Final 1

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Asking For Help In Today’s World, The Need, Challenges & Barriers – Guest Blog Post By Megan Hemming

Asking For Help In Today’s World, The Need, Challenges & Barriers – Guest Blog Post By Megan Hemming

Asking for help

As children, we look to others as we learn and understand the world around us. The people in our lives help us navigate things we come across that are new and often hard to make sense of, from learning to tieing our shoelaces to first fall outs with best friends. When we get stuck with something, we ask our parents, guardians or teachers for help. It is something we are encouraged to do in life from an early age, so why do people find asking for help so difficult?

So many things can influence our views on asking for help, and some of the most common reasons are rooted in our social identity and sense of self.

Fear

Fear is a powerful driver when it comes to thoughts and behaviours and asking for help is no exception. Often times asking for help is assumed to be a sign of weakness or failure when in reality it demonstrates great self-awareness and strength. Being strong enough to ask for help -whether you are a new parent in need of some shut-eye, a student struggling to understand course material or simply someone who is not tall enough to reach the top shelf- requires a level of self-awareness to identify what you need.

This sounds simple but figuring out what we need is not always easy. Having a good understanding of your needs is a key part of asking for help. Knowing specifically what we could use a helping hand with, makes it easier for those around us to understand how we feel and also to offer the support we need.

Independence and Identity

Asking for help can sometimes feel like you are relying on others, rather than being capable of doing things alone. These thoughts can lead to feelings of low self-worth and hopelessness and can threaten our sense of independence and identity. However, it is important to remember that everyone needs help sometimes and that no one can do everything alone. Getting support to achieve our goals, or even just to get through a tough day, doesn’t make you any less independent. In asking for help, you are taking control of your situation and how it is handled.

Why asking for help is important

Acceptance

Asking for help is important because it is one of the first steps we can take to truly accept ourselves. Acknowledging our limits and understanding our imperfections allows us to grow. Brené Brown, who is based at the University of Texas, carried out research in vulnerability, and her work found that being vulnerable is a key part of self-acceptance and knowing our worth.

So we can help others

“When you cannot ask for help without self-judgement, you are never really offering help without judgement”

Brené Brown

Another important part of being able to reach out to others is that we can create an environment where we are able to help others. Seeking help and being able to offer it, with empathy and compassion, provides a network of support for and between the people in your life. But first we need to treat ourselves with that same compassion; if we are able to accept ourselves then we can begin to offer unconditional and non-judgemental support to others. 

You are not alone

The saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and in asking for help there is definitely truth in that.

Sharing a problem or issue with someone you trust can really lighten the load of working through a problem on your own. Opening up in this way can also let someone know that you are willing to listen when they ask for help. Often when we share problems we realise that many others have similar experiences, feelings and needs with us, which can make us feel less alone.

It can be daunting to ask for help, and even if you have decided that it is the right thing for you to do, knowing where to start can be tricky. Depending on what kind of help you are looking for there may be a different starting point, but there is no shortage of people who are willing to help and want to help.

Friends and family are a big part of our support network and can be a good place to start. Talking to someone you trust and asking for support might feel more comfortable if it is someone you know well.

There are also community groups and charity organisations that can offer a multitude of resources that can help, for example, local meet-ups, legal advice, and helplines for people experiencing suicidal thoughts or loneliness. Community groups normally post information on local notice boards in public spaces, and of course, most of these organisations and information can be found easily online.

Talking to your GP is also a great way to ask for help if you are struggling with physical or mental health problems. Your GP is there to listen and advise you in a confidential setting and can help you get the treatment and support you need.

Whichever way works best for you, the most important thing to remember is that asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. No one gets through everything alone, and it’s ok to get a little help in making sure your needs are met.

How Psychology Can Help With Your Productivity

How Psychology Can Help With Your Productivity

Being productive is something we probably all wish we could be. We seek out ways to make ourselves more productive and can get pretty down on ourselves when we lack the ability to be productive.

In truth, in today’s day in age, it’s never been harder to be consistently productive.

We are swarmed with opportunities to have our attention drawn in unproductive ways.

We sit down at our computers and demand that we work harder and better…but you’ve just found this iPhone game in the app store, and you just cannot previous high score on Angry Birds!!!!!…this of course was an example given to me by my friend, nothing to do with my own experiences…cough cough.

Anyway…

As much as smartphones and new technology can be hugely beneficial, they can also be misused and can be a major distraction for us in our attempts to be productive.

How then do we become more productive?

How do we learn to get rid of distractions and not let them be a part of the reason why we struggle to get our best work done?

Well, as always, psychology is here to help!

Psychological research and psychological principles can help us learn how to be more productive.

So, what does the research say we should do?

