My TEDx Glasgow Experience – The Male Identity Crisis

My TEDx Glasgow Experience – The Male Identity Crisis

It was a day full of anticipation, full of excitement and of the unknown.

When you hear about TED, your mind immediately gets drawn to all kinds of images, big crowds, the Madonna mic, the red circle, hard-hitting and inspiring talks. TEDx Glasgow had it all and it was such a joy and an honour to have been a part of it.

Speaking is one of those things that I have a strange connection with. I’ve always been a good communicator when academic performances were poor growing up, I was always able to communicate well with others. There is something about speaking in front of large groups that causes huge anxiety but also creates enormous excitement.

I suppose in some ways it’s like the person that does ultra marathons. We might think that it’s terrifying, anxiety-provoking and gut-wrenching, the person that does the ultra marathon would probably agree, but they are still going to sign up for the next one.

I feel similarly with regards to speaking, I love it, I love the buzz and the anticipation. If I’m honest, I love the idea of communicating expertise and knowledge to a group of willing ears.

This passion for speaking and my passion for mental health and especially men’s mental health drew me to TEDx Glasgow. With over 2,000 people in attendance, it’s one of the biggest TEDx platforms on earth.

It was a number of months of applying and going through different rounds of the application process, finally hearing that I had been accepted as a speaker a few months before the talk.

I was immediately assigned a coach who was incredible and who I met with each week. We discussed the topic of my talk, The Male Identity Crisis. We looked at the message I wanted to convey and how I would manage this in just 8 minutes.

This was unlike any talk I had ever given before. I had to do more than just communicate research and empirical findings, I had to illustrate my story and discuss why this topic was so important to me.

I was anxious about memorising my script. It was 8 minutes long and I had no idea how I was going to memorise all the words and sentences that my coach and I had so painstakingly gone through with a fine-tooth comb. My dyslexia means that its really difficult for me to absorb the written word at times. As a result, I decided to create some illustrations of my talk notes.

This has always been helpful for me, rather than memorising words, I could memorise the images and remember what words I needed to say when each image popped up in my mind.

You can check out those images below here:

Men’s mental health is not only the main focus of my research on my counselling psychology doctorate, but it is also my passion. The fact that 78% of all suicides are completed by men, that 84 men a week take their own lives and that only one-third of the population of people in therapy are men.

The statistics are staggering and for me, one of the biggest contributing factors to the epidemic of men’s mental health and suicide is male identity and how we view men.

The way that men are viewed in society today, with what I think ha an element of a predatory nature, is the biggest component of men’s mental illness and male suicide I feel. In many ways, men are now encouraged to be vulnerable, to talk about how they feel and to seek help. However, at the same time, men are still expected to adhere to stereotypical masculine norms like being autonomous, not showing emotion and never asking for help.

It’s this conflicting identity that I feel leads to this male identity crisis and ultimately to men’s mental illness and male suicide.

The day finally arrived and it brought with it everything I had come to stereotypically associate with TED events. Massive crowds, the TED logo everywhere, art and different types of performers. It was amazing and difficult to not get drawn into the anxiety that came with speaking on such a platform.

I was keen to be around people as much as possible, I’m not someone that finds massive benefit in isolated moments during such anxious times. I spoke to family members and friends and chatted to volunteers in the green room.

I checked out a couple of the talks from some of the other amazing speakers and got prepared by rehearsing my full talk with my coach.

Waiting backstage was, of course, nerve raking but I was excited to get going.

The most anxious moment was getting strapped up with the mic and standing at the side of the stage, ready to give my talk.

Walking to the red circle felt like it took 20 minutes but when I got there, I was able to look out and felt a sense of confidence that I could remember my talk and communicate it well.

I always find that once you face a fear and prepare well in advance, you gain a real sense of accomplishment and joy from overcoming something that was originally a barrier for you. That’s exactly how I felt with this.

Doing my GetPsyched videos was of course initially nerve raking, no one really likes being filmed initially. However, that eventually became routine. This was very very different.

In truth, I have to say I really enjoyed every second of giving my talk. The joy of this whole process, the months of preparing, rehearsing and amending my script all concluded with what was an awesome day.

