We all have, at one time or another, blocked, screwed up, and/or made more difficult in some way communication between yourself and ….partners, parents, children, siblings, bosses, teachers, therapists, clients …basically everyone. Knowing something about yourself, what your triggers and hot buttons are can help to not only smooth communication but to help you express what you feel and think. Listed below are some communication road blocks as well as common statements that are often said.
When have you said these? What was going on before the comments and with whom were you talking with? What might be an alternative statement(s).
You should You’re wrong You should know that
It would be best for you to Why don’ t you
You’re getting defensive
You had better You have to
Don’t you realize
It’s not so bad
That’s nothing compared to
I figured you’d do that! I should’ve expected that from you!
Al l or Nothing:
You always do that! Yes you do! You’ re never
Prying: Puts other on the spot/defemsive and is intrusive
Creativity can be enhanced by experiencing cultures different from one’s own, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (published by SAGE).
Three studies looked at students who had lived abroad and those who hadn’t, testing them on different aspects of creativity. Relative to a control group, which hadn’t experienced a different culture, participants in the different culture group provided more evidence of creativity in various standard tests of the trait. Those results suggest that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, acting as a creativity catalyst.
The researchers believe that the key to the enhanced creativity was related to the students’ open-minded approach in adapting to the new culture. In a global world, where more people are able to acquire multicultural experiences than ever before, this research indicates that living abroad can be even more beneficial than previously thought.
“Given the literature on structural changes in the brain that occur during intensive learning experiences, it would be worthwhile to explore whether neurological changes occur within the creative process during intensive foreign culture experiences,” write the authors, William W. Maddux, Hajo Adam, and Adam D. Galinsky. “That can help paint a more nuanced picture of how foreign culture experiences may not only enhance creativity but also, perhaps literally, as well as figuratively, broaden the mind.
The article “When in Rome… Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity” in the June 2010 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
|Change the situation:
Avoid the stressor.
Alter the stressor.
|Change your reaction:
Adapt to the stressor.
Accept the stressor.
1. Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed.
Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them.
Avoid people who stress you out –Limit the amount of time you spend with people that cause you stress.
Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off.
Avoid hot-button topics –If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
Pare down your to-do list –If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”
2. Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way.
Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same.
Be more assertive. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them.
Manage your time better. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.
3. Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.
Look at the big picture. Will it matter in a month, or a year?
Adjust your standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.
4. Accept what you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable, in such cases; the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.
Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.
Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes.
5. Make time for fun & relaxation
You can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for healthy fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge
|Go for a walk.
Spend time in nature.
Call a good friend.
Write in your journal.
Take a long bath.
Light scented candles
|Play with a pet.
Work in your garden.
Get a massage.
Curl up with a good book.
Listen to music.
Watch a comedy
Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule..
Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life.
Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself.
6. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Most people feel down, tired and inactive when they’re injured or ill. This “sickness behavior” is caused by the activation of the body’s immune response. It’s the brain’s way of conserving energy so the body can heal.
This immune response can also occur in people with depression. This has prompted some researchers and clinicians to hypothesise that depression is actually a side effect of the inflammatory process.
But while there may be a connection between inflammation and depression, one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. So it’s too simplistic to say depression is a physical, rather than a psychiatric, illness.
The inflammation hypothesis
University of California clinical psychologist and researcher George Slavich is one of the key recent proponents of depression as a physical illness. He hypothesises that social threats and adversity trigger the production of pro-inflammatory “cytokines”. These are messenger molecules of the immune system that play a critical role in orchestrating the host’s response to injury and infection.
This inflammatory process, Slavich argues, can initiate profound behavioral changes, including the induction of depression.
The idea that the activation of the immune response may trigger depression in some people is by no means a new one. Early descriptions of post-influenza depression appeared in the 19th century in the writings of English physician Daniel Tuke.
But it was not until the 1988 seminal paper, published by veterinarian Benjamin Hart, that the phenomenon of acute “sickness behavior” caught the interest of the scientific community.
Hart described his detailed observations of the “behavior of sick animals”. During acute infection, and in response to fever, the animals sought sleep, lost their appetite, showed a reduction in activity, grooming and social interactions, as well as showing signs of “depression”.
Just like the immune response itself, these changes reflect an evolved survival strategy that shifts priorities toward energy conservation and recovery.
Putting the theory into practice
Cytokine-induced sickness behavior has subsequently been studied as an example of communication between the immune system and the brain.