Exercise

A study in 2011 showed that exercise helps not only young child to stay focussed but adults too, meaning that if you invest time in exercise then you are going to consistently see improvements in your ability to be more productive.

Now, studies have shown that different forms of exercise help focus and productivity in different ways.

For example…

Short bursts help with short-term attention spans.

However, studies have shown that those that perform 10 hours of exercise a week have sustained attention spans.

So the more we invest in exercise, exercising consistently and over a longer period of time, then the more likely we are to see improvements in our attention and thus our productivity.

Spend time with nature

Studies have shown the huge mental and emotional benefits of spending time outside in natural environments can have.

So much so that spending time in nature is becoming a more common treatment for children with ADHD, with great effect.

Even as much as simply viewing trees and greenery from your window can have massive benefits for calmness and increasing productivity, studies have suggested.

The benefits of having an ability to be in nature are huge for our productivity levels.

However, not everyone can leave their desk at lunch and head out into the woods…really only Bear Grylls does this.

So, what else can you do?

Well, these studies that look at how nature influences our productivity levels showed that just having some plants in your office can have a similar impact on productivity.

So, the bottom line here is, if you can’t get out in the woods often then buy a Ficus.

Turn off your distractions

In 2015 the Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study that suggested that a distraction lasting just 2.8 seconds can double a person’s chances of making errors in their work.

Distractions are the enemy to productivity.

They are the anti-productivity so to speak.

As a result, they need to be destroyed…well not totally, they at least need to be turned off.

This is an easy thing to consider, but hard to do. What I would say here is, turn your phone off for an hour a day and build it up from there.

Take regular brief mental breaks

You might think working on something for hours means productivity.

You might think that because you haven’t got off your desk chair in 7 hours then you have been productive.

However, more often than not the exact opposite is the case.

You need to take regular mental breaks if you are going to experience increases in productivity.

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.

The Journal of Cognition published a study in 2011 that found that people that took short breaks of about 5 minutes every 50 minutes were far more productive than those that took no breaks.

So the bottom line here is, take regular breaks away from your work and watch your productivity increase

My First International Conference With PsychReg – Philippines, 2018

My First International Conference With PsychReg – Philippines, 2018

I started my YouTube channel GetPsyched just over a year ago. The object was for me to engage with a wider audience, to take on the role as a voice for psychology students and people just generally interested in psychology.

As I developed my YouTube channel, I also invested in developing my social media accounts.

I put more time into sharing content on Twitter, I started a GetPsyched Facebook page and an Instagram account under my own name.

This was all in an effort to network, to reach more people and to potentially create new opportunities and share ideas and content.

It was tricky at first, being in front of a camera felt very unnatural.

I had no idea about recording or video editing and so learned as much as I could from YouTube videos and articles.

Initially, the engagement was slow. I struggled to gain much traction and saw little development.

However, I had made a commitment and really did not want to fall at the first hurdle. As the months went on I developed my website frasersmithcounsellingpsy.com.

This brought more traffic and engagement to both my written blog and my YouTube channel.

As time progressed I was getting contacted by different organisations that liked my work and wanted me to write some guest blog articles.

PsychReg contacted me a few months into the development of my online content. They were a developing psychology organisation that published research and online material.

I wrote an article on men’s mental health and one on top tips for psychology undergraduates.

A few weeks later, I was invited to be interviewed about men’s mental health on the PsychReg podcast, The Mental Breakdown.

You can check out the video here.

From there, things really took off for me. I was seeing weekly growth and deeper engagement with a larger audience of psychology students and professionals and people just generally interested in psychology.

However, about six months into the development of GetPsyched. PsychReg invited me to speak at their upcoming international conference in the Philippines.

I was blown away. After an incredible amount of work and extra effort, I was gaining enough recognition to be asked as a speaker at a huge conference.

The conference itself with incredible. There were speakers and delegates from all over the world that sought to communicate revolutionary findings in psychology and education, as well as network and experience a new and diverse culture.

The Philippines and New Era University in Quezon City, Manila welcomed us with unapparelled hospitality.

The students and delegates that attended the conference had such an interesting background of experiences and a strong desire to learn more.

Throughout the conference, each speaker had the opportunity to engage with attendees that wanted to learn more about their topics. Seeing such an enthusiasm for psychology and education was amazing to witness.

It made me think more about the responsibility we hold as people that work and study in psychology and education. Our research and our learning outcomes are not only applicable to the country where we work but all over the world too.

We live in an age where we can share ideas, thoughts and findings to massive audiences across the world. As a result, new collaborative approaches to things such as mental health, schooling of young children and human rights can be shared and developed. This conference was an illustration of all of this. It was an opportunity to share amongst new colleagues and witness new ideas unfold.

My presentation was on my recent findings on a widespread literature review of men’s mental health.

I covered concepts such as toxic masculinity, male identity and issues with therapeutic uptake in men.