Since then the opportunities for speaking and connecting with others have really grown, but I don’t want this blog post to be just about me. I want to give some advice and belief to people that want to undertake a TED talk but perhaps think it’s out of their reach.

So, here are some of my top tips for getting started:

  1. You absolutely are capable of doing it. TED talks might have a huge global status and platform but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply or speak. TED is looking for innovating and interesting ideas, we all have those. So my first piece of advice is to believe that this is an option for you.
  2. When thinking of an idea to talk about, it doesn’t have to be a “never before heard of” topic. It could be a topic that we all understand but given a different angle due to your subject appreciation. Think about a topic you love and how that topic might be appreciated different because of your own living experience.
  3. Apply! You could spend months building up the courage and constructing ideas, but you’ll get nowhere if you don’t send that application form!
  4. The important thing is not about how well you know the topic, or how smart you can sound. The key to any process with a TED talk is to discuss what it means to you. What is your story connected to your topic? How can people connect with the story through you?

I encourage anyone thinking about doing something like this to go for it. TEDx Glasgow is one of the most incredible events and one of the biggest honours of my life!

The Dark Side Of Our Minds by Yadav Acharya

The Dark Side Of Our Minds by Yadav Acharya

Introduction

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and one of the very influential psychoanalysts of the 20th century. He was a student of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. While Jung and Freud were the firm believers of the unconscious mind, they had many ideas that went against each other.

Carl Jung devised his own version of the psychoanalysis, analytical psychology, for which he is considered the founder and the forerunner. Jung’s analytical psychology expanded the field of the human unconscious through the integration of religion, evolution, symbolism, archetypes, anthropology, and philosophy with the psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

While Freud was limited to sexual instincts and fear of death (much later in his career) to explain the human nature and mental illness, Jung did a great job seeing the whole picture or at least didn’t oversimplify while seeking the truth.

What is more impressive about Jung was he divided unconscious into the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious and delineated each with eclectic sources and paradigms. It is very hard to do that because the unconscious mind doesn’t manifest itself as obvious as a conscious mind, and most of what comprises the unconscious mind is hidden into the darkness of mental faculty.

The Unconscious Mind

As hidden as it is, the impact of the unconscious mind in the lives of human beings, especially while we are talking about the mental, social, and existential wellness, is huge and very mysterious.

Many people who consider the visible and observable evidence as the only reliable source of enquiry, according to Jung, make a grave mistake of ignoring the source of truth and light. We learn to deal with darkness only through the enquiry of it, avoidance just keeps the possibility of discovery. In his book, Jung (1933) describes the nature of our investigation as follows:

“When we must deal with problems, we instinctively refuse to try the way that leads through darkness and obscurity. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.

But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer; as I have already said, we must even indulge in speculations.” (Jung, 1950, pg. 97)

This type of venture into the unconscious mind has been the heart of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. This was the important step because, in Jung’s view, the integration of shadow or evil aspect of our personality is made possible through such exploration into the darkness. Every individual searching for the wholeness of self has to confront the chaos within oneself.

This principle has been the essence of steps adopted by a highly successful rehabilitation organization called Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) which has an estimated membership of over two million. In an article by M. Addenbrooke (2017), the involvement of Carl Jung in the foundation of A.A. is mentioned and the steps that this organization implements to treat millions of alcoholics reside on the “Jung’s idea that alcoholism represents a misguided search for wholeness.”

The same article also mentions that the steps that made the treatments of all those possible “facilitate acceptance of and confrontation with shadow aspects of oneself as an essential element in recovery” (Addenbrooke, 2017).

Archetypes, Individuation, Healing, and Identity

Another important feature of the unconscious mind is that it acts as the storage-basket of personal and archetypal myths. In simple language, the myths are the untruthful or alternative perception of the reality based on the imagination, experiences, and emotions. The relation of personal myths and archetypal myths with the individuation process is highly stressed in analytical psychology.

In analytical psychology, the individuation process plays a vital role in the healing of patients who suffer from deeply rooted anxiety, fear, crisis, and depression. Whoever have developed the dysfunctional forms of personal myths, they assess the situations and most importantly the dangers around them in an ineffective manner.

