Great Talks at Psychology Matters Day 2017 #psychologymattersday

Today, Saturday the 13th of May 2017 I attended Psychology Day at NUI Galway to celebrate #psychologymattersday.  There were a number of speakers, speaking on diverse topics from mindfulness to the shadow man!

First up we had a wonderful insightful talk on mindfulness by Chris Noone.   I nodded in agreement several times with what Chris was saying.   Mindfulness has become a billion dollar industry and oftentimes sold as a stand alone answer to all of our problems.   Like Chris, I too love the whole concept of mindfulness which is the art of being present in each given moment.

But, I also believe that mindfulness on its own is not going to sort out all of our problems and works best in conjunction with other ways.  It came up during the questions and answers section today that sometimes mindfulness is used to disassociate from our problems rather than find the core problem.  Mindful colouring is a wonderful relaxing therapy but, on its own, won't stop us being an angry person.

We can certainly use mindfulness to become present with an emotion like anger rather than dissociate from it.    As a tool, it can help us stop the mind clatter so we can dissect anger and find out what we need to learn about it. 

Mindfulness can help us with our emotions rather than block them out.  It originated in the Buddist tradition which followed an eight-fold path which, when practiced together can bring us into our required state of mind.  

Next up Hazel Wolstenholme gave a presentation called "Just two More Bites" a guide to all things children and food!   She explained about the difference between food neophobia which is a fear of trying something new to having a fussy eater, just because they are fussy!

Just like Chris' talk on mindfulness, Hazel explained it is not always one thing or the other when it came to fussy eaters.   These days meal time is not always a priority to busy parents who rush children from school to play dates or after school activities.   Not every family sits to eat together as matches and meetings can interfere with more structured family meal time. 

Some research from Hazel indicated that it often takes up to 15 tries to get a fussy eater to actually eat a new type of food!!!! Maybe as parents, we need to rekindle our patience!!!  Or perhaps become mindful of the environment which exists when we are trying to get our fussy eaters to eat their food and, avoid ourselves being in a stressed state during the whole eating experience.  

Next on stage was Sarah Carthy speaking about why children get involved with terrorism.   Sarah gave a fascinating insight into how the more vulnerable of youngsters can get caught up with groups that seem to offer them something that they might feel no one else can help them with.   

She pointed out quite rightly that there is not enough counter-narrative around propaganda, explaining precisely why someone should not join a terrorist group.  She also talked about the role that social media plays in spreading such stories. It is no longer only about graffiti on street corners, it is most likely a tweet or two these days!  

She also explained how younger people get caught up as their critical thinking skills only come into strength at around the age of 24.   Those younger often don't have the emotional intelligence to question certain statements they may hear and don't see the other side of a theory put forward.

Siobhán O'Higgins gave a fantastic talk about chronic pain and young people.   She along with those working on their chronic pain study interviewed over 3000 young people.   It was interesting to note that some of those suffering from chronic pain did not even admit to it, although their parents, whilst filling out the same questionnaire. indicated that their child did in fact suffer.   Siobhan pointed out that at times children became so used to being in pain that they just felt it is part of them. 

It was clear to me listening to Siobhan that a child's emotional state and their ability to hold onto their more negative emotions often caused them to be in pain.   She described how one young girl had painted her heart area black in her questionnaire form and described her pain as sadness about having lost a younger sibling.    The little girl was obviously describing her emotional pain that was very much held in her heart.   

Jonathan Egan was up next speaking about sleep paralysis and how real it can be for some people to actually feel their dreams are real.    His talk was very engaging and funny whilst speaking on very frightening and serious topics.   He gave examples of people really believing that there were people in the room with them and even at times speaking to them. Sleep paralysis can lead us to imagine an awful situation imaginable!  

This phenomenal is often experienced after a time of sleep deprivation or also some say it is genetic with many generations meeting the Hag during their sleep time!!!  

Last to speak was Soraya Matthews speaking to us about intrusive thoughts.   Soraya was involved in very interesting research which was undertaken in relation to the correlation between shame, depression and maladaptive perfectionism.  We can all suffer at times with intrusive thoughts but in their more extreme state they can contribute to such things as OCD.  

Shame as an emotion can lead us to feel like we want to hide and depression is often anger turned inwards.   To bring awareness of this to people is so important as in my opinion awareness takes away fear, more shame and anger we may feel toward ourselves for having these thoughts in the first place! 

The afternoon was amazing and informative and it helped us realise that psychology really is part of our everyday experiences.    We can learn though to counteract anything we feel is having a negative impact on us.   

Always seek professional advice and guidance if you feel like you need help with an issue. 

Until next time ... keep the faith, 

Dolores Andrew-Gavin, Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Blogger, Founder Global Emotional Health Summit, Energy Therapist, Soul Care Practitioner, Author and Mum.