The opportunity itself was genuinely life-changing. I found myself on the other side of the world with some of the most prominent and inspiring figures in the field of psychology and education.

After being unsure as to whether developing online content in psychology was a good idea, I cannot describe how grateful I am to PsychReg and all others that have supported me in developing GetPsyched.

I suppose this post is not one of new information or insight, or perhaps for some, it is. I hope that this article can be utilised as motivation for anyone considering stepping out into a new domain, or those willing to think outside the box a little.

Taking a step of faith and being consistent with what you develop and the passion you show for what you do will always work! It will always provide you with what you hope for and so much more! There is no downside to working hard, showing extra effort and developing your passion for something you care about. There will only always be positivity, and at times opportunities that you cannot believe have presented themselves.

How To Network As A Psychology Student

How To Network As A Psychology Student

Studying psychology is really one of the most interesting things I have ever done.

I love psychology, I love learning about people, what makes them tick, what makes them wonder, what makes them afraid, what makes them happy.

The more I learn about psychology, and therapy, the more I want to get involved with what others are doing in the field.

From my own personal experience, I have found that the single best way to do this is via networking.

This is for a number of different reasons.

I realised that networking holds with it a huge amount of power in psychology.

Psychology is a field of individuals who care about the wellbeing and desires of others.

As a result, when I have tried to network, I have often been met with great advice and people willing to help.

Another reason why networking is so effective in psychology is that few do it!

This could be for many reasons

Perhaps people are afraid, perhaps they don’t want to step out of line, perhaps they don’t know what they are doing or who to content.

I want to give you a bit of insight into my story regarding networking, how I did it, and still do it, and the impact I have experienced as a result.

So, why should we network in psychology?

You may very well be starting out on your journey in the field, perhaps in your undergrad, or postgrad or doctorate, or perhaps you have just recently qualified.

Regardless, what needs to be realised is so many others are in the same position.

What differentiates you from the field?

Research shows that less than 10% of psychology undergraduates actually pursue a career in psychology

This could do with the challenges of continual study, or that some are just no longer interested in the area.

I actually think it has a lot to do with guidance and with knowing your path

If you are studying in psychology then you need to network!

Networking has opened so many doors for me, given me the opportunity and desire to develop online content and work with numerous individuals and organisations.

I have been given the opportunity to keynote speak at conferences, attend and present at international conference across the world, been offered job opportunities on the spot and connected with some very prominent psychologists.

All through networking.

So, here’s how I did it…

I would make a point of collecting all the contact information of the psychology centres and prominent psychologists in my area

I created bulk emails and sent them out, customising them where appropriate.

I would express my interest in their work and that I wanted to learn more.

What’s key here is that I tried to add value for them where ever I could.

If that meant volunteering for them in their centre, developing a workshop for them or writing content for social media campaigns, then I suggested it.

No matter what the situation, organisation or individual, I also made a point of adding value to them first before anything else.

I attended free events, and at times paid to attend conferences if I had the money.

This was a brilliant opportunity for me to meet face to face with people that were in attendance.

Often at events in psychology, you can get an idea of who might be attending, via social media and guides of who will be speaking.

I made sure that those attending were in line with my interests.

When I went, I would ensure I managed to get a couple of minutes with people I wanted to network with.

I created business cards and discussed my interests, work and my availability to add value to them.

I’ll be honest, networking at conferences had limited results.

Largely because people are there to either speak or listen.

I found conference attending helpful, but not as helpful as calling or emailing organisations directly.

One of the keys to networking effectively is that you have to create the opportunity for yourself.

More often than not, the opportunity that you desire and want to go after will not be an option right now.

You have to create the opportunity for yourself.

During my studies in counselling psychology, I was really struggling with workload, commitments, studies, placement and making enough money to live off.

There were no opportunities for trainees to learn directly about counselling psychology on the job, whilst earning a living.

So, I decided to try and change this, I reached out to one of the biggest private practices in the country and managed to arrange a meeting with the CEO.

I stuck with the principles of adding value and pitched the idea of why hiring counselling psychology trainees for placement on a paid basis would be a great idea for him and his organisation.

He loved it.

So much so that he and I created multiple job opportunities for counselling psychologists in training to take on placement at his organisation on a paid progression programme format.

In doing so, I had created a job for myself, whilst also developing my experience working with one of the most premier psychologists in the country.

All because I reached out, added value and was aware that the opportunities I wanted were limited.

Now, you might think that networking is just consistent of reaching out to people and asking if they will help you out.

In truth, networking can be so much more than this.

I have found that some of the best networking opportunities that have come my way have actually not been from me reaching out to people, but people reaching out to me.

How has this happened?

Through developing content.

I create a lot of content for social media, my written blog here and my YouTube channel GetPsyched.