If that happens, the appearance of anxiety, fear, and stress over irrelevant matters is inevitable: a person’s danger perception can predict his/her behaviour in the face of any hazard (Veschikova, 2014). An adaptive response to threat results in well-being while a dysfunctional one predicts the danger of psychological illness. So, the study of personal myths has some potential in the therapeutic journey of the patients suffering from fear, anxiety, crisis, and depression.

Similarly, the journey into the archetypal world of the unconscious mind and the manifestation of the personal unconscious is considered an important part of Jung’s analytical psychology. Through the investigation, an analyst connects the ego or the personal unconscious of the patient with a significant and most relevant archetype.

This way, after the investigation and effective interpretation of the archetype, the hidden personal complexes come into the consciousness of the patient’s mind. Once the identification is done, the room for changes expand. If one continues to be under the grip of the dysfunctional complexes, the healing process is delayed.

So, the patient knowing the actual cause of his complexes must sacrifice his/her identification with his ego/complexes and connect with his self. The development of self (i.e. individuation process) starts as soon as the patient loosens the grip with his/her dysfunctional complexes. Thus, the upwelling of the complex is very important for the therapeutic journey.

However, it is suggested that more than the dissolution of the complexes, the long-term healing requires the individual to be conscious of the complexes and identify themselves with “an aptitude to change” (Sullivan, 1996).

While talking about the myths that are prevalent in the unconscious of the individuals, it is also important to talk about family myths. A child’s development in the presence of the controlling and perfectionistic parents make the child identify himself with the archetypal influence of the family myth. Such type of myth, Jung describes, hampers the psychological development of the children as they tend to identify the situations and people outside their family with the childlike archetype.

This idea of the childlike principle of Jung in the psychological development of a child is a deviant from that of Freud’s who ascribed most of the developmental processes to Oedipal or Electra complexes. While Freud based his theory fully on sexual impulses, Jung realistically based his idea on parental control and the inability of the child to escape the childlike archetype (not being monistic about it), sometimes even though there is no presence of parents.

As a result of such tendency, some individuals are identified with features such as “the puer aeternus, with deficits in the ability to work, form stable adult relationships, and create a separate nuclear family”. Hence, the identification of such myths is very essential (Kradin, 2009). Such identification helps, as discussed above, in envisaging the possible attitudinal and behavioural changes. Some of such changes can be the development of personal mythologies.

Such myths help individuals navigate through life, especially through the life crisis. Everybody needs at least some degree of standard and meaning to which they can identify themselves with. How does that work anyway? Feinstein, Krippner, & Granger (1988) have summarized some of the principles that seem to govern the development of individual myths.

In the same paper, they also have evaluated some of the characteristics of “mythologies associated with higher levels of personality integration” (Krippner, & Granger, 1988).  After understanding these principles, their personality, and their needs, individuals can develop some personal myths themselves, with the assist of analytical psychologists.

Another way to find the meaning is through the use of imagination. Since the meaning is subjective to the individuals, anybody can linger into their imagination and fantasy that “touches the larger impersonal archetypal patterns” (Jean Knox, 1994). Thus, in the development of personal myths, the final call again goes to the exploration of a form of the unconscious mind which is the source of all the archetypes, the collective-unconscious.

The Scientific Value

Even though we have known some of the principles, theories, and claims of Jungian philosophies, we must also ponder on the practical effectiveness of the Jungian ideas on the unconscious mind and the archetypes in the real world and scientific community. Very early in this paper, we saw that the most popular organization in the world of rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous have integrated the Jungian ideas of darkness and the shadow personality into their treatment methods.

This evidence that substantiates the effectiveness Jungian principles cannot be understated. Further, Roesler (2013) wrote an article in which he assessed several reports, research projects, and empirical studies on Jungian psychotherapies.

Several patients who went through the therapy process were able to show “significant improvements” against their problems along with the improvements in “level of personality structure and in everyday life conduct.”

Also, the study of several health insurance reports makes it evident that the patients who went through Jungian psychotherapy utilized fewer healthcare facilities than the average population. The analysands reported long term psychological well-being. Through his analysis of such documents and researches, Roesler went on to conclude that the Jungian psychotherapy now has empirical evidence to substantiate its effectiveness in the therapeutic process.