The behavioral changes during sickness resemble those associated with depression, so it didn’t take long for researchers to make a connection between the phenomenon of sickness behavior and mental disorders.
Such speculation was strengthened by research showing that depressive states can be experimentally induced by administering cytokines and other immunogenic agents (such as vaccines) that cause an inflammatory response.
Depression is frequently associated with inflammatory illnesses such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also a side effect of treatment with cytokines to enhance the immune system.
Over recent decades, researchers have made progress in understanding how inflammation may impact on the activity of signalling pathways to and from the brain, as well as on the functioning of key neural systems involved in mood regulation.
But there’s not always a link
From the available evidence it’s clear, however, that not everyone who suffers from depression has evidence of inflammation. And not all people with high levels of inflammation develop depression.
Trajectories of depression depend on a complex interplay of a spectrum of additional risk and resilience factors, which may be present to varying degrees and in a different combination in any individual at different times. These factors include the person’s:
- genetic vulnerabilities affecting the intensity of our inflammatory response
- other medical conditions
- acquired hyper-vigilance in the stress response systems due to early life trauma, current adversities, or physical stressors
- coping strategies, including social support
- health behaviors, such as sleep, diet and exercise.
Implications for treatment
In line with the notion that inflammation drives depression, some researchers have already trialled the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory therapy as a treatment for depression.
While some recipients (such as those with high levels of inflammation) showed benefit from the treatment, others without increased inflammation did not. This supports the general hypothesis.
However, in our desire to find more effective treatments for depression, we should not forget that the immune response, including inflammation, has a specific purpose. It protects us from infection, disease and injury.
Cytokines act at many different levels, and often in subtle ways, to fulfill their numerous roles in the orchestration of the immune response. Undermining their vital role could have negative consequences.
Mind versus body
The recent enthusiasm to embrace inflammation as the major culprit in psychiatric conditions ignores the reality that “depression” is not a single condition. Some depressive states, such as melancholia, are diseases; some are reactions to the environment; some are existential; and some normal.
Such separate states have differing contributions of biological, social and psychological causes. So any attempt to invoke a single all-explanatory “cause” should be rejected. Where living organisms are concerned it is almost never that simple.
In the end, we cannot escape the reality that changes must occur at the level of the brain, in regions responsible for mood regulation, for “depression” to be experienced.
Do you have to be intelligent to be creative? Can you learn to be more creative? In this episode, we speak with neuropsychologist Rex E. Jung, PhD, who studies intelligence, creativity and brain function. He discusses why – even if it sounds counterintuitive – intelligence and creativity may not have all that much in common.
Transcript of interview with Audrey and Rex Jung from the APA website.
Audrey Hamilton: Do you have to be intelligent to be creative? Can you really learn to be more creative? In this episode, we speak with one neuropsychologist who studies intelligence, creativity and brain function. He talks about why – even if it sounds counterintuitive – intelligence and creativity may not have all that much in common. I’m Audrey Hamilton and this is “Speaking of Psychology.”
Rex Jung is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico and a practicing clinical neuropsychologist in Albuquerque. He studies both brain disease and what the brain does well – a field of research known as positive neuroscience. His research is designed to relate behavioral measures, including intelligence, personality and creativity to brain function and structure. He has published research articles across a wide-range of topics including traumatic brain injury, lupus, schizophrenia, intelligence and creativity. Welcome, Dr. Jung.
Rex Jung: Thank you, Audrey.
Audrey Hamilton: Could you first of all explain neuroimaging and tell our listeners how it helps researchers understand how people think and act?
Rex Jung: Sure. So, neuroimaging is the tool that we use to measure the brain and there’s lots of different neuroimaging techniques. I use three main neuroimaging techniques – the first that I learned in graduate school was magnetic resonance microscopy, which sounds kind of complicated. But, it is a technique that basically looks at the chemicals in your brain. It’s in a standard MRI machine like you would go to get your knee scanned. But, using some sophisticated techniques you can look at certain chemicals in the brain. Some of those chemicals are very involved in important neuronal processes. And we’ve correlated those with behavior.
A different technique is called diffusion tensor imaging, which allows us to look at water movement in the brain. And this is important because there’s lots of tubes going through your brain like the wires that connect up your computer to the Internet. And these tubes, called axons, are connecting up different processing modules of your brain and those have to be healthy. So, we can look at the health of those axons, those myelinated axons, the fatty sheath like the insulation that surrounds those tubes.