People who read my content and what my videos sometimes reach out to me and want to know more.

This was how I managed to get some opportunities speaking at international conferences.

People saw my content and connected with me and asked if I would like to do some work with them.

My advice would be to start your networking in psychology by reaching out to people via email, telephone and attending conferences, but if you are really keen to develop your networking opportunities further then developing content could be one of the best things you do.

Networking is powerful.

In psychology, it is so underdone that it opens opportunities for those willing to take advantage of the opportunities available.

I hope this post has given you a little insight into the potential of networking and some of the key steps you can take to networking in psychology for yourself.

 

 

My Views On The BPS Male Psychology Section – My Thoughts & Rebuttal

My Views On The BPS Male Psychology Section – My Thoughts & Rebuttal

Men’s mental health is my passion. I have studied the area for a number of years now whilst studying for my doctorate in counselling psychology. You can actually check out a blog post I did on men’s mental health by clicking here.

I recently heard that BPS members will have the opportunity to vote for a male psychology section, devoted to establishing an understanding and appreciation of men’s mental health and the barriers men experience in accessing therapeutic services.

I see both sides of the argument. I welcome the idea that men need more attention in research and more support in the practical implementation of therapy. I understand that a male-specific section of the BPS may facilitate this.

However, I have reservations that this may marginalise men and their mental health further, that it may segregate them further from the main body of psychological research and practical therapy. I also feel that men’s mental health is a priority for psychologist working in any form of mental health, and so am concerned that focus on men may become secondary due to an isolated branch being devoted to male psychology.

My mind is still to be made up.

However, I recently read an article about why we do not need a male-specific section of the BPS. You can read the article here – https://notomalepsych.wordpress.com/men-and-mental-health/

This article outlines a number of ‘myths’ about men’s mental health and uses that as a basis for not having the specific section in the BPS for male psychology.

I felt compelled to write a response.

What worries me about perceptions as ones outlined in this article is that there seem to be attempts to critique the very nature of men’s lived experiences of mental health in today’s world.

These ‘myths’ are as follows:

  • Myth #1
    • Men are more likely to have mental health issues than women.
  • Myth #2
    • Men find it more difficult to access mental health services than women
  • Myth #3
    • Mental health provision is designed for women/no one ever talks about men’s mental health

I was struck by the attempts to display the challenges men face in mental health as ‘myths’. In my view, and in the view of many others, they are far from this. Men experience barriers to accessing therapy on numerous fronts, from zero-sum gender beliefs to stigma to hegemonic masculine identities.

Not only this but the research, which has been growing over the years although focussed more on a quantitative standpoint, is still lacking in its understanding and appreciation of men’s mental health.

The lack of qualitative research that seeks to establish thorough appreciations of men’s lived experience of mental health and therapeutic uptake barriers, is profound and cannot be ignored.

Allow me to go into detail about where I think this articles perceptions falter:

‘Myth #1’

This article seems to infer that men are not more likely to suffer from mental illness than women but gives no sound reasoning for this assumption.

This article states that men are more likely to be diagnosed with personality disorders and women more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

With regards to the statistics, this has got some grounds in a sound understanding of the differences in diagnoses between men and women.

However, the article attempts to justify this with the following:

“This might be due to gender bias on part of those who diagnose”

 An inference that can really only be based on assumption. If this is the case, I see no way in understanding how this gets us closer to appreciating how there is no difference between men and women with regards to the lived experience of mental health.

In part, I see some of the justification in the argument for this first ‘myth’. Men may very well experience some mental health illnesses on the same level as women, I am not refuting this.

However, there has been no consideration made of the fact that stigmatisation in men accessing help is not reserved only for therapeutic services.

The research shows that men suffer barriers in accessing any kind of medical help, this includes diagnosis of mental health illnesses. Perhaps those that wrote this article are aware of this, it cannot, however, be used as justification to infer that women must as a result experience mental health challenges on the same level.

My point here is that it may very well be the case that mental illness experiences are the same for both men and women. However, currently, we simply do not know due to lack of research and lack of understanding of the stigmatised barriers men experience in accessing diagnosis and therapy.

We, therefore, cannot make assumptions on this basis.

‘Myth #2’

This article makes comment to the perception that men suffer more challenges in accessing therapy than women. This article infers that this is not the case and that challenges in therapeutic uptake are the same for every group.

As for backing for this argument, this article goes into some detail about methodological issues with the empirical literature that attempts to outline this fact.

In doing so, the article concludes that we cannot infer that therapeutic uptake is more challenging for men than women.

My first issues with this are that barriers to therapeutic access for men are arguably one of the main factors that we see growth rates of male suicide and mental health in today’s society.