Not only for the healing process, Roesler’s (2013) narrative study of some life stories suggest that Jungian principles have significance also in the overall lives of people. His examination of 20 autobiographical stories has produced some interesting findings. All the 20 storytellers have integrated some archetypal patterns into their life stories.

Archetypal stories like hero story, tragic life, victims etc. were extracted from the lives of the participants of the study. Such archetypes help to form an identity, develop effective personal myths to deal with life/reality, as well as a guide through the crisis.

Conclusion

To cap it all, through many documented papers, it is evident that the Jungian notion of archetypes and the process of diving into the unconsciousness play a significant role in the individuation process.

The same process is initiated in many clinical practices of analytical psychology by encouraging patients to explore the darkness of the unconscious mind. In other words, healing requires going into the unknown territory, finding a way to control the monster, and also bringing the treasures (hidden in the dark world of the unconscious) that suits us.

Jung, through his eclectic reading, clinical experience with patients, and logical reasoning, explored the dark territory of unconscious mind very effectively and provided the anecdotes to the chaos. He felt the need to integrate the darkness into the personality, utilize it, and figure out the most functional way to bring order in our lives.

Also, thanks to Sigmund Freud, who came up with the concept of the unconscious mind.

References

Jung, C. G. (1950). Modern man in search of a soul. New York: Harcourt.

Sullivan, M. (1996) The analytic initiation: the effect of the archetype of initiation on the personal unconscious. Journal of Analytical Psychology.  41(4):509-527.

Veschikova, M. I. (2014). A Review of Studies of Danger Perception and Prospects of its Study in Clinical Psychology Development. Psychological Science & Education, 6(4), 169–181.

Kradin, R. (2009). The family myth: its deconstruction and replacement with a balanced humanized narrative. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(2), 217–232.

Jean Knox, R. (1994). Living Myth: Personal Meaning as a Way of Life (Book). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 39(2), 277.

Feinstein, D., Krippner, S., & Granger, D. (1988). Mythmaking and Human Development. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 28(3), 23.

Roesler, C. (2006). A narratological methodology for identifying archetypal story patterns in autobiographical narratives. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 51(4), 574–586.

Roesler, C. (2013). Evidence for the Effectiveness of Jungian Psychotherapy: A Review of Empirical Studies. Behavioral Sciences (2076-328X), 3(4), 562–575.

 

5 Nighttime Routines to improve Your Mental Health by Kay Carter

5 Nighttime Routines to improve Your Mental Health by Kay Carter

Whether you’re a busy parent, an aspiring professional, someone that struggles with insomnia, stress, anxiety, or maybe a combination of the three, sleep is an integral part of your mental and physical well-being.

Did you know that creating a nighttime routine can actually be more conducive to going to sleep and staying asleep each night?

Similar to creating a bedtime routine for your children, you can implement a bedtime schedule that will train your body to get better sleep and promote better mental health. Here are some beneficial nighttime routines to improve your mental health.

1. Take Note of What Your Eat and Drink Before Bed

It’s well-known that what we put into our bodies has a direct effect on how we feel throughout the day. The same can be said regarding what we eat and drink before bed and how it affects how we sleep.

Make sure that you avoid any type of caffeinated beverages and alcohol before bed. This may seem counterproductive—isn’t alcohol supposed to relax you?

Believe it or not, while alcohol is considered a depressant, alcohol consumed in large quantities can affect your melatonin levels and will prevent you from staying asleep at night.

You also want to make sure that you aren’t eating anything too heavy or sugary before bed. Try to eat your dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep and if you get hungry for a bedtime snack, try healthy foods that are low in carbs, such as carrot sticks and hummus, avocado, greek yoghurt, or apples.

2. Stick With the Schedule You Create (Even on Weekends)

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, having a consistent sleep schedule can set the body’s internal clock and produce quality, sound sleep.

Once you create a sleep schedule for yourself, make sure you stick to it as often as possible, even on the weekends. It may be tempting to go out during the weekends, stay up all night, and then sleep in the next day, but actions like that alter your circadian rhythm and end up making it harder for you to go to sleep at your regular time the next night.

