me how absolutely wonderful she thought the session was and that she was going to email me about potentially working with me in my role as hypnotherapist. When she did email me two days later however, it was not what I had expected. She said that she had spoken to her friends who had loved the group hypnosis session too, but that their experiences sounded much more amazing than hers, and so she believed that she was not a good hypnotic subject and perhaps hypnotherapy was not for her after all.

Have you ever done something that you’re so proud of and feel on top of the world about until you see that someone else has done something similar that, in your mind, is better, and all of sudden you feel sad?

In Social Psychology (Festinger, 1954), comparing oneself with others we consider to be better off or superior is called upward social comparison. To then desire what they have because you believe that what you have is less valuable; it’s that “grass is greener” phenomenon. Simply put, it’s about our human tendency to believe that something on the other side of where we are, is better.

Wanting to see how you stack up against your peers, business competitors and future career competition is natural. Everyone has some kind of curiosity, a desire to know if they’ve come close to their goals or if their hard work is equally paying off in contrast to others. Some individuals may wonder how their co-worker’s performance measures up to their own or how their neighbour became so successful to purchase that brand new luxury sports car, for example. Under these types of circumstances, dozens of underlying comparisons can be made, some of which might revolve around work ethic, career choices, financial decisions, random life experiences and even as far as childhood upbringing. Making status observations is a part of human nature but dwelling on obsolete reasoning evokes insecurity, status anxiety, and a general overall dissatisfaction with oneself.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~Theodore Roosevelt.

According to a Stanford University study entitled “Hedonic Consequences of social comparison” by Lyubomirsky and Ross (2013) comparison is the fastest way to take all the fun out of life. It’s none of your business what other people are doing. All that matters is that you’re enjoying yourself and pleased with what you’re creating. It’s precisely your uniqueness that makes you awesome.

The reasons behind this human tendency are quite fascinating. According to social comparison theory, this drive is part of our basic desire to understand ourselves and our place in the social world. Dwelling too much on these judgments has a detrimental cost, so instead focus on how we can overcome this tendency to compare and/or constantly desire something on the other side of where we are; especially when it’s self-limiting, or interferes with us being our best selves. Our journey towards overcoming begins with a brief lesson on dichotomous thinking. Dichotomous thinking presumes that a given situation has only two choices, e.g., good or bad; right or wrong; desirable or undesirable, and tends to occur in an automatic fashion outside of our awareness. Dichotomous thinking limits our ability to recognise the range of choices available to us in a given situation.

The problem with comparing yourself to others is that not everybody has exactly the same life. Sure, you feel better by assuming that someone is more accomplished than you because they had it easier or their achievements evolved under special circumstances, but in reality, they may have worked longer and harder to get to where they are. There are simply too many variables that contribute to who and how we are, it makes comparison a ridiculous thing to do. Social comparisons are flawed due to the biased reasoning that every individual in your reference group is completely identical to oneself and subject to the same environment.

You are your own person and you should have your own measure of success. Every single individual has a unique skillset and personality, among many other factors, and attempting to just copy another person’s achievements is foolish. The real key to success is finding your own path and providing merit based upon how you define your accomplishments, not how others would. Of course, we can learn from others, attempt to emulate them and even model successful strategies, techniques and approaches of those who have been successful, but comparing ourselves in a way that we find deflating or defeating is problematic.

Be happy with where you are and how you got there. Reward yourself for all the milestones you’ve reached and all the achievements you’ve worked so hard for. And most importantly, continue to tirelessly chase your goals, but do it without the fear of failure and without comparing your progress to that of others.

Ask yourself how can you become a new and improved version of yourself? If you have to compete, compete with your own potential. Trying your best and not succeeding is not the failure. The real failure is in not even trying or trying but not giving it your best shot.

Being our best selves begins with spending time focusing our attention on aspects of our own situation, rather than on comparing it to others. Thinking beyond a dichotomous paradigm provides opportunities to explore ways of transforming our situations into what we’d like them to be. Simply put, this approach enables us to invest the time, energy, and resources we would have spent comparing and trying to ‘measure up,’ into embracing ourselves and creating change in our own environment.

Work on getting yourself to focus on the real stuff that matters. This is why having goals and passions and a focus is so important! It helps you to focus on something worthwhile, helps you to continue to move forward, it’s something you can get excited about, you can continue to grow and expand through following these goals and passions, and all this helps move you beyond your world in your head.

When you believe in yourself and have confidence, by default you come to love and honour yourself and want the best for yourself. You demand only the best for yourself, you realise you are deserved, and you are happy living. Here are a number of articles to help you develop your belief in and love for yourself:

a) How To Believe In You – 9 and a bit Ways To Advance Self-Belief.
b) Believe in Yourself!
c) Creating Your Superhero Alter-Ego Using Self-Hypnosis To Boost Confidence.
d) 6 Ways to Overcome Self-doubt.
e) Using Self-Hypnosis To Love Yourself More.

When you have confidence in yourself, you also stop comparing yourself to others because the only one you want to compare yourself to is you, and all that matters are the positive changes you are making in your life for yourself by yourself.

Life isn’t a competition; it is a journey. The only competition here is with yourself. Compete with yourself and you’ll see growth in your life. When you compete with yourself, you start with the old version of you and work on becoming the new and better version of you.
A few years back on this blog, I referred to a piece of research conducted at Baylor University entitled “Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction” by Tsang and colleagues, published in the Journal of Individual Differences (2014) that suggested that if you are a materialistic person you are more likely to also be depressed and unsatisfied with your life.

The study and my related article highlighted something that is really relevant here today – that there is often a gap, a chasm, that exists between where we are and where we want to be – the gap creates dissatisfaction in many. The idea presented in this research is that by continuing to focus on what you want, you are inherently aware of what you don’t have, which in turn makes it harder for you to appreciate and be satisfied with what you do already have. When you compare yourself to others, you yearn to have what they have, be where they are, you create dissatisfaction with your own life and your own self.
Psychology research (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons & Larson, 2001; Froha, Sefickb & Emmons, 2008; Grant & Gino, 2010) tends to suggest that gratitude has an important role to play when it comes to combating the negative effects of comparing ourselves to others.

Being grateful for what you have and what you have done is something that you can do at anytime to receive the benefits. It is a major antidote to negative feelings that are caused if you compare yourself to others. What’s more, it’ll help you to stop comparing yourself to others in the first place. Many authors tend to believe that if you want more of something, then simply be grateful for the things you already have. I don’t want to reach that far even. Simply use gratitude to advance your degree of satisfaction with your own life.

So develop strategies and psychological approaches whereby you stop comparing yourself to others, then learn to express gratitude about yourself and your own life. Incidentally, I no longer tend to deliver group hypnosis sessions at local groups or presentations, I do offer group sessions on my courses, but today when I am giving presentations to groups as part of marketing my business in particular, I do demonstrations on individuals that are impactful and impressive for the others in the room and so that they do not all compare their experiences with each other afterwards.

Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:

1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.

November 21, 2017 at 04:52AM