My second issue is that conclusions refuting factual information cannot be drawn from methodological inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

We should by all means critique studies and their findings, we should find holes in the work already established. However, unless the findings are starkly inaccurate and overemphasised, we cannot use this critique as grounds for disputing all findings. We can only use the critique to develop new and more robust empirical research.

The article goes on to make the comment that men of all identities are not equally appreciated in the men’s mental health literature. I completely agree.

However, if anything, I feel this reinforces the argument for a male psychology section, where if established, I would hope would take on the responsibility for representing all cohorts of men. Something where I too feel the research is lacking. I do not see how this is grounds for the lack of need for a male psychology section of the BPS, however.

This article goes on to state that middle-class men’s barriers to accessing therapy have more to do with Western ideologies than their male gender identity.

They reference Farrimond (2012) in backing the following argument:

“Indeed, even among the middle class, white men it is less their gender that stops them from accessing healthcare but rather the increasing pressures on citizens in the West to be responsible, in control and not burdens on others with regard to their health”

I find this an interesting argument. The points may be valid but I again feel that the hegemonic traditional male role identity cannot be ignored here.

The provider, the representation of ‘strength’ is still a toxic identity held onto by many men and really should be considered when making arguments as above.

The article goes on to state that focus should be centred on refuting the incessant financial governmental cuts to mental health services in our country.

I totally agree that this is a factor and one that all mental health professionals should oppose.

It also, if achieved, would, of course, better the treatment and diagnosis of men suffering from mental health challenges, as it would for all demographics.

However, to state that this should be the primary focus, and abandoning attempts to better appreciate the forgotten issue of men’s mental health is not valid.

It is not a case of one without the other, we can fight for better financial support for mental health treatment and better understandings of men’s mental health.

Also, one without the other will ultimately result in poorer service and appreciation for the men who suffer in silence.

‘Myth #3’

This article goes into an argument about the centrality that men play in TV campaigns, conferences and advertisement when talking about mental health.

More recently, but not historically, this may be the case, but it is because of all the points I have gone into above.

On the basis of this articles inaccurate suggestions, no wonder they have come to the conclusion that men should not be as prominent as they are in mental health campaigns.

The issue is, however, that their arguments are not supported. Men suffer constantly in silence from mental issues, they experience barriers unlike many demographics in accessing therapy and diagnosis for mental health illnesses and they are currently far more likely to take their own lives than other groups.

Regardless of your views on the proposed specific male psychology section in the BPS, let those views be determined by how you think men could be treated best (with or without the proposed section). Do not let those views be altered or influenced by inaccurate arguments and evidence.

How To Use Visualisation – The Power Of Visualisation

How To Use Visualisation – The Power Of Visualisation

What is visualisation?

It’s a term that’s used to help people realise and achieve goals and dreams, but what do we mean exactly by visualisation and what impact can it actually have?

Well, fundamentally visualisation is a cognitive tool used to picture exactly what you want to happen.

In doing so we are creating all aspects of the scenario that we to experience or obtain. Now, I mean everything, so that could be sounds, sights, smells, feelings.

The more realistic the visualisation you take part in and the more it stimulates you, the more impact it will have in you realising and moving closer to what you want to achieve.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter gives a fantastic explanation of what visualisation is and its power:

A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more

So, with this depiction, we can start to understand that visualisation is an opportunity for us to try and control what we are struggling to control.

It is a tool that helps us create what we want to see and achieve.

This all sounds great, ideal, give me some visualisation!

Well, hold on for a second. What is important when thinking about concepts that talk about how they are the key to success, is to look at the research.

What does psychology say about visualisation?

Well, often in psychological services, visualisation boards are used to help illustrate what the client is seeking.

These external tools can help in keeping the client focussed on visualisation.

Visualisation boards are often used for people that want a better future, a healthier lifestyle and even for those attempting to overcome addiction.

In psychological services, concrete objects are often utilised to help with the process of visualisation.

This is often used with patients with depression to visualise a better future and used to great effect.

These concrete objects can include things such as pictures in wallets for example, or mementoes that the individual carries with them.

Visualisation is also used in psychological and therapeutic services for patients with severe anxiety to create mental holidays to retreat to a calmer environment.

This might sound abstract but it has been shown to have incredible effects.

So, it’s clear then that visualisation techniques can be used to incredible effect in therapeutic and psychological contests but where else is visualisation used?

Where else is visualisation used?

Well the easiest one to appreciate perhaps is in the world of sports

Athletes will spend huge amounts of time visualising good performances.

Recent research has in fact inferred that spending time visualising performances and potential different outcomes and responses in sports settings have as much a role to play in how well an athlete performs the practice itself.

I watched the Winter Olympics earlier in the year and saw bob slay team captains pretending to go through the motions of the full course in their minds.

They would turn in ways that they would expect when they go down the track, all to ensure that they fully utilise the power of visualisation.