There will always be exceptions to the norm, such as special events or going on vacations outside of your regular time zone, but as a rule of thumb, make sure your nighttime routine stays consistent every single night and try to avoid any distractions that may alter your routine. This includes watching television close to bedtime and even having your phone close to you.

Most phones now offer a nighttime mode that will remind you when it gets close to bedtime and will automatically put itself in “Do Not Disturb” mode to help make it easier to avoid distractions.

3. Plan Your Morning Ahead of Time

If you find yourself struggling to get to sleep each night and are constantly tossing and turning, stressing about the day ahead, consider taking a moment to plan your morning. Lay out what you will wear the next day, meal prep your lunch, and take a little bit of time to work through your morning schedule.

This will help you in two ways: the first is that you will find yourself more at ease, knowing you have taken active steps to get yourself ready for the next day. The second is if you find yourself thin on time in the mornings, having all your big items ready to go will shave off a lot of time you otherwise would be stressing about in the morning.

Additionally, try making your bed every morning. Adding this to your morning routine can actually have a positive effect on your mental health when you go to sleep each night. Having a nice crisp and neatly made bed is visually welcoming and helps your mind and body relax that much more, as opposed to diving into a mess of sheets.

4. Consider Your Surroundings

You want to make sure that your bedroom is conducive to getting the sleep you need and improving your mental health. While this isn’t something you will add into your routine or practice every night, you want to make sure this is implemented to make sure you are primed for sleep. According to House Method, having a bedroom that’s conducive to a restful night’s sleep can help improve mental health.

Think about how your room looks right now. Do you get a good night’s rest each night or could there be improvements? Make sure when it’s time for bed, your room is dark, cool, and quiet.

Remove all distractions from your room and ensure that rattling appliances or a loud ceiling fan are addressed and quieted. Turn your TV and phone off and shut off all lights before falling asleep.

The temperature of your home also can directly affect the quality of sleep you get. Typically, the best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but be sure to adjust according to your comfort level. While you may want to save money on your electric bill, bedtime is not the time to keep the AC at 80 degrees for the sake of saving money.

5. Implement Self-Care Into Your Routine

With a busy schedule, it may be hard to try and squeeze in self-care, but it’s essential to your mental health. As you get ready for bed and are trying to establish a nighttime routine, now is the perfect time to add self-care.

A great way to end the day is by using a gratuity journal to notate three things you are grateful for each day. Journaling helps calm the mind and can help keep life in perspective.

You can also use journaling to write notes about any last-minute thoughts that pop into your mind before you go to sleep, such as making sure you remember a dentist appointment or jotting down a quick note to grab milk when you go to the grocery store.

Other ways you can practice self-care is by taking this time to practice a guided meditation or a relaxing bedtime yoga session. You may even want to do something simpler, such as apply a relaxing face mask before you go to sleep.

How Concepts Like Hygge And Ikigai Will Improve Your Life

How Concepts Like Hygge And Ikigai Will Improve Your Life

There has been an ongoing trend of finding solutions to modern problems through formerly obscure lifestyle concepts and practices from different countries throughout the world.

Out of these emerging concepts, two tend to stand out the most: the Japanese concept of ikigai and the Danish concept of hygge (hew-guh) – both of which have undergone transformative reinterpretations to suit the needs and tastes of the modern tech-saturated world.

To understand why these concepts stand out more than most – as well as to see how both can improve your own life – you first need to understand how and why they’ve become so popular in recent years.

For one, it’s not exactly the first time for either Danish or Japanese cultural elements to bask in the mainstream limelight. The History Channel series Vikings has assured us that a large global audience will be at least familiar with Denmark and its culture’s relationship with the environment.

Likewise, shows like Marie Kondo’s intensely popular Tidying Up as well as the many memorable, animated movies by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, makes it unlikely for westerners to not be aware of Japanese practices. This is compounded by interpretations of both cultures across all media outlets.

Another case in point is Slingo and its games inspired by both Scandinavian and Japanese culture, which focus on each country’s myths, history and legends – the Norse gods which were once worshipped in Denmark, and the ninjas and samurai, which are part of Japan’s well-publicised warrior heritage.

