Should big tobacco be involved in harm reduction?

Smoking amongst people with mental health problems

I recently attended a fascinating talk on the topic of smoking cessation amongst people with mental health problems.The argument the presentation made was (as I understood it) that for many people with mental health problems, nicotine is actually a fairly helpful psychoactive substance – in that it can allow people to experience a reduction in anxiety, increase cognitive focus and help them structure their lives. The presenter also argued that e-cigarettes appear to be a low harm way of delivering nicotine and, as such, we should consider ways of encouraging uptake amongst this population. What did I think of  the ideas?

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Understanding and Managing Stress

Exciting news – Understanding and Managing Stress now out!

PsychologyItBetter is all about making the insights of psychology clear to people in useful, accessible ways. Part of of how I try to do this is the range of ‘PocketBooks’ – concise, informative volumes which hlp translate research into pratice. I’ve some news on this front- The latest PsychologyItBetter.com PocketBook – ‘Understanding and Managing Stress‘ is out now.

What inspired ‘Understanding and Managing Stress’?

The last couple of years have, for me, been marked by a lot of stress. I’ve had some great life events (welcoming my second child into the world being a highlight) and some challenging ones (competing professional pressures being a big feature). Through all the ups and downs I have experienced high levels of stress that were, personally, unprecedented. I didn’t always react well. In fact, I sometimes reacted in ways that left me disappointed with myself, and worried about how to carry on juggling my life.

I managed change my bleak outlook on the world. But I didn’t (couldn’t) do it alone. I was lucky to have an incredibly supportive partner. My work colleagues also helped, and I formed a number of new social relationships which were (and are) a source of invaluable support. I also realised that, as a researching and teaching psychologist, I had access to another amazing resource – the body of scientific evidence which attempts to understand how stress functions and how we can best manage it. I threw myself into this literature. The strategies and ideas you will find in this book represent some of the areas I found insightful and of the most use. ‘Understanding and Managing Stress’ is my attempt to crystallise these key findings. Importantly, it also tries to translate the (sometimes abstract) ideas into real, actionable suggestions. It provides information you can use to help understand the reasons why we become stressed and also actions you can take to manage it. There is no such thing as a quick fix for stress, and I don’t think many of us will ever be 100% stress free. But a good grounding in the theory and practice of stress management has helped me enormously, and I am confident it will help you to.

What’s in the book?

Whilst we may not be able to remove the sources of stress in our lives, we all have the potential to better manage how we respond to them. However, to do so effectively, we must also understand how stress operates. Drawing on a combination of decades of scientific evidence and his own personal experience, I have attempted to explains the processes which underpin our responses to stressful situations. The book also also outlines clear, effective ways to translate theory to practice – methods you can use starting today.
This book comprises 10 sections, each of which concisely and clearly describes a psychological concept which is relevant to understanding and managing stress. Each ends with a ‘how do I use this?’ segment which presents one or two realistic ways your new insight will help you. How our biology and psychology interact when we are stressed, the role of time perception, and the effects of mindfulness and self-affirmation are just some of the topics discussed. We all want to reduce the amount of stress we experience in our lives – and this book will be an invaluable aid in doing so.

Where can I get it?

I have found writing this PocketBook enormously beneficial – I hope you find reading it a helps you better understand and manage the stress in your life too.You can find the Amazon UK edition here, and the US/World editions here. Check it out today! It is also available via KOBO, Apple, Barnes and Nobel (NOOK) and many other retailers – just search ‘Daniel Frings’.

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Social connections and social prescribing

The power of social connections and the rise of social prescribing

One way of dealing with stress is to draw on the positive social identities in our lives. A growing body of research suggests that the social connections we have can buffer us from the effects of traumatic events, improve mental health and also let us bounce back from physical ailments more quickly. In the guise of ‘social prescribing’, this idea is also increasingly being used to find ways to replace or compliment medicine.

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Time perspectives and wellbeing

The psychology of time perspectives

Have you ever thought about the psychology of time? Some of us think a lot about future, constantly planning and wondering ‘what if’. Often, we worry about what will happen tomorrow or next week. Others are more focused on the past, replaying and ruminating on the same event over and over. We are always hearing it is good to be ‘in the present’. But what does the study of the psychology of time tell us about all this?

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Humour and stress reduction

Humour and stress reduction

We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but how does humour help with stress reduction? Is all humour equal? How do we use it? Read on to find out more…

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The transactional model of stress and coping

The transactional model of stress and coping

One way of improving our relationship with stress is to understand some of the processes which underpin it, and how they influence the ways we try and cope. One way of understanding this is through the transactional model of stress and coping1. The transactional model of stress and coping argues that our experience of stress is ultimately a system of appraisal, response and adaptation.

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The downsides of positive thinking

Positive thinking

We think of positive thinking as a good thing right? Self-improving, make stuff happen, avoid doubt and feeling bad type stuff? An intriguing post I came across this week (retweeted by @amber_saying on twitter) suggests it is not quite so straight forward… Interesting and thought provoking read!

7 Brutal Truths about I learnt after I gave up positive thinking (ideapod blogpost)

 

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Professional Friendship circles

Dog eats dog? Or a fellowship of mutual endeavour?

Academia is a funny old game – you need to work collaboratively with other people to get on, but you are also competing with them for a fairly small pool of resources (such as grant funds and journal space). But the academy isn’t unique in this respect, and I suspect it is similar to many occupations in this way. This has got me thinking a lot about what these ‘professional friendships’ mean, and what they look like…

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Oxford Street – did people panic?

In the media aftermath of the shooting scare at Oxford Street, two social psychologists,Stephen Reicher and John Drury, ask if it is right to say people caught in a terror scare ‘panic’? Their conclusion? Panic suggests irrationality which isn’t really accurate…

Check out the full story here on the BBC website

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Why I am going to (try and) stop saying I am busy

Busy, busy, busy?

I’ve decided to (try) and stop saying I am busy all the time. When people ask me, I will try and stop say ‘ too busy’, ‘so busy’ or ‘you know, busy’ or any variation of the ‘busy’ theme. No idea if I will manage it, but we’ll see how it goes!

Read on to find out why…

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