Visualisation can also be really effectively utilised in a studying context.

For example, you might visualise exams and coursework that you have due. Visualising what questions, you might get asked and best to answer them are all really powerful ways of utilising visualisation in studying.

The trick here, with regards to anything in visualisation, is to go through the entire process.

Don’t just focus on one questions in an exam or one move on the sports field. Visualise the full thing in its entirety.

That means, from waking up that day, to what you have for breakfast, to walking to school or the gym, to entering the room and sitting down and opening the paper…you get the idea.

The important thing is that you go through as many different scenarios in your head in as much detail as possible.

This way, you teach yourself not to expect anything unpredictable. You also reassure yourself of the different outcomes that could happen and how you might react as a result.

How can you use visualisation to great effect in your everyday life?

Well, you might to create your own visualisation board and keep it somewhere that you will see it every day. Whenever you walk past it, take some time to visualise what it is you desire as you look at the pictures.

When I was studying for exams, I used to pin my notes and mind maps around my house and when I went to the fridge for milk, there would be some notes there, I would take my time and read them through and visualise how I might use them in a potential question in an exam.

When I went to go out the front door, there would be another page of notes and I would do the same.

I was utilising visualisation to improve my upcoming performances.

Fundamentally guys, visualisation is seriously powerful, it’s not just a generic term thrown around by people who think they know what they are talking about, it has real psychological backing and is a toll that you can use every day to achieve and progress more in whatever you want to do.

Interested in learning more about visualisation? The check out the recent video I did about the psychology of visualisation on my YouTube channel GetPsyched by clicking the link here.

Using Psychology to Learn New Things Better.

Using Psychology to Learn New Things Better.

Part of the reason why I love psychology so much is that it’s not just for professors and academics.

Psychological principles can be used by anyone who has a little understanding to great effect.

I once had a psychology tutor who told me that as psychology students, we were at an extreme advantage with regards to studying for classes, assignments and exams.

We already knew what worked and what didn’t work.

We were learning the very techniques and principles that other fields tried to apply to their study patterns and regimes.

Learning new things is one of those concepts that we all wish we could be better at.

We might here new and interesting information, yet struggle to retain it and access it when we need it most.

Psychology and psychological principles can help with this though. There are numerous ways in which psychology can help us learn new things better.

You can find out so much more information on how psychology can help you learn new things better by checking out a video I did on this subject on my YouTube channel GetPsyched. Check out the video by clicking here.

In this article, I am going to give you a number of psychologically backed principles and interventions you can use to learn new things better.

So, let’s get to it.

STATE DEPENDENT RECALL

This basically means you have a place where you learn stuff.

A secluded and quiet location where you do your most profound thinking and learning.

Use this place often and make it your environment to absorb new information.

For me personally, that would be my back bedroom that has a desk in it, I can sit on my office chair and feel comfortable in that environment to give my full attention to what I am learning.

It’s peaceful, has natural light, and is simplistic and minimalistic enough to the point where I won’t get distracted.

What’s more is that when the door is shut, others know that I’m really busy or invested in a task and don’t want to be disturbed.

Put it this way, you’re not going to learn new stuff best if you keep changing the environment, at a bar or watching TV for example.

THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR

This sound fancy but it basically means holding yourself accountable for your own learning.

If you think others learn stuff better because they are just smarter than you, then your suffering from the fundamental attribution error.

Holding yourself accountable for your learning and thinking about what you can do to improve it will always assist in learning new things.

SPACED REPETITION

Now, this is a technique often used in classrooms by teachers.

It basically means extending the amount of time before trying to recall something you have learned.

By increased the time between recall, you improve our ability to learn the new information

You can try this out yourself pretty easily actually. Learn something new and give yourself 5 minutes to then recall it by memory. If you get it then extend that 5 minutes to 30 minutes, then an hour, 6 hours, a day, 3 days and so on.

To the point where you can recall the information over a large amount of time.

By extending the period of time between recalling new information, we stretch our brain and memory continually to the point where it is forced to keep responding to new and challenging circumstances.

As a result, we not only learn new things better, but we also retain them at an improved rate.

MULTI-MODEL LEARNING

This basically means you should try and learn new things via more than one method.

If you simply read something new and leave it at that, then your limiting yourself and your ability to learn and retain new information.

You could try some of the following examples as learning tools that could be used together. Draw a picture of what you are trying to learn, create a mind map, or speak it out to yourself.

By increasing the number of learning tools and format’s, you learn much faster.

THE METHOD OF LOCI

This sounds a bit weird but it’s a form of mnemonics that help you remember new information better.

Used by the ancient Greeks, you remember new information by the location that you place them in in your mind.

In the modern day, people have been able to memorise thousands of pieces of new information via this method.