And today, the increasing global interest in each country’s respective histories, cultures, and myths have culminated in the popularity of both hygge and ikigai. Danish and Japanese lifestyle practices are interpreted today as paths toward finding contentment and/or happiness amid the prevailing jaded notions of living in the modern world.

Although the modern interpretations of either concept tend to fall short of their traditional definitions, there’s no doubt that they have real value in terms of improving how you can live your life today. For instance, although there is technically no real way to translate the concept of hygge into English, there’s the fact that the Danish have the happiest workforce in the world.

Many attribute this to their balance of work and life, and how employees have 52 weeks of parental leave.

In short, the Danish tend to fare extremely well in the departments of cosiness and comfort. Meik Wiking who wrote The Little Book of Hygge states: “Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing. After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness and, instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.”

It may seem over-simplistic, but there is real wisdom to be gleaned from actually taking the time and effort to increase your quality of life rather than your wealth or the possessions that you own. As loose as this modern definition of hygge is, it’s definitely something that won’t fall on deaf ears in the modern, overworked, and over-stressed world of business. The same can be said of the Japanese concept of ikigai.

At its most basic definition, your ikigai is the combination of what you love, what you believe the world needs, what you’re actually good at, and what you can be paid for. What is that one pursuit that you can unequivocally consider to be your passion, mission, vocation, and profession at the same time?

While the Danish hygge has its own practical results in terms of life-enriching national policy and traditions, those who follow ikigai can refer to how its place of origin – Okinawa – has the largest population of centenarians in the world. Indeed, it is no secret that ikigai is actually linked to community longevity.

And that’s not all – Thrive Global reports that in other “blue zones”, or places where people live the longest, like the Nicoya Peninsula or Sardinia, the citizens have strikingly similar ikigai-like lifestyle concepts.

In conclusion, hygge and ikigai separately have the potential to be more than just passing trends in your life. If you feel that your life’s trajectory lacks purpose, it could serve you well to look further into ikigai and the specific rules you can follow in order to walk the path of contentment.

Meanwhile, if you’re more concerned about realising the simple and surprising comforts offered by your current circumstances, then hygge and its notions of survivalist comfort might be more up your alley. Either way, there is potentially great and life-enriching value in at least trying to understand and apply one of these concepts to your modern life.

How Sleep Affects Your Mind – Guest Blog Post by Kristina Lalovic from Colossal Sleep

How Sleep Affects Your Mind – Guest Blog Post by Kristina Lalovic from Colossal Sleep

Sleep is an important part of our lives. Not only do we need it to recover and function throughout the day, but it is also a crucial part of our health. When we’re feeling sick, our bodies need more sleep than usual.

Similarly, when we don’t sleep enough our immune system weakens and we might catch a cold more easily.

But it’s not only our general health that is affected by our sleep patterns. It turns out that our mental health might even be much more susceptible to changes in our sleep routines. In this article, we’re going to talk about all the ways sleep can affect your mind.

However, let’s first mention why is sleep important and what happens to our bodies and brains while we’re asleep.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

For animals, as well as for humans, it is impossible to survive without sleep. In order to prove that, several scientists have deprived themselves or their research participants from sleep for days, and the results were always the same.

What they all experienced was a decrease in cognitive skills, a drop in awareness and focus to their surroundings, as well as an over-exhaustion. They also felt much weaker, their immune system was damaged and so on.

So, what are the main reasons we sleep?

We sleep in order to:

  • Repair our organs and muscles
  • Restore and strengthen our immune system
  • Rebalance our hormones
  • Help our brain retain information

When putting it like this, it seems all quite simple. But what can sleep do to our minds apart from making us feel cranky when we’re sleep-deprived, or making us feel happy when we’re well rested?

Let’s find out what are the main ways your sleep can affect your brain.

Sleeping Affects Learning and Memory

Staying up all night before an exam was found to have really poor effects on how we memorize and learn. On the other hand, getting a night of good sleep before heading to an exam has shown to have many more benefits on our brain and how we remember things.