The third technique that we use is just structural magnetic resonance imaging and that allows us to look at the processing modules of the brain – the cortical thickness – the computers that are on the surface of the brain and how much or little of that you have on the surface of the brain. Those are the three main techniques that I use. There’s functional imaging, fMRI, that most people have heard of where you’re looking a blood flow, as well. Those are ways that we measure brain structure and function and this gives us the ability to do scientific measures that then we can correlate to behavioral measures in psychology.
Audrey Hamilton: Does being highly creative mean you’re also more intelligent?
Rex Jung: Not necessarily. There’s a controversy about this in the psychological literature and some people have found correlations between creativity and intelligence. They’re usually pretty low, this association. And some people make a lot of that, this low association. But usually, because this association between creativity and intelligence is low, it means that you don’t necessarily have to be intelligent to be creative. So, I spent over a decade studying intelligence. It’s one of the reasons I started studying creativity because it seemed like something distinctly different and interesting than intelligence, which I have studied. I work with very highly intelligent people in academia and scientists and not all of them are creative. Why is that? If they do go together I would be working with all of the creative people in my city in Albuquerque, but that wasn’t the case so creativity seemed to be something different.
Audrey Hamilton: Can a person learn to become more creative or simply gain intelligence?
Rex Jung: There are some tools and techniques that can help people to be more creative. We’re starting to learn more about creativity and it’s one of the things that I’m excited about in terms of creativity is that there might be ways to increase your creative capacity.
Intelligence unfortunately seems to be much more under tight genetic control. The genetic correlates of intelligence are high, like .75. So, if you have twins – they’re going to be identical twins – their correlation of their intelligence with one another is going to be very, very high. So that implies that the genetic involvement of that capacity is under much more tight control than the environment would be.
With creativity, we don’t have that information and I’m hopeful that you can modulate or modify creative cognition much more than intelligence. There are studies out there that have shown increases in intelligence scores of two, maybe three points on a particular measure, which are not particularly high. But those are also controversial. Some have been replicated. Some haven’t been replicated. And we really don’t see that in terms of intelligence. With creativity, there’s a pitched effort to try to increase creativity scores on some of these measures and we’re seeing some good initial results and I’m very hopeful about that.
Audrey Hamilton: How does the way a person’s brain works and is structured influence how creative or intelligent he or she is?
Rex Jung: The research that we’ve done shows that the brain organization of intelligence and creativity are quite different. So, when you think about those measures that I talked about, those neuroimaging measures, the brain of someone who is intelligent – think of bigger, better, stronger, faster – all the measures are pointing to higher integrity of the brain of someone who has high intelligence. So, the cortical mantle is thicker, the white matter, the wires are more myelinated, the water can travel faster and in a coherent direction, you have more of these certain chemicals that I was talking about.
Audrey Hamilton: It’s beefed up.
Rex Jung: It’s beefed up, yes. So you can have a better organized brain.
With creativity, the story was different. In different regions of the brain, we were seeing weaker connections, thinner cortex and different levels of these same biochemicals. So, it was really clear from these studies that intelligence and creativity were different because we were seeing different pictures in the measures we were taking of the brain. But I tend to look at creativity and intelligence as two different kinds of reasoning. That creativity is kind of reasoning without all of the information present. So, call it abductive reasoning. But, you have hypothesis testing about how the world could work without all of the information present. So, you have to use abstraction and metaphor and stuff like that about this might look like this or this might be this way.
With intelligence, you’re using deductive reasoning, where it’s rule-based reasoning where a equals b and that’s the way it goes. You have a rule for how this relationship works. So, creativity and intelligence are probably different types of reasoning. Both are very adaptive, but they’re just different for different types of problems that you have to solve out in the world.
Audrey Hamilton: Is real creativity rare? How about genius?
Rex Jung: So, creativity is common and genius is a lot more rare than we would believe. The term genius gets thrown around a lot. But, I think genius is rare because that combination of brain organization where you have high fidelity, beefed up brain in certain regions and then kind of down regulated brain in other regions is really going to be kind of rare where that is present in the same brain. So, to have that back and forth between intelligence and creativity, the ability to do both of those reasoning processes well, where you can do first approximations, hypothesis testing, abstraction and then create a rule, a novel and useful rule out of nothing before is rare and that is true genius.
Audrey Hamilton: Well great. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Jung. It’s been very, very interesting.
Rex Jung: Great. Thank you, Audrey.