They didn’t start out like this, but what they do is actually construct full cities in their head and place each piece of new information in different areas, locations and buildings around this city in order to memorise this new and vastly complex information very quickly and effectively.

There are ways that you can use this tool for yourself. For example, remembering items or pieces of information by storing them in different rooms in a house you have created in your mind has been shown to have incredible effects for learning new things.

This is a technique that you really need to try out for yourself!

UNDERSTAND YOUR WORKING MEMORIES CAPACITY

Your working memory, which is your ability to retain different pieces of useful information, has a limit.

This limit usually is capped at around 7 pieces of new information in most circumstances.

By understanding this better, you can schedule your breaks better that we spoke about earlier and retain more accurate new information more effectively and over longer and more sustained periods of time.

UNDERSTAND YOUR METACOGNITION

Firstly, what is metacognition?

Its fundamentally our ability to assess and understand our own skills and learning capabilities.

By understanding your own metacognition you’ll begin to see that you perhaps aren’t taking enough time to learn new information.

Cognitive psychologists have time and time again found that a lack of understanding of metacognition has led to poor retention of new information.

Basically, you need a level of self-awareness for what your needs are when learning new information and how you learn new information best. That way, things should start to make more sense.

So, those are my top tips on how to learn new information better. These tips are really effective but they don’t come overnight. What I suggest is that you give them all a try, see what ones, and what combination, works best for you and practice them a lot!

Al the best with learning all that new info brainiac!!!

What Is Positive Thinking And What Can It Do For You?

What Is Positive Thinking And What Can It Do For You?

Positive thinking has been in mainstream headlines and psychology headlines for a number of years now.

It’s something you are probably well familiar with, but what exactly does it mean and what are the true psychological and well-being ramifications of positive thinking?

So, before we start, what exactly is positive thinking?

One of the first issues here is that you might be tempted to think that positive thinking is looking at the world without any negativity, like looking through rose glasses.

It doesn’t.

It means having a positive outlook in spite of everyday challenges and barriers we all face.

The psychologist Martin Seligman gives an explanatory understanding in illustrating what positive thinking is.

He states that positive thinkers are able to absorb the good things that happen and can see negative outcomes as external to them and as temporary and fixable.

On the other hand, negative out lookers blame themselves for circumstances they can’t control.

They fail to give themselves credit.

They view negative events as lasting and expected, and they view challenges as insurmountable.

So, now we know what positive thinking is and isn’t. What then can we do to adopt more positive thinking and what could this do for our well-being?

In recent years, pop psychology books have made positive thinking popular.

However, positive thinking has real empirical research that shows massive health and well-being benefits.

Benefits such as:

  1. Less stress
  2. Longer life span
  3. Increase resistance to infection
  4. Lower depression rates

So why are there all these benefits from positive thinking?

Well, first of all, its clear that positive thinking is linked to other things that improve our health and well-being.

By thinking more positively, we adopt a tougher protection to things like stress and anxiety, we also tend to live healthier lives in general.

All of this positive thinking stuff sounds great then, but how can YOU develop a life with more positive thinking and gain all these incredible benefits?

Tip #1

Well, the first thing you can do is to be aware of your inner monologue. What is your inner monologue saying to you? Is it positive or negative?

By doing this, we can start to understand the source of our positive and negative thinking patterns.

Dependent on the situation and context, your inner monologue might tell you something really detrimental and negative. Knowing what situation this happens in is the first step to developing a more positive outlook.

Tip #2

Understand and evaluate how you think in difficult situations.

For example, for me when things go wrong, I am quick to think that my situation is unfixable and that the situation is inevitably going to get worse.

What is best for me here is to focus on my successes so far, understand that difficulty is part of what I am doing and that I have made it through similar circumstances before.

By being realistic about my circumstances and the situation I face and knowing that I have faced similar situations before, I develop my positive outlook and my positive thinking patterns.

Tip #3

Understand your own blame game

One of the defining features of negative thinkers is that they are quick to blame themselves, regardless of the circumstance.

This doesn’t mean as a positive thinker you need to blame others.

It means that as a positive thinker you need to be realistic with the blame you dish out.

Understanding what you are capable of improving and working on rather than fixating on what you cant control goes a long way to improving your positive thinking capabilities.

Tip #4

Start small.

Studies have shown that people who try to cultivate new habits and try to change big aspects of their lives all at once, fail more often than not.

Focusing on small steps tend to stick better over time.

So how can you utilise this when trying to think more positively?

Well, perhaps you could try some daily reflections on your negative self-talk.

Or you could find one situation a day that you normally would feel negative about and try and have a more positive outlook on.

Fundamentally, positive thinking can have an incredibly profound and positive impact on your daily lives.

There is no doubt that it is difficult, it can be hard to suddenly change from focussing on negativity to thinking more positively.