This is why naps often provide a fairly good and efficient boost to our learning capabilities. Some people claim that they managed to memorize better and improve their performances thanks to using power naps to recover during studying or working.

Our brain simply needs sleep in order to process all new information received throughout the day. When not sleeping sufficiently, our brains don’t have enough energy to store new things we learn.

As a result of this lack of energy, it becomes much harder to recall things. Without having and maintaining a regular sleeping pattern <strong>humans can become forgetful</strong> and develop mentally.

Thanks to these findings, it became evident that chronic sleep deprivation increases one’s dementia risks in older age.

Lack Of Sleep Decreases Our Cognitive Skills

Sleep does more than just enhancing our memory skills. Apparently, when we are well-rested our mind is much clearer, and our brain cells function properly. When we’re tired or sleep-deprived, our brain cells become unable to process information accordingly or to translate images into conscious thoughts.

This is exactly the reason why driving is highly discouraged when a person is tired. In fact, a research study has shown that sleep deprivation had almost the same effects on our brain as alcohol.

A sleepless night will slow you down, make your brain less active and potentially lead to poorer decisions.

You Might Eat More Unhealthy When Sleep Deprived

Since sleep affects and recovers our prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for planning and decision making, it can become much easier to lose self-control which will result in faulty decisions.

As a result of this change in the way your brain thinks, you might be less self-controlled when it comes to food. It has been shown that self deprived people tend to eat more processed and unhealthy food compared to people that get the proper amount of sleep.

This is also why obesity is often linked to sleep deprivation as well.

Sleeping Affects Your Mood

Not only will decreased amount of sleep make you less efficient on work, decrease your performance and lead to poorer decisions, but it will also affect your mood.

A study has found that women that were deprived of sleep experienced higher levels of anger, depression, and hostility early in the morning when compared to women that slept full 8 hours.

It’s not so uncommon to feel cranky, more irritable and impatient when we lack sleep. On the flipside, when we sleep well, we feel happier, full of energy and ready to take on whatever the day might bring.

This is why depression, anxiety and other mental issues are often connected to sleeping disorders such as shift work sleep disorder, insomnia, interrupted sleep and so on.

Not Sleeping Enough Might Result In Less Creativity

Researches have shown that people that were deprived of sleep, or that have slept only a few hours less than 8 hours, were less likely to think outside of the box, come up with creative solutions and maintain their problem-solving skills.

On the other side, getting a full night of sleep promotes creativity. This was proven thanks to a study testing participants on a task involving numbers. People that have slept more managed to figure out the problem faster and at a more successful rate than people who were sleep-deprived.

Sleep Enables More Efficient Multitasking Skills

Multitasking is possible thanks to the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that enables us to do several tasks simultaneously and that needs sleep in order to function properly.

This is also another reason why it is better not to drive when tired. Not only our brain functions more slowly and isn’t able to alertly respond to our surroundings, but the cortical function of multitasking is weakened by a lot when we don’t get enough sleep.

Your Brain Gets Rid Of Unnecessary “Trash”

Our brains have a system that gets rid of unnecessary toxins and, apparently, this system seems to be most active during sleep. A recent study about this brain’s system has thought us that by sleeping, our brains manage to eliminate bad toxins that can cause Alzheimer’s or other neurological disorders.

During this process, brain cells also shrink in size in order to allow toxic waste to be eliminated properly from the brain.

What To Do With That Psychology Degree

What To Do With That Psychology Degree

Ok, so you got your psychology degree or your just about to, now what do you do? What are your options? What direction should you go? So many questions but at times it can be difficult to know what is best without a doubt!

Well, there are a number of options, but often it can be really confusing and challenging to know what to do.

My own experiences

I know the feeling many have all too well. I struggled often to know what I was going to do with my degree. At first, I did an undergraduate degree in social sciences that I struggled my way through.

I just managed to get enough grades in high school to get onto the degree, but when I had finished, I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do.

I was lucky enough to have had a couple of psychology modules through my first degree that were really the only ones I enjoyed. Also, after completing my degree in social sciences I conducted a therapy course that started me on my path to psychology and counselling psychology in particular.

I was fortunate because when I started my next degree which was a graduate diploma in psychology, I knew what I wanted to do, I had the goal of one day becoming a counselling psychologist

I had a purpose and direction, but I know not everyone has this. Even when people finish their degrees, things can still seem blurry and uncertain.

With a broad degree like psychology, it can be even harder to know what to do next.

With this live understanding and coming to the end of my training, I have some understanding and some personal experience that might help people get some direction after completing their psychology degree.

What options are there?

So, first question first, what exactly are the options?

Well, I’m sure you are aware that there is a very low percentage of people that go into professional psychology after their degree

Why is that though?

I think one of the biggest things is that if you want to pursue a career in psychology then further studies are required.

This can be difficult to accept for people that have just come through a four-year degree, realising that they could have a minimum of another three years fo university studies ahead of them to become a psychologist can be a daunting prospect.

I also think the issue and difficulty is a little bigger than this too. We still as a society are unsure as to what psychology is really all about. I think there is still this abstract nature or abstract understanding about psychology, both by graduates and the general public.

If we don’t fully understand it then we are more likely to just ignore it or not pursue it. We need to change this!

What if you don’t want a career in psychology?

There are of course numerous options still available for those with a psychology degree that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology

One of the most sought after jobs is teaching

Psychology is still a brilliant degree to take you onto teacher training and can be a really desirable degree for employers and educational bodies.

Your understanding of people and the ability to work with them will result from your psychology degree, and teaching wants more people like that.

HR work is also a good option for those that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology.

Human resources often look for people with psychology backgrounds, much like those employing teachers.

Your ability to understand, relate to and Interact with people will be evident through your psychology degree.

I think this really speaks to the overall value of a psychology degree. A psychology degree is more than just learning theory or understanding models, its actually learning about human behaviour, peoples mindsets and gives you unique abilities to relate to and work with people.

You should always remember this when going for any job with your psychology degree. I very much believe that psychology graduates are in a valuable and unique position with this.

There are of course other profession options available for psychology graduates

Things such as working in health care, working in the police or even advocacy work and politics.

What if you want a career in psychology?

However, what if you do want to develop your career in psychology though? What do you do next?

Well first you need to think about what type of psychology you want to do and why

Counselling, educational, clinical, occupations, health sports and exercise. There are so many different forms of psychology.

The real question that you need to ask yourself is, what is it that drives you to any of these professions?

For me, it’s the one to one in-depth work that got me into counselling psychology. That and the idea of one day working on a more private basis. All of these factors contributed to me going down the counselling psychology path.

There are some things I would flag up here when thinking about what form of psychology you want to pursue though.

Be careful of only going for the money and paid courses.

Of course, I get the struggle but just be aware. It’s important to put your ideology and passion first.

What you need to be thinking of next

Experience, experience, experience!!!

Go out and volunteer!

Develop experience in caring roles, roles where you will be helping and working with others.

Look at positions like health care work, support worker (in particular), even assistant psychologist roles.

Network and see where you can add value. This is a vital next step in developing your career in psychology and knowing where you want to take your psychology degree.

One of the biggest issues with people getting ahead in psychology after their degree is that they think things are just going to fall in place.

They won’t!

You need to do the groundwork during and after you graduate.

Create those opportunities for yourself because at the end of the day there will be loads of people in the same position as you. This is actually something I have spoken about at conferences before to psychology graduates. Click here to check out my talk.

Think about researcher roles also.

Don’t count these out!

They can be a great way in the door of academia and working with some psychologists. Universities are always looking for willing researchers so it a line of employment that always has opportunities and can be really rewarding.

I got my researcher job off the back of seeing a job advert that I didn’t fit and phoning the guy up and he gave me another job to do psychology research for him.

Key points to consider

  • It’s ok to not go into psychology after your undergraduate degree. It’s still a brilliant and wide-ranging degree to have.
  • Don’t be scared of going into a profession in psychology.
  • Some extra work will be needed, but we need psychologists now more than ever.
  • The opportunities are so huge for those willing to invest.
  • Think about the type of psychology you want to undertake and why.
  • What are the reasons for this form of psychology? Why not others?
  • Develop experiences.
  • Network.
  • Think about building a CV.

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