However, by adopting these top tips and understanding a little more about positive thinking, you will be well on your way to making that change.

Why not check out my YouTube channel GetPsyched where I took a look at positive thinking in a recent video, just click here to see the video.

 

Self-Motivation, What Is It And How Do We Get More Of It?

Self-Motivation, What Is It And How Do We Get More Of It?

Motivation is a strange concept, we can feel motivated to do a number of different things, but often we don’t fully see them through.

Often, we might think we are motivated to complete a task, and yet struggle when things get too difficult or when we fail.

The truth is, there are loads of things they we wish we were doing, but often we don’t undertake them or push forward to achieve them, but why is this?

The first thing we need to consider is a change in our language.

Something we would like to do is vastly different from something we want to do. It is the dichotomy of true desire and passive thought.

If we truly want something, then we are much more likely to go out and get it. So, the first point of call when assessing and developing our self-motivation is to think, is what I am working towards something I really want, or something I would like to do?

If it’s the later, then there’s a bit of an issue.

Perhaps thinking about who you are doing this for, what you might gain from achieving it, or how far you have come already will aid you in developing your ‘would like’ into a ‘want’.

The next thing for you to consider is to question yourself, are you scared to progress forward in your life?

Ron Siegel from Harvard University gives a cognitive neuroscientific perceptive here. He says that we are hard-wired to continuously expect danger in new situations.

That fundamentally means changes, or new circumstances, elicit feelings of anxiety and concern before they elicit feelings of anticipation or excitement.

Therefore, it is likely that the first thing we do will be to highlight the potential for failure, or harm to ourselves when undertaking something new. This can be really difficult when developing a sense of self-motivation.

So how do we combat this?

Well, it might sound simple, but focusing on the positive and the opportunity over the chance of failure is what is key here.

If we highlight the chance of failure instead of seeing the positive possibilities in a new task or venture, then we are much less likely to be motivated to push forward and achieve what we want, especially if and when times get hard.

So, focus on the potential positive opportunity rather than the chance of failure!

Perhaps this can be better highlighted with an example that I’m sure you can appreciate.

I have a friend who smokes and keeps attempting to stop. Time and time again he says, ‘this is my last one’ or ‘I really would like to give this up’ (again we are back to ‘would like to’ and ‘want to’ from earlier).

However, he always returns to smoking, making some lame excuse as to why he hasn’t given up, or he just ignores people altogether when he is pulled up about it.

He lacks self-motivation and can’t seem to stop.

Fundamentally, this is because the focus is with the fear of pain that he might experience in quitting, as opposed to the massive positive impact it could have on his life. He focusses on the difficulty he will experience in trying to quit, rather than the potential health improvements.

The cravings etc. are what the immediate effects would be, the health improvements are much further down the line and require discipline to progress through the negative effects of quitting smoking.

This is fundamentally what he struggles with, and is a perfect example of someone who focusses on the potential for failure, rather than the opportunity for positive success in the long run.

What makes this even more prominent and what makes it even harder for people to become self-motivated is a fixation on immediate reward, rather than long-term and sustainable gain.

Short-term immediate gain over longer sustainable and more profound gain is what stops people from being motivated in the future.

It’s what makes people stick to a job they hate rather than quit, take a pay cut and start a business of their own.

It’s what makes people go to parties rather than study for upcoming exams that will inevitably improve their future.

So, what can we possibly do about this?

My first piece of advice here would be to write out all the potential failures and successes you might experience as a result of doing what you desire.

Then, attempt to fully emotionally engage with them, experience how it would feel to fail and to succeed at what you want to do.

If we use our previous example, try and emotionally engage with the challenges and difficulties of going through cravings when quitting smoking. Then engage with how it would feel to be healthier and fitter as a result.

By experiencing the emotions as in-depth as we can, we, in turn, develop our awareness and expectations of what might happen if we fail and if we succeed.

I’m willing to bet that if you fully engage with this, then the joy of succeeding and getting what you want will be so enticing that you’ll become much more self-motivated to take that leap.

So, after all of this, how do we know if we are self-motivated or not?

Well, all you really have to do is ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. Can you do it?
  2. Do you really want it?
  3. Will it work?
  4. Is it worth it?

If you answer yes to all of these above questions, then consider yourself self-motivated…congratulations!!!

Self-motivation is not something we are born with, nor is it something that we just stumble across one day.

It is something we work on.

Don’t be disheartened when you fail or you procrastinate, what matters is that you seek to develop your self-motivation as much as possible on a daily basis.

With this understanding and applying these tips, you’ll be well on your way!

Also, be sure to stay up to date with my YouTube channel GetPsyched as self-motivation and the development of self-motivation is something I’ll look at in the coming weeks. You can subscribe and hit the bell next to the subscribe button to get reminders of when I upload!

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